The blog of BaggieAggie, designer of bags, gadget cases and other fabulous accessories handmade in Wales. Sprinkled with recipes, gardening chat, the odd piece of short fiction, and anything else that inspires (or annoys!) me. So pull up a comfy chair and stay a while.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

No-one wants an ELEPHANT treading on their Kindle...

Quirky Handmade Fabric 'Elephants' eReader / Tablet Sleeve,Kindle,Kobo,iPad Mini,Nexus 7,Galaxy Tab,Blackberry Playbook,red,navy blue,natural,UK.
 ... or any other eReader or tablet, for that matter!  Well, you'd think so, wouldn't you, but you'd be wrong, because I recently received a request from a client for an elephant-themed case for a Blackberry Playbook.  The brief was that it had to be quirky, and not girly. After hunting down a few 'elephant' fabrics, this fabulous cotton canvas in red, navy blue and natural was chosen.

As I had plenty of fabric left over, I thought I'd offer an 'Elephants' sleeve on my website, as handmade to order for other eReaders and tablets, not just the Blackberry Playbook. I almost immediately received an order for a case to fit the Kindle 4 (the keyboardless, smallest model), which just goes to show that elephants and expensive gadgets do mix after all!

If you're an elephant fan too, this gadget case (and many others) can be made to order for the Kobo Touch, Nexus 7, iPad Mini, 7" Galaxy Tab, Blackberry Playbook, and various Kindles (simply select your eReader or tablet from the dropdown menu).  Give someone you love a quality Christmas gift that's just a little bit different. :)

* CHRISTMAS 2012 - Final order dates for made-to-order items:
UK - 5th December
EU - 1st December
US/Canada/Australia - 26th November

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Looking for funky buttons for a craft project...?

Funky large unusual acrylic buttons, green, purple, pink, turquoise, bag making, sewing, knitting.
 I'm often on the lookout for unusual large buttons for my craft projects, and can rarely find anything that fits the bill - I strike lucky occasionally, but generally speaking it's the same old same old. But, as I'm sure you'll agree, these quality acrylic buttons have funkiness in spades!

If you love these as much as I do, you'll find more designs (funky, colourful, retro, bright - take your pick!) at ThimbleShack, my new ebay store.  If you sew, knit or make bags, and haven't yet found the perfect button or buttons, these could be just what you're looking for. :)

Large unusual retro buttons, duck egg blue, brown, sewing, knitting, bag making, ThimbleShack.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Berisford's 'Natural Charm' grosgrain Christmas ribbon at ThimbleShack, my new Ebay store!

Berisford Grosgrain Christmas Ribbon, Natural Charms - Reindeer, Hearts, Merry Christmas - red. green, natural
This is just some of the gorgeous grosgrain Christmas ribbon available from ThimbleShack, my brand new Ebay store.  So, if you've been wondering where I've been for the last few weeks, now you know, lol!

Perfect for crafting and gift wrapping, this 15mm wide grosgrain ribbon (from Berisford's 'Natural Charm' collection) is currently available for only £1.40 for a two-metre length while stocks last. 

Berisford, a UK company, sells quality ribbons of all types, and I'll be adding more to ThimbleShack in the coming days and weeks.

I''ll also be adding more craft supplies, mainly for knitting and sewing initially as these are my own particular passions, so do pop in from time to time to see what's new. :)

Pinks and blue Berisford grosgrain Christmas ribbon, blue pick Daisy ribbon.
 Berisford 'Natural Charm' Ribbon - Merry Christmas pink and blue, Daisy pink / blue.

Berisford grosgrain ribbon, rabbits red, rabbits green, hearts & kisses sage green / natural..
 Berisford 'Natural Charm' Ribbon - Rabbit Swirl red and green, Hearts & Kisses sage green / natural.

Berisford Christmas Ribbon, Natural Charms, stars, christmas trees, merry christmas, red, green, natural.
Berisford 'Natural Charm' Ribbon - Stars red / silver / natural, Christmas Trees sage green / natural, Merry Christmas red.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

A Magazine Feature... and an Ode to Autumn...

Yellow ladies' fabric Kindle case, handmade in Wales UK.
It's autumn! And my yellow Kindle sleeve, Trees, is featured in the October 2012 issue of Sewing World magazine. They contacted me some time ago, asking if they could include it in the Handmade For You section, which showcases handmade items that fit a particular theme - in this instance, autumn, a season so perfectly described by Keats in his famous poem (see below) and one I particularly love.

I haven't had a chance to buy the magazine yet (out yesterday, 21st September) but I was emailed a sneak peek on Thursday of what appears to be the second page of a 2-page spread.  I'm already salivating over some of the other featured items (cushions to die for!) so I can't wait to see the other gorgeous makes.

Trees is available from my website, and made to order for all Kindle models (including the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD, both of which will be launched in the UK next month and can be reserved on Amazon now).  Also available for the Kobo Touch, the Nexus 7, and the Galaxy Tab.  

However, if you own a keyboardless Kindle 4 (the smallest model which measures 166 x 114 x 8.7 mm) or a Kobo Touch and need an eReader sleeve urgently, you'll find Trees ready-made and ready to ship in one working day from my Etsy store

ODE TO AUTUMN - John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
        With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
        And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
          To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
        With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
    And still more, later flowers for the bees,
  Until they think warm days will never cease,
          For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
      Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
  Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
      Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
  Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
      Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
          Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
  And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
      Steady thy laden head across a brook;
      Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
          Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

 Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
      Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
  While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
      And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
  Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
      Among the river sallows, borne aloft
          Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
  And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
      Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
      The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
          And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Westonbirt Arboretum, November 2011, copyright BaggieAggie.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Do you Etsy...? And what do you do with YOUR eggs...?

I'm not talking food here, so I don't mean poached, boiled, scrambled or fried!

As the saying goes, never put all your eggs in one basket.  So my felted bag and purse patterns are listed for sale on Ravelry and Craftsy, and also on Etsy.

However, what to do with my handmade fabric Kindle, iPad and other eReader and tablet cases has had me scratching my head in recent weeks.  My website ticks over quite nicely, but with Folksy no longer being the decent selling platform it was before last November's changes, it was time to look for alternatives.  And alternatives that might work (for me) so Zibbet, DaWanda, MISI and Coriandr were out as I'd had no luck with them in the past.

