February 26, 2015

Big and Bulky

I'm sorry I've been quiet lately - my knitting mojo is off (a tangent of me being off and struggling right now but I'll get through it).

When my knitting mojo is off, I need fast projects.  I knit a lot of items for sale in my LYS - hats, baby items, cowls, etc.  I try to use stash or on sale yarn as we all know no matter what you don't get paid for what your time is worth when you sell hand knits.

Recently, my LYS put Bergere de France Recyclaine on sale.  Quite frankly I'm surprised this yarn didn't sell well as it is big and bulky and perfect for fast projects.  I got a few skeins and decided to whip up some hats - Bohemian and Really Warm Hat.

I have been struggling with a new design with a new yarn from Berroco called Indigo - love the yarn, have an idea in my head, having great trouble translating it to needles.  I've already ripped it out twice.  It is in a time out.

I think I might need to do some weaving for a little while...

February 11, 2015

With Time to Spare

Thanks to the ton of snow and snow days we've been having, I was able to hunker down and finish my son's sweater.  I had set a deadline of last Sunday as we were going to visit him to take him out for an early birthday lunch (his bday is 2/10).  It was done by Friday.

Well, the weather may have helped my knitting but it didn't help our travel plans.  My husband and daughter ended up on the road on Saturday and I stayed home as I was teaching a workshop.  It was not easy being left behind and not seeing our son to celebrate his birthday.

The sweater was wrapped up and among his gifts and I left our daughter with specific directions to take a photo of him wearing it NO MATTER WHAT.  As I was teaching class, this photo arrived via email.  It warmed my heart - it fits him perfectly.  Had I been there I would have straightened out the right sleeve, adjusted the neckline and perhaps had a better background setting...but beggars can't be choosers.  Someday I'll get a better photo...also had to share one of him when he was two.

Towards the end of my class, my cell phone rang and I quickly answered it...he called to thank me for his sweater.  Makes a mom's heart sing.

January 29, 2015

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

Our son has finally acquiesced and allowed me to knit him a sweater.  He came to the LYS when they had their year end sale and picked out Berroco Vintage as he loves his blanket made with the same yarn.  He then selected Hugo by Veronik Avery after I showed him other versions with a crew neck.

I must say I love this pattern - I have it memorized and have been plugging away at it thanks to a snowstorm!

Now the question is will I have it done by February 8th - no pressure but we will be seeing our son for his birthday (the 10th) that day.  Wouldn't it be amazing if I could have it done by then?  No pressure.

I know it looks tiny but I know from the blanket it will block beautifully.

January 24, 2015

Cabled Foot Cozies

The other day while working at my LYS, I had an idea to rework a pattern I had done last year.  I was looking at the lovely bins of yarn and the Berroco Vintage Chunky was calling out to me to whip up this pattern and release it.  I picked a light color in a fun springy green (called Kiwi) so the cables would show up when I photographed it.

Presenting Cabled Foot Cozies - they are knit flat and work up very quickly.  As my daughter tried them on she commented "Oh, these are nice!".  That always lets me know I've done well.

I have another design (or two) brewing in my head - Berroco has a new yarn called Indigo.  I just had to work with it.  Stay tuned!

January 18, 2015

It Finally Has A Name

Thank you to those who put in names - I also put it on a group I'm in on Ravelry and they threw their hats into the ring (pardon the pun).  Sadly, most of the names have been taken.  I always search names on Ravelry as it can cause problems if two patterns have the same name.  I learned this with my Boxing Day Mittens which I had originally planned on calling Merry Mittens.  There are other Merry Mittens - it turned out okay as I prefer Boxing Day Mittens after all

So, when in doubt I go to Italian words - the Italian word for hat is "cappello".  So this hat is called Cappello.  It uses one skein of Berroco Inca Tweed and has a broken slipped stitch pattern that flows from the ribbing - it has a bit of slouch and it is very warm.

This pattern has been ready for weeks - it just needed a name and a decent photo shoot with my "model" who was not happy reshooting a few times (the Boxing Day Mittens were also part of the reshoot).

