March 12, 2015

Interviews, studio photos, and nerding out with sales analysis…

Want to see me being awkward on camera?  Well, now you can!  I was video-interviewed for Kimberly Golynskiy’s (aka 80 Skeins‘) travel-knitting blog, Around the World in 80 Skeins.

80 Skeins interview screenshot

She visited me at my home here in Portland, and then I took her out on the town to a food cart dinner and my neighborhood knit night (pictured below). She was awesome and her blog project is SUPER awesome – throughout the year she’ll be traveling to places like New Zealand, Iceland, Norway, Argentina, Germany, Belgium, Peru… the list goes on and on, those are just some especially exciting ones.  I’m really looking forward to following all her journeys!  Anyway, you can read/see her post about me here, and watch the video interview!

Knitting and drinking with @80skeins at Tuesday knit night! (IPA and bulky design prototype.)

Oh and speaking of interviews – I did a couple of blog interviews last November that I don’t think I ever posted here.  So if you’re interested: Eclectic Closet interview post, and Front Porch Knitting interview post.

Somewhat related:  My studio had gotten so overwhelmingly cluttered and disorganized over the last couple of years; I’d go through phases of spending chunks of time on one area, but then piling new stuff up… I just am terrible at maintaining order.  So, when Kimberly set up the visit, that was the kick in the butt I needed – some outside force beyond just me wanting to get it in order, an actual reason to clean things up.  Here are some embarrassing before shots I took around the beginning of the year:

2015 unfucking 2015 unfucking

So, with a mission to get it looking photogenic for the visit, and channeling motivation from years of following Unfuck Your Habitat on tumblr, I spent the better parts of about five days on it, and here’s how it looks now…

2015 unfucking

Because of all the STUFF I have packed into this small room, and how colorful all that stuff is, it kind of always looks messy even when it’s not.  But if you can look past the colors, you’ll see clear table tops!  Ooh yeah!

2015 unfucking

Everything in its right place.  So satisfying.

(Note: You can go to my tutorials page to find links to tutorials for the coffee can cubbies shown above, as well as many projects that were shown in photos of my living room area in the 80 Skeins blog post.)

2015 unfucking

And I even did some small extra projects, like hanging Interweave calendar pages that I’d had sitting around for like 3 years – you can see them above the window on the right in the above photo, and here’s a better shot of them:

I finally put up these old Interweave calendar pages in my studio! It had been on my I'll-get-around-to-it-someday list for years!

Because one thing I’m terrible at is putting yarn away where it belongs, I’ve devised an elaborate yarn storage system so everything has a place, and I can try really hard to put it all away right away in the first place, instead of tossing it onto a table top or an overflowing box on the floor.  So, full and almost-full skeins/balls go in the colored shoe cubby spots hanging there in the closet, and in the more decorative yarn-holders you’ll see in other shots; big partial-balls go in that white hanging unit in the closet below, with the drawers, smaller partial-balls go in the white tube-ish things in the center of the photo below, and then little tiny balls for scrappy future projects go in CD spindles which you can see in a couple of the photos, to the left of my record player.  And I have a container for tiny scraps near my ball winder, since I save EVERYTHING because I am a crazy person.

2015 unfucking

I have a nice selection of craft books in the studio which I may want to access in here, while working or doing other craft projects – stitch dictionaries, knitting technique books, sewing project books, general craft project books… and then I have many shelves full of other craft/knitting books in the library.  I still have several bags and boxes full of stuff that needs to be sorted through, but it’s a space in which I can actually do projects now!  Empty floor space, clear table tops, access to sewing machine, etc, etc!  Functional studio!

2015 unfucking 2015 unfucking

And working at my desk is so much nicer now.  When it was messy around the whole room, I’d be able to focus on my computer and ignore everything around me, but it would be a lingering source of stress all the time… or something.  It’s just a much more pleasant workspace now!

2015 unfucking

Another mini-project I did awhile ago – swatch pin-board thing above my turntable!  It’s just the 3-pack of round cork trivets from Ikea.

2015 unfucking

With nothing pinned up:

01/23 studio cleanup

I also did some unfucking in the library, including doing this zine display project inspired by a photo that I’d reblogged on my tumblr awhile back.  This is not nearly all my zines – notably, my collection of Croq issues is left out of this display, in their own space on the shelves.

library

I love this little room so much, so cozy and book-filled!

library

library library

Another big project I did recently is my 2014 bookkeeping for taxes.  Being inspired by Bristol Ivy’s stats charts in her Stockinette Market reports, and also by some talk in the ravelry designers forums, I decided to make some charts of my own sales numbers.

