Knit Noro Accessories 2

Recently, I received  a review copy of the new book Knit Noro Accessories 2. I love the Knit Noro books. Lots of beautiful projects in beautiful yarn. What's not to like!? I've reviewed a couple of the Knit Noro books in the past and really enjoyed them. You can read those here and here.
Knitting Like Crazy Blog

My friend, Angela Tong, designed a few pieces in the new book. Today, I thought it would be fun to do something a little different and chat with Angela about her design career and her patterns in the book!

Jen Lucas: How did you get started designing knitting patterns?
Angela Tong: I started designing patterns after I took Stefanie Japel's online class, "Design Your Own Shawl Class". By the end of the sessions, I learned to design a shawl and write up the pattern. It was a great class and it turned on a light bulb in my head. Ideas started flowing and it hasn't stopped.

JL: You designed a few different pieces for this book. Do you have a favorite and why?
AT: If I had to choose, it would be the Garter and Lace Diamond Shawl. Although, I have to say that the Lace Beanie is a runner up for my favorite, too. This is my first time designing a square shaped shawl and it was a lot of fun working on it. I added tassels on opposite corners so when you fold the shawl into a triangle to wear, it adds an extra detail.

JL: Noro is known for the long color-changes in their yarn. How did the yarn play into your design ideas for the shawl and scarf (which use long color-changing yarn)?
AT: For my Noro Yarn designs, I tend to use simple repetitive stitch patterns. I want the yarn to be the star of the project and I find keeping it simple is key. Busy or complicated stitch patterns won't show up well.

JL: Do you have a favorite stitch dictionary or where are your favorites places to get inspiration for stitch patterns?
AT: I don't have favorites, but I have a healthy library of stitch pattern books. I find that I use the older ones the most, like Vogue Knitting Stitchionary and Interweave's The Harmony Guides.

JL: Anything new coming up you'd like to tell us about?
AT: Look for more Noro Yarn patterns coming from me this year. I love designing with Noro Yarns!

Thanks, Angela!

I know that so many of you reading my blog love quick accessories projects (just like me)! I think you'll really enjoy this book.

From the publisher:

Every knitter loves stylish patterns, quick projects, and stunning colors. This collection of Noro knits has them all! Want more accessories to knit? This gorgeous entry in the Knit Noro series offers 30 brand-new designs that incorporate fun techniques—cabling, mitered squares, short rows, corrugated ribbing, slip stitch, and more—while still remaining accessible to knitters of every skill level. The projects make the most of Noro Yarns’ vibrant hues and bold self-striping patterns, and include gloves, socks, hats, shawls, ponchos, and more—all selected specifically for the ways in which they show off those trademark colorways and luxurious fibers. 

There's tons of accessories to chose from in this book. You can see all the patterns on Ravelry. Angela's really are some of my favorites. Here are the patterns she mentioned in her interview:

Knitting Like Crazy Blog

Knitting Like Crazy Blog

And, guess what? I'm giving away my review copy of the book!

Leave a comment on this blog post (or, if you're getting my blog posts via email, just hit reply) letting me know what's your favorite kind of accessories to knit. You have until Sunday, May 7th at 11:59 central time to leave your comment/reply. I'll be using a random number generator to pick the winner. Please leave your Ravelry name or email address in your comment so I have a way to contact you should you win.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. 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.  



I hinted at this earlier this week, but today I'd like to talk to you about my new Patreon page!

Knitting Like Crazy Blog
I'd been contemplating joining Patreon for some time. I think it's a cool concept, so I finally decided to give it a go. From the Patreon website:

We want to help every creator in the world achieve sustainable income.

I love that idea. And I do believe that all creators out there should have a sustainable income. The world is a better place with things like art and yarn and knitting patterns in it!

Why Become a Patron?
I greatly appreciate every single person who has bought a pattern, read a blog post or bought one of my knitting books. If you like those things and are curious about the behind-the-scenes process, please consider becoming a patron.

As a patron, you’ll get exclusive content not being shared anywhere else. Depending on your pledge level, you’ll get access to sneak peeks of my upcoming designs, exclusive Ravelry coupon codes and even free patterns!

In addition to getting your hands on fun rewards, you’ll also be helping me cover the expenses involved in running Jen Lucas Designs. Some of these expenses include Ravelry, Paypal and Adobe fees, tech editing and photography – all things that are needed to bring you great accessories patterns!

Knitting Like Crazy Blog

My patrons are already taking advantage of sneak peaks and coupon codes. All my $5+ patrons receive my new Demantur shawl for free.

