Sharing is caring! emailFacebookLinkedinPinterestTwitter This Week’s Episode I’m wrapping up the Crochet & Knitting Design & Self-Publishing Mini Series by talking about promoting your pattern after release. So far in this series, we’ve talked about… Planning Your Pattern, Drafting Your Pattern, Polishing Your Pattern, Photographing Your Pattern, Pricing Your Pattern, and Publishing Your Pattern. Today, I’m wrapping up …
I launch the Crochet & Knitting Design & Self-Publishing Mini Series with a focus on Planning Your Pattern. In today’s episode, I talk about style sheets and yarn support, as well as aligning your style sheet with your ideal customer’s preferences and needs. You can find detailed show notes with links to everything discussed in this episode at http://creativeyarnentrepreneur.com/36.
Thanks to Angela Doherty from Hooked By Angel (on Etsy and Facebook) for sharing the first bit of audio feedback on the show! Angel had some wonderful things to say about the show (thank you!) and she also reminded me that I like to say, “That makes sense” a lot during interviews. (I also seem to like to say “So” but that’s an aside.)
Angela was one of the people who inspired me to take the leap into starting a Facebook group for friends and fans of the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show. You can join the group, Creative Yarn Entrepreneurs, here.
Let’s talk style sheets
What in the world is a style sheet? Think of it as a template for formatting your crochet and knitting patterns.A style sheet can benefit you by making the process of writing up your patterns faster as well as by setting a consistent tone for your customers. As you create your own style sheet, think about…
Your ideal customer. Does this person need more or less detail? Does this person prefer pattern abbreviations or stitch symbols? Do they want or need lots of photos and tutorials, or do they prefer very condensed, print-friendly designs.
Abbreviations. Will you use the Craft Yarn Council standard abbreviations for crochet or knitting, or will you develop your own variations on these abbreviations? Will you use US or UK abbreviations, or both?
Stitch symbols. If you plan to include international stitch symbols in your patterns, will you design your own charts or pay a tech editor to do this for you? If you’d like to create your own, you may want to check out this tutorial by Pia Thadani from StitchesNScraps about how to use Inkscape to make crochet charts. You may also want to listen to this episode where I interview Adriana Hernandez from AdriPrints about her affordable crochet and knitting fonts.
Writing style. Will your patterns be recipe style, conversational, formal, informal, optimized for printing, filled with detailed tutorials, or…?
Phrasing. Are you writing sentences or phrases? How will you explain special stitches or techniques?
Yarn. Will you recommend a specific yarn for each pattern or just describe the type of yarn that is best suited to this project? Will you provide recommendations for substituting yarn?
Skill levels. Will you use the Craft Yarn Council standard skill levels, will you create your own skill levels, or will you list the specific stitches/skills required for each pattern? Will you including tutorials within the pattern or direct your customers to another source? Or, are your customers more experienced or adventurous (and therefore, don’t need tutorials).
Grading. Will your patterns be graded with specific instructions for each size? Or, will each pattern be for one size? Or, will you make a sample in one size and then explain to your customers how to adjust the pattern to fit?
These are just some things to consider as you develop a style sheet. I recommend looking at other designer’s style sheets to see what components you like or don’t like before you develop your own template.
You may also want to check out some traditional magazines, books, and online magazines for ideas.
What about the yarn?
As I mentioned back in episode 34, yarn support is when a yarn company provides a designer with yarn for free in exchange for the designer listing this yarn as the sole recommended yarn in the pattern and in the Ravelry database.
When possible, secure yarn support for your self-publishing patterns. Not only does this save you money, which allows you to grow your business faster, but it also makes it less likely that the yarn you feature in a pattern will be discontinued around the time of publication. Believe it or not, there are many crocheters and knitters who try to make their projects using the same yarn as the designer.
If you can’t secure yarn support, or choose not to, consider whether or not using a discontinued or other stash yarn is acceptable for your pattern and target customers.
And don’t forget your audience, your goals, and your mission
As Lindsey Lewchuk from Knit Eco Chic mentioned in her interview in episode 26, she always checks her idea for a new pattern against her foundational philosophies to see if it is a good fit.
Even if you don’t have a mission statement or articulated philosophy, before you get started think about whether this design will resonate with your target audience or if it fits into your short or long term goals.
I shared a little homework assignment with the new self-publishing designers in the episode! Let me know how that worked out, or if you’ve already self-published designs, how did you come up with your style sheet? Leave a comment at http://creativeyarnentrepreneur.com/36 or in the Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CreativeYarnEntrepreneurs/, Tweet me at @cyeshow, add +mariesegaresundergroundcrafter to your G+ circle and send me a note, or leave a message at 646-713-8973.
