Engineer by day, beadweaver by night (mostly), I like to look for answers to questions.
How do things work? What inspires you? What do you wonder about?
Explore the journey to creativity together.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thank You Thursday

I was very fortunate to be featured in two beautiful treasuries this week.  I'd like to take a moment to thank the curators of these treasuries.

The first treasury is Pablo Picasso Turns 130 by Alexia of Porcuprints.  Thank you for including my Dance of the Veils bracelet, which, as it happens, was my entry in the Etsy Beadweavers Picasso Challenge.  Alexia designs and prints beautiful wood engraving and letterpress fine art prints.  I just love this elegant Flamingos Wood Engraving Print:

The next treasury is White White Snow on Blue Christmas by Katinytis.  Thank you for including my Icy Snowflake Ornament.  At Katinytis you can find wonderful felted scarves, brooches, earrings and more.  This Felted Scarf-Collar looks very warm and stylish for a crisp autumn day!

I would also like to thank Rose of Random Creative for inspiring me to do a Thank You Thursday feature.  I've had a great response from the blogging community and the artists who are featured.  I saw it first on her blog The Beadings and Buttons of Random Creative.  Rose makes intricate jewelry from beads and buttons.  Her Autumn Colored Button Bracelet is so appealing!  The colors are perfect for fall!

As always, thank you to all of you for being an awesome community!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Donating to a Silent Auction

My friends and relatives know that I am always ready to donate my jewelry to a silent auction.  I really enjoy being able to contribute to a good cause.  This month I've been working on a necklace to donate for Inspirational Sounds, a gospel choir that my mother-in-law is in.  I wanted to make something that had a musical or Christian theme, but I was not feeling inspired. 

About a month ago, I caught a terrible stomach flu.  I was sick in bed, unable to move, when the idea hit me - I could bead a necklace inspired by sheet music.  I could see it all in my mind, the technical aspects of how I would make the necklace.

I had to buy some supplies because I did not have any 5 hole spacers.  I had never made beaded notes before, so I wasn't sure how big they would be or how the spacing would work out on the beaded "staff".  I chose an easy hymn to depict, one that is well known:  Jesus Loves Me
I had a few problems making this necklace.  When I was a child, I had a tendency to copy musical notes backward.  Evidently, I still do that, because I attached the first two measures backward!  I had to cut to notes off and start over. 

Now I need to get this necklace in the mail in time for the auction. 
Do any of you ever donate your work to charity?  What are your favorite charities?  I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thank You Thursday

I've been honored to be included in several treasuries this week - I'd like to thank the curators by featuring them in my blog.

Thank you to Rose of Baskets by Rose for including my Intricate Beadwork Snowflake in her Flakes treasury!  Rose makes beautiful woven baskets with reeds she has dyed herself.  Rose also sews lovely quilts.  I particularly love this Bun Basket - perfect for Thanksgiving dinner!

Thank you to Natasha of Looped with Love for including my Icy Snowflake Ornament in her  Snowflakes in October treasury!  Natasha crochets hats, cell phone cozies or cases, totes and bags, crocheted scarves and stuffed animals.  She has such a wonderful variety of items in her shop!  I just love these cute Baby Booties and Beanie Hat!  Aren't the colors beautiful?

Thank you to Justine of Justine Sanchez for including my Unique Snowflake in her Winter's Little Miracles treasury.  Justine uses her talents for scrapbooks to make decorative frames.   I really like this romantic Embellished Frame:

Thank you to my blogging friend Duni of PeriDot by Duni for including my Floral Necklace in her Melange of Pink and Grey treasury!  A while back Duni had written a post about this color scheme, which inspired me to make the necklace.  How marvelous to see it in her treasury!  Duni makes feminine, romantic sleepwear using designer fabrics.  I just love colors, the pattern and the style of this Peasant Blouse Set!

 As always, thank you to all of you for being a great community!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Family Pumpkin Patch

Each year, my parents grow pumpkins for their grandkids to carve at Halloween.  My parents live on 5 acres now, so they have room to grow plenty of pumpkins for us and our friends.  The pumpkins look especially good this year.

