8.18.2017

It's A Hat Parade!

My Summer Hat-A-Long is in full swing. The first few hats have started to arrive (and many of you have told me that more are on the way)!
Summer Hat-A-Long Hats
I've gifted the generous knitters who made the hats a copy of my pattern Spero
 Spero Hat by Jen Lucas
Anyone who sends me hats to donate before September 15th will receive a copy of my new pattern for free! You can read all about the Summer Hat-A-Long (including where to ship the hats) in this Ravelry thread.

The knitters and crocheters - you continue to give me all the feels. Thank you.

8.11.2017

Design Your Biz: Selling at Craft Shows (Or Not)

Ah, the constant requests on Facebook....

Can you make me one? How much to make me that shawl? Do you sell this online or at craft shows?

My answers: No, nothing because I'm not making you one, and nope. :)

I've said it many times before in the Design Your Biz Blog Series, everyone navigates through this industry differently. I sell patterns online, write books and teach. Other people knit or crochet and sell finished items. Some might start selling kits, yarn and the like. There's no right way. Everyone should do what feels right to them.

Today I'd like to talk a little bit about why I don't sell finished items.

Design Your Biz: Craft Shows or Not
Can I Get Paid Fairly? I think you can find the right market to get paid fairly for selling your finished hand-knits, but it's hard to find. I'm a math kind of gal, so let's get straight to the numbers. It probably takes me 16 hours on average to knit a small-ish 500 yard shawl. Ok, so let's say I charge $10 an hour for my time, that's $160. Then the yarn might cost another $40 or something. Am I really going to find someone to pay $200 for a shawl? Maybe, but it's going to take a lot of work to find that customer. You may be thinking - now, Jen, come on, $10/hour for knitting? Yep, this is my full-time job. And, honestly, $10/hour is pretty low.

It's Not Just the Cost Of The Finished Items! If you're selling your finished items at craft shows or online, there's a lot of work that goes into those things. You have to write up listings and take photos for your online shop. Organize everything for your craft show booth. There's all the marketing and social media that you need to do to help your business grow. Thinking about getting paid to get these non-making things done needs to be taken into consideration when pricing your items.

What About The Old Samples? I have been considering selling off some of my old samples, like some of the shawls I made when I first started designing. Why? I've already made my money off of them with the sale of the patterns on Ravelry. I'm willing to price them a little bit lower, because I've already covered my costs of knitting them (and all the other costs that go into producing a pattern). It's a great way to make room for new samples! I find myself wanting to keep the majority of my samples though - I constantly take them with me when I'm teaching.

There are lots of people who are successfully selling their finished items online and at craft shows. Good for them! I'm so happy that they figured out a way to make that work. For me, it's just not something I'm willing to put the time and effort into to find the right customer, grow that part of my business, etc. And that's ok!

Do you sell online or at craft shows? I'd love to hear about your experiences!

8.09.2017

Stitches Midwest 2017

Last week, I made my annual visit to Stitches Midwest in Schaumburg, IL. The fun began on Thursday night when Alex and I made a little date night out of hearing Franklin's new talk.
Stitches Midwest 2017


Stitches Midwest 2017
On Friday I went back and met up with some of knitting buddies for shopping and fun. My plan was to come home only with the new Knitter's Pride interchangeable set. That, I did, plus a little extra too. :)
Stitches Midwest 2017 Haul
The yarn is from Sun Valley Fibers and is for a Wonder Woman Wrap. If you read this blog regularly you know that I rarely get "selfish knitting" in these days. But I really want that shawl. No, I really NEED that shawl.

I also picked up some stitch markers and a sheep infinity scarf from Stunning String. Those were most definitely impulse purchases. I regret nothing.

If you were at Stitches Midwest, what did you pick up? If you shared on your blog or Instagram, let me know in the comments. I'd love to see your Stitches hauls!