If you enjoyed the show
You can subscribe to the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show on on iTunes or Stitcher. Please leave an honest review on iTunes or Stitcher and join the mailing list at http://creativeyarnentrepreneur.com/list. I’ll let people on the list know in advance about special guests and topics so you can share your questions.
In today’s episode, I share some feedback about last week’s episode on sourcing yarn inexpensively to your yarn-related business. I also talk about doing some “spring cleaning” on social media accounts. You can find the show notes for this episode at http://creativeyarnentrepreneur.com/35
More Tips for Sourcing Yarn (and Fleece/Roving) Inexpensively
Two listeners shared some great feedback on last week’s episode.
Lindsay Lewchuk (@KnitEcoChic), the owner of Knit Eco Chic, was a guest in Episode 26: Eco Conscious Knitting & Niche Marketing with Lindsay Lewchuk from Knit Eco Chic and Episode 12, where I interviewed the organizers of the Indie Design Gift-a-Long. Lindsay shared some great advice for designers using yarn support from a yarn company:
“…I also suggest keeping the yarn company who provides you with yarn support in the loop with the progress of the design. This is especially true if you run into any hick-ups during the process, but also for designs that are running smoothly & on-time. I included the latter as it gives the yarn co a chance to give a heads-up to their social media coordinator & yarn audience on your upcoming release featuring their yarn!”
This is definitely a great way to stay on the yarn company’s radar and may lead to some excitement about your pattern.
Carol Densmore (@CrossWindFarm) from Cross Wind Farm stepped in to fill my knowledge gap about how/if spinners are able to source materials inexpensively. Carol says:
“…I am a spinner and raise a flock of sheep… there are places where you can find discounted fleeces or roving (clean, ready-to-spin wool). Many fiber festivals have wool (or fleece) competitions. After the judging is finished most of the fleeces go on sale. This is where many fiber artists get their wool if they don’t raise the sheep (or other fiber animals) themselves. From there they take it to a mill and have it processed into yarn or other items. Also at fiber festivals many vendors sell fleeces and roving. Various vendors will have ‘bargin bins’ or ‘show sales’ and one can get things at a discounted price.
Spinning guilds occasionally have sales as well. The only way that I know of to produce yarn from raw fleece (other than hand spinning of course) is to obtain fleeces from fiber festivals, farms, or vendors and take it to a mill and have it processed into yarn. I do that for the yarn that I sell and use. Overall it ends up being less expensive compared to a retail price but the initial financial outlay could be hefty because you have to pay the mill, but that yarn could last a knitter/crocheter/weaver a long time. Some mills have a minimum amount of raw wool they will process, other mills don’t so a person could have one fleece processed into yarn and then go from there.”
Thanks for sharing that information, Carol! I’m sure it will be helpful to other listeners!
I will be presenting at the BlogHer ’15 Conference in New York City along with my friend and fellow solopreneur, Carlota Zimmerman from the Creativity Yenta (who was a guest on Episode 16 and Episode 22). We will be part of a workshop on Friday, July 17, 2015 called Social Media Bootcamp: Lightning Lessons in the Latest: LinkedIn, Google+ Hangouts On Air, and Twitter. If your blog is a major part of your business income (or, you’d like it to be), I hope to see you there! If you haven’t already registered, you can take advantage of our friends and family discount for 30% off the Blogger Rate by registering through the link at http://creativeyarnentrepreneur.com/35
In last week’s episode, I talked about Smiley’s Yarns, a New York City shop that sells discontinued yarns. Right after the episode, I learned that Smiley’s will be closing its brick-and-mortar store on May 23, 2015. Their online store will remain open and they will continue to hold their Manhattan yarn sales.
Social Media Spring Cleaning
I’ve recently been struggling with Twitter’s follower limits and have decided to do some social media spring cleaning as a result. I started by pruning my @UCrafter following list and removing some people that I follow. I’ve also been adding more people to Twitter lists, like this one of crochet designers. I talk about my approach to my social media spring cleaning on Twitter and Pinterest in more detail in this episode.
Are you spring cleaning your social media accounts? What’s your approach to keeping your social accounts fresh? Leave a comment at http://creativeyarnentrepreneur.com/35, Tweet me at @cyeshow, add me to your G+ circle and send me a note, or leave a message at 646-713-8973.