January 11, 2015

I Need Your Help

So, I designed this hat a few weeks ago...it has been languishing on my kitchen table in limbo.  There are two reasons for this - my first photo shoot with the model wasn't doing the hat any justice.  I have to reshoot it and hope to do so today.

The other problem is I don't have a name.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I look to several things for inspiration in naming my patterns.  As I was thinking of names, I researched Incan words (this hat is made with Berroco Inca Tweed), I looked at names with the word "tweed", I thought about where I live and what landmarks are around, etc.  I've come up empty handed.

So, I'm asking for your help - any suggestions on a name for this hat?  The pattern is ready and once I photograph it again I'm ready to go...just needing inspiration for a name.

January 2, 2015

Learning Curve

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I fell down the rabbit hole and got a table loom.

No sooner than I got it, it was warped and I was weaving.  In a few days I had my first FO, a scarf.  I learned a lot with this scarf - most importantly I don't need to beat the hell out of it as it will be far too tight and stiff.

I had fun with the striping and I like how it looks - it just is too stiff.

So, I took another skein of Cascade 220 I had in deep stash and went to my LYS and picked out 2 skeins of Noro Silk Garden.  I used the same color way but ran two shuttles so it would have a sort of striped effect.  I didn't beat it as hard and let the colors do their thing.  It kind of was like potato chip knitting - I kept weaving to see what the colors would do next. 

Here's my setup - amazing what tools you use when you need them - Rolling Rock kept the light table from moving under the tension of the warping.

From the very beginning, I could see the difference in how a gentle beat gave the wonderful fabric I needed.

Here it is finished - it is a long scarf and I gave it a shorter fringe than my first one.  I think it looks fantastic!

December 31, 2014

What A Productive Year!

For the past few years when I've looked back at my knitting.  Sometimes I would review some of my favorite knits.  As my regular readers know, I have used my blog to pour my heart out when life isn't how I expect it as last year's post and the year before show.  I could do that again this year as life hasn't been kind at times but instead I'll look at other things to focus on.

I also used to look at the button on my blog about how many yards I knit via Knitmeter dot com.  I took that button off this past year as I wasn't recording how many yards I knit - it was too time consuming.  In 2012, I knit over 18,000 yards and in 2011 it was over 20,000 yards.

So, this year I will start a new way of measuring my year in knitting - how many designs I released.  I'm not going to count the Knit 123 patterns - let's forget about that interesting bump in the road (for which I am still owed a ton in designing fees - note that ValuPublishing is not model for doing business right).

So, on my own, I've released 17 patterns this year!  The first one in 2014 was The Hat in the Hat and the last one of 2014 was my Boxing Day Mittens.  I produced 8 hat patterns, 3 cowl patterns, 2 mitten patterns, 1 mitt pattern, 1 scarf pattern, 1 Christmas decoration pattern, and 1 necklace pattern (with Debbie Smith).  What cracks me up about this list is I used to hate knitting hats - I always worried they wouldn't fit.  Guess I got over that hurdle!?

My favorites include:
Bay Head Hat

Just One More Scarf
Ready For College

Railroad Track Mittens
Beantown Beanie

I can't wait to see what next year brings from a designing point...I feel as if a little door has opened in my creativity and I look forward to where it leads.

Goodbye 2014...you were good to me from a knitting standpoint.  Hopefully 2015 will continue to be good when it comes to knitting and for the rest of life, you could stand a little improvement - please be kinder to my family.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!  Happy Knitting 2015!

December 29, 2014

15 Minutes of Fame

Wow, I'm posting 3 days in a row!  I had to follow up on my Boxing Day Mittens experiment.  Yesterday the pattern slowly slipped down the ranks and this morning it is on page 2 - clearly, my 15 minutes of fame are over.

That being said, the experiment was a huge success - we all know free is good and on Ravelry it seems to mean a lot too.

I promised to share how I promote my patterns when they come out...hopefully, this will help anyone who is a budding designer.

I always post my patterns on Facebook once they are released.  I also have them for sale on Craftsy.  I have a Pinterest account that includes a board of my designs and my new patterns go up there too.

There are also many ways to promote your patterns on Ravelry without buying ad space.  When you have a project of your new pattern you can share it with any groups you belong to.  This will have a picture of your FO pop up on the group.  I've joined several groups of interest that apply to my designs - such as, hat and mitten groups, yarn manufacturer groups, etc.

