Knitting Pattern: Absaroka Poncho

Knit Absaroka Poncho by Edie Eckman

Fall in love with this season-spanning wrap and the yarn it’s made of. The Absaroka Poncho, a knit poncho pattern, is easy enough for advanced beginning knitters. Better yet, when you’re ready to wear it, it can be styled several ways: worn over the shoulder as an asymmetric wrap, draped over the back neck to show off the striking colorwork, or left as a rectangular shawl to be worn over the shoulders.

The Construction

Absaroka Poncho cast-on edge
Knit two rectangular panels from the bottom up, and graft them together at the center. Sew the sides together, or use clasps or screw-in leather closures to create the poncho style.

And don’t stress over the need to graft the pieces together; there’s a video tutorial on How to Graft Knit Garter Stitch, as well as written instructions. Continue reading “Knitting Pattern: Absaroka Poncho”

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.

Review: Arne & Carlos Field Guide to Knitted Birds

Trafalgar Books provided a copy of Arne & Carols Field Guide to Knitted Birds 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.

I’ll just bet you never thought of knitting a bird. Neither had I, but with their Field Guide to Knitted Birds, Arne and Carlos have convinced me that I need to knit an entire flock.

The Birds

Greentail

Arne & Carlos’ signature whimsical style is in full force and effect here. There are so many real and imaginary bird species here you could stay busy for the rest of the summer just knitting little birds. Who can resist Juanita and Pedro, with their colorful chullos? And Ola and Kari with their hats and matching scarves? And the sequined and feathered birds of paradise? And the birds in traditional sweaters, like the Bird with an Icelandic sweater? There’s even a bird with an Arne sweater and one with a Carlos sweater, because why not?

The Knitting

Easter birdBegin by collecting your basic materials: small amounts of dk-weight wool or cotton yarn—or embroidery floss—for each bird, a set of 5 double-pointed needles, a crochet hook, a little bit of stuffing, a couple of beads for the eyes, a sewing needle and some thread. (I know, right? You already have these things in your stash!) You may also want some embellishments like beads, sequins or feathers, depending on which type of bird you want.

Now move on to the Anatomy of Knitted Birds. There’s a basic bird pattern, given in both text and chart form. Here the publisher has been super–helpful: besides giving the basic instructions just in the middle of the book, there’s a lovely fold-out page at the back of the book which includes these basic bird text and chart instructions. Variations on the basic pattern, including patterning, shaping, yarn choices and embellishments create the different birds.

Any knitter who can handle knitting in the round on double-pointed needles can knit these birds. It is a bit fiddly at first, with a few little stitches on tiny double-pointed needles, and less experienced knitters will want to start with the one-color birds. More experienced knitters will love using stranded techniques to create the more complicated designs.

The Finishing

Birds

Stuff your tiny birdies, add beaks, eyes—and maybe glasses—and you’re finished!

How do you display your newly created flock? Arne and Carlos have you covered here, with instructions for making simple wire supports with bird feet! Or simply hang them from a tree branch or other support.

Now, I am no kind of bird watcher, but maybe I could use this book as an education of sorts. Do you think if I knit all of the birds, I’ll recognize any in the wild? After all, this is a “Field Guide”, which sounds pretty scientific to me. I’d better get started on my “research”.

More Whimsy from Arne & Carlos

Ruffle-Tail


Sneak Peek: Crochet One-Skein Wonders for Babies

This post may contain affiliate links, which provide a small income but don’t cost you anything extra.

Wanna see a sneak peek at a few of the designs from Crochet One-Skein Wonders for Babies? Alrighty then! With 101 patterns (at just under 19 cents per pattern), this may be the only baby crochet book you need for quite some time.

Excerpted from Crochet One Skein Wonders for Babies (c) Judith Durant & Edie Eckman. Photographs by (c) Geneve Hoffman Photography. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.