8.04.2017

FO Friday: Liberty Hat

It's rare these days that I get to knit or crochet something that isn't my own design - the one drawback to my job. But, while I was at the Hope-A-Thon last month, I made a point to only knit or crochet patterns that weren't my own. It was the perfect opportunity to have a weekend where yarn crafting was my hobby and not my job. :)

Today I thought I'd share with you the Liberty Hat I made. It's a crochet pattern by my dear friend Laura Krzak. The pattern is available on Ravelry.
Liberty Hat by Laura Krzak
She sold me with the color combo and that starting star motif. Laura was so kind and shared her leftover yarn from her sample with me, so I could make one exactly the same as hers. The yarn is Lion Brand Heartland. It was very nice to work with!
Liberty Hat by Laura Krzak

I hope this hat will brighten someone's day. I love it and I plan to make a couple more for my Summer Hat-A-Long!

8.02.2017

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

It's a kind-of rainbow of yarn. :)
A Rainbow of Yarn

My $5+ patrons on Patreon got the scoop on what's happening with all this yarn. Join the fun: www.patreon.com/jenlucasdesigns

7.28.2017

Design Your Biz: Trade Shows

Let's talk about trade shows!
Trade Show Exhibiting for Knit & Crochet Designers

As a knit and crochet designer, there are a few options for trade shows, but TNNA is the one that gets talked about the most (at least in my circle of designer buddies, there are other trade shows out there).

When I first started attending TNNA, I went to walk the floor. I'd schedule a few meetings, see what's new, and hang with my friends. As my business has grown and I've started working with a pattern distributor, I've had the opportunity to exhibit at the trade show. My TNNA looks much different now. With more and more designers (and other Business Creative Services members) exhibiting, I thought I'd talk a little bit about exhibiting as a designer.

It's All in the Planning.
However long you think it's going to take to get your booth ready, double it. As a designer, you have to bring a ton of samples to display in the booth. Do they need to be re-blocked? Do you need a new sample knit? You'll also need to have materials for shop owners to take with them. I made a mini-catalog of my patterns available through Stitch Sprouts. I had copies of my teaching brochure. These things can take a lot of time to layout and then you have to (most likely) have them shipped to you. No one wants to pay for expedited shipping!

Google Image Search is Your Friend
Obviously you don't want to straight up copy another exhibitors booth. But, spending some time figuring out what you like (or don't like) about other booths will help you with your own booth vision. I searched not only for booth photos from TNNA but also for craft shows.

Map it Out
This was key for me. 10-ft by 10-ft might seem like it's easy to fill, but my first TNNA booth looked majorly empty. So this year, for my second TNNA booth experience, I added more furniture and a lot more samples. I drew out my booth on graph paper both as a bird's eye view and each wall. I didn't necessarily plan out the exact location of each sample, but I made sure that all my furniture would fit like I thought it would and it really helped me get clear on how I wanted it to look. Here's my booth from this year - nice and full!

Know What Your Goal Is
As a designer exhibiting with my pattern distributor, it's easy to go in with the mindset that the TNNA booth is only "worth it" if I sell enough paper patterns to cover the booth and the trip. But the reality is while physical patterns are an important part of my business, it's not the only part. I was also promoting my new book and my teaching. If I book a couple teaching gigs off of TNNA, it'll have been "worth it" from a financial standpoint.

And Know Your Audience
Exhibiting at TNNA allows me to get in front of a different audience - the yarn store owner. On Ravelry, Instagram, Facebook and all the various other social medias, I'm catering my content to the knitter or crocheter directly. At the trade show, I'm making connections with a different group of people, and one that's important to the growth of my business. In addition to the yarn shop owners, I'm also showing off my work to yarn companies, publishers and magazines. Keeping your audience for the trade show in mind really helps make the planning a little bit easier too!

Have you exhibited at a trade show? What advice do you have for those planning to have a booth at an upcoming industry trade show?

7.26.2017

Hope-A-Thon Recap!