I eventually decided on a couple of lesser known but recommended sites - and - and, of course, that crafting world giant, Etsy, where I already have a shop selling my knit and felt bag patterns.  I'm not totally convinced my Kindle sleeves, etc, will sell from my Etsy shop, as US fabric prices are a fraction of those here, making it impossible to compete on cost.  But Etsy is becoming more widely known in the UK, buyers can search only UK shops if they wish, and I can price in £ rather than $ these days, so I live in hope.  Only a few items added so far, but I'll gradually add more as time permits.

If you sell on Etsy - or on another site not mentioned above - I'd love to hear your experiences. :)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

I'm alright Jack, up yours! and other Folksy non-delights...

Topping the list of things I can't abide and won't tolerate are unfairness and injustice, so you'll often see me pitching in to support those affected, even when I've nothing personal to gain.  Depressingly, I seem to be in a minority, as unfairness, injustice, apathy and self-interest reign supreme everywhere I look, even on a small UK craft site called Folksy.  Nor do I suffer fools gladly, especially when their foolishness affects people's livelihoods.

Some of you may have read my Farewell to Folksy post a couple of months ago, but if you haven't, I recommend you do so before continuing, to get you up to speed.

After emptying my Folksy shops in disgust, I kept them open, partly to download hundreds of feedbacks from my lovely customers as and when time allowed, and partly in the (forlorn) hope that Folksy Towers would eventually see sense and limit those gold stars to featured sellers' shopfronts.  In the meantime, I continued to contribute positively to the forums, and to purchase items from a few of the many excellent Folksy shops (avoiding, of course, any seller who has their items made abroad, and those featured sellers who shot themselves in the foot with their arrogance and deliberate obtuseness in the gold star debate).

Then Folksy launched the Plus account.  The account was originally labelled 'Pro', but on this occasion Folksy managed to dredge up a modicum of common-sense and changed it to something that sounded a lot less like 'professional'.  And, not only that, Plus badges have been sensibly limited to Plus-sellers' shopfronts.  (Having said that, I don't see why an account option should be badged at all.  Badge one, badge them all!)  Anyway, that they managed to limit this particular badge to shopfronts begs the question: Why could they not have done the same with featured sellers' gold stars when requested to do so by a mass of disgruntled and disadvantaged non-featured sellers...? 

But I digress, so back to the Plus account, which clearly states that it costs £30 for unlimited listings for one year.  Nothing more, nothing less (but more on that later). And I agree that it's an excellent way to solve the financial dilemma of materials sellers and sellers of large numbers of lower value items, so well done, Folksy.

So what's the problem, you ask...?  The problem is that Folksy (as usual) failed to properly think through this account pre-launch, and Plus sellers found they could list not only unlimited quantities, but could also RELIST THEIR ENTIRE SHOPS EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR FREE.  Which of course they're doing, and at huge expense to non-Plus sellers whose items are lost under an avalanche of daily Plus-seller relistings and therefore aren't available to view for more than a minute or two.  And this in August, the 'dead' season, so imagine how much worse it will be on the run-up to Christmas!  Some Plus sellers - who apparently left their brains at home that day, or simply chose to ignore the bleeding obvious for their own selfish ends - declared defensively that Plus was available to everyone, and that any unhappy non-Plus seller could switch. Wrong.  Plus is not a financially viable option for those who can't make and list items on a regular basis.

To Folksy's credit, they've acknowledged the problem, but James' comment on a certain thread (now typically locked), that free relisting is allowed by Plus sellers 'because they've paid for it' was, quite frankly, jaw-dropping. I pointed out (again) that this wasn't part of the Plus account's description (and therefore not part of the deal), expecting to get a sensible reply.

Well, silly me...

Instead, I logged into my email account next day to find one from Folksy admin accusing me of 'spreading deliberate misinformation in order to rally support against Folksy' and advising me that they'd therefore suspended my accounts.  As all I'd been doing was supporting and fighting the corner of downtrodden non-Plus sellers - with facts, and only on Folksy, not elsewhere - I couldn't believe my eyes.  Any old excuse, it seems, to shut up anyone with valid criticisms (and I'm far from being the first).  Perhaps I should be grateful that the Putin act-alikes in Sheffield's very own Kremlin haven't locked me up for two years. Though at least Russia's Pussy Riot got a trial of sorts...!

In the meantime, vicious personal attacks go unpunished, the pink-and-fluffy brigade convene to gossip and to accuse those with perfectly valid concerns of 'sabotage' (yes, really!), the I'm-alright-jack-up-yours brigade continue defending the indefensible; and other assorted arse-lickers continue to bury their thick skulls in the sand - hobbyists with no concept of how Folksy's utter ineptitude has and is negatively impacting the businesses of those who suddenly find themselves no longer on the level-playing field that Folksy once was, but are instead having to negotiate Everest while other sellers receive free promotion and free publicity at their expense. 

There is now nothing at all about Folksy that is fair and just.  Hopefully, another UK craft platform will evolve at some point, and one staffed not only with professionals, but with professionals imbued with brains, common-sense, and, most of all, humility.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Do YOU need Paypal payment buttons with drop-down menus...?

As many of my handmade fabric eReader and tablet cases are now made to order, I did, and it was high time I made this change to my Weebly website online store to make life easier for my customers.

Like many Weebly users, I'd been using their 'Revenue' elements - which is great for sellers of uncomplicated items or techno-thickies like me! - but these offer only a choice of simple Add To Cart or Buy It Now buttons.  This meant relying on customers to advise me of their particular Kindle or Kobo via Paypal's message box when paying.  Of course, customers being busy people sometimes forgot, so I would then have to email them for details and wait for a reply.  It was also impossible to offer a variety of gadget cases at different prices within the same listing.  Not an ideal situation, as I'm sure you'll agree.

I admit that, as a techno-clutz and a coward, I'd been putting off these changes for far too long.  But now that Google, Samsung and others are producing small tablets not much larger than eReaders, and I wanted to offer handmade sleeves for these too - within my existing listings - I knew it was time to bite the bullet and get brave.

