Review: Craft, Inc.

The ultimate dream for any artist and crafter is to be able to open up a shop where they can sell their creations and make a living from their passion. Thanks to sites like Ebay and Etsy, crafters can do just this. For those of you who think you might want to eventually swap out your 9-5 job to pursue a business based off your creative designs, then Craft, Inc.: Turn your creative hobby into a business, by Meg Mateo Ilasco, is your guide into getting your business started

Mateo Ilasco uses Craft, Inc. to hit all the major points of starting your own crafty company. Her writing is crisp and tailored perfectly to today's crafting audience. The chapters are loosely organized around topics such as: starting a new business; overview of business topics; making your product identity; marketing (with heavy emphasis on internet and trade show techniques); production and pricing; and how to live beyond the dream. She teaches you how to make business and marketing plans and how to act when you're invited to trade shows. The book also contains many internet resources to help you along the way to turning your crafting hobby into a profitable business.


CardNets are templates that are designed to facilitate a more free-form or non-sequential style of linking ideas and activities. CardNets use little navigational icons to establish relationships among different cards. This approach can be useful when you're performing complex tasks with many individual sub-tasks that require different styles of note taking yet are related to one other.

Right now, the Core Set is available (adapting the most used templates from my hPDA templates). The next sets will cover project/process planning and novel plotting. Please suggest ideas for other complex processes that you'd like to see rendered using the CardNet approach.

Instructions on how to use CardNets are available on my website.

Usage advice: 

Click on ".pdf" and ".png" links to download templates from the web page. Can also be inserted into Word documents, etc.

Paper size: 
Index Card (3 x 5)
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
Any graphics package that can open .pdf and .png files

A Southpaw's Experiments with Fountain Pens

The first time Doug posted an article on fountain pens, I felt a familiar urge creep up my back. It entered my "office supply junkie" nerve and made me drool. Fountain pens are the ultimate in writing shiny. A delicate balance of elegance and environmental reuse. I recall dabbling with cartridge-style calligraphy pens back in high school and how fun it was to write with them. Thanks to Doug's article, I knew that I wanted to give them a second chance. So a few months ago, I decided to hop onto the enabler bandwagon. I started researching fountain pens and what types would work for me. At this point, you're probably wondering why I said research. You'd think I'd have just gone and ordered the best looking pen right away. However, I'm a left-hander, a southpaw, and not all fountain pens work for us. Therefore, I've written this for those left handers out there who want to give fountain pens a shot. This article sums up what I know and have experimented with.

Fountain pens are not created equally for both right and left-handers. Fountain pens work different than modern pens; they are made to drip ink across a piece of paper when a hand pulls the nib across the page. Whereas a right-hander pulls a pen across the page, lefties drag the pen as our hand moves rapidly across and occasionally into the paper (depending on how hard one presses the pen on the paper). Dragging a pen makes the ink skip out so not all the letters get formed correctly. It can also gunk up the tip of the nib with tiny paper fibers because we have scratched the pen's nib deep into the paper itself. So, not only must the pen we use be a bit more rugged but it also needs to be designed to allow the ink to flow smoothly when the nib drags across the paper. Many manufacturers make special left-handed nibs, often referred to as oblique nibs, that are like a right-hander's pen but offset so that we can write with them. However, the most popular solution I've seen is to get a pen that contains a small rounded ball on the end of the nib. This ball allows the pen to flow when writing at any angle and solves the issue of malformed characters when writing with a standard fountain pen.

Planning for Fiber Artists

This article, was originally a sub-section of last week's article on Fabric Art Journals. However, I ended up having a lot to say about that (go figure, seeing I'm not an fabric artist) and the thoughts about planning seemed to interfere with the goals of introducing you all to fabric art journals. Therefore, this week we'll take a look at how fabric and fiber artists plan their projects.

Now I know that if I don't write my long-term artistic projects down somewhere and keep them together in my Project Folder system, then when it comes time to "create" I get lost and spend more time looking for all the items I want to use rather than spending that precious free time making art. And that's just from a purely paper-artist standpoint. Fabric artists need to keep their projects in line. Is there an organizational methodology that could work for knitters? What does a knitter who always has a rotation of 3-4 projects going on at one time do to keep all their projects in line? Read on to find out more.

Knitting Stash Spreadsheet

I have a friend who uses this spreadsheet to track her knitting yarn stash. The template is pretty self-explanatory and includes an example row.

I'm posting it here with her permission.

Usage advice: 

Just look at the fields to see which info goes into the columns. You can also edit the columns to add more info, like needle gauge, etc.

