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Beautiful Ruby Red Afghan Pattern

I have just listed my Ruby Red Afghan pattern for sale in my Etsy and Craftsy stores. I have included the supplies and skills list you need to be able to complete it. This afghan pattern is a step up for beginners. The yarn is a lovely wool blend but can be difficult to frog (or take out) as the fibers can mat together. Even with that challenge, it is a beautiful, soft and warm blanket. It is a good “first jump” into specialty yarns.

Ruby Red Afghan Pattern, www.chocolatedogstudio

Ruby Red Afghan Pattern, www.chocolatedogstudio

Ruby Red Afghan Pattern, www.chocolatedogstudio

Ruby Red Afghan Pattern, www.chocolatedogstudio

Ruby Red Afghan Pattern

It is crocheted and photographed in this lovely red yarn but you can choose from any of the yarn colors which this yarn comes in to make yours unique. There are so many different choices; from icy blues and greens to purples and yellows. Just…so many choices! I know you will find the perfect color combination to fit your personality.

Ruby Red Afghan Pattern, www.chocolatedogstudio

Warm, soft and wooly, it makes a great lightweight blanket with all the warmth of wool. The yarn for this blanket is usually easy to find.

What I’ve Been Up To

October seems to be when I gear up for Christmas and begin creating any handmade gifts that I might want to give to bless friends and family. This blanket is a wonderful gift to give or receive. Spare time is always at a premium during these months and this year is no exception. My goal is to get some new patterns up in the shops soon, so keep dropping in (at the Etsy store and Craftsy store) to look around. (And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter! Doing so will keep you up-to-date on patterns, finished products, and all that I’ve been up to in life.) I am also concentrating on my giveaway for November. I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Talk to you later,

Karen

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A Reason to Rip Out: Color Pooling

Family and friends often ask me what it’s like to design crochet patterns. Recently, I answered that I crochet and rip it out, crochet and rip it out, crochet some more and rip that out, too. I have just finished trying a new technique called color pooling.  Finally, I finish the prototype and let it sit for awhile. Eventually, I take it apart all the way down to the beginning. I can almost hear you sigh as you ask, “Why are you telling me this, Karen?” The answer is simple: learning a new technique means that you must be willing to rip out old work.

I get it–I really do–that feeling of ahh, it’s finally finished! That sense of permanence and finality that comes when you put the hook away, clean up the snippets from weaving in all those pesky ends, and fold up your creation and set it aside. I love that feeling of accomplishment.

The Need to Rip Out

However, there are times when that project just isn’t working out; the colors, the size, the density–something just isn’t right. In your heart of hearts, you know that you are going to hate working on the project and that it will sit unfinished if you don’t correct the problem. You are hesitant–you’ve already put in so much hard work–but you know what you should do. You should rip out that row, those 25 rows, down to the beginning and start over, and simply give the yarn away and start over fresh!

A Reason to Rip Out

I’m talking about the need to rip out in order to prepare you for the next wonderful thing in the world of crochet. It’s big! It’s addicting! And it will cause you to rip out as you work (or design) patterns!

You’ve seen those beautiful variegated yarns on the shelves, the ones that have 2-5 different colors in them, with each color about 10-25 inches in length.  There is this Wow! thing you can do with it, if you space things just so, and crochet the yarn with just the right tension. I know you’ve probably seen projects that use this technique, and you’re wondering about this addicting craze. And, IT IS addicting–In the biggest sense of the word! But, you must get used to ripping out because you will crochet and rip out and crochet and rip out, over and over, again and again.

Color Pooling

I started last night with some Loops & Threads® Impeccable yarn from my neighborhood craft store and my favorite G-size hook. It worked perfectly! I crocheted, ripped out, and crocheted again; in between, I surfed the Internet for clearer instructions. I worked all evening and finally ended up with what you see in the photo below. This is about 34 stitches wide, plus two for turning.  color pooling

What is this mystery? Where did the argyle come from? This, my crochet friends, is called color pooling. Color pooling is when you crochet with variegated yarn in the correct length, tension, and stitch to make the colors show up where and when you want them. It isn’t hard, but it does take determination (and a certain amount of bull-headedness) to want to crochet something in rows for about 3 inches before you rip out and start over to get the patterning right. This method of crocheting isn’t for the faint of heart.

Playing with Color

I love it! What a great way to play with color and buy lovely yarn that already has the pattern built right in! There are so many variegated yarns to choose from, too. Some have larger color sections than others, so keep that in mind when you are shopping.

I will show you more in a later post, as I am off to play with the yarn and see if I can’t make it wider. What did I do with the 18 inches of skinny, skinny scarf, you ask? I ripped it out to make a wider one (after the photographs, of course)! So far, it isn’t working, but I will figure it out. I’m not quite sure whether it is the tension, number of stitches, or what.

Remember: crochet, rip out, repeat.

(I’m hooked! This is like Sudoku, or spider solitaire with four suits. I just can’t put it down, and I will win in the end! As you can see below, it’s time to rip out again.)

time to rip out

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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Yikes! Stripes Blanket Pattern

The Yikes! Stripes blanket pattern is so fun and easy to crochet. The colorful stripes and long length make this a great gift for the man in your life. The soft, chunky yarn is not what I normally use in my patterns, but that’s exactly what makes it more masculine: the bold colors and thick, warm strips.

Like a Favorite Scarf

Just look at these stripes! This pattern reminds me of the “team” scarves that so many people wear to sporting events. Can you imagine presenting this to the sports fan in your life? I’m sure he’ll find the colors of his favorite team in there!

I’m so excited for you to see this pattern and make it for yourself! Keep reading for links to my Etsy and Craftsy shops, where you can find the pattern.

 

Yikes! Stripes Blanket Pattern, www.chocolatedogstudio.com

This pattern is perfect for a beginner. It really is fun to crochet it and watch as each stripe continues the lovely pattern.

Yikes! Stripes Blanket Pattern, www.chocolatedogstudio.com

This blanket works up super quick, but you will need to know how to weave in all of the ends as there are quite a few of them.

Yikes! Stripes Blanket Pattern, www.chocolatedogstudio.com

Yikes! Stripes

The yarn for this pattern is easily found and relatively inexpensive. If you’re looking for a second project to squeeze in before the holidays, or for an upcoming birthday, this is it.  You can find the pattern in either my Craftsy store or in my Etsy store.

No time to crochet and need this blanket now? You can purchase the Yikes! Stripes blanket at either Amazon or Etsy. Thanks for shopping; I hope you will consider making this fun pattern in all of its wonderful stripey-ness!

What I’ve Been Up To

If you haven’t had a chance to check out my YouTube videos that I’m making for the studio yet, I hope you will take time soon to stop by and see them. I have an Okie accent, which will hopefully bring a smile to your face as you listen. I honestly had no idea it was so thick!

It is truly amazing and humbling to see my videos out there in the world for all to see. I just can’t get over it! I am sure my family is getting tired of hearing me talk about them. Besides the videos, I am also working on two different afghans, along with writing new patterns and blogging. Life is never dull around here!

School has started; it’s my daughter’s senior year. She’s the last child, and that means I am almost at the end of what feels like a lifetime of teaching. It will be the end of an era for both homeschooling and motherhood. I will have 26+ years of “always being there” under my belt. Where did the time go?!

Are you transitioning this year? Perhaps you’ll soon have an empty nest, like me. Or maybe you have elderly parents for whom you have taken on caregiving duties. Leave a note in the comments and tell me what’s going on in your life! Then take time to sign up for our newsletter, so you’ll always know when new patterns are released.

Talk to you later,

Karen