Often yarn manufacturer groups (Berroco, Cascade) have a discussion thread about sharing independent designs - I tend to post my patterns there as well.  Sometimes interest groups have a similar discussion thread.

Lastly, I listen to podcasts.  If there is a contest on a podcast, I will contact them and donate a pattern or two as a prize.  While this hasn't resulted in lots of sales, you get your name and patterns mentioned on a podcast and it helps bring your efforts to the attention of a different audience.

Okay, enough of that...there is more but I won't bore you.  If you want more info, feel free to PM me or post a question in the comments.

Next post I promise will have knitting on it - my LYS had a sale and I purchased yarn for my daughter and my son is finally letting me knit a sweater for him.  He insisted on Berroco Vintage which is what I used for his college blanket - he loves how soft it is!

December 28, 2014

Today's Learnings

This has been a fascinating 48 hours of my little experiment.  When I first noticed the hot right now section, there were a TON of patterns up there by Julia Mueller (Laris Designs).  Gorgeous gloves, hats and mittens were flooding the top 30 plus "hot right now" patterns.  Turns out she's closing her Ravelry store and all her patterns are free.  Here we go with the free is good again.  I wondered if I'd hit a higher level if she hadn't flooded the market but I can't go there.

Then I noticed another pattern hitting the top - Picea Mittens by Mary O'Shea.  She put a price tag of $5.00 on hers then offered a coupon code to get them free.  I've learned the hard way when you provide a promotion or coupon code you get charged by Ravelry for a percentage of the patterns "sold" or "discounted".

Then as I was weaving on my loom and listening to the Yarniacs Podcast (I love this podcast and greatly respect the input and opinions of Gayle and Sharlene), they were discussing an earlier episode where they discussed the "hot right now" algorithm to calculate the rankings on that page.  I haven't heard the earlier episode (I was way behind as my iPod died and luckily I got a new nano for Christmas).  Apparently some designers are annoyed that when people make their patterns free their pattern shoots to the top.  Something my little experiment has confirmed.  Sharlene pointed out that in spite of this it does show some patterns/designers we wouldn't ordinarily see as there are so many out there.

So, where are we right now?  Boxing Day Mittens sit at #15.  Not bad for 48 hours after  I started my experiment.

Next, I'll discuss how I promote/market my patterns within Ravelry (I started my life in advertising in marketing - BC - Before Children).

December 27, 2014

A Little Experiment

I've always wondered how patterns got into the "hot right now" section of patterns on Ravelry.  I noticed a lot of them are when well known designers release a new book - makes sense.  I also noticed that many are free.

I had just finished a new mitten pattern called Boxing Day Mittens (another story on another day about the pattern and the naming) and decided for one week I'd make them be free.  I figured it was a nice holiday thing to do and I also wanted to have a little experiment.

Here's my learning - free is what works.  It has been less than 24 hours since I released the pattern (it went up 12/26 around 9:15 am)...in that time it has been downloaded over 570 times.  A level set here - my other free pattern of mini Santa hats has been downloaded over 900 times and it has been on Ravelry since October 2013.  People started buzzing about it too - it's turned up in 7 forums as something to go after and I've received so many nice comments and thanks.

I started checking out the "hot right now" late  yesterday afternoon and took great glee when I saw my mittens on page 2!  Then I saw them moving up on page 2 and by evening, they had moved to page 1!  Made my day, confirmed my experiment and got a fun pattern into a lot of hands.

Page 1!!!!

When I woke this morning they were at #25...an hour later they are at #8!  I love this and I love that people love my pattern!

Page 1 and as they would say in the newspaper business - above the fold!

If you haven't seen the pattern, check it out, add it to your queue, download it before it stops being free.  Let's see if we can move it to the top 5?!

December 26, 2014

I'm In Trouble Now

I've fallen down a new rabbit hole - weaving!

My sweet parents gave me some Christmas money and I decided rather than use it for bills which I am known to do, I was going to get something I've always wanted to try - a loom.

