Diversifying Your Income Stream as a Knit Designer

"You don't quit your full-time job because you write knitting books. This isn't Harry Potter." -me

When people ask me about making knitting (and now crochet) design my full-time job, I always say the above quote. Because it's true.

Can you make a full-time living being a designer? Absolutely!

But it takes a lot of income streams to make it work. I truly believe that the vast majority of designers would tell you the same thing too. Most of us are doing other things besides just publishing patterns on Ravelry - we teach, tech edit, sell yarn, write books, do graphic design or photography, etc., to make a living at this.

So, here's a breakdown of my income for January through August of this year:
That's seven different avenues I'm receiving money for my business. And pretty much all of those can be further broken down. For example, I taught at 6 different shops or guilds so far this year, and I received payment from four different companies for "commissioned patterns." In this business, every little piece adds up!

I'm currently taking the route of writing knitting books to earn a good chunk of income. As you can see, it's making up a lot of my income these days. Cozy Stash-Busting Knits was released earlier this year and Sock-Yarn Accessories came out in the Fall of 2015. Will it stay like this forever? No - book sales (and therefore your royalties) naturally go down the longer a book has been available. But, for now, it's working. And, while I do have another book currently in the works (yay!), I'm also brainstorming other ways to further diversify my income.

So, if you're a designer (or thinking about coming one, which you should, because it's the best job), how do you diversify (or plan to diversify) your income stream? I'd love to know!

And, because I love reading about this kind of stuff, here are some links to other people discussing the subject:


Follow Me Friday....

These days, many of us are on multiple social medias. I thought I'd have a fun and quick Friday post about all the various places you can find me! You know, in case reading the blog just wasn't enough Jen for you. ;)

I'll see you around the Internet! :)


(Not Really) Wordless Wednesday

I've made my yarn decision for my upcoming Mystery Shawl KAL. Start digging in your stash for two - 400 yard skeins of fingering weight yarn, solid or semi-solids are going to be the way to go.
We'll be starting October 7th. Details coming soon. Join the Ravelry group to stay up-to-date. ;)


My First Crochet Shawl Pattern

A few weeks ago, something really awesome happened. My first ever crochet shawl pattern was officially released into the world. This is Daphne, now available from Willow Yarns:
Daphne Crochet Shawl by Jen Lucas
From the website:

Enjoy a vintage look of sophisticated elegance with this shawl designed by Jen Lucas in Willow Quest yarn.
Skill Level: Intermediate
Finished Size: 74 x 30"
Materials: Willow Yarns™ Quest; Color: 0013 Blue Butterfly—2 balls
Hook: US size F-5 (3.75mm) crochet hook or size needed to obtain gauge

Daphne Crochet Shawl by Jen Lucas
I used my knowledge of pi shawl shaping in knitting and applied it to this crocheted shawl. You work a few rows, double the stitches, work a few more rows, double the stitches, and so on. It was such a fun piece to stitch.
I really hope you all enjoy enjoy this shawl as much as I do!


Design Your Biz: Customer Feedback

Today's Design Your Biz segment is about customer feedback.
Knit & crochet designers have access to more customer feedback than ever before. Many of us have Ravelry groups, people can leave us comments on the Ravelry pattern pages, we get emails, private messages on Ravelry, notes sent through forms on our websites, etc.

It can be overwhelming. And sometimes the feedback isn't so nice.

So, first I'd like to touch on the "not so nice" customer feedback. This might not be the most fun blog topic on the planet, but it's important to talk about it. I want designers (especially the newer ones) to know that it isn't you. This happens to all of us unfortunately.

Every designer has at least one story of receiving "that message." Luckily for me, those are verrrry few and far between these days, but I've gotten everything from "get a new job" (with a few expletives thrown in there for good measure) to "I'm telling all my designer friends what a terrible designer you are." Yikes.

