3.23.2017

Design Your Biz: Living Wage

We've talked about money before. Lots of times. But today, let's dig a little deeper.

I'd like to talk about making a living wage as a knit & crochet designer.

Making a Living Wage as a Knit & Crochet Designer
So, you want to be a knit and/or crochet designer? Great! And you want to do it full-time? Awesome! One of the first things you need to do is figure out how much money you need to make to have that happen.

I've shared a little bit in the past about my quest for full-time designer life, but I thought I'd share a little more about it today. This is just my experience; everyone's journey and situation is different. I know that the way I built up my business to being able to earn a full-time income isn't going to work for everyone.  I already had a full-time job, I don't have kids. Looking back, it was pretty easy for me to come home from one job and work on the other to get it to "full-time" status. I guess the point I'm trying to make is no matter what you're starting point is, you can do it. Some people might be able to rage quit their job and start work the next day on their business, some people can't. :)

Remember, "if you want it you will find a way, if you don't, you'll find an excuse." I really believe that.

When I finally made the decision that I wanted knitting to be my next job, I made a plan. I decided what I needed to make to quit my job. My goal: be able to earn an amount of money that I made at the lab. Not necessarily the amount that I made when I left my job (I'd been there nearly a decade and had been promoted), but I wanted to make an amount of money that I made at some point in the lab.

Once I had a specific number in mind, it actually became a lot easier. I knew what I had to do. I could actually figure out how many patterns I needed to sell, or how many third-party design calls to submit to. I decided that I needed to write another book. Again, this looks different for everyone. One person might need $20,000, another might need $60,000 to be earning a living wage. You have to take a hard look at your finances to figure that out for yourself.

The reality is it took two years from the day I decided I was going to quit my job one day until the day I actually left the lab for good. Obviously, I'm not really an impulsive person. :) I wanted a smooth transition not only with the workload being full-time when I stepped into my business, but also, I wanted the money to be there too.

Deciding on that "magic number" is a good first step, but there's other considerations. For me, the big one was health insurance. My sweet municipal job had very affordable health insurance. When I quit, my husband was working as a consultant (i.e. no health insurance), so we had to make a plan for that too. So now, it wasn't just about paying all our normal bills, but we had to add on paying for insurance out of pocket. Yikes.

And, there are sacrifices that come along with it. If I was still working at my old job, certainly I'd have a new car by now. Instead, I keep on driving my sweet Toyota Camry with 155,000 miles on it, hoping it will keep going just one more year. We've put off taking huge overseas vacations that we once talked about. The car and vacations will come with time, what's important to me now is continuing to build my business so we can have those things down the road.

I hope this helps those of you considering the dive into full-time designer life. It's the hardest job I've had. But it's the most fun too. 

Figuring all this out can be a little overwhelming. There's lots of resources out there. I've found Tara Swiger's Pay Yourself class to be especially helpful.




3.22.2017

Instagram Doesn't Lie

My posts on Instagram over the last week have revealed something to me.....
Shawl in Progress
Shawl in Progress
 
Purple Yarn Stash
 Sharing my current color obsession for the #yarnmadness challenge
 
Fogliame Sweater by Heather Zoppetti

....Purple. It's my color.

3.17.2017

FO Friday: I Have a Problem

I just can't stop. It's a real problem. Someone reveals that they are with child, and I start knitting Upside Down Daisy Hats. Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time knows I have an addiction when it comes to these hats. 

So, when my friend Tiffanie revealed that she was expecting twins, you know what had to be done. 
Upside Down Daisy Hats 
Tiffanie does not know what kind of babies she is growing (i.e. boy/girl and their various combinations, she has confirmed they are human, haha), so I went with something more neutral than usual.
Upside Down Baby Hats
The pattern is the Upside-Down Daisy by Susan B. Anderson. Although, at this point, I don't follow a pattern, I just knit it. I used some lable-less, craft store bulky yarn from my stash to get the job done. I knit both hats in just a few hours.

Once finished, I wrapped them up with the other gifts, and used the leftover yarn for some nice pom-pom ribbon thing!
Baby Shower Gift with Pom Poms
Happy FO Friday! What did you finish this week?

3.16.2017

Halos of Hope-A-Thon

It's no secret that Halos of Hope is a charity very dear to me. I've been collecting chemo hats for a number of years for donating to a local cancer center, and this past January, with your help, we raised over $200 to help Halos of Hope ship hats all over the country.

