How I Stay Organized

As the person in charge and the only employee here at Jen Lucas Designs, sometimes it can feel impossible to stay organized. It's funny because when I worked in the lab I was so organized. Everything had it's place, everything was labeled and I had an incredible system of checklists.

In my business, it's, um, a little more....."organic?" That's code for I'm way less organized than I used to be, but it also gives me a little more freedom to create, you know? Or at least that's the story I'm sticking to. :)

I do have a few things I like to use to stay organized, and I thought I'd share them with you today....
  • The new pattern checklist
    I created this a couple years ago to help me keep track of all the things I need to do when I first release a new self-published pattern. It's changed a bit since that original post, but it was one of the best things I did to help myself stay organized during a pattern release. 
  • The planner.
    I'm very much a pen and paper person. In order to not have a million post-it notes with to-do lists on them, I've found that having a planner is key. I've talked about it a little bit on the blog before, and I've switched planners again (!!!!) since then. Right now I'm using A5-sized inserts in a ring binder planner. I'm using the SewMuchCrafting inserts these days. I'm currently enjoying decorating my planner, and these work great for that.
    I'm still toying around with what planner system works best for me. I think a lot of paper planner people will tell you that. You have to try them all to find the one that works best for you. I like having daily to-do lists and reminders, so these inserts are working great. I also have a section where I keep general to-dos and a running list of due dates for projects.  
  • The Spreadsheet
    Oh, the spreadsheet. This is where my lab nerdiness can really shine through. I have a few different spreadsheets I've created that help me keep track of my work and deadlines. The ones I use when I'm writing a book are crucial. There's so many moving parts when working on a knitting book. The spreadsheet is the only thing keeping me sane during book writing time. Here's a peek at my spreadsheet from Cozy Stash-Busting Knits!
    These are the main things that help me stay organized. I have a few reminders set up in Microsoft Outlook to remind me of recurring tasks like sending out emails regarding my trunk shows and when Ravelry ads open up, but I always add those tasks to my paper planner too. 

    If you're a designer, how do you like to stay organized? I'd love to know!


Throwback Thursday: The Ishbel Shawl Addiction

A couple weeks ago, while I was teaching in Dayton, I found myself talking about something I always end up talking about while teaching classes - my Ishbel shawl addiction of a few years ago.

While it wasn't the first shawl I've knit, it was definitely one of the first shawls I fell for. HARD.

The first one I made was out of a Socks That Rock Mill End.

Here's what I had to say about it when I finished knitting is almost 5 years ago:

I would actually recommend this for first time lace knitters. I think the charts are pretty easy and you can easily tell if things are lining up (all those double decreases are piled right on top of each other). I never had to tink back more than 5-10 stitches (opposed to other lace when I am ripping rows and rows out).

To this day, I recommend this pattern for new shawl knitters!

Then I knit one this one for my sister to wear on her wedding day:
The Ishbel love continued when I made a worsted weight version during a KAL at an LYS that sadly has closed since then.
I'm not sure that I blogged about "Ishbel, the fourth" but there is evidence of this one on Ravelry....
This one went to one of my bridesmaids in my wedding. I knit them all shawls! (Not to wear at the wedding, of course, one of them had a Green Bay Packers color shawl...that would never have been allowed at my wedding. haha)

I really think that I knit a fifth one, but there is no photo evidence of that. :)

No matter the true number of Ishbel shawls I've made, it obviously made an impact on me. I still love wearing that first one every now and then to this day.


Needle Review: addi Flipstix

Remember a couple weeks ago when I showed you that baby hat I made? I picked up the yarn while I was on the road and at Strings Attached Yarns in Dayton, OH. I didn't have the right size needles for the yarn with me, so I picked some up - the addi Flipstix.
Kristen has a lot of other needles at her shop, but I bought these because I was intrigued. I had many questions - What are they? Would I like them? Will I use them again?

