8.29.2016

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.

8.25.2016

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!

8.22.2016

Book Review: Weekend Wraps

Today I'd like to share (and I do mean share - there's a giveaway at the end of this post!) 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!


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!

Don't want to wait to see if you win one? 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.

8.18.2016

Throwback Thursday: Stitches Midwest

Since this week I blogged about my haul and the classes from Stitches Midwest this year, I thought it would be a good time to have a Throwback Thursday - The Stitches Edition. :)

This blog has seen a lot of Stitches Midwest action over the years.

Last year, with the help of my friend, Sandy, I was able to collect a whole lot of hats at Stitches Midwest. In the end, with everyone dropping them off at Stitches and mailing them to me, I ended up with over 700 hats to donate!

Stitches Midwest 2014 had a pretty good yarn haul.
Knitting Like Crazy: Stitches Midwest 2014 Haul
Some of that yarn has turned into things....some of it is still waiting to become shawls. :)

At Stitches Midwest in 2013 I took some great classes. I've used both the knit and crochet techniques learned in those classes in my designs! My 2013 haul added my first gradient yarns to my stash. It obviously started an obsession.
Knitting Like Crazy: Stitches Midwest 2013 Haul
And then there is the haul from 2008. It was a pretty serious shopping trip. This was back in the day when I was learning that you didn't have to buy all your yarn at a big box chain store. I went a little crazy that time.
Looking at this huge pile of yarn makes me happy though (even if it made kind of poor at the time). With the exception of that black yarn which I donated because after a couple years when I decided I was never going to make anything with it, all that yarn turned into something. And it reminds me of my obsessive sock knitting phase. :)

I hope you've enjoyed this look back at my Stitches Midwest adventures as much as I have!

8.17.2016

Stitches Midwest 2016: The Classes

This year I took one class at Stitches Midwest: Beginning Weaving for Knitters with Deborah Jarchow.

Why weaving? Because I purchased a used Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom from a friend who was selling hers last year. I knew it was something I wanted to try eventually and the price was right.

I've taken a bunch of classes at Stitches over the years but this one was my favorite. I walked away truly learning something new and Deborah is an amazing instructor.

Here are my swatches from class:
Knitting Like Crazy: Stitches Midwest Weaving Swatches

The way the class was run was very interesting. Deborah had three different types of rigid heddle looms. The one that you were sitting in front of at the start of class is the one you warped. Then we worked on the weft. After that, we moved around to the other looms to give them a try. I loved that the class was designed to give you a taste of different types/brands of rigid heddle looms. It was a class designed to figure out if weaving is for you.

And here's the verdict: I loved it! I'm really excited to give it a try in the coming weeks. I know that I'm going to need a little more instruction, and fortunately there's a bunch of Craftsy classes on the subject:
Knowing me, I'll be buying all three of them the next time Craftsy has a big sale!

Did you take any classes at Stitches Midwest this year? If you did, I'd love to hear about them!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

8.15.2016

Stitches Midwest 2016: The Haul

Earlier this month, I attended Stitches Midwest. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I love attending this event every year. It's near my house, there's yarn, so of course I'll be there!

I did quite a bit of yarn shopping this year (sorry, not sorry), and I thought I'd flash the new stash today.
Knitting Like Crazy: Stitches Midwest 2016 Haul
Above, from left to right: 2 skeins of Stunning Superwash from Stunning String Studio in the Dutch Coral colorway, Just Sock from Shirsty Cat Designs in the Fire Star colorway, 2 skeins of Signature Fingering from 2 Guys Yarn Company in the Smoke It colorway, and 210-yard set of Whiskey Worsted Yarn from Brew City Yarns in the Go Bears! colorway.
Knitting Like Crazy: Stitches Midwest 2016 Haul
Above, from left to right: Magic Ball from Sophie's Toes in the Monet's Garden colorway. 600 yard/150g ball of Greatest of Ease from KnitCircus in the As You Wish colorway, and Large Evolution of Tasty from Twisted Fiber Art in the Mon Petit Chou colorway.
Knitting Like Crazy: Stitches Midwest 2016 Haul
Above, from left to right: Lawrence Silk Camel Mini Skein Set (140 yards each) from Canon Hand Dyes and an Ombre Artistic Gradation Kit (500 yards total) from Sophie's Toes.
Knitting Like Crazy: Stitches Midwest 2016 Haul
Above: a mug from Pawley Studios that my friends very smartly talked me into purchasing.

Looks like I have a little bit of knitting and crochet to do!

If you'd like to see more about my Stitches Midwest weekend, hop on over to the Jen Lucas Designs Facebook page. I did a Facebook live video last week recapping my adventures. You can see it here.
 

