Top 9 of 2016

Well, 2016 is coming to an end. Thanks for another year of reading my blog, even if it was a little slow over here at times. ;)

Here are the top 9 posts on the blog this year:

  1. A Kit Club Right In My Stash
  2. Weekend Wraps
  3. Crochet A Farm
  4. Life of a Knitwear Designer
  5. My First Crochet Shawl Pattern
  6. Milton
  7. Cozy Stash-Busting Knits is Here
  8. A Collaboration That Works
  9. Oh the Planner Stickers
Looking forward to new adventures to share with all of you in 2017!

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Design Your Biz: Self-Publishing vs. Contracts

Self-publishing or contract work? Which is better?

Honestly, I have no idea.

There are lots of pros and cons that go along with each. Self-publishing you have all the control (which is great for a control freak like me). There's also a lot of time and money that go into producing a good pattern and you don't really know how much you'll make. With third-party contract work, you might only make a set amount of money, but at least it's guaranteed. And, many times (obviously it depends on the contract) you don't have to worry about things like paying for a tech editor or photography and a lot of the other costs that go into releasing a pattern.

So, I thought I'd talk a little bit about my venture into crochet design this year. I went the route of solely doing contract work for my crochet patterns in 2016. That was a decision that I consciously made.

My Flibbertigibbet Shawlette in Interweave Crochet Winter 2017
Photo Credit: Interweave/Harper Point Photography

But, why? 
  1. I am much newer to crochet than knitting. Many of my customers might not even know that I can crochet. I felt like getting published by a yarn company or in a magazine might help give me some legitimacy in the crochet world. 
  2. I'm not as comfortable writing a crochet pattern than a knitting one. Writing a knitted shawl pattern I can do in my sleep. Crochet? I still find it a little overwhelming and time-consuming. I really liked the idea of having to follow a company's pattern template and working with established crochet tech editors. 
  3. As I already mentioned, self-publishing costs money. There's tech editing and photography and ad space and maybe yarn. Plus the time it's going to take to make the item, write the pattern, edit, layout (or you have to pay someone else to layout the pattern) and do all the social media about it. There's Paypal and Ravelry fees too. It's not free. And, as an unestablished crochet designer, I was unsure I was going to make enough money from my sales to cover the costs associated with self-publishing.
Will I eventually start self-publishing crochet patterns? Absolutely! I just wanted to get a couple crochet patterns under my belt and get more comfortable with the process before taking the leap into self-publishing.

Photo Credit: Willow Yarns

To be clear, I don't think that you have to start with contract work. With my knitting patterns, I self-published patterns for awhile before I ever did work on contract. As I've talked about before, everyone navigates through this industry differently. There is no right way.

If you're a designer, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!


A Very Crafty Christmas

Every year, my knit & crochet group does some kind of gift exchange. This year was no exception - yarn and hand-made accessories for everyone!
Last Christmas, we all exchanged yarn. You don't know who has your yarn, and they don't know who you have. Then, you have a year to make something for the person with the yarn they put in their bag for exchanging. It's so fun!

Last year, I got Lynette's bag of yarn. I was in for a challenge - it was several skeins of recycled sari silk. That is not something I typically work with it, and it was fun to figure out what to do with it.

Lynette is the "Cowl Queen" so it seemed like a cowl was the way to go. After searching around Ravelry, I finally settled on "designing" my own. I use designing in quotes because I picked a stitch pattern out of a crochet stitch dictionary, held the yarn doubled and started crocheting with a large crochet hook. It was more like a reallllly large swatch than a real design. Haha.

I seamed it at just the corner, so it would have a cool, funky shape when you wear it. Perfect for the yarn!
Melissa picked my yarn (so random, she had me the year before too and knit me a beautiful Tilt shawl). It was two skeins of Fiber Story Glow Sock. She knit me this amazing shawl. The pattern is Waiting for Rain.
Check out that short row lace. Melissa said it was so much fun that she's now knitting a second one for herself!
As for the yarn we exchanged this year, we decided we are using it selfishly. I picked Laura's bag. Yay for gradients!

It's a shawl kit from The Alpaca Yarn Company in their Paca Peds yarn. It's so soft and pretty.

It was another successful crafty Christmas! If you're knit or crochet group does a gift exchange around the holidays, I'd love to hear about it. Our group always loves trying new things! 



Design Your Biz: Living the Dream

I'm back with another Design Your Biz segment. Today is something that makes me so happy - it's about living the dream!
When I started knitting 12-ish years ago, I never thought that one day I would have a full-time job that looks like this:
I'm so thankful for having a job where the main component is knitting all day. It truly is a dream come true. Here's a little more detail about how I made the dream happen....

When I was working in my lab job, it was pretty ok. I was actually really interested in wastewater treatment (as weird as that sounds), but I felt very unfulfilled at that job. I was never going to get promoted beyond where I already was. The thought of doing the same job for the next 30 years, honestly, was suffocating. I knew I had to make a change. 

It was 2012, and my first book, Sock-Yarn Shawls, was about to come out. While I knew that knitting book money is not quit-your-full-time-job money, it was going to make my super part-time income of knit design a little better. I talked it over with my husband and we made a plan - that in 2 years, I would quit my job.  

Uhhhhh, 2 years? 


As much as I wanted to walk in and quit the day after Alex and I talked it over, I knew I had to give it time. I worked really hard and built up my business. It was very difficult to come home from my full-time job and work on Jen Lucas Designs. The last six months or so leading up to quitting my lab job, it often felt like I was working two full-time jobs. But we wanted to save up some money. I wanted to be vested in my pension. I wanted to be able to transition into working in my business full-time and not feel like I still had a huge mountain to climb to get it up and running. 

Almost three years later, the lab is becoming a distant memory. I have a job I'm deeply passionate about. It's the hardest job I've ever had. Having to motivate yourself every single day is hard. Some days are better than others. This job can be very lonely too. But, I've found ways to be a little more social (I go to group workout classes in the morning and I also text all day long with some of my designer friends). 

You can make it work as full-time designer. It's all about diverfiying the income stream, being flexible and listening to your customers

So, if you're a part-time designer thinking about how to transition to a full-time designer, I'm here to tell you that you absolutely can do it. It just takes time and work. If you want it to be your job, you have to, well, treat it like it's your job. Send out that book proposal you've been thinking about (seriously, no one knew who I was when I got my contract for Sock-Yarn Shawls). Submit to that magazine you love. Make a plan. Don't be afraid to go for you want! 

I wake up every single day thankful for my job. I'd definitely call that living the dream.


Flibbertigibbet Shawlette

I've mentioned on my various social medias that Jen Lucas Designs was going crochet in 2016! My first crochet pattern, Daphne, was released from Willow Yarns earlier this year. I now have a second crochet shawl available. It's the Flibbertigibbet Shawlette, which you can find in the new Winter 2017 Issue of Interweave Crochet!
The shawl is worked sideways in a simple but beautiful double crochet cluster pattern. It increases slowly, giving it a nice shape.
When the body of the shawl is complete, a fun edging is worked along one edge. I think the edge is a little funky - and I really like it!
I stitched the sample for the magazine using three skeins of Stitch Sprouts Yellowstone. I'm obsessed with this yarn. It's so soft and the stitch definition in both knit and crochet is amazing. Seriously, go get your hands on some.

Interweave Crochet Winter 2017 is now available. You can find it at your LYS, local bookstore, or on the Interweave website.

Yay for crochet!

Photos courtesy of Interweave Crochet/Harper Point Photography

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