The League of Extraordinary Penpals

extraordinarypenpals

Swapping and penpalling are a little bit different, but snail mail lovers (like us!) often enjoy both… so, I think you will be excited about this new website and club I just discovered: The League of Extraordinary Penpals!

What is the LEP?
Basically, it’s a penpal club that connects you with other extraordinary penpals. The LEP is a super collaboration between Laura aka Super Squirrel and Julie aka Super Sushi, and they need awesome penpals like you to join their ranks!

What do I get for joining the LEP?
In addition to being part of a club that has the word “extraordinary” in the title, the LEP offers a monthly newsletter that contains all of the below in every issue:

Printable – Snail mail challenge – Organized swap – Giveaway – Superhero-themed interview with an extraordinary LEP member – Article on a topic of interest – Featured snail mail related website – Access to a private stationery subscription service – The chance to receive a letter or a card from your LEP hostesses – The chance to be featured as our monthly extraordinary LEP member, which includes an awesome superhero portrait by Ciara Kay – Also, there will be a LEP-themed letter set that will be available only to LEP members!

What does membership cost?

You can find the LEP membership prices here. If you sign up before February 1st (this Friday!) you can get a special new subscriber rate!

Giveaway!

To celebrate their launch, Laura & Julie are giving away a six-month LEP membership to one luck Swap-botter! To enter, answer the following question in the comments before Friday, February 8th:

What would be your superhero name?

Make sure to include your Swap-bot username with your comment. A winner will be randomly drawn and announced on Monday, February 11th. Good luck!

zp8497586rq

website review: Stash Slash (+ a giveaway!)

Do you collect fabric, sewing patterns, yarn, or other textile and fiber art supplies? Are you always looking for more unique items to add to your collection? Or, would you like to reduce your growing stash by selling a few items? Let me introduce you to Stash Slash!

Stash Slash is “an ad-free community for fiber and fabric lovers providing a dedicated market so you can sell your unneeded stash — or buy fabrics, yarns, adornments, notions, patterns, books and accessories with an easy-to-use process from beginning to end. All sewers, quilters, knitters, weavers, basketmakers and fiber artists are invited to join. For a low-cost yearly selling membership the market is yours — without any listing or end-of-sale fees.”

Buyers can register for Stash Slash for free and browse and buy from any of the sellers on the site. Sellers pay a $20 yearly fee (only $15 until 2012) and can then list as many items as they would like. For more information, read Why Stash Slash Was Created.

To celebrate their launch, Stash Slash would like to give away one free seller’s membership to a lucky Swap-bot member! If you’d like to sell some of your stash, it is easy to enter the giveaway…

To enter to win the free membership, do one of the following things:

Then, comment on this blog post letting me know which of the three items you did. Please also include your Swap-bot username.

You must be a member of Swap-bot to win. The giveaway will be open for entry until next Friday, September 9th. The winner will be randomly selected from all entrants, and will be announced on Monday, September 12th.

Good luck!


website review: IndieBizChicks.com

indiebizchicks

IndieBizChicks.com is a website that provides business, marketing, and publicity information to “women who’d rather work for themselves, than work for the man.” The site was launched in the summer of 2007 by Crissy Herron, a writer, teacher, and speaker with a big passion for entrepreneurship and the DIY movement. She wants to provide helpful information and assistance to people in their 20s and 30s who are looking to become self-employed. If you have a small online business, like an Etsy store or a blog, that you would like to promote, IndiBizChicks.com is a great place to learn about online marketing and business development.

CrissyI met Crissy last weekend, first at the Etsy Crafty Blogging Panel, and then we spent time hanging out at the BlogHer10 conference here in New York City. She is very knowledgeable when it comes to just about anything related to running an independent business online and she is a professional and informative speaker. I was impressed!

The Indie Biz Chicks site is a helpful, daily blog and much more! Crissy also creates instructive products, like eBooks and Podcasts, and hosts live e-classes. Some of her products are free and some are available for purchase. For example, Crissy is offering an upcoming, live Holiday Marketing Tips e-class for just $3. I am also very interested in the collection of Summer Biz Sessions podcasts. For $15 you get the podcast recordings of interviews with some amazing small business owners, like Ali Edwards and Jennifer of Naughty Secretary Club.

