Uplift Make Along

Are there fiber arts designers who don’t get the spotlight you think they deserve? Make one of their patterns and show it off! The Uplift Make Along is a online event created to celebrate and show off the work of independent knitting and crochet pattern designers. (<–YouTube Link to Barbara Benson’s video helping to define “Indie Designer”)

This event is not an anti “big-name designers,”  event, but it does focus on showcasing the work of up and coming, or less well known designers. These are designers that are working hard to create and sell professional quality patterns on a regular basis, but feel that they struggle to gain traction or could use a boost. The goal of this event is to uplift and support each other, not to complain about or put down those whose successful businesses have them in the current community spotlight.

Overview

Location
The Uplift Make Along will be hosted on a Mighty Network I’ve created (a link will be added once the network is made public) and Instagram. On Instagram use the hashtag #UpliftMakeAlong

Crafts Included: Knitting, Crochet, Tunisian Crochet

Important Dates
– Early designer access to post introductions:
March 25, 2021
– Early participant access to check out designers before you start your project:
March 30, 2021
– Official Project Start:
April 1, 2021 (whatever time zone you’re in, if it’s April 1, you can start!)
– Event Ends: June 30, 2021 (end of the day wherever you are)

How is an “Up and Coming” or “Less Known” designer defined?
This event is not designed as a launchpad for brand new designers, nor is it a marketing course. The Uplift Make Along it is intended to create a space where makers can discover and showcase the work of designers who have been consistently publishing professional quality patterns with the intent of creating a profitable business.

With that goal in mind, I’ve decided that i’m not going to give you a specific list of requirements, but rather some things to think about:

– Social media following numbers do not always equal the functionality of a business. Designers may have sales and follower numbers that are disproportionate to each other. If you need a ballpark number, consider starting by looking at designers with under 15,000 followers.

– Are you considering making a popular pattern that lots of other people have made? That’s likely not a “less known” designer. Try to find one that doesn’t have many projects.

– Is the designer in question actively publishing designs on a regular basis? If not, consider choosing a designer who is trying to make this work as a business.

Use your good judgement and do your best to interact in the spirit in which the event is intended. I will not be answering whether a specific designer’s pattern can be made. I trust you to proceed with good intentions and honesty!

FAQ

Are WIPs allowed? Yes, but if you’re working off a project started before April 1, 2021, the finished item won’t be entered into prize drawings.

Are there prizes? Yes, some. The goal of this event is to uplift designers, connect designers with makers, and uplift each other. But, sometimes a little yarn or pattern prize doesn’t hurt too, right? I’m thankful that some very generous makers have offered to donate prizes so we can thank you for participating and supporting independent designers. A separate sponsor post will be created that will detail the prizes and how they’ll be given out.

Do I have to use a “paid for” pattern? Please use a pattern from a designer who is primarily creating self-published, paid-for patterns (If you’re not sure what that means, scroll up and watch the video in which Barbara Benson helps to define an Indie Designer). You can use a pattern you already own, you could use one that was gifted to you, or you could explore the designer intros and find a new pattern.

What is Mighty Networks?
Mighty Networks is just what it sounds like – a platform that allows for the creation of public or private networks. Think of it like the “create a post” feature of Facebook + the privacy of Slack, and more!

In this case, i’ve created a network specifically for the Uplift Make Along. Here’s a few features I’m really excited about:

1. Designers and makers will be able to label themselves by their specialties! This means if you’re a knitting designer, you can label yourself that way. Tunisian crocheter only? You can add that if you’d like! This will help makers find designers who create their desired type of patterns and let other makers know about your favorite skill!

2. The ability to add geographic location (optional)
I don’t know about you, but sometimes it feels like being a fiber arts designer or maker is pretty lonely. Sometimes just knowing that others are near you and doing the same thing can help! This isn’t intended to be evasive or specific (I actually ask that you please NOT be specific about your exact location), but more of maybe a town/state/province/country type of thing. OR you can choose not to add this at all – it’s completely up to what you feel comfortable with.

3. Topic Tags!
Have you ever come upon a make along and wished you could find ONLY the knitting posts or ONLY the crochet posts, or ONLY the finished objects? Topic tags will allow you to do that! Designer introductions will also get a special topic tag so you can scroll through just designer intros and learn about a bunch of new designers!

 

How can I join in as a designer?

Sign up now to be notified when early designer access opens up! (<– use that link) On March 25, 2021 (one week before the event start date) designers will have the option to get early access to the mighty network. If you are on the email list, you’ll receive an email with an invitation link to join the network. From March 25-31, you’ll have to email me (Ruth) for an invite.

– Create an Intro:
Once you’ve joined the network, you’ll be able to create an introductory post with a photo that represents your brand, links your selling platform, and tell potential makers what types of patterns you offer. Designer intros will have a special tag on them that allows makers to click directly to them and scroll through only intro posts; It’ll be a gallery of designers to explore!

– Join in the Instagram challenge and/or interact with makers on the Network. This is an important one. Knitters and crocheters will be making your pattern with the goal of showing it off to help your business. Let’s show them our appreciation by helping to make this an amazing event and by joining right in with them.

– Join in as a maker. Make a design by another designer that you want to uplift!
Can you make your own pattern? Yes, but it’s not in the spirit of the event. As designers, we self-promote all the time (and there will be a self-promo portion of the event), but this event is focused on showing off someone else’s work and trusting that others will show off yours.

– Promote the Make Along to your audience. Use your social media, newsletter, podcast, or whatever way you prefer to talk to your people to reach out and let them know the Make Along is happening. Encourage them to check out the hashtags, chat, and take advantage of the Mighty Network to  discover new designers that they love and connect with fellow makers!

