Karen Thomas -A crafting spoonies guardian angel.

Its been just under 5 years since I was a diagnosed spoonie and its been a really hard slog. My physical degeneration has been hard but its the mental health that has hit me the most. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had times where I wanted an end. Crafting was a light, I saw a way to matter, to help my family but still my mind was low. I’d lost so many friends because I couldn’t face going out. I was happy to sit inside, in my PJs and watch the world go by. It wasn’t fun.

But then it changed ….. Just over a year ago I saw an advert for a new selling platform; Conscious Crafties. I’d already had 8 months of selling on Etsy but this advert said it was just for Spoonies and their carers. Didn’t see the harm in trying another selling place so I joined the waiting list. Not long after, I was invited to open my own shop there by this woman with the biggest smile on a profile picture and this cute little white dog. As I said, I’d already been selling on Etsy so I expected the same thing, open a shop and get on with it…….. How wrong was I?! 

Karen, this bubbly and happy lady guided me step by step through opening my store and then added me to the social group on Facebook. Suddenly my world went from this little house and my final few friends to a whole group of more people who wanted to help me succeed. Tips were flying all over the place, people cheered for you when you made a sale and at the head of it all was Karen. 

What you’re probably not aware of is that Karen does all this off her own back while fighting her body each and every day. She goes out of her way to help others, going without at times because she’s such a giving person she simply wants to help everyone. She has her own family, a supportive partner and that cute little white dog – her support dog Teddy who tells her when she’s pushed herself too far. Conscious Crafties was started as a memorial to her friend Sam who tragically died from her illness and Karen fights to raise awareness of her own and the other Spoonies illnesses as well as giving them a place to be part of society again, to feel helpful again and to have this HUGE online family who are there at any time of the day for anything you need (and it doesn’t need to be craft related).

Now let me guess…. You want to be part of this loving family? Well that’s easy! Pop to http://www.ConsciousCrafties.com and register for your own shop.

Not a spoonie or a carer but still want to help? You can raise funds for Conscious Crafties through easy fundraising too! 

I can’t wait for you to become part of the family and meet Karen – my online guardian angel.

Listing on Conscious Crafties

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know about Conscious Crafties if not, have a quick read here: https://wordpress.com/post/craftymillerjm.wordpress.com/139

So you’ve been accepted into the Conscious Crafties Family and want to list an item for sale but wait….. what information should you include in your description? Well some details are obvious, others you may not have thought about. Don’t worry, I’m here to help.
So what people like about buying handmade is that they’re buying from a friendly person who has a passion for these things, rather than a corporation who is paying pittance for someone on a line to bang out 100 of them a day. So tell them, give a little insight into what made you make what you did and maybe a little part of how, they also want to know design information such as measurements, what can be varied on their order as well as a few more little nuggets of info. Getting a little lost? okay, well let’s use an example then.

Let’s look at my dinosaurs, just because – https://www.consciouscrafties.com/handmade-gifts/complete-collection-of-4-dinosaurs-any-colours/

I always open with a quick couple of sentences giving a general overview:

ROAR!! Four dinosaurs are better than one so hurry and grab this offer before it becomes extinct! Choosing all of the range of dinosaurs at once saves you ££s. Available in a mixture of colours and CE Safe too. The dinos are a brilliant gift for your children as kids young and old will enjoy tearing down cities and giving rides to their favourite superhero or toy.

This immediately tells people they’re getting a bargain. It also tells them that the dinosaurs can be customised and are safe for children. I also tend to include who the item would be for here. This is also what comes up in Google if your item appears in a google search, so you need it to be as eye-catching as possible.
Once you’ve done this lets move onto the next section; DESIGN

They are all crocheted using Stylecraft Special DK wool and then stuffed using CE safe toy stuffing (not too tight, just enough to make them squeezable) before being given 2 beautiful CE tested Safety eyes.