At the beginning, these messages would really shake me up. I'd get all upset. Sometimes I'd actually consider quitting my dream to work on this full time.

While the occasional angry feedback can still rock me a little but, I've really worked on changing my perspective.

I try to put myself in their shoes. Maybe something is going on in their personal life and they are having a terrible day. Maybe they are just incredibly frustrated that whatever they are making isn't working out (I mean, I do put my knitting in timeout all the time).

Not that anyone should be sending messages full of terrible things to someone, but, in this business, it's going to happen. So I just remind myself that "It's just sticks and string, right? We aren't exactly drafting an international peace policy." And then I kill them with kindness. :) Trust me, when you get these types of messages, the last thing you want to do is be nice, but it's the right thing to do. Many times I've actually received apology emails in return!

And, full disclosure, if they are especially terrible, I don't answer them at all. Sometimes it's better not to engage people that are going to be super-duper awful to you.

Ok, enough about the bad....let's move onto what the vast majority of my customer feedback is - the good kind! :)

I really do love hearing from my customers. They've helped me make decisions in my designs and business in general over the years. For example, when I first started designing, I included the written instructions for the charts for all my shawl designs. I've received so much feedback from knitters over the years that they love having that. Is it more work for me? Yep, a little bit, but I don't plan to change it. Because of the feedback I've received, I know that people want it, so it's completely worth it for me to do it. Truthfully, it's now weirdly one of my favorite parts of pattern writing.

I've also started working on a new design recently as a result of customer feedback. I talked about it a little in my last Design Your Biz post and you can also see my giant swatch in this video. My customers have sent me lots of notes over the years saying they want a pi shawl with armholes. So I'm finally listening! I can't wait to work on this some more this fall. I know many of you will love it, because you told me so!

I could go on and on about customer feedback. :)

But the bottom line is, good or bad, customer feedback is here to stay.

If you're a designer (or work in any job where you receive customer feedback), I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.


Giveaway Winner!

It's time to select the winner for the book Weekend Wraps. You can read the original blog post here.

Using a random number generator, the winner is.....


Her response to the question What is your favorite accessory to knit or crochet? was:

I love cowls as they stay in place while I work. Don't know how I grew up in the NorthEast without them.

Thanks to everyone for checking out my review of Weekend Wraps and for entering the giveaway! 


WIP Wednesday: Briarcliff

So remember that time I was all into knitting my Briarcliff sweater? Yeah, that was over a year ago. Oops.

I've finally picked it back up again and I'm motivated to finish it. Why?
Because I'm going to Rhinebeck in October! It's a little last minute that I managed to get this to work out, but it did. My room is paid for, my flight has been booked, but, alas, I have no "Rhinebeck Sweater."

At first I briefly considered starting a whole new sweater, but then decided against it. I have a back and 1.5 sleeves done of Briarcliff, it makes sense to just finish this one.

Oh, right, but the INTARSIA fronts. And I've never really done intarsia before. But now I have a deadline. Nothing like a deadline to motivate you, right? :)

I'm actually enjoying it more than I thought I would.
 I'm doing my best to keep my little bobbins neat and tidy. It's actually working out pretty well so far.
So, I'll keep plugging away. I'm hopeful that I can get it done in time.

It's WIP Wednesday! What are you working on?


No Sew (No Really) Baby Receiving Blanket

I have long loved those flannel receiving blankets with the crochet edgings. I don't own a sewing machine (haha the one craft I'm not into, right?) but I really wanted to make one. So I got a little creative....
Knitting Like Crazy: No Sew Crochet Flannel Receiving Blanket
I thought I'd share how I made it, in case you want to make one too!

First, I bought a pack of cotton flannel receiving blankets. Why the pre-made blanket? Because the edges are already finished off. If you buy your own fabric, that's great, but then you'll want to sew the edges to prevent them from fraying. Again, no sewing for me, so I bought the blankets!
Knitting Like Crazy: No Sew Crochet Flannel Receiving Blanket
I bought sports themed blankets for my friend, the mom-to-be, who is sports fanatic.

