Yarn-Themed Gift Wrapping

Cable-knit gift with crocheted heart

We have a lot of February birthdays in our family, and I’ve found the perfect wrapping paper to cover all those gifts. Lion Brand Yarn has made some of their most popular knitting and crochet fabric designs into gift-wrapping paper.

Lion Brand provided a couple of rolls for me to try out; the opinions expressed here are entirely my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Artisan Gift Wrap

Lion Brand granny hexagons gift wrapping paper

Lion Brand’s Artisan Gift Wrap comes in six vibrant patterns. There’s a classic natural-colored cable knit, bright hexagonal grannies, jewel-toned knit chevrons, funky crocheted stripes, retro all-over grannies, and knitted tumbling blocks.

Lion Brand Yarns tumbling blocks pattern gift wrap

The patterns and colors are appealing and they are neutral enough for any occasion, age or gender. You don’t have to buy different birthday, holiday, wedding, or baby paper. One paper will suffice for all your gift-giving needs. And the best part, since I can’t decide which is my favorite pattern? They offer a 6-pack assortment, so you can get one of each pattern!

Each roll contains 22.5 square feet of paper.

Wrapping with Artisan Gift Wrap

Wrapping gifts is not my favorite activity, but this paper makes it a bit better. The medium-weight paper is heavy enough to make it easy to wrap without tearing or wrinkles. However, it’s not so heavy that it’s hard to manage. The images are crisp and clean. It really does look like yarn!

Posters of knit and crochet fabric

The paper is actually heavy enough to use for something other than wrapping. Foam core + spray adhesive + artisan gift wrap = low-cost wall decor for my studio.

box wrapped with cable-knit paper

I wrapped a large box with the Dancing Cables gift wrap , then added ribbon and a crocheted heart I made from a super-bulky yarn. The weight of the paper made it easy to handle.

Soft gifts wrapped with Lion Brand granny-square paper

Here are a couple of soft and squishy gifts I wrapped with the MOD Granny Squares giftwrap. I tied them together with some Vanna’s Choice yarn, which just happens to match the green in the paper exactly. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

Although I can’t knit or crochet gifts for everybody, I can show my love for yarn-y crafts when I use this lovely wrapping paper. It’s not my fault if I raise a few false hopes of hand-crafted contents, right?

Gifts for Knitters & Crocheters

For ideas that your favorite knitters and crocheters, check out 12 Gifts for Knitters & Crocheters and Stocking Stuffers for Knitters & Crocheters (that they’ll love all year).

Review: Brightech LightView Magnifying Lamp

Brightech Lightview Rolling Base lamp

My mother, the needlepointer, taught me the value of a good lamp for crafters. Recently I was contacted by Brightech, who asked me if I would like to receive one of their lamps in exchange for a review.

This post contains affiliate links. Opinions expressed here are my own.

Brightech has a number of lamps to choose from, from decorative floor lamps to weatherproof solar string lights. Since the winter days are getting shorter, and my eyes aren’t getting any younger, I was especially interested in their magnifying lamps. I chose the Lightview Rolling Base LED Magnifier Lamp to try for myself.

The Assembly

Brightech Lamp in boxThe lamp arrived via UPS in a box inside a box inside another box. And inside the boxed box was a nice amount of custom-fit Styrofoam. It would be hard to imagine this lamp getting damaged in shipment!

There really wasn’t a lot of assembly required. Just stick the upright pole in the heavy rolling base, and screw it in with the hex wrench provided. Insert the top portion of the lamp assembly in the vertical pole, and in less than 10 minutes —including unpacking the box— it’s ready to use.

The Features

Brightech Lightview Rolling Base lampThe Lightview Rolling Base LED Magnifier Lamp is a magnifying floor lamp with a very heavy weighted base and six small casters. It stands about 47″ [114 cm] high when it’s collapsed down. You can adjust the lamp for both intensity and color.

The magnifying glass has a 15″ [38 cm] focal length and 1.75X magnification. There’s a flip-down cover to keep dust out when not in use and to prevent accidental fire. (Ask me sometime to tell you about that time when my mother’s magnifying lamp almost set the house on fire.)

