As Good As It Gets

June 26, 2009

This is as good as it gets…glad I know Photoshop and Illustrator. If any of you have seen my blog over the last hour or so you may have seen it change in front of your eyes. The title was hard to read so I changed the header in Illustrator by putting in my own title. Then of course, I couldn’t use any color I had to experiement and see what I liked best and of course in the end I went with black and white for the fill and outline. It is what the other text in the rest of the blog has. Nice that the theme has the choice of hiding the text if I want, so that I had the option of putting my own title on my image and saving the file that way.

I really should get dressed.

I have other things to do now, so will bid you all a fond good day.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

How’d I Miss This One?

June 26, 2009

Wow, Linda in Oregon…glad you were having trouble with your display. I like this look better. It is cleaner and I still have the display of the pictures. If you still have trouble with them loading, it could be that the image quality is set too high on my end, although they are set at a resolution of 72 ppi which is screen resolution, I may need to try saving it at a faster optimization for web viewing.

Let me know how it looks, for all you folks out there. And when you do report in, let me know what browser you are using too. Not that it matters, much but it might be helpful trouble shooting on my end.

Cheers, and if you are on Twitter or Face Book, look me up. Make sure you let me know you read my blog so I know where you are from!

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

See Me on Face Book

June 26, 2009

Okay, I am figuring out the whole social networking thing. We’ll see how far it goes. Anyway, for those of you who would like to know more, come see me on my Facebook page.  If I can figure out how to put the link in, I will. Otherwise look up my name.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

Design What You Love

June 26, 2009

There is some interesting discussion in Ravelry regarding submitting to magazines, and a question came up regarding whether to submit to magazines you hate. My personal opinion on this is two-fold: life is to short to engage in things that you truely hate. After that, recognize that as a Designer there are a number of options and niches open to you. What are your goals? Do you want to be seen everywhere and anywhere? How do you want to grow your business? What kinds of Designs do you love to do? How do you challenge yourself as a designer?

I will be the first to admit my first goal is not quantity. I work part time and that is my primary income. However, I have to be profitable in my design business, as I cannot afford to truely subsidize it from our family budget.

What am I looking for as a Designer in an job? I want to be challenged and inspired. I won’t produce a design I don’t love. Period, end of story, no discussion, no compromise. Does this mean I won’t design outside my norm? Absolutely not. I can love good design that is outside my normal realm. I can appreciate different types of beauty. I know when a design is good and when it is not. When it is good, I love it. When it is not, I don’t. I am not happy with it until it is complete. When it is complete, it feels done. It tells me I can let go of it. My mind no longer wraps around it. It moves on to the next design.

You will never see me slap something together that a monkey could do. Yes, I know there is money in that. I don’t care. I don’t want my Design Name built on that.

Ann Budd recently told me that my designs are always on target, in reference to a design recently sent to them (I have just completed the 5th project I have done for Interweave). Now that is what I want to be known for. Not the volume of simple, mindless things I can churn out that I don’t like knitting myself. I am not trying to be a Diva, again I just feel life is too short.

I don’t have enough time to do all the designs I have swatches for anyway, let alone put my resources into projects I would end up hating. My idea of a simple project, after all, is something like my Three Flowers pattern or Elizabeth I. While I know people enjoy fun fur scarves and I am happy for them, I don’t myself so you will not see me doing one just to make money off of people.

Besides, I am really retarded when it comes to combining novelty yarns. They don’t inspire me. I can admire them in the ball, but the knitting I love is not conducive to using that kind of yarn. Am I less of a Designer because I don’t push that envelope? Because I don’t design anything? Why should I? The knitting world is large enough with plenty of Designers who enjoy novelty yarns and do amazing things with them. Can they do the same things with traditional yarns that I do? Maybe, maybe not. I would hazard a guess that if they loved it, they would be doing it.

