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

January 6, 2015

2015: Year of Making plans and other year-end/beginning stuff

Happy 2015!  Do you feel like now we’re officially in the future?  I do.  2015.  Damn.  Anyway, I have some things to share with you and tell you about!  I’ll start with the older news…  In late December, the 4 days after Christmas, I released a free pattern via social media.  (Here it is on ravelry.)

Insta-hat pattern part 2 #leethalinstahat :  Work one last k2 in established ribbing pattern, then begin new repeat pattern.    [Yo, p2, k2tog] around for 2-3 inches / 5-8 cm.   (Pictured is part 1.)

The bulky weight Insta-hat pattern was posted in 4 mystery parts, on instagram and tumblr (and linked from twitter and my ravelry group).  It was like a quick mini-mystery-knit-a-long for after holiday knitting stress times, and I think everyone had a lot of fun!  Yay!

Here are the 4 insta-hats I made.  Clockwise from top left: main sample, size small, before blocking; size medium sample, also before blocking; size large stitch count, small-ish height, after blocking and wearing a bunch; size large stitch count, extra l

There’s the finished hat – I made 4 samples because they were SO quick to make!  And I topped one with a pom-pom; the extra-long sized version works well both long and slouchy, and with the brim folded under for extra ear warmth.  This one was made with this recycled hand-dyed yarn I made many years ago.

Insta-hat extra large size with brim folded under Here is my hand-dyed #leethalinstahat, large stitch count, extra large height (for extra slouch), pom-pom on top!  It also works really well to fold the ribbed brim section under, making it extra thick and warm around the bottom, for a non-slouchy fit.  Y

If you want to make it now, just click the links given on my leethalknits webpage, or on the ravelry page.  All pattern posts still exist for you to use for free!

Insta-hat pattern part 4 #leethalinstahat :  After a yo from ending the last part, k1, place marker, and begin round 1 (marker is now the round beginning/end point - slip it after completing each round).          Round 1: [Yo, k2, k2tog] to end.   Round 2

And I have another free thing for you!  The 2015 leethal knits calendar is available for free download on leethal.net!  My new year gift to you :)

Leethal Knits 2015 calendar is now available for free download on leethal.net! This year's is all photos of knitting on the needles. Happy new year!

Last year’s post about my first calendar talks in more detail about the calendar in general.  This year’s is all photos of knitting on the needles.  And there’s a blank one that you can download to use with your own square-format photos.

2015 leethal knits calendar!

Moving along… Do you know about Year of Making?  I had sort of been aware of it, just from seeing instagram posts tagged #yearofmaking throughout 2014, but I didn’t know where it came from until I heard Kim Werker’s podcast interview with Miriam Felton, the creator of the concept.

Kim also released an ebook about Year of Making, which I bought and it’s great (like everything Kim makes!), so I recommend that for some making inspiration.  Check out the table of contents page down below to get an idea of what’s in the ebook…

Kim Werker's Year of Making ebook cover

Kim Werker's Year of Making ebook page

So, I decided to get on board for 2015, but loosely… I won’t be posting a photo of what I make every day on instagram, but I will try to put photos of each day’s making up in this flickr set.  I’ll instagram the good stuff, and I’ll probably put up some tumblr posts of bigger projects here and there.  I’ll just see where the year takes me!

Kim Werker's Year of Making ebook page

Something I love about Kim’s experience with her first year of making is how she ended up getting really into making things she had never done before, like making soap, and painting.  I don’t have plans to learn any big new kinds of making, but I do want to get more into sewing this year, and maybe more drawing, and more spinning, and I’ll just see if anything else calls out to me!  (Above and below are pages from Kim’s ebook.)

Page from Kim Werker's Year of Making ebook

As for my “rules” for myself, for what I’ll count as a #yearofmaking thing… like I said, I plan to be very loose, not strict at all, so missing days is fine – when I’ve done year-long project things like this in the past, I tend to get stressed out about it as the year goes on, and I don’t want this to cause any kind of extra stress in my life.  I usually do some kind of making every day for my job, knitting on a design project, etc, so I mostly won’t count work-related making in this, although sometimes I might, depending on the specifics.

An allowance I’m going to give myself is that house projects can count as the making for the day; if I spend a chunk of time working on cleaning up my studio (which relates to being able to use the space for future making), or if I do some kind of house organizational/decor thing, which might not necessarily be “making” exactly, that counts for me.  I had a sort-of-resolution last year to get my studio in order, and it had ups and downs throughout the first half of the year, and then it just got out of control and ended 2014 worse than how it started.  So, studio sorting will be a not-so-fun year of making project for the beginning of this year, so that I’ll have the space I need to do sewing projects and fun stuff like that!

01/01 spun yarn

Another of my first projects, which I plan to start today, is to make a 2015 planner – I want to be more organized about my work this year, release more patterns, give myself deadlines, stay on track, so I’m going to experiment with an analog paper calendar book.  I bought a plain spiral-bound notebook, and Pete’s uncle gave me this great set of nice colored pencils for Christmas (thanks, Terry!), so I’m going to get to work drawing out monthly and weekly calendar pages.  Then I’ll plan my year of design, and it’ll be there on paper, much harder to move around than iCal fake-deadlines, which I always end up bumping as designs take longer than they should!

planner plans

One other random, making-related thing I want to show you… I made some photo books and I’m really happy with how they turned out, so I plan to make more!  I wanted some kind of print versions of all the digital photos we’ve taken over the years, on trips and stuff, and I thought it would be fun to make these books instead of just making old fashioned albums :-p

Instagram books homemade photo albums

I put the best of Pete’s and my instagram photos into yearly insta photo books; I’m going to start the 2014 edition soon.  The insta books include captions for the photos, so in the future we can look back at what we did each year.  And then the other 2 are photo books of trips we took, no captions or anything, just a physical book we can have on the shelf.  Now that I’ve made a few and I have templates, I can make more pretty easily, of older trips, and future ones!   (I used iWork Pages, same as how I make my knitting patterns, to make the PDFs, and then I had them printed by MagCloud, which does very affordable paperback book printing, as long as the page count isn’t too high, since the price is per-page.)

Okay that’s some making, and plans for 2015 making.  The first week of the year has been a little off, but I’m hoping it’s going to be a good one!  Let’s go!

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