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  • Crochet Conference Prep, the Aftermath


    This past June and July I blogged fifty days of crochet conference prep. I returned home from the conference on July 17. Today is August 18. What happened between then and now?

    crochet conference prep: swatch buntings

    I crocheted together lacy Tunisian Lotus swatches in the car. It reminds me of Mexican “papel picado”. Worked out well for teaching!

    This is the first day that I could imagine sitting down to compose a blog post and enjoy it. That’s a full month of recovery from having a booth while also teaching several new crochet topics.

    Here’s how the past 30 days went:

    • I needed an immediate inventory of what I came home with, so the first thing I did was unpack a gazillion boxes of booth and teaching stuff.
    • After counting everything, I put away what I could. This left me with five big heaps that had to be sorted and packed up carefully for future events. It took two weeks to work through these heaps step by step.
    • It also took about two weeks to completely unpack suitcases and get through all of the laundry only because I felt like such a zombie.
    • Filled lots of orders that continued to come in every day from my website. (I love this about conferences: so many visitors to my website!)
    • Discussed new color #20 of Lotus yarn with our mill.
    • Slept and slept. Slept some more.
    • Sat still happily without my mind racing. No adrenaline rushes, worries, or multitasking. Enjoyed what others were posting about their conference experiences.
    • It took days to go through all of my emails.
    • It took a full four weeks for all incoming and outgoing booth and teaching monies to be settled. (This would surprise me except that it took longer last year.)
    • Thoughts: “I could maybe blog this. Or, tomorrow.” “What do I want to crochet next. No idea.” “What about next year? Not sure.”

    Crochet Conference Prep Results

    How it was better than last year’s:

    I was careful to keep a more accurate and readable list of starting inventory. This way, after returning home, it was easy to compare with the ending inventory (and trust the numbers!). I had to force myself to be disciplined about this. While packing up the merchandise to ship up to the show, I could see when my starting amounts got fuzzier last year.

    This year we shipped by UPS to a nearby UPS store, not to the event or show management company. It worked great this time: fast, cheap, and convenient.

    Thanks to a tip from Doris who used to transport and manage the entire CGOA Design Contest, I purchased some giant clear blue zippered storage cubes. These are perfect for loading up every inch of a car with soft items (yarns and crocheted items).

    Last year I felt like a zombie for much longer—months. A 2015 creative slump lasted for so long that I started to fear I was done with crochet designing altogether. This year I took endurance-building tonic herbs and nutrients for the weeks before and after the event. Maybe they worked! The creative slump only lasted 3 weeks this time. (Last year I also had jet lag.)

    I like the pattern info tags I created at the last minute for the three shawls that George Shaheen of 10 Hours or Less designed in my Lotus yarn.

    The “papel picado”-style swatch buntings (pictured above) that I crocheted on the way to Charleston worked out really well for me in classes because I grouped them by technique and theme. I’m going to do this with more Lotus swatches.

    *Blogging those fifty days of prep kept me focused on the present next step while also accountable to an observer (my blogging self). Plus it leaves me with tips for my future self.

    How might crochet conference prep be even better next time?

     

    This post is getting long so I’m moving this part to a future post.

     

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    • August 18th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    My Ideal Crochet Conference Clothes


    Next Packing Step: Conference Clothes 2016

    Now that I’ve re-committed to the Z-CoiL® shoes I can focus on the conference clothes. At home in Florida I wear jeans and light-colored t-shirts (with or without Z-Coils). For the past 25 crochet conferences I’ve packed almost no jeans or t-shirts.

    Lots of crochet conference attendees wear their most comfortable jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers and that’s great! That’s the easiest packing of all. (People do tend to dress up for the Saturday night banquet.)

    Please don’t let what I’m about to say worry you if you’re a first-timer and you want to wear t-shirts and jeans! My choices are based on how I want to wear my crochet designs, and on all the professional, organizational, and event roles I play. (Designer, teacher, presenter, model, director, officer, etc.) So, ideally my conference clothes meet several needs at once.