There is an adage in writing, to write what you know. This does not mean that you should never stretch, learn, grow, try new things. It means you should be true to yourself, whatever that is, and to be unashamed. There is a balance between learning, taking in and incorporating, and staying rigidly withing your own narrow margins…that balance between keeping your style fresh and not knowing what your style is. Or simply doing something completely different because you want to. If you have been inspired to, I think that is really where you grow as a Designer. There is much more creative energy in those situations. I guess I believe there is more to good design than a formula. Yes, there are theories and fundamentals and rules and all that. But there has to be a spark there too. If there wasn’t anyone could memorize those rules and theories and be the next Coco Channel, Vera Wang, or any other big name Designer with a capitol “D” (in their cases really, really big “D”s).

I will unashamedly offer you what I love, in every design. It will not be something created soley to earn a quick dollar or two, although of course Designs are made with an eye towards an income (they have to be marketable, after all, or as a Designer you cannot continue to design). They will be thoughtful, and deliberate. They will have a story behind them. They will have substance and meaning. They will have a piece of me in every stitch. They will have details that make the garment look better, because care is taken with where stitch patterns stop and start at the seams, and attention is given to what happens to the stitch pattern at the armhole shaping. They will have attention paid to details that really do make it a Designer garment.

I am a Designer with a capitol “D”…not a designer. I am more than a technician, I am an artist. I am a studio artist whose medium is knitting, and my abstract art looks like a classic handknit that is trendy enough the pattern can be a popular seller for years and still look fresh. Any of you who have my patterns and read the section “Behind the Design” know I love to tell the story behind the design. What has inspired it, some of the desing choices that were made and why. And yes, it really is abstract art.

Do I submit to books and magazines? I do. Mostly to books because their time frames are more in keeping with what I can do in a sane manner and work part time. Besides, I love working with Interweave. I have been on the calls for submissions list for XRX for several years, and keep thinking about submitting but have not yet. I like Rick Mondragon, and generally I like the magazine. The biggest factor for me has been time.

I like having my own line of pattern leaflets and being able to work at my own pace. Part of having my own line is the freedom to use the yarns I want to use. I don’t choose yarns that are wildly out of reach, although I know some are expensive.  But I like being able to choose each design element. With a magazine, there is always the chance that the yarn can get changed. It can happen with books too, although that has not happened as much (on a personal level). When I submit to a publisher though, I really look at the yarn I am using in the first place. This helps cut down on substitutions.

What is next for me? Adding things in my pattern line that I don’t have yet, or as much of. Designs in lighter weight yarns, children’s designs, more men’s designs, and color work. More lace. More warm weather designs. Also a book submission.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

News from Kristmen’s Design Studio

June 25, 2009

Well I am done tinkering with the looks of the blog for now. It needed a little more visual appeal, and while I liked the layout a bit better on the other, this version gave me the option of doing a custom header. I will be using that custom header to switch out photos of new designs as they come available.

I so love Adobe products.

I am not all that keen on the fat links above the banner, but when you don’t design it yourself, you take what you can get. Personally, I think it competes with the header a bit. We don’t host our blogs ourselves, they are on WordPress’s site. They can be hosted on our web site but we have not investigated that and frankly I don’t know how the transition works, whether or not the content already on WordPress would be lost or not.

At any rate, that is it for the blog.

New designs coming out: Sugar and Spice, a baby blanket, and Animal Crackers, a set of baby sweaters, are in Knitted Gifts by Ann Budd, published by Interweave. I saw the advance copy at TNNA so the book will be out shortly. It has a lot of really great projects in it, just like Simple Style.

Simple Style of course has not been out that long, and I have a design in it. Again, it is by Ann Budd and published by Interweave. Kazumi is the name of the design I have in it.

Bramble Berry All Seasons was shown at TNNA for those of you in warmer areas (or who don’t want a worsted weight wool sweater). Knit out of Merino Cotton 90 from Schulana, distributed by Skacel, it is the lovely red violet sweater in the banner above. It is the first of the worsted weight wool designs being redone and released in either a Cotton Wool blend or a DK weight yarn (which is like a light worsted). All of the original worsted weight wool designs will continue to be carried as well.

