Friday, December 10, 2010


This kind of made my day yesterday. I was going about my normal day, when I got an email (actually a forwarded PM) from someone who found my Leia hat project on a knitting site and wanted to let me know that the picture of the hat was currently on the front page of CNN. What!? I was kind of useless for the rest of the day.

The pic isn't on the home page now (I did get a screenshot (below - click to make bigger)), but the article is up (hat pic is in the slide show) and it's a really great article about Katie and all the support she's received. Totally worth a read.

The pic was also used on the Cake Wrecks blog in one of the funniest entries ever, Star Wars: The Next Generation. (Imagine trying to work out the plot of the Star Wars saga based only on how cakes were decorated.)

Today is "Wear Star Wars, Share Star Wars" day. Details on the Facebook page.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Brownie Pop Display

This summer, on another blog, I wrote about my experience making brownie pops (and the steps I followed). One thing I've struggled with is exactly how to serve/display the pops.

Because I make the pops the most basic way (add the sticks while baking), the bottoms are rounded, so the pops really need to be served brownie end up. I haven't had the patience to go through the steps needed to invert the process. Maybe the next time I make these, I'll give it a go.

A few weeks ago, I made some pops for a bake sale. Once again, I had to figure out how to display the pops. Somewhere online, I saw a picture of the pops displayed in a flower pot. I liked the idea but, to my surprise, the huge craft store I visited (the only one on my way home from work) had only terracotta pots, which I did not to deal with.

I found a planter that I liked, and a foam disk fit inside. I weighted it down with a bag of pebbles. It was almost perfect - I'd like it better if the foam was up a little higher, but for a practically out-of-the-box solution, it worked okay. (Sadly, they didn't sell well, so I'll stick to making them for parties.)

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pretty Tape, part 2

tape2Continuing from this post.

My order (placed on Tuesday) from TapeSwell arrived on Friday. So already, I'm impressed. The shipping was a little steep, until I considered the weight of the tape. And, like I said, the discount coupon code (link in previous post) helped make that easier to deal with. Since it arrived in 3 days, I have zero complaints.

This was a 2-roll combo pack. If you don't need the canister, order the rolls separately. (This was on sale, so it was worth it to pay just a tiny bit extra for the canister). In fact, if they're not on sale, I wouldn't buy the combo packs unless you're really bad at math (2 rolls of tape + empty canister = $16; combo pack, regular price = $20)

tape3I was pretty impressed with the packaging. The 2-roll set was in a clear drawstring bag (reusable), and the single roll and 2 blank containers were packed in a second bag.
tape1The test
As stated before, most of the decorative tape I've purchased isn't sticky enough. Most of it has required a strip of clear tape over it, so it may as well have been a strip of scrapbook paper. What I wanted was a tape that would add a bit of interest to my packages, but just stick on its own. (Not so much to ask.)

The Result?
So far, so good. I used 1 strip of the Faux Bois tape on the top and the bottom of the box (to ship my POS cell phone back) and waited several hours. By that time, most of the other tapes would already be lifting at the ends, and there is no indication that this will happen. I can't give rave reviews until I've used it a few times, but I'm cautiously optimistic.
Just for fun, I gathered up all of my packaging stuff. It doesn't all quite fit, so it has to be piled on top, but it's organized as neatly as possible (click on the pic to go to Flickr and see notes):

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

An Open Letter to LYSOs - Promotional "Goody Bags"

After the very disappointing goody bag I received some time ago at an LYS which shall remain nameless*, I started thinking about how many other cool things they could have done without a huge outlay of money. A lot of these would have the store's info. on them, to reinforce shop identity.

Back story: Some time ago, I attended an event at a Local Yarn Store (LYS), Around the same time, friends of mine attended several. At each of these, some kind of "goody bag" was promised. To keep this preamble short, let's just say that our combined experiences were less than positive: a couple of the stores had nice, or useful, bags, but the rest (and my experience matched this), appeared to be a way for the stores to offload all kinds of crap that hadn't sold. (And for good reason.) While talking about it with one friend, I started telling her about all kinds of ideas I had to create promotional hand-outs for my imaginary LYS (many of which were ideas I implemented for my Etsy shop when it was active). I realized, of course, that with the economy the way it is, the costs of the bags needed to be low. They also need to remind people where the goodies came from (something that the goody bag I received did not). The cost for these could be kept low, with time being the biggest investment. With planning, they could be worked on well in advance of an event. 

Goody Bag Ideas
Business Info is very important. Make sure that, at minimum, your store information (logo, website, address, etc.) is in/on the package at least twice: a business card with a stitch marker tied to it, a stamp or sticker on the bag, or a tag stapled to the top of a mini goody bag. If the bag is good, you do not want people forgetting where it came from, especially if they're hitting several stores in one day (shop hop kind of thing).

Cute (or clever) packaging is both fun and (in my opinion) essential. Size is not as important as quality. Doesn't have to be a big bag, or even all that fancy. Cute, clever, useful, memorable (in a good way) are the adjectives we're going for.

  • Get creative. A store I used to shop at (until the owners retired, happily) used (new) flat popcorn bags with their store info. stamped on it. These were used for small, flat items, but would make cute goody bags as well (fold over and seal with a label that has all the store info. on it). Mini shopping bags (3/$1 at the dollar store, probably less somewhere in bulk). That kind of thing. Chinese take-out containers totally rock. They're not cheap in small quantities, but I'll be a hundred or so at a go would garner a nice discount. Add a tag and shredded paper and you've got an adorable package.
  • Other packaging. Clear cellophane treat bags (sold in packs of 100 or so) with an easy topper, folded and stapled = adorable and memorable. Stick a couple of small, cute, USEFUL goodies in there, with a business card, coupon, etc. 
  • Not new, but always handy: needle index cards. Very easy to make. I used these as freebies with my first sales on Etsy, along with other things. Business info on the front of a business card, needle index on the back. Consider a crochet hook card, too.
  • Stitch markers. Shown here are a couple different kinds I've done for promotional use. All were original ideas of mine, although I'm sure they've been used by other people, coincidentally. (Great minds think alike.)
    A: simple marker in the acorn/gumball capsule with a tiny tag (acorn shaped) upon which was printed my shop's URL.
    B & C: Shrinky-dink markers. I've done 'nekkid guy' and some hand-drawn ones of my sheep character and an acorn. Some special materials required, but you can make tons of them with 1 package of good shrink material, permanent ink (contact me for specifics), a hole punch (1/8") and some jump rings. I punched 2 tiny holes in business cards and tied the mini acorn/sheep markers to the cards with string or thin ribbon.
  • Samples of things available in the store. This one might cost a bit, but not being an LYSO, I'm not sure how easy this stuff is to get, or how expensive. Eucalan sells samples of their wool wash in little one/two use packets. At the time I inquired about the price, I thought it was pretty reasonable. I don't know how much Gloves in a Bottle samples run, but I do know that after trying a sample, I went back and bought a bottle.
  • Samples of yarn. Divvy up a couple skeins of sock-yarn into several-yard mini skeins. One person at an event balled up samples, stuck them on a lollipop stick and wrapped them like suckers (cute packaging makes SUCH a difference).
  • Patterns. Most patterns that are available for free online have a statement that they are not to be copied and distributed by stores. Perhaps a designer would be willing to release a version of the pattern with permission on it for a particular store. I shouldn't have to say this, but just in case: it's not okay to buy 1 pattern and pass out copies, or to reprint tons of copies of free patterns if the designer hasn't given you permission to do so.

    I've done this with my Emergency Yarn Ornament pattern: the store in question can print out and distribute that document, with my blessings. It has their logo on it, plus all of my info. Nice partnership. I think it would be a really cute goody bag to get a small (empty) glass - or plastic = ornament and the pattern together, so the recipient could make one right away.
  • Other notions: mini emery boards, whatever oddments knitters/crocheters like to have in their notions pouches. It would be cool, although I don't know how expensive to get mini boards with a store logo. That or a small needle gauge if that can be done inexpensively.
  • 1" badges/pins (flair!) Individually, they're not cheap, but in bulk they can be a deal (even Cafe Press gets reasonable with 100-count bags). Some pro-yarn sentiment (just one more row) or something, on a pin.
  • Doorprize kind of thing. Let it be known that in one random, unmarked bag, a coupon for something special (class, %-off coupon, gift certificate, etc.) can be found. (Only worth it if the volume of bags given is high.)
  • Moo Sticker BookStickers with yarny sentiment (something with store logo is not a prize, but an identifier to put ON the bag). Make your own or see if there is an inexpensive source for ordering. makes fabulous books of stickers that can be used on packages or cut up to give away.
  • Pens or pencils with store name. Kick it old school. Everyone needs a pen or pencil in their knitting bag.

