Ooooh – a behind-the-scenes, personal post! You aren’t obliged to read on – there are no embroidery tips here, no how-to’s, no free hand embroidery patterns! Just answers to a few recurring questions that I get (practically daily!) in my e-mail! I’m going to come clean and tell you some of the nitty-gritty behind Needle ‘n Thread. That way, you’ll know, and for future inquiries, I can provide a link instead of typing out the morbid details!
The recurring questions I get about Needle ‘n Thread, me, my methods, my organization, and (yes, even this) my personal life – or what-have-you – can be summarized as follows:
1. What kind of camera (etc.) do you use? (equipment questions)
2. How do you organize your day? (This includes questions about working, blogging, stitching, and living)
3. Do you offer classes that we can travel to?
4. Do you sell stuff?
5. Will you review (promote, advertise, etc.) my designs, my products, etc.?
6. Sure, if you’re rich or you get things for free, you can afford to do what you do, but I’m not rich and I don’t get things for free, so how can I afford to do what you do? (Questions about spending money to buy supplies, why I promote “expensive” supplies and comments along those lines…)
Ok – here it goes.
1. What kind of camera (equipment, etc.) do you use?
This is the easiest question. I use an Olympus Stylus 800, which is a point and shoot digital camera with a super-macro mode. It is about four or so years old, outdated, but chugging along wonderfully. I have begun budgeting for a DSLR of some sort, which I will purchase towards the end of this year. I haven’t done all the research yet to know which one, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to start budgeting ahead of time for it, because I know it’s going to be a bit pricey.
For video, I use a Sanyo Xacti Full HD blahblahblah camera. (I really don’t know the precise name or the specs). I bought it last year and have not used it “much” for video, but intend to be using it more this spring – a lot, even. I bought it because it is s-m-a-l-l and fits between me and the embroidery without too much trouble.
For editing photos, I use Photoshop. For video, I use whatever happens to be on my Mac…. ? I don’t know – the typical Mac software. I’m still getting familiar with it.
For patterns and line drawings and so forth, I use Inkscape and Illustrator.
And for all things blogging, I use an iMac, which I loooooove. It was my Big Budgeted Purchase last year for my website work, and it took me over six months to save for it. I like it a lot.
To blog, I currently use Blogger, but I publish using FTP, which service Blogger is discontinuing on May 1st. Slightly before that time, you will see an all-new Needle ‘n Thread, and I will be using WordPress. (I think you’ll like the new website! I’m pretty excited about it!)
2. How do you organize your day?
Are you kidding? Organize? I would love to tell you that I am some sort of Organized Wonder who has all the secrets to Organized Living, but the fact of the matter is, I’m not! I do what I have to do.
It’s easier to say what I don’t do: I don’t watch television; I’m not a “go-shopping-for-fun” sort of person (I only shop for necessities); I rarely go “out” for entertainment (movies, bars, dining out, etc.), though I do visit with friends and family and socialize on the home front quite a bit; and I never sleep in – generally up before or by 6:00 am, including weekends.
By today’s standards, I think I can safely say I live pretty simply.
Specifically, for blogging, I work in advance of the blog. On weekends, I try to pre-write (or at least outline and get some thoughts down) my blog posts for the upcoming week. I check e-mail and moderate comments off and on throughout the day, when I have time. I try to catch up on e-mail during the weekend, but it doesn’t always happen. I spend several hours a week – grabbing an hour here and there – just editing photos in anticipation of upcoming blog posts. Basically, the key to the blogging thing is to work ahead as much as possible.
And, a final note on the subject (to keep my sister – a wife, mother of 10, and “business baker” – happy!): I’m not married and I don’t have kids. If you’re married and you have children, you know that your life is vastly different and that you have to spend your time in ways I don’t have to. Who has the better end of the deal? Children are a fantastic gift! I’d say you do. Be thankful for it!