Lush and Calliope were also previewed at TNNA in the booth of my distributor Up North Fiber Art Supply, and they pre-ordered all three new designs. I will be photographing those today and will write up a feature on them like I have for my other designs.

And of course, I am working on some other new things as well…

If you would like to see the fashion show from TNNA this summer, they post it on you tube. It is hosted by the Yarn Group. I thought it was well done, and attended with the ladies from PatternFish. I met Julia last year at TNNA, and I will be offering pdf downloads of all my patterns through PatternFish. As they become available on pdf I will announce it on my blog.

There are still a few shops that are resistant to designers offering pdf patterns. For designers, it is another way to offer our designers to customers, in a format that a segmant want. From the conversations I have had with other designers, it seems that shoppers tend to fall into these groups: those who don’t go online and always purchase from B&M (brick and mortar – any retail shop), those who purchase from mail order and online, with those who purchase online being as likely to order a download pattern as a hardcopy. It is that online segment that doesn’t want the paper copy that I am trying to be able to reach.

Those customers are not likely to purchase a paper pattern. What others have found is that when paper patterns are displayed well in the shops, the patterns tend to do well also. If the patterns are shoved in an obscure corner where they can be forgotten about, they don’t do as well. There is a certain amount of marketing responsibility on the shops for their own product. A pattern in itself can be a good impulse purchase leading to a yarn sale. Some shops even display new patterns with a hot new yarn, where they can be seen together. One shop had a felted purse with some patterns for the purse stuck in it. The wondered why they had trouble keeping the pattern in stock.

I recently had someone in Norway contact me regarding a design of mine and wondering if it were available in pdf format. I told her not yet, but soon.

The prices on PatternFish will be the same as the other retail outlets, as PatternFish is essentially like selling patterns to another store and they in turn sell them to the customer. They, however, sell the digital format with the ability to provide some security to the pdf and take care of all the details that go with that, along with tracking sales and so on. They earn their percentage.

There will be a link on my blog when the patterns go live on PatternFish.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene

New View: Fresh Theme For My Blog

June 22, 2009

Well I have had my blog for awhile now, and it was time for a fresh look. Plus I liked the navigation options better with some of the newer themes available. Choosing a new them for my blog should not have taken several hours, but there you have it. It did.

It isn’t like picking out curtains with someone (i.e. when you get married or make a big commitment, and you pick out furnishings for your shared space). Themes are easy to switch. But picking one is not easy, particularly when you want a look that is both professional and friendly…and the navigation needs to be good and unobtrusive. It is all about good design, and since I don’t know about CSS and putting together my own theme at the moment, I have to make due with one available to me and hope I can find one that doesn’t look too canned.

Hope you like the new view.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

Tweet Me

June 21, 2009

I am now on twitter, I feel so urban. How to best utilize Twitter as a tool for my business is one I will be exploring. I know there are people who use it just for comments like, I am picking lint out of my belly button and it is bright pink, or I ate peanut butter for lunch. I don’t want to go there with my Tweets. Even though I understand the object is to say in a couple sentences what you are doing in that moment, I still feel my – and your – time is valuable. I don’t want to take up time with the too terribly mundane.

That said feel free to look me up on Twitter. I won’t post reams of stuff all day leaving you to wonder what else I do besides social networking, and I will have bits here and there of what I am doing including more of my day to day life than my blog posts contain. It will not however, be a day in the life of me. I don’t have time for that, you’d scare me if you did, and I know y’all have other things to do than sit there and read the minutia of my life.