    For these reasons the tops I pack are mostly plain stretchy black in different sleeve lengths and neckline styles. The best ones work great under a striking crochet vest, wrap, or cardigan and:

    • are made of a breathable material that travels well
    • look stylish enough
    • work for both daytime and evening
    • shedding yarn fibers won’t cling to it!

    These tops are perfect for modeling and I pack extras for attendees who didn’t plan to model on banquet night. Other neutral colors can work too, like charcoal, navy, tan. In crochet classes I think people don’t want to look at a lot of black all the time. Nowadays I feel good teaching in soft, breezy tunics with fine details.

    Pants: I look for the same qualities as in tops. Additionally, I love a wide waistband that sits a bit below my waist. A long boot cut in a structured fabric looks best with the Z-Coils. I have a clear picture of what works the best for me, but sometimes I have to shop too much to find it.

    Some years I get lucky with these brands: White House/Black Market, Ann Taylor, Chico’s. I found almost nothing I can use the other day, though—only capri pants, lovely skirts, and prints. I’m all ears if you have other brand suggestions for me.

    Not everything goes with the shoes. Too bad! I won’t compromise there, despite my stylish friend Annie’s consternation. If ever there were a time when Z-CoiL® shoes are indispensable, this epic conference is it—the teaching (15 hours over 3.5 days), the show booth, and of course helping the Hall of Fame committee celebrate the wonderfulness that is Doris J. Chan!

    By the way, I’ve also resumed editing and refining the class handouts now that my houseguest Annie has left. We had a fantastic week rollerskating, tracking night blooming cereus, and visiting the mermaids of Weeki Wachee.

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    • June 21st, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Best Crochet Conference Shoes Ever


    Having attended twenty-five crochet conferences in twelve years, I’ve found that a lot depends on my weird, favorite conference shoes. Tomorrow’s post will be about the clothes, which are partly determined by the shoes.

    I get asked about my choice of shoes a lot. (In the future I can just refer people to this post.) I wear one ultra-comfortable pair of Z-Coils all day, and maybe fancy heels or sandals for evening. This year I’ll have a new pair of Z-Coils, the “Z-Breeze” with an enclosed heel.

    When I go all out and wear sensationally uncomfortable shoes, it’s for only two hours at a time. I love fabulous-looking shoes, but I stop having fun after about two hours of wearing them if they’re uncomfortable. Another way to say this is, I have an insane amount of fun at these conferences when I wear mostly Z-Coils. Shoes make or break events like these.

    Here’s a little gallery I created of Z-Coils from around the ‘net:

     

    Benefits (and a few drawbacks) of these Conference Shoes: 

    After a month or two of wearing them, my lower back strengthened as the shoe’s coiled heel took over the job of shock absorber. Until then, I didn’t even know that my lower back had been my “shock absorber” whenever I walked on tiles and pavement, or lifted heavy things. (For other people it might be their knees, ankles, or thighs.) I could lift almost double the weight than I could before, without problems. It turns out that I have good upper body strength. It was my lower back that was limiting it.

    Some people only find out about Z-Coils when they develop walking difficulties. In my case, I met a local knitter who first wore them while recovering from a knee operation. She loved them so much that she continued to wear them long after. I liked how weirdly futuristic they looked on her. When I tried on a pair I was hooked! This was about ten years ago.

    [Do I have to do a disclaimer that I’m not a doctor? Not only am I not a doctor, my lower back has never been examined by one. And while I’m disclaiming, I’m also not a representative of the Z-Coil co. and they’re not rewarding me for blogging this.]

    What this means at crochet conferences is that I can stand on my feet all day every day while teaching or in my market booth, and carry stuff from my hotel room to the far end of a convention center and back.

    I don’t start the conference already exhausted from carrying luggage and dashing through airports to change planes in the middle of the night. I never take long flights without Z-Coils. These conference shoes come through for me even before I arrive at the event.