Amazingly, once I got going, making the Paypal buttons was surprisingly easy.  The complicated part was making the necessary changes within Weebly as I had to replace all the 'Revenue' elements with title/paragraph, photo and html elements before I could import all my new Paypal buttons.  And it took forever!  So if you're planning to do this yourself, I would seriously recommend that you do it while your online store is still in its infancy!

If you decide to give it a go, bear in mind that the drop-down menu options won't accept certain characters.  I'd described one of my options as 'Kindle 4 (£89)', and didn't discover till the next day that anyone choosing this option would receive an error message telling them there was a problem with my website.  Scary!  After some experimentation, I changed the description to 'Kindle 4 (no keyboard)' which sorted out the problem, thank goodness.

So it's finally done, and everything's working as it should.  Anyone wanting to purchase a handmade fabric case for the Kindle Touch, Kindle 4 (no keyboard), Kobo Touch, Kindle 3 (keyboard), Google Nexus 7, or Samsung Galaxy Tab, can now do so with ease.  And I have the opportunity of adding more options as they're needed.  Am exhausted but happy!

If you want to take a peek, you can check out the new buttons on my Tablet & eReader Cases page at

Thursday, 2 August 2012

A gorgeous ladies' Kindle sleeve for fans of dots and florals.

Beautiful red Kindle case handmade in Britain with gorgeous fabrics in polka dots and contemporary floral designs.
Carmen, a stunning ladies' Kindle sleeve, even if I do say so myself!

I've used two co-ordinating cotton fabrics - white pin dots and an elegant white floral design, both on a delicious wine red background  As you can see, I chose to continue the pin dots theme for the loop and covered buttoning fastening, and also for the lining.  I love it.  In fact, of all my Kindle sleeves, this is my current favourite.

As with all BaggieAggie Kindle cases, Carmen is handmade to a high standard by me in sometimes-sunny Wales, UK.  She's padded, and fully interfaced to give her structure and extra durability.  She's also hand-washable if necessary.  But dry her flat, as she has an aversion to tumble-driers.  Carmen - never one to hide her light under a bushel! - feels she would make a lovely gift for women who love their ebook readers and want to see them smartly dressed.

I do have a few Kindle covers in stock and ready to ship, but Carmen is made to order - for the Kindle Touch, the keyboardless Kindle 4 (the smallest model) and the Kobo Touch.  I'm pleased to say that made to order items are currently ready to ship 1st Class in three working days, which should suit even those searching for last minute gifts.  Oh, and if you're looking for a quality case for your Kindle Fire or Kindle 3 with keyboard (considerably larger than other Kindle models) contact me for a quote and I'll get back to you asap. ☺

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Would YOU knit up a bag pattern (or any pattern) in summer...?

Knit and felt bag pattern download with yellow flowers. A BaggieAggie design.
It always surprises me that people still want to knit in summer. I've sold quite a few knit-and-felt bag pattern downloads from my Ravelry and Craftsy stores this month, including 'Spring'.  Knitting has always been a craft I prefer to do in the cooler months. How about you?  Do you knit all year round...?

If you like 'Spring' and fancy having a go yourself - summer or not! - all my bag / purse patterns are knitted in the round and entirely in one piece, so there's no sewing involved. They're my own original designs, and I'm easily contacted if you're a beginner knitter and need any help. As 99% of my customers are Americans, I price in $US. Paypal converts to whatever currency you use, though, so don't let that put you off. ☺

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Our Kitchen Transformation

It's been a few years since we moved into this house and began (almost immediately) renovating the kitchen.  But, having just tidied up my photo files and been consequently reminded how horrible it was and how hard we worked, I thought I'd share.  I've got zillions of before-during-and-after pics, but I promise only to show a few, lol!

For financial reasons, we did most of the work ourselves, so it had to be done in two stages due to time (and health) constraints.  This pic was the first one taken, at the start of phase one, when the old units, worktop and tiles at this end of the kitchen had been removed. 

After phase-one electrics, plastering, sealing, painting and flooring had been done, we were ready to begin installing the cooking area:

The old cooking area (as you'll see in a sec) had been bizarrely placed at the other end of the kitchen by previous owners, right by doors leading into the lounge and hallway, so that had to be changed. As we have four doors leading off this small kitchen, and so not a lot of room for manoeuvre, we had no alternative but to site the new cooking area here.  Not ideal as it's fairly close to the back door, but a vast improvement and it works for us. ☺

That part of the kitchen (phase one) took almost four months to complete, but we managed it in time for Christmas.  We then took a much-needed break till the following spring.  This meant continuing to use the old sink with its badly-leaking tap, but at least we had a kitchen sink.  If we'd tried to renovate the whole kitchen in one go, we'd have been washing dishes upstairs in the bathroom for months!

Here's what the other part looked like before phase two got going, and before we sold the old cooker.  (Door to lounge is on the cooker wall, just out of shot, so I expect you can see why we did what we did in phase one.)

And here's how it looked after ripping out units and sink, and before tile removal. Eugh!

After tile removal (two layers!), sanding back old tile adhesive (what a mess!), plumbing, electrics, dealing with acres of mouldy wall, hole-filling, sealing, painting, flooring and tiling, and a new window (the old one fell out...!) we eventually ended up with a kitchen we both enjoy working in:

Mike and Rosie's white, green and yellow kitchen with pops of blue.

Mike and Rosie's white, green and yellow kitchen with touches of black and blue.

Our white country-style kitchen with walnut laminate worktops and slate-style ceramic floor.

The only bit I'm not happy with is the radiator wall (opposite the window and out of shot).  Like the rest of the kitchen, we painted it (and the radiator) yellow and hung a large black-framed mirror to reflect the view of the garden.  For some reason, the yellow-and-black combo isn't doing it for me, and I feel there's too much yellow on view there anyway.  We're thinking of possibly painting that wall a shade of green to match the tiles, and maybe painting the rad and mirror-frame in off-white to break it up and to match the unit doors.  Or maybe paint the wall off-white and the rad and mirror green...?  As you can tell, we're horribly undecided, and in any case there's far too much else to do - we began work on our bedroom late last summer, and still haven't finished it.  In fact, that's where I should be right now instead of at my desk and blogging, so I'll bid you a fond farewell...!

