10.11.2017

Lovely, Lovely Hats

My annual hat-a-thon is coming to a close. I've collected 39 hats to send off to the cancer center where my dad had been treated. I'm so thankful to all the knitters and crocheters that sent me hat. Your generosity for a cause so close to my heart gives me the feels.
Hat-a-thon Hats
With the help all of you, I've sent over a thousand hats to this cancer center over the last couple of years. Thank you! I hope we can continue to shower them with hats filled with love and hope for years to come.

10.10.2017

Yarn Garden

Last month I had the privilege to teach at the Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan. I had a wonderful time with wonderful knitters and I hope I can go back there one day. It was cutest yarn store I've ever seen. Lindsay, the owner of Yarn Garden, has obviously put a lot of thought and care into not only the yarns and supplies she stocks, but also the overall look of the shop. Seriously, it was amazing.

And, now, I blast you with a small selection of photos I took while at the shop. :)
Yarn Garden in Charlotte Michigan

Stunning Stitches Trunk Show

Knitting Books by Jen Lucas

Yarn Garden in Charlotte Michigan

Yarn Garden in Charlotte Michigan
If you ever find yourself near Charlotte, Michigan, do yourself a favor and check out the shop for yourself. You won't be disappointed!

10.06.2017

Design Your Biz: Newsletter Marketing

Today let's talk about one of the business-y things I love doing: newsletters!

No, seriously, I really enjoy writing them. And, it turns out, it's an important part of my business!

I struggled for a long time to get into the groove of writing my newsletter. I felt like I never knew what to talk about it, I want to sell my thing without being too "sales-y," I didn't really know when or how often I should send them, I was kind of lost.

Then I talked to Tara Swiger. She helped guide me to a plan that works for me. I'm sharing that plan with you today, in case you're wanting to start an email newsletter and aren't sure where to start.

  • Get on a schedule. It's probably the best thing I did for my email newsletter (so far). I don't  have an internal conflict about when to send it, because I've already decided that I'm sending mine out on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. I tend to plan my pattern releases around it. I plan my coupon codes for my patterns around it. It makes the overall planning in my business easier. I've been sending out my email newsletter on this schedule for over three years now. I've missed one (and I'll admit it, I just didn't feel like doing it, I was overwhelmed by work and got a bad case of the "I don't wannas.") Missing one in almost three and a half years? That's a pretty good track record, I think. My customers trust that they'll here from me on a regular basis. And that's a good thing.
  • Promote it. I'll admit, I'm not that great at this one. But, I have a plan to fix this situation! In the early part of 2018, I'm going to release a pattern that's free when you sign up for the newsletter. It's a great way to get new subscribers. I have many designer friends who have done this with much success. 
  • Make segments. Until recently, I had one newsletter that went out on my schedule to whoever signed up. But then I got to thinking....maybe yarn store owners would like a different kind of email from me - one that focuses on my patterns available through the Ravelry in-store sales system, when/where/what I'm planning to teach, etc. So now I've created an LYS email that I'm sending out once a month. Many of the LYS owners still get my regular "customer" email that I mentioned above, but they also enjoy hearing from me about things that they want to know about for their business. 
  • Pick a service. There are lots of different services you can use to send and schedule your emails. I use MailChimp. It's free until you hit a certain number of subscribers, and I've found it pretty easy to use. There are a bunch of different ones out there - find the one that works for you.
It might take a little time to get into the groove of writing an email newsletter, but once you get on a schedule, I promise, it becomes soooo much easier!

Do you have an email newsletter? I'd love to know about it!

And, while we're at it, if you haven't signed up for my twice a month newsletter, you can sign up here! :)

10.05.2017

Throwback Thursday: Milton

In addition to Passerine, which I talked about a few weeks ago, Milton has been getting a little love lately too. I said it before, I really enjoy seeing slightly older patterns being discovered by new knitters. It reminds me how much I love them too.
Milton by Jen Lucas

I think I'm going to have do another shawl of this shape soon. I've moved away from it a bit as my obsession with crescent shawls has grown over the last few months. So many shawl shapes, not enough shawl knitting time, right?
Milton by Jen Lucas

Milton is worked sideways, with a bias, meaning you get cool things happening both with the stitch pattern and that gradient yarn. I used a pack of Frolicking Feet Mini Gradients from Done Roving for mine. I love the color changes in this shawl.
Milton by Jen Lucas


Cables, lace, a hint of garter stitch in a gradient yarn with a knitted-on border. I think I put everything I love the most into this shawl! ;)

10.04.2017

Reedy Creek Winner!

I compiled all the comments and replies to my blog posts via email to randomly select a winner to win the Reedy Creek pattern, my new pattern in Fall with SweetGeorgia, Volume 3.

And the winner is.....

PatPin

Congrats! Be on the lookout for the pattern in your Ravelry library in the coming days (SweetGeorgia will be gifting it to you).

Thanks to everyone for playing. I enjoyed reading all your comments about what you love about fall.
Reedy Creek by Jen Lucas

Reedy Creek is now available on Ravelry as an individual pattern or as part of that SweetGeorgia collection.


All photo credits: Sweet Georgia & Josh Yong

9.27.2017

Say Hello to Volta

When I learned to crochet a few years ago, I never thought I would end up rolling it into by business. My plan was to learn to crochet all the lacy things, and for it to be my new hobby. But, when knitting is your business, and you know now know how to crochet, it's not a huge leap to start designing crochet things.

For the last year or so I've been working with yarn companies and magazines to get some crochet patterns published. For me, it was a good way to dive into crochet pattern writing. I could get some crochet pattern writing under my belt. I could learn more about terminology and pattern formats. But it's time. It's time to start self-publishing crochet patterns.

So, here it is. Say hello to Volta, my first self-published crochet pattern!
Volta by Jen Lucas
Volta is a top-down triangle shawl, stitched in the new Anzula Gerty yarn. A top-down triangle seemed like a fitting place to start - it's the shawl shape I used in my first knitting shawl patterns. I'll always have a special place in my heart for the top-down triangle shawl.
Volta by Jen Lucas
The pattern uses 700 yards of fingering weight yarn, and notes are included on how to make the body of the shawl larger if you like. The pattern is entirely written (I'm not quite brave enough to make my own crochet charts....yet) and uses US terminology.
Volta by Jen Lucas
Volta is now available on Ravelry. You can get it for $4 with the code "greatgerty" at checkout through October 6th.

While knitting pattern will likely remain the bulk of my work for the foreseeable future, I look forward to releasing a crochet pattern here and there. I love crochet lace. I need more of it in my life.

Happy crocheting!

9.26.2017

Fall with SweetGeorgia Faves

A couple weeks ago my new pattern, Reedy Creek, was released in the Fall with SweetGeorgia, Volume 3 collection. There are so many pretties in that collection, I thought it'd be fun to share with you some of my favorites.
Fall with SweetGeorgia, Volume 3
 I'm really digging these fingerless mitts, Duplin. The cables and ribbing really have me intrigued.
Duplin Mitts
 I'm also in love with Enlow, a cocoon-style shrug. I think it would be fun to knit and to wear!
Enlow Shrug
And then there's Kiowa. This one might be my favorite. I love the stripes, the shape, the garter stitch. I think lots of knitters are going to want to make one (or four)!
Kiowa Shawl
Fall with Sweet Georgia, Volume 3 is now available on Ravelry. You can purchase the entire eBook, or get the individual patterns.

Let me know which one is your favorite in the comments (or hit reply if you get my blog posts to your inbox)!

photo credits: SweetGeorgia & Josh Yong

9.21.2017

New Pattern: Reedy Creek

Last Tuesday, not only did my new shawl pattern, Fortis, get released, but Fall with Sweet Georgia, Volume 3 was also released into the knitting world.
 Fall with Sweet Georgia Volume 3
 My new cowl pattern, Reedy Creek, is part of the new collection!
Reedy Creek by Jen Lucas
This was a very quick cowl to work up. It's just knits and purls creating a fun pattern on the piece. I knit the larger infinity scarf for the sample, but the pattern includes instructions on how to make a smaller one, if you like.

Reedy Creek by Jen Lucas
Seriously, that texture - and in Sweet Georgia Superwash DK? It's an amazing pairing. The twist on the yarn really allows those stitches to pop.

You can get the individual pattern on Ravelry for $8CAD (that's around $6.80US), or you can get the Fall with Sweet Georgia, Volume 3 eBook for $30CAD (that's around $25.50US)!

Or......

CLOSED You can win a PDF copy of Reedy Creek! Leave a comment on this blog post (or reply to this email if you get the blog posts sent to your inbox) letting me know your favorite thing about fall. Be sure to include your Ravelry name so I can get the pattern gifted to you if you win. Leave a comment by Sunday, September 30th. I'll use a random number generator to determine the winner.

Enjoy the new pattern!


All photo credits: Sweet Georgia & Josh Yong

9.18.2017

The Annual Shawl MKAL is Here!

It's my favorite time of year - mystery shawl knit-a-long time!

Mystery Shawl 2017

$4 thru 10/13, no coupon code needed!

The MKAL officially starts Friday, but you can purchase the pattern now, and start chatting about yarn choices and the like in the Jen Lucas Designs Ravelry group. I've been doing these mystery shawl knit-a-longs for several years now, and we always have a ton of fun!

Here's some general info (you'll get an FAQ/information PDF when you download the pattern with more information):

  • Shawl shape: top-down crescent
  • Written instructions included for the charts!
  • Pattern is easily adjustable
  • 800 yards of fingering weight yarn needed
  • Yarn used for shawl sample: Stunning String Studio, Stunning Superwash in the Dutch Coral colorway
So join in the fun and knit-a-long with us!

$4 thru 10/13, no coupon code needed!

9.15.2017

I'm Michigan-Bound!

Next Thursday, I'll be taking a trip up to Michigan to teach at Yarn Garden in Charlotte, MI. It's my last teaching trip of 2017 (probably) and I'm excited to head to Lindsay's shop for a few days of yarn and fun!

On Thursday night (September 21), we'll kick off the fun with a party and book signing. I'll be bringing lots of samples in addition to the trunk show that's currently at the shop - lots of pretty accessories to try on!

On Friday, I'll be teaching a variety of lace and technique classes. You can read all about them on the Yarn Garden blog.

Finally, on Saturday, it'll be a full day of Design Your Own Sock-Yarn Shawl. This is a super fun class and probably my favorite one to teach. I love making sock-yarn shawl designers!

If you're in the area, I hope to see you there!

P.S. If you're not in the area, have your LYS owner shoot me a message at jenlucasdesigns[AT]gmail[COM] and I can send them information on coming to teach at a shop near you!

9.13.2017

New Pattern: Fortis

Yesterday I released a new shawl pattern. Hooray! I feel like it's been a little bit. But fall is nearly here and that means it's shawl time.

This is Fortis:
Fortis by Jen Lucas


Fortis is a top-down crescent shawl with a cable and lace border. I think this pattern really highlights the squishy-ness of the new Anzula Gerty yarn, which I used in the sample. It's delicious.
Whether you've been reading this blog for a month or for years, you know one thing remains the same: garter stitch and lace is my jam. Pair it with a simple cable? Now I'm totally in love.



I hope you enjoy this pattern as much as I do! It's just the beginning of all the fun accessories I have planned for this fall.

9.07.2017

Design Your Biz: Software

Designing is a super creative job. And, for me, it's also very paper-based. I'm constantly sketching things out and taking notes on paper all over my office. But using the computer is also a critical part of the job too. Today I'd like to talk about software I use in my business.