    By the second and third days of a conference, other people’s legs and backs are tired. They look around constantly for somewhere to sit. It’s thanks to Z-Coils that I’m looking around for a place to go dancing instead! (Doris is rolling her eyes right about now.)

    [I’m adding this link to Pia Thadani’s blog post about her first time attending this conference last year. Her pointers and photos convey everything very well.]

    These are significant benefits, right? Now magnify them when I don’t get enough sleep. What if I have to sleep in the airport and switch planes at 5 am? My Z-Coils “have my back”. It’s such a relief to rely on their strength when travel mishaps occur.

    Two big drawbacks. One is that I don’t feel hot in them (as in sexy). Skirts are out of the question with Z-Coils for me. Some women can make it work, but I’d always feel self conscious. I love how I look in delicate, ultra feminine shoes and dresses, but I can only happily wear girly shoes for a few hours at a time.

    The other drawback is that Z-Coil shoes are expensive (+/- $250.) Mine lasted me ten years, though! Plus you can replace some parts yourself. It’s not a big drawback when I think it through, I just get sticker shock. It’s a bargain, actually. I’m telling myself this as I prepare to buy a new pair of the best conference shoes ever.

    Interested? Then you must see the Customized Z-Coils Pinterest board I found today!

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    • June 20th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    2010 CGOA Runway: Tunisian Weightless Wrap


    Found this photo I’d forgotten about! It was taken at a crochet conference in 2010. I’m modeling the Tunisian Weightless Wrap because it won an award in the CGOA Design Contest.

    Tunisian Eyelet mesh pattern: "Weightless Wrap"

    2010 CGOA runway photo of Vashti by Doris Chan.

    CGOA Design Contest, 2010

    I think 2010 was the very first year of the contest. It has since become an exciting annual event, thanks to Doris Chan’s tireless efforts in the first 3-4 years of it.

    The Weightless Wrap is the inspiration for one of my longest running crochet classes on Tunisian eyelet meshes. I’ve just completed the 2016 class resource page for it–that’s how I stumbled upon this photo.

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    • June 1st, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    National Crochet Month Specials


    National Crochet Month 2016! I've got my ticket!

     I’ve got my ticket!

    Welcome, Natcromo Blog Tour Visitors!

    In honor of (Inter-)National Crochet Month, I’ve added a FREE lacy spring scarf pattern to my Ravelry shop: the double-flounced Emdash Scarf. It’s free for one week.

    I thought I’d show you Emdash’s crochet story in pictures. National Crochet Month is for crochet stories, right? Especially about lacy spring scarves. First, the design sketches:

    Original Emdash Sketches for National Crochet Month spring scarf

    Emdash has two design sisters.

    Antoinette is the eldest (I published her popular pattern in Nov. 2011). She loves lace weight metallic mohair with sequins and other holiday party yarns. Cantina is the youngest, even though her pattern was published before Emdash’s (in Dec. 2015). Cantina is a freewheeling hippie girl who likes color parties, scrap yarns, and beads. Below are front page snippets of the three designs. It’s easier to show some alternate views of them this way.

    Emdash Scarf Sister Designs: National Crochet Month 2016 spring scarf freebie

    How did Emdash get her name?

    While I was exploring special characters on my keyboard, I kept seeing the scarf draped on my mannequin. The columns of tall stitches are grouped with vertical spacers. (I like the slightly different crocheting rhythm of it.) They started reminding me of emdashes, yes—a type of punctuation. It shortens so nicely to “Emmy.”

    The last part of her design story is that I learned how to format and print out kit patterns with the Emdash Scarf, for the show booth I had last summer. This means Emdash is also available as a printed pattern here.

    Since you’ve read this far, you can also take 15% off anything in my shop by clicking this link. Remember, shipping is already free to US addresses, so 15% off really is 15% off.Emdash Kit Story for National Crochet Month 2016

    Enjoy your free crochet pattern! And Happy National Crochet Month!

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    • March 30th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Yarn Tests for a New Tunisian Crochet Filet Design


    This blog post is third in a short series about the development of a new Tunisian crochet pattern pdf.

    I did two kinds of yarn tests for my new Tunisian crochet filet scarf (first blogged here).

    1. I needed a good yarn for photo tutorial close ups. I’ve learned that I have the best luck with a single ply yarn. More than one ply could add a possibly distracting texture. I love the look and colors of the purple yarn in the first photo, but its plies worried me.

    A thicker yarn is better for close ups than a skinny one so that their individual fibers don’t show up too much! See the two close ups in the second row.

    A yarn’s colors also matter for Tunisian crochet filet close ups. Strong contrasting color shifts are distracting, but subtle color shifts can be a real plus.


    Soft tonal dyeing makes a stitch or row easier for someone to distinguish right away. It’s easier for my camera too. One solid light color is great for in-person classes, but not always for extreme close ups. Sometimes my camera thinks the stitches are just fuzzy blobs no matter what I do. (Maybe it’s user error, shhhh.)

    2. Wool. I fell in love with my first Tunisian crochet filet design in wool. That would be…Warm Aeroette! (Hence the “warm” part.) Until Aeroette I’d only had Tunisian crochet filet thoughts in bamboo (Ennis), silk (Aero), and cotton (dishcloth test in my Lotus yarn). Traditional filet lace has mostly been a cotton thread kind of crochet project. Maybe that’s why I didn’t reach for the wool.

    I needed to know if I loved Aeroette because the yarn I used is not a thick wooly wool. It’s a fingering weight fine-micron merino wool. Fine-micron merino has an almost silky drape. The thinner fingering weight (like a sock yarn) gives the stitches a fine-grained texture. In a thick wool like the Mochi Plus (blue photo above), the filet-style lacy eyelets could look clunky or lumpy as a scarf. Would be a lovely afghan border though.

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    • October 30th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    New Tunisian Crochet Pattern PDF: What Takes So Long?


    This blog post is the second part of a short series about the birth of a new crochet pattern pdf. The third is here.

    Behind the scenes of a new Tunisian crochet pattern

    Pictured is draft #4 of Warm Aeroette Tunisian Crochet Scarf.

    I’m a slow, deliberate pattern publisher. I love crocheting and so I think I chronically underestimate how much work it really is! Not only does a step almost always take longer than I expect – I also don’t always know when I need to recharge. (Each of these is a “step”: a stitch diagram, a photo tutorial, pattern testing, sizing, tech editing, etc.)

    Pattern Draft #4: "Warm Aeroette Tunisian Crochet Scarf."

    Draft #4 of Warm Aeroette Tunisian Crochet Scarf.

    I don’t just call it “Aeroette” because this is a downloadable single pattern. The title needs to tell crocheters (and search engines) as much as possible in one line.

    Three things can slow down new Tunisian crochet patterns for me:

    1. Each design seems to bring unique issues! For Aeroette, starting the scarf in one corner is a biggie. It merits a nice step by step photo tutorial. It’s a rare construction method for Tunisian crochet. Also, the best pattern wording evolves slowly sometimes. For Aeroette I’ve revised the wording of how and where the beginning and ending picots go a few times for clarity. Tunisian crochet pattern language has its own conventions.

    2. Meanwhile, I’m always mulling design details. Doris is the same way and we laugh about this. Maybe I could optimize X, or add Y feature. What about this or that variation? I’d better swatch it in a very different yarn to make sure the design is not dependent on the yarn I’m using.

    3. A third publishing speed bump is how educational it is. Aeroette started out originally as a practice project for a class on the Aero Tunisian Filet Lace Wrap. My goal with Aeroette is that it serve as a new Tunisian crochet skill building experience.

    Sometimes I print a 2-to-a-page draft like you see here, to save paper. To save printer ink, the photos and captions are temporarily tiny. Most images are step-by-step tutorial photos that will all go on a back page. That will make printing them optional to save everyone’s printer ink.

    Update: Downloadable PDF for the new Tunisian crochet Warm Aeroette Scarf is officially in the shop.

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    • October 27th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    How to Produce Crochet Newsletters: Class Resources


    Interested in emailing your own newsletters, and building your own readership? Then sign up to attend my presentation during Professional Development Day at the Crochet Guild of America’s (CGOA) Chain Link Conference this October 2, 2013 in Concord (Charlotte), North Carolina. Please note: this conference is held jointly with the Knitting Guild conference (TKGA). Together the event tends to be known to the larger public as The Knit and Crochet Show.

    Below is a list of additional information for those who attend my presentation. If you can’t attend, I hope you’ll also find something of use here. The list below is divided into seven sections:

    1. Some Notable Crochet Newsletters
    2. Starting Off Right
    3. Promote Your Newsletter
    4. Take Your Newsletter to the Next Level
    5. ESP Providers (and the companies that use them)
    6. More Crochet-Relevant Newsletters
    7. Email Newsletter…or Sales Flyer?

    Producing Crochet Newsletters: Resources

    I. Some Notable Crochet Newsletters 

    To help you bring your own newsletter into focus, subscribe to some of these below. Pay attention to the design of its subscribe form, any triggered welcome emails, special offers, etc. Watch when an issue arrives in your inbox (day, time of day, frequency). See which topics, formatting, or images get your attention. If you unsubscribe, note any “sorry to see you go” emails.

    1. Focus on content (article style): Annette Petavy, Annette Petavy Design: http://www.annettepetavy.com/pages/en/newsletter/2012/09.html
    2. Digest Type (A roundup of blog posts and other links in interesting categories): Ellen Gormley, GoCrochet archives: http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/home/?u=5133fbb5647a595b35f277792&id=d523b15acd
    3. Newly revised to complement a daily blog: Stacey Trock, Fresh Stitches http://www.freshstitches.com/free-amigurumi-crochet-tips-ebook-newsletter/
    4. 19,623 readers, several writers: Rachel Choi’s Crochet Spot: http://www.crochetspot.com
    5. Trendy style: Linda Skuja’s Eleven Handmadehttp://www.lindaskuja.com/p/newsletter.html
    6. Jocelyn Sass, Cute Crochethttp://www.cutecrochet.com/orderinformation/mailinglist.html
    7. Deb Richey, CraftyDebhttp://www.craftydeb.com/newsletter
    8. Uses PHPList service: June Gilbank’s PlanetJunehttp://www.planetjune.com/list/
    9. My own DesigningVashti newsletter, since 2010: Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter: http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/home/?u=8d9b0b0df0b73f0fdcb7f4729&id=9c8df8dd87 (An example of the handy archives and click-to-subscribe page that is available from MailChimp, the email service I use.)
    10. Three long-running crochet newsletters:

     

    II. Starting Off Right: helpful online articles

    1. Common terms associated with email newsletters: http://www.mailermailer.com/resources/email-dictionary.rwp
    2. Name Your Newsletter: http://writtent.com/blog/6-tips-on-creating-compelling-newsletter-titles/
    3. Importance of Subject Lines: http://www.mequoda.com/articles/email-marketing/3-email-subject-line-formulas-proven-to-increase-open-rates/
    4. Create an Email Newsletter Calendar: http://www.mequoda.com/articles/email-marketing/create-a-calendar-for-better-email-marketing-management/
    5. About the Can-Spam Act: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN-SPAM

     

    III. Promote Your Newsletter

    You can’t promote it enough.

    1. Example of a Newsletter Pinboard: Vashti Braha, DesigningVashti: http://pinterest.com/vashtibraha/vashti-s-crochet-newsletters/
    2. Example of a dedicated blog page tab (Blogger): http://designingvashti.blogspot.com/p/crochet-inspirations-newsletter.html
    3. Example of a dedicated information page for a Ravelry Group: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/vashtis-crochet-lounge/pages/Crochet-Inspirations-Newsletter-FAQ
    4. Example of a dedicated Facebook Page for your newsletter: https://www.facebook.com/pages/DesigningVashti-Crochet-Inspirations/156608107685576
    5. Inspiring example: A yarn company’s promotional design elements: Lion Brand produces 3 weekly and monthly newsletters, such as The Weekly Stitch. See the information-rich newsletter page here: http://www.lionbrand.com/cgi-bin/newsletters.cgi (archives too). Note how each newsletter issue is formatted. The top right corner has a table of contents, while tabs across the left just under header link to key website pages (OUR YARNS –  PATTERNS – SHOP). Also see the footer of each newsletter.

     

    IV. Take Your Newsletter to the Next Level

    1. Berroco may have been the first to regularly embeds videos in their long-running KnitBits issues: http://www.berroco.com/knitbits-newsletter
    2. Knit designer Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer displays her longtime newsletter experience in the fine-tuned elements of her Heartstrings newsletter: http://www.heartstringsfiberarts.com/newsletterarchive.shtm
    3. Online articles about newsletter refinements:
    4. Some examples of newsletter segmentation:

    V. ESP Providers and Companies Who Use Them (incomplete list, alphabetical)

    Be sure to subscribe to the newsletters of ESP providers that interest you; or explore their online resources. I especially like AWeber’s, MailChimp’s, and Mailermailer’s resources.

    1. Aweber (Rachel Choi/Crochet Spot, Jackie E-S/Heartstrings): http://www.aweber.com
    2. Constant Contact (Maggie’s Crochet, Berroco, Classic Elite Yarns, Cotton Clouds, Crystal Palace Yarns, elann.com, Katherine Lee/Sweaterbabe, Linda Cortright/Wild Fibers):  http://www.constantcontact.com/home/signup.jsp?s_tnt=48655:19:0
    3. Get Response: http://www.getresponse.com
    4. iContact (Jen Hansen/Stitch Diva Studios, Tanis Galik/Interlocking Crochet): http://www.icontact.com
    5. MailChimp (Vashti Braha/DesigningVashti, Dora Ohrenstein/Crochet Insider, Ellen Gormley/GoCrochet, Stacey Trock/Fresh Stitches, Loop/Loop Scoop, Linda Skuja/ElevenHandmade, Leisure Arts, Martingale, Tamara Kelly/moogly, Mikey/The Crochet Crowd, Lianka Azulay/BonitaPatterns, Nancy Queen/Noble Knits, Brenda Lavell/Phydeaux): http://mailchimp.com
    6. Mailermailer (Cathe Ray/Needlestack): http://www.mailermailer.com/index.rwp
    7. PHPList (June Gilbank/PlanetJune, Josi Madera/Art of Crochet): http://www.phplist.com

     