And, today, I'm here to tell you about a verrrrry exciting project I've been working on with Halos.

It's the Halos of Hope-A-Thon!
Halos of Hope-A-Thon
That's right - it's a 24-hour hat-a-palooza!

The Hope-A-Thon will be taking place on July 21 and 22 at Wall of Yarn in Freeport, IL. It's a lovely shop in a lovely town, and I'm so happy that they are hosting the hat-making fun.

So, what's the plan?

The Hope-A-Thon will start on Friday, July 21 at 8pm with a free lecture from Franklin Habit. I've attended several of Franklin's talks over the years and they are awesome. That alone is worth the trip! After the lecture, we'll head over to the yarn shop (it's about two blocks from where the lecture is being held), where the knitting and crochet fun begins. Stay for a few hours, stay all night, it's up to you! On Saturday, July 22, the Hope-A-Thon continues with more hat-making. Franklin will be teaching a class (with a portion of the class fee going directly to Halos of Hope. You'll need to sign up for that, and I'll share the details as soon as I have them.).

As for me, I'll be there all weekend, helping the Halos of Hope crew! I'm excited to be a part of this event and hope you'll think about checking it out.

Currently you can find details on the event's Facebook page. More info will be coming soon, including hotel and travel info. So stay tuned!

Can't make it to the Hope-A-Thon? No problem, I've got you covered. This year, for my annual Hat-A-Thon, I'll be collecting hats to bring with me to donate at the Wall of Yarn event! I'll be having prizes and stuff for that in my Ravelry group. We'll be starting my hat-a-thon on May 1st, so be sure to join the Ravelry group so you don't miss any of the fun.

Hooray for Hats!


3.09.2017

Design Your Biz: Negotiating Contracts

As a knit and crochet designer, contracts are a part of life. Unless your business is 100% self-publishing, which it probably isn't, you're going to find yourself needing to sign a contract every now and then.

Knitting Like Crazy: Negotiating Contracts for Knit & Crochet Designers

Whether it's for a pattern in a magazine or yarn company (book contracts are a whole other thing, I'll save that for it's own post!), most of the time you'll be receiving a standard contract. Is there room for negotiation? Usually. Here are a couple of things I've successfully negotiated* in the past:

Say a company offers you $350 for a shawl pattern, you could try asking for $375 or $400. The worst that will happen is they will say no. Just don't come back with "Gee, $350 is a little low, how about $900?" You have to be reasonable. Most of the time, these companies have a budget for their collection or issue. There's a lot of moving parts within that budget, and you are just a small piece of that. If the compensation really is too low for you, don't be afraid to politely decline signing the contract.


Monetary compensation isn't the only thing to consider when looking at a contract. When is the due date? Are you going to be out of the country on vacation or do you have something else due at the exact same time?

Asking for a change to the deadline in the initial contract is much better than having to go to the company a week before your project is due and you have to tell them you need more time. I have successfully negotiated deadlines with magazines in the past. If you ask for an extra week upfront, they might be able to give it you. It's rare that I ask for a change in a deadline when signing a contract, but sometimes you have to ask it. Know your schedule, know what workload you can handle and try to negotiate the due date if you need to (within reason obviously - don't ask to turn in your magazine design two months later than the deadline they are suggesting, they will definitely tell you no).

Remember, this is business, it's nothing personal. If you try negotiating your contract and can't come to an agreement, there's nothing wrong with politely declining.   Another opportunity will come along. But like my dad always said, "If you don't ask, you don't get." So don't be afraid to ask for a change if you feel like the contract isn't quite right for you.


*Every company/collection/magazine is different. Sometimes I've asked for more money or a different deadline and received it, sometimes I haven't. Some companies may be open to negotiations, some may not.

3.08.2017

YarnCon 2017!

YarnCon is one of my favorite fiber events. It takes place in Chicago on April 1 & 2 and I love everything about it. The shopping is some of the best around, with lots of amazing vendors that you won't see anywhere else. The vibe is cool, the event space is awesome, and it's a great place to meet up with all your fiber friends!
I took this photo when I attended YarnCon in 2015.

From the YarnCon website:

"YarnCon is Chicago's homegrown yarn-centric exhibition -- a place to promote, sell, and celebrate the yarny arts. Started in 2007, YarnCon is celebrating its 10th birthday in 2017! Our mission is to be the premier market for independent producers of yarn, fiber for spinning and weaving, tools, gadgets, books, patterns, instructions, and gifts related to spinning, knitting, crochet, and weaving."

