Pumpkin Spice Sweater Knitting

Pumpkin Spice Sweater Knitting

I have no doubt where you live now, You are already deep into the crisp fall weather. Here in Raleigh, It all started this week.

Flip the switch on the gas fireplace and cue pumpkin spice everything. Thank you baby Jebuz, it is finally sweater weather.

If I had been a productive and smart cookie, I would have a stack of new hand knits to unwrap. But alas, I was a total slacker on filling out the wardrobe over the summer. Argh!! I had this idea that over the years I would stop buying commercially made sweaters and began replacing my fading wardrobe with hand knits. HA!! All I seem to have is a fading wardrobe. It is not that I don’t have a long list of sweater WIPS, I just get bored with the the drudgery of the follow through. I know many of you know exactly what I mean. Startitis is actually a thing. And so is the class of patterns called quick knits, with the intentions of shortening that drudgery middle part of making something.

Here’s the thing, the magic of creative ideas are often born during the drudgery of doing the work. Doing the work simple requires you to show up. And fiberista, I have not been showing up for my own knit work. I don’t know about you but the start of fall always feels like a fiber arts new year to me. It renews my knitting love and calls me to remember why I love what I do.

So today firbeista, I am sharing my creative plan not for the greater good of adding my visual language to the conversation. I am straight up wanting some new clothes. So here is what my knitting season is going to look like.

I am not going to start anything new. No, really…nothing new. I have 24+ WIPs. 

I am, however, willing to frog stuff. Because sometime it is better to abandon the project and save the yarn than to soldier through and end up with a sweater you will not wear.

I am going to show up at least 3x a week. Here is a crazy truth…I have always had a hard time wrapping my brain around art time as real work. Yep, this professional artist feels guilty for doing the work that makes me an artist. It is a very deep rooted issue I will always struggle with. But, it is also always something I overcome thanks to lots of practice. Wash rinse repeat. So yeah, routines are pretty vital.

I am also stopping there with the guidelines. Any more rules or promises to myself will overcomplicate this. I am hoping to get at least 2 new sweaters out of this, but 3 would be amazing. And it would also be amazing if I promised to vlog about it, but that might be more than I am ready to bite off right now.

What are you working on? Leave me some comment love below.


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Selling What You Make

Selling What You Make

Hey I get it. Every artist at some point or another starts to think about selling what they make. Be it because friends are demanding it or because they have lofty dreams of quitting their day job and doing something they love all day long. But I have to say, selling your work is WAY more complex than opening an Etsy shop and putting a price on something. Now, I have written a few articles on how to price you work and things to consider when pursuing a creative job. Today, fiberista, I am going to break down some things to consider when  creating work to sell.

Product verses art. Creating can actually take two routes, Fine art and art product. Fine art is one of a kind thing you make. Think gallery type of work. Art is the kind of thing you languish in making following your heart. It is usually priced higher. Product is a thing you craft using your art and skills. It is repeated and produced as efficiently as possible without losing it’s handmade qualities. Think art fairs and craft shows.

Start with the art. Making stuff is fun. Pinterest is fun. Crafts are fun. But stuff is stuff. Popularity dies, trends come and go. When you are an artist you are moving beyond making stuff and really diving into expressing visual language no matter what your medium. Being an artist has a longer shelf life. Art is what will add value to your handmade stuff if you are producing product. You can easily copy a product, but adding your art to production will set you apart and become your brand (more in this in a minute).

In fact make art a habit. So even as you develop a product that is financially viable to sell (you kind of need to read this article first), you are still going to need to be creating art work for yourself. Even if it is art journaling. Actually, I think you should art journal regardless. Your style will evolve. What you make will change. Developing an art habit will keep you from becoming a one hit wonder. Scheduling time to make art is as important as production of items you are selling.

Where you sell is important. So where do you want to sell? In Galleries? On Etsy? Art craft shows? On your own website? How you like to pimp your stuff can be just as important as what you make. And depending on what you are resonating will determine what you make. For example, you really would not approach a gallery with your craft product. And you might be frustrated trying to sell you one of a kind paintings at a craft show. So how do you see your self selling your work?

What customers are really buying. The thing is when customers buy your work they are not really buying your stuff as much as they are buying into you vision. People feel good when they buy art. They can get any old picture to hang over the sofa, but when they buy art, they feel good about supporting culture. They want to know artist statements and inspirations. They are curious about their studios. Even fine crafts they want to see how it is made and know the history behind techniques and the details that the artists bring to the methods. This becomes as much a part of the product as the product itself.

