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How to Produce Crochet Newsletters: Class Resources

Interested in emailing your own newsletters, and building your own readership? Then sign up to attend my presentation during Professional Development Day at the Crochet Guild of America’s (CGOA) Chain Link Conference this October 2, 2013 in Concord (Charlotte), North Carolina. Please note: this conference is held jointly with the Knitting Guild conference (TKGA). Together the event tends to be known to the larger public as The Knit and Crochet Show.

Below is a list of additional information for those who attend my presentation. If you can’t attend, I hope you’ll also find something of use here. The list below is divided into seven sections:

  1. Some Notable Crochet Newsletters
  2. Starting Off Right
  3. Promote Your Newsletter
  4. Take Your Newsletter to the Next Level
  5. ESP Providers (and the companies that use them)
  6. More Crochet-Relevant Newsletters
  7. Email Newsletter…or Sales Flyer?

Producing Crochet Newsletters: Resources

I. Some Notable Crochet Newsletters 

To help you bring your own newsletter into focus, subscribe to some of these below. Pay attention to the design of its subscribe form, any triggered welcome emails, special offers, etc. Watch when an issue arrives in your inbox (day, time of day, frequency). See which topics, formatting, or images get your attention. If you unsubscribe, note any “sorry to see you go” emails.

  1. Focus on content (article style): Annette Petavy, Annette Petavy Design: http://www.annettepetavy.com/pages/en/newsletter/2012/09.html
  2. Digest Type (A roundup of blog posts and other links in interesting categories): Ellen Gormley, GoCrochet archives: http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/home/?u=5133fbb5647a595b35f277792&id=d523b15acd
  3. Newly revised to complement a daily blog: Stacey Trock, Fresh Stitches http://www.freshstitches.com/free-amigurumi-crochet-tips-ebook-newsletter/
  4. 19,623 readers, several writers: Rachel Choi’s Crochet Spot: http://www.crochetspot.com
  5. Trendy style: Linda Skuja’s Eleven Handmadehttp://www.lindaskuja.com/p/newsletter.html
  6. Jocelyn Sass, Cute Crochethttp://www.cutecrochet.com/orderinformation/mailinglist.html
  7. Deb Richey, CraftyDebhttp://www.craftydeb.com/newsletter
  8. Uses PHPList service: June Gilbank’s PlanetJunehttp://www.planetjune.com/list/
  9. My own DesigningVashti newsletter, since 2010: Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter: http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/home/?u=8d9b0b0df0b73f0fdcb7f4729&id=9c8df8dd87 (An example of the handy archives and click-to-subscribe page that is available from MailChimp, the email service I use.)
  10. Three long-running crochet newsletters:

 

II. Starting Off Right: helpful online articles

  1. Common terms associated with email newsletters: http://www.mailermailer.com/resources/email-dictionary.rwp
  2. Name Your Newsletter: http://writtent.com/blog/6-tips-on-creating-compelling-newsletter-titles/
  3. Importance of Subject Lines: http://www.mequoda.com/articles/email-marketing/3-email-subject-line-formulas-proven-to-increase-open-rates/
  4. Create an Email Newsletter Calendar: http://www.mequoda.com/articles/email-marketing/create-a-calendar-for-better-email-marketing-management/
  5. About the Can-Spam Act: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN-SPAM

 

III. Promote Your Newsletter

You can’t promote it enough.

  1. Example of a Newsletter Pinboard: Vashti Braha, DesigningVashti: http://pinterest.com/vashtibraha/vashti-s-crochet-newsletters/
  2. Example of a dedicated blog page tab (Blogger): http://designingvashti.blogspot.com/p/crochet-inspirations-newsletter.html
  3. Example of a dedicated information page for a Ravelry Group: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/vashtis-crochet-lounge/pages/Crochet-Inspirations-Newsletter-FAQ
  4. Example of a dedicated Facebook Page for your newsletter: https://www.facebook.com/pages/DesigningVashti-Crochet-Inspirations/156608107685576
  5. Inspiring example: A yarn company’s promotional design elements: Lion Brand produces 3 weekly and monthly newsletters, such as The Weekly Stitch. See the information-rich newsletter page here: http://www.lionbrand.com/cgi-bin/newsletters.cgi (archives too). Note how each newsletter issue is formatted. The top right corner has a table of contents, while tabs across the left just under header link to key website pages (OUR YARNS –  PATTERNS – SHOP). Also see the footer of each newsletter.