Even if you aren’t interested in running your own online business, Indie Biz Chicks is a great place to learn more about online social media and female-owned businesses. Definitely sign up for the free Indie Biz Chicks Newsletter. (Simply enter you email address in the Newsletter form in the upper right hand corner of the site.) Crissy sends out newsletter emails once a week with great biz tips. Today the email contained tips on how to pick the right domain name. Very helpful info if you are just starting out!

———-

p.s. Swap-bot was recently featured in an IndieBizChicks “Biz Profile.” Check it out if you would like to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes at the ‘bot!


website review: Unanimous Craft

Unanimous Craft is a cool, new website (just launched in March of this year) where you can find hundreds of resources for indie businesses and crafters. The site is a directory and a community that anyone can join. Once you are a member — there is a free and a premium pay option — you can submit your favorite websites and resources or review the current listings.

From the site description:

“Unanimous Craft is a tagable, sortable index of resources for crafters, artists and indie business owners. We submit our favorite resources and welcome the community to do the same. Once you become a member, you can submit resources you like, review and rate other resources and curate lists of your favorites.”

Unanimous Craft is pretty and easy to navigate. I have been having fun adding some of my favorite resources, like Swap-bot and Craft Critique, and writing a few reviews. If you have been looking for a place to store a directory of your favorite craft websites and resources, I definitely recommend Unanimous Craft.

(p.s. I would be pumped if you would add a review of Swap-bot on Unanimous Craft.)


ChristyNelson.net Challenge

chrsitynelson

You may remember my of from two weeks ago. ChristyNelson.net is a great crafty website and Christy also hosts monthly craft challenges. Myself and two other lucky Swap-botters got to participate in the and we were each sent a package which contained black felt, burlap, safety pins, and black sequins. Each Challenge participant received the same materials and we were each to make any project we could dream up as long as we used at least some of each Challenge item.

Check out what I made! It is a 5 x 7″ wallet made with the felt. I used the burlap, rosettes, and sequins as decorative elements, and closed it with a safety pin. I am pleased with how it turned out and how such a random assortments of things can be made into something functional and pretty! Sweet!

christychallenge

Lisa (Swap-bot user ) also participated in the challenge and she made this amazing . So lovely!

lisarosettepin

And, Sara (Swap-bot user ) used her burlap in an innovative way and created a . Very cool.

luaupurse

– a $25 craft store gift certificate!

If you want to participate in next month’s challenge, check out the . You can purchase the monthly Challenge packs from for just $5. They are a fun way to get your craft juices flowing, not to mention a great opportunity to win prizes! (btw: The deadline for joining the May Challenge is tomorrow!)


website review: ChristyNelson.net

chrsitynelson

ChristyNelson.net is an awesome craft blog I discovered during my work with the organizers of the upcoming CraftyCon event. Christy is one of the organizers of CraftyCon, one of the co-owners of Toolulu, a social media marketing company, a mother of two, and she also manages to keep ChristyNelson.net updated constantly with great crafty content. In fact, she has been publishing the blog since December of 2008, posting everything from craft projects and tutorials to product reviews and gift guides.

Christy-craftYou can count on ChristyNelson.net for consistent craft content almost daily, but that isn’t even the coolest part of the site. Christy also hosts ingenious, monthly Craft Challenges. The Challenges consist of a random group of secret craft supply items chosen by Christy each month. Participants sign up to receive a packet of these craft supplies in the mail for just $5. (They can be purchased in Christy’s Etsy store.) When they receive the supplies, they make something awesome, submit photos of their creations, and compete for the chance to win prizes! Each month the supplies are totally different and you don’t know what they will be until they arrive at your door. The Challenges are a great motivator (or excuse) to get you crafting and trying new things. Christy provides the challenge, you provide the inspiration and crafting skill!

