Monday, 1 December 2014

December Already

Well, December is here and it is officially the first day of winter, but what does December mean to you?

As a child I remember the excitement of the run up to Christmas and all the festive decorations in the shops. It was always snowing in my memories and everyone was happy and full of Christmas Cheer.

As I have got older I have realised how commercial it all is these days and that takes away some of the magic.  Also as an adult there is so much to do at this time of the year, and as a small business owner it is also very busy. So once again it is a juggling act to keep my customers happy and give the family a wonderful Christmas.

December's here already, but how can that be so
Summer has only just left us and now we're thinking snow!
Christmas gets ever nearer - I won't be ready in time
Presents to buy and food to cook -  oh and tickets for the Pantomine
It wasn't always this hectic, not when I was small
I just waited and waited for the day when Santa came to call

Life was simple in those days and everything was great
The hardest thing I had to do was, well, just sit and wait
But now that I'm a grown up, it isn't quite such fun
I'm starting to get worried 'bout the things still to be done
I'll make a list, so I wont forget - I really cannot risk it
I just have time for a cup of tea and maybe a chocolate biscuit.

I really quite enjoy it all - if I tell the truth
At least I have much more control, than I did in my youth
They'll eat just what I give them, and like the presents I make
And if they don't I'll shut them up with a great big slice of cake!

Happy December everyone!

Monday, 24 November 2014

To Stir or Not to Stir

This week we have a British Christmas Tradition dating back to the time of Prince Albert - Stir up Sunday! Yesterday, 23 November 2014 was Stir Up Sunday.

The last Sunday before Advent is when the vicar recites the words of the collect "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people"  This is the cue that Christmas is only a few weeks away and it is time to make the pudding.  Of course nowadays the supermarkets have been reminding us that the Festive season is drawing closer for weeks and weeks!

So, traditionally families would gather together to make the Christmas pudding, each taking a turn to stir the mixture and make a wish. In times gone by a silver sixpence was added to the mix with the hope that it would bring good fortune to whoever found it in the pudding bowl. Nowadays of course, Health & Safety would have a field day with that concept!

So, do you make your own Christmas Pudding or do you just buy one of the many on offer in our shops? Or maybe, you don't like Christmas Pudding - I believe there are people who don't!

What about the Christmas Cake?  

Years ago I always made a fruit cake in late November and then "feed" it with alcohol right up until Christmas Eve. Then I would cover the cake in marzipan, eating nearly as much as made it onto the cake. The royal icing and decorations were added whilst watching an old black & white film on the TV. Ah those were the days - nowadays I don't seem to have the time!

Shall I make a Christmas Cake, or shall I buy one in?
I'd need to buy ingredients and probably a tin
There's gifts to buy and cards to write. much still to be done
Is there time to make a Christmas Cake - enough for everyone?

Perhaps I'll buy one and ice it , I don't think they would know
I could add ribbon & holly and ice a Ho Ho Ho
And when they say "It's lovely, you must tell us how its made"
I'll say "Old family recipe - can't share it I'm afraid"

Monday, 17 November 2014

Tradition or Correctness?

Over the weekend (15 & 16th November), children in Holland and Belgium have been very excited about the arrival of Black Peter (Zwarte Piet), who is a companion to Saint Nicholas according to folklore.

He arrives by boat wearing a brightly coloured costume and hands out sweets to the children. Actors who play the part, paint their faces black and don frizzy wigs.

It is said that Black Peter spies on the children to report back to Saint Nicholas who is good and who is not! He then takes part in the annual feast of Saint Nicholas on 5th (or 6th) December.

The tradition dates back to the 1800s  when Black Peter was thought to be a devil like creature. However since the turn of the 20th century his character has been softened to make him more child friendly and less frightening. It is now said that he was a Spanish or Italian Chimney sweep who had a permanent layer of soot on his body.

This year the arrival of Black Peter has sparked cries of racism and attempts were made to change him to rainbow coloured or white. Indeed the people of Gouda in Holland were so incensed by it all, that they caused a riot which resulted in 60 arrests. They wanted to make him yellow and call him Cheese Peter after the name of their town.

I find it very sad that a tradition dating back many many years has become the subject of "political correctness".  What do you think? Should it be allowed to continue or is it time to give it all up?

On a happier note Christmas looms ever closer, and I have actually started my Christmas shopping now!

 Running a Craft Supplies website, I start thinking of the Festive Season early in the year when I begin to upload items on to the website. giving everyone plenty of time to make their Christmas themed crafts. So I always think that the big day is ages away and all of a sudden it creeps up on me. Silly really, because I know what date it is - it never changes!

I will leave you this week with this Christmas thought:-

What kind of music do Elves like best?

Wrap music!

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Story of the Christmas Spider

I know Halloween is over and you all thought that you were done with spiders until next year. But I want to tell you the story of the Christmas Spider so that you will understand why you must have a spider hanging in your Christmas Tree.

