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Organizing New Ideas for Future Crochet Projects

Organizing New Ideas

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Sometimes, when you get new ideas for future crochet projects, you aren’t ready to start working on them right away. You need time to think about them — to refine and perfect them — until you’re ready to begin the project. So, how do you keep those new ideas stored and organized until you are ready to start working on them? I have several things which I do that help me keep new ideas in mind.

1. Take a Photo with My Phone

I will take pictures of things that  inspire me or trigger ideas in my mind. My phone is usually always with me and a photo is worth 1,000 words. The thin and thick stripes in this wrapping paper would make a great crochet blanket, scarf or sweater.

Inspirational stripes

And here’s an example of a striped fabric that caught my eye. I like the colors in this, although they do seem a bit dark. The widths of the various stripes and the color sequence would lend themselves easily to being repeated in an afghan.

Fabric inspires new ideas

This blanket was inspired by the yarns within it since they inspired me to see the Autumn landscape of Oklahoma: the browns of the plowed fields; the golds and rusts of the trees; the blue from the sky and lakes; and the green of the old dried grasses in the pastures.

Inspired by nature

2. Pin It to My Secret Pinterest Inspiration Board

Yes, I do have several secret boards. (Doesn’t everyone?) If it is online, I will pin it to my secret inspiration board which no one else has access to. When you choose to create something based on what someone else has created, you need to be very careful about claiming too much of their work as your own. You can use it as a springboard to a new idea, but downright copying and passing it off as yours is piracy.  While I do have a secret Pinterest board, it isn’t filled with just other’s work — it has photos of color mood boards, stitches that I want to try, and other things that I think will make beautiful projects.

3. Go “Old School” (Paper and Pencil) and Write the New Ideas Down

(Affiliate links are included for the products I use. I will receive a small percentage of any item you purchase, but it will not affect your pricing.)

Often, I will draw out new ideas or write them down. I find this method increasingly hard to manage, though, as papers tend to get shuffled and lost. Here’s an example of a couple of my composition books (which I love!) full of ideas and crochet patterns.

Storing new ideas

I also love the post-it note brand of tabs and file folder labels.  I use them to mark the beginning of each pattern or idea that I put in the composition book. It helps keep the patterns organized and easy to find.

Keeping track of new ideas

Another thing I use all the time is a legal pad and clipboard. I write the pattern and notes furiously and then flip the pages. You can even see the paper sometimes in the background of my photos. Nearly every pattern I write has its beginnings on paper in some form. I always try to date and take progress photos as I work. This helps me keep track of how I put it together as well as document my thought processes. This all translates to detailed patterns, with photos, for you!

organizing new ideas

4. Pin It to a Real Life Bulletin Board or Magnet Board

saving new ideas
Check out more cool bulletin boards here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/165564215

Sometimes I’ll see a photo in a magazine I own, or maybe the  colors in fabric or yarn in my stash will catch my eye. When that happens, I will actually pin the photo or the materials to a bulletin board. I haven’t been doing this as often as I have been taping them into the composition book. The book is working better for me at this time, since I don’t have a dedicated working space. I often find myself in my chair, at the dining table…basically, working all over the house.

How Do You Save Your New Ideas?

Now that you’ve read about the methods that I am using right now, I’d love to know what you do to keep your ideas organized. Leave a comment below to start the conversation!
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Talk to you later,

Karen

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Sell Your Handmades

Are you thinking about ways to sell your handmades now that you have 100 crochet dishcloths whipped up, and you’ve already given two to everyone you know? Are you thinking about possibly starting an Etsy shop?

There are options other than Etsy or craft shows for selling your handcrafted items which work easier and more efficiently.

Deciding to Sell Your Handmades

When I decided to start selling my handmades, I opened an Etsy shop. My husband was in the process of changing jobs, and I thought selling handmades would be a good way to supplement our income. I designed a cup cozy and started creating a bunch out of stash fabric– I simply used whatever supplies I had on hand as a way to make a profit.

My first year was dismal as far as sales; I didn’t sell a single thing. However, keep in mind that:

  1. The shop opened in November
  2. I had five items
  3. I had no idea what I was doing

Unfortunately, the next year wasn’t much better.  I made $79.50 for the whole year! I will admit that:

  1. My photos were AWFUL! Just horrible.
  2. My listings weren’t much better
  3. My promoting was just BAD

An income of $79.50 for the year is not going to pay my bills. I had to either get better or quit. I chose to get better, and I slowly improved over time.

Consider All Your Alternatives

When I started selling on Etsy in 2008, there weren’t as many other online sales venues. Etsy wasn’t nearly as big as it is now, and it was mostly Mom and Pop shops (not individual sellers). Pinterest and Instagram were just ideas in someone’s head at the time, and selling on Facebook and Twitter was almost non-existent.

As you consider today’s options for ways to sell your handmades, ask yourself these important questions:

  1. Is it worth the cost to pay Etsy 3% of every sale you make?
  2. Do you want to be one of the 1.6 million sellers on Etsy?
  3. Why give Etsy any of your hard earned money when you can use other venues for free?

Sell Your Handmades, www.chocolatedogstudio.com

If you are set on selling your handmades online, either on Etsy or another venue, then it’s time to start thinking of some basic business decisions, such as:

  1. Imagine the worse case scenarios when it comes to buying/selling online and figure out how you will handle each of them. Write your answers out and keep them somewhere safe so you will have them if you run into any of the scenarios.
  2. What will your return policy be? Make sure you put this in writing. You will need it at some point.
  3. Wrap an item for shipping and weigh it. Put this info in writing for easy reference.
  4. Research shipping costs and decide how you will handle long distance returns. (See #2.)
  5. Figure out average shipping costs to various locations in the USA so you can set your shipping prices accordingly. Do you want to ship to Alaska and Hawaii as well? What about other countries? (If not, include this info in your shipping policies.)
  6. Think about custom orders. Are you going to accept them? Will there be special charges for them?

Keep all this info in a safe place. This is part of your business plan. As you make more business decisions (such as how to market your handmades), you will want to keep all of this info together in a place where you can find it easily.

Sell Your Handmades, www.chocolatedogstudio.com

Creating a Business

If, after answering all these questions, you still desire to sell your handmades, then it’s time to get serious– get some business cards made. Business cards are a great way to create a business identity. Tuck one or two into each and every item you sell, hand them out to friends and give one to anyone you speak with who asks for your contact info (doctors, sales clerks, local craft shops, etc). Include a photo of an item that represents your business on the front of the card to boost your identity as a serious business owner.

Take good care of your printer, or buy a sturdy one. It will become a good friend to you as you print out receipts, business cards, invoices, and shipping labels.

Make sure you set up your finances correctly, too:

  1. Write a budget. (And stick to it!)
  2. Open a business checking account. (Never mix business and personal funds.)
  3. Keep track of your expenses. (For tax purposes.)
  4. Get a sales tax permit for your state if you sell to your local friends. (The IRS will find you sooner or later if you don’t.)
  5. Stay out of debt. (If you don’t have funds in your account then don’t buy anything–it’s not a good deal if you don’t have the cash.)

My final piece of advice when you are ready to sell your handmades is simple: have fun, be enthusiastic, and don’t worry. If you take care to make quality items and treat your customers and other sellers well, you will succeed. You may need to make adjustments here and there, but everyone (from Wal-mart on down to the neighbor’s garage sale) does that.

Have you started to sell your handmades yet? Are you still thinking about it? Which social media or other venue have you found to be the most profitable? Leave a comment and let me know!

Talk to you later,

Karen

 

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Work in Progress this week 2/12/2016

There has been so much going on this week that I decided to show you my work in progress. The days seem to run together without slowing down. I have been working on so many different projects this week. I have been painting, framing, crocheting, pattern writing, cleaning, donating and trashing! It has been good but I am also tired tonight. Here are a few  of the highlights.

I have been framing a couple of needlework projects. This one is a cross stitch I finished a couple of years ago. I love the curly frame on this one.

Work in Progress

This fantastic needlework is my Aunt’s. She gave it to my mom, and Mom gave it to me. I love it. It is going to hang in my living room as it has all the colors I love in it.

Work in Progress

I have been crocheting on tons of tiny circles for a new afghan. There isn’t much done yet and no beautiful photos of them for you to see.

I have also been crocheting on this afghan. It doesn’t look like much does it. This is what 120+ flower centers look like.

Work in Progress

I have been writing a pattern for a scarf and it is about ready to go out in the world. It is a beauty and fairly easy for beginners.

Work in Progress

This is part of it. It will stretch you a bit as the border is a bit more complicated than most beginner projects. This pattern will be released on Wednesday to both the craftsy shop and the Etsy shop.

FYI: I’m also an affiliate to various different craft shops and if you click to their shops from this page I get a small percentage.  This is a new step for me and I am trying it on for size. It shouldn’t affect anything I say or do here but I believe in being upfront about such things.

Talk to you later,

Karen

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Autumn blanket pattern

I have just finished writing the Autumn blanket pattern. It is now listed for sale on Etsy. It seemed to take ages to write the pattern but I kept finding more little details that I needed to add to the pattern.

Autumn Blanket Pattern

This is the Autumn blanket. The one that reminds me of Oklahoma in the winter. I love the colors in this blanket and the yarn is wonderfully soft.

Autumn Blanket Pattern

The pattern has step by step photo instructions.

Autumn Blanket Pattern

I have included the beautiful scalloped border in the pattern. You need to know several stitches to crochet this blanket; double crochet, half double crochet, single crochet and slip stitch. The  blanket is generously sized with none of the holes that granny square blankets have.  This is afghan makes a  wonderful gift for the special people in your life.

Autumn Blanket Pattern

 

Autumn Blanket Pattern

You can find this pattern on Etsy at ChocolateDogStudio. I will be adding it to craftsy as well.

It has been a busy week. My Mom is recovering nicely from her knee replacement surgery and hopes to get to her home soon.  It has been nice to spend so much time with her, I just wish she felt much better. She is walking all the time and the therapists are extremely happy with her recovery.

Our daughter is back and college and settled in for the final semester. Everyone else is doing well. There is a bit of remodeling going on in the kitchen. It should be finished fairly quickly and isn’t interfering with the cooking, much at all. I will be making Lemon meringue pies for my Father in law this week. We can’t wait to see him.

Talk to you later,

Karen