This month, I received one of Christy’s Challenge packages. It consisted of some black felt, burlap, black sequins, safety pins, and my favorite, a black chiffon rose. I am already cooking up some great ideas for what I am going to make… check back at the end of the month to see my final craft creation.

craftchallenge


website review: Rollip

rollip1 I have a fun, new website to share with you all. It is called and it allows you “give any digital photo the classic look and feel of a vintage or Polaroid picture.” It is a super-simple site to use (you do not have to create an account, which is a huge relief – no need to enter all of your contact info again, like on most other sites) and it offers a bunch of funky effects that you can use on your own photos. I created the two images below using two different Polaroid styles on the site.

rollipimages

is a really quick and easy way to jazz up your so-so digital images or give any photo a vintage feel – give it a try!


website review: Bags for the People

bagsforthepeople

I am going to attend the upcoming Etsy Labs craft night here in Brooklyn next Monday (July 13th) – and if you are in NYC, you should come, too! The event is being hosted by Bags for the People, a non-profit organization that “provides a sustainable alternative to plastic bags.” The organization is totally cool. They make bags out of re-purposed materials and give them away for free!

Here is some more info about Bags for the People from their site:

“Bags for the People began with three friends who worked at the Union Square Farmers Market in New York City. These three friends, Megan Talley, Glenn Robinson, and Kelly Martin, wanted to make a positive impact on the exorbitant use of plastic bags that they witnessed each and every market. In an effort to curb plastic bag usage, Megan, Glenn, and Kelly, began making re-usable bags from recycled clothing and fabric that were to be given out for free at the market.

Why recycled material? We use recycled materials to utilize the wealth of existing materials, cutting back on use of new materials and natural resources. Plus we never know what kind of colors or patterns we will find. Using recycled materials ensures that each bag will be funky and unique!

Why Free?Our bags are free so no one is excluded from actively participating in this simple lifestyle change. We want our bags to be a truly positive experience that will create dialogue and instill environmentally conscious thought while cutting back on plastic bag usage. Furthermore, for us, it is about our environment and making positive change, not making money.”

The group hosts bag making events around New York City for all ages, including school children and the elderly. They also give out their free bags at green markets around the city. Anyone can write to Bags for the People (and send a a self addressed and stamped envelope) and they will send you a free bag! Or, you can download their free tutorial for making a bag out of an old t-shirt. There is a lot more information about the organization on their website, and I think you should check it out! If you get inspired by Bags for the People’s mission, you can also donate fabric and/or equipment to the cause. What an easy way to make the world a little more green!


website review: Jinjerup

jinjerup

Jinjerup is the adorable online home for the designs, patterns, and illustraions of Chan Lynn, a professional designer. Lynn posts her new patterns nearly daily with short and cute explanations for how she came up with the ideas.

This little snippet from the Jinjerup about page will give you a feel for Lynn’s sweet personality:

“I am constantly amazed by the small wonders of nature, science and the pleasure of the little things in life. They are unbelievably great sources of inspiration for anything. Seeing a well crafted typographic piece, acquiring a beautifully printed new publication are small yet just as meaningful notions which make my heart swell with design joy. What really takes the cake, is of course, coming up with designs to call your own.”

The best part of Jinjerup is that Lynn gives away a new, free download every week!! This week you can download adorable Caterpillar Express labels.

caterpillarexpress

You can also purchase items, like t-shirts and mugs, with Jinjerup designs from the Jinjerup Store. Lynn also has a personal blog, Bric.A.Brac, and a Twitter account. All of her posts are friendly and fun – a joy to read!


website review: Handmadeology

I know that many of you not only create handmade items to swap, but you also sell them (or want to sell them) on sites like Etsy and ArtFire. If you need help navigating the world of selling handmade goods online, Handmadeology is helpful resource you should check out. From the site’s description:

Handmadeology exists for the purpose of teaching artists how to successfully sell their handmade goods online. Through articles, blogs, video and screen shot tutorials, and Q & A dialogue between Timothy Adam and followers of his work, the formula for selling handmade goods online can be learned.

Timothy has had success selling on Etsy since 2007 and also has a blog and an Artfire store . Selling his handmade metal jewelry, sculpture, and furniture online is his full-time job. On Handmadeology he shares his secrets for success. There are both articles and videos that can help beginners navigate the world of online selling, and help established sellers get more traffic to their store. You can learn more about Timothy and Handmadeology from his CraftCast interview.