On Christmas Eve, a long time ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year – Christmas Day.  Not a speck of dust was left.  Even the spiders were banished from their cosy corner on the ceiling and they ran to the farthest corner of the attic.

The Christmas tree was beautifully decorated. The poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree. The oldest and wisest spider suggested that perhaps they could wait until everyone had gone to bed and then get a closer look.

When the house was dark and silent, the spiders crept out of their hiding place. When they neared the Christmas tree, they were delighted with the beauty of it.  They crept all over the tree, up and down, over the branches and twigs and saw every one of the pretty things.

The spiders loved the Christmas tree and all night long they danced in the branches, leaving them covered with spider webs.  When Father Christmas arrived, he was worried!  He loved the little spiders, but he knew the mother, who had worked so hard to make everything perfect, would not be pleased when she saw what the spiders had done.

With love in his heart and a smile on his lips, Father Christmas reached out and gently touched the spider’s webs. The spider’s webs started to sparkle and shine!  They had all turned into sparkling, shimmering silver and gold.

According to legend, ever since this happened, people have hung tinsel on their Christmas tree.  It has also become a custom to include a spider amongst the decorations on the Christmas tree.

So now you know the lovely German Folk Tale about the Christmas Spider. 

As I have lots of lovey beads in my little craft room I have been making Spiders for Christmas and you can see my efforts in my Folksy Shop here

Of course it doesn't have to be a beaded spider, maybe you can make a spider using different materials - I would love to see your ideas.

I will leave you with my favourite quote of the week 

STRESSED is just DESSERTS backwards!

Monday, 3 November 2014

Little Dragons of Ogmore-by-Sea

As you know, it was Halloween last week and Lorna and Lena the Dragon sisters asked for the night off to meet up with some friends.   On the way back they met up with their Friend Mr Ashton in Wales who told them a sad tale of some local dragons.

The Little Dragons of Ogmore-by-Sea.

With little red legs that are covered in scales
They sit in their little dark caves
A creature that’s only now found in South Wales
Watching the cold rolling waves.

On the coast of Glamorgan where nobody goes
They quietly smoulder and sit
Scratching their ears with their little sharp toes
In their den in some caves near Llantwit.

Although they are fierce they are terribly shy
And also they’re terribly rare.
And as they’re nocturnal that’s possibly why
Nobody knows they are there.

Their range is restricted by habitat loss
So now they’re found nowhere at all
Except for a churchyard in Culverhouse Cross
And the coast between Rhoose and Porthcawl.

They’re eight inches long and have leathery wings
And mouthfuls of needle like teeth.
But those who have seen them assure me the things
Are quite soft to touch underneath.

They were thirty feet long in the past so they say.
Especially some of the males,
When they preyed upon virgins but virgins today
Are rarer than dragons in Wales.

So with nowhere to live and their diet gone wrong
The dragons have grown very small
And if something’s not done it won’t be all that long
Before there’s no dragons at all.

I’m told they like cat food by people who know,
They tell me it’s just what they need
So leave them a tin on the beach when you go
Down to Ogmore to help them to breed.

 So remember, next time you go to Wales, take some Cat Food with you to help the poor little Dragons.  Lorna and Lena don't have a cat, but they know of witches who do, so they are busy contacting them.

With Halloween and half term behind us, thoughts now turn to the Festive Season. So next week will bring the first of our Christmas themed blogs.

So tell me - have you started buying presents yet, or are you a "rush round on Christmas Eve" sort of person?

Until next time .........

Monday, 27 October 2014

Making Memories with Paper Stars

Last year at about this time I learnt how to make German Paper Stars (Froebel Star).  I know it looks complicated, but once you get the hang of it, they really are quite addictive. There is no glue involved - it is just four strips of paper folded in such a way to make a 3D star. I made then in all colours and sizes  and proudly displayed them at a local Christmas Craft Fair.

 A middle aged couple stopped at my stall, and the lady burst into tears. After several minutes sobbing and being calmed by her Husband she was able to talk to me.

"When I was little" she said "my Father made paper stars just like these every Christmas.  He died when I was still too young to learn how to make them myself. Every year we search to find new ones to replace the old ones which are now torn and faded, but we never find any. Today we were driving through Sevenoaks and saw the sign for this fair, so we decided to call in, not really expecting very much. "

More tears followed, but I now realised they were happy tears.

"So" said her Husband "can we buy all you have, it would make my wife very happy". 

"No" I Replied "I don't think you should buy them, but I will sell you a pack of paper strips and the instructions to make your own"

Overjoyed, the couple left the stall after telling me I had given them the best Christmas present ever.  It still brings a tear to my eye as I remember them, and I hope they are preparing to make some paper stars for this year.

So, why don't you make some with your family this year and create some new memories.  Just take four paper strips and follow the instructions!

