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 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) 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 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?

November 26, 2014

Customized Custom Fit

A while back my daughter/in house model asked for a sweater that was cropped with a cowl neck.  I had some yarn she had picked out for another sweater using Ultra Alpaca Fine (what was I thinking with that weight yarn for a sweater).

I took her measurements, plugged them into Custom Fit then we created.  Since there isn't a cowl option or a cropped option, we had to improvise.  She also wanted really long sleeves.  Let me tell you, knitting this was a labor of love.

You can't see it but there is a cable detail on the side seams - I knit this seamlessly which was perfect.  To get the cowl option to work, we did a boat neck with a bit of a scoop.  Then I did the ribbing and increased here and there and also increased the needle sizes from a 5 to an 8 working up as I went along.  The whole thing was knit on 3's.

No sooner than it was block, she had styled it and it was worn to school - her own customized Custom Fit.  Quite a success.

November 24, 2014

Made My Day

I was trolling Facebook and saw this!  It totally made my day!  Berroco featured my hat!

November 7, 2014

Do You Like My Slouchy Hat?

The other day while I was in the car knitting, I found the free pattern I had grabbed was missing a very important chart.  I had a skein of Berroco Vintage (leftover from my son's college blanket) and wanted to knit.

So I opened up my Goodreader and found one of my patterns called Do You Like My Hat? and decided to rewrite it for worsted weight yarn (it is a sport weight pattern).  I also decided to make it less of a beanie and more slouchy.

Thus is born - Do You Like My Slouchy Hat? pattern!  I think I actually prefer it to the first one - Berroco Vintage makes it soft and wonderful and slouchy.  It comes in two sizes and is available on Ravelry.

Lastly, I might be quiet for a little while as I am recuperating from bunion surgery - it makes it hard to sit in front of the computer for long periods of time.  However, it is conducive to knitting - I have a design I'm working on...stay tuned!

October 24, 2014

Beantown Beanie

When working with the owner of my LYS to create the Railroad Track Full Mittens, we discussed making a hat with the leftover contrast color yarn.

I was inspired by the technique in Ysolda Teague's Ripley where you knit a strip and join it in the round to create the brim.  Then you pick up the stitches and create the top of the hat.  After consulting some stitch dictionaries, I came up with a combination that really pleased me.  It complimented the mittens but wasn't all matchy-matchy.

The name was my daughter's idea - I asked what we should call it and told her I'd like something alliterative to go with Beanie...hence Beantown Beanie.

I took the finished hat to the LYS and we have one staff member who has an unusually large head.  She tried it on and it flew right off her head as it was too small.  Back to the drawing board and time to write up a larger size.  I knew this one worked when she put the hat in her Ravelry queue the next day!

If you are a local and visit Iron Horse in Natick, MA, you can get this pattern for free with purchase of 2 skeins of worsted weight yarn and the mittens pattern.  Stop by and check out the knit up samples.

I am having foot surgery a week from today - bunionectomy.  That means 3 weeks on crutches, 2 of those weeks I can't drive (it's my accelerator foot).  It also means a lot of knitting...I am hoping my next design will be born during this time.

October 10, 2014

Labor of Love

My son has never let me knit him anything - in spite my asking a lot.  Same is true for my husband.  Must be a guy thing.  Anyway, I brought up the idea of a blanket for when my son goes to college and he agreed.  I consulted with him on color which was less than helpful - "Make it blue, Mom".  I consulted with him on a pattern - "Not too fancy, Mom".

I found the pattern Five College Blanket - I hate paying for patterns when I know I could easily design my own blanket but at the time I started this I needed someone else to think for me.  When I went to buy the bulky yarn they didn't have blue so I purchased worsted weight.  Then I ended up having to think as I had to add repeats of the pattern to make it much for having someone else think for me.

I chose Berroco Vintage - it is washable and wonderfully soft and squishy for a blanket.  I cast on for this on February 20th and bound off last night.  I must admit this daunting project was back burnered a lot!

When I started my Iron Horse Block of the Month afghan for my daughter (college bound next year), both my husband and daughter looked at me in askance and questioned if I had finished my son's blanket.  I realized I couldn't put it off any longer and put myself into overdrive to finish it.

He's coming home tonight for the long weekend and this is blocking on his bed.  It should be dry by the time he gets home - he can take it back to school.  This truly was a labor of love and knit with lots of love.

September 30, 2014

My In House "Model"

As you may have noticed from the side bar with my patterns - I tend to use the same model.  It's our 17 year old daughter who basically inspired me to get into designing knitting patterns.  It started a while back when I asked her to model my fingerless mitts pattern and went from there.  When she modeled my "Just One More Cowl" pattern I knew we had a good thing going.

I often joke that "my in house model" wasn't ready for a shoot or had a zit on her nose or didn't feel like modeling.  The last few "shoots" I had to take to bribery and told her she'd get the proceeds from the first pattern sale.  The funny thing was the first time I did that I sold a pattern within an hour of its going live on Ravelry (usually it takes a few days/weeks).