There were a couple of flowers still in bloom on the vines.  It's too late for them to turn into pumpkins!

Normally we carve the pumpkins together too, but this year our schedules worked out so that we harvested a little too early to carve on the same day.  Of course we started out with lunch and cookie decorating for the kids.

I couldn't resist sampling the parsley in the garden.  It was so juicy and sweet!

The dogs got a chance to play too.  My parents' place is fenced, so they can safely run and play chase in a large area.  Here they are running through an area that was tilled for planting next year.

The black and white dog is Glacier, and the brown dog is Gobi.  Chase is their favorite game.  They ran for hours.

After we played around for a while, we decided it was time to load up the pumpkins.  My dad cut them off the vines.

 Then we washed the dirt off.

The next part was fun - we loaded them into a trailer and used my parent's little tractor to haul them over to the cars.

At the end of the day, we each drove home with a load of pumpkins.

Do you have any harvest or seasonal activities for autumn?  I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thank You Thursday

I have been very fortunate this week to be featured in several treasuries.  I'd like to take a moment to thank the curators and show you some of their fabulous creations.

First up is a beautiful, wintery collection, So Many Snowflakes by Melissa of BinskyB.  Thank you for including my beaded snowflake ornament!  Melissa makes beautiful decorations, such as this lovely origami ornament made from sheet music. 

The next treasury is the very romantic Love in White by Gala of Gala Filc.  Thank you for including my sparkling snowflake ornament!  Gala using felting and other techniques to make scarves, handbags and other handmade treasures.  I just love this felted scarf.

Next is bright and cheerful Orange and Olive by Maya of The Parthecraft.  Thank you for including my fall necklace.  Maya sews and knits handmade pet toys, hats, aprons, totes and so much more!  I really love this wildrose beaded cowl.

Lastly, I would like to thank Nicole for including my Horsetail Falls bracelet in her lovely Summer Storm treasury.  Nicole does not have a shop, so I will feature her treasury instead.  Please stop by for a look - she has done a wonderful job of curating.

I would also like to thank all of you for being a wonderful community!  Have a great weekend :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Spiderweb in Oaks

Voting for the Picasso Challenge

A few weeks ago, I posted about my progress on my entry in the Etsy Beadweavers Picasso Challenge.  At the time, I was not quite finished.  I was worried about what kind of clasp I would put on the bracelet.  As it turns out, a box clasp worked quite well.  I was able to finish the Dance of Veils and enter the Challenge.

The entries in this Challenge are amazing!  I would really like to encourage you to stop by and see for yourself.  You can vote for your favorite on the Etsy Beadweavers Blog.  Please stop by and participate - anyone can vote!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Search Words, Keywords and Statistics

I'd like to share some thoughts about ad stats on Etsy.

(For those of you who don't know what I am talking about, Etsy sellers can use search ads to buy spots on searches. The searches you get a spot in have to match the keywords you use in your shop descriptions. You can choose not to use some of your keywords if you think they will not be effective. You can also choose to only include sections of your shop or even just individual items. Quick definitions: 
Click through rate (CTR) = views divided  by impressions. 
Impressions are the number of times your ad was displayed. 
Views are the number of times people clicked on your ad.)

Search ads have been available on Etsy since 9/28/11. If you started using them right away you will have 10 days of data at the time I am writing this. I have read several posts about how to calculate click through rates and eliminate the key words that are not performing. I think this is a great idea in principal, as long as you make sure that you are basing your decisions on a large enough sample size. How do you know how much data is enough? I'm glad you asked!

Good data is not affected by things you don't want to measure. For example, when search ads first started, click through rates were pretty low. This may have been because a lot of sellers were doing searches to see if they could find their own ads, so there was not a lot of clicking happening. My click through rates were all over the place, as you can see from the graph below. After about 10/3 my click through rates leveled out at around 0.5 %, despite the fact that I have not made any changes to the way I set up my ads.