3. Do you offer classes that we can travel to? Or do you travel to offer classes?
At this time, no. And no. I teach from the middle of August through the beginning of June. During the summers, I get up small embroidery classes with local children or local adults I know, if I can. These classes are super casual among people I know. If I had to prepare full-fledged seminars that I were charging money for, I couldn’t do it! There’s not time between the end of one school year and the beginning of another to do the planning and executing of that kind of workshop, and still get in my own planning for the next school year and my own vacation time. And believe me – teachers need vacation time!
4. Do you sell stuff?
At this time, no. (Though I do have a younger brother that I always thought might bring a decent price if I could market him correctly….)
5. Will you review (promote) my designs, my products, etc.?
I review products and promote them only if I find that I like them and would spend money on them. Occasionally, I do receive some freebies from needlework-related companies, but my “promotion policy” (listed under the FAQs) is simply that I only promote the things I would spend my own money on. I don’t promote things just because someone sends them to me. So if you want to risk sending me something, you’re free to do so, but it doesn’t guarantee that I’ll write about it. My readers (and my reputation with them) come first – I’m not going to sell them on things that I’m not sold on myself.
The vast majority of stuff you see on Needle ‘n Thread, I have paid for myself. The only exception would be occasional books and now and then a give-away item, and I use the term “courtesy of” if they are given to me from publishers. When I give away supplies or books “courtesy of,” I’ve often already bought the same things for myself.
6. Sure, if you’re rich or you get things for free, you can afford to do what you do, but I’m not rich and I don’t get things for free, so how can I afford to do what you do? (Questions about spending money to buy supplies and why I promote “expensive” supplies, comments about my website being “snobby” because I talk about supplies that are expensive, and things along those lines…)
Is it just me, or are these types of questions a little unfair? I do have a wee bit of a blunt streak in me, so I hope you don’t mind if I’m somewhat direct on this one!
Like I said, I live pretty simply. With the exception of that chunk of my income that pays taxes, and the money that I give to charity, my income is mine because I have no debt. I have had debt in the past – college loans, car loans, credit card bills, etc. – but, thanks to the “nagging” of my very good parents, I learned the hard way (several years of paying off debt and living without much at all) that I am happier when someone else doesn’t own me or my money. I budget my income so that I can afford things. And if the things are big and expensive, I save before I buy them. I don’t deserve everything as soon
as I want it, and if I want something badly enough, I will work to pay for it first. And part of my budget is my hobby money. You can read my post on Price Tags and Budgets for further information on this, if you like.
I purchase good supplies because I take my needlework seriously, and over the years, I have learned the value of using good supplies. And good supplies cost money. But I will deny myself some things (for example, I don’t pay a cable bill, I rarely dine out, I don’t buy new cars, I don’t impulse buy or shop just for fun…) so that I can afford what I do.
The people who produce good embroidery supplies are spending a lot of money to do so, by the way. They aren’t “taking us for a ride.” It costs money to produce quality goods…
BUT – all that being said – embroidery doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t have to do what I do, with the supplies I use! A needle, some cotton embroidery floss, and some fabric, and you can teach yourself to embroider and have a lot of fun doing it, for very little money. As your skill develops or you find techniques that you’d like to explore further, then you can determine whether or not it’s worth the investment! Some of the most fun things I’ve embroidered (example: this towel) cost me less than three dollars!
I hope I haven’t popped anyone’s bubble or disappointed you too much – you can pretty much see I’m fairly average and the nitty-gritty isn’t all that nitty or gritty, or even interesting! But I hope I’ve answered some of your questions. You’re welcome to contact me if you want clarification on anything in particular, or just leave a comment below. And what about you? Any feedback? How do you do things? Any agreement or disagreement? I’d love to hear your take on the questions above! If you have a blog and you’re game, you could always answer the same questions and put a link in the comments below, if you want!
Up tomorrow – the winner of this week’s give-away. If you haven’t signed up for the Renaissance Dyeing Threads give-away, don’t miss the opportunity to win a beautiful packet of embroidery wool!