But right now the sandman is calling and my eyes are drifting South. It was a long night at the hospital. I am tired. I got off work late again tonight. When I work evenings, I usually get off at 11:30 pm, and I got off after 1 am again.  A couple days ago when I was working my arm got caught in one of the elevator doors. Yup. Door snapped shut on it, like a vise. I will freely admit to feeling some worry as I was pinned there for a few minutes. Everyting moved fine in my fingers and so on, and it did not hurt to push or pull or bear weight. No numbness or tingling. Bruising and swelling yes. The House Manager asked me if I needed to go to the ER to be seen and I declined. If I had other symptoms besides bruising and swelling I would have, but they would have told me to put ice on it (which I did) and take Ibuprofen (which I also did).  It is quite painful to touch but other than that it is fine. With the bruising it is going to hurt. You know, it is just so much more fun being a knitting designer. If I could drop being a nurse and earn the same income doing knitting desing, I would do it in a heart beat.

There are things I love about nursing. I love the challenge, I love helping people. One of the difficult things to overcome for those working from home is isolation.  This is true for knitting designers too, where you don’t have much face to face interaction like you do a “regular” job. Then again you have other advantages too. If you are tired, or sick, you can go to work without your bra on, in your pajamas, and no one cares that you don’t look professional. It is a short commute and you are with your stuff.

Anyway, I am rambling. I really do need to go to bed. Find me on twitter at http://twitter.com/JoLeneTreace

Not so Amazing Amazon

June 17, 2009

I have like many of you been a customer of Amazon, and loved the options available as a consumer. Over the last few years there have been different discussions on some of the designer lists regarding practices by Amazon from the perspective of a self publishing designer…one that has self published a book.

While at TNNA during a dinner conversation, we were discussing POD (print on demand) and opportunities out there for those designers interested in self publishing a book.  Cat Bordhi has her seminar on that topic every year and those who attend are very inspired. I have seen Margaret Fisher’s self published book, Seven Things That Can Make Or Break A Sweater in the booth of my distributor Up North Fiber Art Supply, and it is very well done. It came up in the conversation that Amazon now has POD services and that the books are well done. I went to Amazon’s site to try and dig up some information and ended up doing a web search. What I found was very revealing.

The services are provided by Book Surge, a small company that was purchased by Amazon. Okay, I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is that they will, unless the POD books are through their company Book Surge, turn off the  “buy” button on authors Amazon.com book pages if they do not switch from their current POD provider to BookSurge.  Amazon gets paid twice, essentially…for the printing of the book and then like they normally do for the purchase. If you don’t want to go this route, you can pay them to warehouse your product and pay whatever associated affiliate fees there are. BookSurge charges 48%, I think I read.  I don’t remember all of the details, but you can read about the details at different web sites including Writer’s Weekly. This is News is a little more than a year old, but it is news to me. There was a lawsuit against Amazon as of 5/19/2008 but I don’t know any updated information past that. They (BookLocker, the ones who filed the lawsuit) are still awaiting the judgement of the case.

This goes against the mission statement of Amazon. While they are free to purchase a POD company if they wish, when reading the details about what transpired and how they went about things, it was not very transparent. Do this or we will punish you. Do this so we can earn 48% off of you, or we will punish you. BookLocker authors have been encouraged to change their links on book pages from Amazon to Barnes and Nobles. While you cannot just put a book on Amazon and expect it to sell with no marketing from you as the author, you do not have to have Amazon forcing you to either pay set up fees (and all other related fees) twice to have files with BookSurge and then whoever you normally work with, nor do you have to be forced to switch to one POD supplier – theirs – with no choice. Barnes and Noble offers free shipping on orders over $25, and they don’t strong arm anyone. This started with Amazon/BookSurge making phone calls (therefore no hard copy to implicate) to Lightening Source customers, letting them know the benefits of switching and if they did not the “buy” button would be turned off. Lightening Source is of course owned by Ingram, and having your POD book listed by Ingram makes your book available to all bookstores, like Barnes and Nobles.

You can view the complaint on-line, filed in Bangor Main by BookLocker. com (they are awaiting the ruling of the judge). I am simply amazed.

