"The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give it away." David Viscott

Monday, November 18, 2013

Open Studio Weekend

The first weekend of October was the Vermont Craft Council's Open Studio Weekend.  After weeks of planning, building sign holders, hanging posters, and dropping off event maps at every location I could think of, the weekend arrived.

All of the things I have up on Etsy were displayed in the tent to the right, thus opening up the "production" part of my studio for visitors to walk through.

Saturday was a nice, sunny day. We had a total of 8 people arrive and look around.  All but one found me by following the signs; the one had picked up a map all the way down in White River Junction and drove up to find me.  I met and chatted with some wonderful people.

Sunday was chilly, damp, and dreary.  Two people stopped by after the church across the street let out, and two more came through around 3pm - that was it for the day.  Very disappointing.

But, as there can be a silver lining to most everything, I met a woman who fell in love with a pair of gloves I had made.  She did not have the cash for them, so we worked out a barter instead.  She had a large rabbit cage, which is something I was looking for.  My Angora rabbits are now happily in their winter (inside) home, while her hands are toasty warm!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Crochet Muse

"When the muse is with you, work with it."

Needless to say, looking at the date of my last post, my writing muse went away for a while. In one respect, I am almost glad that it did, as it created time for new discoveries.

After meeting Sarah Mutrix at the Vermont Crafts Council spring marketing event, I visited her at The Art House in Craftsbury.  I had gone with the intent of finding out more about their new fiber studio.  I left with an opportunity to teach a class on Etsy!

The crochet muse struck hard shortly after that.  I became so obsessed with a pattern I was working on, I even special ordered the yarn!  It was well worth the effort, as Mary Maxim purchased the pattern.

I also started working tech editing for a couple of new clients.  The crochet muse helped immensely there, especially with patterns that did not have pictures to reference.  It is amazing how many talented designers there are out there!

On the crochet design front, I have had more ideas and subsequently made more submissions in the past couple of months than I ever have before.  All of this hard work paid off when the CGOA approved my application for professional membership!

Now I have to dedicate some serious time to creating product for Open Studio Weekend in October.  This will be my first year participating, and I want it to go well!  Come visit me if you are in the area!

Friday, April 26, 2013

VCC Spring Marketing Conference

Yesterday was the Vermont Crafts Council Spring Arts Marketing Conference.  I did not know what to expect, really, but thought it might be worth the time (and 3 hour round trip) to go.  I was not disappointed!  There was so much information, so many ideas, so many wonderful people; I wanted to share a few things that I learned there.

image by patpitchaya

The stories of the speakers and the obstacles they have overcome to get to where they are were inspiring.  The innovative solutions were amazing!  An artist, Peter Huntoon had purchased auction software and instead of selling for a fixed price, puts items up for bid – all from his web site!  A gallery director, Sarah Mutrux, announced the opening of a fiber studio in Craftsbury, Vermont.  Another speaker, artist Reed Prescott, introduced the project fundraising website of www.kickstarter.com, and told how it helped his business.

The afternoon was a series of workshops.  I started at the Vermont Arts Council, and picked up all sorts of information from start-up grants to insurance.  Lucie deLaBruere’s “Mobile Media Mania” was a how-to in using phones and tablets to capture not only photos, but audio and video that can be used in various ways online to promote your business.  Many times the importance of some sort of photo album online of your work was emphasized.  How to create and use QR codes (the blobs that smart phones can scan and read) was also covered!

QR code

“Isn’t That Pinteresting?”by Elissa Campbell  showed us how to use Pinterest, as well as social media in general.  I found it amusing that social media success can be broken down into 4 steps:  like, share, follow, and post new stuff.  Once you have an online portfolio, your only limit on how to use it to expand your business is your own imagination.

During lunch and breaks, the other artisans in attendance were very friendly and full of advice based on their own experiences.  This is the kind of support that is really needed for anyone starting out.  Little things, like having a plate of cookies or some sort of snacks available at Open Studio Weekend, are not published on the official guidelines, but are an added touch that most of the artisans do.

A great big thank you to all of you I met yesterday!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Celebrate Crochet!

Welcome to Day 9 of the Tour through Crochet Country!  Happy Crochet Month!

I have a lot of things going on, so let’s get started!  As a new crochet technical editor, I am accepting designs at a reduced rate to celebrate crochet month.  Not a designer?  How about an idea for what to do with scrap yarn to support the charity of the month, Project Night-Night?

Scrap Yarn to Afghan Donation

Start by going through your stash.  Pull out all the partial skeins, balls, partial cakes, etc. of the same yarn weight.  If any require hand washing, throw those back into your stash. 

Now sort those scraps by color.  Place them on a table, from left to right, in order of the rainbow:  red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  Sort them again by dark to light within the same color group.

Working with 2 strands of yarn, starting with the reds, and a large hook (K/6.00mm or greater) make a 36” chain.  Verify the number of stitches can be divided evenly by 3.  Double crochet (dc) in 5th chain from hook, chain 1, dc in the same stitch (V-stitch made), skip 1 chain,* (dc, ch 1, dc) in next stitch, skip 1 chain* across, dc in last chain.