If you enjoyed the show
Please leave an honest review on iTunes or Stitcher and join the mailing list at http://creativeyarnentrepreneur.com/list. I’ll let people on the list know in advance about special guests and topics so you can share your questions.
I’m talking about ways to source yarn inexpensively (or for free) for your yarn-related business in this week’s episode. This topic was suggested by Beate from Patterns Tried and True.
Getting your yarn for less (or for free) can have a huge impact on your profits as a yarn related business! In this episode, I’ll be sharing 4 ways to source your yarn for less money.
The 4 ways are:
1) Establish a wholesale, maker, or professional crafter account with a yarn company
2) Apply for yarn support for your crochet and knitting patterns
3) Shop for discounts
4) Use discontinued yarns
Not every one of these ways will be right for your business, but hopefully one or more is!
By the way, I know nothing about the world of spinning (sorry spinners!), so I don’t share any resources for fleeces or roving. If you’re a spinner and know more about discounted options, let me know so I can update this page!
Establish a wholesale, maker, or professional crafter account with a yarn company
Many yarn companies will establish wholesale, maker, professional crafter, or teacher accounts with indie businesses who aren’t yarn shops. There may be a lower order minimum for these smaller vendors than for a yarn shop, and the yarn prices will be substantially below retail..
In general, your business will need to have a tax ID and permission to collect sales tax through your state to take advantage of these discounts. If your business isn’t already formalized and you are located in the U.S., you may want to check out the Small Business Administration Learning Center or contact SCORE for advice and mentoring.
If you’re a dyer, you may want to check out Henry’s Attic. Although I haven’t worked with them directly, I’ve heard good things about their yarn. (Full disclosure: I previously worked with Galler Yarns, which is owned by the same family.)
Red Heart’s contact page has more information about establishing a professional crafter account. You can also reach out to your favorite yarn companies through the website contact page and ask if they provide discounts to makers, teachers, dyers, or whatever your type of business is.
Apply for yarn support for your crochet and knitting patterns
Yarn companies will often provide “yarn support” to designers/authors who are creating samples in their yarn. Typically, the company will provide the yarn at no cost (or at a substantial discount) in exchange for being listed as the only yarn in the pattern and/or on Ravelry.
Some yarn companies will only provide yarn support for patterns that are published by third parties (i.e., magazines or traditionally published books), while others also provide yarn support for independently published (i.e., self-published) patterns.
If you’d like to pursue yarn support for upcoming designs, reach out to yarn companies and ask about their process for requesting yarn support. Some companies have a form to complete while others want to see a magazine-style design submission with a sketch, swatch, and description. There are also companies comfortable with just a description of the design and a link to your Ravelry designer page. Knit Picks has a great webpage explaining their Independent Designer Partnership (IDP) Program. If you like working with independent yarn companies, check out the Yarnie/Designer Connection Thread in the Designers group on Ravelry.
To maintain your relationship, remember to notify the company when your pattern is published. It doesn’t hurt to mention the company when you announce or share the pattern on social media, either.
I maintain a spreadsheet with contacts at the different yarn companies that I have worked with (or plan to work with in the future) for yarn support, and I include notes on whether they support independent designs, too, or only third-party publications.
Shop for discounts
If these formal methods for sourcing yarn inexpensively don’t work for you, another option is to shop for discounts. Perhaps your business isn’t formalized or your portfolio is small. Shopping for discounts on currently available yarns is another way to save money. Sign up for the email lists of big box stores and local yarn shops in your area, as well as for the major online yarn sellers, like WEBS, Jimmy Beans, and Loopy Ewe. Although you are still paying retail prices, you will be still be able to buy the yarn at a discount.
Use discontinued yarns
Discontinued yarns are often available at a substantial discount. While some designers may find that pattern sales will suffer if their samples are made with discontinued yarns, makers may find that their customers aren’t concerned about using a yarn that is no longer in production. Another challenge of working with a discontinued yarn line or color is that you may only have access to a limited range of colors and it can be difficult to match dye lots. Smiley’s Yarns is a shop that specializes in selling discontinued yarns at a deep discount.
Do you have other ways of saving money on yarn costs for your business? Leave a comment at http://creativeyarnentrepreneur.com/34, Tweet me at @cyeshow, add me to your G+ circle and send me a note, or leave a message at 646-713-8973. (You can call me for free through the Contact page.)
If you enjoyed the show
You can subscribe to the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show on on iTunes or Stitcher. Please leave an honest review on iTunes or Stitcher and join the mailing list. I’ll let people on the list know in advance about special guests and topics so you can share your questions.