If I use the data from 9/28 to 10/2 to make decisions, I am using data that does not represent the long term performance of search ads. It would be smarter to use the data from 10/3 onward. The reason for this becomes even more clear when you look at how my top keywords preformed day by day.

Most of my promising words did not have good click through rates until after 10/3. If I had been eliminating words early on, I might be missing out on some really good keywords now.

Looking more closely at this graph leads into my next subject. Notice that the click through rates for some of these words are really high: 15% or more. This is because the number of daily impressions were so low, it only took one more two clicks to reach a very high click through rate. When you only have a few impressions, it is very difficult to determine whether one word is actually better than another.

The sad fact is that when you are looking at an either/or situation (i.e. click/ no click), it takes a lot of data to be able to tell what is going on. For example, look at the data from 10/3 through 10/7 for these two words:

It looks like “snowflake” is not as good a keyword as “bracelet”. But is this really the case? How do I know that it's not just chance? Statistics has a way to find out called the test of proportions. Using the test of proportions I was able to determine that there is not enough data to tell whether these two keywords are performing differently (in statistics, you don't prove two things are the same so much as you prove that they are not different).

The reason I can't tell the difference between these keywords is that “bracelet” does not have enough impressions. The next question on my mind is how many impressions do I need before I can tell if the keywords are different?

The answer depends on how great a difference you are trying to find. By playing around with the Test of Proportions a little bit I came up with the following table for comparing keywords to a baseline click through rate of 0.5%.  I can use these values as a rule of thumb for how many impressions I should have collected on that particular keyword before I make a decision.

So I need about 530 more impressions for "bracelet" to know whether or not it is different than "snowflake".   It will cost me about 50 cents to get that information; I think it will be worth it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thank You Thursday

I had the very good fortune to be included in 3 treasuries this week.  These posts get kind of long when I include an image of the treasuries.  I've decided just to include a link so as to keep the focus on the featured item from each curator's shop.

The first one is The Peak of Fall Colors by Andrea of Andrea's Hobby Studio.  This is a beautiful autumn treasury; thank you for including my Picasso Inspired Bracelet. Andrea makes lovely knitted scarves, gloves, and jewelry.  I just love these Kitted Fingerless Gloves in her shop.

Next is another beautiful fall treasury The Colors of Autumn by Angelina and Elizabeth of Angelina Elizabeth.  Thank you for including my Picasso Inspired Bracelet.  Angelina and Elizabeth make a wonderful variety of items.  This gorgeous Ruffled Scar in Knit is perfect for autumn.

The third treasury is Red Apples Straight from the Tree, a wonderfully seasonal collection by Yali of Art and Accessories by Yali Paz-Gilboa.  Thank you for including my Gothic Rose Amulet Bag.  Yali makes the cutest fabric brooches!  This one, Emma the Flapper Girl, is so flirtatious and fun!

So once again, thank you all of you!  I hope you have a great week :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Autumn Flowers


We've been pretty busy doing birthday activities for my youngest son.  I took a half day off work to meet him after school.  He really likes to cook, so I thought we would make a special treat together.

I had just read about a really yummy looking recipe on Sweet Magnolia Way for peanut butter crunchy fudge brownies.  I felt inspired by this recipe, but I have a hard time not improvising when I cook.  I decided to let my kids pick out their favorite candy to melt onto the brownies.

Problem:  When we got to the store, my kids could not make up their minds. 

So we got them all.  Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, marshmallows, toffee, butterscotch chips, caramel, white chocolate, and a few different candy bars.

When we got home, I made the brownies in cupcake tins so that the kids could put different toppings on each one.  They had a great time. 
We couldn't decided whether to call these things cupcakes or brownies.  My older son suggested brown-akes, but no one really liked that name.  Then he suggested cuppies, which everyone liked.

As you can see, a few had disappeared before I managed to take pictures :)

How about you?  Do you like to follow a recipe when you cook, or do you like to improvise?  Do recipes ever inspire you?