8.12.2016

FO Friday: Rowan Berry Shawlette

I mentioned in my post about my weekend at Renwick Inn that I actually finished something - a crocheted shawl. I blocked it before Stitches Midwest so I could show off my handiwork there and I'm ready to show it off here on the blog too.

This is the Rowan Berry Shawlette by Laurinda Reddig:
I paired this gorgeous pattern with a lovely gradient yarn - a 150-gram ball of Knitcircus' Greatest of Ease in the "I Am a Princess and This is My Tiara" colorway. I wanted to use up every inch of this yarn. So I followed Laurinda's notes on how to make my shawl larger. I actually ended up having to modify the final row of the pattern to not run out. I was left with a 5" tail. No wasted yarn here.

Blocking the shawl took forever, but was so worth it. Those picots!

What a great pattern. It was very well-written and easy to follow. I think I might need to pick up Laurinda's Reversible Crochet book or some more of her patterns on Ravelry.

It's FO Friday! Did you finish up anything this week? Let me know!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

8.11.2016

Design Your Biz: Developing Your Own Style

Today I'd like to talk about developing your own style as a designer.
When I first started designing, this was something that I struggled with. It was a time when then the traditional top-down triangle shawl was all the rage, Ravelry was still a pretty new thing, and there was a sea of new designers just like me giving knit design a try. As my desire to make knit design my full-time job grew, so did my efforts to develop my own style. Here are some things that I've considered over the years that have helped me to develop a style all my own:
  •  Design what you love to knit. So obvious, and it’s such an easy way to start developing your own style as a designer. My designs look like my designs because it’s what I like to make, simple as that!
  • It’s all in the details. When I’m writing a shawl pattern, there are two things I know I want to include: pattern notes on how to adjust the size of the shawl, and written instructions for the charts. My customers know that they can reliably find these things when I release a new shawl pattern, and it’s what keeps many of them coming back. For another designer, it might be the number of sizes in a sweater pattern or having a link to a video tutorial. By being consistent with what you like to include in your patterns, it helps set you apart from other designers and have a style all your own.
  • And speaking of style…you need a style sheet. When I first started designing, I had a very hard time trying to get the wording and formatting just right in my patterns. How am I going to explain finishing off a hat? What do I want italicized? At the beginning, I’ll admit, these things were not consistent from pattern to pattern. Then I created a style sheet. This helps me keep the wording and format the same in all my patterns. My patterns all have that “Jen Lucas Designs style” because they all follow my style sheet.  :)
There are so many things to contemplate when creating your own style as a designer. If you’re a designer, I’d love to know what else you consider when it comes to your style!

8.01.2016

Stitches Midwest Meet-Up

Stitches Midwest will be here in just a few days! Will you be there?

I'll be there Thursday, 8/4 thru Saturday, 8/6. I'm going to take classes, hang out with my friends, and (of course) shop! I don't have any book signings planned this time, so I've decided to have an informal meet-up instead.

We'll be meeting on Friday, 8/5 at 10am at the tables in the back of the market (near the concessions) area. We can hang out, chat, and ooh & ahh over yarn and shawls! I'll also have Jen Lucas Designs pins to hand out along with a coupon code for a free pattern download for any of my self-published patterns. Yay for free patterns!

If you can't make it to the meet-up, no worries. Since I'll be around most of the weekend, if you see me, say hello! I love it when I get to meet my blog readers and knitters that have knit my designs. It's one of my favorite parts of the job, so please don't be shy. I can't wait to meet you!

See you in Schaumburg!

7.29.2016

Renwick Inn

Earlier this month, my knit and crochet group went on a weekend retreat. We had the best time! On Friday morning, we packed up and headed out to Renwick Inn in Plainfield, IL. This place is fantastic - a crafter's dream!
 There were 4 bedrooms, each with 3 to 4 beds.
Tammy, who owns the bed & breakfast, had the comfy chairs all set up for our weekend of knitting and crocheting!


The decor was adorable!
 
 The snack nook! It was stocked with snacks, drinks and coffee the entire weekend. 

We ate some amazing food while we were there too. Tammy is an outstanding chef! It was so nice to have a whole weekend of home-cooked meals that we didn't have to make. What a treat. It was all delicious, but the chicken tortilla soup we had on the first day was my favorite. 
Yummmmmm.

We spent the weekend talking and laughing and crafting. I think we all needed the break from the daily grind. I spent the weekend working on something for myself - a Rowan Berry Shawlette by Laurinda Reddig. It's a gorgeous crochet shawl and it felt nice to be following another designer's instructions rather than working on my own designs.
I still need to block the shawl, and I'll be sure to share photos after I do. It's so pretty. 

I'm so glad I got to spend the weekend with some of my very favorite people in a wonderful place. Seriously, if you're looking for a spot to host a retreat weekend, consider the Renwick Inn. It's the best!


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