If that looks a bit too difficult to follow then go to YouTube here and follow one of the tutorials.

We have lots of different designs of paper strips on our website so why not have a look and see which ones you like Paper Strips

I will leave you with this story overheard in a doctors surgery:

Woman: Doctor I am terribly constipated, I don't go for days!
Doctor: How many days?
Woman: Sometimes a whole week.
Doctor: And when you do go, do you have difficulty passing a motion?
Woman: Something dreadful Doctor. I often sit there for five or six hours.
Doctor: Do you take anything?
Woman: Oh yes, I take my knitting!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Halloween is on the way

Halloween will soon be upon us, and I have to admit it is not something I have ever really celebrated. Having said that, it seems to be becoming more popular in this country as the supermarkets are full of pumpkins to carve into lanterns.

Two of the Glitterwitch staff are however, getting very excited about Halloween.  They are Pearl & Purl the Spiral Witches.

Spiral Witches are excited, Halloween is on the way
They've asked to have some time off - but only for the day
They really are hardworking, they never take a break
Except to have a little snack, washed down with green milkshake

They are getting quite excited, looking forward to the date
To fly off on their broomsticks and hope they're not too late
To meet the other witches, all done up in their best
The meeting place a little vague - just fly towards north-west!

The witches will all gather, on a mountain somewhere high
And laugh and joke and whizz around across the midnight sky
And then as dawn is breaking there's a change of atmosphere
They wave goodbye and journey home to work another year.

Do you do anything at Halloween have you ever been out Trick or Treating?

I will leave you with this witchy thought:
Laugh and the world laughs with you, cackle maniacally and the world backs away from you!

The Spiral Witches were recruited to Glitterwitch by Cathy at Spiral Rose

Monday, 13 October 2014

Granny's Magnificent Jumper & Badgers

Lorna, our Marketing Dragon has persuaded her friend Mr Ian Ashton, to tell us one of his amusing craft related stories.

Granny’s magnificent jumper:
When I was a young boy Granny announced that she would knit me a jumper in which to play cricket. A cricket jumper was a grand thing, all cable stitch and extra-long so it covered your back when bent over batting and the maroon and blue school colours round the vee-neck. 

There was only one fly in the ointment. Granny couldn’t knit her brows.

 The jumper was an almost perfect cone with a neck that descended to about waist level. The two stripes round the neck were a sort of polka-dot with white stitches showing through randomly in amongst the maroon and blue. The cabling was so thick that the jumper made a fairly effective sort of armour against any fast bowling. The piece de resistance however was the sleeves. 

Cricketing jumpers in those days tended to have longer sleeves, especially for bowlers, because the umpire looked after them while they bowled and tied the sleeves round their waists and in consequence the sleeves stretched. Granny’s sleeves would have gone round a very portly umpire without stretching, one being significantly longer than the other as well. 

Of course I had to wear the jumper. Thank goodness my dear aunt unpicked it and knitted it up into something that looked like a proper cricket jumper and because my Granny’s eyesight was not too good and she never noticed either the original defects or her daughter’s reworking.

What a lovely story - thank you Mr Ashton.

Now, I also want to talk to you about badgers. Yes, thats right those black and white woodland creatures who live in sets.  To be honest, they are not something I know very much about as I don't live in the countryside. But one group of crafters feels very strongly about what is happening to the badgers , so strongly in fact that they have set up a small album of badger related items  and will give a percentage of all sale to the Stop The Cull campaign.

Click here to get the facts about culling badgers.

Click  here to have a look at the wonderful makes in the BFG Fight the Cull Badger Showcase.

Well that's all for this week, I will leave you with this thought:
Creativity is contagious - pass it on!

To read more by Ian Ashton click here

Monday, 29 September 2014

A Dragon Romance

Some of you may know that we had a new dragon visit us at the weekend. Well, here is the story that led to us meeting "Oscar".

At night when the household is sleeping
The Dragons are going online
Searching for others all over the world

And helping themselves to some wine!

They have signed up to various websites
Like "Meet a Mystical Mate"
And Lena has taken a fancy to one
Who has asked her out on a date

Lorna says she must be cautious
And not to get carried away
So, Oscar has sent them a photo
And the girls have asked him to stay.

Alfie has done risk assessments
 Of meeting a stranger on line
But Lena says he shouldn't worry
She's sure it will all be just fine

Oscar arrived very promptly
At exactly the time they'd agreed
With flowers and beads to give Lena,
Which made her go very weak-kneed

Our Lena was suddenly blushing
And couldn't quite meet Oscar's eye
Lorna was just sitting staring
For she had gone terribly shy.

So there we are, is this the start of a Dragon romance, and which of the sisters will win his heart?
Well you will just have to wait to find out - come back soon and see what happens,

Lorna & Lena were recruited to Glitterwitch by the lovely Tina from Mists of Azura and Oscar is a OOK (one of a kind) Dragon  from the wonderful  Goblin Dreams . Why not pop over and say Hello to them and thank them for giving us so much fun.