Like all of my Design Your Biz posts, this is just what I use. It works for me. Another designer might use some or none of the things I use. Everyone's different. Everyone finds what works for them.It's the beauty of having your own business. You get to do what you want and use the things you want to use. :)

Charting Software
Some/many designers create their charts with Adobe Illustrator. Good for them, not for me. While I do occasionally break it out if I need some super weird stitch, I'm charting with Stitchmastery. You can easily make all kinds of charts, it gives you the written instructions for the charts (a nice feature for me since I like to include them in all my self-published patterns), and you can save your charts as hi-resolution photos. There's a few different charting software options out there, this is the one that I've been using for several years and I really love it.

Microsoft Excel (or whatever spreadsheet program you like)
As a mostly shawl designer, there's not too much grading needed in my designs. But, I do use Excel for all kinds of math on accessories. It's a great tool to have. And I use it to track all my business financials too.

Microsoft Word (or whatever word processing program you like)
I still use Microsoft Word quite a bit. When I'm working up my pattern to send to my tech editors, I always write it up in Word first. It's easy for them to check everything and make changes and notes with the "Track Changes" feature. And, once I get the pattern back, it's easy copying and pasting to get it into my pattern layout. Which brings me to my next crucial software....

Adobe InDesign
I recently talked about my pattern layouts here on the blog. A couple years ago I switched to using Adobe InDesign to layout my patterns and haven't looked back. I really like it and I think once you watch a couple of tutorials on YouTube you'll find it's actually pretty easy to use.

And Speaking of Adobe....
I use Photoshop too. When I first started designing, paying for things like Adobe products was out of the realm of possibility. I'm here to tell you don't need these things to get started. But, maybe you'll be like me, and as your business grows you'll decide you'd like to have them. Or maybe you won't.

Again, it's whatever works for you!

We could talk about software for your business all day. But these are the main things I'm using on a daily basis. How about you? If you're a designer, what other software do you use for your business?

9.06.2017

The Pile - It's Growing!

The pile of hats for my Summer Hat-A-Long is growing and I've been alerted that more are on the way. :)

There's still time to add to the pile and help a nearby cancer center with their chemo cap needs. You can find all the details in my Ravelry group!

8.31.2017

Throwback Thursday: Passerine

There's a weird thing that happens sometimes when you're a designer. Suddenly a kind of old pattern that hasn't been selling lately suddenly starts selling again. Recently, this happened with Passerine.



 

I'm not sure if it's because it was hanging in a prominent spot in my booth at TNNA and therefore got on the radar of the yarn stores. Maybe someone somewhere is hosting a knit-a-long. Whatever the reason, I'm so pleased that it's getting some love again.

Passerine is worked on the bias in a cool, geometric pattern that only becomes more interesting by knitting it on an angle. Paired with a gradient yarn like Knitcircus, you can't go wrong.

I might need to design another one of these on-the-bias stoles. They're so fun!

8.30.2017

New Crochet Pattern Kits from Herrschners

A few months ago I did a couple more crochet designs for Herrschners that recently hit their website. Both of these shawls were so fun to stitch!
The Gradient Long Shawl is worked in the Herrschners 2-Ply Afghan yarn. The yarn is held doubled and you're able to create a bit of a gradient effect by how you change to each color. The shawl is huge - it's like a blanket. So warm and cozy! You can get the kit on the Herrschners website.

The second crochet shawl is the Lighthouse Homestead Sideways Shawl:
As the name of the shawl suggests, it's worked sideways. :) I added a fun detail along the edge to make the stripes a little more interesting. You can get the kit from Herrschners too!

Hope you enjoy the new crochet shawls! :)

Photos courtesy of Herrschners.

