Sunday, July 17, 2016

Why You Should STOP Buying Crocheted Items at Big Box Stores and START Support Local Artisans


You are walking through the aisles of a clothing store and a crocheted top catches your eye.  You look closely at the stitches and you recognize the single and double crochets.  You think to yourself "What cute top.  I could make that myself." You look at the price tag and do some quick math in your head. With the cost of yarn, even at a discount store, there is no way you could make that for less than what they are selling it for.  This is especially true when you add in how long it would take you to crochet. Maybe you buy it or maybe you search for a crochet pattern that you can (someday) use to make one just like it.  You leave the store and go about your day.

The last time you walked down the aisles of a craft store, did you see the pretty doilies for sale?  They are anywhere from 3 to 7 inches across and usually cost 3 to 8 dollars regular price.  If you have ever done any thread crochet work, you know all too well the pain of stitching with tiny steel hooks, hunching over and squinting to try to see the detail of each tiny stitch.  Can you imagine how long it would take for you to make that doily?  How sore you would be after completing such a task?  What if you had to make 10 of them in a day? 20?

What you may not realize is that, just as you create each stitch in your work, a human hand has created every stitch in that top and doily.  Each one was made by a person, most likely in a factory somewhere. It might take you days or even weeks to complete a project like that.  But for the people that are hand making these items, they are making multiple pieces a day.  Enough tops and doilies to fill stores all over the world.

How do I know this? Simple.  There is no such thing as crochet machine.  Go ahead and Google it. The machines that make "crochet" make a completely different product.   No robotic hands with hooks attached to them that make stitches like the ones you and I make.  Only other hands can do this.  Why is this important?  Because the people making these items are not being paid their worth. No, I do not have any background insider information, but I do have basic math skills.

Let's look at the doily as an example:
If the price of a doily is $8 without any discounts, how much of that $8 is going to the artisan? Even if they received the entire amount, that may equal about $1/hr if they are really fast.  Then let's apply basic business math: the rule of thumb when pricing a product for retail is to at least double the wholesale price, and being able to still turn a profit even when you offer a sale or coupon on that item.  This means that the retailer that is selling the doily paid, at most, $4 for it.  Keep in mind that the retailer has to pay for all of their other business expenses like a warehouse, shipping costs, utilities, store rents, CEO and employee salaries, taxes, etc.  That brings our artisan to 50 cents/hr if they are lucky.  But that artisan is not selling it directly to the company, they are one of many employees that work for a manufacturing company that also needs to make a profit.  That manufacturing company also has business expenses that need to be covered as well.  Let's say they only take half of the wholesale price of the doily and give the other half to the employee (I really have no idea what they keep and what they pay, but it's not a bad assumption).  Our artisan is now only making 25 cents/hour.  That is not much at all.

So I ask you this?  Would you do a job for 25 cents/hr?  What kind of life could you provide for yourself and your family on this meager salary?  Is the work these artisans are doing worth more than that?

I ask you to join me in only buying handmade artisan goods from only reputable sources, for a fair price.  Do your homework and help your fellow humans get what they are worth.
Support handmade artisans that sell through online markets like Etsy.  It may cost you a little more, but you will be doing the entire world some good.  How much is that worth?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Blankets Galore!

Like most of you, I love sharing photos of my finished items.  Here are a few blankets that I have completed in the last year or so that I have not shared yet.  Making baby and lap blankets is great because they allow you to experiment with different patterns and colors without too much time (and yarn) invested.  They are also the best gift!  I have always said that giving someone something hand crocheted is like giving them a hug :)


Rainbow Burst Blanket...What a fun pattern!  This is one of the best round ripple patterns out there. Get the free pattern here from RoseRed Designs.  I was able to use a lot of my stash on this one.  I love me some rainbows!!












The Lego Blanket...This was a great stash buster.  I used the rest of the yarn from the above rainbow burst.  I found the pattern on Pinterest and altered it a bit.  My Legomaniac nephew loved it and my husband was jealous!  It was very fast and the blocks were easy to do on the run.