Next, I needed a way to get the holes into the fabric so I could crochet the edging. Fortunately, I had met someone at Stitches Midwest who was making one of these blankets and she introduced me to the wonders of the wide-skip rotary blade.
Knitting Like Crazy: No Sew Crochet Flannel Receiving Blanket
I had the 45mm rotary cutter so all I had to do was order the blade. You need the wide-skip blade so that the holes aren't too close together. This worked perfectly! 

After that, it was time to make the holes. Using my rotary cutter, a yard stick and my cutting mat, I "rolled" my holes 5/8" from the edge. 
Knitting Like Crazy: No Sew Crochet Flannel Receiving Blanket
The only issue I really ran into is that this particular store-bought blanket had rounded corners. I didn't let that defeat me. I used a small steel crochet hook to poke the holes there. If you're really careful, you probably could use the rotary cutter, but I was chicken. :)
Knitting Like Crazy: No Sew Crochet Flannel Receiving Blanket
The hole-making was done in no time! Then it's on to the best part - crocheting!
Knitting Like Crazy: No Sew Crochet Flannel Receiving Blanket
The yarn I chose was a sport weight, acrylic baby yarn from the craft store. Due to the spacing of the holes, I found that working around the blanket by doing a single crochet into the hole followed by a chain-1 worked great. the edge stayed nice and flat!
Knitting Like Crazy: No Sew Crochet Flannel Receiving Blanket
As I was working around the blanket, I was folding the edge of the blanket to the back. Remember, how I made the holes 5/8" from the edge? That was so I could fold it back as I go. I think it gives it a very finished look.
Knitting Like Crazy: No Sew Crochet Flannel Receiving Blanket
The only other thing to remember is that when you come to the corners, make sure you add additional stitches - otherwise the blanket will curl. I did three single crochets into the holes going around my rounded corners. Depending on your gauge and if the corners of your blanket are rounded, you may need more or less extra stitches at the corners. 

Once you finish your base round, you can do whatever you like! I picked a crochet edging from Edie Eckman's Around the Corner Crochet Borders book for the blanket below. Because the pattern repeat was pretty small for this particular one, I didn't worry too much about my stitch count. I just "fudged"it a little at the corners to make it work. I don't think baby will mind. 
Knitting Like Crazy: No Sew Crochet Flannel Receiving Blanket
I think it would also be very cool, once you did your round of single crochets, to cast on stitches and knit an attached lace edging. I will definitely be experimenting with that when the time comes to make more baby gifts!

And that's it! Such a quick, easy and fun gift to give! 

Note: This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure policy here.


Design Your Biz: Customer Appreciation

In today's Design Your Biz segment, I'd like to talk a little bit about Customer Appreciation!
When I first think of customer appreciation, my brain immediately goes to discount. I mean, who doesn't love a good discount, right? It's a great way to show your customers some love! 