Paper size: 
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
Microsoft Excel (or Apple Numbers)

Soft and Squishy: An Intro to Fabric Art Journals

closed art journal, by gramayreWhile I'm not a fabric person, per se, I can and do appreciate those who have a penchant for fabric based arts. These artists knit, quilt, sew or do needlepoint and come up with fabulous ways to make clothing and art. If you're an artist of this category, then you'll love what I'm going to talk about today. This is the one you've been waiting for. Today, I'm going to explore fabric art journals. This creative art form allows you to take all those left over scraps of fiber and fabric and use them for other purposes. I'll tell you what I know about this technique and give you some ideas on how you can go about creating one of your own. I've even got a few ideas for sample projects that you can undertake on your own. At the end of this article there's a small list of resources that you can turn to if you want to tap into this new art form. Please be kind, I'm no expert on this subject, as I don't delve into the fiber arts. But it does fascinate me and I love seeing what my fiber arts friends produce.

Art journaling, or the craft of recording your thoughts and feelings and events using images, is something I constantly talk about here on D*I*Y Planner. Fabric Art Journals is an extension of this concept. These journals are created using fabric pages and sometimes bound by fabric. Artists write in their journals either by with fabric words or painted words. It's a fascinating new way of journaling that lets anyone, who prefers fabric arts to paper, in on the scene. I've seen a lot of really nifty journals out there that combine elements of traditional quilting, felting, and custom needlepoint together to weave a personal and unique book. Some of the journals don't even take the form of a traditional book. I've seen artists who create their "books" by using wall hangings or pillows that tell specific moments, like the birth of their child or marriage. Anything goes when you get around to making a fabric journal.

Healing Through Words: Keeping a Grief Journal

Loss comes in many forms: death of a pet or person; the loss of a friend or position; the loss of youth we experience as we grow older. It's a part of life that we sometimes shuffle past and don't delve into. Today's post touches on this sensitive topic. I don't want to make anyone upset or trigger past emotional issues; but seeing that the topic of loss hit me hard during my hiatus, I felt that writing my thoughts down on this process and sharing them with all of you is important. 

Please, if you have lost someone and are having issues "getting past it all", find someone to talk to and perhaps keep a journal of your thoughts. Grieving is a long process and the more you deal with the whirlwind of emotions you feel, the faster you can start the healing process. Writing down your thoughts is one tool that can help you feel better about what happened and help you move on and rebuild your life.

Review: LifeShaker; or why I like my to-do list shaken, not stirred

LifeShaker, a desktop to-do list application from Funky Cloud, makes adding items to your daily list almost as fun as crossing them off. It's available for Mac OS X and costs $29 USD.

I'm going to be blunt for a second. Let's get real... I can use a simple pen and paper to track my daily goals. And that's how I typically go about writing down all the things I need to track and when to get them done by. So why would I even bother taking a software to-do list application for a test drive? Because it looks cool and makes entering goals into it more fun than a piece of paper. If you're picky like me, you know a program has got to have something special in it to make me WANT to give it more than a passing glance. And LifeShaker has got that something special that makes me want to use it.

LifeShaker immediately draws you in with its unique interface. The bulk of the window shows you 9 squares, each with a goal or "next action" step for a goal. This innovative grid view allows you to quickly see how many tasks you have without feeling too overwhelmed. The bottom of the screen includes lines for you to add new goals. Click the "plus" button to add your tasks. If your task includes several steps before it's done, then click the "plus" button in the Steps list to add the steps you need to do before that project is complete and the goal achieved.

Write Free Book Giveaway Winner

Last week I proposed a contest to you all to win a copy of Write Free. I asked that you all submit your stories about what your perfect creative life would be like. Out of the 13 entrants, I selected one of the names at random. And we have a winner with wbb!

Wbb's answer was:

I'm retired from an exacting type career. I'm the Chair for the Finance Committee of my Home Owner Assoc. Never thought I was creative. Now that I'm on my spiritual journey, (that didn't fit in my exacting world either) I'm looking at life, nature more. I feel lacking, or "I can't do it", but my teachings say that is not the truth and to fully express the good, I must grow and stretch. Being open, creative in different ways is part of it.

Picked up a drawing kit from Costco and a Pentel Color Brush online. Still drawing stick figures, but I'm taking the time to look and see things differently.

Congratulations wbb, I'll be getting in touch with you for your address to send you the copy of Write Free. Thanks to everyone who posted a response, I hope your creative dreams come true!