Until next time .......

Monday, 22 September 2014

Searching for New Markets

Yesterday I went to the Craft, Hobby & Stitch Trade Show in London to see what new goodies I could find to tempt you with on the website. A lot of the stands were focused on Christmas items, which I thought a bit strange! They only sell to trade customers and it is nearly October, so most of us have our Festive stock in place and selling. I expected to see Spring or Easter items and was disappointed.

If any of you have been reading this blog from the very beginning you may remember my comments about a previous Trade Show I attended. I shall repeat them again here as the practice seems to continue.

 A couple of the stands I visited had very smart (and good looking) young men on them - always an attraction for ladies of a certain age! Yet on further inspection, they seemed to have very little knowledge of the craft business!  Is this the equivalent of scantily dressed girls at motor shows and is it acceptable?  What do you think?

Now, on a different note, a good friend of mine just happens to be a very entertaining Poet and Author and has very kindly penned this wonderful poem for Lorna (Marketing Dragon) to help her find new customers.

The search for new markets.

I wonder if there is some alien race
That has taken to crafting somewhere out in space.
And I wonder when gazing at night at the stars
If there’s aliens crafting on Venus and Mars.

I wonder if aliens’ fancies and needs
Include knitting needles, and craft wire and beads
And Boshi wool yarn and nice wooden dolls
Or if they’d buy Washi Tape, wholesale, in rolls.

I’m sure if they did, and were willing to pay,
They could get them from Glitterwitch were there a way
Of taking an order and some way to trace
Their payment and post through the vastness of space.

If I concentrate hard I could work out a thesis
For transferring stock via psycho-kinesis,
But I rather suspect banks would refuse to arrange
Any workable theories on rates of exchange.

I’m afraid that the alien market remains
A void to exploit by superior brains
And I’ll have to fall back on my markets in place;
Unless dragons and witches can travel through space.

Many thanks to Mr Ian Ashton for sending us this. If you would like to read more of  his work then click here and it will take you to his website which also tells you about the Burry Port and Gwendraeth Valley Railway which is his great love.    

Monday, 15 September 2014

Lorna the Marketing Dragon

My name is Lorna the Dragon
I help you decide what to buy
My title is Marketing Dragon
Though sometimes I do wonder why!

I spend lots of time taking photos
And trying out things you can make
Then Jan makes me tidy the office
I wish she would give me a break!

I am proud of my Marketing Title
It's something I boast to my friends
But Jan says that I should just do as I'm told

So a title's no good in the end!

Anyway, here is something that I have been trying out for you.

You will need:-
  • wire flower shape
  • beading wire
  • assorted beads
  • ribbon to hang decoration

The first task is to thread the beads onto the wire. This can be a bit tricky and time consuming but worth the effort. If you really can't face it, then use a bead spinner to thread them.

Just fill the spinner with beads then hold the end of the wire in the centre of them as you spin it with the other hand. Amazingly the beads will "jump" onto the wire.

When you have plenty of the wire filled up with the beads all you need to do is wrap it around your shape. Make sure you secure the ends and don't leave any sharp edges.

Then all that is left to do is attach some ribbon to hang your new decoration.

Try using different shapes and colours to make decorations for parties, Christmas, or just because you want to!

On our website we have a range of wire shapes here and if you don't have any spare beads, we have packs of bead mixes containing a reel of beading wire here. There is also a range of craft wires in lots of lovely colours here

Oh, and if you can't bear to thread the beads onto the wire we will be getting some bead spinners in very soon.

It is not too early to make some beaded Christmas trees for the Festive Season

That's all from me for now - I have to get back to work. Please leave a comment if you liked this blog then perhaps Jan will let me write it again.

Monday, 8 September 2014

A Crafty Trip to Belgium

Last month I visited Gent in Belgium and of course has a nose around to see what crafty things I could find.  A visit to the MIAT (Museum, Industrie, Arbied, Textiel) was essential, it having exhibitions about industry, work and textiles. One whole floor was dedicated to the cotton and wool industries which dominated the city as far back as the Middle Ages.  Here are a few of the items on display:-

This Mule Jenny Spinning machine from around 1800 was used to spin cotton yarn with the help of child labour as shown in this picture.

This flax twine mill from 1789 is the oldest remaining in North West Europe. Machines like this provided the technical inspiration for the development of more modern spinning machines in the eighteenth century.

A display of the yarn dyed in the museum using natural substances.

I spent a very interesting afternoon wandering around the exhibition, which of course, had a booklet translating all the text on the displays into English.