Sounds pretty great, right?

I'm so excited to be teaching at YarnCon again this year. A weekend of teaching and shopping? Sounds pretty perfect to me!

Here's my schedule:
  • Saturday, April 1, 10 - 10:50am, Be Fab with Garter Tab
    If you love to knit shawls, chances are you’ve run across a garter tab cast-on in a pattern. It’s the perfect cast on for top-down shawls! If you’ve been intimidated or confused by this cast on, this is the class for you. In this session, Jen Lucas will teach you how to do the garter tab cast on with ease. She’ll share her tips and tricks to making it a cast on you love to use for all your shawls!
  • Saturday, April 1, 1 - 2:50pm, New Directions in Shawl Shapes
    Let’s take shawls beyond the triangle! We will experiment with different shawl shapes by knitting several mini shawl swatches. We will also discuss placing lace patterns within these shawl shapes and how to add other common shawl elements like borders and decorative bind offs as we take things in new directions.
  • Sunday, April 2, 12 - 12:50pm, Decorative Shawl Bind-Offs
    Want to add some pizzazz to your lace as you finish it? In this class, students will learn to bind off with flair! We’ll discuss choosing the right bind off for your finished lace and work several different ones in class. We will discuss how to get a nice stretchy edge as well as how to work three decorative bind offs. After this class a regular old bind off on your shawls just won’t do! 
You can see the full list of classes here. I hope to see you there!

3.03.2017

FO Friday: Unnamed Cowlette

I finished up my currently unnamed Into the Whirled cowlette design. These are not the final photos for the upcoming pattern, but I still wanted to share it with you. 
I look forward to getting some more photos in the coming days that really capture it's awesomeness. The cable & lace section is so nice. I love the texture the stitch pattern created.
As I currently don't have a name for it, if you have a good name, leave it in the comments (or reply to the email if you get my blog posts sent to your inbox). If I pick your name for the cowlette, I'll send you the pattern for free when it comes out! This is a totally subjective game - I'll pick my favorite. :) Make sure you leave your Ravelry name with it too so I can find you should you win!

UPDATE: I've picked a winner! FaerieKP came up with Duvessa! Faerie has been sent a copy of the pattern. Thanks to everyone for playing. There were lots of great names to chose from!

3.01.2017

Yarn Madness

If you are using Instagram, you may have heard of the #yarnlovechallenge that took place in the month of February. It was a photo-a-day challenge hosted by some of the Ravelry folks. It was so much fun and I enjoyed having a prompt for Instagram posting everyday. I decided to make up my own photo-a-day challenge for March. My original plan was to just use it for myself, but when some of my friends told me they enjoyed having the IG prompts everyday, I decided to share it.

So, join along if you like!

Yarn Madness Instagram Challenge
You can follow my posts on Instagram. You can also check out the hashtag #yarnmadness to see everyone's posts.

Welcome to #yarnmadness!

2.23.2017

Design Your Biz: Tech Editing

A couple weeks ago I talked about test and sample knitting. In that post, I touched on the importance of tech editing, but today I'd like to dive a little deeper.

Tech editing - why does it matter?

As knitters and crocheters we all like our patterns error-free, right?

A good tech editor is your best defense against errors. No matter how good you think you are at finding the misplaced comma or that k2 that should be a p2, it's nearly impossible to perfectly edit your own work. In the grand scheme of things, a tech editor isn't that expensive - I'd say around $20-30/hour. For someone like me that self-publishes accessories patterns, many times it takes less than an hour for a good tech editor to go through my pattern.

Does stuff occasionally still get missed? Of course. We're all human. But without a good tech editor the patterns would contain far more errors.

To take it a step further, I personally think it's a good idea to switch tech editors every so often, every few years or so. Much like it's hard to check your own work because you know what you were trying to say, I think after awhile a tech editor gets used to your style and what you were trying to say too. It doesn't mean they are doing a bad job, it's just being human. :)

So, if you are thinking about posting that pattern on Ravelry (and I think you should, being a designer is the best job), make sure you find a tech editor! Tech editors advertise in the designer groups on Ravelry all the time! Trust me, it's worth the $30 you'll spend to not have to answer questions about your pattern because it was confusing/wrong.

2.22.2017

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

A sweater pack from Done Roving Yarns has arrived on my doorstep. Hmm, what will it become?
Sweater Pack from Done Roving Yarns

Hint: It will NOT be a sweater. :)


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