Saturday, 28 August 2010

This is…


Jay is a new fellow-member of Etteam, and owns two Etsy shops:
Ziggy and Friends and Sunshinescot .

card by Ziggy

Favourite colour?

warm colours like yellows and reds

Original vintage artwork

Favourite smell?

sea breeze, fresh bread, vanilla

Favourite place?

Too many to choose from so I'd like to pick where I'd wish to go next - New York please!

Favourite sound?

The lapping waves on the beach

Baby horse collage

Favourite way to spend your time?

I really do love to travel...

Favourite item in your shop of all time?

Moon 3


It was the kick start for becoming creative again after a very very long period of artistic inertia for myself

Favourite shop that isn’t yours?

Oooh there really are so many but I'm going to say sprouthead - it's the one that got me interested in Etsy in the first place as I only used to buy work. I heard about this site called Etsy and decided to use it to gather materials for projects and I used them with my art and design students.

detail from Inverness, by sprouthead

What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learnt so far that you’d like to pass on to our readers?

That it's hard work and you have to believe in yourself and be patient and be as proactive as you can, especially if you don't have a huge huge group of family and friends to get you started and placed on the Etsy map! But it's a great feeling when you sell something!

Thanks Jay - and good luck!


ziggy's blog

ziggy's shop Ziggy and friends

jay's blog

sunshinescot's shop sunshinescot

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

RELIGION: the last taboo?

I've been reminded recently of an old saying that in polite company you should never discuss sex, politics or religion. The reasoning, I think, is that those subjects are so close to everyone's hearts that they will inevitably lead to disagreement.

I chose some "cheeky" buttons to illustrate my points - a small selection from portablegraffiti's 1650 available buttons. As some people have commented on the buttons, rather than my argument (which was not at all what I expected!) I've removed the pictures.

There was quite a furore recently on Etsy when "mature" (aka sexy) treasuries took over the new Treasury East for a while. Etsy decided that members should have to "opt in" to view mature treasuries, but that the default would be to filter them out.

Inevitably the discussions continue. Sellers of mature items argue, rightly, that they pay their fees and have a right to be seen. Others worry that because the Mature Treasuries were so prominent, it gave a misleading impression to buyers that Etsy is a site specifically for Mature items, which of course it isn't. Buyers wishing to purchase mature items can still find them, while people likely to be offended are protected.

Profane language is considered part of the "Mature" category. Arguments can get quite heated, especially between mothers who want to protect their children's innocence and sellers who state (accurately) that the site is for over 18s. I know there are buyers who love such items as *naughty* embroidered signs - but I doubt any of us think it would be sound marketing to be peppering our forum posts with colourful words.

Politics? Well, it was very clear during the American election that politics, while maybe not a "polite" subject for conversation, was certainly a big seller!

Sadly I didn't sell a huge number of party political meerkats during our UK election, but you'll note I listed each of the three parties. I didn't risk alienating a large section of my public by only meerkatting my own preferred candidate - neither would I expect to make many new friends on the forums by proclaiming my political views.

What about religion? Clearly there is a market for items with a religious theme, I wouldn't dispute that - indeed, my Meerkat Nativity was a best seller for me last Christmas.

Before offering it for sale I discussed the potential for offence with my Etsy team, I have no wish to offend anyone. I was happily reassured when I sold a set to an American pastor who planned to add it to the church collection!

That is not the same, in my opinion, as airing these subjects in public places such as social networks and forums.

I have been surprised recently to see online sellers proclaiming their personal religious beliefs in an online selling forum, asserting that God will make their business flourish. Just as some believers are potentially offended by items such as my Christmas Meerkats, so (I believe) are some people offended by believers who proclaim their faith.

I would very much like to hear what *you* think. I understand that faith is central to some people's lives, but if they talk about it in a venue where we're hoping to attract buyers, might some buyers be put off just as surely as if other "taboo" subjects were being aired?

What is your opinion? Are there any taboos left, or does anything go?

***EDITED***Sorry to have confused a few people - I'm not asking for opinions on the badges, I used them with permission to illustrate my points.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Sororities and Fraternities

Being a UK seller on an American site like Etsy is a steep learning curve sometimes, so when I was commissioned to knit meerkats in Kappa Kappa Gamma sweaters I needed help!

Knitting the sweaters wasn't as difficult as trying to understand what a sorority or fraternity actually *is*, but my Etteam friends came to the rescue.

I started off by knowing only what I'd seen at the movies. One friend summed it up like this: "If you are on a sports team and in a fraternity you drink a lot and pick on the nerdy less fortunate fraternity guys. You only date the cheerleaders who are in the sororities who eventually end up leaving you for the nerdy guy you used to pick on."