Which all points back to your art. Developing your art is your brand. Developing your art is your story for customers. It is the starting point for your product. Developing you art is what will fill you up when the grind of pimping your work takes its toll.

So, Fiberista. If I had only one piece of advice for you when it comes to selling what you make it would be this: No matter how deep you get into growing a handmade business, make time to keep making art. It may seem counter productive and a waste of precious production time. But, trust me in the end it will sustain your business more than anything else.

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Gift Knitting Like A Boss

Gift Knitting Like A Boss


Fiberistas, Break out the stash, It is that time of year again. Time to make your list, check it, and the stash, twice.

We are officially just shy of 6 months from Christmas.

If you are like me, you are gonna want to do what you can to offset any of the normal holiday stress, gift those hand knits like a boss, and actually drink that spiked eggnog for recreation not therapy.

Fiberista, It is time to do some planning…

No worries. I got you.

Today, I give you the UrbanGypZ’s Guide to Slaying Holiday Gift Knitting Like a Boss.

First, here is a post detailing my very best left brain system for out right making a production schedule for this years Holiday knitting.

10 Steps to Beat Overwhelm: Christmas gift Ideas to start knitting NOW!!!

And here is another post with some additional tips for you to work faster, and prevent overwhelm.

Tis the season: Plan your Christmas knitting NOW!

Even though we are almost 6 months out, here are some tips to help you knit faster.

Six Secrets You Should Know If You Want To Knit Faster

I also keep a running Pinterest Board with insanely cool gift ideas to knit/crochet and even felt.

This year Fiberista, I dug deep within my OCD and have made a holiday planner just for your knitting projects!!! It is a free download.

So make that list, check it twice and go make some art to share this year. By all means if there is a project you think I need to add to my Pinterest board, leave me a comment below with a link if you have one and I will make sure it gets pinned in the Merry Knitmas Board.

UrbanGypZ's FREE Gift Like A Boss Holiday Planner

Something I made to help you get your shit together and slay your holiday gift knitting like a boss.

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5 Powerful Keys to Making Your Competition Irrelevant

5 Powerful Keys to Making Your Competition Irrelevant

Jealousy. We have all been there. It does not matter if it is amongst stay at home moms, corporate executives and yes, even artists. There is a time in EVERYONE’s life when you are green with envy over what someone else has. And while I think jealousy is just a fact on every life, I am going to focus today on jealousy in the art scene.

Jealousy can be a good thing in a way. It can fuel action, take your work to the next level, set that bar higher than you would without the challenge. But here is what I hate…the bitterness and even hate when artist become jealous. I don’t know about you but I want to live with as little hate as possible AND to advance and challenge myself to do better work. Jealousy means you are gauging your work against someone else. So today, Fiberista I give you my to 5 Keys to making your competition irrelevant.

Honor what is awesome in other’s work. Let them have their moment without interjecting ANYTHING about yourself. Yes you may have done this before, Yes you may have done it better. So what. This is not your moment, it is theirs. Share in their excitement. Ask questions and LISTEN to what they say. You are being given the gift of seeing something beautiful. Be in that moment of awe and be happy that it happened, even if it was not by your hand. It is just good Karma.

Blue Ocean Strategy. The theory being, rather than operate in an artistic shark tank, competing for the same customers (red oceans) you actually should follow your ideas out into unchartered waters(blue oceans). These ideas are formed by highlighting the differences between you and the competition, and build on those differences. For example, Steve Jobs did this when he designed Apple. He took those differences between his computer and others, amplified the differences, and built on those differences to form more unique ideas. Another example, thing of the differences between Cirque Du Soleil and a traditional circus. Cirque Du Soleil highlighted and built on what set them apart. I might also point out in both cases, these differences were not hamstring by cheaper prices. In fact, these companies are actually able to charge more for their unique offerings. This is all based on a marketing strategy book, called The Blue Ocean Strategy.

Turn down the noise. If you find yourself only looking for your inspirations in other’s work, it is often hard to listen to your own ideas. And especially if you hope to excel in your work, pinning your ideas to another’s pace will eventually limit your growth. Don’t hang faith in your own art on some one else’s path. Sometimes, you just need to detach from the hive mind and go make some stuff. Find inspirations in everyday life, and art journal like crazy.

Be okay with working through bad ideas. Ugly art happens to everyone. But I promise it always leads to better work. It does not make you a bad artist. And it is okay if you don’t want to show any of it. However, I find the most confident artist will show their most self deprecating work bravely. If you are at that point where you are confidently showing your mistakes, I think it is a strong indicator that you are not afraid of competition.

