6 Crafting New Year’s Resolutions I Can Keep

6 Crafting New Year's Resolutions I Can Keep
6 Crafting New Year's Resolutions That I Can Keep graphic

Conventional wisdom says that sharing New Year’s resolutions with someone else is supposed to keep us accountable and thus more likely to achieve success.

I’ve come up with 6 reasonable and sustainable goals for my crafting life in the New Year. With your help, I think I can achieve them. Who wants to join me with these New Year’s Resolutions?

This post may contain affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra.

Resolution #1: Allow My Yarn to Mature

Resolution #1 Mature Yarn: skein of natural-colored Candide Yarn
This classic yarn has been in my stash for many years.

Not all yarn needs to be used immediately. Sometimes it needs to age until it is ready to reach its full potential.

This process may take years. Since yarn doesn’t go bad if properly cared for—in moth-proof storage, for example—there’s no time limit on when it must be used. I have yarn that is more than 25 years old. It’s still a nice color. It’s still wool. It just hasn’t decided what it’s going to be.

My yarn stash serves as high-quality housing insulation.

I resolve to not stash bust this year.


Resolution #2: Allow My Yarn Stash to Grow

Resolution #2: New yarn from Stunning String Studio
Who wouldn’t want this beautiful pink yarn from Stunning String Studio? And some cute stitch markers, too?

Forget “yarn diets”! They just make me feel guilty about buying new yarn. Yarn doesn’t have calories and it doesn’t make me fat, so why should I diet?

Instead, I want to embrace the joy that purchasing a beautiful new yarn brings: the expectation of a future project; the zen of repetitive motion as colorful fiber slips through my fingers; the prospect of unlimited options.

Budapest Yarn Shop
I bought souvenir yarn with my last forints in this shop in Budapest.

Yarn makes an excellent travel souvenir. Every time I see that ball of yarn I bought in Budapest, I remember the adventure I had finding the yarn shop. I couldn’t read the street signs, the store was on a small street away from any tourist areas, and no one around spoke English (or Spanish or French, which were other languages I tried). When I found the shop, we all had a marvelous time visiting and admiring each others’ work, despite some pretty significant language challenges. They helped me figure out how many forints I could spend and still have enough change to take the tram back to the boat. If I had been on a yarn diet, I would have missed that entire experience!

I resolve to buy more yarn this year.


Resolution #3: Allow My Yarn to Range Free

Resolution #3 messy studio space with free-range yarn
The sad truth is that my studio is never Instagram-worthy.

Some people like a very tidy desk, a very tidy house, and a very tidy studio. I am not one of those people. While I like a neat kitchen, living room and bedroom, when it comes to my creative spaces, “tidy” is not a word that any one would use.

When I’m being creative, I want to see things out in the open. As I sit and crochet with one yarn, I like to let my eyes rest on other yarn that I have yet to use. I allow my mind to wander and dream of my next project. If everything is tucked away from sight, I can’t do that. I prefer free-range yarn.

I resolve not to organize my stash this year.


Resolution #4: Allow Some Yarn to Depart

Resolution #4: bag of yarn to donate
Not all yarn needs to live at my house.

This resolution may seem at odds with Resolutions #1 and #2, but it’s not. I do have a finite amount of storage space, and an even more finite amount of open (free-range) space.

Sometimes as yarn matures, it tells me it needs to leave the house and spread joy elsewhere. (Infrequently, it tells me this the moment it arrives at my house, but often it takes a bit longer.)

Maybe the color is not my thing, or the fiber content. Maybe I swatched with it and just couldn’t get it to behave in the way I wanted it to. These are the yarns that are ready to spread their wings and depart my nest.

There are plenty of people who would love my unloved yarn. I’ve given to senior centers, elementary and middle schools, and church groups, and they are always happy to accept donations.

I resolve to give away yarn this year.


Resolution #5: Use the Best Tools

Resolution #5: Circular knitting needles stored in The Circular Solution
I don’t love every single one of these needles. It’s time for some to find a new home.

I have a lot of crochet hooks, and even more knitting needles. I have tape measures in every drawer and project bag.

However, some of those tools aren’t the greatest. Needles may have blunt tips or sticky finishes that I find annoying. A few circular needles have a catchy cable-to-needle join. Certain brands of crochet hooks don’t fit my hand and make crocheting awkward and uncomfortable. A couple of those tape measures are surely stretched out and faded.

Some of these items should be discarded entirely, while others would be perfect for another crafter. Why am I keeping these tools?

I resolve to use only tools that make my crafting more enjoyable.

Resolution #6: Practice Safe Crafting

Resolution #6: Knitting Comfortably cover

If I want to keep knitting and crocheting for years to come, I need to take care of my body. This means avoiding repetitive stress injury, getting up and moving instead of sitting at my computer and behind my needles/hook. It means getting sufficient full-body exercise. It means using a body-friendly bag when I go to teaching gigs, fiber shows and shopping sprees. It means paying attention to proper lighting, keeping my yarn and electrical cords out from underfoot, and more.

These are not new resolutions to me, but it helps to remind myself of them. One of my go-to resources for reminding myself of these things is Carson Demers’ excellent book Knitting Comfortably. (Read my interview with Carson.)