My next visit was to a Pipoos shop

They are a sort of high street craft store. They stock everything from beads to yarn including items for papercraft, sewing etc. They seem very popular in Belgium and I wonder if this is the model that Hobbycraft here are looking at, when they announced a desire to have a presence on our high streets. Will be interesting to see how that will work out. 

You will be amazed to hear that I did not buy anything in the Pipoos.

Feeling a little peckish I stopped at a Cuberdon stall with my 2 Euros.  This buys a bag of 5 Cuberdons, locally known as Gent noses as they are a sort of purple cone shaped jelly about 4cm high and tasting of parma violets.

Ok, time to drag ourselves away from Gent and back home. I hope you have enjoyed reading this and that it will inspire you visit such places if you ever find yourself at a loose end in Belgium.

I shall leave you with something that made me smile this week:-

There are no mistakes in crafting - just opportunities to embellish!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Fairy Showcase

Today I want to talk to you about fairies.  Now what does that mean to you?  Does it conjure up pictures of mystical creatures with magical powers who live at the bottom of the garden?

 Maybe you are a Disney fan, and it makes you think of Tinkerbell from Peter Pan, or the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella. What about Oberon and Titania, Shakespeare's King and Queen of the fairies.

We all have different ideas of what a fairy is or does. So, what happened when a group of crafty friends were asked to make something with a fairy theme?

Well , it resulted in the BFG Fairy Showcase. Certainly each person had a different take on the fairy theme and matched it to their particular craft.

Sue made an Enchanting Fairy Mushroom Pendant using the lost wax method

Gem made a Titania Faerie Headdress. Her own unique design with chains at the rear to hold it in place.

Diane made a beautiful hand stitched Fairy Door completed with a beaded bell pull

Laura made an Aluminium and Copper Bangle with a crystal butterfly.

Jakki wanted to share a lovely book with us.

and my contribution included some beaded Fairy Bag Charms.

We have set up a special Facebook page where you will find all the above items and many more:-

So, have you a different idea of what should be on a Fairy themed page - why not let us know?

I will leave you with this quote by J M Barrie, from Peter Pan:-

"Do you believe in fairies? ... If you do clap your hands." 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Its official - I'm not human!

Let's start this week with the update on the hexagon blanket. That is easy - there is no update! My hands have been swollen for the past few days and so no crocheting was possible.  That nicely links into the subject of this week's blog.

When I started this weekly update back in January, I said I would tell you a little bit about living with an auto immune disease - so here  goes. 

I have Antiphospholipid Syndrome , sometimes called Hughes Syndrome or Sticky Blood. It means that my blood is thicker than it should be and very prone to clot. I was diagnosed 3 years ago following a rather large blood clot in my groin which appeared one day for no apparent reason.  It is an Auto Immune disease which means that the body attacks itself by mistake. This can take many forms and is different for each person. I often get swelling of my arms, hands, legs and feet - which stops me being very mobile and more importantly interferes with my crafting.

But it is not all doom and gloom and I would like to share with you an amusing story.

For some reason I now have a heightened sense of smell, and one Sunday morning I went into the kitchen to start lunch when I thought I could smell gas. My husband could not smell anything, but I was sure that there was gas coming out of one of the kitchen drawers!  So, the emergency gas number was called and an hour later someone arrived. This is how the conversation went:

"Hello, I think there is a gas leak in my kitchen"

"No problem Madam, I'll just check it out with my meter.  No that is fine, no leak here"

"But I can smell it - I think it is in that drawer"

"I can assure you everything is fine- nothing shows on my meter"

"Sorry, but I can definitely smell it - can you check again?"

"If you insist Madam, but there is no leak here.  Right lets pull the cooker out then!"
"How long has this gas hob been here?"

"About 10 years"

"Well it appears there is a very minor, insignificant leak from the connecting pipe"

"So there is a gas leak then"

"Well is it so tiny that it is not detectable by the human nose"

"But I smelt it and called you out"

"Lucky guess Madam, there is no way you could have smelt it"

So the gas was turned off, and we had to wait until Monday morning for some to come out and fix it.

I shall leave you this week with a quote from Robin Williams who sadly died recently.

"You are only given a little spark of madness, you mustn't lose it"

Monday, 11 August 2014

Tea with Friends

From your feedback, I know a lot of you have small businesses which, like me,  you run on your own.  I am really proud of what I have achieved in my business  and love the fact that I get to make all the decisions, and sometimes the mistakes, myself.  But I have to admit that occasionally it does feel lonely.

So when things get a little fraught in Glitterwitch HQ I love to take tea with friends. Nowadays you don't have to be in the same room, same town or even the same country to enjoy a cuppa and chew over what is troubling you. I just pop the kettle on and settle with my tea at the computer.

I have a terrific group of friends in a similar situation on social media who seem to be available for a chat at any time of the day or night. They understand the issues around running a small business, juggling all the tasks and trying to be creative when your head is full of invoices and what is for dinner that evening! They all have a great sense of humour! We chat about the highs and the lows of our businesses and life in general.  Then, once the cup is empty, it is time to get back to work with a renewed energy and sense of calm.