Monday, 16 July 2012

The Prettiest Fish and Chip Shop Ever... (plus Usk Castle and Giant Hogweed)

Possibly the prettiest fish & chips shop and restaurant in the world, situated in Usk, Monmouthshire, South Wales.
Adorned with gorgeous and colourful hanging baskets and planters, this fish and chip shop in Usk, Monmouthshire, South Wales is without doubt the prettiest I've ever seen.  Not only that, the food is apparently excellent, whether you take out or eat in.  OH and I have yet to taste its delights, but with fish like red mullet on the menu, it won't be long before we do!

Usk is a very attractive market town, but we visited last week because we discovered that privately-owned Usk castle is now open to the public.  It was a(nother) wet day in Wales, but we managed to have a good old explore (accompanied by the owners' friendly dogs for part of the way!) and to take some photos before rain set in with a vengeance.

The Great Keep, c.1170, Usk Castle, Usk, Monmouthshire,South Wales.
The Great Keep, originally the Gate House, built c.1170.  (See one of the owners' aforementioned dogs bottom right.)

The Castle Keep, c.1170, Usk Castle, Monmouthshire, Gwent, South Wales.
The Great Keep again, with OH grinning maniacally down at me.
Or perhaps laughing hysterically at my hair, which in damp conditions swells to enormous proportions and resembles a windswept haystack crossed with a well-used Brillo-pad.  Why on earth did I move to the wettest place in mainland UK...?  And before you ask - no, I'm not posting a pic!

The Garrison Tower, c.1209, Usk Castle, Monmouthshire, South Wales.
 The Garrison Tower, built c.1209.

The Garrison Tower at Usk Castle, and Giant Hogweed plants.
The Garrison Tower again, with Giant Hogweed and OH (still laughing at my hair, no doubt!). 
The plants have been fenced off, and for good reason.  The notice attached to the fence states Giant Hogweed contains toxic sap that causes severe burns and blistering which may last many months.  Even when the burns have died down, skin can apparently remain sensitive to light for years.  The notice goes on to advise that affected skin should be thoroughly rinsed with cold water, and sunscreen of at least factor 35 applied.  All this was news to me and sounds horrendous, so I'll be avoiding Giant Hogweed like the proverbial plague!

Chickens in the Town Gaol at Usk Castle, Monmouthshire, South Wales.
Chickens in the Town Gaol.  I wonder what he(i)n-ous crimes they committed...?!

The Gatehouse, Usk Castle, South Wales, photographed from inside the Outer Ward.
The Gatehouse (photographed from inside the Outer Ward).  
Out of the picture to the left is a large marquee, used for weddings and other functions.  I imagine it's a very popular venue, as the view across the valley (out of the picture and to the right) is fantastic.  I couldn't get a decent shot, sadly, due to worsening rain, so you'll have to take my word for it. :)

So, despite the weather and my nightmare hair, we had a great time.  Even if you're not into history, Usk Castle is well worth a visit.  The views, as I've mention above, are spectacular, and the castle grounds, which have long been part of the prestigious National Gardens Scheme, are a gardener's delight.  Next time we go (in sunshine!) it's the plants I'll be photographing, so watch this space. :)

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Possibly the Coolest iPad Case in the World...

Harvest - possibly the funkiest handmade iPad case in the world! Made in Wales, UK.
Designed and handmade in Wales, UK, a striking iPad case constructed in two funky fabrics that complement each other perfectly. I love the warm autumnal colours, not to mention the combination of quirky spots and squiggly stripes. In fact, it'll be hard to part with it, as this eye-catching iPad case is a Limited Edition (of two) because the fabric used for the larger front panel is sadly no longer available. I do have some left, but probably only enough for a couple of Kindle sleeves. I knew I should have bought more!

A great gift for those who prefer something a little bit different, and would, I think, appeal to outgoing men as well as women.

Available at BaggieAggie from today, and price (as always) includes UK post & packing. International buyers, please contact me for a shipping quote for your part of the world.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

What NOT to wear on holiday!

There's not a lot I need to say about these hilarious examples of men and women's beachwear - the photos do the talking!

Tasteless bikini - nuts?!Tasteless and hilarious men's beachwear pouch in fluorescent green!
If you're travelling abroad on holiday this year, I'm sure whatever you choose to wear will be a zillion times more tasteful, lol!
And don't forget to dress up your passports too.  I'm offering several handmade passport covers in a variety of fabrics, including these:

Gorgeous ladies' passport cover in mouth-watering tropical colours.
 Fabric passport cover in zingy tropical shades.

The perfect passport cover for travellers to China, Japan, Far East.
 'Willow Pattern' passport cover for travellers to the Far East.

Pretty ladies' passport wallet in a contemporary floral fabric in pink and green.
'Pink Flower' passport holder.

If you don't see exactly what you're looking for, do contact me as I welcome custom orders (though not, I hasten to add, for beachwear!).

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Snoozy poozy finds new bed...!

There's no hope for my pussycat. I went downstairs last night to make a cup of tea, went back up to continue working on my blog, and there she was, fast asleep on my laptop's keyboard.  The wrist pad she normally stretches out on (while I'm trying to work!) is apparently no longer comfy enough.

Crazy cat fast asleep on laptop keyboard.

But why am I surprised.  The gorgeous cat basket I spent days knitting and felting with much love was made redundant long ago!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Paypal Micropayments account - pay lower fees!

Fun and funky 'Mushrooms' keyring / wrist fob in black, pink, red, blue, yellow and more.

As most online sellers know, charges for a normal Paypal macropayments account (if your monthly sales are less than £1,500) are 3.4% + 20p.

What Paypal doesn’t shout from the rooftops, and which I only found out when I registered as a designer on Ravelry to sell my felted bag patterns, is that they also offer a micropayments option for sellers of low-value items.  The charges for this are 5% + 5p.

