Ready. Set. Knit!

So I am just about ready, at least I feel like I am.

As you all know I have been knitting for years now and have had some success selling some of the items that I have knitted but I have never really tried to make it into anything more than what it, at heart, is.

A hobby.

Hobbies are all good and fine, but they get risky when you start having aspirations to make them into a career. I have been told that this is the easiest way to get tired of, what had been, a pleasant way to spend your time. That is something to certainly consider but I really only feel that that is true for those who might have picked up the hobby with this as their original intent.

For people like me that come at it from the other direction it is less of a risk.

Here the only thing that I may give us is the idea of making my hobby into a business.

When I started to look into this more I realized that there was a lot to consider. And I was sort of put off it all. Now, for the most part, things are in place and I've seen enough to get started. At least the basics have been covered and what has yet to be discovered/encountered isn't that important.

That isn't me being super confident. Rather it is a feeling of covering all of the basics before getting started. And, sure, basics are just that, the baby steps that lead to success.

As they say: "We must learn to walk before we can run." Sidenote: When I googled the idiom I was expecting to see somebody famous credited with saying it. Instead they listed E.L. James as saying it. Hum, pretty sure that it is older than that.

So, what would walking look like in my case?

Well, I felt like it would only be fitting to set a budget. I am willing to invest this much in the business and not much more. This comes in the form of:

  1. Time – I am willing to put a realistic amount of time the business, yet, at the same time it has to have a realistic cut off point. I know some women that decided to start a shop on Etsy and are "still cracking away at it" years later. This isn't very encouraging, nor is is sensible.
  2. Money – If it is important that I set a limit to how much time I am willing to invest into the business that same is doubly true for the financial aspect of the business.
    • Somebody once that I know told me that print shops love to see people come in that are just starting out. Most businesses try to do everything right. And that means having lots of prints made; regardless of how many they need.I think that is why so many shops have a surplus of fliers, business or care cards.

One aspect of starting a shop that I find important is adding the finishing touch.

It both needs to be professional and at the same time it needs to feel like it is personal. I have always appreciate the cards that certain sellers include in the package. They are no more than business cards with a tasteful and cleaver design and a specific purpose that falls into one or more of the following categories:

  1. Coupon
  2. Care
  3. Contact

Right now I want to include two. And I found a site which offers a lot of different styles. I even recognized one of the card designs I've received from an Etsy seller in the past. So from that I can say using straight business cards is certainly an option. And judging by the quality of the print and paper I will likely also go with them, as they are also cheaper. The coupon (which doubles as a contact) and care card.

I haven't made a final decision on the card design. Though I am certain that I will use business cards for the inserts. My main concern for selecting the right set is that they should compliment each other.

When it comes to cards, no matter if it is a business card or a any other piece of promotional material the important part is in clearly stating the purpose. When you get a care card with an order off of Etsy you want the recipient to immediately understand what it is. Don't hide the meaning behind a fancy design that, while it may look nice, ends up in the garbage because they do not know what it is.

What I have in mind for the design is something that clearly shows its intention and then, once they have acknowledged it adds the extra touch.

Is that too much to ask?

Maybe.

But I have a big selection to choose from.

Thinking About Business

The idea of starting a shop on Etsy, etc. has been going through my mind for a while now. And while the prospect seemed daunting. No, wait. It still feels daunting. I am getting more comfortable with it.

The different sources that I have been using to read up on it. Mainly books that I have checked out from the library were helpful. Though they also left me wanting more information. As it stands I do not have the confidence to just jump right in. But that might be what I do. To avoid analogies with learning to swim. It might be the best way o get a feel for the way people do business on the site.

When I was in college one of my roommates was making trinkets and selling them first on ebay and then on in the early days, Etsy.

It worked for her well enough. She always had some money for the weekends – and she paid for a girl's weekend out when we graduated. Which trilled us.

One thing that I have noticed when I buy something from Etsy you often get a business card, presented as a coupon card or care card specific for the product and seller. It is a nice touch that gives it a professional look. Things like, while I can appreciate, I never would have come to the idea myself. Of course I am going to do it. And while it might not be my first step those little cards are actually pretty cheap to have them printed.

I saw that I could order about a hundred cards for less than $20 which makes them five cents a piece. For that and the visual appeal that the finishing touch adds it doesn't make any sense to skip them.