I will think long and hard before purchasing from Amazon again myself. I don’t have a problem with them owning a POD company. I DO have a problem with them in essence becoming a publisher, not just a retailer, and demanding that all authors switch to them if they want to continue to use Amazon as they have. You have to switch to us, and pay for everything all over again to set up your digital files, and by the way we will charge you more. And if you don’t switch to us we will make it more difficult for your customer, and we will charge you even more.

To top it off, there are some complaints of the product being of lesser quality. While I have no knowledge of that point, that is what is being claimed by some. If Amazon removed that restriction regarding having to use their POD services my thoughts would be more power to them, let the market decide. As it is, they are taking the decision out of the market and putting it in their pocket.They are trying to straddle the fence between retailer and publisher, and as the largest retailer of books on-line they are creating a monopoly for themselves.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

Skein Expectations

June 16, 2009

I met some new vendors at TNNA (the summer trade-show was in Columbus, Ohio for The National Needlework Association – a very big deal). One booth I ran into after seeing their yarn in the “What’s New” area was Abundant Yarns. They had a wonderful little booth at TNNA with some really nice yarn.  And their presence was positive and enthusiastic. I loved their energy and how they interacted wtih people, and with me as a designer. They were all young…and sometimes in this business, when people have been around a long time and they have been taken advantage of or they have become “big”, “really busy”, or what have you, sometimes in that process something suffers for it. They don’t have all of their yarns and things on their web site yet, but they do have a regular shop with other products. Their store brand hand dye is very promising as well as Eco friendly.

I talked with them a couple times over the weekend and am excited because I found a yarn in the perfect colors for a design inspired by the Dingo. The design features traditional Aran and Guernsey stitch patterns, but because of the arrangement of the stitches you get a very aboriginal feel. I love the stitch pattern, and had found only one other yarn in the right colors. I never swatched it in the other yarn as the dyer had told me she was probably going to drop that particular yarn. They were very friendly and interested in the design and took my contact information and I look forward to doing some business with them…and most importantly, swatching with their yarn for this design. When I swatch the design, if it speaks to me, I will most definetely use the yarn. I am pretty certain that it will, but sometimes in the swatching process there are surprises. If it doesn’t work for this one, you can be sure that I will swatch until there is one that sings to me. I want to use their yarn, not only did I love the colors but they were just fun and equally nice.

Lorna’s Laces is equally nice. They are approachable and kind. Year after year that has to be a bit hard to maintain.

I know there are designers out there that get yarn and they are enthusiastic about it and then the vendor never hears about it or sees anything. I don’t like that as a designer as it looks bad for us designers. For the yarn vendor, particularly the small dyer, they obviously cannot afford to just hand out yarn to every designer. That is no small investment on their part. For my part when I do take yarn, I will lovingly swatch with it and let the yarn talk to me. I make a big effort to facilitate the design process where that spark happens and something that I love can be born. I won’t do a design that I would not love to wear just to push something out the door. I don’t feel that is my best effort and doesn’t do the yarn justice either. I have a relationship with that yarn, and it has to work, it has to communicate something to me or it won’t work on paper.

At TNNA I ran the gamut of old friends asking me when I am going to use their yarn, to new/fairly new contacts being a bit brisk (net result I felt somehow dirty for inquiring about their yarn as a designer, for surely I was out to take advantage and never produce). And yet when I talk to a yarn company, I never assume anything or communicate that I assume anything. My first question is can I order from you if I am having trouble getting a color in a particular yarn that I want, or how do you work with independent designers? (This is after telling them what publications I have been in and who I have worked with). I will admit, the ones who have made me feel somehow dirty in the process are few and far between. But I hate the process of talking to new companies, simply because I don’t know whether I am going to be viewed as a leech or a partner.

Yarn companies and distributors I love in alphabetical order: Abundant Yarns, Arnhild’s Knitting Studio, Black Water Abbey Yarns (not at TNNA but I did not want to leave them out), Brown Sheep, Green Mountain Spinnery, Hand Jive Knits, Interlacements, Lorna’s Laces, Louet North America, Plymouth Yarn, Rowan distributors Westminster Fibers, Shi Bui Knits, Skacel, Trendsetter, Universal Yarns.