So, if an item (including p&p) sells for £3, for example, this is what you would pay in fees:

Macropayments: £3 x 3.4% = 10p, plus 20p = 30p
Micropayments: £3 x 5% = 15p, plus 5p = 20p

A big difference, especially when you work out what you might sell over a year!
The breakeven point is somewhere between £9 and £10, so if most of your items (including p&p) sell for £9 or less, it might be worth converting your existing premier or business account from macro to micro by following the link at the foot of this post.  The lower your prices, the more money you'll save.

Alternatively, you could open a second Paypal account. Paypal allows each person to hold two accounts, one macropayment and one micropayment (very useful for eBay sellers with a mix of high and low prices) but it's not possible to link them both to the same bank account, sadly.

To switch your current Paypal account to micropayments, follow the link, click 'Signup', choose your country from the drop-down menu, and take it from there.  If at any time your circumstances change and a micropayments account is no longer viable, you can simply switch back.

(If you've found this post useful, or know someone who would benefit, Blogger has made it easy to share with friends via Twitter, Facebook, email and more. Just scroll down to the box below this post and click the relevant icon/s.)
NOTE: Ignore the $ figures you'll see when you click - these only apply to US sellers.  The figures I've given in this post are correct at time of writing.  It seems we poor Brits always pay more for everything!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Owls Don't Have Eyeballs (and other facts)

Owls - quality handmade fabric iPad case for women in blue, green, yellow and chocolate brown.
Many of us, including me, find owls incredibly attractive, perhaps because their large, front-facing eyes make them look almost human.  But how many of us are aware that owls in Britain are in decline?  Not many, I suspect, because we see images of these amazing and beautiful creatures everywhere, thanks to their popularity. (And I can personally attest to that popularity as products made with owl fabrics - like the new iPad case pictured - are by far my best sellers.)  The reason for the decline is, of course, loss of habitat and nesting sites.

As a bit of a bird anorak, I was aware of this decline, but what I didn't know until quite recently is that owls don't have eyeballs.  Their eyes, about the same size and weight as human eyes, are actually tubular in shape and can't therefore move in their sockets.  To compensate, their long necks (much longer than they look!) are able to move their heads 270 degrees horizontally - which is about three-quarters of a circle - and 90 degrees vertically.  This incredible flexibility makes complete sense once you know why they have it (and I'd wondered for years!).  Isn't nature amazing...?

Thankfully, our British owls' decline can be reversed - visit the World Owl Trust to see the wonderful work they do (and donate £1 if you can).  And this important work won't just help owls - many other bird and animal species are also in serious decline as a result of habitat loss, so they too will benefit.  :)

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Chocolate cures everything...

Quirky Limited Edition fabric Kindle sleeve.

... and no, your bum is NOT big, lol!
I love this fabric, and have already sold two Kindle cases made with it.  As you can see, fun and funky Girl Stuff! is definitely one for the girls!  This quirky Kindle sleeve was relisted in my website shop yesterday, and, as I only bought a small amount of this fabric and it's no longer available, Girl Stuff! is a Limited Edition.
Cool ladies' handmade Kindle case with a difference! 
Fun and funky Limited Edition Kindle case for women.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Seven things you never knew about me...!

BaggieAggie receives The Versatile Blogger award!
And, after reading one thing in particular, you'll wish you still didn't, lol!  Seriously, the reason I've bared all is because I'm immensely chuffed to have received The Versatile Blogger award from the lovely Stef at Jaysmonkey.  (Thank you again, Stef!) To accept it, all I have to do is follow a few simple rules, including the mention of seven random facts about me, so here they are!

1. Cutting my nails makes me feel physically sick.
2. I was Miss Scot Meats 1971.
3. My first date with a showman/escapologist involved watching while he was lowered into a lake - in a coffin wrapped in chains.
4. I've almost drowned twice - once when learning to swim in the local river aged 13, and then in a canoeing accident aged 16. 
5. Part of my second date with the showman/escapologist was spent scantily-clad and strapped to a revolving wooden wheel while he hurled knives at me.
6. OH and I were at school together - and met again 33 years later, through Friends Reunited.
7. Drunken sex once involved a visit to A&E the next day - for the (highly embarrassing) removal of an out-of-reach tampon. 

Moving swiftly on from the gruesome image conjured up by No. 7 (!), another rule is that I must list the rules (so those I pass this award to know what to do):
1. Add the award to your blog.  
2. Thank the blogger who gave it to you.  
3. Mention 7 random things about yourself.
4. List the rules.   
5. Award to 15 bloggers. 
6. Inform each of those 15 by leaving a comment on their blog. 

The fifteen fab blogs I've chosen to receive this award are (in random order):

Please do check them out – they’re well worth a look!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

New Kindle Sleeves and iPad Cases

If you're looking for a Kindle case that stands out from the crowd, then BaggieAggie has them in spades, and in a choice of fabrics so diverse there's bound to be something that will float your boat! And in the unlikely event that there isn't, I'm happy to sail the seven seas till I find exactly the right fabric for your particular Kindle, iPad or similar gadget. Simply send me a message via the Contact page on the website.

Some examples:

Kindle Case

Quirky 'Frogs' Kindle sleeve by BaggieAggie.
Kindle Case

Red 'I Love London' Kindle cover, handmade in Wales, UK.
Kindle Sleeve

Striped padded and lined designer Kindle case, made to order.
Kindle Sleeve

Elegant ladies' Kindle sleeve for those who want Something Different.
Kindle Case

Striking and unusual iPad case in an 'apples' design fabric. Padded and fully lined.
iPad Case

Visit for full details of all these gadget cases and more. :)

Friday, 15 June 2012

Is Sex Really Better Than Chocolate...? (Friday Fiction)

Humorous short story: Better Than Chocolate
I wrote the original version of this humorous short story quite a few years ago, and was lucky enough to have it accepted for publication.  Having resurrected and rewritten it this week, I thought I'd post it here and (hopefully!) give you a good laugh.  Enjoy!