– Post once per week in the self promo group. This will be the place for you to highlight a pattern that needs some love, a new pattern release that has just been published, etc. More details about this will be given in the network.

 

How can I join in as a maker?

Before the Event
– Share the event announcement (or this post) with designers you’d like to see joining in. If you want to see a particular designer join, let them know! Tell them you love their work, that you plan to make one of their patterns for the event, and you’d love it if they come introduce themselves.

– Share the event announcement graphic or countdown to let other makers know it’s happening (both can be found over on my Instagram, click on one of the IG images to the right to head over there).

During the Event
– Choose a knitting, crochet, or Tunisian crochet pattern by a designer you think needs more visibility and to have their work shown off. It can be one of the designers who has created an intro post, or one you know of that you’d like to uplift! Make their pattern, then post about it on the Mighty Network site or Instagram and let people know who the designer is and why you love this project so much!

– Join in the Instagram challenge! I’ll be posting weekly prompts to help you share designers you love, discover new favorites, and show off your work.

– Share your new designer and pattern finds on Instagram and in the Mighty Network.

 

This post will be updated when the network goes public and if/when event updates are made. This is a new event, so tweaks and changes are bound to happen.

Knitting and Crochet Pattern Pricing

 

the point of a crocheted lace shawl is laid on a wood background. The lace is blue and green with leaf and triangle motifs, with yellow stripes at the top of the photo
I-95 shawl by Ruth Brasch

Pattern pricing is a common topic of discussion among knitting and crochet designers. Recently a friend who predominantly designs knitting patterns asked me, as a knitting and crochet designer, “how much will crocheters pay for patterns?”

It’s a good question. As with any industry, there are some biases and stereotypes in this question. The bias in question is whether crocheters are less willing to pay an appropriate price for a pattern than knitters.

I jadedly answered her that crocheters will fuss over paying more than $5 USD for a pattern, but decided to challenge my own cynicism by asking my Instagram followers “how much would you pay for a crochet pattern” on one slide, with an open box to type an answer, and the next slide asked the same question for knitting patterns.

**Note: at this point I know at least some of you are considering the fact that my test pool is small, likely has a demographic bias within it, also likely has a socioeconomic bias within it, and hypothetical answers are very different than documented sales. Yes. I know this – keep reading!

While the answers typically ranged from $6-10 USD for both knitting and crochet patterns, what I found more interesting than the actual prices listed were the messages that showed up regarding the slides. Questions were raised and comments made about budgeting, knowing the value of a pattern (how do you know if a designer is a good one?), conversion rates for non-USA buyers, socioeconomic status of purchasers, “pay what you can” business models, and more! These questions and comments are what i’m going to attempt to address in this blog post, which may possibly turn into a series of blog posts.

For Context:
In this post, I am speaking specifically about independently published digital knitting and crocheting patterns. Designers who create these are colloquially referred to as “Indie Designers.” For more about what an indie designer is or does, I recommend Barbara Benson’s video which addresses that very question.

I am also speaking specifically about designers who are working at a professional level. That means the work they publish is on par with current industry standards: as error free as possible, well fitting, garments graded into an appropriate size range, professionally edited, etc. If you want to know more about what goes into the creation of a professionally created knitting or crochet pattern, I recommend this blog post. Go read it, then come back.

If you’re going to read the post later, just know the author estimates that

It can take anywhere from 53.1-113.65 hours and beyond to produce a quality sweater knitting pattern.

Please keep that number in mind, as well as the fact that Indie Designers are also their own publicists, marketers, social media wranglers, and customer support department.

Let’s begin addressing objections I received to pattern prices higher than $6-10 USD (or in some cases higher than $5 USD)

 

Objection 1: Money is tight (designers shouldn’t raise their prices because i’m on a budget)

Yes. For many, money is tight right now. A global pandemic certainly hasn’t helped the situation and there are lots of people who are on very tight budgets. That does not, however, mean that designers should not get paid for their work.

I feel that I have a right to speak to this response specifically because for years I was living well below the poverty line in a large city. I budgeted very tightly, saved up,  and chose yarns that were within my budget (hellooo $1.25 sale yarn from a large chain store).

For patterns, I helped designers test patterns, utilized free patterns from websites like Knitty  (who, by the way, pay their contributing designers so they can provide a “free” pattern. “Free,” in this case, means free to the consumer, not free to the designer), and learned to improvise my own designs out of stitch dictionaries from local libraries.

I empathize with with seeing cool patterns or gorgeous yarns and thinking that I would like to be able to buy and use them but not being able to.

Along with my own life experience above, I’ve also noticed this argument seems to believe that designers are not in need of the income they make from pattern design; that they are simply creating patterns for the joy of it and hoping to make a little money on the side. While I’m not going to delve into the numerous biases in that assumption, I’ll just remind you i’m addressing professional pattern design. Designers who create as part of a business, who frequently depend on the income their designs generate. Requiring designers to maintain low, unsustainable prices for the sake of potential customers is actually excluding a number of designers (or potential designers) within that same demographic from furthering their careers.

So, the “I won’t pay because i’m on a budget” is fine. I’ve listed how I coped with budgeting above, perhaps some of those ideas will help others. I’m not fine, however, with castigating designers for raising prices or attempting to be paid a fair wage for highly skilled work.

Objection 2: I’ve bought patterns before that are full of errors. How do I know i’m purchasing from a “good” (professional) designer?

This is a question where i’m going to step on some toes (if you had any toes left from the first objection section). I’d like to first state that if a pattern is, indeed, “full” of errors, it is not being technically edited and then corrected in a professional manner. I, too, have had the experience of expecting that I would receive a professional pattern when I made a purchase and then finding it to be full of errors! Those designers I tend to avoid purchasing from again.

So how can a customer know the pattern will be a “good” one? How can they know they’ll get a pattern that’s worth paying for and how can designers communicate to their customers that they’re producing quality patterns?

This question/objection is essentially discussing a risk vs reward ratio, which is an economics concept. Since I like graphics, here’s a few visuals for you! They’re not perfect or exhaustive, but hopefully they’ll help!

(c) 2021 Ruth Brasch

The graphic above is one I created, but it represents the general concept of risk vs reward. In general, low risk brings low reward. Eg: free patterns might be full of errors, but you’re ok with that because you didn’t pay for them. Conversely, in theory, high risk should bring a high reward… right?

Check out the next graphic.

(c) 2021 Ruth Brasch

This graphic is more specific to the fiber arts community.
The red dot represents what many purchasers indicate they want : a low cost/low risk pattern that is guaranteed to be excellently produced and published. No errors, the maker’s project comes out looking like the designer’s etc.

The blue dot represents what makers have indicated they are wary of: purchasing a pattern from a designer at high risk to themselves. That risk could be a high monetary cost, an unknown designer, no indicator that the pattern will come out like the sample, or all of the above.

Customers are much more likely to go with the red dot than the blue one, because who doesn’t like low risk and high reward? The problem with this is that this is a risk vs reward assessment for customers, not for designers.

Risks for designers include the financial and time output in the creation of the pattern, the risk of “pricing out” of the current market by pricing too high, appearing to be a low value/novice designer by pricing too low, and more.

So, what’s the solution?

“Solution” 1 (it’s not a solution from me, and i’ll tell you why!): the “pay what you can” method

The “pay what you can” philosophy touts itself as both “inclusive” (for those who are at a lower income level, or on a tighter budget, for whatever reason), and as giving value to the work of artists by giving them a way to price their work at the level it deserves. Pay what you can typically looks like this:
– The sweater pattern is priced at $15. Please pay this if you can afford it, it’s the realistic price of this pattern.
– Discount coupon level 1: Use this coupon to purchase the pattern at $12 – the high end of the current going rate for garment design
– Discount coupon level 2: Use this coupon to purchase the pattern at $9 if you are in need of the discounted price.
– Discount coupon level 3: Use this coupon to purchase the pattern at $7 if you are in need of the discounted price.

Problems with the pay what you can model:

1)It indicates that the lower prices are acceptable compensation for the designer’s work. While the lower prices are intended for those who are struggling financially,  it still is an available price. No other business runs this way! You don’t walk into a store, make your purchases, and when the total rings up at the register say “oooh, shoot, that’s a little high, can you just lower the price for me a tad? I’d rather pay less.” If you can’t afford the price at the register, you put items back.

This is an example at a retail store. We aren’t talking about mass-produced retail items or necessities like food or water, this is skilled art that is being created by professionals and subsequesntly devalued.

2)Many designers who utilize this method of pricing are actually raising their prices, not making the more accessible. It’s a red herring virtue signal for some (ducks for cover, expecting knitting needles to be thrown), and a genuine (if misguided) attempt at inclusion from others. If you look at the prices above, the $15 price is approximately 30-40% higher than the current market value for a sweater design. You’d expect the low end to be lower by a similar percentage to be “accessible” wouldn’t you? But no, the “accessible” end of this pricing scheme is often just the current market value of patterns, or possible just $1 USD lower.

That’s not accessible, that’s a false pretense of accessibility while actually raising prices.

If you’re going to raise your prices, JUST RAISE THEM.

 

What’s a real solution, Ruth?

Designers, you need to be less of a risk. Not by lowering your prices, but by providing ways that customers can see you’re providing quality work, AND you need to point it out to them. Some ways to do this include:

1)Post reviews and testimonials. Has someone just given you great feedback about one of your patterns? Ask if you can share it publicly on your website. Cite them as the maker, note which pattern was made, and how they enjoyed it.This helps makers know that your pattern is, indeed, enjoyable and clear.

Makers: go look for reviews! Check out a designer’s website or social media hashtags – what are people saying about their designs? Reviews are especially helpful in light of the current migration away from Ravelry.

Ravelry’s project pages have been a huge help to designers and makers alike in the sense that they show that the pattern works, help makers with color palette inspiration, and help potential customers know that a designer is putting out quality patterns that will fit! However, now that their site is inaccessible to many, designers and customers are looking for new ways to find and portray the value of patterns.

Testimonials and photos on your website can be a great way to create a similar effect.

2)Pattern testers! Do you have your patterns made by pattern testers before publication? Share their work!Pattern testing can also act as a secondary safety net. Some patterns can be technically sound in the written form, but they just look wonky on real live people. Successful pattern testing can help catch the wonkiness before publication and, when testing is completed, there are more well-fitting projects that can be a testimonial. This lowers the risk for your potential customer – they see the reward in front of them.

I know it’s not always possible and that testing isn’t a requirement, but it can be helpful if you’re hoping to reach out to new potential customers who haven’t made your patterns before.

Makers: look for projects! If it’s a new pattern, is the designer sharing photos or samples you can look at beyond their own?

3)Have 1-2 patterns in your catalog that are free. Not just throwaway/simple patterns, but good ones that show off your awesomeness and then remind your audience that they exist!

Makers: take advantage of these! Download the pattern, make the item, share photos! You’ll be able to get familiar with a designer’s writing and layout style and know who you’d like to purchase from in the future. The risk goes down!

 

The last objection i’m planning to torpedo is the “art should be free” objection, or “knitting patterns have traditionally been free with yarn.”

1. Go back up and watch Barbara’s video about indie designers if you haven’t already. Knitting patterns that are “free” with yarn or “free” online aren’t really free. If they’re put out by a yarn company, that yarn company has had to pay the designer in some way for publishing rights to the pattern. That yarn company then takes the pattern they’ve purchased the rights to, and uses it to induce you to buy their yarn.

2. “Art Should be Freeeeee” is bunk. Music isn’t free**. Paintings aren’t free. Books aren’t free. The only reason you think knitting and crochet patterns should be free or cheap is because of the above-mentioned, well-established expectation created by yarn and publication companies. Also, knitting and crochet have traditionally been seen as women’s work that is just an expectation/obligation and is therefore not valuable in a business setting.

Do you think housecleaning is worth paying for? Pattern design is too.

Do you think food you didn’t have to cook yourself is worth paying for? Pattern design is too.

Designers: put out good patterns, then be unabashedly bold in championing your own brilliance. Let people know your work is good!

Makers: do your homework before you buy! Check out a designer’s reputation and portfolio – don’t just impulse shop sales.

** Edit February 20, 2021: it’s been brought to my attention that music artists are facing similar issues in their industry. So while I say music isn’t free, the perception of music as free exists, and indie music artists are being pressured to put out more free content or accept less pay. Check out This article from 2019 about payment by streaming services such as Spotify for more information.

Stash Enjoyment 2021 – Making an Investment

A single skein on the left is blue with red and yellow sections. To the right, is a braid of mini skeins ranging from pale yellow, through purple, into blue. They are dyed by Gritty Knits, and are laying on a wooden backdrop.(Timebomb and timebomblets by Gritty Knits)

**This post is part of my series on using my yarn stash in 2021, and enjoying it! The first post of the series can be found here.**

When I made my initial Instagram post about starting Stash Enjoyment 2021, I got a comment I was expecting. The commenter told me not to feel badly about having a large stash because “it’s an investment and so good for your brain and soul.”

A large stash is an investment – no arguments there. It’s a financial investment, a spatial investment (cause you’ve got to put it all somewhere), an emotional investment (be honest – it is!), etc. But Stash Enjoyment 2021 is also about making an investment- an investment in the person you want to be in the future.

I’m not here to condemn people for buying yarn. I (obviously) love buying yarn. My goal Stash Enjoyment goals are not to shame others – they’re to motivate me and help me remind myself that I want to be able to feel like i’m the boss of my stash and not the other way around.

Buying yarn, especially indie dyed yarn, is also an investment into small businesses, often owned by women. A large portion of my current yarn stash is indie dyed and part of my past purchasing motivation has been that I want to help these small, women-owned businesses off the ground. But I think we’ve created an illusion in this community. We’ve created an illusion that there is flourishing market with a large demand; that anyone can become a successful professional yarn dyer if they just work hard enough. Speaking as someone who worked hard at it, I can tell you there’s more to success in this industry than simply dyeing yarn and popping it on Etsy.

I want to make sure that i’m not perpetuating a cycle that actually traps women in the illusion that they can create a successful business in this industry, and all they have to do to achieve that dream is start off working horrendously long hours, bringing in a very low profit margin, and turning themselves into workhorses instead of artists who enjoy their process.

This topic has also made me re-think the way I approach pattern design and the way I interact with pattern designers. You know who works very hard for an unreliable wage and under average pay? Knitting and crochet designers.

So, if I’m at the point (which I am) where I acknowledge that my current business model is more of an expensive hobby that occasionally pays for itself, that means i’m going to design patterns based on what I want to make and what I enjoy, rather than attempting to design things I think will be marketable or will sell well.

How does this relate to stash enjoyment? Well, it means that i’m designing from stash instead of constantly buying more yarn because I think to myself, “well, someday i’ll turn this into a design! It’s a business investment!” I’m attempting to take a more realistic look at how many items I can comfortably finish in a month or year’s worth of making.

What about you? Are you pretty good at knowing how much you can make in a set period of time, or do you tend to fall into the “buy all the things and start all the projects” trap I do?

If this post resonates with you, or if you’re joining in on #StashEnjoyment2021 please use the hashtag or tag @ruthbrasch on social media when you interact or join in. You’ll be able to browse the #StashEnjoyment2021 hashtag to “meet” other makers who are also working from mindfully from stash and enjoying it!

Stash Enjoyment 2021 – Selling Contentment

a close up of part of a cable knit shawl in burnt orange. The shawl is "Feelin' Foxy" by Ruth Brasch

**This post is part of my series about using and enjoying the yarn and patterns you have. For more information, click the “Stash Enjoyment 2021” link below to read my original blog post.**

In preparing for Stash Enjoyment 2021, I’ve been reading the blogs of Felicia Semple. Her journey through what she calls “Stash Less” started in 2014, and Her blog posts about it are very enjoyable and enlightening. In one of them, she mentions that companies are Selling Discontent. Much of what she said resonated with me in this post; social media is especially good at “selling discontent.”

You know what else they do, though? The sell contentment. When you see a knitwear designer with a huge smile on her face as she dances across your Instagram feed in her newly completed sweater, the intent is to make you think “hmm, if I knit that sweater will I be as happy as she is?” You put down your sweater WIP and click through to the link to the kit she’s selling to see if it comes in your size and color preference, suddenly discontented with the project that you were enjoying a few moments earlier. I don’t mean to imply that small business owners are devious scoundrels out to fleece the innocent public with their swanky wares. Rather, I’m speaking to the way our minds perceive and interact with social media.

**pause**

Ask yourself these questions the next time this happens:
1. Do I NEED this kit, or do I WANT it?
If it’s a want, WHY do I want it? Is it FOMO? Is it shiny new project syndrome, in which I get that quick pleasure hit from starting something new?
2. Is this a project I can start right away? If not, how long will it have to sit before I can start it? If the answer is more than a week, I highly recommend that any of you participating in Stash Enjoyment 2021 click right back out of that site and go back to your WIP! That pattern will still be there when you have finished your current project.

If the pattern really resonates with you and you think it might be a project you’ll be able to start in a couple weeks or a month, my suggestion is that you find a way you can bookmark or save the link to those items. Here’s a couple suggestions:

  1. Make a Pinterest board! Pinterest is a super easy way to save website links with photos. You could create a board called “Stash Enjoyment 2021” for patterns you see during the year that you may want to make. I think you’ll be amazed how many of them there are vs how many actually get made!
  2. Use the bookmark function on your internet browser. You can usually create folders for bookmarks, so you could create a Stash Enjoyment 2021, or “patterns I want to make in the future” folder, or whatever you’d like to name it.
  3. Make a physical list. This could be as easy as keeping a list with a pen and paper. If I were to do it this way, I would likely keep the list posted somewhere I could easily see it so I don’t forget that I have projects I want to make. This is what I do with pattern designs I want to work on – I keep them listed on a white board that’s mounted on my kitchen door. Seeing a long list reminds me that I should work on some of the items on there before adding to the list. **BONUS** if you decide to use this technique, you’ll have a finite amount of space on the paper/board. That means you can only add so many items to the list without having to remove some to add more. It helps keep the number of them down!
  4. If you can still use Ravelry, you could always use their “queue” or “favorites” functions. However, I find that I very easily queue and favorite patterns as a way of showing the designers I like the pattern, and I tend to never actually go back and look at them. For me, the limited, physical list that hangs where I can see it is the most effective technique.
  5. Save it on Instagram. If you saw the pattern on Instagram, clicking the “save” button will help support the designer while also saving the pattern for your future use. Right now, Instagram values those “saves,” because it shows the algorithm you like it enough to come back to it.

Do you have a way you like to save projects or assess intent for making? Let me know!

Preparing for Stash Enjoyment 2021 – FOMO

Two double stranded sock blanks are wound up in sushi rolls next to each other. The colors shift from bright yellow to deep purple through a gradient of reds, oranges, purples, etc.

“The shop update is at 7 pm, and last time it sold out within 30 minutes!”

Have you seen those words in the past from a yarn dyer you loved and panicked? You’ve experienced FOMO. FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) is that anxious feeling you get when you see a product or event that will be happening and you’re worried you’ll miss out on something amazing. It could be yarn, it could be meeting your favorite designer at an in-person event (back when we had those!) etc.

Stash Enjoyment 2021 is my journey to use the yarn and crafting materials already in my possession; to be content with what I have and get creative in the use of it. To read more about how I arrived at this point or what it means in detail, check out the introductory blog post here.

Because my goal is to work with what I have, that does mean I will miss out on some things. I may miss out on owning an exclusive colorway. I may miss out on making the newest pattern by the most popular designer.

I think that’s the wrong perspective.
I may miss out on an exclusive colorway, but I’ll also miss out on the knowledge that it’s going to sit in my stash for a very long time (possibly years!) before I use it.

I may miss out on making the new, hot pattern at the same time others are, but what i’ll really miss out on is getting through the exciting portion of the design (the sweater yoke? The first 25% of a shawl before it gets unmanageable on my needles and the rows are 300+ stitches?), putting it in a project bag, and discovering it months later. I’ll miss out on the frenetic pinballing through my stash, casting on 5 projects at a time and finishing none of them.

By not buying out of FOMO, I’ll miss out on the sense of overwhelm I feel as I look at my stash and projects right now. (7.5-10 years of stash and 15 ish active WIPs!)

Y’all, it’s ok to miss out.
Louder for the people in the back?

IT’S OK TO MISS OUT.

In the grand scheme of things, missing out on that temporary thrill of making a purchase or snagging a bag from a popular bag maker’s super speedy update doesn’t compare with the long term contentment of knowing you’re working towards your goals and actually succeeding at reaching them.

But it’s more than that, isn’t it? FOMO can be the fear of missing out on the camaraderie of the current fiber arts community, which is obsessed with buying and having as much yarn as possible.  I’ve been in that land for a while; the land of “it’s not hoarding if it’s yarn” and “it’s totally ok for me to buy more than enough of this than I can use in my lifetime because it gives me satisfaction when I buy it.” Y’all, I don’t want to be that way anymore.

Right now i’m working on yarn that arrived less than a week ago and I am so enjoying the fact that it came into my house, sat for maybe 2-3 days while I finished two other WIPs, and now is being knit up into a hat that my son will adore. I love this. I feel like this is much more me than the massive-purchases-with-no-reason me. Will my feelings change over time? Probably. But, right now this is where I am. I feel like i’m buried under a sea of yarn and I need to start swimming my way back up to the top.

I’ve already begun looking at my stash differently. I was considering making a sample for a cowl design and realized it needed yarn in a color and weight I don’t currently have on hand (if you can believe that!) but instead of going out and buying the skein I “need,” I decided that I can hold DK weight double and get about the same gauge as a bulky weight yarn. Will I have to play yarn chicken? Probably. But, in the end, it’ll be in line with my goals, and I like that better than buying something new just because it’s easy.

 

Welcome to my apparent return to blogging! I’ve considered this many times in the past, but seem to have trouble with consistent posting. I’ve also done some vlogging on YouTube, which I enjoy, but also have trouble keeping up with because I have three noisy little munchkins in the house! It feels good to write again, to set goals again, and to hear from you all as you are able to read and interact with my writing. I’ve appreciated, especially, those of you who have said you’d like to join me on this Stash Enjoyment journey. It’s good to have some company along the way, especially during a time when we can’t be physically in each other’s presence.

More to come in this series, for sure! Let me know what you think so far?

Stash Enjoyment 2021

11 hanks of indie dyed yarn lie on a wooden backdrop

I recently found the GORGEOUS array of yarns in the photo above when I went digging through my stash for a potential project. My husband had asked for a stripey poncho (it turns out he actually wants a cabled hoodie, but more about that later!) so I set to work putting colors together.  He looked at these and said “woah, I don’t want you to use all your nice yarn up on me!” and I laughed. You couldn’t even see the hole in my stash from where I had pulled out these skeins. But, later, I started thinking about that interaction. That photo has at least a full blanket’s worth of yarn in it. A blanket takes me months to make.. and that wouldn’t even make a dent in my stash. That’s also about $350 USD of yarn in one photo.

As per usual, nearing the close of a year means I am taking stock of where my crafting journey has taken me over the course of the past year.

Because I am who I am, i’ve kept a yardage tracking spreadsheet in excel this year and have made sure to enter every single project into Ravelry. Here’s what i’ve got!

2020 Making Statistics (as of December 6, 2020):
– Number of projects completed: 30
– Amount of yarn purchased: 123, 650 yds (yes, you read that correctly)
– Amount of yarn knit: 7, 342 yds
– Amount of yarn crocheted: 6, 252 yds
– Amount of yarn machine knit: 2,449 yds
– Amount of yarn gifted to someone: 45, 556 yds
– Amount of yarn sold/stashed down 39, 268 yds
——————————————————————-
Total Yarn Out: 100, 867 yds
Net effect on stash: +22, 783 yds of yarn in 2020.
Total yardage currently in stash: 179, 922 yds.

So why am I tracking all this yardage? Because I want to know what my real buying and using habits are. It doesn’t take a statistical genius to see i’m buying WAY more than I can use in a year (16, 043 yds). This year alone I bought enough yarn to last me 7.7 YEARS. Is that scary to anyone else?

I literally have enough yarn currently in my possession to knit and crochet for over 10 years. So, something’s gotta give.

For 2020 my biggest crafting goal was to finish or frog any project started prior to 2020. For 2021, I want to build on that goal.

2021 Crafting Goals:
1. Finish all projects started prior to 2021
2. Finish or Frog projects so there are no more than 5 active WIPS at a time.
3. #StashEnjoyment2021

What is #StashEnjoyment2021? It’s my plan for actually using and enjoying the 10+ years worth of yarn in my stash! I want to knit and crochet as much as possible from my stash in 2021. I won’t say i’m forbidding myself to buy yarn, because this isn’t about deprivation or punishment – it’s about enjoying what I have. I bought these yarns because they’re beautiful, because I wanted to support the dyers who made them, or because when I saw them they made me dream of possible projects. But, then, I let myself get distracted by more new, pretty, potential projects and the “old” ideas fell by the wayside.

As I thought about it, I realized I’ve been therapy-buying a lot over the past couple years, because it *does* feel good to have a package show up with pretty yarn in it. However, it’s getting to the point where the yarn is overwhelming to me instead of enjoyable. When yarn purchases show up I think “rats, I did it again!” and chuck the yarn into my stash instead of enjoying the choices I’ve made. I don’t want knitting and crocheting to become something that’s unpleasant to me.

So, my plan for this year is to work on enjoying the stash I have. If that’s something you’re interested in doing too, I’d encourage you to share your projects made from stash on social media with the hashtag #StashEnjoyment2021

I decided that while i’d love to see others doing this too, this is something I plan to be doing whether y’all are or not. I’m not going to dangle prizes in front of you to attempt to get you to join in with me – if you want to do this it has to be a mindset change; do this for your own enjoyment and betterment if you want to.

What’s the criteria? How does it work?
You set the criteria for yourself.
For me, “Stash” will count as any yarn purchased prior to 2021.

For #StashEnjoyment2021 I will:
– Work from stash as much as possible. If I see a project I do not have appropriate yarn for, I need to ask myself if I absolutely MUST have this project, or if it is shiny new project syndrome and the desire will fade in a week.
– Not buy yarn I don’t need to make myself feel better.
– Share about my stash finds on social media, like the photo at the beginning of this post. Who doesn’t love a gorgeous photo of yarn?
– Get my WIP count down to 5 or less and keep it there. If I limit my active WIPS, I will both get more projects finished/frogged, and will be less inclined to buy yarn for a project I’m not “allowed” to start.

Does this mean I can’t buy yarn? Nope! And guess what? I’m not going to set specific criteria about when I can and can’t buy yarn (with the exception of the therapy-purchases mentioned above). Instead of limiting myself, I will remind myself that I have a goal of being more conscious in my making and that I want to enjoy the things that I have – to be content instead of constantly chasing the wind in the form of always buying something new for that momentary enjoyment.

If you’re reading this and going yeah… nope! That’s totally fine. We’re all at different places in our lives and I don’t expect that everyone will feel the same way I do. In fact, I know that being content with the yarn I have and not constantly chasing the newest and most popular yarn or patterns is extremely counter-cultural as far as the online fiber arts community goes.

If some part of this resonated with you, i’d encourage you to take stock of where you are crafting-wise and then make yourself some goals.

I will probably be doing a stash flash at some point in the near future, because I want to be able to physically see all of the yarn out in the open. It’s amazing how much yarn can hide in little corners and cubbies!

-Alongs!

A crochet blanket of joined hexagons. The hexagon centers are multicolored circles that look like sunshines or flowers, surrounded by gray borders that change their shape into hexagons.

It’s nearing the end of the year and no matter which holidays you celebrate, you’re probably gearing up to knit or crochet some gifts! 

One of my favorite things about this season is knitting and crocheting along with other makers and chatting about our makes.

This year it seems there’s a lot of new events popping up, so naturally I need to make a list to keep track of them all! I figure if I need a list, you might need one too, right?

So here’s what i’m going to do – I’ve created a Google Form for event organizers to input their event information – dates, hashtags, platforms, the works! That will auto-generate a spreadsheet for us all to reference!

If you are participating in an event and your event organizer hasn’t entered their event, feel free to email me at ruth.brasch@gmail.com and request it be added – I’m happy to add events to the list!

The only reason i’m requesting participants not fill out the form is so the same event doesn’t get entered multiple times or with incorrect information.

Link to Form
Link to Spreadsheet of Events!

Afterthought Heel Pickup Photo Tutorial

Photo Aug 17, 4 09 48 PM

Ready to cut your knitting? This tutorial is for a true afterthought heel – one where you measure to the correct spot, and then follow the instructions below to begin to insert the heel.
If you’re wondering why I don’t knit a line of waste yarn into the sock at the correct height, it’s because that is called a FORETHOUGHT heel, because (as the name suggests) it requires forethought to plan the heel placement.
With an afterthought heel, you can knit the foot and leg as long as you’d like without having to measure for heel placement.

Need a full afterthought heel pattern that will fit the whole family?
Try my Scrambled Socks!

 

TUTORIAL

Afterthought Heel Photo Tutorial

Photo 1: At the correct height, insert your needle into the right side of all the sole stitches in one row (you should pick up half the stitch count of the whole sock). Then, do the same thing two rows up with the other needle.

Photo 2: Pick a middle stitch in the skipped row (where no stitches were picked up), and cut it.

Photo 3: Use a yarn needle to begin unraveling the stitches to the left and right of the cut stitch. Do NOT unravel the last 2 stitches on either side of the row.

Photos 4 & 5: This is how each side should look when you are done unraveling. 4 stitches total are left as they were. They will be knit as normal with the rest of the heel, but leaving them attached will prevent a hole in the side of the heel.

 

To complete the heel, knit as you would knit a toe and graft it shut.
Full sock instructions, including stitch counts and information on where to cut in your heel can be found in my Scrambled Socks pattern.

 

Happy Knitting!

Scrambled Socks

SCRAMBLED SOCKS
By Ruth Brasch

Photo Aug 17, 4 09 31 PM

These socks are knit all out of order – they’re scrambled!

Instead of starting from one direction or another, the entirety of both feet and both legs are knit first, then both cuffs, toes, and heels are added!

The nature of this pattern makes it an excellent mindless project or travel project – you can knit the entire foot and leg tube without having to count stitches, turn heels, or graft toes!

This pattern includes a recipe to help you calculate sock length – whether you want an ankle sock or a mid calf length sock, all the details are included (and don’t worry, i’ve done the majority of the math for you. You just do a simple A-B type equation, and you’re off to the races!)

Video tutorials are included to help you work a crocheted provisional cast on and to separate the tube into two sock legs. A photo tutorial explains how to cut and knit the afterthought heel.

This pattern has been professionally tech edited for clarity and accuracy.

GAUGE

32 sts /44 rounds = 4” (10 cm) in blocked stockinette stitch

 

MATERIALS

  • Size US 1.5 (2.5 mm) knitting needles in the size needed to meet specified gauge, in your preferred style for small circumference knitting
  • Size US 1 (2.25) knitting needles in the size .25mm smaller than gauge needles.
  • Yarn (See chart to right)
  • Scissors
  • Waste yarn (just a few yards)
  • Stitch markers: 2 locking, 2 ring

LINKS TO TUTORIALS
Crochet Cast On

Cutting the Sock Tube for Toes

Cutting in the Afterthought Heel 

STITCHES AND ABBREVIATIONS
K = knit
K2tog = knit next two stitches together as one
Kfb = knit in front and back of next stitch
Ktbl = knit in back loop of next stitch
P = purl
Pg(s) = page(s)
Ssk = slip next two stitches knitwise, one at a time, then transfer both stitches back to the left needle together, and knit them together as one.
St(s) = stitch(es)

 CHOOSING THE PROPER SOCK SIZE
Measure the circumference of the ball of the intended wearer’s foot. For children, choose a size that is 0.5” (1.25 cm) smaller than their foot circumference. For adults, choose a size that is 1” (2.5 cm) smaller. This will ensure a snug fit, which is especially important when knitting a non-elastic stitch like stockinette.

 

Pattern Size Sock Circ.

Inches (cm)

Total Yarn Needed

Yds (m)

MC

Yds (m)

CC

Yds (m)

Toddler 5” (13) 135

(124)

75 (69) 60 (55)
Child 6” (15) 225

(205)

160 (145) 65 (60)
Women’s S 7” (18) 275

(254)

200 (185) 75 (69)
Women’s M/L 8” (20.5) 310

(292)

230 (210) 90 (82)
Men’s M 9” (23) 405

(370)

290 (265) 115 (105)

 

NOTES

  • Sock length should be approximately 0.25” (0.75 cm) shorter than the wearer’s foot length for children, and 0.5” (1.25 cm) shorter for adults.
  • The second, contrasting color is optional, and should be used for heels, toes, and cuffs if you desire.

PATTERN

Provisionally Cast on

40 (48, 56, 64, 72) sts, 20 (24, 28, 32, 36) sts on each needle. I recommend using the crocheted cast on (link to tutorial above)

Knit every stitch for a looooong time. When the tube is long enough, add the details, starting with cuffs, then toes, then heels.

How will you know when the tube is long enough?

Your tube needs to be long enough for two sock legs, and two sock feet minus heels and toes. Don’t worry, I’ve done most of the math for you already!

 

Here’s a simple recipe for you:

  1. Write the wearer’s foot length here: _______________________________________
  2. Multiply A’s number by 2.15 for ankle socks, and by 3.5 for mid calf socks. Write it here: _______________________________________
  3. Total length of all heels and toes (circle the size you’re making):
    5 (6, 7, 8, 10)” / 13, (15, 18, 20.5, 25.5) cm
  4. Do the Math! B-C = minimum sock tube length
    Write it here: ___________________________

Now that you’ve knit your tube, you’re ready to add the details!

Do not bind off the tube – proceed directly to Cuff 1

CUFF 1

**Switch to smaller needles.**

Pattern Round: (k2tbl, p2) around.

Work pattern round for

1.25 (1.5, 1.75, 2, 2.25)” /

3.25 (3.75, 4.5, 5, 5.75) cm.

Bind off using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind off or Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Better Bind Off.

CUFF 2

With the smaller needles, pick up the held stitches from your provisional cast on.

40 (48, 56, 64, 72) sts,

20 (24, 28, 32, 36) sts on each needle.

Work as you did for Cuff 1.

TOES

This is the fiddliest part of the whole sock, because you literally need to cut the sock in half.

Follow these steps:

  1. Fold the sock tube in half, mark the center row.
  2. Thread a lifeline into the two rounds of stitches that are above and below the marked round (there’s a link to a video tutorial on pg 1 of this pattern).
  3. Snip and unravel the central, marked, round.
  4. Rejoice! You now have two separate socks on waste yarn!

 

KNIT THE TOES

Insert the larger needles into the held stitches of one sock, picking them back up and removing the lifeline after they are all on the needles.

40 (48, 56, 64, 72) sts.
Place markers at beginning of round, and after first 20 (24, 28, 32, 36) sts.

Round 1: knit

Round 2: (sm, k1, ssk, k to 3 sts before next marker, k2tog, k1) repeat once more.

Round 3: (sm, k1, k1tbl, k to next marker) repeat once more.

Repeat Rounds 1-2 until you have 20 (24, 28, 32, 36) sts left,

10 (12, 14, 16, 18) on each needle.

Repeat Round 1 another 2 (2, 3, 3, 3) times.

12 (16, 16, 20, 24) sts remain, 6 (8, 8, 10, 12) on each needle

Graft the toe shut. A good grafting tutorial can be found here:

http://damselflys.blogspot.com/2006/08/grafting-sock-toes-tutorial.html

 

Work the second toe the same way.

Now you just need heels!

 

HEELS
If you have never done an afterthought heel before, check out my photo tutorial for cutting and picking up the heel!

Use larger needles.
Measure from the toe of the sock upwards.

At 1.25 (1.5, 1.75, 2, 2.25)” / 3 (4, 4.5, 5, 5.5) cm shorter than full sock length, insert your needle into the right leg of all the sole stitches in one row, picking up 20 (24, 28, 32, 36) sts.

Repeat the process two rows above the one you just picked up stitches from (Photo 1). Cut a center stitch of the row between the picked up rows (Photo 2), and unravel all except the last 2 sts on each side (Photos 3-5).

Place markers for either side of the heel to divide the top and bottom half of the stitches.

Knit 2 rounds.

*If you have a high instep, knit an additional 1-2 rounds before beginning the decreases.

Now, knit a toe! (Yes – a toe! You read correctly!)

Graft the heel shut, and work the second heel the same way. Weave in all ends and block if desired.

 

Congratulations! Your scrambled socks are complete!


TERMS OF USE

Finished items may be sold from my patterns if they are your handmade work, but may not be mass produced. Standard copyright restrictions apply to the pattern itself. You may not sell, distribute, copy and paste the pattern itself to other websites, or otherwise reproduce my patterns or any of their charts, images, or written descriptions without written permission from me. Use of this pattern indicates agreement to these terms.

—————————————————————

CONTACT

Ruth.Brasch@gmail.com 

http://www.facebook.com/Ruthbraschdesign

Instagram: @RuthBrasch

#RuthBraschDesign

#RBDSocks

I’d love to see your project, and would love it if you’d tag me when you post them on social media!

 

Wrenly Blanket Pattern

 

Photo Nov 13, 2 27 45 PM

Meet Wrenly! She’s a soft, fluffy, textured blanket that is sure to please the little snuggler in your life!

If you would like the ad-free PDF version, you can find it in these places:
Ravelry
Etsy
PayHip

GAUGE: 8 sts/7 rows = 4” of dc

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS: 45” wide x 41.75” tall / 112.5 cm wide x 104.5 cm tall

 

MATERIALS

  • Bernat Velvet 880 yds (805 m) for the size written. Sample is shown in the Cabernet Colorway.
    • If you want to expand the blanket, Please note that 10 rows of this blanket require approximately 125 yds (115 m)
  • US J (6.0 mm) crochet hook

 

STITCHES & ABBREVIATIONS

Bobble = (yo, insert hook, yo, draw up a loop, yo, pull through 2 loops on hook) x4, yo, pull through all 9 loops on hook.

CH = Chain

DC = Double crochet

FDC = Foundation Double Crochet

NOTE: the bobble is worked on the wrong side of the blanket, so when you complete it the smooth side of the blanket should be facing you. This helps make the bobbles tight enough that there isn’t a huge gap between stitches.

 

PATTERN

FDC 99, or any multiple of 8+3

Row 2 (WS): Ch 2, dc, (bobble, dc 3) repeat to last 2 sts, bobble, dc. Turn.

Rows 3-5: Ch 2, dc in each st across (98 dc). Turn.

Row 6: Ch 2, dc 3, (bobble, dc 3) to end of row. Turn.

Rows 7-9: Ch 2, dc in each st across (98 dc). Turn.

Repeat Rows 2-9 an additional 8 times (73 rows total) until your blanket is as tall as you want it.

If you want to work a border, I suggest working a round or two of DC around the edge of the blanket, working 3 dc in each corner. The sample blanket does not have a border on it, as the velvet yarn creates a very finished look.