And, don't worry, I'll still be sharing fun stuff on all my various social medias and blog (of course). This is just something fun for those people that want even more behind-the-scenes content and want to help in offsetting some of the costs associated with running my business.

You can join my Patreon for $1 to $10 a month. You can read all about the rewards you get at each level here.


Design Your Biz: Photos That Sell

You've written a pattern. Hooray! And now you want people to buy that pattern. You need to make sure that you have quality photos so all those knitters and crocheters can see your awesome design and want to buy it.
Knitting Like Crazy Blog
(from left to right, that's Vauhti, Mandarijn, Demantur and Carefree)

When first starting out as a designer, for most of us anyway, you're overwhelmed by all the little things you have to do to make this a business that works. You need to pay to get your pattern tech edited, you might be dealing with sample knitters, maybe you're paying someone to do your pattern layout. Then, there's promoting your pattern on social media, possibly paying for ads, the list goes on and on. All these things are super important. But one of the first things you need to be thinking about when you're putting your pattern out there is photography.
Believe me, I get it. When I first started, this was the thing that I was neglecting. I'd snap a few photos on my living room carpet (yikes) or patio table (double yikes) and call it good. 

And, sure, I sold a few patterns. My patterns are high quality, other people were posting better photos than mine, I thought it was working ok. But then I started paying a little more attention on Ravelry. 

And what I learned was pretty obvious - the photos are a big deal. You want someone to freely share your pattern on social media? Well, what are they going to pick - the photo of your shawl on your rug* or the one that's beautifully styled? Look at the photos in the Ravelry "Hot Right Now." What do most of them have in common - a sale (maybe....that's for another post) or (more likely) beautiful photos. 

Turns out, you don't have to be a life-long photographer to get decent photos. While most of the time I send my pieces out to be photographed, you still can get good photos just using a dress form. 
Knitting Like Crazy Blog

Knitting Like Crazy Blog
I took these photos with my iPhone 7 Plus. And I took a ton of them. I probably took 60+ photos and narrowed it down to 5-6 photos in the end.

So, don't get discouraged if your photos need work. Find a friend to be a model. Get a dress form and practice taking photos with the different settings on your camera/phone. Or start looking for photographers that specialize in knitwear photography. I've found that hiring a photographer is not only completely worth the investment, but it's also usually not as expensive as you might think!

*I will argue that ALL SHAWL PATTERNS should show at least one photo where you can see the shawl shape. If all you can do to get that is take a photo flat on the floor in your living room, by all means, do it. Just don't make that the photo that's getting shared everywhere. :)


New Pattern: Demantur

Yesterday I finally released my first self-published shawl pattern of 2017. Say hello to Demantur:
Demantur by Jen Lucas

This pattern came from the idea that many times I'll use a larger stitch pattern in the body of my shawl, and then finish the piece off with a smaller lace pattern. "What if I switch it around?" I thought. Turns out, it was a good idea. It was an absolute blast to knit.

Demantur starts from the top-down and uses 850 yards of fingering weight yarn. It's a huge shawl, but I've included some notes on how to make it smaller. I guess you could make it bigger too - I didn't include notes for that - because I think most people will think it's already big enough. :)

I finished the shawl off with an i-cord bind off. I love that technique! But, if i-cord bind off isn't for you, that's ok! Just use your favorite bind off for shawls to complete it.

I'll be talking more about my new Patreon page later this week here on the blog, but my $5+ patrons do receive a coupon code to get Demantur for free. You can read more about that here.
Demantur by Jen Lucas

Hope you enjoy the new pattern as much as I do. Happy Shawl Knitting!


YarnCon 2017

April 1 & 2 one of my very fiber events in the area took place - YarnCon! I was thrilled to be teaching there again this year. The students, the shopping, the visiting with friends, it's all good.

YarnCon was busier than ever this year. It's great to see this event growing more and more every year. I even had students in my classes who traveled from other states to be at the event. That's so awesome!
Obligatory YarnCon photo from the balcony. We all take the same photo. :)

On Saturday, I taught two classes: Be Fab with Garter Tab and New Directions in Shawl Shapes. I love that I get to talk shawl stuff all day as my job.
In between classes, I was able to add a stitch or two to my new shawl design, while sporting my new Duvessa cowlette.
Shawl Knitting & Duvessa Cowlette
 I also had a little time to get some shopping in. There's always time for shopping! I was so excited to see CJ Kopec Creations there. I had been a part of her fiber club many years ago. I loved it. Now it's time to try the yarn. 
Shopping for Yarn at YarnCon
 When me and Jenny get together, there will be yarn buying. Oh yes, there will be yarn buying.

