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:
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 A blurry photo of my Kelsey Hooded Scarf from Stunning Stitches on the TNNA runway:
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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!
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I brought a few of the samples from Stunning Stitches to display in my booth. They got a great response. Yay!
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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.
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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. :)
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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!
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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!
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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!
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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:
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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.
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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. :)

6.07.2017

(Mostly) Ready to Go

I'm mostly packed up for TNNA.
There's still a few things to gather from around the house. Shawls are still blocking, more booth furniture is in the basement. I'm excited to have a booth as a part of Stitch Sprouts for the second year in a row. I look forward to having a great weekend with lots of great friends!

Going to TNNA? Come say hi! I'll be in booth 212/213 all weekend! :)

6.01.2017

Design Your Biz: Working from Home

Over the last year or so, we've talked a lot about the various aspects of my business in my Design Your Biz series. I've discussed some of the challenges in finding a workflow, or the fun of living the dream. Today, let's talk about working from home.

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Working from home is awesome and challenging all at the same time (mostly awesome though). It took me a little while to get into the groove of working from home, but here are some things that I've found to be helpful for me, my mental health and my business. Maybe they'll help you too!

  • Get out of the house. When I first started working full-time in my business, I rarely left the house. It got depressing and overwhelming pretty quick. Now, I start most days going to a boot camp workout class and then come home and start my day. That little bit of social interaction has made a big difference in my mood (not to mention that working out is good for you, lol). Not a workout person? No problem! I also will go work at a coffee house about once a week for a couple of hours. The change of scenery always makes me a little more productive. Don't want the other coffeehouse patrons to catch you slacking off and on Facebook, right? :)
  • Take a Day Off. I get it, it's hard to do. I try very hard not to work on the weekends. It doesn't always work out that way, but I do my best to at least stay off the computer. The emails can wait until Monday.
  • Create a Routine. When I was working in the lab, everything was so routine. Certain tests were done on certain days. Schedules were made saying which lab tech was doing what. Again, when I first started working at home, there was no routine. There was no schedule. It was chaos! These days, my routine means starting work between 9 and 10 in the morning. I try to batch my tasks together as much as possible (write all my blog posts for the week at once, for example). If I need to go to the post office of something, I go in the middle of the day, to give myself a little break. And now that I recently started using my Kanban board, I know what I need to get done and when I need to get it done. My husband works from home most Fridays. I know I don't get as much work done that day. We end up chatting. We go to lunch. But, I've worked it into the routine/schedule, so it's not a problem!
  • Learn to Say No. When you work at home, especially in this business for some reason, there will be people in your life that don't think your job is a job. Seriously, someone in my life referred to my business as my "cute hobby" recently. Yes, the beauty of working from home is flexibility - I love meeting my mother-in-law for breakfast once a month and going to the pool with my nieces once a week in the summer, but you don't have to say yes to every invitation that comes along during your normal work day (whatever that is for you). Things greatly improved for me when I started kindly reminding people that I can't do x, y, and z all the time during the week - I'm working just like most other people.
If you're struggling with working from home or are thinking about working from home, hopefully this will give you a little guidance in how to make it work!

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Do you work from home? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!


5.30.2017

Stunning Stitches: The Bampton Set

The final set in my new book, Stunning Stitches, is the Bampton Set. Another one of my favorites (I feel like I've been calling all of them my favorite. haha)!
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This set uses a combination of Done Roving Yarns and Yarn in the Box yarns. A small feather-and-fan stitch pattern is perfect for these yarns, especially because many of them are variegated.

The set begins with the Bampton Shawl, a traditional top-down triangle shawl.
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I used the popular Done Roving Frolicking Feet Transitions for the shawl. I think it works great for the chevron pattern.

Then there is the Bampton Cowl. A simple cowl, just the way I like it.
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Finally, there's the cowlette. I've been hearing from so many of you that you're knitting this one first. I don't blame you - it's one of my absolute favorites from the book too!
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That's it for the Stunning Stitches Blog Series! I hope you enjoy the new book! Be sure to hop over to my Ravelry group and watch the announcements thread, I'll be starting a KAL for the book soon!

Want to see more of the patterns from the book? Check out the Ravelry pattern page for the book.

Images from Stunning Stitches by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2017; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

5.26.2017

Stunning Stitches: The Pomelo Set

The Pomelo Set. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure about this one at first. All those mini bobbles seemed a little crazy. But, as each piece was finished, I was more and more in love with that bobble-y goodness!
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I knit the cowl first. Worked in a worsted weight yarn, it was quick to knit. I finished it in a few hours and I was hooked on this stunning stitch pattern.
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 Then there's the scarf. My friend Jenni knit up this one. She had it done in no time!
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Finally, there's the cowlette. This book is where I first experimented with the cowlette design. I love how the stitch pattern is incorporated into this one. It's worked from the top down, and as you get closer to the end, the slipped stitch and bobble rows get closer and closer together - a fun detail for the edge!
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Want to see more of the patterns from the book? Check out the Ravelry pattern page for the book.