The Flipstix are 6-inch double-pointed needles. What makes them different is one side is more pointy than the other. One side is the "Turbo" tip and the other is the "Lace" tip.
 Here's a close-up.
 Above - the "Turbo" side

Above - the "Lace" side

They're made of aluminum - I found them comparable to most of the other metal needles in my stash. I wasn't super wowed by them. That's not to say I didn't like them, because I did. It's just I wasn't knitting with them thinking to myself "these are the greatest needles of all time!!! Ahhhh!!!" You know what I mean. :)
It took me a little bit to get the hang of knitting with them, as the whole point (ha...get it?) is to make sure that you are using the side of the needle of your choice. Even though I was working on a basic ribbed and Stockinette hat, I used the "lace" side of the dpns. I like my needles pointy.

After I trained myself to make sure I was using the lace side of the needle, things went quickly. I finished that hat in just a couple hours.

While I did like them, and they were definitely fun to try, I'm not so sure I'd buy more of them. It's nice being able to have one set of needles that can be used in two ways. If you're on a budget and want addi double-pointed needles, this is a great option for you. Honestly, I'd probably just buy two different sets of addi dpns so I wouldn't have to worry about making sure I had the needle flipped the "right" way.

And, as a knitter who tends to keep her double-pointed needles extremely unorganized, the fact that they are all different colors is going to make it difficult to find the entire set when I go to use them again. Perhaps you're more organized with your needles, and that won't be an issue for you though.

So, basically, I liked them. I didn't looovvve them like my addis lace circulars. :)

Have you tried the Flipstix? If you have, I'd love to know what you think!


DC Adventures, Day 2

Last week, while I was in DC, I decided that there was another thing I wanted to see on my trip - Mount Vernon. I'd never been there, and I was going to visit my friend in Alexandria, VA for dinner. It seemed like the perfect time to get out of the city and check it out.

Boy, was it crowded. It was me and about 1000 school groups. I still had a great time though!

I waited in line for about 20 minutes to get to go inside the house. I'm glad I did...it was pretty neat in there. I didn't have a ton of extra time (I didn't realize how much there was to walk around and explore) but I did find some sheep. :)
 I walked over to George Washington's tomb too.
I took some time inside the museum that's on site and also bought myself a Christmas ornament (I looooove collecting Christmas ornaments from the places I visit) at the gift shop. But I also got my favorite souvenir of them all - a smashed penny! :)
I look forward to going back to Mount Vernon in the future and really taking the time to get the full experience and learn more about it.

After Mount Vernon I headed to Alexandria. I still had a little time to kill before meeting my friend, so I went shopping. More on that next week....


Design Your Biz: Who is your audience?

Today's Design Your Biz segment is all about how I define my audience.

Who is this audience and what do they want?

To answer this, it really goes back to the first post I wrote in this series, Defining My Brand. Once I became more clear on my brand, it become much easier to find (and target) my audience.

As I said in that original post, my brand is centered around accessories patterns (in particular shawls). Because of this, my audience would be knitters who enjoy making those things. These are my people, my customers.

I think about what my customers want all the time. I take into consideration suggestions or comments that I've received over the years. For example, many knitters have told me they really love that I add the written instructions for the charts on every shawl pattern - so I've continued to do that. I've had people comment that they prefer when they can tell the shawl shape from the photos, so I've been working to ensure that at least one photo on Ravelry gives you a good idea of the shawl shape.

I think having a pretty good grasp on who my customers are helps me give me what they want. We can work together! I love that knitters feel like they can talk to me about their questions and ideas.

Need some help finding your audience? Here are some resources that might help you:


DC Adventures, Day 1

As I mentioned in last week's FO Friday post, I found myself in Washington DC a few days before the TNNA trade show. With teaching in Dayton the weekend before and wanting time to visit my friend, it just made the most sense. I put my extra days on the road to good use. I spent a couple of the days out and about and a couple of the days working. It was the perfect mix of work and fun!

My first full day in DC, I decided to walk over to The White House. Because, why not? :) Anyway, it turned into an 11-mile walk around town seeing all the things...
The Washington Monument was under construction/renovation the last time I was here, so I had to get a close up look at it this time.
I also visited the World War II and Korean War Memorials along the way. My grandfather fought in both of those wars, and it was nice to spend some time there, thinking about him and how proud he was of his time in the Navy, serving our country. 

And, of course, I had to go to the Lincoln Memorial. Hello, I'm from the Land of Lincoln. :)
At that point I had already walked so far, I decided to just keep going and head to Arlington National Cemetery. When I had been in DC a couple years ago, the Eternal Flame at JFK's grave was under renovation, and I only got to see a giant temporary wall and a mini flame next to it. I'm glad I made the walk over to see it again for real.
I walked over to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier while I was there. I think it's one of the coolest, most moving things you can see.
After that, I headed back to the hotel, stopping for a quick lunch and some more water (it was crazy hot...there was so much water consumed and sunscreen used!). I spent the rest of the day getting some work done and taking a nap (11 miles of walking means you can nap if you want to).

A great adventure-filled day for sure!


FO Friday: Quick Baby Hat

I'm in Washington DC for the TNNA summer trade show. Lucky for me, I found myself in town a couple days early, which gave me town to visit one of my childhood friends. She just had a baby, a little boy, so you know what had to be done...
A baby hat! I knit this one out of Delicious Yarns Sweets Chunky.
Normally, I'm not a fan when yarn pools, but I'm weirdly obsessed with this pooling. It's so funky!
I knit this one a little bigger. It will probably fit her son this fall/winter. No need for a super chunky hat in the heat of the summer.

She loves it, I love it, and I'm sure her baby will love it! :)

Do you have anything to show off for FO Friday?


(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Turning this beauty into another Ochiba shawl. Yarn is Twisted Fiber Art Muse (Large Evolution) in Carousel.


Book Review: Creature Feetures

A few weeks ago, I received a review copy of this book in the mail.

Creature Feetures is a book containing 30 crochet patterns for baby booties. With lots of people in my life having wee ones, I had to take a closer look at this book.

I wasn't disappointed! There are so many cute patterns in this book. The book is split up into chapters: Out of this World, Wild Animals, Cute Creatures, and Good Enough to Eat. There are so many creative baby booties in these categories. Here are some of my favorites:
These Beepbot Booties are so adorable. 

Obviously the Baa Baa Booties are a favorite.

These Burger Booties are so creative and hilarious. I have a friend who will be having his first child later this year that would think these are awesome!

The burger-loving guy mentioned above has a watermelon-obsessed wife. I think I need to make these Tropical Watermelon Booties for her!

One thing I really like about this book is that each pattern has a "Stitches and Skills" section, letting you know the skills you need for the pattern. For example, the Adorable Ducklings booties list working in rounds, working into front and back loops, sc2tog (single crochet 2 stitches together) and crab stitch. That's great - if it's something that's not listed in the Crochet Basics section of the book, you can easily look up the technique listed before starting.

With row-by-row written instructions and detailed finishing information, I think most crocheters would find these patterns easy to tackle. If you're looking for quick baby projects and want to try some new techniques, this book is definitely for you.

I will definitely be trying some of these patterns out in coming weeks. I look forward to showing off these creative creations on the blog.

Creature Feetures is now available at your local LYS or bookstore. Want to see more? You can see all the patterns on the book's Ravelry page.

Photo copyright, Quantum Books, 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


Project Bag Love

I'm of the opinion that one can never have too many project bags. So, you can imagine my glee when Cathy and Jenny both gifted me project bags for my birthday a couple weeks ago!

Jenny picked out the fabric for this bag, and then sent it to Front Range Bags to have it custom-made. She knows that I'm a sucker for moustache-themed anything.
 I love the inside too. It's so bright and cheery and I love all the pockets!
Cathy made this project bag for me. She's one crafty lady!

I love the yarn ball fabric. My next sock project is definitely going in there.

I'm so thankful for my thoughtful friends!

Now excuse me....I'm off to start new projects so I can fill these bags. :)

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