8.25.2017

FO Friday: Tensfield

When I arrived home from the Hope-A-Thon last month, I had an almost finished Tensfield hat. It only took a few rows to finish it up.
Tensfield Hat

The yarn is Cascade Tangier and was leftover from the Wildflowers Shawl I crocheted a couple years ago. It was the perfect yarn for this pattern.

Tensfield is so clever. You start by working back and forth, knitting a triangle. The piece is then joined in the round, but you keep working in rows (short rows to be exact) to shape the hat. It was super fun and quick to knit and I think it's going to be my go-to hat pattern for chemo cap knitting.
Tensfield Hat

I've added this hat to the growing collection of hats I've received for my Summer Hat-A-Long. If you haven't knit a hat yet, you can read more about my chemo cap collection project in my Ravelry group! I'd love to send a whole bunch of Tensfield hats (or whatever hat you want to knit or crochet) to the nearby cancer center!

8.24.2017

Design Your Biz: Pattern Layout

In today's Design Your Biz segment, let's talk about one of my favorite parts of my job - pattern layout!*
Design Your Biz: Pattern Layouts

When I first started designing, I didn't think much about pattern layout.

Get all the info in the pattern, it doesn't have to be pretty.

But, as the design career went from hobby to part-time job to full-time job, pattern layout started to become more important to me. I wanted to have beautiful patterns. When I was first ready to make the next step to having a nice pattern layout, I hired someone to create a template in Microsoft Word for me, as that was what I was using at the time to produce my patterns. Lots of designers use Word or other Microsoft products to create beautiful patterns. I made the switch to Adobe InDesign for one simple reason - I wanted to learn how to use it. As a former lab lady, I can use Microsoft Word and Excel all day long with no problem, but I had no idea about Adobe products. I liked the idea of a challenge to learn something new. Simple as that.

So, the first take away here is use whatever software you want and are comfortable with to make your patterns. There are lots of options and they all work just fine.

Ok, so you have your software choice made, now what? There are an unlimited number of ways to layout your knitting or crochet pattern. Here are just a few things that I think are important when choosing a layout:
  • Be Consistent
    Once you've determined everything that needs to go into your pattern, make sure you have it in your pattern - every time. I suggest making a style sheet to help you (and your tech editor) be sure you have all the relevant information. I'd also recommend that you keep your layout similar from pattern to pattern. You may have to move things around a little bit in order to get everything to fit the way you want it to, but having patterns that look the same really help your fans find what they need in your pattern quickly!
    Sognare by Jen Lucas
Streambank by Jen Lucas

  • White Space is Your Friend
    Patterns have a lot of words and instructions. I include the written instructions for all the charts in my patterns. That's a lot of text. By paying attention to the white space in the pattern, you make things easier to read. But, you also have to be careful not to have a single line of text going onto the final page of your pattern. Which brings me to my next point...
  • Watch the Page Count
    In the digital age we live in, it may seem like you can make your patterns as lengthy as you want. The reality is many knitters and crocheters still prefer to print their patterns (I know I do). Also, because I have a pattern distributor, I take into account page requirements for mass printing. Most of my patterns are 3-4 pages. Also, as you can see above, the first page of my pattern has the materials list, a photo, gauge, etc. No actual instructions to make the shawls. I made this choice on purpose - if a knitter wants to skip printing the first page to save ink/paper, they can. Unless there's an unusual abbreviation in a pattern, which they could just write on the first page they print, they don't technically need that first page to make the shawl. Let's be honest - very few knitters pay attention to the gauge listed in a shawl pattern anyway, right? :)
  • Photo Quality
    This was honestly something I didn't think much about until I started working with Stitch Sprouts. Make sure those photos in your pattern are acceptable print quality. No one wants to print a pattern with a super fuzzy photo on it.
I could go on and on about pattern layout, but I think this is a good start.

What makes you look at a pattern and say: that's a good pattern layout! I'd love to know. 

*That is not a joke, I've grown to really love it. It's like a fun puzzle!

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!


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