Time for a little poem called Tea with Friends:-

If your yarn is in a tangle
And your balls have run away
Sit down and have a cup of tea
It might improve your day
If your beads are all a jumble
And your needle just wont thread
Put the kettle on, get the biscuits out
And have tea with friends instead.

We have lots of new items on the website this week  including wire flowers, hearts and Christmas trees for you to decorate.  Oh and don't forget the Craft Starter Kits - everything you need to learn a new craft with easy to follow instructions to get you going.

Just before I leave you, I had better report progress with the hexagons. The blanket is slowly getting bigger, but there is an awful lot of sewing up involved!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Guest Blogger: Pricing: C’mon Crafters, Let’s Get Real

This months Guest Blogger is the wonderful Kathy Ennis. Kathy is a trainer and small business mentor and frankly what she doesn't know about marketing yourself and your business isn't worth bothering with. We asked her for some advice on that age old problem of crafter's pricing their goods and here is what she said:-

 Pricing: C’mon Crafters, Let’s Get Real
As a business consultant and trainer who works with start-up and need-for-growth businesses I will often ask the question “what is the difference between a hobby and a business?”

The answer is PROFIT. And it’s from the business-savvy, don’t-want-to-be-out-of-pocket standpoint I am writing.

When explaining hobby vs. business in greater detail I will often use the example of the avid card-making crafter who spends hours (because they love it) creating beautiful works of art that they then struggle to get people to pay £1.50 for. Or they convince themselves that they are making a profit because the table at the Craft Fair only cost £20 and they made £70 in sales so they are £50 in profit. But, hang on, they haven’t calculated the cost of materials used or their time to create the £70 – probably a serious LOSS in this scenario. This is absolutely fine if it’s a hobby. You get to do something you love and you get to see those lovely things you make being purchased by someone else.

However, if we start thinking about business vs. hobby and profit how do you, as a crafter, go about pricing your products realistically?

You Determine Your Own Marketplace
Taking time to do some market research is worth its weight in gold as it will allow you to determine who you want to sell to.

For example, if you are aiming for a higher cost per item is a church-hall, table-top, craft fair the best place for you? Would you be better selling online via a really well-designed e-commerce website with the addition of face-to-face sales via regular attendance at more exclusive arts and crafts fairs?

If, on the other hand, you are aiming at greater churn of goods at a lower price you may need to limit the time you spend on creating each item, sacrifice a little of your perfectionism, buy less expensive materials and be prepared to ‘stack it high and sell it cheap’.

You Must Know Your Numbers
There are lots of methods to calculate the cost of an item. During my research for this blog, I found this really handy online Craft Calculator But I have also put together a couple of examples:

Hourly Rate x Number of Hours + Cost of Materials = Price
£45 x 5 + £25 = £250

Materials + Labour Costs (i.e. Hourly Rate x Number of Hours) + Expenses (sourcing, shipping, warehousing etc.) + Add on % (Your % profit mark-up)
£75 + £90 (i.e. £45 x2) + £20 = £185 + £18.50 (+10%) = £203.50

These two examples could be viewed as wholesale prices. Thinking of retail or supplying retail outlets? You will probably need to double the final numbers so you end up with £500 and £407.

Both of these key factors, your marketplace and your numbers, pre-suppose that:
1. You have recognised your personal worth – identified, calculated and ‘owned’ your labour cost / hourly rate
2. You have a really clear understanding of all of the overhead costs of making your crafts.

Without these, and without a standard calculation that you can apply to all of the items you produce, you pricing will be based on assumption or guesswork – and you could find yourself heavily out-of-pocket.

Kathy Ennis

020 8529 0726

Hope you have enjoyed reading this and it has given you for food for thought. Why not pop over to Kathy's website to see what else she has to say.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Weather or Not.......

The one thing that seems to get everyone talking about it, is the weather. We seems to be obsessed by it - in the winter we long for the hot sultry days and in the summer we long for the temperature to drop. Recently I asked some of my followers what their favourite season is - most votes went to Autumn, a very colourful, but sort of "in between" season.

Our daily life is peppered with weather related sayings such as "under the weather" or "fair weather friend". The latter seems easily explained, but how on earth did under the weather come to mean feeling ill?  Well it appears no one is quite sure and there are several explanations dotted about. The one I prefer is that when sailors were feeling seasick in stormy weather, they were sent below deck to recover - hence being "under the weather".

Then we have "nice weather for ducks" - do ducks really like the rain? How about "raining cats and dogs" - where did that come from? Do you have any weather related sayings that you love, and do you know how they came about? Pop them in a comment below so we can all share them.

