Must-Have Yarns That Make Great Gifts

What better holiday gift to give to a fellow knitter or crocheter than a few skeins of top-notch yarn? They’ll be so touched you thought of it, especially if you choose a yarn that fits their personality and lifestyle. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Bernat YarnSoftee Chunky by Bernat

This chunky yarn knits up quickly into snuggly afghans, cozy cowls, and warm hats, and it comes in an array of fabulous colors. Best of all, the yarn is machine washable and dryable! Because of its versatility and easy care, this yarn would be especially great for parents with young kids or for college students.

Alpaca YarnBaby Twist by Alpaca with a Twist

Made with 100% alpaca fiber, this soft, beautiful yarn is pure luxury for your fingers, and it’s sure to be a welcome treat for any knitter or crocheter! It can be knit into a wide variety of garments — from scarves and hats to shawls and sweaters — and it would be a perfect gift for someone who enjoys unique, natural fibers.

Big Wool by Rowan

This super bulky yarn knits up fast! Give it to a beginning knitter or crocheter so they can enjoy the immediate gratification only bulky yarn and big needles and hooks can provide. After an evening of crafting, they’ll have a completed project to show off!

And hey, if some of these yarns sound enticing, you can always add them to your wish list too!  To find out about more great yarns, check out the yarn reviews on our website.

Behind the Scenes at a Photo Shoot

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at a photo shoot? In today’s blog post, we open up about all the fun details!

From deciding what outfit will go with a certain garment to selecting a well-composed background for a specific shot, so many little decisions go into each photo you see printed in one of our magazines. Whether we’re adjusting the lighting or fixing a model’s hair, we do our best to make each photo pop.

It takes a team of people to pull it off. In the snapshot below, you can see our Editor-in-Chief and Art Director standing watch behind the camera, ready to jump into action when need be. JC, our talented photographer, is busy taking photos as our Graphic Designer holds up a light reflector.

Photo Shoot at Love of Knitting Magazine

The model is hidden in the previous photo, but you can see her from a different angle here. She’s wearing a gorgeous top that is scheduled to appear in our Spring Issue. We can’t wait for you to see this beautiful knitting pattern once it is published!

Photo Shoot at Love of Knitting Magazine IIIt may seem like a simple process, but there are so many things to think about during a photo shoot. We want to show you how a garment drapes on the body, and we also try to get close-up shots of stitch patterns as well so you can have a helpful visual guide as you knit the pattern.

Because we take photographs for our Spring Issue during the winter, we need to brainstorm ways to make each photo feel spring-like, even if the temperature is below freezing and the ground happens to be covered in crusty snow that day. It takes some creative thinking to make it all come together, but we have a lot of fun in the process!

Knitting and Crochet Inspiration

Inspiring Articles About Knitting and Crochet

Just in time for the weekend, we wanted to share a few fun links to articles from around the web to give you a dose of crafting inspiration. Enjoy!

Kids and Crafting: Crafting can be a fun way to connect with your kids and encourage their creativity, but battling the constant mess can be a struggle for parents. In this article, Joan Sampley talks about how she learned to cope with all the crafting clutter.

Knitting During a Hurricane: One writer describes her experience knitting during Hurricane Sandy and talks about her latest inspiration, the knit designer Kaffe Fassett, among other fascinating topics.

A Knitted Fence: With gorgeous photographs, Kate Davies shows off a knitted fence made with black twine in a Shetland lace design. It looks beautiful next to the pretty flowerbed. So imaginative and creative!

On Crochet and Postpartum Depression: On some level, every knitter and crocheter understands how helpful our hobbies can be for our own mental health. In this post, Rachel talks about how crochet helped her get through postpartum depression. Turning to a hobby she loved helped her to relax and let go of anxious thoughts.

A Clock That Knits: Norwegian designer Siren Elise Wilhelmsen created a clock that knits one stitch every hour, making a two-meter long scarf each year. It’s her way of representing “the nature of time in a different way.” An video interview is included with this article as well.

Book Giveaway! Tips on Selling Handmade Crafts

Have you ever thought about selling things you knit and crochet? With the popularity of etsy, many crafters are opening up shop and selling their handmade creations.

If you do decide to go for it, the first question that is bound to come up is pricing. How do you know what to charge? To help answer that question, we’re turning to the expert James Dillehay, author of the book How to Price Crafts & Things You Make to Sell. (And to sweeten the deal, we’re giving away a copy of his insightful book. Read on to find out more!)

Q: Pricing can feel a bit like a guessing game. How can people be more strategic about it?

A: When I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t making much of a profit, I began applying the following strategy. Whenever I go to price an item now, I look at: 1) how much a piece costs to make and 2) how much shoppers are willing to pay for similar items in similar marketplaces.

What it costs me isn’t necessarily my asking price, because the average market price of work like mine may be higher. If I only ask enough to get my costs back, I will leave money on the table. I have a gallery in crafts village near Santa Fe, NM where I display my work. I started off pricing my hand-woven scarves at $65 because it covered my production costs and paid me a decent hourly wage for my time.

However, when customers coming into the store mentioned they had seen scarves the same size of mine priced at $100 in nearby Santa Fe, I immediately went through and upped my prices to $74. My sales not only did not suffer; they increased.

Q: What kinds of things should crafters consider when assessing their production costs?

A: Production costs include the cost of all the materials that go into each item and the cost of your labor. For example, you make a Christmas ornament that has glass, wire, paint, and glitter. You may have to estimate little things like how much paint and glitter, but get as close as you can. Let’s say you find you have $2.75 in total material costs.

Next, figure how much time it took you to make the ornament. For example, you want to earn at least $10 per hour and it took 45 minutes to make the item; your cost of labor is $7.50. Add material costs to labor costs which brings your production cost to $10.25.

If you sell at shows, you need to account for rental fees, travel, and food. Over time, I learned my overhead tended to average around 25% of sales, so I started adding 25% of my production costs to cover overhead. This may be a little low since you could be selling at prices higher than your production costs but look at your own sales over a year’s time and determine a percentage that comes close.

So for our example ornament, I add $2.56 (25% of my production costs) to $10.25 which brings my total costs to $12.81 per piece. I cannot charge less than this amount without losing money.

Q: Why do so many craft makers undercharge for their products and why is that a mistake?

A: I think it’s natural to think a lower price means we’ll sell something faster. But with handmade items, this isn’t always true. In my gallery, I have several times had to raise prices on items before they start selling. Shoppers saw initially low prices and thought the items were cheaply made, so they passed them by. Once I upped the prices, the perceived value increased and so did sales.

About the author: James Dillehay is a professional craft artist, gallery owner, and author of nine books. He has been interviewed in The Wall Street Journal Online, Yahoo Finance, The Chicago Tribune, Bottom Line Personal, Family Circle, The Crafts Report, and many more including Entrepreneur Radio and HGTV. For more information on his book and tips on pricing crafts, see http://howtopricecrafts.com.

This Q&A barely skims the surface of all the great, practical advice this book has to offer. For a chance to win a copy, leave a comment below.