    VI. More Crochet-Relevant Newsletters:

    1. Tamara Kelly, Moogly: Weekly via MailChimp; takes advertising (Craftsy, Zulily, Annie’s), and the rest of newsletter is blog post snippets. Includes polls. Archive: http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/home/?u=9929d1e9575d4f0e2936a8743&id=0b2d00989e
    2. Tanis Galik/Interlocking Crochet: http://www.interlockingcrochet.com/index.php?option=com_users&view=registration
    3. Amie Hirtes/NexStitch: http://www.nexstitch.com/newsletter.html
    4. Dora Ohrenstein, Crochet Insider archives: http://us4.campaign-archive1.com/home/?u=c96b913e7af278f634924518a&id=f4d2cd72ee
    5. Lisa van Klaveren, Holland Designshttp://etsy.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=9dd325c3d57ba71c22622eece&id=8c9695b735
    6. Annie Modesitt, Modeknithttp://app.expressemailmarketing.com/Survey.aspx?SFID=161138 Previous newsletters since 2006: http://anniemodesitt.com/news/
    7. New Stitch a Day: http://newstitchaday.com/blog/
    8. Linda Cortright’s Wild Fibers: http://visitor.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=001nFupVrVrNd7iTi7p6_MGYQ==
    9. My favorite example of a blog-to-newsletter email: Martingale’s crochet & knit Fridays, 3 or 4 staff writers: http://blog.shopmartingale.com/crochet-knitting/crochet-and-knitting-museum-becoming-a-reality/ Some interesting topics. I actually prefer the look & feel of the emailed version. It inspires me to use the blog-to-newsletter features of MailChimp!
    10. Red Heart Yarns, blog (scroll to very bottom for newsletter subscribe box): http://www.redheart.com/blog
    11. Some newsletters produced by local yarn shops:
    12. A Good Yarn Sarasota (rapidly growing readership): http://www.agoodyarnsarasota.com
    13. Loops Scoop archives: http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/home/?u=f97d5ff1f8ea5c331757403a9&id=50768198b4
    14. String: http://www.stringyarns.com/subscribe.php
    15. Natural Stitches Newsletter: Archives: http://www.naturalstitches.com/Newsletter.html
    16. Jimmy Beans Wool: http://www.jimmybeanswool.com/newslettersHome.asp

    VII. Email Newsletter or…Sales Flyer?

    “Newsletter” implies enough usable content to avoid the “sales promotion” category. A bulk email is often a mix of the two. Even if an email has a newsletter-like format, at least 60% of it needs to be real non-sales usable content for an email to count as a “newsletter.” 

    If you can imagine the information in a bulk email as a magazine article, column, or part of a book chapter, it counts as real content!

    1. An example of a sales flyer (rather than a “newsletter”): Knitpicks http://www.knitpicks.com/images/promo/email/bem/BE130722.html?media=BE130722&elink=0–HTM
    2. Jen Hansen, Stitch Diva Studios: http://www.stitchdiva.com/newsletters/
    3. Lianka Azulay, Bonita Patternshttp://etsy.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=eda7d3f5fe05c649e086e1f0c&id=973aaa93b7
    4. Kristin Omdahl, StyledbyKristin archivehttp://us2.campaign-archive2.com/home/?u=dc23e5addd7fc32bc5e710d55&id=d93c5b50da
    5. A sales flyer I enjoy. Why? The design photos inspire me in ten seconds before I delete the email — even though none of them are crochet!: Nancy Queen’s NobleKnits sample issue: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=74c9a5fe681619d5a82b98f3c&id=fb504eff2b&e=7507824e09

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    • August 5th, 2013 by Vashti Braha

    From Crochet Design Idea to Professional Proposal


    Resources Page for Presentation given by Vashti Braha: From Crochet Design Idea to Professional Proposal  CGOA Professional Development Day, Reno NV September 12, 2012

    Clickable links are listed below under four subheadings, but first!  A Gallery of Ten Crochet Photography Challenges I’ve Encountered (out of Thousands)  Click or double-click on a photo for details.

    1. Creating, Choosing, Sharing Images of Swatches, Sketches, and Designs

     

    2. Why Photography Skills for all Crochet Professionals are Important

    Photography has been a challenging journey for me. I’m a crochet designer and teacher first. Perhaps this is why I was slow to realize that every photo I take is also my intellectual property (therefore a business asset) with the same potential infinite value as a crochet design. The more rights one retains to each type of original crochet-related content (whether photo, diagram, text, video, etc.), the more capital one has. Forever. Content to be used as the rights holder sees fit, especially in the unforeseen opportunities the future holds. In other words, do yourself a big favor: err on the side of sitting on the full rights to too much content, because chances are your future self will be glad you did. I speak from experience already! Regarding photography for example, I only waited 2 years to learn how saving my seemingly superfluous photos pays off.