Images from Stunning Stitches by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2017; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

5.24.2017

Stunning Stitches Winners

Thank you so much for all the love for my new book, Stunning Stitches! I really hope you all enjoy it.
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And, for the winners of my Stunning Stitches book giveaway. Using a random number generator, the first winner is....

SpinningNerd! She says:

What a gorgeous collection! I'm in the mood for delicate, so I think Violetear Shawl would be first. I know I'd make several of the patterns in this book. 

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The second winner is.....

avidreadrr! She says:

Wow! all are stunning but if I have to pic one it is the Bampton Cowlette.
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Congratulations!
 

5.23.2017

Stunning Stitches: The Potrero Hill Set

Fitting. I just returned from a trip to San Francisco last week. The Potrero Hill set is a nod to the city - with hilly roads, a few of which zig zag like crazy!
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The patterns in this set all feature a seed stitch and lace pattern. A fun and addicting combination.

First up is the stole.
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Like many of the patterns in the book, this piece is simple to adjust in size. Make is a scarf, get creative and make it super wide and then seam it up like a poncho - there's lots of possibilities!

The Potrero Hill cowl is the quick and easy project in this set. You'll only need about a half a skein of sock yarn to get this one done!
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Finally, there's the shawl. I couldn't do a book without a half-pi shawl. I love them, you love them, we all love them!
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I'm tickled by the way the zig zag of the lace flows from each section of this shawl!

Want to see more of the patterns from the book? Check out the Ravelry pattern page for the book.

Images from Stunning Stitches by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2017; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

5.19.2017

Stunning Stitches: The Glarus Set

Now that all the patterns for Stunning Stitches have been added to Ravelry, I've been enjoying hearing from all of you about which ones are your favorites. The patterns in the Glarus Set seem to be among the favorites in my new book!
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This set was built around a lace panel I found in one of my stitch dictionaries. I immediately thought of the shawl, which is featured on the cover of the book. The panel screamed knitted-on border to me!

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I picked a lace pattern for the body of the shawl that I thought would compliment the border. I'm so pleased with the results.
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And then I got crazy. I'd been wanting to jump on the poncho craze for awhile. It seemed like the right time. The Glarus Poncho is a nice combination of easy Stockinette stitch, with the lace panel running along one side. I can't wait to wear this poncho this fall!

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The set is finished off with the scarf. The panel is worked twice, creating sort of a cool, super-wide lace ribbing. You could definitely add another repeat of two to make it into a stole. I think it would be beautiful!
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I used Anzula yarns for these pieces, and it was definitely the right choice. I think their yarns really are perfect for lace. The stitch definition is awesome and the colors are simply amazing.

Want to see more of the patterns from the book? Check out the Ravelry pattern page for the book.

Images from Stunning Stitches by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2017; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

5.18.2017

Design Your Biz: A Workflow That Works

Working from home as a knit & crochet designer is full of challenges. There's always housework staring me in the face, as well as my bed, begging me for a mid-day nap. Being the only employee here at Jen Lucas Designs means everything falls on me (or I have to take the time to find the people to help me). Recently, I went to my husband, a project manager at a large corporation, for help.

Project Manage Me!!!!!!! I yelled.

I'm always feeling a little behind and overwhelmed these days, so I was looking for a few tips or systems I could put in place to help me get it all done. Alex's guidance has helped me so much over the last couple months, I thought I'd talk a little bit about my workflow today.
I've started using a Kanban board and working in two-week sprints.

Every two weeks, I evaluate what went well or not so well on the last two-week sprint, look at all my deadlines coming up and decide what I'm going to work on in the next two-week sprint. I make post-it notes for everything I need to do in the two week time period and add it to the "to-do" section of my board. When I work on it, it goes to what I call the "in progress" section. I've limited myself to no more than 6 items in the "in progress" section. When I first started this system, I found myself having a hard time sticking to that. But, now that a couple months have gone by, I rarely have more than two or three things in there at a time. This system has really forced me to look at the work and stick to a plan, and not start a million things at once. When the item is done, to the "done" section it goes!

When I get a new project to work on (for example, a magazine pattern), I'll write a post-it note for it, and stick it to my wall to the left of my board. That way, when I'm planning a future two-week sprint, I know that it's something I need to complete.

A few months ago, I was constantly scrambling to get things done. I'd let myself get distracted by whatever I felt like working on (rather than what actually needs to get done). Of course, as a designer, I have to give myself permission to occasionally ditch the plan when an idea strikes, but this system of using my board and giving myself basically self-imposed deadlines has made a huge difference. I still have to scramble sometimes to meet a deadline, but it's slowly becoming easier and easier.

