January sale!

Last year I had a January sale in my Etsy shop and it worked out great, so I decided to do it again.

Just enter coupon code JANUARY when you check out and get 10% off your whole order!

I have a few things up my sleeve for 2012, so this is a chance for me to clear out the old and make way for fun new products. And don’t forget that you can buy the giant pouf pattern now.

Loving: scissor earrings

At my craft fair on Sunday I managed to trade for these lovely pairs of earrings from the seller across from me, Boobadeeboo.

I just couldn’t resist the ones that look like little sewing scissors!

There are all kinds of wonderful miniatures in earring form in her shop, so check it out.

Giant poufs for Erin’s office

I can’t believe I forgot to mention this, but my poufs are part of a blogger’s home makeover on HGTV.com!

A few months ago, Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind contacted me about getting some giant poufs for her home office.  She was redecorating it and sharing the progress on HGTV.com.

Erin is possibly the nicest person on earth, so I was happy to help her out. I made her two gray poufs, and here they are with her DIY shelving.

photos by Erin L.

It was also pretty cool when I saw this reblogged on Swiss Miss!

You can read more about Erin’s home decorating projects here. I will be excited to see the final office reveal.

Also, I have more plans for that rope-y yarn…

On feeling like a legit business

I’m not sure if it was because of Renegade, or because of my giant knits, or just because, but last month something changed with my little business. I’ve been selling crafts in some form for almost three years now, but not until July did I really start to feel like it was working.

I’d been in kind of a drought up to that point, and my mind was all over the place wondering what to do next. I thought about getting a normal job, going back to school, changing my career path entirely, and a million other options. But at some point my thoughts started to focus, and I realized that the combination of my knitting business, which I LOVE, and my writing business, which has always been something that felt right to me, deserved my full attention. So that’s what I did. I found my focus. I think that’s what I needed all along.

I’m getting to the point now where I have to order pretty much all of my supplies online in bulk because I have emptied my local craft stores (of yarn, batting, foam rolls, dye boxes…). And I don’t have time to make the trips anymore because I need to be at home working.

I’m starting to have problems that are good problems to have. Yes!

That is to say, I really have to start taking this seriously now. My business is starting to look like what I always wanted it to look like. It’s amazing. Also scary.

I know I am doing the right thing, though, because my mind is constantly thinking about more things I can make, ways to improve what I’m already making, shows I can sign up for, giveaways, marketing, all of it. Thank goodness I am an organization freak, because it’s a lot to manage.

In the interest of taking things seriously I read an article (can’t find it now) about pricing your products. I usually have to ignore these recommendations because knitting just doesn’t work in these formulas. I pretty much proved myself right. I determined that my most popular item, the xlg pouf, should retail for $520, the giant pouf for $876, and a small pouf $240. The small pouf currently retails for $35. So yeah, I’m a little off.

But joking aside, what does that mean? I don’t want to just write it off as impossible. But obviously something is going to have to change for this to be sustainable. One possibility is having some luxe products that make up for the lack of profit elsewhere. Another option would be to just stop making the smaller poufs altogether. I hate to eliminate all of the less expensive items, but maybe I could make some smaller things out of rope, which would be faster and more unique anyway.

Darling photo by Sarah.

You probably don’t want to hear all this. But I can’t be the only one with a handmade business that struggles with these issues.

The other thing that is going to change is how I’ve handled shipping. I am so done with the post office! I have put up with their cranky employees, long lines, crazy rules and terrible customer service for too long. No other company could operate so poorly and still exist. The last straw was yesterday when I received an email confirming that my packages had been picked up while they were still sitting on my front porch. Gah!

I have my issues with Fedex and UPS, but I think I’ve learned enough about them now to make it work.

I’m happy to say now that I’m off to start working on my first wholesale order for a new store in San Francisco. It’s in north beach, the same neighborhood as the Jack Kerouac Alley show. I had to turn down another offer to sell at a store because it just wasn’t right for me. That was hard. This makes it worth it.

Pouf giveaway!

Exciting news today — I am giving a away a small knit pouf to a reader of the lovely Green Eyed Monster blog. Details here. The blog features all kinds of “pretty, indie things” and does giveaways all the time, so I am definitely happy to support it!

To enter the giveaway for a pouf in your choice of color, comment on the blog. You get extra entries for tweets and Facebook mentions.

Charlotte really wants you to have a pouf.

Mary Marie

Sometimes when people message me on Etsy they assume that I am the Mary behind Mary Marie Knits. Which is totally logical. But the real Mary is my grandmother, Mary Marie Mason, who is every bit as crafty and good at storytelling as I could ever hope to be.

Sure do love this lady.

But I also just wanted to share that I learned recently that her name comes from the name of a book, Mary Marie by Eleanor H. Porter.