The 24-hours of knitting & crochet fun at the Halos of Hope-A-Thon at Wall of Yarn has come and gone. I've finally recovered from my weekend of very little sleep and I'm awake enough now to tell you about it. Haha

When I arrived at Wall of Yarn on Friday, they already had a pretty sizeable stack of hats ready to be donated to Halos of Hope. Their customers are amazing!
Hats for Charity Donation
I helped out the Halos of Hope crew to set up the prize table. There were lots of prizes to win!
Prize Table at Halos of Hope-A-Thon
The real fun began with Franklin Habit giving a lecture at the nearby Wagner House. I, of course, used this as an opportunity to start a hat (a hat I later frogged because I was a bad crocheter and failed to check my gauge).
Carmichael Hat by Laura Krzak
Once we got back to the store after the lecture, it was all hats all the time! I started on a new hat, Tensfield by Martina Behm, and it was the perfect pattern for 24-hours of hat knitting! By the morning I had one done and was on my way to starting a crochet hat!
Clock at Wall of Yarn in Freeport, IL
 Liberty Hat by Laura Krzak
I started on a third hat (another Tensfield), but didn't get it finished at the Hope-A-Thon. I did finish it on Monday though! I'll be donating it in my Summer Hat-A-Long.

By the end of the event we had 375 hats, covering over 10% of the hat needs Halos of Hope has each month.
Hats for Charity Donation

Hats All Packed Up at the Halos of Hope-A-Thon

It was so great to be a part of this amazing event. It was so fun staying up late and barely sleeping and knitting and crocheting for a great cause. I highly recommend that everyone organize an event like this with their shop or guild. Seriously, such a blast!
Halos of Hope-A-Thon 
The Halos of Hope Crew with The Yarn Guys and Franklin!

7.20.2017

Hat for a Good Cause

Tomorrow I head to Wall of Yarn in Freeport, IL for the Halos of Hope-A-Thon. With me, I'll be bringing lots of copies of my new hat pattern, Spero.
 
($2.50 of purchase goes to Halos of Hope thru August 6th)

Spero is knit out of Stitch Sprouts Yellowstone - an amazing sport-weight yarn. It's one of my favorites! It takes 130 - 150 yards of yarn to make one. If you make the small size, you can get two hats out of one skein of Yellowstone - one for yourself, and one to donate to a local cancer center or give to a friend.

If you'd like to purchase the pattern, awesome! But, if you'd like to get the pattern for free - you can!

Just send me a chemo cap to donate to my local cancer center between now and September 15th, and I'll gift you the pattern on Ravelry. You just need to include your Ravelry name or email address in your shipment so I know who to give the pattern to. You can find all the shipping information here
($2.50 of purchase goes to Halos of Hope thru August 6th)
And, if you're at the Hope-A-Thon this weekend and make a donation, Spero will be one of the patterns for you to choose from as a thank you!

I hope you enjoy this new pattern. And I hope you'll consider joining my Summer Hat-A-Long to get it for free! ;)

7.17.2017

Stunning Stitches Trunk Shows

Now that Stunning Stitches has been out for a couple of months, it's time to pack up some of the pieces and send them out to yarn shops all over the country. Let your LYS know that you'd like to see the Stunning Stitches trunk show at the shop, and have them email me at jenlucasdesigns[AT]gmail[DOT]com to get on the list. I have two trunk shows for the book.

The first one features the Bampton Set & the Kelsey Set.

The second trunk show features the Glarus Set (which includes the shawl on the cover of the book) and the Violetear Set.
It's always a little hard to ship off my book samples. They're often traveling around for a year or more and I miss them. I want to wear them all! :)

Disclaimer: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links.

7.14.2017

Design Your Biz: Networking

Ah, networking.

aka

My worst nightmare as total introvert. :)

But, networking is an important part of building a knitwear design business and something I'd like to talk more about today.

There are lots of ways you can go about building your network as a designer. I've built some great relationships online that have led to working relationships. Sure, going to TNNA helps with networking, but for many people, that is a big expense. It took many years before I was able to afford a trip to TNNA as a business expense. It's a great experience and if you can make it happen, you should go, but the point I'm trying to make is that it's not the only way to build your network.