The problem I have with them is either have them professionally designed. This presents a problem in that it makes the whole endeavor more expensive. Or I can design them myself and have them printed. Both have their ups and downs. Professional designs will problem look a lot better. But the added expense might not be worth it.

If I design them myself I can save on the overall cost, the time expenditure, yet I am not sure if I can achieve the same quality with my limited design skills.

In the end I will probably go with the second option. The main reason is that if I need to make changes I won't have to rely on the original designer to make them and I will have the source files to work with.

As you can see there is a lot to consider and I have a hard time making a commitment.

A Fun Shabby Chic Project

When people ask me what they need when they start knitting I say arthritis free hands. But in truth there isn’t a lot that you need to start knitting.

One of the easiest ones can be accomplished by beginners of all ages and it is pretty popular right now.

A Shabby Chic Scarf

If you want to start a small project, or if you want to teach a child how to knit I would highly suggest starting with a simple finger knit project. Holding needles for hours can be stressful, learning to hold them properly is stressful for adults, though I have found that this is less of a problem for children.

Still, if starting small is what you are interested in and this is something that I advocate you can always knit a small project with just your fingers.

Finger knitting, to me, feels like something natural. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that some ancient ancestor was sitting around a fire and knitting with finger alone. They were probably a grandmother, and it was probably a sweater.

Anyway, back to the project at hand.

There aren’t a lot of projects that you can knit like this but when you are working with children the amount of options is less important as when you try and teach an adult. Trust me if you have never held a needle in your hands before you won’t be whipping up cardigans, no matter how motivated you are.. The easier the better and the pattern is easy to get a grip on. Here is a version with pictures if you are having trouble visualizing the technique.

Step 1.

You are going to need to slide the end of a ball of yarn between your thumb and index finger (this will allow you to control the ball while you knit). By pinching it between your fingers you can control the yarn as you knit.

Now you will need to loop the yarn around your pinkie and then begin to weave it through your fingers.

Step 2.

When you have looped the yarn over and under on your fingers you will need to loop the yarn around your index finger turning back to your pinkie.

Step 3.

You should now have a full loop around your four fingers.

Step 4.

This produces a pattern that you can now begin to weave together. Slip the bottom row so that it goes over the one above it. Think about it like pulling one loop over the next loop. You will start at the pinkie and work your way up. Once you have the hang of it, you may need to untangle the yarn and start again, you can repeat the steps 2-4 until you reach the length that want the item to be. If you are making a bracelet you will not need that much and a couple of repetitions will be enough, for bigger items like a scarf you can expect to go through the process a number of times. Once you are finished you can tie the tip off and you’re all set.

Start Small, Learn The Ropes (Or Yarn)

I’ve been a recreational knitter for many years and never really had any interest in offering my items for sell. I usually give them away since the making and the giving are the rewarding part for me. I use it as a hobby, to relax when I come home from work, and that is all I expect from it.

That doesn’t mean that you have to “limit” yourself but to be honest if you are going to do it professionally you will see that it takes time to knit and you have to ask how much is your time worth.

People often ask me for suggestions or help on picking out hooks. They will tell me they are thinking about brand X though it is twice as expensive as band Y. When I hear this I will say something like “why don’t you just pick up a cost-effective set with everything you need?” The thing about cost-effective sets are that you do not need to continue buying each hook separately. That gets expensive quickly!

If you haven’t gotten the hang of it, know what you want/need, or don’t even know if you plan to continue, buying all of the expensive equipment upfront can be a waste.

When I first got started I was using whatever I had around the house for yarn markers. And while it was a nightmare trying to cut yarn with my rickety old scissors that were as dull as they were sticky I learned something important. I like knitting.

At that point I upgraded.

While the hair clips and other “counters” I was using didn’t work out like I wanted (I pulled out a lot of rows because I lost count). I was thrilled by the whole experience. For Christmas my mother bought me a kit which make things so much better. In fact it was more than I could have ever hoped for, more than I ever imagined!

I started a new project after I received my kit.

It has scissors, an assortment of needles, and a measuring tape which was mind blowing at the time.

Since then it has been replaced a number of times, at least piece by piece, but there is one thing that I learned. I loved to knit, had I blown my money on a bunch of equipment I think that I would have been more than disappointed. Especially since I know how hard it can be to learn on aluminum needles.