Sunday brought another class. I taught Decorative Shawl Bind Offs and was able to make another round at the market. It was definitely less crowded on Sunday. I actually could get into the Leading Men Fiber Arts & Knitcircus booths that day to chat. 

Now for the good stuff - the haul!

First stop was Art Institchtute for project bags. She has lots of great fabrics and the bags are very well-made. It's always a favorite stop when at YarnCon.
Art Institchtute Project Bags
Here's a close-up of the yarn I picked up at CJ Kopec Creations. It's 2 skeins of DK-Weight Polwarth/Silk yarn. Yum.
CJ Kopec Creations DK-Weight Yarn
Then, Jenny, who had been shopping while I was teaching my first class on Saturday said, "you need to see these unicorn bags." You know what happened next. I purchased these bags from Honey Girl Farms, the artwork on them is by Emily Martian.
Bags with Artwork by Emily Martian
On Sunday, when I stopped in the Leading Men Fiber Arts booth to chat, some things ended up in my hands. I used their yarn for my Aranthera shawl and just love it. I'm sure these will become shawls one day too. The pink yarn is sport-weight superwash merino and the the purple-y one is 600 yards of a superwash merino/silk fingering-weight yarn.
Leading Men Fiber Arts yarn
Another successful year of YarnCon! If you were there, what goodies did you pick up?


And the Winner Is...

Thank you to everyone who read my review of Barbara Benson's beautiful new book, Mosaic and Lace Knits.
Mosaic and Lace Knits by Barbara Benson
I've used a random number generator to pick a winner. And the winner is...

Jo-ann! Congratulations! Here's what she had to say about her favorite project in the book:

I think I need to start with Fractured Helix. But this is book where I could seriously go on a knitting odyssey and knit all of them... 

I agree, Jo-ann. I could knit them all too!

If you'd like to read the full review of the book, check out this blog post.


Design Your Biz: Working for Exposure

As a knit & crochet designer, I'm often to asked to work for free/very little money.

"It'll be great exposure!"

...is usually what the people asking that you to work for free/practically nothing will say.

Today, let's talk about that.
Working for Exposure as a Knit & Crochet Designer
My answer almost always? Thanks, but no thanks.

Exposure does not pay the mortgage. Or groceries. Or my obsession with planners and planner stickers. ;)

Here are some things to ponder if you are considering working for free/the exposure:

How is this work going to benefit your business? Is it really going to bring you income in other ways that's going to make it worth it?

An example I see in our industry all the time - a company wanting to give away your pattern for free. Maybe they want you to do the work for free, or maybe they are trying to pay you a pitiful one-time fee for you to sign all the rights to your pattern away.

Are you really going to get new customers off of that? In my experience and in the experience of many designers I know - no, you're not. While everyone enjoys a free pattern now and then, the majority of people downloading free patterns only want free patterns. You're going to convert only a teeny tiny amount of them into regular pattern-buying customers. So, is the exposure worth it? In my opinion, probably not.

Does the person asking me to work for exposure respect me as a designer/artist/business?

If they are asking you to work for free, then, no, they don't. Designers, unfortunately, are often viewed as a less-important segment of the yarn industry (which, honestly, is weird to me, because people need things to do with the yarn, needles, hooks, notions, etc. these companies sell). Don't feel like you have to say yes because they asked and you might like their product. In this business, you need to get good at politely saying no quickly or you will be taken advantage of.

Ok, so this is getting a little sad. Not everyone in the industry is trying to take advantage of designers. Many companies do pay well and respect what designers do! You just have to find them. And, really, there are times when working for exposure might be worth it. You don't always have to say no.

So, when should I work for free/exposure? There aren't many situations when I would agree to it, but here's when I've worked for free in the past:

I've agreed to work for free when it comes to writing a blog post on another blog about one of my books. Sure, writing a blog post takes time away from doing something else, but I'm reaching more people and telling them about my book. I'm reaching new people I might not be able to reach otherwise, and hopefully some of that audience will be interested in my book and want to buy one.

That's pretty much it. :)

Ok, that's not entirely true. Like many new designers, when I first started out, I did do a few patterns for very little to no money. Looking back, maybe doing one pattern for very little money would have been fine. It is a good way to try to build your catalog a little bit. When you start out, you might have no audience or customer base, so you are getting your name out there.

But, please, one pattern maximum. After that, make sure you're finding companies to work with that respect you and are willing to pay you what your worth!

If you want more information about working for free or exposure, Tara Swiger just talked about this on her podcast recently. I found myself agreeing with what she had to say (as usual).

As with many things in this Design Your Biz series, there's no one right answer. You really have to decide what's going to work for your business. But, I hope I've given you a few things to think about the next time you're asked to work for exposure.

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