Fortunately, my LYS had an Ashford 20" table loom in the back room and on Christmas Eve I was working in the store and purchased it.  Debbie, the LYS owner and my friend, showed me how to set it up.  Then I went on Craftsy and got a sale class.  After a quick view I had my loom warped by dinner time!

Christmas morning I watched more of the class and started weaving.  Oh my, I can't wait to really get going on this - it is fast, interesting and so full of possibilities.  I love that Ravelry even has a way to include weaving in your project pages now.

Oh, I have a new mitten pattern too - just have to get the model and put her to work!

December 22, 2014

What's Behind A Pattern

This morning I awoke to a comment on one of my patterns complaining that $5 was too much for a hat pattern.  It really bothered me.  After sending a note to the person explaining that the pattern had several sizes and if she looked around it was the going rate (if not cheaper than some others including my other hat patterns), I deleted the comment.  I considered sending her a free copy of the pattern and then I thought about how hard I worked to publish it.

You may be asking yourself now - "What's behind making up a knitting pattern?"

There are so many steps...first coming up with the idea, the yarn behind it and the swatch.  Then executing the prototype is next - I'm working on some mittens right now that I ripped out four times before I got what I wanted.  Some patterns I knit up several prototypes.  While I'm knitting up the prototype I am taking copious notes.

Then there's writing up the pattern - a time consuming event in itself.  Every little detail has to be correct and the format has to be consistent.  Math is involved!  Pictures must be taken too.  A few of my patterns have tutorials on techniques - this is a whole extra step.  Some of them have been tech edited and some have been test knit.

Then when you're ready to get it out there, you have a process to fill out on Ravelry - yet another step.

Lastly, pricing is always the hardest for me.  I once was told I undersold myself with my pattern prices and I need to get more in the mainstream.  So I researched other patterns and pricing and tried to put myself on par with others.

So, a lot of work goes on behind that $5 pattern.  Don't forget that I don't get the full $5 in the end as both Ravelry and PayPal take out fees.  I'm not planning on retiring on what I earn from my patterns but I'd like to think my time and effort are worth something.

Next time you wonder if you should spend the money on someone's pattern, think about all the work that went into it so you can just enjoy the knitting process.  Also, if you happily download a designers free patterns, you might want to thank them by purchasing one of their pay for patterns.

Okay, off my soapbox and back to working on the new mitten pattern - I hope to release it soon.

Note: I've included ALL comments that have come through - one of the things I like most about blogging is sometimes it creates lively discussion.  And as a point of clarification, it wasn't what was said about the price rather the manner in which it was said and it was done publicly as a comment on the pattern for all to see.  It would have been nicer if I were PM'd about my pricing instead of calling me out publicly.

December 18, 2014

Ready for College

After lots of back and forth on names (see previous post on how difficult it is sometimes), I decided to name my new cowl design "Ready for College".  We got the exciting news our daughter (my model) was accepted to her first choice college right about the time I was finishing up the design.  The cowl has a wonderful sophisticated look and I figured they both are ready for college.

The pattern is available on Ravelry - it comes in two size options - single or double loop.  It is a great textured stitch pattern which is easy to memorize after a few rows.

December 14, 2014

What's In a Name?

One of the hardest parts of designing for me is coming up with a name for my design.  I go through Ravelry and type in name ideas as I have them and often there are ones just like what I thought was a clever name.

For a while, I started with naming things after my blog title with the "Just One More" theme - hat, mitten, cowl, scarf.  I started to run out of those.

Sometimes I use places as inspiration - Bay Head Hat (for the town in NJ where we spend our summers) and Beantown Beanie (now that we live in the Boston area).

Sometimes I go for Italian words - harking back to my Italian name, family, and love of the language.  I've used "Farfalle Cardigan", Belle Linee, and just introduced Cappucio Cowl. 

While naming this cowl I was at a loss.  That's when I looked up the word for cowl in Italian - it is "cappucio".  So in essence I've named the cowl - "cowl cowl".  Made me laugh.  Sometimes "cappucio" can mean "hood" - no hood here - just a lovely squishy cowl which is wonderfully warm to wear.

I have another cowl design I just finished - again I begin the process of finding the right name.  Hmmm...maybe I should have a naming contest?