Previous month:
June 2008
Next month:
August 2008

Memory Lane Part I

I can't believe the heat wave we're having here in Sweden. Not very common for this country. Wille and I went to the local pool and also played a round of mini golf earlier today but are now happier inside than out.

Skanna0018_40

I promised you a trip down memory lane earlier and we're starting the tour in our first own apartment in the center of Stockholm. We bought it in 1989 and lived there for five years. It was 44 square meters which is about 500 square feet or so. One room and kitchen. At this time our style was even junkier than it is now. We still have the locker which was found in a dumpster if I remember correctly but it's now in the garage housing gardening stuff. The sofa was a junkshop find which I "upholstered" with some blue stretchy fabric. The shelves are probably our first ever self build. There was a place closeby called Verkstan which means The Workshop. Anyone could go there and for a small fee use the carpentry shop, craft area, photo studio and much more. We dragged the sides and shelves on a luggage trolley which broke down on the way. Back home we assembled the shelving unit.

Our color scheme back then was basically navy and red. The walls in were a buttery yellow and we used to love tartans and other checks. Our love for wooden toys is already obvious. I gave Martin the fire truck for his birthday one year.

Skanna0020_40

The great thing about this small apartment was that the kitchen was huge. A country kitchen in the city. You can't see it in this photo but the sink in the back to the right was marble and you had to do the dishes in a separate basin which we kept in the cabinet under the sink.

Skanna0019_40

Martin and I loved this apartment but Wille was born in 1994 and we realised it wasn't very practical. The stove in the back looked great but when the oven was turned on the whole thing became super hot and neither the tiny bathroom or the kitchen sink were very practical. Wille's crib was actually in the kitchen as there was more space for it there than in the room so with him crawling and soon walking it was kind of dangerous. We moved to a bigger apartment when he was nine months old. That will be part II of Memory Lane.


Cleaning Day

131_web

Today was cleaning day at our house. I watched a BBC TV show this morning called Houses Behaving Badly and after seeing the grimy house which they cleaned I went into a frenzy and brought all the beddings and the sofa cushions outside, airied them out and washed all the covers.

130_web

On the show they say you should change your sheets every week. I have to admit I don't so after hearing about the dust mites I figured I'd air the mattresses too... Wille's is small enough for the deck chair. 

132_web

Our double one stayed inside, window wide open, vacuumed and aired by lifting the middle up to let the air circulate underneath. I promised myself I'll bring it outside too one of these days.

129_web

My livingoom slip covers are cotton. The one on the sofa actually says dry clean only but I toss them in the washing mashine all the time anyway. A good idea is to get two sets. I did that so when one set is dirty and I don't have time to wash it right away the other one can be used. Another thing if possible is to have reversible cushions. If one of my cushions gets dirty and the rest of the sofa is still ok I can just flip that cushion. A great way of getting the covers on is to put them on while they're still damp. Mine are quite a wrestle to put on when I switch from one set to the other.

Some of you have asked how I keep my sofa and armchairs so white but if you look closely enough when they are not newly laundered you will see that after a while they are not 100% white... If I get a small stain on them, like a fleck of chocolate I spot clean, take a dampened micro fiber rag and rub the stain  and then rinse with a bit of water. If my cats walk all over with dirty paws, which they do all the time, I wait until the paw prints have dried. That way I don't spread the wet dirt out and into the fabric, but it can usually be brushed off.

Once a week I vacuum the sofa and armchairs and do a bit of boxing on the cushions to fluff them. I'd say I wash the sofa covers about every two or three months or so and the armchair ones about every month/six weeks as the cushions seat cushions on them are not reversible.

133_web

I finished my cleaning frenzy off by vaccuming the upstairs floors and mopping them with a damp rag with cleaning solution and white vinegar. I'm still not done for today though because now I need to make the beds and put the covers back on. Might change the colorscheme around a little now that everything is clean and the pillow covers are off.  I recently bought some new fabrics on Etsy so I might sew a few covers tomorrow in between painting windows. We'll see. 


My etsy experience

Another e-mail question. This time from Constança from Portugal. She's thinking of opening an Etsy shop and wants to know about my Etsy Experience.

Etsy_banner_web

Martin and I have always made things. Martin is the more artsy one of us and enjoys illustrating and painting. I'm the craftsy one, I sew (although Martin is really good at sewing too!), screen print, gocco print and paper craft.

As I was starting to upload photos to Flickr in December I was getting questions on items around our house which we made ourselves so the idea of opening an Etsy shop came up.

Sovrum_kuddar_web

I started out with the Mini and Bonus pillow covers and later added the Mini design on double cards, note cards and favor bags and a little later on the robot designs.

019_2_web

I'm pretty satisfied with the results. I'm not making a lot of money and what I make I usually spend in other Etsy shops but it's been fulfilling in terms of the joy of having a shop and others liking our designs.

016_3_web

We're not really sure how to go on with the shop at the moment. Our original stock is thinning out and although we have a million ideas we also don't have a huge amount of time and it does take time to run even a little hobby shop like ours. Selling a five dollar item doesn't really pay considering the fact that the production takes time and it takes quite a bit of time listing the item and once you have orders, you pack and ship which takes time too.

167_web

The more expensive items in the shop are more worthwhile in terms of making money although they also take a lot more time to make. For the pillow covers I'm prewashing and ironing the fabric, hand cutting the screen template, screen printing, setting the print by ironing again, zigzaging and sewing the pieces, assembling the cover and ironing once more. With the dollar being extremely low I don't make much on each cover when translating into Swedish kronor. I still enjoy it all, it's just that with a full time job, a house, a family and the blog there's simply not much time left. What I'm saying is that I might keep the shop on the slow burner and add new items if and when we have the time. I'm starting to realise there are only 24 hours in a day and I should at least sleep six of them and have a couple left over for sitting down infront of the TV and reading a magazine or two.

013_web

Here are a few tips that I've learned along the way. Maybe you can add some in the comments section if you have a shop.

  • Weigh your items and your packing materials before setting the shipping cost. I wrapped my items with too much (unnecessary) material in the beginning and ended up paying far more for the shipping than I'd stated. Do wrap everything nicely but simply though and add a little "thank you for your business" note.
  • Unless you know your items will fly through the door of your shop add them as "1 available" and relist the item after selling it instead of listing a larger quantity. You pay for each item and if the listing time runs out and you haven't sold everything your'e loosing the listing fee and will need to relist again and thus paying twice. To be fair the listing cost is very small, but still.
  • Don't charge too little for your items. Do a search on simliar items on Etsy and find out the going price and consider if this works for you. If not charge what you think your item should be worth. If not you end up running to the post office a lot and making next to nothing.
  • You may want to have a few not so expensive items in your shop, at least to begin with, just to get your shop going. As you're selling and getting good feedback your shop gets more trustworthy and will attract buyers more than a shop without any feedback. You do get feedback by buying on Etsy too though so if you've been a good customer in other shops you are probably a trustworthy seller too :)
  • I'd say skip the Showcase (advertising your item on a certain Etsy page for 24 hours). Others may disagree but having my items there over a weekend didn't do much for the sales. Again in all fairness quite a few faved my shop after seeing it there, but it's up to you if you want to spend the money.
  • Advertise your shop by sending e-mails, letting fellow bloggers know you are out there instead. I sent some e-mails to Flickr friends who had featured me on their blogs earlier and they were all so sweet and posted about my shop which brought me some business.

That's my Etsy experience. I have to say I do love Etsy, I love that I can get affordable art there and cute fabrics and it's such a pleasurable experience buying from all the wonderful shops.

Are you Etsy sellers? I'd love to visit your shops!