This is where you explain your processes, but remember people will not understand technical terms so ensure you use laymens terms if possible but don’t give the game away, you don’t want people to devalue your work by believing they could make it themselves easily.
Right, next; MEASUREMENTS

MEASUREMENTS
Brontosaurus – – Measuring 26cms from his nose to the end of his long tail and 10cms from floor to top of his body.
Stegasaurus – – Measures 17cms from nose to the end of his tail and 10cms from floor to top of his spikes.
Triceratops – – Measures 16cms from his horn to the end of his tail and 8cms from floor to the top of his horn.
Tyrannosaurus Rex – – Measures 20cm tall and 15cm wide.
Please note these measurements are approximate as different lots of the wool can differ in thickness causing slight difference in sizes

This is arguably the most important aspect of your listing. You need to be as accurate as you can, if you cannot be completely exact then you must say so, perhaps add approx at the end, or as I have, write a disclaimer.

VARIATIONS AVAILABLE
– Colour – PLEASE STATE WHAT COLOUR YOUR WOULD LIKE EACH OF YOUR DINOSAURS TO BE (e.g. Brontosaurus – Red and Blue… etc)

Is there any part of your item that the customer can change? Here’s a few examples of things they might be able to change depending on your item/type of items etc, they’re all available from the CC Site.
Border
Charm
Clasp
Fastening
Finish
Length
Pattern
Texture
Colour
Fabric
Letter/Initial
Name
Personalise
Ring size
Size
Shoe Size
Theme
There is also a choice of “Special Request” for any others that they can change.

SAFETY – Is there safety issues you need to ensure is followed? Or do your items require you to put them through tests/hold certificates to prove you have done everything you needed to legally sell it. (ie: Toys need CE Testing more info here)

SAFETY
The dinosaurs have been CE tested and passed, giving extra reassurance to parents that their little ones won’t get hurt by their beautiful new friends.
CE TESTED SAFE

Does your item include lots of things? Make sure you include everything that comes with it.

INCLUDES
*Birth Certificate with a beautiful poem. (Please see single listings for details of each poem)
*4 Dinosaurs, in your colours.

Okay, so remember when I said people want to know about you? Here’s the best place to do it. I call it INSPIRATION. What made you want to make this item? Did you think of it, or someone else?

INSPIRATION
I was asked to make three dinosaurs and once they were finished I realised I had enjoyed them so much and wanted to make more. So I added them to my regular makes along with my own design of T-rex.

Customers want to know how long before they can expect your lovely item to arrive at their door, there is also a separate area for you to include the days but I felt it was nice to include a little more too. I named it CRAFTING TIME.

CRAFTING TIME
Each item is made lovingly to order. For a set of dinos this can take around a week to complete although please remember items are made in the order they are received. If time is of the essence please let me know when placing the order by adding “QUICK TURNAROUND” to the notes. If there may be a delay I shall ensure to keep you updated.

Finally I give some information about posting and packaging.

ALL ITEMS ARE POSTED ON THE FRIDAY FOLLOWING COMPLETION (unless otherwise requested).
Packaging – When posted, your dinosaurs are wrapped in tissue paper to keep them warm before being tied with a lovely bow.
**NEW** The Dinosaurs now also come with their very own birth certificate and back story. If you are gifting this there will be a blank space to write the name your child gives their dinosaur, alternatively they can be typed on to the certificate over here at Crafty Miller.
They come with washing and safety instructions as standard.
*Gift Wrap also available* https://www.consciouscrafties.com/handmade-gifts/gift-wrap-available-add/

So hopefully this has been helpful, look out for more posts in the future.

Conscious Crafties

As those of you who follow my blog know, I have many conditions which hinder my ability for a normal life. For those who have got here as a one off, here’s my story. https://craftymillerjm.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/meet-crafty-miller/

Those with a chronic illness often fall into deep depression as you feel your body giving up on you. Having something to accomplish can help fight this black dog and for me it was crafting, every new item I finished gave my heart a surge. Eventually I realised I was not going to be able to work as I couldn’t predict how I would feel, or how my mobility would be day-to-day, I had to rely on benefits from the Government. However, this Government seems intent on attacking the benefits from those who need it, so I needed a way to make money while still protecting my health.