Brightech Lightview LED Roller Base Magnifier LampThe arm extends a long way and it has a 53″ cord so it allows you some flexibility when placing the lamp near your seat. There’s an adjustable knob right next to the lamp which allows you to adjust the angle of the magnifier.

This is a nice, classic-looking magnifying lamp. I chose black, but it also comes in white. It retails for $94.99 with free shipping on the Brightech website. I’ve used the lamp for a couple of weeks now, so here’s my report.

Pros

The Base: The lamp feels really stable, unlike some extending-arm lamps I’ve had in the past. The base is heavy enough to handle a full extension without feeling like it will tip over. It rolls easily on bare floors.

Comparison of different light settings

The Light: What really appealed to me about this particular  lamp was the variable lighting options for both intensity and color. There are three settings for each, which makes it much easier to see those dark purple stitches in the evening! I tried to get good photos to show you just how different the lighting color and intensities look. The photos shown here have not been color adjusted, and you can see the differences somewhat. Take my word for it that they are much more distinct in real life!

The Magnification: Although I sometimes wear reading glasses to work on fine yarn at night, I don’t usually think of using any special magnification. However, when I started testing this lamp, I was amazed at how wonderful it was to be able to see the stitches so clearly. I’ve been crocheting with a fine-weight dark purple yarn, and I’ve had no problem at all. The ergonomic benefit of having magnification was a surprise to me!

The Portability: I have two main places where I sit to craft. I like that I can move the lamp from one spot to the other without a lot of trouble. I have more floor space than I do tabletop space, so the floor model is what works for me. The long cord means that I don’t have to use an extension cord to reach the wall outlet no matter where I situate the lamp.

The Stays-Puttedness: OK, I made that term up. Once I have the lamp set up at my optimal angle, it stays there. I’ve had extended arm lamps in the past that kind of dropped after a while. With this lamp, I’ve done a couple of marathon crochet sessions, and it stays right where I want it. And because it’s an LED, it stays cool during those long hours of crafting.

The Cons

The Base: I know, it was a “pro” also. Because the base is heavy, and the casters fairly small, it doesn’t roll well over carpets. I end up lifting it to move it over several area rugs. This might be a deal-killer if you have deep carpets and plan to move it a lot.

The Limited Swivel: Although the connection at the lamp is quite adjustable, the swivel action of the upright is limited. Sometimes I have to rotate the entire base to get the lamp head in the right spot when I first set it up in a new location.

The Styling: Since the lamp is spending a good portion of its life in my open-plan living area, I wish it were a bit more stylish. It’s not unattractive, and it’s certainly functional, but I’d like to challenge all the industrial designers out there to create a great magnifying lamp with a bit more pizazz!

A Final Word

Brightech Lightview Rolling Base LEDFor the price, the Brightech LightView Rolling Base LED Magnifier Lamp seems to be a great option, combining a reasonable price point with some good features. I’m making it a permanent part of my evening fiber sessions. If you aren’t sure you want or need a magnifying lamp, you might just be surprised at what it can do for you!

Lightview Flex 2-in-1 lampYou may prefer a non-magnifying lamp, a lamp that clamps onto your sewing table or desk, or a tabletop lamp. Brightech has a number of magnifying and non-magnifying lamps to choose from.

Good lighting is an important ergonomic consideration for all crafters. You want to be able to position your body and hands in the ideal way, and to have adequate light and magnification to avoid strain. Do yourself a favor and look into finding the perfect lamp for your needs.

For more on ergonomics, read Knitting Comfortably with Carson Demmers.

 

Interview & Giveaway With Marie Segares: Design It, Promote It, Sell It

Design It Promote It Sell It Online Marketing for Your Crochet and Knit Patterns by Marie Segares

As a teacher and designer mentor, one of the most frequently-asked questions I get is: How do I sell my designs? Crafts blogger Marie Segares, of Underground Crafter and the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show fame, offers targeted tips to knit and crochet designers in her newest book: Design It, Promote It, Sell It.