I'm so glad that Alex introduced me to this project management system! Want to know more about it? Leave a comment below and maybe I'll get Alex to write a little guest blog post in the coming weeks going into more detail.

Happy planning!

5.16.2017

Stunning Stitches: The Violetear Set

While I was working on Stunning Stitches, I became slightly obsessed with feather-and-fan stitch patterns. Feather-and-fan is so fun to knit, isn't it? I included it in the Bampton Set too (more on that next week), but today let's talk about Violetear. 

First up, it's the Violetear Infinity Scarf. A simple cowl, written for two sizes. The larger one is shown here.
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Then there is the Violetear Cowl. It's worked just like my new Vauhti pattern. It's worked flat and then a small seam is added to turn it into a cowl. I love that you can wear it in such a way that is almost looks like a shawl!
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And then there is the Violetear Shawl. My favorite pattern in the book. I love everything about this bottom-up short row shawl. I might need to knit another one (or 12).
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Seriously. I started this shawl and couldn't put it down. You all know garter stitch and lace is one of my all-time favorite combinations. There's just something about this particular combination with the feather-and-fan stitches that makes me so happy.
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Want to see more of the patterns from the book? Check out the Ravelry pattern page for the book!

Images from Stunning Stitches by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2017; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

5.12.2017

Stunning Stitches: The Cyprus Set

Knit & purls. Simple texture can be so much fun, can't it? While I tend to go to the more complicated lace or cabled stitch patterns, sometimes it can be nice to get back to the basics. And that's exactly what I did with the Cyprus set in Stunning Stitches.
The Cyprus set features a stole, a cowl and a dickey, all knit in Lorna's Laces yarn

This set all started with an idea I had. I love the look of a scarf tucked into a jacket, but, honestly, I kind of hate the bulkiness the scarf can provide when tucked into a jacket. I don't need anything helping me to look extra bulky, you know? ;) So, the Cyprus dickey was born.
The piece is started with a provisional cast on, and worked flat. Once finished you put the two right sides facing the same way (to get a true faux-scarf kind of look) and Kitchener stitch it together!
The dickey is definitely the more difficult project in this set. The other two projects are very easy, and perfect for the adventurous beginner or someone looking for some good "tv-time knitting."

The stole is so cozy! You can easily adjust the pattern to make it more like a traditional scarf if you like.
The cowl is knit out of a bulky yarn. It's super quick to knit. Just knits and purls in the round, and you'll have yours done in no time. The pattern is also written for a smaller close-to-the-neck cowl too.
I think any of these projects would be great for a gift for a friend or family member. Quick, easy, and beautiful!

Want to see more of the patterns from the book? Check out the Ravelry pattern page for the book!

Images from Stunning Stitches by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2017; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

5.11.2017

Stunning Stitches: The Kelsey Set

On Tuesday, Stunning Stitches officially entered the world. This book has been an absolute blast to work on, and I'm excited to tell you all about the patterns. For the next few weeks, I'll be posting about the patterns here on the blog, sharing what I love about each one.

To start, this book was born from the idea that some stitch patterns are too pretty to use just once. So, why not use them more than once on accessories we all love? Sounds like a plan to me!

The book contains 7 sets, each set has 3 patterns. Every set focuses on a stitch pattern I truly adore. The stitch pattern might be used in slightly different ways in some of the accessories, which made for a fun challenge for me.

First up, is the Kelsey Set.
This set was the first one I completed for the book. And, it's probably my favorite set in the book (yeah, yeah, I know I'm not supposed to have a favorite, but I totally do). :)

The Kelsey set highlights a beautiful garter stitch cable pattern. I used it on a shawl, a cowl, and a hooded scarf.

For the Kelsey shawl, I used the cable pattern as a panel, worked along the edge of a sideways shawl. I added little bobble details along the edge, maximizing the knitting fun!
The cowl is a traditional cowl, knit in the round. Knit in Stitch Sprouts Crater Lake makes it a super quick knit. I love bulky yarn with cables. And the Crater Lake is amazing and really makes those stitches pop! Instructions are included on how to make a larger infinity scarf if you like.
And then there is the hooded scarf. I've been wanting to design one of these for a long time. It's the first one I've made, but it certainly won't be the last. Like the shawl, this is knit in Stitch Sprouts Yellowstone. The stitch definition of this yarn is incredible. Seriously, I need to make all the cable things with this yarn.
The scarf is worked in one piece, with a seam added at the end to form the hood. it was surprisingly easy to make!
Cables and garter stitch - a match made in stitch pattern heaven!

Want to see more from the book? You can see all of the patterns on Ravelry here. Or, stay tuned to the blog for more!

Images from Stunning Stitches by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2017; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.




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