All following rows:  Chain 3, turn, V-stitch in chain-1 space of previous row across, dc in top of turning chain.

When you run out of one strand of yarn, replace it with the next one in your color line up.  This will create a beautiful, one-of-a-kind rainbow afghan as the colors meld into one another.

The border can be done in your choice of grey, white, or black – whatever you have.  Sc evenly around, working 3 sc in each corner, and you’re done!

The Travel Afghan

As I do not have a picture of the scrap afghan described above (I donate them once they are complete), I thought I would share with you another afghan – one that my great-grandmother gave to me when I was a child in the 70’s.  She called it a travel afghan, as it was made while she was on the road touring the country back in the 1940’s.  When they came to a new town, she would pick up a single skein of yarn in whatever color caught her eye at the local 5 and dime, and work on the afghan while her husband drove.  This was the result:


While you are on your tour of crochet country, why not take a moment and check out the Crochet Guild of America?  They are an excellent resource for anything to do with crochet, for beginners and professionals alike!

A Crocheter’s Guide to Spring Cleaning

  1. Announce to all occupants of the house that you are cleaning and not to be disturbed.
  2. Gather together all of those unfinished projects (UFO’s).  Go through each one and prioritize when each will be completed (this year, next year, whenever).  If one catches your eye, it’s time to finish it.  Pull that one out, put the rest of them away.
  3.  Gather together all of those crochet books and magazines.  Sit down and go through each one.  Bookmark those projects that will make perfect gifts, and also those that you just want to try. 
  4.  Go have lunch.
  5.  Look at your stash.  Feel the yarn.  Absorb the colors.  Organize it if you want.  Take note of what colors and fibers you are missing.  If you are lucky enough to find the perfect yarn in the right quantity for one of the projects you bookmarked in step 2, put the pattern with the yarn and go find a crochet hook.
  6.  Make sure you have all your tools (crochet hooks, stitch markers, scissors, tape measure, pencil) next to your favorite crochet chair.  Chase the cat out of the room if necessary.
  7.       Stash the stack of books and magazines at the bottom of the nearest bookshelf, put your stash back where it was, and sit in your favorite crochet chair.  Start on that pattern or UFO.  If anyone asks, you’re done with spring cleaning.  After all, anyone can do dishes.

More on the tour...

I hope you've had fun here at NEKCrochet!  Thank you for visiting! Don't forget to continue your tour - visit Angela Whisnant today.  Here is the rest of the tour schedule:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March is National Crochet Month

I have been spending the morning catching up on the blogs of the crochet professionals participating in the National Crochet Month blog tour.  Although today is only the 3rd day of the event, there is some fascinating reading to be done!
see the full tour schedule
It is amazing to me how many different niches there are to explore in the crochet world.  From the history to the future, from the tools to the runway, and everything in between, what I have read so far in this blog tour has been eye opening. I look forward to see what others are going to write!

My turn comes on March 9th, so please check back then for an update!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Busy, busy, busy

Although I freely admit to being guilty of neglecting my blog, I have been keeping busy. I needed to streamline my thoughts, reflect on where I've been, where I am now, and where I want to go in the world of crochet. It was high time to re-organize everything I was doing, incorporate all I was learning, into a business.

My new logo, shown above, is being used for everything from Etsy to correspondence with publishers.  I printed up business cards with the logo and contact info on the front, and then put the item specific info on the back.  For Etsy, this means title, fiber content, and washing instructions.  For publisher submissions, this means the title and issue of the publication along with the title of the design.

My desire to use the skills I learned in Crochet Insider's technical editing class led to a crash course in social networking and the development of a new, easier to navigate website.  Check it out at  
 http://sites.google.com/site/coggercrochet/ By posting a message on Ravelry, I have been getting TE work - practice to hone skills!

I am looking forward to participating in the Tour Through Crochet Country on March 9th to celebrate National Crochet Month.  Find the details at Crochetville.  Thank you, Amy Shelton, for all of your hard work for setting this up - such a great idea!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Online Classes at Crochet Insider

If you know how to crochet, can follow a pattern, and even make your own designs, what more is there to learn?  Plenty!!    In the world of crochet design, there are many, many things you didn't know you didn't know.

credit: scottchan

As I am pursuing my technical writing degree online, I am accustomed to online classes.  They require about 4 hours of work a week per credit, have special chat rooms and video tutorials.  To my surprise, so do the classes at Crochet Insider.  The discussion boards allow you to read the material, comment on it, and respond to the comments of your classmates.  There are links to helpful websites and video tutorials not available to the general public.

It's nice that there are no hidden fees or additional books to purchase.  The prices are reasonable.  Pay for the class with Paypal and you're done!  

The classes open your eyes to more details of the topic than you ever realized existed.  As details are an important part of crochet work, awareness of the how and why make your work that much better.  As an additional plus, you will make friends and connections with your classmates.  It can be very interesting to see how different people interpret the same thing in such diverse ways!

I highly recommend to anyone considering taking a class at Crochet Insider to do so.  Do not hesitate to email Dora if you have any questions - she's terrific at getting back to you!  These classes are reasonably priced, and the investment in yourself and your craft is worth every penny.