    I may never see myself as a professional photographer, but everything I’ve learned about it has been worth the effort, both personally and professionally. Understanding how cameras and light and angles work is nice; even better are the unexpectedly deeper and almost spiritual things photography is teaching me, like: the kinds of beauty I used to overlook; what I want to see and what’s most ‘real’ to me; choices of visual subtexts (those ‘1000 words’ that pictures speak), and just plain what’s important to me about crochet. A surprise fringe benefit is that as I page through the latest crochet magazine or book, I now also detect other points of view non-crocheting pro photographers take, either by default or by direction.

    As a crochet designer who finds project photography challenging, the best thing I’ve done is to allow myself the time to take baby steps:

    • If all I do is keep the camera very still, I’m already ahead. It can singlehandedly produce a great raw photo for isolating key details later at the editing stage. Sounds obvious, but it’s a special skill to do this for certain kinds of shots. Surprisingly, it has also taken me a long time to recognize when a photo is subtly out of focus.
    • I block everything, even jewelry. Otherwise the camera will blab loudly to everyone that I didn’t, and I’ll have to retake the photo {shudder}.
    • Having at least one mannequin is fabulous, mainly because using live models for any kind of crochet photography is overwhelmingly complicated for me. Photographing crochet on/with live models require a whole different skill set. I’m going easy on myself and still learning so much with still photography. Another surprise for me has been the strong opinions I hear FOR or AGAINST crochet or knit designs photographed on live models!
    • I refuse to obsess about perfect light. There’s no way I’m getting up at dawn to photograph anything! No way am I delaying a new pattern release just because a tropical storm is brewing! However, the more I’ve thought about this, the more I wonder if this is a luxury I have in Florida, where I usually deal with too much light. The more photos I take of crochet, the less light I need, especially when my priority is to emphasize a stitch texture, or the intricate interaction between fiber type, yarn construction, stitch pattern and drape. I can add light during photo editing, but taking away too much light is trickier.
      • As a result, I avoid buying specialized paraphernalia that clutters up my house or makes it feel too much like a photographer’s studio. I often just put up a low three-fold cardboard screen to mute the Florida sun. Having a range of simple light modifying tools and backgrounds at hand, such as folding foam-core boards, frees me from waiting for only one ideal hour of indirect sunlight or a weather-perfect day.
    • Photoshop will just have to wait its turn. Until more non-photographers’ faces relax when they talk about using Photoshop, I’m making the most of iPhoto and supplementing with iWatermark and whatever the current incarnation of the online Picnik is – and enjoying myself while mastering the basics.
    • I learn a new setting on my camera when I’m good ‘n’ ready. My favorite option so far is the macro setting (on my Canon it looks like a flower symbol). It’s especially great for any beaded crochet, fancy stitches, and step outs (tutorials). I practiced for months with different close up ranges to recognize the macro ‘sweet spot.’ I wish I’d taken a few macro pics of the beaded seam of Tunisian Petals (see my blog link below about this)
    • I turn a crochet photo session into a relaxing event. I do a batch at a time. I often jot down a specific shot I need for a pattern or blog post, because I don’t always remember by the time it’s ‘photo shoot day.’ Depending on the time of day, I may turn up the music, pour a glass of wine, and relax into the job. Or in the morning I may get all sporty and aerobic about it, especially if I’m cleaning up the room reaching to get artsy angled shots, changing backgrounds, moving mannequins around etc. I might chat on the phone, or listen to my husband’s TV show. I avoid a lot of caffeine, though, for a steadier hand.

    Helpful Links for Crochet Photography Newbies:

     

    3. Submissions Guidelines for Crochet Pattern Magazines:

    Submissions Guidelines for Pattern Book Publishers:

     

    4. Recommended Miscellaneous Resources for New/Aspiring Professional Crochet Designers:

    Note: even though some of these links offer advice about expired calls for proposals, the information is still relevant for future calls.

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    • September 22nd, 2012 by Vashti Braha


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