There's more to it than that though.

Sororoties and Fraternities are organizations that students are asked to join when in college. The frat or sorority have a house where all the gals or guys live, and your fellow members are your sorority sisters and the connections generally last for life.

First there is what is called "rush" week. If you are interested in being in a sorority or frat you go around and meet all the people at all the "houses" during rush week to find out what they are all about, where their focus is. Many frats and sororities are also very charitable and/or service minded. Besides their academic focuses, they usually have a charity that they do a lot of work with, or pledge a certain amount of service to the local community. After rush week, you "pledge" to which sorority you want to be involved with, and they put you through a trial period to see if you fit in. If you are accepted there is an initiation ceremony, and you are in.

Another correspondent shared her feelings:

"My sorority is my home. It's my family. I met my best friends there, and I can only hope that they will be my bridesmaids some day. We all care so much about each other, that's sisterhood. We have sisterhood events, like going to the movies and social events where we pair up with a fraternity. All in all it keeps college fun. It's so easy to miss out on life with the pressures of school and work. My sorority is my little slice of heaven, it's exactly what I need it to be."

I still can't *really* understand what it must be like, but I think it must be a little like being in a supportive Etsy team like Etteam is for me. Want to join us? Come and meet us here on our chat thread or check out our Yahoo group

(and of course if you want a meerkat in a college sweater, you know where to come!)

Monday, 16 August 2010

This is ... HiGirls

Changeable neckwire

It's been a while since I've found a willing blog victim - if you'd like to be featured here, get in touch!

HiGirls is a new friend from Etsy ETTEAM who makes handbags and works in polymer clay.

Wine bottle stopper

Favourite place?

Our family's summer cottage in Maine. More specifically, on the front porch, gazing at the view with a g&t in my hand.

Favourite way to spend your time?

I love being inspired to create, getting an idea and hurling myself into creating! When inspired, I'll work until someone interrupts me, or I am driven to seek out food for survival!

Evening bag-handmade leafy balloon

Favourite item in your shop of all time?

Would have to be one of these bangles:


I'm realizing that maybe I have a thing for leaves....hmmmm...

Favourite shop that isn’t yours?

Oh my gosh, how could I answer that? There are so many fabulous shops and creative people I have met here...I love so many of my teammates shops from etteam and PCAGOE
(Nifty adds: HiGirls is too modest to tell us, but she's just won an award at PCAGOE)
jkollmann and MyMothersGarden are just two of many!

Planter by MyMothersGarden


I love their creativity, their amazing use of color and form.

What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learnt so far that you’d like to pass on to our readers?

Join any group you can or just participate once in a while in the forums and you will pick up so much useful information. I have learned so much from the extended online community here at etsy and so enjoyed making friends with folks all over the world.

Thanks HiGirls - you're right, we can (and do) learn so much from each other.

find HiGirls on facebook and in her HiGirls Etsy shop

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Saturday, 14 August 2010


What's Plush Life? I hear you ask...

We're a new Etsy team, all UK, all Plush makers.

What's a Plush? (funnily enough, that's the first question I asked our group!)

I suspect there are many many answers - we decided a plush is primarily cute and soft, though not necessarily cuddly. I've made an Etsy Treasury to showcase some of our members, and other UK plushies I love. If you'd like to join our team, please get in touch with CuteDesigns

You can read our profile here (scroll down to the bottom of the page)

Please come visit my Plushie Treasury (click here) and fall in love with adorable UK plushies!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Ironing my Beatles...would you? Could you?

Mr Nifty is gradually transferring our vinyl records (bear with me youngsters, they're like CDs but bigger) onto CDs.

But some of them are *quite* old, and weren't treated so well over the years. This one has a definite warp and is quite unplayable - yet as i saved up my pocket money back in 1967 to buy it, I'd really like to try to rescue it. There's nothing quite like the crackle and hiss of an original!

So what do you reckon - if I stick it under a cloth and run a hot iron over it, what will happen?

And on another subject - you know how one thing makes you think of another? I first heard this in a folk club in the 70s - had no idea it'd be on youtube!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Descriptions: part three!

Just a reminder that Descriptions parts one and two are well worth a read - each seller has a very different style. I'm in the process of editing all my descriptions in the light of what I've learned from these guys!

Today I'd like to look at CuteDesigns who (as the name suggests) designs and crochets the cutest amigurumi critters.