Read on to see what she has to say about promoting your patterns, and to see how you can get your own copy.

Marie Segares provided a copy of Design It, Promote It, Sell It for this article. This post contains affiliate links.


What’s Special About Design It, Promote It, Sell It?

Online Marketing graphic

Edie:  You offer a crash course in marketing and introduce a number of important concepts. For  those designers whose eyes glaze over when you start using marketing terms, can you give us a one sentence explanation of why Design It, Promote It, Sell It is worth a look?

Marie: If you struggle with getting more eyes on your patterns, or have lots of people looking but not buying, this book has some actionable ideas to help you change that situation.

Edie: How is your book different from all the other marketing books on the market?

Marie: Most marketing books are very general. This one is specifically about marketing crochet and knitting patterns online. It’s shorter than many marketing books and it’s more focused on the specific challenges of crochet and knitting pattern designers.

For New Designers

First Steps for Newbies

Edie: I’m often asked “What do you have to do to become a designer?” My answer is, “Design something,” but the deeper question being asked is really “How do I get my designs discovered?” Would you agree?

Marie: Designing isn’t a career that most people know about from their everyday life experiences, like being a teacher or doctor, so often people are just trying to uncover what is involved. I agree that designers do need to design, though!

Edie: For a brand-new designer with only a design or two in the bag, the amount of promotional work you set forth is pretty overwhelming. What are the first two steps they should take?

Marie: I think new designers should add their patterns to the Ravelry pattern database and find one other online place that their ideal customer is likely to be hanging out to start establishing a presence there.

(Edie has collected some knit & crochet design resources.)

What About the Money?

Edie: One thing I didn’t really see discussed in the book is realistic expectations. What advice would you give knit and crochet designers about what the level of sales and revenue they can expect?

Marie:  Are you asking if I think folks can “live off designing alone”? I personally don’t know anyone who earns a full time living ONLY as a crochet or knitting designer. I discuss this more in my other book, Make Money Teaching Crochet, but most everyone I know in the industry blends several income streams. You can listen to my podcast episode about this (or read the show notes) at 6 Income Streams for Your Yarn-Related Business.

About Doing It All

Edie: ‘Fess up, do really do all these things for every pattern you release? In other words, do you practice what you preach?

Marie: I definitely don’t, and I mention that in the introduction. I’m also not saying that everyone SHOULD do all of the things I list in the book with every pattern release. If your audience isn’t on Facebook, for example, what benefit is there in posting each pattern there and doing Facebook Lives for each pattern release? This is why I wrote a book instead of selling a checklist for marketing patterns. It’s really important for each designer to customize the checklist based on their audience AND on their own capacity.

As an example, I don’t rely on my crochet and knitting business for my full income because I have a full time job. However, it is a growing and significant part of my household income, and I do need it. If I didn’t have this income, I’d be working part time somewhere to earn the money. I have more time constraints than some designers who do this for a full time living, but in exchange, I have more financial security. Some designers have more time and can “do more” to promote their businesses, while others are balancing jobs, family life, or other responsibilities, too.

About Analytics

Edie: You talk about measuring your marketing efforts to understand what tactics are working. If you have things set up right, it’s pretty easy to get the numbers on impressions and engagement. It’s harder to measure conversions to sales, especially when the marketing is taking place on Facebook or Instagram but the actual sale may happen on Ravelry or somewhere other than your own website. How do you analyze that?

Marie: It’s definitely a challenge. Etsy gives you a pretty good idea where your sales are coming from, but other sites like Ravelry and Craftsy don’t have as many analytic tools. Some designers use tracking links, like the ones from bit.ly or by using a plugin on your WordPress site like Pretty Links. If you went this route, you would set up different links for each place where you promote your patterns, but you’d still probably be estimating the percentage of sales come through the the clicks to that link. Another way to track is to offer different discount codes on different sites. As an example, many designers offer patterns at a discounted rate for the first days or week after the pattern is released. Offer the same discount, but use different codes through your various social media outlets. You can track how many sales were made using that code.