While trying to get advice from other crafters I found people who weren’t supportive of a newbie, demanding I change my prices as I was too cheap and ruining it for them, the “real” businesses. It was heart-breaking.

Then I found Conscious Crafties! Here’s some info on it –

About Conscious Crafties

Conscious Crafties is a handmade craft buying and selling community for creative people living with chronic illness, disability or caring for those affected. It’s built by a Spoonie for Spoonies.

How was the idea born?

Sam De La Querra, Gastroparesis and POTS warrior
My Beautiful Friend Sam

Hi there, I’m Karen and after becoming sick in 2011 almost overnight, I found my way to various support networks. I noticed that many of us turn to crafts to help distract from our illnesses and to feel useful again. Seeing so much untapped talent, the idea was born to create a community for everyone to showcase their work, in one place and give people a way of creating their own business. It was also a way for me to feel useful again, by using my skills to help others. Conscious Crafties is about empowering us all to be successful through our crafts, tell our stories and meet new like minded friends who understand our struggles. I’m also hoping it plays a key part in changing the way disabled/sick people are viewed by the world. We can still contribute and are incredibly talented!! Conscious Crafties has been built in honour of Sam, my beautiful friend I met through sickness and our love of crafts. Her strong fight with Gastroparethis and POTS sadly ended in Oct 14. Heartbroken, I knew then, after years of thinking about it, the idea for us all to sell our crafts within a supportive community needed to be launched, so it could help people now and give them hope for the future.

Stories are told:

As most of us feel unheard, each ‘Craftie’ gets to tell their story on the site to help spread awareness of our (sometimes invisible) illnesses. Stories appear in the ‘Meet the Crafties‘ page and also posted on Facebook and Twitter. We’ve gained a massive following on Facebook in such a short space of time (thank you everyone!) so our stories are seen by thousands. Our crafts are regularly shared through social networks and many of our Crafties have appeared in various online newsletters, all helping to increase sales whilst raising awareness. Every new Craftie also gets invited to our ‘Crafties Community’, a fun place to share crafts, selling tips and form close bonds with friends who understand our struggles.​

How to get involved

There is no joining fee or subscription, it’s free to list and when your item sells a small percentage is taken to keep the site running.
https://www.consciouscrafties.com/

I applied to join, there’s a waiting list as they’re so popular! 😀 Just after Christmas, I was allowed to join and I swear, it’s been the best I ever did. The support from the community is immense and Karen, who runs Conscious Crafties, is BEYOND helpful, going out of her way to help you list, to the best of your abilities.
Just look how good my shop looks thanks to her – https://www.consciouscrafties.com/Crafties/crafty-miller/

So if you’re a Spoonie, or support a Spoonie that needs to feel accomplishments, PLEASE, take the support that’s out there and come join the community.

Ways to Shop

Crafty Miller can be found on many platforms, which gives you many options to buy items.

Etsy Shop – A website which contains many other handmade items from different creators, including me!

Conscious Crafties – A website which has items made BY or FOR people with chronic illness. As you all know I do.

Meet Crafty Miller

Me.png

I taught myself to crochet as a way to deal with the pain I was in from my many Chronic Illnesses. I found that crocheting helped me keep my mind off the pain I was in. As I progressed people started asking to buy things I was making and so Crafty Miller was started.

I suffer from Fibromyalgia, Costochondritis, Iritis, Chronic Migraines, Temporal Mandibular Joint Dysfunction, Tinnitus, Sciatica, Hip and Mobility Problems, Myclonic Jerk along with some mental health problems from dealing with all this information and pain. I have to take a lot of medication including some quite strong painkillers but before crochet I was having to take them 4 times a day, every day. Now I’m able to only take them on days where my pain hits an 8 on the good ol’ pain descriptor that doctors use.

I have found now that crochet is not just a pain reliever but has become a real passion. Creating new items makes me feel so happy to have accomplished something and it helps me connect with my two rough-and-tumble daughters who enjoy helping me take photographs, and post items as well as thinking up items for me to make.