This is probably of no interest to most blog readers, but I figured lots of designers, aspiring designers, and maybe other crafty business types, might be interested, so I’m sharing!

First, my design gross income breakdown.  This is everything I do related to knit design, so it does include knit teaching, but it does not include the freelance gigs I had in advertising last year which were not related directly to leethal or my knit design.

sales stats

The above chart in more detail:

My total design income

  • 74% online pattern PDF direct sales (self-published patterns, direct to customers, almost entirely through ravelry / my website)
  • 11% wholesale print patterns & books (sold and distributed to yarn shops by my distributer)
  • 5% wholesale to companies for kits/clubs (patterns sold digitally wholesale, to be included in kits, clubs, etc)
  • 4% teaching
  • 3% online wholesale pattern PDFs (sold to yarn shops through ravelry in-store sales)
  • 2% print books sold directly to customers (sold through MagCloud or in person)
  • 1% third party pattern design income (magazine royalties, sales through sites like Knit Picks and Twist Collective, etc – I had no new third party patterns in 2014, so these are all old pattern sales)

Of course, this is specific to 2014, and the full year on average; it varies month to month.  In years where I release a pattern (or multiple) through a third party publisher, that percentage may go up quite a bit… but overall, most of my design income does come through direct online sales of self-published pattern PDFs.  My patterns don’t tend to be great sellers in yarn shops, for whatever reason.  I never know if that means I should try harder to market to shops, so that number might go up, or if I should focus all my energy where my patterns already do best, and just not worry about wholesale.

Now moving on, a breakdown of that 74% above.  This is only direct digital sales, not wholesale or print books, etc.  First, collection sales versus individual pattern sales; then a breakdown of those collections, categorized by type of collection:

sales stats

Collections are defined (by me, for my purposes) as a collection of patterns which can be bought altogether, and also each individual pattern can be bought separately.  “Small collections” are no more than 4 patterns – so these are my trios and the Betiko collection – and “big collections” are Coloring Book and Remixed.  (Not included are a few patterns that are sort of technically ebooks, but that I consider to be big patterns with multiple options, and the different patterns/items cannot be bought separately, like Flying V’s.)  And then, “ebooks” are my big ebooks which cannot be bought as separate patterns – these are my two Adventure Knitting books, and Game Knitting.  This category’s percentage is so huge because my Adventure Knit-a-Long is grouped in there.

And then I categorized all my individual patterns sold by type and did some analysis on what’s most popular.  The total sales per type has a lot to do with how many of each pattern type I have available, which is why I made the second chart.  For the second chart, I divided the sales total by the number of patterns I have of that type, to get the average total sales per pattern, to get a better sense of popularity of different types of patterns.

sales stats

For example, I have a lot of hat patterns – 25% of my total sales of individual patterns come from hat patterns, but I have more hats than anything else.  When I divide the sales total by the number of hat patterns I have, the sales average per pattern drops down much further, instead of being so close to cowls and shawls, which means hat patterns are not actually so popular.  Shawls, on the other hand, are the other way around, their per-pattern average shoots way up above all other pattern types, so the shawl trend seems to still be strong, for now at least.

Lastly, I did a quick basic chart of my annual pattern sales since I began selling pattern PDFs in 2008.  This says some valuable things, I think.  Mainly, that if you’re a new designer, in the first couple of years, know that my experience is the norm, of sales getting higher year after year, as we have more and more patterns in our catalogs.  For me, even though I did quit my day job in 2008, in those first years most of my income came from other things – freelance writing, photography, teaching, selling of handmade items – and over the last few years I’ve been focusing more and more on selling patterns and little else.

sales stats

That 2013 peak is a result of a couple things: I released some popular collections that year (mainly, Coloring Book, and my Short Stripes Trio, which has been by far my most popular of all my trio collections), and I had a huge giveaway which gave my sales a giant bump in the fall.  In 2014, my only really successful release was the Adventure Knit-a-long; nothing else gave me a big bump (and I also had fewer total releases than 2013) – but my 2014 dot is higher than where it would be if you were to ignore 2013 and go along the same pre-2013 line, so the 2013 bumps helped a bit even if 2014 went down from the previous year.  So there’s kind of evidence that just chugging along and not having any really huge successes, but regularly releasing patterns and keeping at it, can result in a slow & steady upwards climb; in order to make a big jump, you do need something big (or a combination of big things) to make that happen, but that big jump won’t necessarily mean too much for the future (although it sure is nice at the time when it happens!).  That was a bit rambly, hopefully it made some sense.