On a different note, do you remember the hexagons I started to crochet last week and then realised how much sewing up there would b? Well, I have knuckled down and made some progress:

So, what do you think?
Your next progress update will be in two week,s as next week we have another wonderful Guest Blogger. Following the entertaining Blog from the lovely Diane at Daisy Felts this month, we have invited another Guest along - so don't forget to pop back next week to see who it is.

I will leave you with this lovely weather related quote:  "Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, just different kinds of good weather!

Monday, 21 July 2014

What's on the needles .....

This week I thought I would show you something that I am working on.  Although my website sells all sorts of craft supplies, my passion is knitting and crochet. I have been knitting since I was eight years old, but taught myself to crochet only a couple of years ago.

Mr Glitterwitch often says that our spare room has more wool than a wool shop, and so I thought it was time to have a rummage through and use something up. This is what I found at the back of the wardrobe:

Ah, yes I remember buying that, (a few years ago), the colours remind me of the seaside and I was going to make beach bags with it. Right, 3 balls of each left - what can I make to use them up?  I know I will practice my new skill of crocheting wagon wheel hexagons.

What do you think? I love them; they are quick and easy and make a lovely portable project to take with me when I travel by train. So, full of enthusiasm, over the last week I have made lots and lots of these.

Bang! then it hit me  - oh my goodness what have I done. Many of you will know that the one thing I detest about crafting is sewing up! I love making things, but absolutely hate sewing them up - probably because I am not very good at it.  So here I am merrily making literally hundreds of this hexagons which I will now have to join together ........ Come back next week for a progress report.

Now, just to be contrary, I do love sewing beads together! So here are some beaded snowflakes that have also been on my (beading) needle this week.

Well that's all for this week - I will leave you with this thought:
My biggest fear is that when I die, my husband will sell my craft materials for what I told him they cost!

Don't forget to pop over to the website for lots of crafty bits and pieces.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Elf and Safety....

Well after our brilliant Guest Blog last week from the adorable Sunshine Daisy & Baby Alien, I was not sure how to follow it. So, I thought I would tell you a bit about our newest member of staff, Alfie the Elf.

Alfie, the Elf looks at safety,
He wants us to stay safe and well.
He gives us the rules we must follow
And applies them to all personnel.

The dragons must not go near paper
Their breathing could make it ignite.
And skating on beads is forbidden,
Especially when dark in the night!

The witches must not sing too loudly,
Their voices are squeaky and high.
They cannot be heard by most humans
But attract all the dogs from nearby! 

Beading at night must now cease.
Who knows where the small beads might fall.
Then Jan will come in and fall over,
No, he cannot allow that at all.

The dragons are not very happy,
There's trouble afoot, I foretell.
They are thinking of ways to outwit him
If that fails, they'll just cast a spell!

There may be troublesome times ahead in my little red room, while the staff settle down to work together in harmony. What am I saying, harmony, two Dragons, two Witches and an Elf - I suspect there are more adventures to come!

That's all for this week, don't forget to pop over to the website to see what new items we have

Monday, 7 July 2014

Guest Blogger July 2014

Each month we will have a guest blogger to entertain you, and our very first one is that lovely (mischievous) duo Sunshine Daisy & Baby Alien from Daisy Felts.

Wooop, we’re famous!  We’re going to be guest bloggers over at Glitterwitch... yay... lets go have a mooch around the page and see what lovely goodies she sells... ohhhhh, beads, they look fun!  Can we have some Mum??? Pleeeeaseeeee!

Oh look, yummy beads to play with, wow, what shall we make Baby Alien??  I know, I know, Muuuum, can we have a needle and thread please, I promise to be careful and not stab Baby Alien with the needle... honestly!

Oh Baby Alien, you’re not meant to be playing football with the pretty beads... oh, you’re picking the nicest ones for me... oh go on then, you can help.... but mind my needle, Mum says its veeerrry sharp – ouch, my finger!!

Look Baby Alien, this is what you do... put them on the needle and push them down the thread like this, oh don’t they look pretty!

Ta dah!!!  Mum, Mum, look at the pretty necklace I made... No Mum, Baby Alien didn’t want one – he’s a boy!

Can we get more beads from the Glitterwitch site please, pretty please?? 

If you have enjoyed this tale from Sunshine Daisy and Baby Alien why not visit their Facebook page to see more of their adventures
Many thanks to the lovely Diane Dawber, creator of these two adorable characters. If you would like to see more of her work, pop over to her Etsy shop

Monday, 30 June 2014

Meet the Staff

By now most of you will know all about my Dragons, Lorna & Lena, but it is time to meet my Creative Team.  Yes, believe it or not there is a small team behind the items created by Glitterwitch. When I say small, that is a little clue - please say a big Hello to Pearl & Purl

Pearl & Purl (yes I get confused as well!) are little Spiral Witches who love helping me create new items to make. They like to sit on top of the radio and sing along to the music while they work. Generally they keep out of the way of the dragons, who are much bigger than them, and just whisper among themselves. They are very polite and well behaved and I would like to say a big thank you to Cathy from Spiral Rose who recruited them for me.