Here are some ways you can build your network online:

1. An obvious one - Ravelry. Join the Designers and/or the Budding Designers group if you're a designer. Engage. If you know the answer to someone's question, don't be afraid to answer it. Once I started actually chatting a little bit in these groups on Ravelry, I started to get to know people. And eventually we started helping each other out with things like finding a good tech editor or getting on a submission call list we've been dying to get on. Networking in sweatpants! A win for me. :)

2. Facebook. There are a growing number of groups on Facebook dedicated to fiber folks that work in this industry. I particularly like the FiberBoss Collective group. I just joined recently and have already made some good connections.

3. Submit to that magazine call. I get asked a lot how I started working so much with Done Roving Yarns. It's simple - I was assigned to use their yarn for a pattern in Love of Knitting magazine. Paula, the owner of Done Roving Yarns, and I developed an amazing working relationship that's lasted for years now. Had I not submitted to that magazine call years ago, I don't know that we would have formed the working relationship we have today. You never know when the networking opportunities are going to present themselves.

4. Tara Swiger's Starship. I know I bring up Tara all the time, but her classes and Starship program have helped me immensely over the last few years. You do have to pay for the Starship and it only opens at certain times of the year, but it's been an amazing resource for me. It's designed for all kind of makers so you'll find designers, yarn dyers, jewelry-makers, finished knit & crochet item makers all in one place. It's been a great place to make connections and bounce ideas off of people who truly understand what you're trying to do.

It's amazing once you put yourself out there and start networking how many connections you can make!
Are you a knit or crochet designer working in this industry? What other ways do you like to network?

7.12.2017

Stash Diving

I've decided that I'll be doing another eBook collection this year. Be on the lookout for Nifty Gifty 2: Deck Your Neck coming in the late Fall!

I did some stash diving and picked out the yarn for the collection. Lots of beauties in there.
If you want to see how the eBook comes together, hop on over to my Patreon and become a patron! You get a 50% off coupon code when you join and become my patron.

I'm super excited about this collection. I think it might be my best eBook yet! :)

7.11.2017

Briargate & Garter Love Now on Ravelry!

I have some exciting news: two of the most popular patterns from Sock-Yarn Shawls are now available for individual download on Ravelry! I know that many of you already have the book, but if you don't and are looking to just try a pattern or two from the book, now you can.

First up is Garter Love. It's is a simple top-down triangle shawl with a garter stitch body and lace edge. If you're new to shawl knitting, this is the perfect place to start.


Briargate is my favorite shawl from Sock-Yarn Shawls. (Yeah, whatever, I say it all the time....I'm probably not supposed to admit I have a favorite. But I do. In every book. Lol). It's a fun shape with a little more challenging lace and a cool decorative faux-crochet bind off. I know you'll love it as much as I do!


I get lots of emails from knitters looking for the individual patterns from my books. So, here you go! It's a start, right? :) Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links.

7.06.2017

Join Me at the Hope-A-Thon!

A few months ago, I blogged about the Hope-A-Thon coming in July. Well, July is here and the Hope-A-Thon is just a couple weeks away!

Wall of Yarn in Freeport, IL is hosting the Halos of Hope-A-Thon - it's 24-hours of hat-making fun with lots of great events happening throughout the weekend. I'll be there all weekend helping out the Halos of Hope crew!

The event starts on Friday, July start on Friday, July 21 at 7 pm with a free lecture from Franklin Habit

After the lecture, we'll head over to the yarn shop (it's about two blocks from where the lecture is being held), where the knitting and crochet fun begins. Stay for a few hours, stay all night, it's up to you! On Saturday, July 22, the Hope-A-Thon continues with more hat-making. Franklin will be teaching classes, with a portion of the class fee going directly to Halos of Hope. You'll need to sign up for those by calling 1-815-616-8402. You can read about Franklin's classes here

Not taking classes with Franklin? Come hang with me at the shop and knit & crochet some hats! We'll be giving away prizes and have lots of other fun stuff going on. We'll be at the shop until 6pm working on our hats.