Out of these companies I have not used all of their yarn. But they are very nice people. There are others too of course who are, and I may have forgotten a few. But these are the ones who have stuck out in my mind because their contact people (or when the company is small, the owner) treats me with kindness and leaves my dignity intact…this is not related to whether they can provide yarn support. Not every company can afford to do that, nor should they be expected to. That is a personal decision based on their best business decision and what practices they feel are best for their business.

What is important to me as a designer is how someone interacts with me. Kindness is an important commodity. Likewise, in my dealings with publishers and yarn companies, I do not have the attitude that they are all going to rip me off, or talk sternly to them about the fairness of their contracts before one is even seen. If I did that I would develop a reputation as being difficult to work with…and would probably be passed over for work. I prefer to have someone talk sternly to me when I have done something to merit it! Perhaps it is my own insecurities that lead me to read more into admonitions that are there from those few, but in a business setting when someone is asking how do you like to work, you should just clearly state how you like to work and what your expectations are and leave it at that.

For example, if you really don’t care whether designers produce something with that ball or not, as you feel eventually they will use your yarn then say we are happy to give you the ball of yarn. Please don’t feel any pressure, enjoy the yarn and if something comes out of it let us know. If not please keep us in mind for future projects. If you are happy to provide yarn for swatching, within reason, define what that is. If you provide yarn for sample garments but not swatching, simply say so. This is what we do: state it with the facts. I as a designer want to know how you like to work, and it isn’t that I am asking for a handout…it is very costly for me to produce a design and if I am using your yarn and I am a successful designer you benefit from that, so anything to make the design less costly is appreciated. Wholesale cost for yarn for sample garments is great. Some companies will provide yarn for the sample garments as long as the specifics for the yarn are listed in the pattern (fair enough, I wouldn’t use it if it were not right for the design anyway). I think it is when people come to the table with assumptions and do not communicate that problems arise, because each party works differently and therefore has different needs and priorites…so their expcetations can differ as well as their assumptions.

Some have more credentials that you need to produce than others if you want yarn support, but they are not unkind about it.  That is just business, and it pertains to their business and in a world where anyone can hang out a shingle and claim to be a designer, you really cannot blame them.

I suppose that may be where some of the problem lies. Creative people are not always ahem good business people. But this is a business, and in the thrill of doing something creative you have to be pragmatic as well. As thrilling as it is to get free yarn (they love me, they really, really love me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) you had better make sure it is something you are likely to do something with, as the first thing, and then after that, make every effort to do so.  That yarn is their bread and butter and as such deserves your respect, and utmost care and regard. If you take that ball or skein you have made a committment to them and if you do not look at it that way you should not take the yarn. That is why I usually prefer to buy yarn I will swatch with, so that if it doesn’t work out I don’t feel as though I have to force a design out of it. I know there are yarn companies that just want to get their yarn into your hands and they will tell you that. There os still that hope and desire that their investment will be met iwth a design. That is why they want to get it in your hands, otherwise they would not give it to you.

All in all it was a very good show. The market was a little smaller, and there were not as many people from the coasts, but it was a good show. Contact wise it was a good show for me as well. I connected with companies I am working with now, as well as made some new connections. I also promised Arnhild I will be getting something done in her yarn. I have said that for a few years now, and things have always come up. The combination has to be right…the right yarn, the right elements for the design, the right design to add to my line at the time. This year I just plum ran out of time. I am working on a fair isle mitten though, so be on the look out for that. It will be in Rauma Finnulgarn, a yarn Arnhild distributes. She, by the way, I have known for years and just love. I have known her as long as Marilyn King and Beth Brown Reinsel. They knew me before I was a designer, or right at the very beginning anyway.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

TNNA and Branding

June 11, 2009

I will be at TNNA this weekend. I have been going for the last 6 years, perhaps. Over the years I have developed my own style,: according to some they could spot one of my designs in a heartbeat. Different designers have their own something that makes their body of work take on a life of its own. What that something is can be hard to define for a creative person. When going into this business though it is important to think about your “brand”, to develop it and to market it. Your brand should be strong and identifiable.