Here's one of her descriptions (I'm going to split it up and add my comments):

Alongside our world a parallel world exists, rarely known to anyone. With every full moon a gateway is briefly unlocked between our world and the “Enchanted Forest”– a mysterious world that is home to little creatures who resemble some of the much-loved animals in our own… only with a difference.

Nifty: I love this beginning! I'm expecting something (but I don't know what) very unusual, magical - I'm intrigued!

A Leaf Rustler is rare to find as they are shy creatures who conceal themselves under fallen leaves and quickly scurry away if discovered. If you ever hear rustling in the autumn leaves, tread carefully as it may be one of these little critters.

Nifty: Aha! So it's a Leaf Rustler - but what's a Leaf Rustler? And is there anyone out there who doesn't love crunching through the Autumn leaves? I adore Autumn, and leaf crunching is listed in my hobbies. I shall tread more carefully in future.

This little Leaf Rustler measures approx 4.5 inches wide and 5.25 inches tall. (12 x 13.5 cms). It is crocheted using 100% acrylic yarn and stuffed with polyester filling. It has safety eyes to see with and felt under ear decorations.

There may be very slight differences from the photo as it is totally handmade and no two can be exactly the same.

Please note that the plushies at Cute Designs are collectables for older children, teenagers and adults and are not toys for young children.

Nifty: I think cutedesigns has ordered her description very well - she's made sure we fall in love straight away, and then gets to the (still important, but no so interesting) business details - telling us about size and suitability, and making sure nobody is expecting an exact replica. Hmmm...might have to go back to the beginning of my own editing again!

Want to see a Leaf Rustler? Of course you do!

Thanks Cute!

A follow-up idea has been suggested to me - if anyone would like to join me in a paired blog post (you don't need to have your own blog, we can do it just on this one if it's more convenient), the idea is this: each of us takes an item from the other's shop and describes it in a different style, and we look at before and after. Anyone feeling brave enough, please get in touch!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Descriptions: part 2

Yesterday I showcased Celeste of CricketsCreations, today I'd like to introduce Cindy of Yellowbugboutique.

Cindy's descriptive writing works (for me) in an entirely different way. When I first saw this pillow I wasn't at all sure what it meant (you're probably quicker than I am!)

WASD pillow

The picture intrigued me though, so I read the description:

If you're under the age of thirty, you probably understand the significance of these four keyboard keys. These are the keys you've abused in marathon running, jumping, shooting, casting, straefing, climbing or diving sessions. These are the keys that gave millions of leftys an unfair advantage. These are the keys that made fortunes for orthopedic surgeons specializing in carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you're over the age of thirty, you likely have no idea what the heck we're talking about. That's OK. Just be confident that you could give this as a gift to one of the younger set and they'd be thrilled. They'd probably even think you were pretty cool for knowing what these keys symbolize

Under 30s are now feeling all nostalgic - and over 30s like me are discovering a way to be cool! Cindy is using the description in an entirely different way to Celeste, but is (I think) equally effective.

One more - I don't know about you, but these descriptions make me wish Cindy could come round for tea, but it's a long way across the pond for a cuppa.

Here in our fabulously exciting, over-stimulated Yellow Bug Bungalow, we sometimes get completely overwhelmed by the joy! the wonder! the pure delight that each day brings! In such moments, we often find ourselves swinging from the chandeliers and singing "I Gotta Be Me" at the top of our lungs.

It's hard to keep the shop stocked when we're in such moods.

So here's our antidote - the meh pillow. This baby will suck the over-enthusiasm out of a room faster than you can say "Paula Abdul". Just give this pillow to your overly optimistic boss, your chihuahua with an hyperactive bladder, or your friend who's waaay too into politics, and watch the tone come down to post-Ritalin levels.

Conversely, when we're looking at our sales figures and our rapidly-dwindling bank accounts, and wondering which piece of furniture we should break up for firewood next, this pillow helps get us back on an even keel. "It's just great Aunt Edna's priceless boudoir set", you'll hear us say. "She's been dead for years. Pass the hatchet."

So it's 12 by 12, and made from black ultrasuede. If you want one, cool. If not, no worries.

I think I'll go lie down for a while.

Note: Fez not included. (betting I'm the only person who wrote *that* phrase today)

Meh. Pillow

Thanks Cindy! After reading your descriptions I really feel like I've got a friend round for a drink and a giggle - thank you. Another twist on writing descriptions tomorrow - see you then!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Descriptions - painting a thousand pictures?