 Nautical Ripple...This sweet blanket was a gift for a dear friend on her baby shower.  She was doing a nautical theme and I thought the ripple was a great choice because it looks like waves.  She waited a long time for that baby boy and I am over the moon for her!
 

Peacock Blocks Blanket...This was made for a distant relative at the request of my Aunt-in-law.  Her mother used to crochet and when she found out her first grandchild was to be born, she wanted to continue the tradition of a handmade blanket.  The parents were doing the room in a peacock theme so I found this free pattern and just changed the colors to match.  It was a challenging, but brilliant, pattern.



Scattered Blocks Afghan...I wanted the colored blocks to look like they were "floating" on a background.  Next time I will try it with brighter solids on a black base.  I feel that a high contrast will give a better impression of floating and the black will better hide the seams.  It was a good experiment and the recipient loves it very much.


Star Trek Baby Blanket...The couple that is having this baby are geeky and wonderful. The nursery is a Star Trek/Star Wars/Winnie the Pooh mashup.  I love it! This pattern was another Pinterest find, except it was a chart for a knitted potholder.   It was easily converted to filet crochet and Voila!   Here it is:


What is your favorite item to make?  Why?  I would love to see some of your finished projects too. Please feel free to leave me a comment below or check out my Facebook page.

Happy Hooking! :)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

While I Was Away....or How to Drive Yourself Crazy in 3 Simple Steps



Hi All!

It has been a while since my last post because a lot has been happening...

I have finally decided to give my crochet "hobby" the attention and work it needs to become a business!  This is a very exciting but extremely overwhelming process.  The biggest question has been: How am I going to make money?  It's not much of a business if it doesn't create any actual revenue.  So I went about getting some notebooks to jot in and doing a lot of reading and research.  I bought 2 books on starting a creative business, signed up for 5 different email lists for help, wrote down a million ideas, and paced all over the house trying to figure out what to spend my time on. Here is where I am right now

A) What I have actually accomplished:

  • Uploaded 9 of my free crochet patterns onto Ravelry (almost 750 downloads in 2 weeks!)
  • Started using Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook more regularly
  • Listed a few finished products on Etsy, including my new stitch markers :)
  • Created at least 3 new crochet patterns that are being tested (Thank you, Henrietta!)
  • Created Follow buttons and badges here on the blog to connect you lovelies to my other online locations
  • Finally signed up this blog for Google Adsense to get a little extra $$ (Thank you for the clicks!!)
  • I bought the domain InspirationYarns.com.  There isn't anything there yet, but I hope to tie it into some of the items in list D below in the near future

B) What I really need to accomplish:

  • Listing patterns for sale on Ravelry and Etsy
  • Making and listing more products for sale on Etsy
  • Spread the word about said patterns and products
  • Buy/Create something to use as a prop for my crocheted items=better pictures
  • Create and submit at least one pattern proposal to a crochet magazine or yarn company
  • Spend more time trying to sell my huge inventory of Reusable Baby Jays products on Etsy (they really are awesome and I really do use them in my daily life)
  • Write more blog posts
C) What I am thinking I should accomplish, but I have no idea how to do it, or if its even worth my time:
  • Create fancy blog post graphics that are easier to tweet/pin/post (see fancy graphic above)
  • Start and manage an email list for sharing blog posts, new products and new patterns
  • Update my Artsy Daisy Logo-it's been the same had drawn logo for 8 years...
  • Buy video equipment and start shooting crochet tutorials
D) What I fantasize about accomplishing, which keeps me from moving anything from lists  B and C to list A:
  • Opening a YARN SHOP! Yep, this is the ultimate dream.  I will certainly accomplish this at some point in my life.
  • Learning to spin yarn and selling it
  • Learning to hand dye yarn in longer colorways for all of my crochet peeps!
  • Starting a charity crochet hat program to help people of all types
  • Sharing my practice of gratitude and positive focus to help others get the most out of their lives
...and breathe!

So now that you know where my brain has been lately, I shall present you with the list of 3 Simple Steps to Drive Yourself Crazy:

  1. Move across the country (Colorado to Delaware) and then move again 3 months later (Delaware to New Jersey)
  2. Have your significant other start working in new location while you still live in old location (twice)
  3. Decide to start a business that you have no idea how it will work yet, but be determined that it will...all at the same time.

Ha! So that's all for now. Is your head swimming yet? Mine sure is.  Let me know a) what steps you have taken to become crazy and b) if any of the above ideas sound like something you would like to see happen.

Happy Hooking my Lovelies!!


Monday, March 21, 2016

Resurrection Afghan Part V - The Afghan is Complete!

The Resurrection Afghan is finally complete! (Confession: it has actually been done for quite some time, but I am finally sitting down to post it for you all)

The repairs on this beautiful crocheted afghan have finally been finished.  It took a lot of love and attention but the results are well worth it.  If you missed the rest of the journey, check out Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV.


There is no better feeling than being able to give something back to a family that is so important to them.  Being able to breathe life back into a crocheted afghan that was made decades before I was born is like giving part of myself to history.  A truly uplifting experience.






The completed afghan!!! I am so proud and the family is so happy :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Artsy Daisy is on ETSY!!

We just launched our Etsy shop!  Currently we only have finished items for sale, but soon we will have CROCHET PATTERNS for sale as well.  We will continue to post free crochet patterns here on Artsy Daisy Crochet too.

Please check out our new shop at ArstyDaisyDesign!

Green Crocheted Beanie

Teal Crocheted Slouchy Hat

Blue Purple Crocheted Winter Hat

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

City Lights Scarf--Free Crochet Pattern

Hello fellow crocheters!

I am sharing a new free crochet pattern today: The City Lights Scarf.  Have you ever looked out into the night and saw all of the sparkling lights of a far off town?  It looks so small, yet you know it is full of life and excitement.  You get a sense that our time is fleeting and we must capture every moment before it is gone.  This scarf is named after that vision and invokes that feeling in me every time I see it.  It may sound a bit silly to say that a scarf inspires me...but it does.  I am willing to bet you have a piece (or two) that do the same for you.  This is an easy pattern and one that you don't need to weave in any ends (yay!).  So without further ado, here is the free crochet pattern.  You can also add it to your queue or download the free PDF on Ravelry.

City Lights Scarf

Finished size:
5"x 52" without fringe (62" length with fringe)

Supplies:
Red Heart Super Saver in Black (or any solid worsted)-1 skein
Red Heart Super Saver in Primary (or any variegated worsted)-1 skein
Size K crochet hook

Notes:
Pay special attention to which side you are working (WS vs RS), as this project does not get turned after every row.
This scarf is worked from the center out, down both sides of the FSC row.  Once one side of the scarf is complete, you will repeat the rows along the bottom edge of the FSC row.
This can be made with or without fringe
FSC=foundation single crochet

Instructions:
FSC 81 in Black. Fasten off.  Turn work. (WS)

Side 1
Row 1- (RS) with Primary, join with sc to first FSC. *ch 1, skip next FSC, sc in next FSC, rep from * to last FSC.  Fasten off. Do not turn.
Row 2- (RS) with Black, join with sc in first sc, sc in next ch-1 sp. *Ch 1, sk next sc, sc in next ch-1 sp, rep from * to last ch-1 sp. Sc in last sc. Ch 1, turn.
Row 3-(WS) continuing with Black, sc in first sc. *Ch 1, sk next sc, sc in next ch-1 sp, rep from * until 2 sc remain.  Ch 1, sk next sc, sc in last sc.  Fasten off.  Do not turn.
Row 4-(WS) with Primary, rep Row 2.  Fasten off.  Do not turn.
Row 5-(WS) with Black, rep Row 3. Ch 1, turn.
Row 6-(RS) continuing with Black, rep Row 2.  Fasten off. Do not turn.
Row 7-(RS) with Primary, rep Row 3  Fasten off.  Do not turn.
Row 8-(RS) with Black, rep Row 2.  Fasten off.

Side 2
Rep Rows 1-8 working across bottom edge of FSC row.

Fringe
cut 14 pieces 11" long of Black
cut 12 pieces 11" long of Primary
Use a lark's head knot to attach Black fringe pieces to ends of Black rows and Primary pieces to ends of Primary rows.  Trim fringe evenly to desired length.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Yarn Fest 2015!

Hello all!

I am excited to share with you my experience at Interweave's first annual Yarn Fest in Loveland Colorado.  It was the first yarn/fiber conference I have been able to attend and it was AMAZING!!!!
As most of you know, Interweave is one of the premier knit/crochet publishers today.  They are located in Fort Collins, Colorado (my town!) and publish magazines, books, and videos about all kinds of different crafts.  This year they brought together incredible vendors, designers and fiber lovers to one place and called it Yarn Fest.  And what a Fest it was!

I took 3 classes: Charted Entrelac Knitting with Annie Modesitt, Crochet Finishing Master Class with Robyn Chachula and Fine Shaping in Crochet Stitch Patterning with Lily Chin. I also got a sweet goody bag for signing up for 3 classes that came with 3 magazines, fiber samples, patterns, 3 skeins of yarn and other samples and coupons for fiber washes, notions and other goodies.  Not to mention a great project bag :)

Annie Modesitt's teaching technique is similar to mine.  She presents each step a few different ways so each person can learn their own way.  She shows how to do something and then walks around and connects with each student one on one.  This is great to make sure that each student has a clear understanding of the material and no one is left behind.  The downside to this is that you tend to run out of time and can not cover all of the material.  This has happened before in some classes that I have taught and happened in this class as well. I was excited to learn how to Entrelac knit, but we didn't get even cast off our sample, let alone do anything with lace charts.  On a positive note, we did get handouts with charts and written instructions to complete our samples at home.  The best part was that I took the class with my yarn partner in crime :)

Next, I got to meet Robyn Chachula, the engineer turned crochet designer that wrote a series of books using charts as instructions called Blueprint Crochet.  She shared with us how different fibers should be blocked and how they wear over time.  She showed us different ways to join, seam and finish pieces.  I was very appreciative to see some of her sample garments in person.  The most exciting part was cutting stitches out to put button holes where there once was solid fabric.  Her technique is similar to what I did in the Granny Square Repair.  Although she was feeling under the weather, Robyn was a fun and informative teacher.  She has a great sense of humor and makes you feel like you can accomplish beautiful garments, even if you make a bunch of mistakes along the way.  On a personal note, Robyn is an inspiration to me as a designer.  She was kind enough to give me some advise and guidance on how to submit a pattern proposal.  I am very grateful I had the chance to meet her.

My last class was with World's Fastest Crocheter, Lily Chin.  Lily is a powerhouse of crochet (and knit) fashion design experience and knowledge.  Her personal story is incredible and after designing for many big names she is now her own boss.  We had a bit of homework, which I appreciated because I knew it meant we were going to dive right in.  Her technique of designing uses photocopies of stitching and large graph paper to make patterns.  It is simply GENIUS.  We learned how to create patterns to our specific measurements and how to modify complicated stitches to make the pattern pieces.  I also got some great insight on how to write a garment pattern and how to give changes for sizes.  It was a wonderful wealth of information that will really help me move forward with my designing career.

Between my classes, I spent my time at the Marketplace.  It was a huge room with more yarn, fiber and accessory vendors than you can imagine.  I had to discuss a budget with my husband before I went so I had a limit.  Otherwise, it would have been a free for all!  Some of the notable yarn vendors were: Greenwood Fiberworks, Spruce Dragon LLC, Skeindalous Yarn, UDesignit Yarns, just to name a few.  It took me three days to finally make a purchase.  I learned the true meaning of "you should have bought it when you saw it" and that budgets are for the faint of heart.  It is such a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by other fiber lovers that understand my obsessions.  All in all, Yarn Fest was a huge success in my eyes.  I already have my calendar marked for next year :)