You all know that Halos of Hope and donating chemo caps is a cause close to my heart. I hope if you're in the area, you'll consider joining in the fun! 

For more information, visit the Hope-A-Thon website or check out the event page on Facebook. Hope to see you there!

7.03.2017

Design Your Biz: Uh Oh, Can't Make a Deadline!

So, you got your design accepted to a magazine. Yay! But now you can't make the deadline. Uh oh. What do you do?
Missing a Deadline as a Knitwear Designer


Sometimes, it happens, you miss a deadline. It's very rare this happens to me, but it has happened.  One time it was my book deadline for Cozy Stash-Busting Knits - my dad passed away. Another time it was a pattern for a yarn company - I wrote down the wrong due date in my planner. Whether you have a good excuse (death in the family) or a bad excuse (I apparently can't read/transcribe correctly), missing a deadline it never feels good. 

The best thing you can do in this situation, is contact the company as soon as you realize that you are going to miss the deadline. It's better to be upfront and honest instead of saying nothing and waiting to see what happens. In my case with the yarn company, as soon as I realized my error, I apologized and admitted my mistake, and they were ok with me sending in my pattern about a week later (which was what was written in my planner). I've worked with them since then, it didn't burn the bridge.

Just like I try to build in a little extra time to get things done a little before the due date, many companies have also built in a little extra time for the patterns to get to them. This does not mean that you can always be late though! It just means if you are apologetic and admit your error, they might be OK with you turning it in slightly late just this once.

To avoid these situations completely, it try your best to plan your work around your deadlines and what you can handle. For example, right now, I'm working on another book (yay!). While I've seen lots of good submission calls for magazines and yarn companies coming into my inbox, I know that right now I can't submit to all of them. Here and there I can squeeze something in, but if I was submitting to all the things like I do when I'm not working on a book, I know that I would be in a real jam rather quickly. I'm finally learning what kind of workload I can take on, and I do my best not to overload it. That way I'm not missing deadlines!

Also, and I've talked about it before - if you do get accepted for a magazine or something and you receive the contract and know that deadline won't work for you, you can sometimes negotiate it. I've successfully negotiated a deadline getting moved back a week with no problem. Being upfront is always best!

Are you a designer who missed a deadline? How did you handle it? I'd love to hear about your experience - it's nice to know that I'm not alone in having missed a deadline. :)

6.16.2017

A TNNA Recap

Last weekend, I was at the summer TNNA (The National Needlearts Association) trade show. I had another great year having a booth with the Stitch Sprouts crew! Here are just a few of the pictures I took throughout the weekend.

I really love how my booth space came together this year:
Knitting Like Crazy Blog
 A blurry photo of my Kelsey Hooded Scarf from Stunning Stitches on the TNNA runway:
Knitting LIke Crazy Blog
I did a couple of book signings. They were some of my favorite parts of the weekend. I love getting to chat with yarn store owners about the new book. I'm happy that they were excited about the book as I am!
Knitting Like Crazy Blog
Knitting Like Crazy Blog
I brought a few of the samples from Stunning Stitches to display in my booth. They got a great response. Yay!
Knitting Like Crazy Blog
I attended the Business Creative Services event on Saturday night. It was great to meet new people who work in the same area of the industry. And, we got a great goodie bag with lots of amazing products from companies that support designers.
Knitting Like Crazy Blog
I walked away from my booth for 5 minutes, and my husband met Vickie Howell. I'm completely jealous. Many of you know that she is my A-Number-One knitting celebrity. Her show, Knitty Gritty, taught me so many things. Alex assured me that he told her that I loved her. Maybe next year I'll be able to go fan girl on her. :)
 Knitting Like Crazy Blog
Part of the fun of being with the Stitch Sprouts designers, was making Facebook Live videos! Here's Heather Zoppetti filming Angela Tong doing a pin loom demo!
Knitting Like Crazy Blog
I had to go check out the new Knitter's Pride needles. Their Dreamz and Karbonz needles are among my favorites. I think I might need to get the new Zing needles. I really liked them!
Knitting Like Crazy Blog
It was such a great weekend. I always come home so inspired and ready to work. And, it was so amazing to have Alex there with me this time. He really knows my business better than anyone else and it was fun to have him there helping me sell patterns and books. He loved hanging out with everyone. I think he'll be volunteering to help in my booth again next year!
Knitting Like Crazy Blog