Sometimes I see discussions revolving around “I am a designer and I want to do a design using part of Designer A’s design, how much do I need to change to make it mine?”

Well, to an extent we all take in the world around us and reinterpret it in our own way. That said, if you are just changing enough to make it yours, well, you really are not being much of a designer. There, I have said it. I am not saying you are not being creative, and that you are not being terribly clever. But there is a certain set of expectations implied at this level, and if you are going to be a designer, sing your own song. Find your own voice. Will you be inspired by others? Yes, you will. But don’t set out to make your own version of a strawberry fruit hat after seeing the one that was selling like hotcakes at the yarn store and expect credibility as a designer. At that point you are being a technician. Much like getting a paint by number kit and changing the colors and then proclaiming you are a painter/artist. That is an extreme example but you get what I am saying.

Some argue that this happens in fashion retail all the time. This isn’t the world of retail fashion though. This is the hobby industry, a small world where word gets around. We are influenced by fashion trends greatly, and there are knitting designers who do work in that world. But this is a different market with different “rules” and expectations.

Plus, when you follow your own visions your own style emerges and your brand will be stronger. I don’t generally design for the market. I design what I would like to wear. I design for myself. While not all of my designs would look good on my body, if I had the figure to go with it I would love to wear them. And I guess for me that is the distinction. I have the luxury of designing what I love. Early on I made the decision not to do the quick and easy projects that I saw that were so popular in the market. Those types of projects are not for me. I generally dislike them and usually feel that there is not much of a designer element to those types of projects. I don’t want my name attached to designs that anyone could do. It doesn’t take a designer to come up with a plain stockinette top down sock. If I were to do a sock pattern, I would then need to add some designer details. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying there should not be easy basic patterns…I am saying you don’t need designers for those, necessarily. Now, when you have a simple design with well thought out attention to simple details you can have a simple and basic project that is also above the mundane. For that, yes, a designer. Coco Channel was very good at that. And we can be too.

I will be going to TNNA this weekend, the big summer trade show for The National Needlework Association. I’ll have the opportunity to reconnect with designer colleagues, vendors I work with, yarn companies providing support. I plan on visiting the booths of the yarn companies I have talked to that have expressed an interest in providing yarn support for my designs and say thank you. If you are a new designer, be aware when going to shows like this that the yarn companies are there to connect with the yarn store owners who are coming in first. They are their bread and butter. If they have a customer come in their booth they need to take care of them, and you need to let them do that. They are not selling yarn to you…you are probably their excited about their yarn, yes…and using their yarn gives them exposure…to a point.  It depends on how many patterns you sell. Don’t just go from booth to booth expecting them to be happy to gift you with yarn because you are a designer. Anyone these days can say they are a designer, and yarn companies can get hits from a lot of people who are not very serious about that title looking for a handout.

Your show etiquette is part of your branding too, in a sense, as your professional behaviour will impact your brand. Do you follow through or not? I never take yarn that I am not seriously interested in. The yarn is not free. There are expectations involved, and someone had to pay for it even if you did not. Obviously they hope you will love it and use their yarn. If you take it home and it sits there and you never get around to it, that is money down the drain for the yarn company and poor professional behaviour on our part by not being more considerate of each other’s resources.

Everything connected to your business can affect your branding, whether it is tangible (things like your logo and how you use your logo, your designs themselves, your web presence) or not (how your conduct your business). Use your assets wisely and plan from the beginning for success. Picture yourself in the place that you want to be when making decisions and ask yourself if the decision would be the same. If a logo would not be good enough for you if you were more successful, then you should not settle for it now.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace