Friday, 21 November 2014

Invaluable blogging tools


The recent creative blog tour made me think about the way I blog and the tools I use. Personally I love to hear about different 'systems' and as I'm looking into streamlining my system even more, I though I'd go ahead and share what I do now.  I'm by no means a pro at this, but here are my invaluable blogging tools.

Bullet journal

Every month I dedicate a page in my Bullet Journal to my blogging activities. The layout I tried this month isn't as good as the previous one, so it's obvious that I'm still tweaking this, but overall here are the things the page include:
  • Editorial calendar 
  • To-do list for the blog
  • To-do list for designs

The editorial calendar

My (blogging)life would be insane without this one tool. It's probably the most important for me if we overlook the obvious need of a computer.
Having a list of 12-15 open slots that need to be filled with content can seem a little daunting at first, but I quickly came to love it. The editorial calendar provides such a clear and visional progress statement. I can fill in content, move it around and mark when I've finished working on a post. To me this is priceless.

To-do lists

These are pretty self-explanatory, aren't they?! I find that a lot of things on these lists don't get done that month. But it's a safe keeping system and it means that said tasks aren't swimming around in my head. 

iPhone

The whole smartphone world is still pretty new to me as I got my first this summer, but it has proved a great tool for blogging. I would say that around 95% of the pictures I shoot for this blog is taken with my iPhone 5s. It's even painless to add them to posts via my phone. What I haven't found useful is writing the actual post on the phone. I prefer to do that on a computer.

MacBook Air

Speaking of computers, my beloved old MacBook was retired this summer. As a result of it's age there was a lot of webpages that I simply couldn't access. Not good when said webpages are needed for a lot of your work. I had know this day would come and saved up for an Air for years. I decided on a 11" as I needed something small and portable and oddly enough, writing long papers on a small machine doesn't bother me.  

Canva

The final tool I use all the time is completely free! Canva lets you design graphics like the one I made for this post for free or you can choose to use elements from them, for $1 a piece. I've never bought anything from them yet, since you can do so much with the free elements and I'm on a tight budget. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A surprise spot of Christmas knitting

I had all my Christmas knitting done for the year many moons ago. Then my mum got the very yarn I usually knit my dad's socks out of as a gift - it had to be a sign, right?!



A pair of dad-sized socks is nothing big in my world. They have come to be my zen knitting. I've done so many pairs, I believe I could knit them in my sleep if you handed me the needles. It takes me a week to crank out a pair if I'm diligent. In between the fogs of sleep and ickiness last week, I somehow managed to do a lot of knitting. And I do mean a lot. Here's the proof:



Not one, but two socks! Ready to be handed off to my dad as his second pair of Christmas socks this year. Not that I'm counting the pairs I've made him this year alone (5) or anything. I love to make them though, because no one appreciates a pair of hand made socks as much as my dad. It's all he wears. We've tailored them to fit him perfectly and while they look a bit strange when not on a foot, especially the toe, they fit him like a glove, eeeh sock. You should hear the disappointment in his voice when I had the nerve to cast on a sock that wasn't for him, let alone of my own design!

Next year I'll undoubtedly knit him an additional 4 pairs, as that seems to be the rate he goes through them. And yes, my mum darn them once or twice before they are so worn out they simply disintegrate.

Are you doing any Christmas knitting?

Monday, 17 November 2014

As the pendulum swings... A note on life and time management.

We didn't have a pendulum, so you're stuck with my man's pocket watch...

Have you ever felt like the whole deal with 'a balanced life' was just one big sham, invented with the sole purpose of making you and me feel inadequate? I've always been big on pursuing this mythical 'balance', which all the cool kids seemed to possess. That, however, changed for me last week. It wasn't a instant turnover, in fact this whole balance deal has been in the back of my head for a while now.

What was so special about last week, was that I spent most of it in bed with a tremendous head cold. This nasty condition made me sleep away most of the day as well as the nights and for the first time ever, I was okay it. I knew it meant this week would be much harder, I knew it meant it might not be as fun, as I would a) be recovering from the nastiness and b) have two week's worth of work to get done. But I was okay with it.

Why was I so okay with it? I asked myself that more than once. Slowly the answer began to form in my mind. I was okay with it because... wait for it... life is not about constant balance.

I will venture to say that life is about the complete opposite of constant balance and that our pursuit of it may be a large part of why so many of us feel less than great about how our days, months and years are spent.

Don't get me wrong, balance has its place in life. That place is just not on a day to day basis, but in a much larger scheme. That scheme is a year, or sometimes even years. As nature cycles through the months and seasons, so do we.

