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The Tools I Use: Professional Tools

Avid knitters and crocheters have many tools to support their craft. If you are a professional in the yarn world, what additional tools do you need to do your job? In this post, I’ll share with you some of the things I use in my life as a professional yarn crafter, teacher, blogger, designer and editor.

Read The Tools I Use blog post to learn what yarn-related tools I use most frequently.

smiling girl holding a softbox light-The Professional Tools I Use-Apps, Lights, Cameras, and more

While this post contains some affiliate links which may pay me a small amount if you buy something through a link you click, that is not influencing my list. These are actually the things I’m using right now in my business.

Digital Scale

red kitchen scale

My digital scale is in almost daily use. I measure yarn before I start working with it, because not all 100 gram skeins actually weigh 100 grams. I weigh the yarn after I finish the project. I weigh finished projects. I weigh packages that I’m shipping.

This one is very reasonably priced, and measures in both ounces and grams. Be sure to get a scale that measures to the tenth of a gram for accuracy.

Tools for Virtual Teaching

With all my virtual teaching, I use a webcam for my “A” shots (when I’m talking to the camera) and my iPhone for “B” shots (overhead shots of my hands in action). The Logitech Brio 4K Webcam is a step up in quality from the camera that is built into my computer.

And, of course, Zoom has become invaluable as a place for video conferencing and virtual classes.

Document camera with a adaptable gooseneck

For showing my hands in closeup, I use the Hue HD Pro document camera. It is compact and easy to move out of the way when I don’t need it. It also travels well.

Arkon Mounts iPhone camera holder and ring light

Another option for a “hands shot” is to use your phone. You know what an iPhone looks like. My secret to holding it in place (and out of frame) is the awesome Arkon Mounts Remarkable Creators 3-in-1 Bundle. I have the tabletop version which has a nice weighted base that I can move off my desk when I don’t need it. There’s also a clamp version, if you prefer that for your situation.

Blue Yeti black desktop microphone

The Blue Yeti microphone can be purchased as a desktop model as shown in the photo, or with a boom arm which clamps to the desk. I have the adjustable boom version, so I can push it out of the way, and it takes up minimal space. Either model gives wonderfully clear audio, a big upgrade from the built-in mic on your computer.

Ring light on adjustable tripod stand, with cell phone holder in center of the ring

Getting good lighting for virtual classes, YouTube, and Zoom calls is crucial. I use this budget-friendly UBeesize 10″ LED ring light with tripod on my desk. It has three dimmable color temperatures so I can adjust it according to the time of day and ambient light. I also use it as a desk lamp on dark and rainy afternoons.

two metal "can" shop lights with clamps

In my virtual classes and for many YouTube videos, I need even more light than the ring light provides. You can spend a ton of money on professional lighting, but you don’t have to. For a while, I used LED bulbs in simple clamp lights, with a coffee filter taped onto it to diffuse the light. (Possibly a fire hazard, so I’m not recommending this, although it did work pretty well.)

Two softbox lights on adjustable tripods, carrying case

Recently I upgraded to this inexpensive Neewer softbox lighting kit. It does take up a bit of floor space, but they are lightweight and easy to adjust and move. They provide nice unfocused light which serves my purposes for dark days and evening video.

Productivity Apps

In real life, I spend way more time on the computer than I do with yarn in my hands. Most of my days are taken up with writing, designing (not on the hook/needles), and other in-front-of-the-computer work. How do I keep track of all the many things I need to do in a day?

There are a lot of productivity apps on the market, and the best one for you will depend on your needs and temperament. Whatever system works for you is the right one.
For me, right now, ToDoist, Google Calendar, and Calendly are my top three productivity aids. This is always subject to change as I tweak my system!

Todoist logo

ToDoist keeps my To Do List organized. I use detailed templates for each type of task I do (teach a virtual class, bookkeeping items, tech edit, design), assign priorities, tags and due dates to them. It integrates with many other apps to make it even more versatile. We even keep our household “Honey Do”, “Movies to Watch” and grocery lists in ToDoist. There is a free plan, but since I find it such a powerful tool I opted for the Pro plan.

Google Calendar has my separate (but linked) personal and business calendars. I can see the whole schedule at a glace, and I can view others’ calendars as needed. The trick here is to write down every appointment! It does take some practice, but being able to see my whole scheduled life in one place (and across devices and platforms) is priceless. Literally priceless, because Google Calendar is free.

The Calendly app allows others to find a convenient time to meet with me. It’s linked to my Google Calendar, so I can make a number of appointment times available and the other person can find a time that suits them and book the appointment, without having to further involve me in scheduling. And if they need to reschedule, they can do it in the app, without having to email me. The appointment shows up seamlessly on my calendar and in my email. It’s super useful if you make a lot of different types of appointments. Again, there’s a free version and a paid version.

Slack workspaces are where I connect with my test stitchers, work on freelance projects with organizations like the Craft Yarn Council, and keep up with my accountability partners.

MailerLite Logo

MailerLite is what I use for my mailing list. They have good documentation and tutorials, and they are slightly less expensive thanMailChimp.

Design Apps

Green Microsoft Excel Iconn

One question I am asked quite often is what software I use for designing. My response is usually, “OK, get ready to write this down. I have two main programs I use that I just couldn’t do without.”

Pencils poised, the questioner eagerly awaits my response: Word and Excel.

Yep, good old Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel are my stand-bys. Of course, you could use Google Docs and Google Sheets, or whatever word processing and spreadsheet programs you prefer. Note that I teach virtual classes about how I use spreadsheets. Check out my Workshop Schedule for when the next one is available.

Canva Pro ad-Design your own stunning logo today

Canva is my go-to when it’s time to make quick social media graphics. There’s a free version which is awesome and fun, but I use CanvaPro to get a few additional features that I use. It’s so easy to fall down the rabbit hole with this app, because it’s so much fun to use their design tools.

Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator-The industry standard

I’m also a fan of the Adobe Creator Suite, especially Illustrator and InDesign.

I use Illustrator to draw all my charts and schematics, including crochet symbol charts. I use InDesign to lay out my patterns and Photoshop or Lightroom to edit photos.

Stitch Maps is a way of charting knitting patterns “off the grid”. I also use it to check the accuracy of certain knitting patterns. Read Navigating Knit Stitches with Stitch Maps.

Proper bookkeeping is crucial. I’m not in this business for the fun of it; I want to make sure I can pay my bills! Currently, I use Xero online for bookkeeping, but I have used Quickbooks in the past.

Body Parts

three views of a black fabric dress form

It can be hard to find a model, so having some body parts around my studio helps me with photography. I have a good-looking (I think) dress form that is always willing to model for me. The one pictured here is all black; the one I use has a white fabric body with a light wood finial and stand.

beige featureless mannequin head on wooden stand

It can be hard to find a good head mannequin that fits an adult size hat. Most of the styrofoam ones I’ve found are too small or weirdly shaped. This fabric-covered featureless head is the one I think works best. (Take a look online; the ones with eyes and mouths can be downright scary!)

So that’s the rundown of tools I use in my professional life, in addition to all the knitting and crochet tools I wrote about in a previous post. Is there something else I need to know about? Tell me your recommendations in the comments below. I’m always happy to go shopping.

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