Color Palettes and an Answer

ElizabethKayBooth Unfurled
The project – Unfurled
set6
My original color palette – available in my shop
A cool palette
A cool color palette – reminds me of mountains and mountain plants on a cool hiking day
This says fall to me
This says fall to me
And another set of fall colors
And another set of fall colors
I think of a garden - cool colors everywhere with pops of color in the flowers
I think of a garden – cool colors everywhere with pops of color in the flowers
The ocean has flowers, right? This palette feels oceanic, with a pop of yellow
The ocean has flowers, right? This palette feels oceanic, with a pop of yellow
Pure celebration of the brightest flowers
Pure celebration of the brightest flowers
Christmas flowers and cozy evenings
Christmas flowers and cozy evenings

I received an interesting question on my Etsy shop which gave me pause. I say interesting because I was surprised it even needed to be asked. When I buy things, I like to be clear about exactly what I’m getting for my money. When I wrote the descriptions for the items in my shop, I tried to be mindful that other people probably feel the same way!

Regardless, someone did private message me asking whether the kits include the yarn to make the project, or if it was just for a downloadable pattern. (They do!) I’m sure most designers wish they could charge $65 per pattern, but obviously, that’s insane. Anyway, the question made me wonder how many others might wonder the same thing and just not message me.

So here are the details, plus photos of each color palette that the colorist at Colinton Australia chose, and I hope it will clear up any confusion. All of this information is also detailed in my shop, but the way Etsy is set up, you do have to scroll down – which is perhaps why people may miss it?

Each kit includes: 6 skeins of Colinton Australia Light Fingering yarn (all you need to knit the project), in the palette you choose, and the printed pattern in a sheet protector. For shipping, I will wrap it all up in tissue paper and send it in a padded envelope, Priority Mail. And for the finer details, each skein is 115 yds, 50 grams of 100% pure Australian young goat fiber. These skeins are normally over $20 per skein, so at $65, the kits are a deal.

Finally, I am curious as to who has shopped on Etsy and had bad experiences? Have you ever spent a bunch of money and not received what you expected? I haven’t had any problems up to this point, but feel free to share in the comments. And please let me know if you visit my shop and anything else isn’t clear. Since most of us on there are doing everything on our own, a little feedback is always appreciated!

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Why I Decided on Etsy (Instead of Amazon Handmade or Others)

As you all know, Colinton Australia made it possible for me to offer you all a really good deal on their Light Fingering yarn, which I decided to sell in kits on Etsy. If you haven’t already checked out my shop, I hope you will, but in the meantime, I wanted to share my research on the various platforms out there that help artisans sell their work.

I did alot of research prior to deciding on Etsy, and I thought I’d share what I found out. I hope this will be helpful and save alot of time for any of you who are wanting to sell your work online but not sure where to start. I researched four platforms – Etsy, Amazon Handmade, Kitterly, and Zulily. I also researched a few others, but they were specific to the UK, so I am only including the international ones here. Obviously, Etsy won out, but I will try to give you all an objective breakdown of each with pros and cons.

Amazon Handmade

I was really excited about this, but quickly decided against it when I researched it. The major pro is that your market would be Amazon’s market, which as we all know, is about as big as you can get. The major con to selling with them is that they charge $40 per month, which is a huge fee compared to everyone else. When you’re just starting out and getting a feel for things, this is alot of money to take out of your profits, or to spend up front when you really have no idea how the market will respond to your product. I also saw complaints that Amazon can force you to lower your prices or otherwise control your shop, which seems out of place to me when dealing with creative people who usually have a style and vision for their product and image. Their definition of handmade is also a bit contrived – the complaint I read the most is that Martha Stewart Inc. (and other big brands) are included in Amazon Handmade. All in all, I really couldn’t find a good reason to deal with Amazon other than the fact their market is so huge and it’s a popular place to shop.

Kitterly

This site was founded by a former LA yarn shop owner and a marketing executive. It is a beautifully curated site with excellent photography and is there for the sole purpose of tempting knitters into their next project. The one major downside from the designer/vendor side is that you have to contact them and get approved. It is up to them to decide if they want to work with you or feature your pattern on their site, and the process takes a few months. If you have your product in hand and just want to start connecting with customers, this is not the place for you. The other thing that frustrated me is that there are no details on the site as to what kind of profits you would receive. My conclusion is that this site is excellent for marketing yourself because if they decide to work with you, you will get good promotion with your target audience, but it’s pretty much out of your hands once you contact them.

Zulily

Zulily has a customer base of 5 million and offers a large number of brands. This is not just for knitting or crafts, but includes fashion and lifestyle. Your brand would receive excellent promotion and from what I’m reading, they do have a marketing team that works to actively promote the companies they work with. The major con, from my perspective, is that they vet everyone they work with, so again, you would need to contact them and take the month or two needed to go through the process. Their site mentions that commissions can be up to 10%, which means that you would need to sell alot of volume to really make money off of your products. These are also week-long sales or promotions, so if you want to have a permanent shop somewhere, Zulily is not your place.

Etsy

I had my hesitations about Etsy because I’d heard alot of complaints. People don’t agree with how they define the term “handmade” and didn’t like it when they opened up the market to China. And to be honest, I still do find Etsy a bit overwhelming. However, after doing all my research, I think it is still the best place to open up shop. They give you an open, honest breakdown of their fees, which are much, much lower than anyone else’s. Their interface is very easy to use when setting up your shop, and you have complete control over your product and image. Etsy has gotten huge, but it is still the most supportive of the craft/handmade market. Unfortunately, it is very hard for craftspeople to make a living when we pretty much have to compete with Walmart and all the mass-produced cheap goods. Etsy was founded to help artisans sell their work, and my conclusion after comparing it to the other platforms out there is that it is still the most proactive about following that mission.

Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with my conclusions, or if you know of any other sites that work with craftspeople. I’d love to hear your input, and feel free to let me know what you think of my shop too! And if you’re just figuring everything out, I hope this post helps save you time and money!

The Year I Tried to Make All My Presents

UnfurledHave  I ever told you about the year I decided to make all my presents? I was very new to knitting and crocheting, but totally in love with doing it and imagining all the great things I could make for my loved ones. I really don’t like shopping, but I absolutely hate it during the holiday season. The malls are crammed, it’s hard to find what you want, and to me, at least, it’s just plain stressful. And let’s be honest, I don’t much like anything that takes time away from making and being creative. With that said, you can understand why making my gifts was so appealing.

But if you aren’t laughing at the absurdity of trying to make ALL my gifts, you probably will laugh at this: I made this very ambitious decision after Thanksgiving. Yes, you read that correctly – AFTER Thanksgiving.

You can imagine how the rest of the season went. I started on my first gift with lots of excitement and started pulling yarn for others. Come December 10 or so, I realized I was only starting on my second project. I figured if I really put on a hustle, maybe I could make the next few quicker. Then it was December 20 and I realized I would need to prioritize what I could finish, plus make room for the dreaded shopping…I’m sure you know the rest of this story. The next year, I didn’t make anything and ordered all my gifts online before Thanksgiving.

Since then, I’ve learned to balance it out. For one, I only make things for people that value the handmade aspect and whom I know will treasure it and keep it for years to come. Second, I only make one or two items a year as gifts so I can enjoy the process but still produce something I’m happy with that hopefully the recipient will be too.

In that spirit, I wanted to let you know I just opened an Etsy shop. I was able to team up with Colinton Australia to offer kits of yarn with my Unfurled shawl pattern. Colinton’s yarn is completely pure fiber, and I designed this shawl with this exact yarn. These kits are extremely reasonably priced (this yarn was over $20 a skein when our shop carried it). I am really proud that Colinton was willing to work with me to sell it so much cheaper in my shop. Their colorist also picked out a number of color palettes, so if you don’t want to make it in the colors I chose, you have options. I’m posting this now because this is the perfect sort of project at the perfect price to make for the sort of person I mentioned – someone who appreciates the handmade and having an heirloom piece. All the details are on Etsy, but if you have questions or comments, I’d love to hear!

For those of you who are not knitters but would like to have one of these shawls, please let me know as I do take commissions to knit. But a girl can only knit so fast, so if you want it for the holidays, the same timing principles apply!

Whatever you choose to make for your loved ones (or yourself!), now is the time to start. I’d love to see your finished projects in my Ravelry group if you don’t mind sharing.

Also, I was thinking of doing a knit-along for this, so if this is something any of you would like to do with me, PLEASE leave me a comment and let me know! It would be the first knit-along I’ve ever hosted for one of my patterns, so lots of fun for me, but first I need to know if any of you want to do it with me! 🙂 Happy knitting!

 

TNNA Spring Show Highlights

Shot of my designs hanging in the Colinton Australia booth at TNNA.
My designs hanging in the Colinton Australia booth at TNNA.

If  you’re wondering where I’ve been (since it’s been awhile since I’ve posted), the answer is back and forth across the country – the TNNA Spring Tradeshow in Washington, DC to be exact. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had four designs in the fashion show, so this trip was a big deal for me.

As you might imagine, it was incredibly exciting to see my designs walk the runway, but it was also an incredible amount of work beforehand. However, the fashion show is only an hour or so out of a 5-day trip, so I also wanted to share my other personal highlights from the tradeshow.

Morning Glory Sweater Coat - my new design with Brown Sheep Company
Morning Glory Sweater Coat – my new design with Brown Sheep Company
Sheba - my newest design with Colinton Australia - on the fashion show runway
Sheba – my newest design with Colinton Australia – on the fashion show runway

Obviously, I have to start with the fashion show. As a designer, it’s very rewarding after many months of work to see it all being modeled and walking down the runway. My three designs with Colinton Australia were in the show along with a brand new design with Brown Sheep Company. This is a sneak peek of my new design, which will soon be up on Brown Sheep’s website. I did my best to take photos of everything at the show, but the truth is that TNNA’s photographer did a much better job, so I encourage you to check out my Facebook page to see better shots of my designs on the runway (as shared from the TNNA official page). If you visit TNNA’s page, you can see photos of every design in the entire show. Many thanks to Colinton Australia and also Brown Sheep Company for entering my work!

The Colinton Australia booth, with owner Brandyn and her daughter Maegan
The Colinton Australia booth, with owner Brandyn and her daughter Maegan

Which brings me to my next highlight – working with Colinton Australia at their booth. I spent the majority of my time with them – setting up, manning the booth after the show opened to help tell people about the yarn, answer questions, etc. This was a huge learning curve for me, since I am a designer, not a vendor, but it is always helpful to have another viewpoint of your own industry. Running a yarn company takes as much diligence and dedication as being a designer or a yarn shop owner. They came all the way from Australia, so it was great to meet the people I had previously only talked to on the phone. I thank them for the opportunity to learn.

If you aren't familiar with Jill's work, I encourage you to check her out!
If you aren’t familiar with Jill’s work, I encourage you to check her out!

I am always happy to meet fellow designers, and I had the privilege of meeting Jill Wolcott this trip. If you are not familiar with Jill’s work, you will want to look her up. She is an extremely experienced knitter, and in addition, taught at FIDM in San Francisco. She is very knowledgeable about garment construction and writes detailed, concise patterns. She teaches at shows, maintains online classes, and was a dedicated volunteer at the TNNA Fashion Show. She was gracious enough to give me feedback about my work and to share her thoughts on the industry and designing, and I can’t recommend her enough. If you would like to build your knitting skills, particularly in making clothes, you will not be sorry to take a class with her.

My new "friend" - taken at the Little Gidding Farms booth. Lovely yarn, and lovelier people!
My new “friend” – taken at the Little Gidding Farms booth. Lovely yarn, and lovely people!

Awhile back, I noticed someone by the name of LGFSuris followed me on social media. LGF stands for Little Gidding Farms and the name caught my fancy, so when I noticed they had a booth at TNNA, I had to introduce myself. Take it from me, their alpaca is as soft and lovely as you could wish alpaca yarn to be, and they were as lovely as their yarn. They even graciously took my photo more than once when it didn’t turn out the first time. Their name, by the way, is a reference to a T.S. Eliot poem.

I am very happy to tell you that my final highlight will be ongoing, and a great opportunity for all of you. Colinton Australia and I will be partnering on kits, starting with my Unfurled shawl. Their colorist put together a number of palettes, and you will be able to order kits that include your choice of palette, plus the pattern for an excellent price. Save your yarn money, because it will be a great deal from a company that NEVER puts their luxury fiber on sale! I may also do a KAL at the same time, just to make it more fun for all of us. More details coming soon in another post!

Sheba

20160501_152934As promised, here are more photos and details about my latest design with Colinton Australia. This started out as a long-sleeve sweater with different yarn, and after working on it for a short time, we changed direction. We realized if I worked in UltraFine Lace, I would have a design in each of the Colinton bases. It also works well for us both to have three pieces in the TNNA fashion show featuring my collection of work in mohair and all three weights of her yarn.

She also suggested I take a look at 1920s fashion, which surprised me at the time, because my focus has been to show mohair in a modern way. However, once I started perusing all of my books on fashion in that era, (Coco Chanel’s work in particular), I realized how much the 1920s silhouettes still influence what we wear today. (And who am I kidding – I really love the fact I had an excuse to study Coco Chanel’s work for a week!)

The 1920s featured a very loose, drapey look, with wide v-necks in the front and back. All of the clothing was very heavy with beading and embellishments, and women tended to wear more makeup – strong lipcolors, eyeliner, etc. Even though the fit was relaxed, it was still a very formal look. A popular look was called tabard, which was basically a top with an opening for the head, but did not have side seams. I was inspired by the drapey look of these tops, although seaming the sides seemed much more practical for today.

In comparison, modern fashion is all about mixing high and low. I think this is why 1920s looks can be translated so well into modern fashion. You can take things that are embellished or formal, and pair them with jeans and flip flops if you’re running errands or dress up your ripped jeans with heels (as I did here) and be ready for a night out. All body types look good because of the loose, easy fit, and it makes the wearer feel confident. Fashion is known to be cyclical, but it seems like the 1920s have had a far-reaching influence, and I’m inclined to think it’s probably because the silhouettes were so flattering for everyone.

With all that said, I present Sheba (inspired by the film of the same name that garnered so much attention in the 1920s).

Front

Back

It is a fun, relaxing knit with an easy-to-memorize slip stitch pattern, a V-neck in the front and back, and a drapey, loose fit. It is worked from the bottom up and includes a few simple short rows to add a flattering hemline shape in the front and back. The textures in this piece subtly mimic the rows of beading in original 1920s clothing, and you can customize the neckline to be open or more tightened up.

Closeup

I hope you like this design, and if you choose to make it, please share photos with me. I would love to hear your thoughts, and I hope to be able to share highlights from the fashion show with all of you. Have a beautiful weekend!

A Fashion Show!

Montage

I have exciting news to share with you all, which I hope will make up for the fact that it’s been awhile since my last post. I apologize for that, although as you will see, I have been VERY busy!

I am excited to tell you that Colinton Australia is placing my work in the upcoming TNNA fashion show (held in Washington, D.C. next month). This is exciting for both of us as it shows all three of the designs I’ve done with them, and also features all three of the Colinton Australia yarn bases.

Unfurled is done in their Light Fingering, Urban Lines was done in Lace, and Sheba (my latest, and as yet, unpublished design) is done in Ultrafine Lace. All three garments are made to show off the mohair while still being modern pieces – no lace patterns here. I love lace, by the way, but since mohair has been so traditionally linked with lace, I wanted to design things that would make people view it from a different perspective.

In preparation for this fashion show, I re-knit Urban Lines in a different color scheme (photos coming soon!), and of course, designed and knit Sheba from scratch. There is also behind-the-scenes work, such as writing the text that will be read when the garments come down the runway. As you can see, I was busy creating in the time I haven’t been posting!

I hope you enjoy this little preview of my latest design, Sheba, which I will be publishing shortly. I will do a separate blog post for it to give you all the details and more photos. Many thanks, as always, for reading, taking interest in my work, and sharing these special moments with me!

Series: All About Mohair

Closeup1As a follow up to my previous post in this series, I wanted to share more details about mohair specifically. This fiber is often maligned, and people write it off as scratchy, annoying to work with because of fluff going up your nose, too difficult to get stitch definition, etc. In truth, I used to be one of those people – I never liked the stuff and didn’t have any interest in working with it. Even when our shop got the entire Colinton Australia line, I resisted it, and only ended up giving in because I was attracted to the array of colors.

Obviously, once I started working with it, I changed my mind, and I am now knitting my fourth piece for them. Now that experience has taught me all that this fiber has to offer, I wanted to share what I’ve learned.

The first thing to understand is that not all mohairs are the same. Many of the yarns marketed as mohair are actually mohair with a nylon core. It is very important to know this when choosing your mohair, because if you are planning to capitalize on its natural properties, you will not get the desired results with a blend.  Pure mohairs such as Colinton Australia have alot of halo and loft, but are also very soft and lustrous. They are pleasant and soft going through your fingers, and despite their halo, they still give good stitch definition.

Another misconception is that mohair yarns are weak and break easily. It’s true that mohair is delicate and should be hand-washed, but that is the case with the majority of fine, pure fibers. Contrary to alot of the mohair blends, pure mohair is actually very strong. It is also much more slippery than blended mohairs, which makes it very easy to unravel or to tear out a swatch. The new garment I just designed with Colinton is done in Ultrafine Lace, single stranded. Many of the mohair patterns I’ve seen use a strand of mohair paired with something else, either to strengthen it or provide some softness. However, when working with pure mohair, you don’t need an extra strand for these purposes, and it’s very easy to frog back if needed.

While fiber blends have their place, I’ve found that it’s important to be aware of what you’re buying and what results you expect to achieve. The blends can be great to work with, and are often designed to bring the best qualities of the individual fibers to the mix. However, in the case of mohair, I prefer the pure fiber. I really love its strength and sheen, and I like being able to block it to specifications and count on it to retain the measurements when dry. I also haven’t found a blend that has the softness of the pure fiber, which of course is important for clothes.

Mohair has become one of my favorite fibers to work with, and I’m really proud of the design work I’ve done with it. But until I learned how to choose a good mohair yarn, I couldn’t fully appreciate its capabilities. I hope this will save you the trouble and make it easier to pick a good mohair that will be enjoyable to work with.