Exceptionally busy times are generally followed by much quieter times, where we can rest and rejuvenate, enabling us to face the next period of toils. After the harvest comes the sweet and quiet months of winter, a time to stay indoors and get lost in books and wool, learning things that will aid us through the next spring, summer and fall with a bit more grace.

2015 will, no doubt, be a busy year for me. I'll write my B.A. and (D.V.) begin my master's degree. If all goes well, we'll be moving next year. As I'm preparing for this busy time, I'm tweaking systems and trying out new things to make the year run smoother.

I hope you'll continue to join me as I work on embracing the different seasons life has to offer, one day at a time.



Friday, 14 November 2014

Pattern Launch: Everyday Rockstar - a cancer charity project

Has your family been affected by cancer? Mine sure has - a lot. We've lost a few to cancer and many more have survived it or are currently battling it. Once you've had it right there next to you, or in you, you come to understand what a vicious disease it is. Thankfully, research has come a long way and more and more people beat it!

I've been pondering for a while if I would be able to raise some money for the Danish Cancer Society - Kræftens Bekæmpelse, in one way or another and then I realised that I could, because I have a micro business!

Thus I've decided to send 100% of the proceeds from the sale of my new pattern Everyday Rockstar to Kræftens Bekæmpelse and I have this dream, that it will be a big fat check, because knitters are awesome and not unwilling to support good causes, and this is one of the best!

But why should I contribute to a society in Denmark when I live in... Here's my answer, stolen from their own site:

This diagram shows how they use the monetary support:
53% goes to research - that means you benefit from it wherever you live.
23% goes to patient support, that's local, but I've personally benefitted from this, so please indulge me.
17% goes to awareness
and only a meagre 7% goes to administration.


There you have it, now on to the pattern:

buy now
This hat is warm and stylish, making you feel like a rockstar every day. The ribbing gently hugs your head and allows space for an up-do. Its timeless and simple style makes the hat perfect for both men and women. The pom pom offers a great way to add a splash of colour.


SIZES
Circumfrence unstretched
S: 40 cm / 15,3/4”
M: 44cm / 17,1/4”
L: 48cm / 19”
Length with turned brim
ca. 19 (20) 21cm / 7,5 (8) 8,1/4 ”

For just 15,00 DKK / $2,5 you get a stylish hat pattern and contribute to Kræftens Bekæmpelse. The entire proceeds from this pattern will be surrendered, that's just over 10DKK/$1.67* per pattern! (*Depending on exchange rate, paypal fee and Ravelry fee).

I hope you want to knit the hat and support a great cause, there's nothing I'd like more than to send them a big check!   
buy now

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Tyrel Leather interview, giveaway & coupon code.


When I heard that my Ravelry friend Callista's husband had a small leather business, I had to get him on here to answer my prying questions and thankfully he was more than willing to do so! He may not be a fibre person, but his creations in leather are truly beautiful and who knows maybe he could be convinced to do leather needle cases?

Before we go to the interview I want to share his logo with you, because I adore it.


JT, I usually ask people what’s on their needles first, but I don’t know if you knit or have other hobbies? 

Yeah I don’t have any knitting needles. That is definitely Callista’s hobby. Right now I have several belts that I am making. My other hobby/recreation is snowboarding. I am definitely ready for it to start snowing here so that I can go.

When and why did you start selling your creations?

I started selling my leather goods at the beginning of this year. Eventually, my goal is to have a saddle making business. Right now I just wanted to start selling my stuff to support my hobby and maybe some day make it a full time career.

Colorado Flag Wallet

Do you sell your beautiful wares in different places or stick to your Etsy store?

For now I only sell in my Etsy store, but I am looking at other possibilities too.

Where do you get inspiration from?

A lot of it comes from looking at other people’s products and then redesigning it to fit what I want it to look like.

Leather Bracelet

What is you favourite item to make and why?

My favorite item to make is my photo albums. It gives special meaning to those who have one. I made my first album for my wife for our first wedding anniversary. It allows people to have something special so that they can look back at their special occasions in life.

Phote Album

How much time do you devote to your business each week?

It definitely varies as to how many orders I have, but on average it’s around 5-10 hours per week right now. I definitely hope to spend more time on it as it grows.


And finally, what are your goals and dreams for your business?


Ideally, I would love to live in a small mountain town with a shop downtown and make saddles all day long. I would also like to make saddle bags, purses, and some of the bigger leather goods that I have not attempted yet.

Tri Fold Wallet

Giveaway

JT is offering a bracelet to one lucky winner like the one below and here's the thing, you get to have any word you would like on it consisting of up to six letter. The bracelet is 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) wide and is adjustable from 7.5 inches (19.05 centimeters) to 8.5 inches (21.59 centimetres) and The bracelet can be dyed to your liking.