“Yes yes yes!” Sheila punched the air, then kissed the letter repeatedly. Unable to keep the good news to herself a second longer, she snatched up the phone and rang Graham.
   “Sorry,” said his secretary, “your husband’s in an all day meeting. I’ve got instructions not to disturb him unless it’s an emergency.”
   Damn! thought Sheila. She tried her sister’s number, but there was no reply.
   “Blast!” Sheila put down the phone. Who else could she try? Not her daughter – she was sunning herself in Spain. And her friends were in jobs where private calls were frowned on. But she had to tell someone before she exploded. There was always her aunt, but…
   What the heck, Sheila decided. Aunt Hester would be proud of her. And the chances of her ever reading it were zero. She picked up the phone again.
   “Hi Hester, it’s Sheila. How are you?”
   There was a gasp, a brief pause, then a whisper in her ear. “Shirley? Is that really you? What’s it like there, dear? Is it really like the vicar says?”
   Sheila was speechless for a second. Hester, hard of hearing, normally shouted down the phone. And who on earth was Shirley? Then she remembered. Shirley had lived in the sheltered flat next to Hester’s, until she’d passed away last month at the ripe old age of a hundred and two.
   “It’s Sheila, your niece!” she yelled.
   “Sheila!” Hester’s voice flooded with relief. “Why didn’t you say so?” she shouted. “You frightened me half to death.”
   “Turn up your hearing-aid, Hester. I’ve brilliant news – I’m almost a published writer.”
   “Hold on a minute, Sheila – hearing-aid’s playing up again. For a minute there I thought you said you were a published writer, hahaha!”
   Sheila ignored Hester’s guffaws. “A women’s magazine’s publishing one of my stories next month.”
   “Oh…! Oh, how lovely. Which one? Your Woman? Woman’s Monthly?”
   “Er, not exactly... It’s Women’s Whims.”
   “Women’s what…? Hold on, I’ll fetch my pencil.”
   “No, no, don’t worry, it’s not your kind of thing.”
   But Hester had gone. Sheila chewed her nails while she waited, beginning to wish she’d curbed her excitement. This wasn’t turning out to be such a good idea.
   The handset clattered at the other end and Hester was back. “Tell me again, Sheila. Women’s what?”
   “Um, it’s really not your cup of tea. I just wanted to share the news with you.”
   “Don’t be silly. You know I read anything.”
   “Yes, but... it’s a little bit... naughty.”
   Hester roared with laughter. “Sheila, I’m a spinster, not a nun!”
   “Yes, but...”
   “Sheila, I’m proud of you and I want to read it. Now stop stalling, and give me that name again.”
   Sheila gave up. It didn’t matter anyway. Her aunt’s memory was almost as bad as her hearing. She’d have forgotten all about it in a day or two. “Women’s Whims,” she said resignedly. “W-H-I-M-S.”