Successful promotion gifts I've heard of. These were memorable enough that people mentioned it positively to friends:
  • Pricier gifts, available when a certain purchase limit was met. One store gave out tape measures (with store logo) when people spent a certain amount. Another gave out a tote bag (again, with store logo).
  • Coupon redeemable at a later date. Certain %-off, usable in the next month, encouraged a return visit.

*I'm going to avoid giving any information that could identify the store in question, because this is not about a single store.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

May the Force be with Katie (& with you, too)

If you're a self-proclaimed (loud & proud) girl geek, you may already be familiar with Katie's story. If not, in a nutshell: at the tail end of Anti-Bullying week, Katie's mom, Carrie, wrote about her daughter's recent experience of being teased at school for - gasp! - carrying a Star Wars water bottle. (Doncha know? Star Wars is for boys?!)

Carrie asked her female readers to chime in if they were Star Wars fans, too, so Katie could see that the boys at school were misinformed. It kind of snowballed. I read about it after someone posted a link to the epbot blog (which I read, but was behind on) entry Geek Girls, ACTIVATE!! Since Carrie's blog was tough to comment on (I tried & tried), Epbot's Jen (also of Cake Wrecks fame) invited people to comment on her blog instead.

As of this date, the Epbot entry received over 3,000 comments. Carrie had to create another entry in her blog to handle all the comments (over 2,000 in the combined posts). Katie's story even has it's own Twitter hashtag (#maytheforcebewithkatie - still active).

Katie hass read many of the blog comments, or maybe all by  now (that's a lot to keep up with) and they'll all eventually be put into book form. She's worn a Star Wars t-shirt to school and is, of course, back to carrying her water bottle. (More updates on Katie - An Ordinary Story with an Extraordinary Response. -- check it out for info. on the Dec. 10th event "Wear Star Wars - Share Star Wars.")

So, what's with the pic? Well, I immediately wanted to comment on the original post, but was unable to get my login to work. I had a picture I wanted to share with Katie anyway (one of my niece ("K") dressed as Leia for Halloween a few years ago), so I tracked down Carrie's email and sent a little note along with it. On a whim, I offered to knit a hat for Katie, too. They accepted my offer, and I got to work. My niece even got into the act after she heard about Katie and helped me knit a bit of the hat on Thanksgiving. I mailed it off on Monday of this week, and Katie got it yesterday. Word is, she wore it to school today, with Storm Trooper tattoos on her arms. (Pic by Carrie Goldman, used with permission.)

Follow-up on Carrie's blog: Adopted by the Geeks and Nerds.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pretty Tape, part 1

The first thing you need to know is that I have a thing for stationery. This includes office supplies of all kinds, pens...and tape.

I love sending packages to people and one of the highlights of the experience is adding a row of fun, patterned tape to keep the envelope/package closed. Note: from personal experience, I don't recommend using the pirate/skull-and-crossbones tape on the exterior of a package being sent via US mail. The last time I did this, the package eventually showed up, but it took waaay longer than it should have!

Some of these pics are a little old - I just went with what I had on Flickr - some of it had to go. As fun as some of this tape looks, it's not really usable. It doesn't stick well at all. (Pout)

I recently discovered a company that sells some tape that looks promising: TapeSwell.I immediately ordered a couple rolls of tape and a couple of their canisters. The canisters are way cool -- the small ones will either hold a roll of tape, or can be decorated with a length of the tape. (I'm also a sucker for all kinds of packaging!) I found an coupon code online at RetailMeNot (a place I check before I order anything online), and saved almost half the shipping. (I imagine that 3 rolls of packing tape might be a little heavy.) I'll come back & share the results. Will it stick, or not?

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