Costum Bracelet

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment telling us what your favourite product is from JT's shop.
The winner will be announced Monday the 17th November 2014

And the winner is.... A Little Knit! Congratulations.  

Coupon code

Just to prove that JT is seriously awesome he has thrown in a coupon code for 10% off everything in his shop till the end of November. 

The code is: NOVEMBER2014

I bet there is someone in your life, who would really appreciate a hand made leather item for Christmas!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Creative Blog Tour

This weekend I was tagged by Tahnée of Woollen Wilderness, to take part in a creative blog tour. I'm not a big fan of random blog tags, but when I read the questions for this one, I knew I had to participate. 


1) What am I working on? 

Right now I'm working on soooo many things, both personal and for the blog/micro business. 
On the personal side I'm spinning a yarn for my mum for Christmas and knitting my dad a pair of socks. 
For the micro business I'm just about to release a pattern for charity, which always takes up a good deal of time. Then I've just sent a pattern into test knitting, so I have to tend to that every now and then. There are blog posts to write and I'm in the process of finding people to feature for 2015. I have a pattern yet to be written up and another to put finishing touches on. I need to get to all that if I have hopes of publishing my collection in 2015 (and I do!).

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

I've thought long and hard about this. I know what the answer is for the blog: I try to be transparent and share the design process and its ups and downs. As for the designs themselves? I hope I'm coming into a certain feel. I want to design a wast scope of items and that means I'm dealing with a lot of 'firsts' at the moment. My design philosophy is 'simple with a twist', hopefully that shines through in my work.  


3) Why do I write/create what I do? 

Because I can't help it! For years I said that I would never design. Why would I bother when there are so many great designs out there? Well, I just reached a point when that no longer mattered. I had to design. There was this creative force inside me screaming to be let loose and play. Often I feel the same when I write. Actually my best pieces (in my humble opinion) are the ones where I just had to share what was on my heart. 

4) How does my writing/creative process work?

This is a difficult one because I don't think I have a process. Instead I have many, depending on the project. Sometimes I cast on a swatch, play with it and there is the idea that sparks a design. At other times a design is fully formed in my head before I even find needles and yarn to swatch for it. Sometimes it takes me no time at all to write and knit the sample. At other times a design spends months in the naughty corner, just to be finished in a matter of days once it has returned to grace.  
What I can say is that my process is very dependent on how busy my other occupations keep me. Being a full time student with a couple of part time jobs doesn't leave a lot of room for creative endeavours, so vacations seem to be my prime creation time. 
I keep a log of my blogposts and things to be done for the business every month in my bullet journal, which helps tremendously. There are other parts of the process I would still like to streamline though. That's a project for 2015. I'm still learning every day I work on something and I've made a list of a few things I'd like to implement in 2015 for the business. Maybe I should share those with you soon?






That's what I have to say for now. I think I'll continue to mull over these questions as they are great questions to ask yourself to further your business or hobby. I'm nominating my dear friend Zoë to take up the torch. 

Friday, 7 November 2014

Lessons learned from test knits

I've had a few patterns test knit by now and most have gone really well. One, however, did not. Serves me right for calling a pattern the Everyday Rockstar! It ended up all fine in the end and I had some great test knitters with plenty of grace and patience, but just about everything that can go wrong did go wrong.

You know I pride myself on sharing both the ups and downs with you here, that's the purpose of the blog after all. But while I knew I wanted to share the experience with you at some point, I also felt a need to distance myself a little from it first.

A little time has now past and I'm ready to share the lessons I've learned:

Always get more testers than you 'need'

Someone will drop off of the face of the earth, someone will get very sick, someone will simply not make it. It's a lot easier to handle all those someones with grace when it doesn't mean your entire test knit process has failed. 

Be Santa Clause 

Check that list time and again. Somehow a computer glitch resulted in me sending out an old version of the pattern at first, I only realised this after a lot of mistakes had been corrected, mistakes that felt familiar. Why? Because I had in deed already corrected them and then promptly lost the file it appears.

Be Firm

Don't set flexible deadlines. I learned that the hard way. Give people plenty of time to do the test, and hold them to that non-flexible date. 

Be thankful

People are working for you for free. Yes they do get the pattern, but they also have to deal with the mistakes. Please and thank you's never hurt anybody.


Everyday Rockstar will be out next Friday. The proceeds will go to the Danish Cancer Foundation, since cancer fighters and survivors are true rockstars, but more on that next week.