6.15.2017

Design Your Biz: Keeping the Books

Today I'm back with another Design Your Biz post. Let's talk about keeping the books as a full-time knitwear designer!
I'm not an accountant (obviously). So what you need or don't need for your particular business, I can't tell you. I just thought I'd share a little bit about what I do to keep track of things so that when I am going to my accountant with all my business finance stuff at tax time I'm not going insane. Maybe it will help you too!

Track it. REGULARLY. Every Monday (or every other Monday if I'm feeling lazy one week), I track my business finances. That might be way more than you want to track this stuff but, for me, it works. Tracking my business finances means pulling data from PayPal as well as looking at my bank statement online. I have formatted my spreadsheets so that most of my tracking is a simple copy and paste.  If I have a random receipt that I didn't use PayPal or my checking account for (this is a rare situation), I manually add it to my spreadsheet.

Why do I do this so often? There are a few reasons:

  1. It's a good way to track my progress on Ravelry. By looking at the sales coming in every week, I know if I'm having a good month or a bad month. Simple as that. :)
  2. By looking at the numbers every week or two, it's a way smaller set of data to get through. If something is messed up, it's easier to catch it 7 days worth of information, rather than 365 days worth of information. 
  3. I pay myself every week. I have a set percentage of money I pay to myself (i.e. into the household checking account I share with my husband). If I've received a royalties check from my books or payment from a yarn company in the last week, it's on the following Monday that I transfer the money into the joint account. The only exception is Paypal. I pay myself monthly on the Paypal sales, just because some weeks are better than others and I found it easier to look at the total on the first Monday of the next month and pay myself then.
So, yes, I use spreadsheets. Currently no fancy software for me! Since the money in my business comes primarily from PayPal and from checks sent to me from various companies, it's pretty easy to keep track of on a spreadsheet. I'm currently not selling any kind of physical product, so I don't need to worry about inventory or anything. The spreadsheets work great!

If you can, keep the money separate. Even if you are operating as a sole proprietor like I am, it's way easier to keep track of the funds coming and going if you keep the money separate from other money that may be coming into your household. I also like keeping the finances separate because it's easier to keep track of how much I'm actually contributing to the household finances versus what goes back into the business. Again, I get that this might not work for everyone. I had it set up this way when I was working a full-time job, and when I went into business full-time, I just kept doing it the way always did.

The most important thing is to figure out a way that works the best for you!

Also, if you're curious about how to pay yourself, check out Tara Swiger's class, Pay Yourself.* Worth every penny!

* Disclaimer: Tara Swiger has nothing to do with me talking about her class in this blog post. I paid for the class, took it, found it extremely helpful and thought you might too. :)

6.08.2017

Sognare

Earlier this week I released a new shawl pattern. This is Sognare:
Knitting Like Crazy Blog 
 
So, the way this shawl came to be is a new one for me - I had a dream about it. Crazy, right!? I took a nap one afternoon and had a dream that I designed a shawl with a variegated garter stitch body where I used wrap & turns to add live stitches along one side to be used lady for the solid lace border.
Knitting Like Crazy Blog
I emailed Lindsay at The Fiber Seed to see if she would like to collaborate on the project. I knew her Sprout sock yarn would be the perfect yarn for this shawl. Her color sense is amazing and she does perfect variegated yarns. We messaged back and forth and landed on this beautiful color combo. It's amazing!


This shawl is proof that my mid-day naps are a good idea! I hope you enjoy the new pattern as much as I do. :)


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