I resolve to pay attention to crafting ergonomics this year.

Final Thoughts

Of course, I could make more traditional goals that would make me more organized, tidier, and maybe even more financially responsible. But I probably wouldn’t keep them, and that failure would just make me feel bad.

I’m content with the way things are, and these goals fit into my lifestyle this year. If they don’t fit into yours, that’s fine. Perhaps you need to save money and thus should use stash yarn all year. Maybe an untidy crafting spaces gives you the creeps, or UFOs make you nervous. Perhaps your living space doesn’t allow for more yarn.

Embrace what works for you, and set your goals accordingly. This fiber-crafting thing is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Make it so.

What about you? What are your goals for the New Year?
Share in the Comments below.

Stocking Stuffers for Knitters and Crocheters

Stocking Stuffers for Knitters & Crocheters
Stocking Stuffers for Knitters & Crocheters

Stuff a stocking with tools and notions for a fiber artist in your life. They’ll love you for it, and you may even get a handmade gift in return! Here are some suggestions for stocking stuffers for knitters and crocheters.

Scroll over the image for more information, or click the links to learn more.

This post contains affiliate links, which may provide a small income to me if you buy something, but won’t cost you anything extra.

Stitch Markers

Every crocheter and knitter uses stitch markers, and if they don’t, they should! And markers have a way of getting lost, so we always need more.

There are several different styles of marker. Even if the gift recipient has a current favorite, it’s always a good idea to try new products. Try them all!

Hint: Crocheters need markers that open. Look for the words “locking”, “split ring”, or “opening” in the title to make sure you are getting the right kind.

Scissors

A good pair of scissors is always appreciated. I’m always on the lookout for tiny scissors that pack easily but are sharp enough to cut well.

Wondering about scissors in your airplane carry-on? According to the TSA, scissors with blades less than 4″ are allowed. However, razor blade style circular thread cutters are not allowed.



Small Tools & Notions

Besides stitch markers and scissors, there are all kinds of little tools that make a fiber artist’s life easier. Here are some suggestions.

Hint: Check before buying tape measures. They either have WAY too many already, or not quite enough.


Note Cards & Paper

We can’t play with yarn ALL the time! Sometimes we have to write old-fashioned notes, on paper.

A Google search will lead you to lots of knitting and crochet-themed paper products. Here are some of my favorites.

Things to Drink From

It’s important for crafters to stay hydrated. Whether that’s water, soda, or wine, there are plenty of options for yarn-related beverage containers.

Once you open your eyes to the possibilities, there are lots of stocking stuffers for knitters and crocheters.

Want ideas for larger gifts? Read 12 Gifts for Knitters and Crocheters, and Sheep-Themed Gift Roundup.

If you find something I’ve missed, please share your ideas in the comments below.

How to Wind a Yarn Butterfly

How to Wind a Yarn Butterfly

Sometimes you need just a small amount of yarn for a project, and it would be uncomfortable to use a full ball of yarn. That’s when you need a yarn butterfly! Here’s how to wind a yarn butterfly. It’s quick and easy.

A yarn butterfly is simply a “re-packaging” of yarn into a small butterfly-shaped bundle. If prepared right, the bundle stays wrapped and secured, making it possible to use the working end of the yarn for your project while the rest of the yarn waits patiently.

Yarn butterflies are usually used for the intarsia method (knitting or crocheting), but they can be used any time.

It can be easier to use a butterfly than a yarn bobbin. In my experience, plastic yarn bobbins get tangled more than butterflies. Plus, I can never find enough bobbins when I’m ready to start a complex intarsia project.

OK, I didn’t say that very well in words. It’s really quite easy to do, so let’s try some pictures. Follow these step-by-step instructions or watch the video at the bottom of the post.

Step-by-Step Instructions

How to wind a yarn butterfly Step 1: Hold yarn tail under thumb.
  1. Hold the yarn tail under your thumb and out of the way.

Begin wrapping in figure-8.

2. Begin wrapping the yarn around your fingers in a figure-8 pattern.


Keep strands parallel.

3. As you wrap, keep the strands parallel to each other. Don’t let them cross over each other.


How to wind a yarn butterfly Step 4: Pinch the yarn bundle together at the center.

4. When you have wrapped enough, pinch the yarn bundle together at the center point, and slide it off your fingers.


Wrap the tail around the bundle

5. Leaving at least 12″ [30 cm], cut the working yarn. Wrap this end around the center of the bundle. Wrap tightly, but not too tightly.


Tuck end under center wraps.

6. Tuck the end under the center wraps. A crochet hook is handy to use for this task.


Step 7: Use the free end of the yarn to work with. It should pull neatly out of the butterfly.

7. When you have finished, use the working end (the end that was under your thumb). It should pull out neatly as you need it, leaving the rest of the yarn still wrapped up in its butterfly shape.


The yarn I used for the demonstration is Chic Sheep by Marly Bird. Looking for more yarny information? Check out How to Wind Yarn with a Yarn Swift and Yarn Winder and How to Block Knitting and Crochet.

Now that you know how to wind a yarn butterfly, what will you make with your yarn butterflies? Leave a comment below.

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.

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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