 

IV. Take Your Newsletter to the Next Level

  1. Berroco may have been the first to regularly embeds videos in their long-running KnitBits issues: http://www.berroco.com/knitbits-newsletter
  2. Knit designer Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer displays her longtime newsletter experience in the fine-tuned elements of her Heartstrings newsletter: http://www.heartstringsfiberarts.com/newsletterarchive.shtm
  3. Online articles about newsletter refinements:
  4. Some examples of newsletter segmentation:

V. ESP Providers and Companies Who Use Them (incomplete list, alphabetical)

Be sure to subscribe to the newsletters of ESP providers that interest you; or explore their online resources. I especially like AWeber’s, MailChimp’s, and Mailermailer’s resources.

  1. Aweber (Rachel Choi/Crochet Spot, Jackie E-S/Heartstrings): http://www.aweber.com
  2. Constant Contact (Maggie’s Crochet, Berroco, Classic Elite Yarns, Cotton Clouds, Crystal Palace Yarns, elann.com, Katherine Lee/Sweaterbabe, Linda Cortright/Wild Fibers):  http://www.constantcontact.com/home/signup.jsp?s_tnt=48655:19:0
  3. Get Response: http://www.getresponse.com
  4. iContact (Jen Hansen/Stitch Diva Studios, Tanis Galik/Interlocking Crochet): http://www.icontact.com
  5. MailChimp (Vashti Braha/DesigningVashti, Dora Ohrenstein/Crochet Insider, Ellen Gormley/GoCrochet, Stacey Trock/Fresh Stitches, Loop/Loop Scoop, Linda Skuja/ElevenHandmade, Leisure Arts, Martingale, Tamara Kelly/moogly, Mikey/The Crochet Crowd, Lianka Azulay/BonitaPatterns, Nancy Queen/Noble Knits, Brenda Lavell/Phydeaux): http://mailchimp.com
  6. Mailermailer (Cathe Ray/Needlestack): http://www.mailermailer.com/index.rwp
  7. PHPList (June Gilbank/PlanetJune, Josi Madera/Art of Crochet): http://www.phplist.com

 

VI. More Crochet-Relevant Newsletters:

  1. Tamara Kelly, Moogly: Weekly via MailChimp; takes advertising (Craftsy, Zulily, Annie’s), and the rest of newsletter is blog post snippets. Includes polls. Archive: http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/home/?u=9929d1e9575d4f0e2936a8743&id=0b2d00989e
  2. Tanis Galik/Interlocking Crochet: http://www.interlockingcrochet.com/index.php?option=com_users&view=registration
  3. Amie Hirtes/NexStitch: http://www.nexstitch.com/newsletter.html
  4. Dora Ohrenstein, Crochet Insider archives: http://us4.campaign-archive1.com/home/?u=c96b913e7af278f634924518a&id=f4d2cd72ee
  5. Lisa van Klaveren, Holland Designshttp://etsy.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=9dd325c3d57ba71c22622eece&id=8c9695b735
  6. Annie Modesitt, Modeknithttp://app.expressemailmarketing.com/Survey.aspx?SFID=161138 Previous newsletters since 2006: http://anniemodesitt.com/news/
  7. New Stitch a Day: http://newstitchaday.com/blog/
  8. Linda Cortright’s Wild Fibers: http://visitor.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=001nFupVrVrNd7iTi7p6_MGYQ==
  9. My favorite example of a blog-to-newsletter email: Martingale’s crochet & knit Fridays, 3 or 4 staff writers: http://blog.shopmartingale.com/crochet-knitting/crochet-and-knitting-museum-becoming-a-reality/ Some interesting topics. I actually prefer the look & feel of the emailed version. It inspires me to use the blog-to-newsletter features of MailChimp!
  10. Red Heart Yarns, blog (scroll to very bottom for newsletter subscribe box): http://www.redheart.com/blog
  11. Some newsletters produced by local yarn shops:
  12. A Good Yarn Sarasota (rapidly growing readership): http://www.agoodyarnsarasota.com
  13. Loops Scoop archives: http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/home/?u=f97d5ff1f8ea5c331757403a9&id=50768198b4
  14. String: http://www.stringyarns.com/subscribe.php
  15. Natural Stitches Newsletter: Archives: http://www.naturalstitches.com/Newsletter.html
  16. Jimmy Beans Wool: http://www.jimmybeanswool.com/newslettersHome.asp

VII. Email Newsletter or…Sales Flyer?

“Newsletter” implies enough usable content to avoid the “sales promotion” category. A bulk email is often a mix of the two. Even if an email has a newsletter-like format, at least 60% of it needs to be real non-sales usable content for an email to count as a “newsletter.” 

If you can imagine the information in a bulk email as a magazine article, column, or part of a book chapter, it counts as real content!

  1. An example of a sales flyer (rather than a “newsletter”): Knitpicks http://www.knitpicks.com/images/promo/email/bem/BE130722.html?media=BE130722&elink=0–HTM
  2. Jen Hansen, Stitch Diva Studios: http://www.stitchdiva.com/newsletters/
  3. Lianka Azulay, Bonita Patternshttp://etsy.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=eda7d3f5fe05c649e086e1f0c&id=973aaa93b7
  4. Kristin Omdahl, StyledbyKristin archivehttp://us2.campaign-archive2.com/home/?u=dc23e5addd7fc32bc5e710d55&id=d93c5b50da
  5. A sales flyer I enjoy. Why? The design photos inspire me in ten seconds before I delete the email — even though none of them are crochet!: Nancy Queen’s NobleKnits sample issue: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=74c9a5fe681619d5a82b98f3c&id=fb504eff2b&e=7507824e09

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mesmer Veil Effects with Easy Tunisian Crochet Stitches

It’s been over three years since I crocheted the original Mesmer design prototype and I’m as entranced by it as ever. The crocheting experience feels magical, and I still get a bit wonderstruck when I wrap myself with it. Click on each photo to enlarge it and see its story.

The Mesmer Tunisian Crochet Veil pattern PDF is now in the DesigningVashti SHOP as an instant download.

You can also find the pattern for it, and projects, in Ravelry.

Recommended! Crochet Inspirations Newsletter #49: ‘TEKSplorations’ for Tunisian Lace

Mesmer is fun project because not only is it fast, it’s an unusual experience of Tunisian crochet and of yarn combining. It’s rare that the Return Pass has the starring role in a Tunisian crochet fabric; in fact, it’s more common for designers to downplay it, or try to work around it. One reason is that it has the least amount of stretch, like the foundation chain in regular crochet. Another reason is its texture doesn’t blend in readily, so it gives a strong texture. Although this design is a fun way to combine scrap yarns, I designed it to make fancy, pricy yarns last longer.

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New Free Crochet Jewelry Pattern & Guide

My three newest crochet jewelry pattern releases share a theme: all are methods for crocheting beaded strands, without actually using beads. I’ve developed special beady crochet stitches and found jewelry-crocheting ways to make stitches stack up symmetrically and neatly, like beads do.

Not only do I love crocheting beads instead of adding beads to crochet; sometimes it’s better – allows a crochet project to be more portable or faster to begin, for example. For more images, here’s my “Pearly Crochet Stitch Types for Jewelry Crochet” photo set.

My free Puffpearls Jewelry Cord Crochet Guide is really three small patterns in one, because each pattern is a jewelry component that can be used independently with other designs. The three components are the Chain Loop Clasp, the Puffpearl Stitch Cord, and the Mushroom Button. Along the way I explain what makes each of these my “go-to” jewelry components, and suggest some creative ways to vary them and enhance their basic features.

After wearing crochet jewelry for years, and teaching Crochet Jewelry in local yarn shops and at national conferences, I wanted to provide a free guide to some of the simplest basics I find that I’ve relied upon for years. That’s why I came out with the free Puffpearls Jewelry Cord Guide. Together with the Irish Pearl Knot Stitch and the stitch menu in the Sweet Almonds Jewelry Set, I use it myself as a reference guide, so I’ve rounded out the free crochet jewelry pdf with:

  • A chart of standard necklace lengths
  • How to make the best beginning slip knot when starting a crochet jewelry project
  • How to make necessary adjustments for a good match between pendant and crochet cord.

Something else I’m noticing about crocheting ‘beads’ is that they’re amazing in silk and rayon threads. You might like issue #47 of the Crochet Inspirations Newsletter on using rayon threads for crochet jewelry. You also might like issue #46, “Open and Closed Clones Knots.” It was inspired by the Irish Pearl Knots design.

The Puffpearl was one of the first (if not THE first) of the pearly stitches I swatched, back in 2008. Allow me to end by counting the ways that I like it now more than ever! The Puffpearl Cord is…

  1. Strong with a bit of built-in stretch. It has clean good looks from any angle and has many uses, so it’s fun to see how it responds to different fibers and hook sizes.
  2. Fun to experiment with simple changes to the stitch’s basic steps for creating alternate versions of the cord.
  3. Fast! A 20-minute crochet friendship bracelet is pretty instant gratification.
  4. Easy to make this stitch uniform in size and shape for a polished-looking pendant cord.
  5. The most straightforward and structurally familiar of all my favorite bead-like crochet stitches for fancy cords. (I especially appreciate this when using slippery threads like silk and rayon.)
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Crochet Jewelry Class Resources

Most recently taught by Vashti Braha on September 13, 2012 at CGOA’s Chain Link Conference in Reno, Nevada

This clickable list of crochet jewelry resources is mainly to aid students of my classes in exploring more about jewelry crocheting at their leisure. (If you have not yet taken any of my crochet jewelry classes, I hope someday I’ll meet you in one of them!) You’re welcome to enjoy the links below whether you’ve taken the classes or not. They represent the extra information that doesn’t fit into a standard three-hour class. Some are the names of designers, books, jewelery styles, etc., that I may have mentioned in a class.

— Vashti Braha

  1. Page of my published Jewelry Crochet downloadable patterns
  2. Some of my not-yet published Jewelry Crochet projects

Crochet Inspirations Newsletter Topics:

Blogged:

Books, Four Recent Observations About:

  1. Here’s something I’ve noticed: Jewelry crocheters tend to have very strong opinions about which threads and other types of filaments are best. Some jewelry authors’ recommendations contradict others; some conflict with my actual experience of crocheting or wearing these materials. I also came to realize that I had my own fierce preferences (based upon what I know so far about how cotton crochet thread is made)! Crocheters know that we can crochet with just about anything. This is especially true for jewelry! Bead shops and craft stores offer beading threads, “memory wires,” leather lacing, braided waxed linen, etc., which offer us completely new crochet experiences. I haven’t tested every material favored by every author, and it’s looking like each crocheter needs to do her/his own open-minded experimenting and testing.
  2. How I make sense of Observation #1: When an author (and/or publisher) seems to come from the world of non-crochet beading and jewelry making, s/he tends to have a comfort zone and preference for synthetic beading threads for crochet. I also see an easy familiarity with traditional metal jewelry findings and related tools, and with using large amounts of tiny seed beads, or bead mixes, to the point of covering up the crochet stitches completely. If a natural fiber thread is recommended, I more often see a preference for perle cotton. On the other hand, authors who come to jewelry design from the world of crochet tend to: be conversant with the virtues of high-twist mercerized cotton threads; explore yarns of various fiber mixes; may use only a few beads as accents or no beads at all; feature crochet stitch textures and contrasting colors of thread work (which may stand in for beaded looks); and to crochet jewelry fastenings in place of traditional metal findings.
  3. Due to #1, I’m finding that having a library full of crochet jewelry books is paying off in a powerful way when I treat them as one individual jeweler’s “workbench notes.” Here’s an example of how I use them for reference: if I wish to try a new fine silk sewing thread, I look through the books to see if someone already has. If so, I look to see what crochet hook size the designer used as a starting point, and I go up or down hook sizes from there, depending on what I think about the stitch texture pictured. If it’s beaded, I check what size beads fit onto the thread. In this way, those jewelry books which are eclectic compilations of several designer’s patterns are goldmines of pointers toward how an unfamiliar (to me) material worked out for someone else.
  4. Observation #3 is why I now keep a better “jewelry workbench journal” as I travel this jewelry crochet journey, and I hope that you will, too. Each of us needs to discover what kind of hook size we prefer with a new unusual material, what beading needle made the stringing easiest with which bead & thread combo, etc. — and then record it so that future designs come together faster and easier. 🙂

See my crochet jewelry book list at the original DesigningVashti crochet blog for clickable titles and descriptions.

Crochet Jewelry Design Styles:

I’ve noticed that of the fullest range of crochet jewelry designs imaginable, some styles are far more explored than others. For example, bead crochet ropes (sometimes called “tubular crochet”), are so popular and recognizable that this style sometimes seems to represent the whole field of crochet jewelry. Several good books are available on this one type. I’ve discussed most of the crochet jewelry books in print in another blog post (see Books, above).

In the interest of promoting the broadest, most inclusive definition of what crochet jewelry is and can be, I’ve begun curating online images in galleries in Pinterest and in Flickr.

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You might also be interested in the resource pages I’m creating for my other class topics:

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From Crochet Design Idea to Professional Proposal

Resources Page for Presentation given by Vashti Braha: From Crochet Design Idea to Professional Proposal  CGOA Professional Development Day, Reno NV September 12, 2012

Clickable links are listed below under four subheadings, but first!  A Gallery of Ten Crochet Photography Challenges I’ve Encountered (out of Thousands)  Click or double-click on a photo for details.

1. Creating, Choosing, Sharing Images of Swatches, Sketches, and Designs

 

2. Why Photography Skills for all Crochet Professionals are Important

Photography has been a challenging journey for me. I’m a crochet designer and teacher first. Perhaps this is why I was slow to realize that every photo I take is also my intellectual property (therefore a business asset) with the same potential infinite value as a crochet design. The more rights one retains to each type of original crochet-related content (whether photo, diagram, text, video, etc.), the more capital one has. Forever. Content to be used as the rights holder sees fit, especially in the unforeseen opportunities the future holds. In other words, do yourself a big favor: err on the side of sitting on the full rights to too much content, because chances are your future self will be glad you did. I speak from experience already! Regarding photography for example, I only waited 2 years to learn how saving my seemingly superfluous photos pays off.

I may never see myself as a professional photographer, but everything I’ve learned about it has been worth the effort, both personally and professionally. Understanding how cameras and light and angles work is nice; even better are the unexpectedly deeper and almost spiritual things photography is teaching me, like: the kinds of beauty I used to overlook; what I want to see and what’s most ‘real’ to me; choices of visual subtexts (those ‘1000 words’ that pictures speak), and just plain what’s important to me about crochet. A surprise fringe benefit is that as I page through the latest crochet magazine or book, I now also detect other points of view non-crocheting pro photographers take, either by default or by direction.

As a crochet designer who finds project photography challenging, the best thing I’ve done is to allow myself the time to take baby steps:

  • If all I do is keep the camera very still, I’m already ahead. It can singlehandedly produce a great raw photo for isolating key details later at the editing stage. Sounds obvious, but it’s a special skill to do this for certain kinds of shots. Surprisingly, it has also taken me a long time to recognize when a photo is subtly out of focus.
  • I block everything, even jewelry. Otherwise the camera will blab loudly to everyone that I didn’t, and I’ll have to retake the photo {shudder}.
  • Having at least one mannequin is fabulous, mainly because using live models for any kind of crochet photography is overwhelmingly complicated for me. Photographing crochet on/with live models require a whole different skill set. I’m going easy on myself and still learning so much with still photography. Another surprise for me has been the strong opinions I hear FOR or AGAINST crochet or knit designs photographed on live models!
  • I refuse to obsess about perfect light. There’s no way I’m getting up at dawn to photograph anything! No way am I delaying a new pattern release just because a tropical storm is brewing! However, the more I’ve thought about this, the more I wonder if this is a luxury I have in Florida, where I usually deal with too much light. The more photos I take of crochet, the less light I need, especially when my priority is to emphasize a stitch texture, or the intricate interaction between fiber type, yarn construction, stitch pattern and drape. I can add light during photo editing, but taking away too much light is trickier.
    • As a result, I avoid buying specialized paraphernalia that clutters up my house or makes it feel too much like a photographer’s studio. I often just put up a low three-fold cardboard screen to mute the Florida sun. Having a range of simple light modifying tools and backgrounds at hand, such as folding foam-core boards, frees me from waiting for only one ideal hour of indirect sunlight or a weather-perfect day.
  • Photoshop will just have to wait its turn. Until more non-photographers’ faces relax when they talk about using Photoshop, I’m making the most of iPhoto and supplementing with iWatermark and whatever the current incarnation of the online Picnik is – and enjoying myself while mastering the basics.
  • I learn a new setting on my camera when I’m good ‘n’ ready. My favorite option so far is the macro setting (on my Canon it looks like a flower symbol). It’s especially great for any beaded crochet, fancy stitches, and step outs (tutorials). I practiced for months with different close up ranges to recognize the macro ‘sweet spot.’ I wish I’d taken a few macro pics of the beaded seam of Tunisian Petals (see my blog link below about this)
  • I turn a crochet photo session into a relaxing event. I do a batch at a time. I often jot down a specific shot I need for a pattern or blog post, because I don’t always remember by the time it’s ‘photo shoot day.’ Depending on the time of day, I may turn up the music, pour a glass of wine, and relax into the job. Or in the morning I may get all sporty and aerobic about it, especially if I’m cleaning up the room reaching to get artsy angled shots, changing backgrounds, moving mannequins around etc. I might chat on the phone, or listen to my husband’s TV show. I avoid a lot of caffeine, though, for a steadier hand.

Helpful Links for Crochet Photography Newbies:

 

3. Submissions Guidelines for Crochet Pattern Magazines:

Submissions Guidelines for Pattern Book Publishers:

 

4. Recommended Miscellaneous Resources for New/Aspiring Professional Crochet Designers:

Note: even though some of these links offer advice about expired calls for proposals, the information is still relevant for future calls.