Good mail day!! That's @hazelknits DK in colorway Sedge <3  Can't wait to start knitting with it!

So there’s that!  In more current design news, I’m way behind schedule, but I’m really hoping to have my second Full Body Trio pattern done and released by the end of April, which will be in the Hazel Knits yarn pictured above (fingers crossed that everything goes well!) and then I have a collection planned that I wanted to get out before this summer’s Adventure Knit-a-long… which may push that KAL later than I’d wanted.  Last year it was in August, and I wanted it to be earlier this year, like start around July 1st, but that just won’t be possible if I try to do this other collection before.  So chances are, I’ll aim for releasing that collection around June (or possibly spread throughout May-June, not sure yet), and then Adventure KAL will be in August again.

And I am just sucking at the whole #yearofmaking thing.  I’ve taken some photos here and there that I need to sort through and upload… and I think the whole studio unfucking was a big deal, in my world of making, since now I can use it for future making!  Here’s a shot of the one and only zentangle drawing I did, after I bought a book a couple months ago – I bought a new pen the other day though, so maybe I’ll do more soon!

1/26 doodles

Phew!  What a couple of weeks it’s been!  Yesterday I noticed that my blog wasn’t loading, and it seemed to have completely disappeared from my website admin panel, so that 24 hours or so was kiiinda super stressful, thinking my entire blog had been deleted somehow!  But, obviously, it was not; my web host found some permissions issue, which they promptly fixed and all is well!  On top of that scare, in the last few days I’ve had a flat tire (then had to buy 2 new tires), a broken shower (that I wasted hours trying to fix and then had to call a plumber in the end), and early symptoms of a cold, blech, but I hope after a weekend of rest (and KNITTING) things will be back to normal soon enough :)

Filed under: home stuff,personal,photos,self-publishing,year of making — leethal @ 5:05 pm

March 4, 2015

Final Betiko collection pattern: Zulo!

The Betiko collection is now complete!  Here is Zulo:

Zulo shawl

Zulo (on ravelry here) is a lace patterned version of the Betiko shawl construction, completing the Betiko collection (on ravelry here), along with Biratu the cabled version, and Lerro the colorwork version.

Betiko collection is complete! Find Zulo on ravelry or my site (profile link). You all liked that spirally photo of the final sample so much, that inspired me to make this as the collection graphic - thanks for all the hearts!

It’s a leethal kind of lace shawl pattern, so it’s not lace weight!  The fully patterned version was designed in worsted-ish weight (the yarn is called DK, but it seems to me like a standard worsted, yarn labels can be weird), but it can totally be made in a lighter weight, knit loosely, for a more lacy looking lace shawl.

Zulo shawl

Like the other collection patterns, there is the fully patterned version (lace in all sections and panels), and a simple variation, with stockinette stitch in the main body, lace only around the edges and in the triangle wedges.

Zulo shawl

My simple variation sample is in fingering weight, the main color being 1 full skein of sock yarn, and the edging in a contrasting partial skein.  The simple shawl can be made in any weight, any gauge, any size, and you can even customize the shape (making it more short and deep, or long and narrow, etc, as you like).

Zulo shawl

The fully patterned version is in a standard size, the size of the sample (pretty darn large), but the size is adjustable by working the main body section more or less to make it bigger or smaller, or by adjusting your gauge.

Zulo shawl

The yarn used in the main sample is Three Fates Yarns Themis BFL DK (which is labeled as DK weight, but appears as a worsted weight), 3 skeins in Orange Love Machine.  I loved working with this yarn!

Zulo

My simple variation sample is in Three Fates Yarns Terra Sock fingering weight, 1 full skein (460 yards / 420 meters) in Fremont, 1 partial skein (120 yards / 110 meters) in Netarts.  Love these colors, especially that pop of the gorgeous contrasting edging color!

Zulo

There are two different outer edging patterns, thinner and wider edges – either edge can be used in either shawl version, so you can choose depending on how much yardage you have or whether you want a bit of extra size.  My simple sock weight has the wider edge, and my worsted weight has the thinner edge (which makes them actually about the same size, because of the gauge difference).

Zulo shawl

I have a feeling this orange shawl is going to get a ton of wear by me!  It’s big enough that it can wrap around twice and tie for extra bundling as needed.  (I don’t know what I’m doing in that photo, but I like it!)

Zulo shawl Zulo shawl

And while my medium-sized sock yarn shawl is smaller, it’s still big enough to wrap around the neck nicely, or even to cover the shoulders a bit… you can make the simple version any size though, so you can easily make a GIANT one if that’s what you want!

Zulo shawl

The pattern pdf is kind of massive, but that’s because of all the variations and patterning – all the lace patterns are charted and written, there are tutorials for the provisional cast-on and the short rows, and there are detailed schematics and process photos.  It has been heavily tested and edited, and you can see some beautiful other versions by my awesome test knitters on ravelry here.  I especially love Lisa’s because it looks so different from mine, so delicate and lacy and PRETTY, not a normal leethal-style looking knit item!  Kate’s is also worth pointing to – it really works in the colorful variegated yarn!  Many thanks to all the fabulous knitters who helped me test and edit this lengthy pattern!!

Zulo shawl Zulo shawl

So, Zulo finally concludes the long-term Betiko collection, which began in 2010!  That’s when Betiko was first released* (originally as my first ever mystery knit-a-long), but then I didn’t decide to turn it into a collection until 2013, when I released Biratu, then Lerro last year, and now it is DONE.  Let me tell you, it feels good for this to be crossed off my giant design to-do list!

Betiko collection - 9 shawls

And I am super happy and proud of the entire collection… which is really more like 8 patterns, pretending to be 4 patterns, since they all have two versions.  I plan to never do patterns this complex again, and to never do a collection spread out like this again… but in the end, I’m glad I did this one, because I love all the patterns, even if they are a bit overwhelming at first glance.  The great thing is, if you knit one of them, then you know how the construction works, and you can knit any of the other ones without needing to read most of the general construction-y info pages, since they all work the same way.  And they’re not actually hard to make, they just have lots of versatility ;)

Betiko collection - 9 shawls

*In case you didn’t know – if you were an early buyer of Betiko before the collection began, you can use coupon code betikoknitter to get the collection with the $6 you spent on Betiko subtracted from the total.

Betiko collection

Side story:  Above is the first collection graphic I made a couple weeks ago, getting ready for the collection to be complete… then last week, when I completed the final sample, I posted the below photo on instagram.  It got a record number of like clicks!  Omg you guys were into this shot!  So, I was inspired by your instagram enthusiasm and I made a brand new collection graphic, at the top of this blog post.  And I love it!  So glad that happened!

Sock yarn shawl, finished and blocked at 3:30am.  (My boss is a hardass you guys.)  Sample knitting is complete and pattern is on its way to being released next week!

Oh, if you’re in Portland, these two shawls will be hanging out at the Three Fates Yarns trunk show at Happy Knits this Friday and Saturday for the Rose City Yarn Crawl!  Check ’em out!  (I’ll also be around at a few shops throughout the weekend, so say hi if you see me!  I’ll give you a postcard or button!)

Zulo shawl

Another side note… now that this collection is done, I have another very similar collection in the beginning stages – it will also be a small group of patterns all using the same construction, just like this one, except not with the two different versions for each pattern.  Simplified.  But fun.  I’m really excited about it!  Once I have things to show, I’ll be posting about it on instagramtwitter, and my ravelry group :)

Zulo

And speaking of my ravelry group… it’s been real quiet in there lately, and that’s a bummer, so I’m going to make an effort to make things more fun over there!  Which means, I’ll be posting more about what I’m doing, and announcements and stuff (the kinds of things I usually just post on twitter – since not everyone is on my preferred social media outlets, I’ll repost things from twitter and instagram in the group), and we can hopefully get some conversations going!  Let’s all hang out together, leethal knitters!

Zulo shawl

Well I hope you like Zulo** – it’s a great knit for this transitional weather season, since it can be warm or not so much, depending on how you make it and how you wear it.  Happy knitting everyone, whether you’re in this weird early spring here in the pacific northwest, or that brutal long winter over in the northeast, or wherever else in the world you might be!

**Betiko is a Basque name meaning eternal, as that shawl is forever customizable, and Zulo is a Basque word for hole (as in eyelet holes, in lace).

Filed under: knitting,self-publishing — leethal @ 7:31 pm
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