A complimentary copy of the magazine arrived a month later. Sheila tore off the wrapping and flicked through it in a frenzy of excitement. There it was, on pages nineteen and twenty, complete with photos. Before she could begin to read, the phone rang.
   “I’m at the hospital,” said a familiar voice. “I want you here right now.”
   “Hester? Are you all right?”
   “Now, Sheila!” Her aunt slammed down the phone.
   Panic-stricken, Sheila grabbed her jacket and purse, and dashed down to the bus-stop, praying it was nothing serious. Hester had never been in hospital. What if it was life-threatening…? Since Sheila’s parents had passed away, Hester had been like a mother to her.
   The bus arrived belching diesel fumes. Sheila paid the driver and, once in her seat, took a few deep breaths and began to calm down. Hester had sounded as loud and as well as ever on the phone. If she was seriously ill the warden in her sheltered housing complex would have called, surely.
   The bus dropped her outside the hospital and she hurried inside. There was a shop selling cards, flowers and gifts just off reception. The flowers looked as if they’d been caught in last night’s frost, so she picked up a box of chocolates instead. Dark chocolates with soft centres, Hester’s favourites.
   She gave the receptionist her aunt’s name. The woman ran a finger down her computer screen and shook her head. “No-one here with that name, I’m afraid. I’ll just scroll down again to make sure.”
   From the corner of her eye, Sheila saw a white-haired figure plodding through a set of double doors. “Hester!” She rushed towards her and threw her arms around her, almost dropping the chocolates. But she might as well have hugged a block of wood. A shiver ran through her. She stepped back quickly and looked into her aunt’s watery eyes. “What’s wrong? Are they keeping you in?”
   Hester pushed her aside and turned up her hearing-aid. Her face creased in grief. “Mabel’s dead! And it’s all your fault!”
   “Mabel? Who on earth’s Mabel? I don’t know any Mabel.” Bewilderment always made Sheila gabble.
   Hester was crying now. “You’ve killed her, Sheila!”
   The double doors swung open again, and a young nurse hurried towards them. “There you are, Miss Gillgrass.” She smiled at Hester and took her hand. “We wondered where you’d gone in such a hurry. Don’t you want to see your friend?”
   “No.” Hester wiped her eyes with a crumpled tissue. “I just want to go home and remember her as she was.”
   The nurse looked at Sheila with questioning eyes, then, seeing she’d find no answer there, turned back to Hester. “But she wants to see you. We’ve arranged an ambulance to take you both home, once Mabel’s feeling up to it.”
   Hester stared. “You mean... she’s not dead?”
   The nurse laughed and patted her hand. “Of course not, silly. She passed out, that’s all. She has a pacemaker so the paramedics were right to bring her in. But we’ve checked her heart and it’s fine.”
   “But the doctor said... he said he couldn’t save her...”
   “I think you must have misheard. He said he’d given Mabel an injection to stabilise her.”
   Sheila sighed with relief. “Come on, Hester. Let’s have a cup of tea. We’ve both had a shock.”
   They sat down in the hospital’s cafeteria and sipped sweet tea in silence for several minutes. The colour slowly returned to Hester’s cheeks, and Sheila reached for her hand.
   “What did you mean about me killing Mabel? I don’t understand.”
   Hester smiled ruefully. “I’m sorry, Sheila. It was as much my fault as yours.”
   She nibbled her chocolate biscuit, and Sheila waited, trying to hide her impatience.
   “I’d forgotten all about it, you see.”
   “Forgotten what, Aunt?”
   “Our newsagent said he’d never heard of it but he’d try to get it for me. I forgot all about it.”
   Light began to dawn in Sheila’s confused brain. “Are you… are you talking about Women’s Whims, by any chance?”
   “Of course I am! I was proud of you. But it went straight to our dayroom, along with the daily papers. I’m possibly the only one who hasn’t read it.”
   Sheila’s breath whooshed from her lungs and she grabbed the table for support, afraid she might faint. She visualised the story pages and the photo on the front cover – the one of the hunk wearing nothing but transparent boxers. And she visualised a room full of elderly ladies with weak hearts. Somehow she managed to string together a coherent sentence. “But I thought your own papers were delivered direct to the flat," she squeaked.
   “They are, but I must have forgotten to give my name and flat number when I ordered the magazine.”
   Dear God! thought Sheila, dragging a hand through her hair. Was the newsagent out of his mind? Still, at least it meant her aunt hadn’t read the story; Sheila knew she'd have heard about it by now if she had.
   Hester took another sip from her tea-cup. “I saw the ambulance pull up by the dayroom from my kitchen window and went to see what the commotion was. It was coffee morning so the dayroom was packed. I couldn’t see a thing. Then they brought in a stretcher, forcing everyone aside, and there was Mabel, lying on the carpet.”
   Sheila closed her eyes. Visions of a frail old woman, unconscious on the floor, Women’s Whims open in her limp hand at page nineteen, hurtled into her mind in glorious technicolour. Her dream of being published had been realised, but it was fast becoming a nightmare.
   Hester’s cup chinked against her saucer and Sheila reopened her eyes. Hester answered her burning question before she could articulate it.
   “It was lying underneath her. I saw what it was as soon as they moved her, and stuffed it in my bag.”
   Sheila’s heart plummeted as Hester patted the handbag on the seat beside her.
   “In all the excitement,” continued her aunt, “I don’t think anyone noticed.”
   Sheila decided there was nothing she could do but grin and bear it. “I should have been honest with you from the start, Aunt. I should have told you what sort of magazine it was.”
   But she couldn’t quite pluck up the courage to tell her the rest. Not yet.
   Hester struggled to her feet. “It wasn’t quite what I was expecting. But never mind. Let’s go and see Mabel.”
   Sheila would have preferred not to, but Hester was already dragging her along the corridor towards Casualty.
   They found Mabel sitting on a trolley in a curtained cubicle. Her pale face lit up. “Hester! They told me you were here.” She examined Sheila with interest. “Who’s this?”
   Sheila smiled back weakly. “I’m Sheila Platt, Hester’s niece.” She remembered she was still clutching the chocolates she’d bought for Hester. After a brief hesitation she handed them to Mabel. Hester nodded approvingly.
   Mabel looked pleased but confused. “Thank you, Sheila, but it wasn’t necessary.”
   A blush rushed up Sheila’s neck and into her cheeks like a tidal wave.“It’s the least I can do. Hester tells me it’s my fault you’re here.”
   Mabel frowned. “Your fault…?”
   Hester smiled an apology. “I’m sorry, dear. It’s my fault too – I forgot to give the newsagent my name when I ordered that magazine. Or my flat number. I’m getting more and more forgetful these days.”
   Mabel giggled through her fingers. “Hester Gillgrass,” she whispered, “I’m so glad you did. It’s the most excitement I’ve had in years. I’ll order it myself from now on!”
   Sheila couldn’t stand it any longer. She had to know. “Mabel, did you read the story?”
   “Of course! That’s why I fainted. It’s the most stimulating thing I’ve ever read.”
   Sheila groaned inwardly. She had to get out of there.
   Mabel selected a chocolate, savoured it for a few seconds then swallowed. “Some daft woman on the telly said eating chocolate is the same as having sex – something to do with it triggering the same brain chemicals. What a load of hooey. She should take a look at Women’s Whims!”
   Beads of sweat had formed on Sheila’s forehead. Her heart thudded like a jackhammer and it was getting hard to breathe. She checked her watch. “I ought to go. Graham will be home soon and wonder where I am.”
   Mabel beamed at her. “You get along, dear. We’ll be fine. While we’re waiting for the ambulance, I’ll get Hester to reveal a few trade secrets.” She winked conspiratorially. “A dark horse, your aunt!”
   Hester’s benign expression changed to one of deep suspicion. “What’s going on here...?”
   Sheila hastily kissed her cheek. “I’ll ring you later. Must dash.”
   As she hurried from the cubicle, she caught a glimpse of Hester reaching for her handbag. If I’m very quick, she thought, I’ll be out of here before she finds my story…
   No such luck. As Sheila dashed through the double doors into reception, Hester’s voice boomed down the corridor behind her. “Sheila! Get back here, my girl! Right now!"
   Sheila told herself she really had been incredibly stupid to use that pseudonym. But how was she to know that a friend of the real Hester Gillgrass would read Women’s Whims…?

© Rosie Rose 2012

Friday, 8 June 2012

A Brand New Honeysuckle for Small Gardens

A brand new honeysuckle - L. japonica 'Princess Kate'. Named after the Duchess of Cambridge.Before this wet and wild weather hit South Wales with a vengeance, I cut down a straggly and very ugly Lonicera Japonica 'Halliana'. About four years old, and against a north-west facing fence behind a Rugosa Rosa 'Hansa', this honeysuckle has never done well. The plan was to replace it with something else entirely, but then I came across a newly-introduced and very gorgeous honeysuckle - L. japonica 'Princess Kate' (pictured left, and named - you've guessed! - after the dazzling Duchess of Cambridge).  A very hardy evergreen variety with variegated leaves of an unusual shape, and pink-tinged yellow flowers, I couldn't resist! Plus, it grows to a height and spread of only 7 feet, so is perfect for smaller spaces.

OH isn't convinced it'll do any better than the deceased 'Halliana', nor is he convinced that it will be fully evergreen, but I've decided to plant it a few feet away from the old honeysuckle site in the hope that extra light and sun will do the trick.

But before I can put my gardening hat on again, I'll need to wait for the weather to calm down. I was out in torrential rain and 70mph winds earlier, picking up blown-over apple-trees in pots from the deck and anchoring them to the balustrade. I'm still drying out now! So until it improves, I'll be searching for a Clematis Montana to grow up the trees in the hedgerow at the bottom of the garden. Gardening online isn't quite as therapeutic as the real thing, but it's a close second!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

A Farewell to Folksy and a Mega Rant...!


1. Like most sellers, I joined Folksy because it markets itself as ‘British handmade’ and I had no reason to believe this wasn’t true. Imagine then the shock of discovering that Folksy allows British designers to have their items made abroad, and always has done. There is no mention of this anywhere on the site, and only came to light in a recent Q&A session.  When pressed to explain what exactly was meant by ‘only in small batches’, we were told no more than one hundred. One hundred! And as there is generally only one reason to have items made abroad (cheap labour), how Folksy expects UK handmakers to compete, I can’t imagine.  And, more importantly, what of Folksy’s buyers, who will quite rightly have expected their purchases to be British handmade, not made in India or China or elsewhere?  What indeed.

2. Thanks to the big November changes, something went horribly wrong with Folksy’s SEO. I and many other top-250 sellers of 2011 have sold practically nothing since, because Folksy has sunk into oblivion in Google searches.  My own Folksy sales, unlike my healthy website sales, plummeted to almost zero. My emails to Folksy Support were met with the stock answer that they’re using ‘best practice’ and that it’s up to me to ensure I’m doing everything I need to do. My responses (that I am doing everything I need to do) were shrugged off.  Sure, Folksy has now made it possible to relist items and keep the same URL (albeit six months too late!), and this may help. But Folksy’s SEO was superb before the changes, and that was without everlasting URLs.  I had originally planned to wait it out to see if this new feature would indeed make a difference (though, incidentally, it won’t make any difference to shops selling one-off items), but then along came reason number three, the final straw...

3. ‘Gold star’ badges. What, you ask, are they...? Well, as Folksters reading this will know, every couple of weeks or so Folksy admin find an item photo they particularly like and add the shop concerned to the front page as a ‘Featured Seller’.  This is very nice, as it’s free promotion and their shops remain on a ‘Featured Sellers’ list in the public domain for ever.  Unlike some sellers, I've never had a particular problem with this as the Featured Sellers' items aren’t being promoted (via this feature) as better than any other seller’s – it’s simply that they appeal to one person at Folksy HQ. So I’ve been genuinely very happy for selected sellers, and I wish them all the luck and sales in the world.
However, Folksy's decision to ‘reward’ the Featured Sellers (who, remember, have already been promoted for free on the front page, and remain on a special public list for ever) with gold star badges, is so wrong it couldn’t be any wronger! It wouldn’t be quite so bad if these stars were limited to their shops, but they’re not – they show (in the drop down search categories ranged across the top of Folksy’s front page) against every single item they have for sale. This marks their items out (to prospective buyers) as being superior to unstarred items.  Even though your unstarred items may be just as good or better, human nature being what it is, buyers will be swayed by what they perceive as marks of excellence, and may never visit your shop and see your glowing feedback, let alone buy.
Of course, some Featured Sellers during the ensuing debate said they don’t see the problem, but then they would. Some non-featured sellers have also said they don’t see the problem, but if they sell in large categories (with 1000s of items) these stars won’t be nearly so prominent and prevalent, and their sales may remain relatively unaffected. Some have even said they don't care, and, as someone who can’t abide unfairness, and simply wants to see a level playing field for EVERYONE, I’ve been truly shocked by such flippancy and apathy.  And even more shocked by those who chose to rub salt into gaping wounds and shout ‘sour grapes’...! If I was a featured seller, I'd be mortified to find I'd been awarded a star (of any colour) and was therefore putting non-starred shops and items at a disadvantage! Thankfully, these comments have come from only a handful of people, and most are as horrified as me (as my overflowing inbox attests) that sellers in the smaller categories and sub-categories will be adversely affected by this. And they absolutely will. For example, when I first discovered this badging the other day, there were thirteen stars on one sub-cat page alone. Thirteen.  And now that my items in that sub-cat are no longer for sale on Folksy, that number has risen substantially. There is absolutely no way on earth that prospective buyers won’t be influenced by these. Anyone who thinks they won't is being naive.
So if you thought Folksy was a level playing field, and you’re a Folksy seller, think again and add your vote here. (See update below! **) It makes no difference to me as I’ve cleared both my Folksy shops, but it could help you and your fellow-sellers no end.

So that’s it – my main three reasons for leaving Folksy to concentrate on my website. Just a few more points, and I’m done:

To the buyer who seems never to have noticed what and who the Shop Talk forum is for: It says, very clearly, ‘Ask other sellers about what to sell, how to sell and all “shopkeeper” issues.’ In other words, this is a forum to be used solely by Folksy sellers; not by buyers who have no concept of what life is like as a seller, how utterly frustrating and difficult selling on Folksy can be, and how it feels when Folksy gets things so hugely wrong. The sooner Folksy sets up the closed seller forum many of us have been requesting for a very long time, the better!

And to those who continually snipe at and bitch about everyone who makes valid criticisms about Folksy (the company whose wages the sellers pay, dear buyer!) and think the forums should be all cupcakes and candyfloss, I say this: The forums are (or should be) Folksy’s barometer – this is where they see how well (or not) they’re doing, and they should therefore be taking notes rather than locking threads for no good reason.  Most of us began such threads to instigate debate, because we cared that Folksy should be a successful selling platform, and a happy and viable one on which to work.  If you prefer to be apathetic and play tiddleywinks in the background while others use their valuable time to get involved in important debates, that’s fine. But don’t you dare criticise people for merely trying to make Folksy a better and fair place for everyone – including you.

Finally, huge thanks to all those who so generously supported my Folksy shops, who helped with the terrifying techy stuff (!), and, last but not least, to those who took the trouble to send messages and emails of support and thanks regarding the disgraceful badging issue. I haven’t replied to all of you yet, but rest assured I will. :)

** UPDATE  It's official - despite one of the largest votes ever, Folksy has 'declined' to take your views on board (and closed the voting), and those gold stars will not only remain, but it seems that other similar badges will be added to other sellers' shops and items, putting those without badging at an even bigger disadvantage:
(No Status) -> Declined
Thank you for your contribution to this feature request.
We have no plans for removing the marker for Featured Sellers.
However we are planning to introduce other ways for Folksy designer-makers to be featured and promoted on the site (other than editorial ones).
Folksy Support