I have a new pattern which will be coming out soon that turns my Railroad Track Mitts into mittens.  We had the "photo shoot" the other day and it always amazes me how she knows how to pose and look at the camera...hardly any direction from the world class photographer (aka me).

However, when I caught this one it made me laugh!  I had just asked for a few more shots...

I love my "in house model" and am thankful for her inspiration to design and her ability to make my designs shine.

September 22, 2014

Bay Head Hat

When I was asked to design a hat for the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl, we chose a lovely blue called Summer Sky in Cascade 220 Superwash.  With it we paired a gray and I also had some aran white at home.  I took these skeins on my week long vacation to Bay Head, NJ.  While sitting on the beach I came up with a hat that I've named Bay Head Hat.

I showed the finished hat to my neighbor and friend, Peggy, who is also a knitter...she came up with the idea of adding a tassel.  Perfect!

I even used some Noro Kureyon for a version that has a little more color variation.

Presenting the Bay Head Hat - now on sale on Ravelry.  If you were part of the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl, you received it for free when you visited Iron Horse in Natick, MA.

I must admit - I love this hat.  I love Bay Head so it only makes sense I love the hat too.

September 16, 2014

The Universal Language of Knitting

When I moved to MA, I was introduced to a knitting group that meets every Monday at a local church.  It is a small group with quite an international flare.  Two members don't have English as their first language but they both understand the language of knitting.

Chen moved here from China a few years ago - I think she's in her late 70's.  When I first met her two years ago she had a small vocabulary but insisted on learning the vocabulary of knitting when we were all together.  She wrote down everything in a little book.  Chen knits on long, long DPNs and rarely follows a pattern.  She is a prolific, proficient knitter.  She's taken to reading patterns and always wants to know that the abbreviations mean...she knows how to do them intuitively but has never read them.

Parthena's native tongue is Greek.  She usually crochets but recently showed me a knit pair of slippers/footies and asked how to re-create them.  She too doesn't read patterns but has an intuitive flare for creating or recreating.

Yesterday, Parthena was showing Chen how to make the slippers...I caught this moment of three native tongues working together - Chinese, Greek, and Knitting with the new tongue of English tying them all together.  It was a joy to listen to them communicate and share this passion - this universal language we share.

September 14, 2014

Another Variegated Yarn

I got to knit up another store sample for a yarn I've never used before - Noro Cyochin.  We chose the Berroco pattern, Dizzy.  I rather like how it turned out.  When knitting store samples we follow the pattern as written and use the yarn as is.  With Noro I often take out the brown sections but not for the store sample. What would I have done differently?  I would have made it longer so it it had a bit of slouch.  Otherwise it looks great.

September 12, 2014

Crazy Crochet

This past weekend we were at a wedding in Minneapolis.  With a whole day to spend before the wedding at 5pm, we went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art with two other wedding goers.  It is an amazing collection and well worth the visit.

This piece cracked me up - what crazy crochet!  Just had to share.

September 5, 2014

A Variety of Variegated Yarns

One of the advantages of working in a yarn store is that you get to work with yarns you might not ordinarily choose to buy.

Case and point - Tangier by Cascade Yarns.  When this yarn walked in the door I fell in love with the colors.  However, I had no need to knit with it right now.  When the store owner suggested we knit up a sample, I happily agreed.  We found this free cowl pattern that only uses one skein.

What did I think of the yarn?  Loved it softness and the fact it knits up quickly.  The cowl would be a perfect fall or spring accessory as there is silk and cotton in it.

Another variegated yarn I got to knit with was Noro Taiyo Aran.  We had an excess of one color way so I knit up a hat called Guinan.

Lesson learned - knit a sample and you will sell product!   This yarn also has silk and cotton - loved the feel of it.  My only complaint about Noro is there are knots AND there is always a brown section. That being said, you can always cut out the brown.  This too only needed one skein.

I'll have another Noro yarn to review as soon as I get photos.

August 27, 2014


While coming up with class ideas for my LYS, I suggested a seamless knit stuffed animal.  We came across Susan B. Anderson's Bunny Love.  I had so much fun knitting this guy!

Isn't he just adorable?  I can imagine knitting up a bunch of different sweaters...don't know why I call it a him - I think the red sweater makes him look like a boy.

August 22, 2014


One of the projects I finished for Knit 123 that will never make it to the magazine pages was a snowman decoration.  You've probably seen the mini-snowmen I've made as Christmas tree ornaments.  I had the idea to upsize the pattern (he stands about 9" tall) and convert it to flat knitting.

Presenting Noseman the Snowman...why "Noseman"?  Well when our son was little (he is off to college in a week), he couldn't say "sn" or "sm" together.  He would put the "n" or "m" first and move the "s" in the "snowman" was "noseman" and "smokestack" was "mokes stack".

The pattern is live on Ravelry - why not start your holiday knitting now?