Online sellers know that a picture paints a thousand words, but I'm learning that our titles and descriptions are just as important. Our photos are our shop window, and entice our buyers inside. Our descriptions need to make the buyer feel they've now been tempted inside the shop and are picking up our lovely whatever-it-is deciding whether to buy.

Etsy have some great articles in the Storque: Making the most of your descriptions and 5 tips for item descriptions and Zibbet have an article about writing descriptions that sell

Over the next few days I want to share a few examples of descriptions I really like, starting with Celeste.

Celeste of CricketsCreations knits scarves. But not just *any* scarves - oh no! Let's read just the beginning of a description for one of her scarves, this is what will appear in google search results:

All ribbon scarves are made with a soft, textured center to warm and caress the neck. This circus-inspired, harlequin scarf features feathery, multi-colored ya

I think you'll agree Celeste is highly skilled at using keywords without sounding unnatural, she's used her available word space to intrigue us. Now let's look at some more of her seductive prose:

"All ribbon scarves are made with a soft, textured center to warm and caress the neck. This circus-inspired, harlequin scarf features feathery, multi-colored yarn at the neck, ends and fringe with blue, emerald green, orange red, white and more. And then I added even more crazy, fun, sparkly, textured, clown-colored yarns in the ends and fringe!

This interesting, handknit design is so different! This boldly colored scarf is warm without being suffocating and is the perfect length (almost 6 feet or 2 metres long including fringe) to dangle down to the thighs/knees like a rock star or bundle around the neck to really set off your features.

Only soft, designer, vintage or novelty yarns (vegan). No allergenic animal fibers.

Designed & knit in the clean, fresh, high desert air in the heart of Grand Canyon country, USA (no cigarette, perfume or pet odors)

Hand wash in cool water with mild soap. Resist wringing to dry. Dry flat.

You almost don't need to see a picture! Look how much information Celeste has given us! We know all about the colours, the texture, her inspiration, and that we can aspire to being rock-chicks if we buy this lovely scarf. We know it'll be fresh and clean, we know how to care for it once purchased. We're imagining our night out on the town...

I'm going to take pity on you now and let you see a picture (and check out the amazing title!), but remember to come back to finish reading after you've bought the scarf please!

She Joined the Circus at an Early Age (Handknit Ribbon Scarf in Green, Blue, Red Orange and White with Satiny Sheen and Glittery Sparkles)

Thank you Celeste "Queen of Adjectives" - you're an example to us all! Come back tomorrow to read a very different style of descriptive writing from another seller who inspires me - but for now, I recommend spending some time browsing CricketsCreations. It's not long till Christmas...!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Spam - and comment moderation

I've reluctantly added comment moderation after spotting this comment left recently....

"I’m currently being held prisoner by the Russian mafia *link removed* and being forced to post spam comments on blogs and forum! If you don’t approve this they will kill me. *link removed* They’re coming back now. *link removed* Please send help! *link removed*"

Being of the female persuasion, Niftyknits has no need for enlargement in that area.

I wish my anonymous commenter every success in his escape plans.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Giveaway result

Thank you everyone who entered - it was great to hear what "says home" to you.

I listed the total of 24 entries (including the second goes - it seems we're all manet fans) and asked to choose the winner:

11th entry was jms, also known as blogger joyknitt, congratulations!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


Ever wanted to train yourself in a quality British accent? Now's your chance! Our weekend newspapers gave me two audio books of classic British stories read by classic British gentlemen: Alice in Wonderland read by Alan Bennett and The Wind in the Willows read by Sir Derek Jacobi. (Although Alice Meerkat leapt at the chance to get in the photo, she is not included)

One of my favourite sections in 'Wind in the Willows' is when Mole suddenly senses he's near home and gets all excited - so to enter my giveaway I'm going to ask you to leave me a comment telling me something that says "I'm home!" to you.

On Friday I'll put the entrants into and choose the winner - that's it! Easy peasy! I'll also send you one of my fridge magnets which go out with each of my knits. I read recently on Etsy forum that some people chuck magnetic business cards like mine straight in the bin, so for a second entry please leave me an honest answer (don't worry about hurting my feelings) - do you throw fridge magnets away, or would mine end up on a fridge somewhere?

***WORLDWIDE*** (forgot to add this earlier!)

Monday, 2 August 2010

Is it me, or are alleys getting narrower?

Does Nifty's butt look big?

Can you see the name of the cottage behind Mr Nifty?

Yes, this really is the name of the alleyway, in Whitstable on the Kent coast.

This is one of many similar alleyways in Whitstable, left over from the days when smugglers needed to make a quick escape! Whitstable is a very strong contender for where Mr Nifty and I want to live when we grow up.