It's hard not to fall into the trap of always having a sale going on. Sales can be a great way to promote your work and get new customers. But, if you're always having sales, people will start to expect that your stuff is always on sale. So, I've tried to find a balance between using sales to get new customers and appreciate the customers I have. Here are the ways I typically give out discounts:
  1. I send out coupon codes in my email newsletter. To me, this is truly customer appreciation! When I have a new pattern or I've reformatted an older pattern, I'll often times add a coupon code for $1-2 off to my email newsletter. Why just in the newsletter? Those are my actually my customers. Most of the people that receive my newsletter have bought a pattern or book from me, taken a class, or joined one of my knit-a-longs. They are interested in hearing from me twice a month via email, and I appreciate that. They are the whole reason I get to have knitting as my full-time job! :)
  2. When I release a self-published e-book, like the Gradient Collection or Nifty Gifty, I almost always release the patterns one at time, over the course of several weeks. So, I'll discount the e-book. People are taking a chance on my by buying an e-book from me without seeing all the patterns first. If the book contains 6 patterns and my end price is $12.50, I will discount it to $7.50 when the first pattern is added, then increase it to $8.50 when the second pattern is added, and so on. I appreciate that people are taking that risk and want my patterns before even seeing and them, so they get the discount!
  3. Once a year (usually around my birthday) I'll have a big sale that will run for a few days. Why? Because it's fun. 
Like I said, discounts are great, but I think there are so many other ways you can show appreciation for your customers without ever offering a discount:
  • Be responsive to emails. Whether someone emails me to ask me a question about a pattern or they just want to show me a picture of their finished shawl, I do my best to write them back. Just giving them a little bit of your time goes a long way to show them that you value them.
  • Interact. This goes with the above point. As designers, we all have lots of social media: Ravelry groups, Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram, the list goes on. While I'll be the first to admit that the social media can get overwhelming, taking some time to interact with people that follow you (many of which are your customers) shows that you care about them.
  • Give them what they want (within reason of course). Recently, I received yet another email asking for a pi shawl with armholes (so like a pi shawl vest). I haven't designed one up until this point because I was a little nervous about the sizing aspects of the piece. After giving it some thought, I've decided to go for it. I'm really grateful for having customers that will tell me what kind of designs they are looking for, and I feel like we've all sort of evolved in our shawl knitting together. So why not give them the design so many of them having been asking for!?
There's lots of ways to show your customers love. Are you a designer? I'd love to hear your thoughts on customer appreciation!


Book Review: Weekend Wraps

Today I'd like to share the book Weekend Wraps with you. 
Knitting Like Crazy Blog: Weekend Wraps Book Review
This book contains 18 patterns, all quick accessories patterns with beautiful details. It includes designs from 15 great designers. You're sure to find a pattern or two that you love!

The patterns of Weekend Wraps are split into four chapters - A Few Quick Cowls, Cozy Shawls, Wrapped in Wool and Not Quite a Sweater. Each of these sections contain 4 to 5 patterns.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Post and Beam Cowl by Emma Welford combines garter stitch and cables, a pairing you know that I love. The pattern is written for one size, but you could easily double the number of stitches cast on to make an infinity scarf. The pattern includes written instructions for the chart. Hooray!

The Warm Cider Cowl by Thea Colman uses an interesting, textured stitch pattern. It's worked in one long rectangle and then seamed. 

The Turkish Lace Shawl by Angela Tong is simple and sweet. It's a sideways-knit triangle shawl with no charts. Worked in worsted weight yarn, you could definitely knit one in a weekend.

The Wander Shrug by Cecily Glowik MacDonald is truly cozy. Written for 6 sizes (from 27-30" bust to 50-54" bust), you'll likely find the size that works for you and have the perfect piece for your fall wardrobe.

I wish I could feature them all here on the blog; there are so many beautiful pieces! Fortunately, you can check them all out on Ravelry.

The patterns in this book are very clearly written, most of them are short and sweet. Simple charts are included in the patterns that need them, and there's written instructions to go along with them. I know you all love your written instructions for the charts!

Giveaway is now closed! Thanks to all that entered! 
 And now the best part - I received a second copy of Weekend Wraps to giveaway! All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post on or before September 4, 2016 telling me what your favorite type of wrap accessory you like to knit or crochet(i.e. cowl, shawl, scarf, wrap, shrug, etc.). Please make sure you leave your Ravelry ID (preferred) or email address so I can contact you if you're the winner! I will be using a random number generator to select the winner. Good luck!

You can find Weekend Wraps at your local LYS or bookstore. You can also pick one up from the Interweave website.

Photo copyright, Interweave/F+W, 2016. Used with permission.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free in order to review it. My review is 100% my honest opinion. I did not receive any payment for this review nor did I agree to publish a positive review. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

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