It looks like you can even get it as a free ebook. Apparently my great-grandmother read this book and thought the name would be perfect for her daughter. Isn’t that sweet?

My mom and I were just talking about how much we love to read and always have. Apparently my grandmother told her that she felt the same way, and had gotten her love of reading from her grandmother. “She would just let her house go to pot while she sat and read a book!” as the story goes. I love it.

Currently reading: “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac. What can I say? Doing two craft shows in Jack Kerouac Alley piqued my interest.

Vintage wire baskets

Sadly, when I moved I had to get rid of my only vintage wire basket that I had been using to display items at craft shows.

I think that was a mistake. Looking around for new ones on Etsy I found that they are very expensive!

Locker baskets from Glasdeer’s shop.

Older baskets from blueflowervintage.

Plain basket from Glassnmore.

I am thinking either a gym locker basket or an egg basket would be perfect. Actually several of them would be perfect. People seem to love digging through containers — that’s why my suitcase has been so handy.

Black egg basket from LoveItBuyIt.

Red egg basket from moxiethrift.

For now I am putting my mom on the hunt for these, and I think I will go to the Berkeley or Alameda flea markets and see if I can find anything.

Or maybe the secret is ebay!

Introducing: giant knits

At long last, I am finally ready to show you the knits I’ve been making with giant rolls of cotton rope. The testing process has been absolutely exhausting and expensive, far more than I ever thought it would be. But the end result is super fun, and I can’t wait to show it off.

I have two new items in my Etsy shop. The giant pouf, available in white or gray.

And giant loopy rugs in two sizes, 36 or 48 inches.

In addition to looking cool, these feel amazing underneath your toes.

This was definitely an exercise in persistence. I started off with dye experiments and found that one type of rope took it much better than the other. I tried every kind of dye I could find, some waaay more toxic smelling than others.

So I bought a bunch of that rope, dyed it to perfection, and then realized that it would never work for the knitting. It was also really expensive, hard to find in bulk, and twice as heavy as the other. Fail.

Just the right sized spool.

So I ordered the other rope and started testing the knitting. I can’t tell you how many times I did and undid a rug trying to get the perfect gauge. I made my own needles. Those didn’t work so I spent more money on better ones.

I had an idea in my head what sizes I wanted to offer and at what prices, but that went out the window when I realized just how many thousands of feet of “yarn” it would take to achieve those.


Then when I moved on to big-batch dyeing I realized too late that my dyeing bin was way too small, so I got a pretty uneven result.

It was one fail after another, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Now I just hope people think these are as cool as I do.

New items for 2011

I’ve been working on some new designs for the new year (hope you had a great celebration, by the way!). In hopes of improved time management and sanity, I’m paring down my offerings to a few styles that I will have in a variety of colors. I found a new roving yarn that I absolutely love to work with, too. It’s a super soft wool blend that comes in the loveliest neutral colors.

So anyway, here’s what’s new at Mary Marie Knits.

Twisted cowls that can be worn like a scarf or a neckwarmer.

Matching hats are in the works…

Wool sweater cups (cozy vessels for your pens and things).

Crocheted vintage wood hangers in 3 colorways.

And some changes to the poufs. First, all of the different sizes are now knit on the same size needles with a double strand of super bulky yarn. This is for consistency throughout the line and for a sturdier product.

Second, the stuff-it-yourself version is available in both large and extra large. As always, this is a great option if you want to save on shipping.

And third, I am working to improve the quality of the larger poufs that are stuffed with foam so they can be used as footstools. Unfortunately I’m realizing it means I have to spend more on materials. So, you’ll see two options for the medium, large, and extra large sizes based on the type of fill.

I’m currently working on testing out rope rugs. I think these are going to be absolutely amazing, but the materials are super expensive, and it’s going to take me some time to test out my patterns and color options. I’ll keep you posted!

After unpacking my craft room, I found a few items left over from 2010 craft shows, so I decided to put the up on Etsy. Some cute button thumb tacks and magnets.

And because I think you’re awesome, I’m giving blog readers a 20% discount on anything in the Mary Marie shop and 10% off anything in the Mary Marie Knits shop for the month of January. Just enter coupon code JANUARY at the checkout!

East Village Sunday Bazaar

Mary Marie Knits is making her fall debut this weekend at the East Village Sunday Bazaar.

The bazaar has been moved slightly due to the World Food Festival, so it will be at E. 3rd Street, between Locust and Walnut.

I’ll have some lovely fall-ish items, like scarves, fingerless gloves, and cup cozies. It’s been feeling pretty summery around here this week, so hopefully people will be in the mood for fall. I’ve been pouring some new candles, as well, and I’ll have those, too.

Hope to see you there!