donderdag 28 juni 2012

Buying from the internet

I've been buying from the net for over a decade. At first it were only books, after that it were hair toys such as sticks or clips, and the last few years I also bought yarn and other craft supplies such as crochet hooks.

It's fast, and sometimes it is even cheaper. The amount brands or products to choose from are much greater than in the store. And since I got kid(s) it is way more convenient to buy from the net then try to locate a store that has the products I want.

Mostly I buy from independent shops in the Netherlands if I need some yarn, but otherwise I either go to Etsy or Ebay.

There are a few things to keep in mind when you are buying on the internet.

Find out if the shop you are buying from has good reviews or has a seal of approval. It really helps decide wether or not transactions can go wrong. On Ebay and on Etsy every seller gets feedback. Read it.

Pay safe. At first you only could pay with bank transactions, but nowadays you can link your bank account or your creditcard to your Paypal account and safely pay for your order. Sellers cannot see your personal information, only the account you made in Paypal.

Communicate. If you have specific questions just ask the seller. Important topics can be custom orders, products that are not listed but seem to be sold (such as crochet hook sizes, some sizes are quickly sold out and for me it is sometimes important to know when they will be listed again), combined shipping, shipping costs etc. On Etsy you can send sellers convos and on Ebay it is really important to check shipping costs if you are abroad and if the seller offers combined shipping. Sellers will not always list these things.

I've had three transactions gone wrong in the decade that I am a buyer on the net.
Once I made an order for a wooden book on Ebay. It arrived but it was damaged (did not happen during shipping). Had a whole discussion with the seller but she stopped mailing and ignored further inquiry. Sad. She also closed down the shop she had on Ebay during that period and started a new one on Etsy. I think I wasn't the only one with a bad experience unfortunately.

About a year ago I ordered some stuff from a large "warehouse" on Ebay. And I did not do the thing you really really need to do: check the feedback. I made an order of several items, and asked the seller for a combined invoice regarding shipping. Once you click "buy" on Ebay you are commiting yourself to your bought items, and this seller seemed to never ever combine shipping. Since the products came from the US I was told to pay 13 dollars per item. I filed a complaint with Ebay after I checked the site again and found out that the seller does not list this "rule" and read that other customers complained about the non-existence of combined shipping with this seller. Bummer! Idid not know how to act, but I filed a complaint with Ebay itself and claimed a refund through Paypal. It was so easy to do! Ebay considered my complaint valid and wrote the seller annulling my order. And Paypal organised the refund. I was stressed out at the beginning of this dispute, but it was so nice that the people of these two sites helped me out.

And during the past week I found out that the Etsy seller from whom I had ordered a couple of crochet hooks closed down her shop with no communication at all. I payed a month ago for these hooks. I know shipping can be delayed, so I waited three weeks for the parcel to arrive, but unfortunately nothing arrived. Luckily I knew what to do, so first I opened a dispute at Etsy itself (because I did not know what their policy was) and they directed me to the dispute center at Etsy and advised me to claim a refund through Paypal. Yesterday, I suddenly got a message through Etsy and Paypal that my order had shipped. With apologies and the message that the seller had gone ill and could not ship. After browsing through the feedback notes of this seller it has happened before this year. Some people had to wait four months..... Will I ever buy from this seller. No. Lesson learned!

Hopefully I will be able to show you the hooks next week.Until then, I keep my case open at both Etsy and Paypal (the seller requested a closure of the case) just in case she did not send it or sends a fake package. And otherwise I cannot reclaim my payment at Paypal because of the 45 days period they use for refund.

Fingers crossed.

woensdag 27 juni 2012

Designing crochet

As you know my first real (I do not count my skinny scarf as a design per se) design was my Setting Sun shawl. When I started it I just though: "I want it to be triangular, so I only have to increase in three places to get it that way. It does not matter how I increase". Right. That was an utter fail the first time I started it. My shawl got more and more diamond shaped..... I ripped it out and I started Googling.

To my surprise I found out that designing with knitting compared to designing with crochet is two worlds very very much apart from eachother.

I know I cannot call it that way (please don't flame me), but for knitters it is easy to design a certain shape. Look:

5 basic shawl shapes

You can download this cheater sheet over here. This sheet shows that if you follow certain places for your increases you can make all these shapes.
This blog also shows a nice overview of the basic shawl shapes and how to create them.
But you cannot apply the same rules with crochet. Why not?

Picture comes from this blog

Well all the rules with knitting become unusable because of above picture... In knitting you have the same stitch height and width. So if you increase at a certain point it will always grow at the same rate in width or diameter and in length. In crochet if you use certain stitches your project will grow at a faster or a slower rate in diameter/width/wingspan as you add rows. Add also certain stitch patterns or groups that are used frequently such as shells or V stitches and you have given yourself a math problem.

How do you solve this problem? Well, there aren't any rules. Only one: try. If you want a certain shape you just have to swatch swatch swatch. If it doesn't work just frog and try again. I was lucky that I had already used a basic triangular shawl pattern for a gift, so I used this pattern as the base for my Setting Sun. For the border I just had to try what I had in mind.

I also learned that if you want to make a certain crocheted item there are three things important:

- It needs to lie flat. Ruffles indicate that you increased too much, but if you increased on purpose, skip this note.
-  Sides need to be straight. For example, if you are making a semicircular shawl or a traingular shawl, the part that lies on your shoulders needs to be straight. If it becomes diamond shape, you probably have increased too little on the sides, if it becomes V shaped (can be done on purpose!) you are increasing too much.
- Try to avoid "the hump". This is a thing that is only seen in crochet. If it occurs, it can be blocked away so it doesn't have to be a problem. The hump mostly occurs if the designer (or you) started out with too much stitches, and started increasing right at the beginning. You will have lots of stitches in the beginning which will cause the shape of the shawl to decrease in height towards the points. I hope you can imagine what I mean.


Bargain Hairtoys

Yesterday I got some spare time for myself so I went to the centre of The Hague for a quick shop tour. I stopped by Woool, got some magazines, dropped by the Wibra for some yarn, ran into the H&M and in between (before I forget) I rushed into Claire's. I got to know Claire's when Big Man and I went to Dublin for a city trip (I also went into a Lush for the first time there!). Luckily they soon opened shops in the Netherlands. They sell certain brands of hairtoys with good quality that you cannot find in normal beauty stores over here.

I got some bright coloured hair clips for Little Lady along with some bands and boggles. O what a girl mommy I have become! It is fun.

In the sale departement however I found a knock-off "Ficcare" type of clip and a nice beak clip

As a hair toy lover I was thrilled. I seem to have misplaced my Ficcare beak so I was happy to find a replacement (although it is not the real deal).

I really can recommend these clips. The spring seems strong enough to hold much hair. It is not as strong as the Ficcare spring, and not as smooth (just one tiny spot which is not smooth on the Maximas knock off), but it will do. I always think they look really professional!

maandag 25 juni 2012

Little Lady has a new friend!

This morning we went on a playdate a few houses down the block. The kids had lots of fun, sorting out cars (there were two other boys), playing with the fire engine, etc etc. Little Lady entertained herself mostly by looking at the boys, and sitting by herself with some small toys.

During coffee I mentioned that she is totally smitten with dogs. She makes the sounds and she signs "dog" multiple times per day (we do babysigning). Even our cat is called "dog"!

So my neighbour rummaged in their toy chest and pulled out a pulling toy. A dog! She was happy happy happy.

And the best of all? The little dog is going to stay with us for a few weeks. Little Lady was told to take the dog home and have some fun with it. Sweet isn't it?