Working with a Virtual Assistant

Edie: The Online Profile Audit Checklist and Pattern Promotion Checklist are very useful. Some of those tasks seem ideally suited to be delegated a virtual assistant (VA) or other helper. VAs can save you time and effort, especially with streamlined tasks like uploading patterns and  tagging and notifying collaborators. Have you worked with a VA, and do you recommend them?

Marie: I haven’t worked with a VA, though I know many designers do. I’ve tried to build my business organically, which means I don’t take on any expenses that the business can’t already pay for. While, in theory, a VA could free up time for me to produce more patterns, I don’t currently earn enough of a profit to feel comfortable hiring someone else. I also don’t have the time to train anyone else to do it “my way.”

I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable assigning a VA the role of writing my social media posts or tagging my collaborators until I had worked with them for a long time. I have seen many designers with VAs that don’t “sound” like them, and that impacts your brand in a negative way. I would be more comfortable delegating tasks that don’t relate to my (potential) customers, like submitting patterns to craft directories or uploading patterns to secondary marketplaces.

In any case, I would never recommend  allowing a VA (or any other delegate) to set your marketing strategy. Instead, allow them to perform your marketing tactics. This is an important distinction and I’ve seen many designers who are uncomfortable with marketing hoping that some other person can magically solve their “marketing problem.” It’s like allowing someone else to design all the patterns and you will just make type up their ideas or make the samples. The concepts and the intellectual property should come from the designer, not the VA.

About Design It,  Promote It, Sell It

Design It,  Promote It, Sell It is available in three editions so you can choose the format that suits you best. It’s available as a 69-page PDF e-book that includes 3 printable questionnaires and 3 printable checklists. You can get it as a Kindle ebook, or as a paperback print edition (coming soon).

Thanks to the generosity of the author, I’m able to give away one copy of the PDF e-book.

The giveaway period has ended.

About Marie Segares

Marie SegaresMarie Segares is a crochet and knitting designer, crafts blogger, teacher, podcaster, college professor, and small business consultant. She hosted the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show, a podcast for yarn industry indies, for two years and 71 episodes. She is also the author of ​Make Money Teaching Crochet: Launch Your Business, Increase Your Side Income, Reach More Students​.

Marie shares crochet and knitting patterns, crafts projects and tutorials, and recipes on her blog, Underground Crafter​. Marie’s patterns, tutorials, and articles have been published in a number of publications.

In addition to teaching crochet and knitting classes locally, Marie has also taught or presented at BlogHer, Creativation, and other professional blogging conferences. Marie is a graduate of Barnard College. She earned her MPH at Columbia University and her MBA at New York University. She is currently enrolled in the EdD program in Organizational Leadership Studies at Northeastern University.

Review & Giveaway: Crochet Animal Rugs

Crochet Animal Rugs by Ira Rott coverThis post contains affiliate links which help support this site but do not cost you anything.

In Crochet Animal Rugs by Ira Rott, the focus is on cute. Seven animal themes vie for your attention in this collection of home dec patterns for kids.

About the Designs

Jeffery the Elephant, Rusty the Giraffe, Sassy the Kitty Cat, Rock ‘n’ Roll Panda, Chip the Monkey, Cranky the Crab, and Tops the Dinosaur are all here. There’s a rug for each animal (of course), but the book title is misleading because there’s a lot more than just rugs here.


Tops the Dinosaur Pillow Crochet Animal Rugs by Ira RottThere are matching items to go with each rug, so you can complete your chosen décor with a pillow, toy bag, security blanket, or other item.

The crocheting itself just basic stitches worked in simple shapes. It’s the way these pieces are combined that makes each design unique. Skill levels are given for each project, so you can choose an easier one if you are a novice, or choose a more complex one if you are adventurous. Lefties will find specific instructions on how to adapt the patterns for left-handed crochet.

