Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cyber Monday Thoughts

A few years back I read Judith Levine's book, Not Buying It, which tackled the question of why we buy things and what we get out of it. I read the book right before Christmas that year and decided as soon as the holidays were over I'd give the experience of not buying anything but food or other essentials (toilet paper, toner, printer paper, staples, glue, etc.) a try. I made it through a year, too -- just, sort of, almost. I stopped mid-December since I knew I would want to buy my family presents, so in reality I made it just over 11 months (Christmas to Christmas). I tried to make quite a few presents, but even so I needed to buy some. I rationalized both years that I couldn't not buy Christmas presents, they were essentials after all. To some extent, I still feel that way. In our family we always try to give very personal, and hopefully, thoughtful presents.  We open one present at a time and watch each other intently as whoever's turn it is opens their present. We pass the presents around, we ooh and aah over them, and admire the thoughtfulness of the person who chose that particular present to give. It feels pretty far removed from the mad rush of Black Friday shopping, over the top spending, unneeded and unnecessary presents, hastily torn open presents on Christmas morning, and just about everything else that's wrong with the holiday these days. Yet it's still pretty far removed from the actual reason for the holiday. But it's also an incredibly bonding and special time for our little family and we love the time spent together.

All of which makes me feel very much at odds as I try and think how to attract people to my etsy shop. How much of a discount should I give? How do I appeal to people? This is my first year on etsy through the holiday season. I want people to buy things from my shop. I need people to buy things so I can pay bills. And then, when I don't sell anything for days, I feel a bit down and worried. What did I do wrong? Where are all the online shoppers? Am I selling useless and unnecessary things? I'm thoroughly enjoying the creative process, and making the shawl pins and gourd birdhouses and ornaments, etc. in my shop, but I'm having a hard time trying to reconcile those feelings of wanting zillions of etsy sales and adhering to the testimony of simplicity that we live by as Quakers and all those reasons for not buying stuff that Judith laid out in her book.

I thought about it some and decided to go ahead and give 10% off for Cyber Monday. (The code is listed on my shop's front page.) I hope I give as much thought to each thing I make as I do to each present I buy my own family. I know I dwell over everything, making sure it's the best I can do. I'm still not so sure I should be actively participating in all the hoopla of trying to lure customers to my online store. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all don't sit well with me. And yet. I just hope everything I make will make someone else as happy in the receiving as I am in the making. Maybe it will make someone ooh and aah in delight.

As a P.S. I have started two new knitting projects -- one of which will be for my daughter as a Christmas present!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My First Shawl!

I sent my update on learning to knit over to daughter Erica's blog, but wanted to put something up here, too. I actually finished my very first shawl, which also happened to be my very first knitting project. I promised myself I would have it done by the end of October and I am happy to report I met my own deadline. After all the initial excitement of learning how to actually knit, I kind of fell behind in reporting how I was faring because of Hurricane Sandy. We didn't have any major damage at our house -- we were very lucky -- but we did have a few large trees come down and lots of branches and twigs, all of which needed to be chopped and bundled and dragged down to the street for pick up. To read more about that, please visit my other blog.

No sooner had we cleared it all up then Winter Storm Athena (since when do they name Nor' Easters??) decided to come roaring into town. The rain and wind were almost as bad as the hurricane, and at times actually seemed worse. Since so many trees were compromised in the hurricane, Rick and I were wondering if we should sleep in the bedroom, which is surrounded by some very tall trees. Opportunities for photographing the shawl were slim with everything else that needed getting done, so my shawl sat on the rocking chair where I could exclaim "Aren't you proud of me?" quite loudly several times a day to anyone within earshot. I tried the shawl on everyone (except the cat, but including my husband) and admired my handiwork. I was pretty darn proud of myself. I always thought knitting was sort of impossible to learn. Kind of like trying to learn a foreign language (at least for me). It was some mysterious thing that made my eyes glaze over whenever Erica tried to explain it before. Knitters were strange fanatics with weird yarn addictions. I wasn't tempted to join the club, although I must admit a soft spot for squishy yarn. I'm not sure why it sunk in this time, but I know my knit and purl stitches now and don't mix up the front and back anymore. How amazing is that? Anyway, the shawl was actually finished in mid-October, after which Erica kindly took it home and blocked it for me making it nice and even. While she was blocking it, I looked through a bunch of my crochet books for an edging. I crocheted the edging on and was completely done with the shawl a few days before the hurricane. Then things got a little crazy for a bit.

My first knitting project -- a simple shawl.
But yesterday was absolutely gorgeous and I was determined to get Rick to take my picture. Had Erica been around she would have had me changing my clothes and brushing my hair, making a big to-do of this very important moment. Rick was more into getting a good shot of the shawl and didn't notice my outift or disheveled hair. After 33 years of marriage I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. Does it mean he loves me no matter how I look, or that he doesn't "see" me anymore? Hmmm . . . anyway, I suppose I should be happy I've lost twenty pounds -- another amazing feat I can't believe I accomplished! -- but I looked pretty damn ridiculous. I looked, gasp, like Dopey. So here I am, shown from the back so you can't see my very baggy unbecoming shirt, wearing my very own mystery shawl. I've already gotten another skein of yarn from Erica (I think it was Zombies Ate Barbie, love the name) and am happily in the beginning stages of knitting a cowl. I also didn't return her Knit Picks circular needles. I may hold them permanently hostage!