Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pin it to Win it ~ Samantha (Sam) Slouch

The winner of the "Pin it to Win it" contest is Carri Calderwood!  Congratulations Carri!

Samantha Slouch by Crochet by Jennifer
Available on Craftsy, Ravelry, and Etsy!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Crochet by Jennifer Pinterest Contest! (ended Aug 1st, 2013)

(click on the pic to view it larger)

Go here to view Crochet by Jennifer's pinterest board.

A winner was chosen on August 1st, congratulations Lois Everett!

Stay tuned for future winning opportunities with your pinterest boards!  Thanks for participating everyone!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Craft Show Checklist

Craft show supplies:

This is my own personal checklist for craft shows.  I sell crocheted hats, scarves, booties, and slippers and I only do indoor shows (in the fall), so your needs may be different.  (This post will be revised as I add photos and more tips, so be sure to bookmark it!  The photos I'm adding now are from my first shows, before I streamlined my displays to be less cluttered.)

Click here for a PDF version of this checklist.

My very first craft show.  My table was a hot mess!  I was supposed to have two tables but had to condense everything onto one table.  It poured rain for the first half of the day and I didn't have a tent...luckily my neighbors let me squeeze under their tent!  This was the one and only outdoor show I ever attended!

It may have been cluttered, but I was proud of my first hats!  

This cute little girl loved her new hat and wore it the rest of the day...even though it was over 80 degrees!  

Another happy customer from my first show.  

Personal convenience:

nail clipper
gum or breath mints
pain reliever
cell phone
snacks and drinks in case you can't leave your table.
cell phone wall charger

Second craft show, slightly better.  Everything is still very cluttered but at least my table had some height for the display.

Items needed for sales:

fanny pack or apron for money (then you don’t have to worry about a cash box.)
change ($30 - ones, $40 - fives, $40 - tens) 
extra price tag labels 
business cards
business card holders 
square app or paypal app on smartphone to accept credit cards
receipt pad (I record all of my sales with a description, size, color, & price.)
money receipt pad (if you want to take orders at the show, make them pay in full first!)

bags for customers (I use nice brown paper bags with handles, they are a little expensive but I want to come across as more of a "boutique" and they coordinate well with my business cards.  They cost me about 25 cents per bag, see links below.  I also bring a few brown lunch bags, they work perfect for small items like flowers and coordinate with my other bags.)

Fourth craft show.  Still cluttered, but this show was a huge success, I had a ton of sales!

Add-ons for sales:

extra buttons (give customer the option to add a flower to any hat.)
fabric flowers on clips (have extras on hand to add to any hat.)

Customer convenience:

hand mirror for customers to see what they look like in the hats.
master price list to refer to if something doesn't have a price.
Digital photo frame to display photos of the items being worn/used.
Candy or balloons for the kids, this will draw people to your booth!

Display items:

table(s) - if not provided.
chair(s) - if not provided.
tablecloths - if not provided.
banner or signs for your business
wire cube display
jewelry holder for crochet headbands.
basket for flowers
mannequin heads to display hats.
newborn size doll for displaying newborn hats and booties (people LOVE my reborn doll).
"over the door" hooks (if you are using the wire cubes) I hang bags from them on the back of my cubes, and hats in the front.  You can get single ones and multiple hook ones from walmart or other stores.

My display from the back side, where my bags are hanging very conveniently.

sheets to cover your display if you set up your table the night before.
cart/dolly for bringing your bins in from the car.
camera - to record what your display looked like so you can make changes next time, or repeat it.  Also, when customers purchase a hat, ask if you can take a photo, I’ve gotten several cute pictures of hats on babies, kids, AND adults this way.

You might find customers that are thrilled to model for you!  

Handy items - never know if you’ll need these:

lint roller
hole punch
paper clips
binder clips
measuring tape
paper towels
wet wipes (come in handy for cleaning off a dirty table before you set up.)
paper and marker to make impromptu signs.
small crochet hook to work in ends if you discover you missed something.
plastic bags for garbage.

Slight improvement at this show, but still a long ways to go before I'm happy with my display.  Here you can see the jewelry stand that I use for my headbands, it spins and works great for this purpose.  

Tips I've learned:

Add height to your display for visual interest.  (risers, wire cubes, etc.)

Don't put too much on the table, have extra stock under the tables.  You can always pull it out if the customer asks.

Set up your display at home a week or so before the show so you can tweak it, take photos, see what you might be missing, etc.

Rearrange your display often as you figure out what is popular.  I adjust my display all day long.

If you're alone, try to have a friend or family member visit you at the show so you have someone to watch your booth while you run to the restroom, or get something to eat.  Your neighbors will usually help too, but if they get a customer, they may not be able to watch both booths.

Announce your craft show on facebook, your blog, twitter, whatever social sites you use!  

Click here for a PDF version of this checklist.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pattern drama

Note:  I'm a little opinionated in this post, but I hate to see the bullying going on out there.  

This post is going to be about patterns that look similar from different designers.  For me, 99% of the time when I put out a new pattern, it's the first time I've tried making something like that, so even if there is a similar design out's new to ME (as in, I've never made it before), and I've decided to write in my own style as I've found that a few people actually LIKE the way I write my patterns.  Do I want to copy other designers? No, of course not!!  But since I KNOW I am not copying their written patterns, they really just need to stop getting their panties in a bunch and worry about themselves.  And if any designer is really THAT worried about my pattern looking like theirs, contact me and we can talk about it!  We can get an impartial moderator involved...both of us can send our patterns to them to compare and have them decide!  I'm 100% sure that that would solve the problem, since I have my own style of writing, and I doubt that even though the end results look the same, that they will be identical patterns.  (unless of course, they copied me, hahaha)

Now this hasn't really been an issue for ME lately (I just wanted to bring up how it has affected me in the past), but I'm seeing it happen to a lot of other designers.  Mostly because they are designing "character" hats that are all going to look the same (if made to look like the character!) and sure enough, someone who already designed that character is going to speak up and start whining "she copied me!"....sometimes without even seeing the written pattern.  Now first of all, we need to get something straight, both of you are writing a pattern for a  trademarked or copyrighted character, which could land you in some hot water if the company finds you.  I haven't been through it personally (as I generally refrain from designing character patterns) but I do know they will at least send you a cease and desist order.  Second of all, just because YOU designed a pattern based on that character does not preclude any OTHER designer from also making a pattern based on that character, I don't know why YOU all of a sudden think you own that character, I think the company would beg to differ!! 

So, something I've learned along the way in my short career is to just design the best I can, and TRY not to worry about what the other designers are doing.  So when my customers see two similar designs but decide to go with MY pattern because they've learned to like my style, that's my goal.  To write a great pattern and make my customers happy.  

Now, back to my first paragraph, I realize I could expand on that a little bit more.  When I say, "it's new to ME"...that's because I am figuring out that design/stitch on my own and trying it for the first time by my own experimenting, I have not used someone else's pattern to learn it.  I have a large collection of "stitch" books and I literally browse through them for hours looking for inspiration.  What are "stitch" books, you ask?  They are books with lots of different ways to put crochet stitches together to create a design....but not an actual pattern.  The majority of my designs can be traced right back to these books and I can tell you EXACTLY where my inspiration came from.  Want a few examples??  My Mia Beanie is the "2 and 3" stitch, the Ashlyn Hat and Ashlyn baby bonnet are "posts and shells", all of my Star Stitch designs come from "eyelet stitch", the Victoria beanie and my Victorian baby bonnet are "textured sc/dc #3"...however these two patterns look VERY different because the Victoria was heavily modified to work in the round.  My Mia Beanie is another one I could talk about, it has the "butterfly effect" with the bling attached and there are quite a few other patterns like that, however, I waited a long time to write that pattern because I was looking for a nice textured stitch for the rest of the hat since I don't like hats in plain double crochet.  Anyone can do the same thing I do with these books, that's what they are for.  However, not everyone can do the math involved, or modify them to work in the round, or write out a pattern (with multiple sizes) clearly and concisely.  So, that's why not everyone writes patterns.  However, if two designers have the same books for inspiration, that could certainly explain why so many designs look alike.  And by the way, crochet has been around for years...there is really nothing new out there.  I realize when I put out a new pattern that even without looking, there are probably several other similar ones published already, but since I don't know how those other patterns are written, I'm going to put mine out there too.  If people don't like it, they don't have to buy my pattern.  Harsh, but true.  :)

Who knew there was all this drama in the crochet world??  Honestly people, there is a whole world of people out there to buy your me, there are more than enough customers for all of us.  And if you write a good pattern, those customers will come back to you.  And if you provide good customer service when you need to fix a problem, they will also come back to you.  Just something to think about!  I KNOW customers don't want to see all the drama...they just want to enjoy crocheting.  :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

The 'inspiration' behind the Adult Chunky Slipper pattern

First, a little history.  

In August of 2009, I quit my full-time job at a clinic so that I could stay home with my 2 year old daughter.  I had plans to expand my web design hobby into a career.  I also kept myself busy that first year by selling on eBay.  In November of 2010, I started crocheting again after a long hiatus.  First I tried a dog sweater, and then...well, I'll get to that.  I had only made afghans up to this point.  Both my grandmothers had a hand in teaching me to crochet when I was a little girl and I always loved it, but I didn't have a lot of time to crochet when I was working outside the home.  

So anyway, the next pattern I tried was a free one I found online, for a pair of toddler slippers.  This pattern got me HOOKED on crocheting again.  I learned some new stitches (front and back post double crochet) and it made me realize that when I got stuck, I could look online for help.  You can find that pattern here: 

Over the next couple of months I tried more free patterns, then I eventually got brave and bought one online.  At that point, the web design was kind of sporadic since I was just relying on word-of-mouth and hadn't really done any advertising...and I was watching my spending, so it was a little nerve-wracking buying patterns that I wasn't sure if I'd be able to follow.  But I was having so much fun trying new patterns and very quickly realized I was modifying them to put my own spin on them.  I wrote my first pattern just a month or two later.  Because I jumped into designing patterns so quickly, I sometimes feel like it was a little bit too rushed....but I have learned soooo much along the way, thanks to some fabulous pattern testers (and friends) that have helped me grow.

Fast forward to June of 2012...I was having incredible success selling my much more than I ever dreamed possible.  Enough so that I was able to quit the web design business entirely (although I still have a few clients I work with).  Then one day I get an email question from a lady who bought a pattern from me and can you imagine the THRILL I felt when I realized it was Bev Qualheim...the lady who wrote the slipper pattern that inspired me to get back into crochet?!?!  I couldn't believe it!!  I wrote to her right away (and of course refunded her money for the hat pattern as a 'thank you' for inspiring me) and told her how excited I was that she found my patterns, and how she inspired me.  

Over the years I've made many slippers and by no means do I wish to take credit for the IDEA of these slippers.  I've just expanded the sizing, added more details and tweaked it a little bit. So with all of that, I wish to thank Bev Qualheim and invite you to check out her website for some fabulous free patterns:  Please tell her I sent you!

Adult Chunky Slippers, pattern by Crochet by Jennifer.
Photo copyright Angelina Gentile.

You can find my free pattern for Adult Chunky Slippers at the following links:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Think Spring!!

I'm so ready for winter to be over!  I live in Northern Minnesota and we still have 3 feet of snow in our yard and the snowdrifts on the sides of the streets are taller than the cars.  Maybe if we all start crocheting some warm weather hats....Mother Nature will get the hint?

Photo copyright Flom Designs and Photography
     Flower Garden Hat pattern

This is one of my oldest patterns, the Flower Garden Hat.  Perfect for spring with an open, airy design and lots of colorful flowers!

Photo copyright Melon & Pebble
     Taryn Hat pattern

Another flower hat pattern that is really versatile for spring is the Taryn Hat pattern.  This pattern comes with the Loopy Flower pattern so you can make lots of flowers in different colors that are interchangeable for the hat, they simply button on.

Photo copyright Christy Kirkland Photography

     Spring Bloom Beanie pattern

Another great flower hat pattern is the Spring Bloom Beanie.  This hat comes with a ruffled flower pattern in two sizes, and also a leaf pattern.  Or, skip the flower and just thread a ribbon through the hat for a totally different look.

Photo copyright B Faith Photography

     Avery Beanie pattern

A slightly warmer option for spring is the Avery Beanie with this huge rose pattern.  So much fun!

Photo copyright Jennifer Dougherty

     Butterfly Garden Beanie, Cocoon, and Pod Set

This is one of my favorite cocoon light and airy and perfect for Spring.  I think it has a lovely vintage look too!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Random thoughts...

How many of you have never actually tried one of my patterns?  Would you like more information about what they are like?  Or why I do things the way I do?  Read on...

I seriously have a pet peeve with patterns that are nothing more than a hat made almost entirely in double crochet, for a couple of reasons.  First of all, to ME, it looks "amateur" and simple.  It honestly makes me think of the projects I made when I was learning to crochet at about 8 years old.  But the other reason is that you would usually end up with a seam in that kind of pattern and I hate seams on hats with a passion!!  You'll notice one thing about my hats is that they are generally seamless or the seam is hidden so well, you do not see it at all.  So you won't see any plain Jane double crochet hats with a big ugly seam from me.  :)

The other thing about my patterns is that I always try to include as many sizes as possible.  I do not sell sizes fact, I think that is a huge rip off when designers do that.  My patterns cost $4.95 each and average a total of 5 sizes (at least 4, and sometimes as many as 8!) so that means each size costs you a dollar on average.  WHY would you pay a designer full price for each separate size?  

Another thing about my patterns is that they are tested VERY thoroughly.  Does that mean that they will never have a mistake?  No, we are human so an error occasionally slips through, but when I find one, it does get corrected and sent out again.  I have multiple people test each size, in fact, as many as possible.  

As far as what you can do with my finished patterns, I encourage any and all sales of your finished items.  I encourage you NOT to support the designers who try to make you purchase a "cottage license" or only allow personal use of the finished item (unless that's what you were looking for).  Most of my customers are trying to make some money by selling their handmade items and you should support designers that support YOU.  I don't "require" that you link to me for the pattern when you sell your items online, but I love it when you do!  And when I stumble across those listings that link to me, I often write to them and offer them a free pattern.  I do the same thing with professional photos that are provided to me.  I give a free pattern but I also try to send business their way for the finished hats.  In my opinion we both gain from that.  Other crocheters might see their hat and come to me to buy the pattern, and I can send people looking for finished hats to them, to buy the hat.  (I don't sell finished hats, just patterns.)  

One other pet peeve of mine is seeing a listing for a pattern where the designer goes on and on about what you CAN'T do with the pattern, but doesn't actually tell you what you need to know about the pattern itself, like materials, skill level, etc.  If you check out my Etsy listings, you'll find everything you need to know before purchasing the pattern.

Do you have any more questions about my work or what my patterns are like?  Let me know, I'd love to hear from you!  :)