All the projects are made using worsted weight yarn, although some projects require holding multiple strands of yarn together. Although specific yarns and color names are not called for in each pattern, the list of supplies at the back of the book credits Bernat Super Value Yarn and Red Heart Super Saver. These and other readily available plain, washable, worsted-weight yarns are just what you need. You probably even have some leftovers that you can use for bits and pieces of eyes, ears, and so on.


Chart example Crochet Animal Rugs by Ira Rott

Crochet Animal Rugs Has Charts!

With clothes, we want pockets. With crochet, we want charts. Along with text instructions, the book has stitch charts every time you need one, and often even when you don’t!

Monkey Pillow Step Out Crochet Animal Rugs by Ira Rott

Attention to Detail

It can be intimidating to ponder all the finishing that has to be done on projects like these, but where Ira really shines is in her absolute attention to detail, especially with finishing instructions. I can’t say enough good things about the up-close, in-progress photos that show each assembly step. They have arrows that show the direction of the work, and labels where necessary to make things crystal-clear.


Monkey Pillow Step Out Crochet Animal Rugs by Ira Rott

Behind-the-Scenes Knowledge

Now it’s time for a bit of a confession: Although I didn’t work on this book, I have worked as a tech editor on some of Ira’s other patterns. I have been floored at the clarity of her pattern writing and graphic design skills. I wish all crochet designers (myself included) could produce such great patterns. Ira uses testers as well as technical editors for her patterns, and takes the testers’ feedback into consideration before publishing a pattern. You are in great hands with Ira’s Crochet Animal Rugs

Giveaway

The Giveaway has ended. Congratulations to winner Karen C!


Ira Rott photo

About Ira

Ira Rott is a knit and crochet designer living in Canada. Looking for other cute designs from Ira? You can find her at IraRott.com and find finished items from the book on Instagram #CrochetAnimalRugs.

Books Worth a Look

Most of us begin the new year by looking forward, but I’m starting 2018 by taking a look at two knitting and two crochet books from 2017 which I never got around to reviewing. If by some chance you missed hearing about these, now’s your chance to find a new recommended title. These are keepers.

Stackpole Books, Interweave, and Fallingblox Designs provided copies of these books for my review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. This page may contain affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra.

Mosaic & Lace Knits Barbara Benson

Mosaic & Lace Knits

by Barbara Benson

I’m a huge fan of mosaic knitting. I love color, I love pattern, and I love how slip stitches can make simple knitting into something spectacular. I’m a fan of simple lace, as well. But when I heard about Mosaic & Lace Knits, I thought, “Huh? Can you even do that?” The answer is a resounding YES! Using her innovative techniques, designer Barbara Benson shows us how to meld slip-stitch knitting and simple lace techniques into fascinating accessories.

I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the projects up close, and they are truly eye-catching. I also met Barbara in person last summer, and I think I may have squeed just a little bit over her work.

Who It’s For: Intermediate knitters up for a challenge. Experienced lace knitters and mosaic knitters looking for their next project will be sure to find something here to fascinate.

If you want to try out basic mosaic knitting first, check out my Mosaic Knitting class on Creativebug.


Double or Nothing Alasdair Post-Quinn

Double Or Nothing

by Alasdair Post-Quinn

Let’s just get this out of the way: Alasdair Post-Quinn intimidates me a little bit. Not because he’s the least bit scary or mean—he’s a gentle, soft-spoken unassuming guy— but because his mad skills when it comes to double-knitting just blow me away.

In this self-published sequel to his first book, Extreme Double Knitting, Alasdair takes us where no one has gone before, presenting in-depth double-knitting techniques along with colorful patterns that are truly stunning. He provides many step-by-step technique photos, and nice large charts to help you on your way. Running throughout the text are sidebars of Alasdair’s “Craftstory”; his life story (to date) is so interesting and so different from mine that I read it all the way through, flipping from page to page, before I started the knitting portion of the book.

Double or Nothing Waterford CrossingI have seen some of the 14 jaw-droppingly lovely projects in person and all I can say is, if you are a knitter looking for a challenge, Double or Nothing is well worth your time.

Who It’s For: Experienced knitters. As the book’s subtitle says, this is “Reversible Knitting for the Adventurous”. You may also want to look into Alasdair’s Adventures in Double Knitting class on Craftsy**.

If you aren’t yet ready for “adventurous” double knitting, check out my Double-Knitting Workshop on Creativebug.

Top-Down Crochet Sweaters

Top-Down Crochet Sweaters

by Dora Ohrenstein

How did I miss bringing this one to your attention when it came out? <head smack>

Dora gives us 14 fashionable and flattering patterns that any crocheter would be proud to wear. Many crocheters shy away from making sweaters, but with top-down sweaters, there’s no need to be afraid. You can simply try on the sweater as you work and make adjustments for fit along the way. You’ll learn about choosing yarn and stitch patterns, what makes a wearable fabric, and how to adjust the patterns for a perfect fit.

Who it’s For: Intermediate and advanced crocheters who want to make attractive, fashionable garments.

Dora also wrote The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop: Essential Techniques for Becoming a More Versatile, Adventurous Crocheter. If that one’s not on your bookshelf, it should be.


Step into Crochet Rohn Strong

Step Into Crochet

by Rohn Strong

Step Into Crochet is the book that everyone has been asking me about, when they ask me to recommend a crocheted sock book. Rohn provides clear and complete information on crocheting socks that fit, the basics of sock construction, and variations on heels, toes and cuffs. Knitters have had this information readily available for years, but until now we’ve been lacking a resource specific to crocheted socks. The eighteen sock patterns can be modified to fit your foot and ankle, and there are plenty of options for colorwork and texture to keep things interesting.

Who It’s For: Beyond-beginner crocheters who want comfortable socks that fit.


**Coupon Details: Get 25% off the full retail price of any Craftsy class. Excludes classes from our special Mastering in Minutes series as well as from our partner, The Great Courses. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires March 29, 2018.

Sara Delaney Talks DIY Crochet Design + Giveaway

Design Your Own Crochet Projects Sara Delaney

Storey Publishing provided a copy of Design Your Own Crochet Projects for my review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. This page may contain affiliate links, which help support me, but don’t cost you anything extra.

If you’ve been following the blog tour for Design Your Own Crochet Projects, you’ve already heard from others about how Sara Delaney has made crochet design accessible. How she walks you through the process of using gauge swatches and plug-in templates, How she makes it easy to create your own crocheted accessories. How she provides a small stitch dictionary (cheering here!) to get you started.


Design Your Own Crochet Projects worksheetThose things are all great and important, but did you hear about the Online Crochet Project Calculator? Read the book to learn about the design process, and move on over to the calculator, and let it do the math for you. You must check this out!

image (c)JSipe

If you have been designing by the seat of your pants (i.e., try this, rip it out, try something else, rip it out, try another thing, now it’s kind of OK), Design Your Own Crochet Projects is the book you need. It has templates for socks, scarves, cowls, hats, mittens and gloves.

Design Your Own Crochet Projects Sara Delaney back coverI was lucky enough to see an early draft of the book, and was honored to be invited to write a back-cover blurb! I’m excited to see a good crochet design resource hit the market. I’m just sorry I didn’t think of writing it! Sara got to it first, and I’m happy for her.


Edie Eckman, Sara Delaney and Judith Durant

In October, I spent a couple of days at the Merritt Bookstore booth at the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. And guess who was standing next to me all weekend? Designer/Author Sara Delaney! We didn’t have a lot of time to chat, but we did find a few minutes in a semi-quiet corner, where she could explain what makes Design Your Own Crochet Projects awesome. Watch the video for Sara’s low-down on stepping into crochet design.

Want to win a copy for yourself? Leave a comment below telling which part of crochet design you find the most challenging. One comment per person. A winner will be selected at random from the comments on November 20, 2017. U.S. and Canada residents only.



Check out Sara’s My First Crochet Cardigan class on Craftsy. Coupon Details: Get 25% off the full retail price of any Craftsy class. Excludes classes from our special Mastering in Minutes series as well as from our partner, The Great Courses. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires February 3, 2018.

For other crochet design resources, check out this page.

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