Talking of the dragons, there was a bit of an incident last night. I thought they had calmed down after the excitement of the new bead delivery, but I was awoken in the night by a noise. Imagine the scene, all is dark and  there is a rustling sound followed by some squeaky singing and then giggles. When I turned on the light - this is what I found
and this is what they were singing, to the tune of Strangers in the Night:-

Beaders in the night, exchanging glances,
Tricky in this light, what are the chances
It turns out all right, before this night is through
Do bead do bead do la la la la la

What can I say - those Dragons are incorrigible!

Despite all their mischief, Lorna, the Marketing Dragon has come up with a new idea. Each month, she is going to invite a Guest Blogger to write for you - we are all very excited about this. The first one will be next week so remember to pop back to see who it is.

So I will leave you with the challenge to guess who will be writing our Blog next week, Lorna is being very secretive about it.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Embrace Uniqueness

There are thousands of small craft businesses around these days but all are very unique. I don't just mean we sell different things, I mean in the way we run them. Some are run by a small team but many, like mine, are just managed by one person who wears lots of different hats.

We all bring our own unique thoughts and ideas into what we do and the world of crafts is a great place to experiment with them. Values instilled into us as children suddenly become an essential part of what we do. Experiences through life shape how we react to problems and surprises.  Wow that all sounds a bit deep - let me tell you what I mean:-

My Dad was in the army, and although we lost him when I was still quite young, he has left me with a sense of discipline and organisation. Even though there is only me to run Glitterwitch, I have everything documented and filed very neatly in matching ring binders on the shelves in my office.  All my beads are stored in neat little boxes, labelled and arranged on the shelves in numerical order of the stock number.  Is that all a bit over the top?  Well, my thoughts are that when my business really takes off (any day now) I will be ready ! I could take on someone to help me and they would know what to do right away.

I am sure you all have your own quirky way of doing things - which is great! We love "different", life would be very boring if we were all the same. So we must all embrace our uniqueness and keep the craft world interesting and exciting.

On a different note, the longest day is now behind us and so, (in my eyes anyway) we are on the countdown to Christmas. There will be items going on the website each week to help you with your Christmas Crafting - see there I go again, being organised in advance!

I will leave you with my favourite Christmas quote:
When you stop believing in Santa, you get underwear for Christmas!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Hobby or Obsession

Most of us have a hobby of some kind, and I guess for a lot of you reading this, it is some sort of crafting. But when does a hobby turn into something more - like an obsession?

Obsession: an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind.

Hmm, does it mean that I have a knitting obsession if I look at a field of sheep and think - he looks like a pair of socks and she would make a nice shawl? What about the fact that I give directions to people based on where wool shops are, a bit like men do with pubs! Ok, ok, so I may be a little bit obsessed with knitting and yarns of all kinds, but my stash is confined to one room, oops sorry, one house!

So, is your crafting an obsession, and if so, is it a bad thing?  I don't think it is a bad thing, after all, no one gets hurt by it (unless they get run over by a another delivery arriving), and it keeps me out of trouble - well sort of - but that's a story for another day!

Now you remember my dragons, Lorna & Lena, well they have been complaining about not having enough space to play in my office (when their work is finished of course). So Lorna has organised a sale on the website and wants to encourage you to buy lots so that she can clear a bit more space.

Pop over and have a look and then tell all your friends. Believe me, there is nothing worse than a sulking dragon!

I will leave you with this acronym - if you have an obsession, it might apply to you. SABLE
Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy

Monday, 9 June 2014

One Man Band ........

We have all heard the expression One Man Band, meaning someone who plays multiple musical instruments at the same time. I have always thought this was amazing especially as men are not known for multi-tasking are they?

 But if you look the term up in a dictionary its second meaning is "An organisation where one person does everything" Ah, now that I do understand, being a "One Woman Business" I often feel like the picture above. Or maybe it should be a juggler trying to keep all the balls in the air at the same time. There seems to be so many of those little balls and each one so important in their own right. Well I think one of my balls has dropped - pardon the expression! I have been so busy concentrating on VAT, ordering Christmas stock, making shawls, networking on social media ....... crikey I am worn out just reading the list! Anyway visits to my website are down as I need to link it to all the social media activities and I haven't got a clue how to do it. I am creative person not a web designer, how can I be expected to know how to do this?

Heyho, no good moaning about it - just have to knuckle down and learn! This time last year I didn't know how to "tweet" or "pin" and now I am up there with the best of them gathering followers as I go. Right off to read "the Idiots Guide to Running a Website" - if only there was one of those haha.

I shall leave you with this thought: Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy craft supplies and that is pretty close!

Oh and if you want to help the figures and visit my website: