4.21.2017

Patreon

I hinted at this earlier this week, but today I'd like to talk to you about my new Patreon page!


Knitting Like Crazy Blog
I'd been contemplating joining Patreon for some time. I think it's a cool concept, so I finally decided to give it a go. From the Patreon website:

We want to help every creator in the world achieve sustainable income.

I love that idea. And I do believe that all creators out there should have a sustainable income. The world is a better place with things like art and yarn and knitting patterns in it!

Why Become a Patron?
I greatly appreciate every single person who has bought a pattern, read a blog post or bought one of my knitting books. If you like those things and are curious about the behind-the-scenes process, please consider becoming a patron.

As a patron, you’ll get exclusive content not being shared anywhere else. Depending on your pledge level, you’ll get access to sneak peeks of my upcoming designs, exclusive Ravelry coupon codes and even free patterns!

In addition to getting your hands on fun rewards, you’ll also be helping me cover the expenses involved in running Jen Lucas Designs. Some of these expenses include Ravelry, Paypal and Adobe fees, tech editing and photography – all things that are needed to bring you great accessories patterns!

Knitting Like Crazy Blog


My patrons are already taking advantage of sneak peaks and coupon codes. All my $5+ patrons receive my new Demantur shawl for free.

And, don't worry, I'll still be sharing fun stuff on all my various social medias and blog (of course). This is just something fun for those people that want even more behind-the-scenes content and want to help in offsetting some of the costs associated with running my business.

You can join my Patreon for $1 to $10 a month. You can read all about the rewards you get at each level here.

4.20.2017

Design Your Biz: Photos That Sell

You've written a pattern. Hooray! And now you want people to buy that pattern. You need to make sure that you have quality photos so all those knitters and crocheters can see your awesome design and want to buy it.
Knitting Like Crazy Blog
(from left to right, that's Vauhti, Mandarijn, Demantur and Carefree)

When first starting out as a designer, for most of us anyway, you're overwhelmed by all the little things you have to do to make this a business that works. You need to pay to get your pattern tech edited, you might be dealing with sample knitters, maybe you're paying someone to do your pattern layout. Then, there's promoting your pattern on social media, possibly paying for ads, the list goes on and on. All these things are super important. But one of the first things you need to be thinking about when you're putting your pattern out there is photography.
Believe me, I get it. When I first started, this was the thing that I was neglecting. I'd snap a few photos on my living room carpet (yikes) or patio table (double yikes) and call it good. 

And, sure, I sold a few patterns. My patterns are high quality, other people were posting better photos than mine, I thought it was working ok. But then I started paying a little more attention on Ravelry. 

And what I learned was pretty obvious - the photos are a big deal. You want someone to freely share your pattern on social media? Well, what are they going to pick - the photo of your shawl on your rug* or the one that's beautifully styled? Look at the photos in the Ravelry "Hot Right Now." What do most of them have in common - a sale (maybe....that's for another post) or (more likely) beautiful photos. 

Turns out, you don't have to be a life-long photographer to get decent photos. While most of the time I send my pieces out to be photographed, you still can get good photos just using a dress form. 
Knitting Like Crazy Blog

Knitting Like Crazy Blog
I took these photos with my iPhone 7 Plus. And I took a ton of them. I probably took 60+ photos and narrowed it down to 5-6 photos in the end.

So, don't get discouraged if your photos need work. Find a friend to be a model. Get a dress form and practice taking photos with the different settings on your camera/phone. Or start looking for photographers that specialize in knitwear photography. I've found that hiring a photographer is not only completely worth the investment, but it's also usually not as expensive as you might think!

*I will argue that ALL SHAWL PATTERNS should show at least one photo where you can see the shawl shape. If all you can do to get that is take a photo flat on the floor in your living room, by all means, do it. Just don't make that the photo that's getting shared everywhere. :)

4.18.2017

New Pattern: Demantur

Yesterday I finally released my first self-published shawl pattern of 2017. Say hello to Demantur:
Demantur by Jen Lucas


This pattern came from the idea that many times I'll use a larger stitch pattern in the body of my shawl, and then finish the piece off with a smaller lace pattern. "What if I switch it around?" I thought. Turns out, it was a good idea. It was an absolute blast to knit.

Demantur starts from the top-down and uses 850 yards of fingering weight yarn. It's a huge shawl, but I've included some notes on how to make it smaller. I guess you could make it bigger too - I didn't include notes for that - because I think most people will think it's already big enough. :)

I finished the shawl off with an i-cord bind off. I love that technique! But, if i-cord bind off isn't for you, that's ok! Just use your favorite bind off for shawls to complete it.

I'll be talking more about my new Patreon page later this week here on the blog, but my $5+ patrons do receive a coupon code to get Demantur for free. You can read more about that here.
Demantur by Jen Lucas


Hope you enjoy the new pattern as much as I do. Happy Shawl Knitting!

4.13.2017

YarnCon 2017

April 1 & 2 one of my very fiber events in the area took place - YarnCon! I was thrilled to be teaching there again this year. The students, the shopping, the visiting with friends, it's all good.

YarnCon was busier than ever this year. It's great to see this event growing more and more every year. I even had students in my classes who traveled from other states to be at the event. That's so awesome!
YarnCon2017
Obligatory YarnCon photo from the balcony. We all take the same photo. :)

On Saturday, I taught two classes: Be Fab with Garter Tab and New Directions in Shawl Shapes. I love that I get to talk shawl stuff all day as my job.
In between classes, I was able to add a stitch or two to my new shawl design, while sporting my new Duvessa cowlette.
Shawl Knitting & Duvessa Cowlette
 I also had a little time to get some shopping in. There's always time for shopping! I was so excited to see CJ Kopec Creations there. I had been a part of her fiber club many years ago. I loved it. Now it's time to try the yarn. 
Shopping for Yarn at YarnCon
 When me and Jenny get together, there will be yarn buying. Oh yes, there will be yarn buying.

Sunday brought another class. I taught Decorative Shawl Bind Offs and was able to make another round at the market. It was definitely less crowded on Sunday. I actually could get into the Leading Men Fiber Arts & Knitcircus booths that day to chat. 

Now for the good stuff - the haul!

First stop was Art Institchtute for project bags. She has lots of great fabrics and the bags are very well-made. It's always a favorite stop when at YarnCon.
Art Institchtute Project Bags
Here's a close-up of the yarn I picked up at CJ Kopec Creations. It's 2 skeins of DK-Weight Polwarth/Silk yarn. Yum.
CJ Kopec Creations DK-Weight Yarn
Then, Jenny, who had been shopping while I was teaching my first class on Saturday said, "you need to see these unicorn bags." You know what happened next. I purchased these bags from Honey Girl Farms, the artwork on them is by Emily Martian.
Bags with Artwork by Emily Martian
On Sunday, when I stopped in the Leading Men Fiber Arts booth to chat, some things ended up in my hands. I used their yarn for my Aranthera shawl and just love it. I'm sure these will become shawls one day too. The pink yarn is sport-weight superwash merino and the the purple-y one is 600 yards of a superwash merino/silk fingering-weight yarn.
Leading Men Fiber Arts yarn
Another successful year of YarnCon! If you were there, what goodies did you pick up?

4.12.2017

And the Winner Is...

Thank you to everyone who read my review of Barbara Benson's beautiful new book, Mosaic and Lace Knits.
Mosaic and Lace Knits by Barbara Benson
I've used a random number generator to pick a winner. And the winner is...

Jo-ann! Congratulations! Here's what she had to say about her favorite project in the book:

I think I need to start with Fractured Helix. But this is book where I could seriously go on a knitting odyssey and knit all of them... 

I agree, Jo-ann. I could knit them all too!

If you'd like to read the full review of the book, check out this blog post.

4.11.2017

Design Your Biz: Working for Exposure

As a knit & crochet designer, I'm often to asked to work for free/very little money.

"It'll be great exposure!"

...is usually what the people asking that you to work for free/practically nothing will say.

Today, let's talk about that.
Working for Exposure as a Knit & Crochet Designer
My answer almost always? Thanks, but no thanks.

Exposure does not pay the mortgage. Or groceries. Or my obsession with planners and planner stickers. ;)

Here are some things to ponder if you are considering working for free/the exposure:

How is this work going to benefit your business? Is it really going to bring you income in other ways that's going to make it worth it?

An example I see in our industry all the time - a company wanting to give away your pattern for free. Maybe they want you to do the work for free, or maybe they are trying to pay you a pitiful one-time fee for you to sign all the rights to your pattern away.

Are you really going to get new customers off of that? In my experience and in the experience of many designers I know - no, you're not. While everyone enjoys a free pattern now and then, the majority of people downloading free patterns only want free patterns. You're going to convert only a teeny tiny amount of them into regular pattern-buying customers. So, is the exposure worth it? In my opinion, probably not.

Does the person asking me to work for exposure respect me as a designer/artist/business?

If they are asking you to work for free, then, no, they don't. Designers, unfortunately, are often viewed as a less-important segment of the yarn industry (which, honestly, is weird to me, because people need things to do with the yarn, needles, hooks, notions, etc. these companies sell). Don't feel like you have to say yes because they asked and you might like their product. In this business, you need to get good at politely saying no quickly or you will be taken advantage of.

Ok, so this is getting a little sad. Not everyone in the industry is trying to take advantage of designers. Many companies do pay well and respect what designers do! You just have to find them. And, really, there are times when working for exposure might be worth it. You don't always have to say no.

So, when should I work for free/exposure? There aren't many situations when I would agree to it, but here's when I've worked for free in the past:

I've agreed to work for free when it comes to writing a blog post on another blog about one of my books. Sure, writing a blog post takes time away from doing something else, but I'm reaching more people and telling them about my book. I'm reaching new people I might not be able to reach otherwise, and hopefully some of that audience will be interested in my book and want to buy one.

That's pretty much it. :)

Ok, that's not entirely true. Like many new designers, when I first started out, I did do a few patterns for very little to no money. Looking back, maybe doing one pattern for very little money would have been fine. It is a good way to try to build your catalog a little bit. When you start out, you might have no audience or customer base, so you are getting your name out there.

But, please, one pattern maximum. After that, make sure you're finding companies to work with that respect you and are willing to pay you what your worth!

If you want more information about working for free or exposure, Tara Swiger just talked about this on her podcast recently. I found myself agreeing with what she had to say (as usual).

As with many things in this Design Your Biz series, there's no one right answer. You really have to decide what's going to work for your business. But, I hope I've given you a few things to think about the next time you're asked to work for exposure.

3.29.2017

Duvessa

Last week I released a new cowl pattern. Apparently, I'm on a cowl kick (not to be confused with a cow kick, I do not condone the kicking of cows, but I digress). This is Duvessa:
Duvessa by Jen Lucas
$5.50

A couple of weeks ago I asked for some help naming this new pattern. I decided on Duvessa, sent to me from FaerieKP on Ravelry. I've sent Faerie a copy of the pattern already. Thanks to everyone for playing along, there were lots of good names to pick from!

This cowlette is fun and quick to knit. You start by knitting a top-down triangle shawl in garter stitch (one of my favorite things ever). Once the garter stitch section is complete, the piece is joined in the round and the charts are worked.
Written instructions are included with the charts, as always. After the cable and lace pattern, it's finished off with a simple, but lovely, garter stitch edge.
I used Into the Whirled Pakokku Sock for the sample. I purchased it at Rhinebeck last year and it's been begging me to turn it into something. This cowlette design seemed like the perfect match.


$5.50

I hope you enjoy the new pattern. I have another one coming soon-ish. And, guess what? It's not a cowl, it's a shawl! Stay tuned. :)

3.27.2017

Book Review: Mosaic and Lace Knits

I have something that I'm very excited to share with you today. My friend, Barbara Benson, has written an incredible new book, Mosaic and Lace Knits.
 
I got to preview this book a few months ago, when I had to say this about it (my quote is featured on the back of the book - how cool is that!?):

“Barbara Benson shares her expertise as well as her love of mosaic lace knitting in this incredibly comprehensive book. Her creativity and ingenuity shine through in every project. Mosaic and Lace Knits is a must-have for your knitting library!” 

Seriously, this book is amazing. The amount of information that Barbara provides in addition to the beautiful patterns is invaluable. She's created a very cool technique in mosaic lace knitting and she's sure to include all the information you need to have a successful knitting experience.

The book begins with an introduction covering how Barbara got into mosaic lace knitting. I found this part fascinating. She's definitely a designer that loves to experiment, and she tells you all about how she developed this technique.

From there, there is an extensive section on tips and tricks that you'll find helpful when working the patterns in the book. This section includes the basic stitches you need to use, guidance on reading charts and advice for getting your stitches to look their best. There's also a section on yarn considerations which I found to be especially helpful.

Then there are the patterns. Oh, the patterns. With 20 of them in the book, you're going to want to knit a few (or all) of them. Below are my personal favorites.

The book starts out with Single Flight, a mosaic-only mitten pattern. I think this is a great first project if you're new to the technique. I need them in my life.

Next up on my favorite's list is Love Child. The shape, the lace, it's all good.

Then there's the Isochronal Arc. From the book:

"Is it a poncho? Is it a cape? Is it a cowl?" I don't know and I don't care. All I know is I want one!

This hat might be my very favorite. I saw Barbara wearing it at Rhinebeck last year. It's so cool. Worked in a DK-weight yarn, I could probably whip one up pretty quick.

You can see the rest of the patterns on the book's pattern page on Ravelry. Barbara also has video tours for all the patterns on her YouTube Channel, Watch Barbara Knit.

If you're looking to add a new, fun and addicting technique to your knitting repertoire, then you definitely need to check out Mosaic and Lace Knits!

You can get Mosaic and Lace Knits a variety of ways. You can order it now on Amazon, or it will be shipping to your LYS or local bookstore this week. Let them know you want it!  

The giveaway has ended, thanks for entering!
There's another way you can get a book too....

Leave a comment on this blog post before April 3rd at 11:59pm central time telling me which pattern in Mosaic and Lace Knits is your favorite and why. You can see all the patterns here. Make sure you leave your Ravelry ID or email so I have a way to contact you if you win. I'll be using a random number generator to pick the winner! Good luck!

Finally, want to see more of Barbara Benson's gorgeous designs? You can check out her Ravelry designer page and her YouTube channel, Watch Barbara Knit.

Photos provided by Stackpole Books. Photography by Tom Moore and Barbara Benson. Photos used with permission.

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. 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

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.


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