Show your work humbly. Remember when I said to honor other’s work? Eventually it is your turn to show your work. It will be your moment. Despite all the find-your-own-path talk I mentioned in the last three steps, there comes a time when you will have the opportunity inspire others to find their own path. That is where art communities happen. Welcome questions, share information freely and confidently, and encourage others to build their own path through any inspirations they might glean from you. It is okay. Those who copy will find the path short and frustrating. Encourage them past that dead end and into their own ideas. There is no finite resource of creative ideas, there is enough for all. Blue Oceans for everyone.



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When You Just Show Up

When You Just Show Up

Procrastination. I have to admit, I am so freaking guilty of procrastinating in a big way when it comes to making art. Seriously? I love art. WTH am I doing? Why do chose to do laundry over getting into the studio I love, sitting with an obscene amount of great yarn and make stuff? Just freaking do it already. This is nuts.

Here’s the thing. No matter what you are making, when you are using your right brain you are awfully close to your subconscious, emotions, your vulnerable side. And you may never show your work to anyone, but sometimes the act of facing your own feels no matter what they are is just not what you want to do. Facing self judgement, doubt. Jeez! Art is suppose to be fun not pressure.

It is a simple theory really. Sometimes to break through a creative block, you just need to show up. Get into the studio, straighten up, read a magazine. Sometimes just showing up will get the ball rolling.

Having confidence. Whatever you make is fine. Even if it is bad, mistakes lead to better work. No one has to see the ugly stuff. Make bad art on purpose, then the pressure will really be off of you. Who knows you just might stumble onto something brilliant.

Just being lazy? Fine, be lazy. Do it in the studio.

Entice yourself with good snacks and music. Or movies. Whatever gets you to want to hang out in the studio and maybe do some work

Just schedule it. It does not have to be a lot of time. An hour a week might be plenty of time. Or at least a good start. If you need time to set up space (like the dining room table) then schedule time for that too.

In a nutshell, art won’t make itself. The first step to inviting inspiration for that art is showing up.

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Pricing Your Work Part 2: Getting Paid

Pricing Your Work Part 2: Getting Paid

Alright Fiberista’s so, last week I shared with you the basic formula for finding the number that will support your work. And I spent a lot of time making the case for why you should charge according to that number even if you do not think you need the money or are uncomfortable with that number.

Today, I am am going to push your self value/money issue buttons. I have already gotten a couple of emails from some of you who think I am nuts for asking you to charge for your time because “I just can’t charge that much”. I have no doubt I will get more emails like this today. It is okay. I get it, I have been in your shoes, thought this myself and had to shift my mindset and the way I did business. This is the culmination of 12 years of pricing struggles, bad mistakes and thousands of dollars I have spent on classes about marketing artisan crafts. Today I am going to share with you why you should be using last weeks’s formula, who the hell will buy at that price, and how that is going to make you a better business person AND artist.

Here we go:

Why you do not want to let others set your prices
I am guilty of this too. We have all done this… look at what competitors are charging for similar products when deciding what to charge for our work. Here’s the thing. How are you sure your costs and overhead are exactly the same as your competitor’s? And for that matter, do you know how they came up with their prices? Maybe they are in a long line of people deciding to undercut the last person in hopes of grabbing a sale? This would mean the original sustainably configured price could be way higher than the downward evolution of that price your are considering undercutting even further. Please do not hang the fate and decisions of your business on someone else’s information. You have no idea where they got that price. You have the tools to come up with a number that is sustainable for you. What you really need is a better sense of self value.

That being said, stop trying to compete with manufactured goods.
You are hand making an item. What sets it apart from a manufactured item is the TIME and creativity you bring into it’s production. The “imperfections” lend to the handmade quality…emphasis on quality. If people want to buy a thing  for as cheap as possible and do not care about the handmade aspects then it is a losing battle trying to market your hard work to those people. Let them buy the cheaper item. You want customers who will love the fact that your work is hand made, they want to feel good about buying your genius. I will often go a step further and refer the bargain hunters to my favorite discount resources. I get it. I have done my share of bargain hunting myself. I save my energy for people how love handmade, because they love and value what I have to offer.

Cheaper does not alway mean better sales.
If you are at a fish market will you automatically go for the cheapest price? Price does not alway equal quality. People will always be fine with paying more for what they feel is of better value.

You can charge whatever you want for anything.
Here’s the thing. There is no real law about what you need to charge for your work. What are the differences between a Mercedes SUV and a Ford SUV? Why does the Mercedes cost more? For the most part the cost of the materials are the same. Both are manufactured in similar communities. The difference is how each company caters to their clientele. Think about the typical clientele of each company. Each are at different stages in their lives and have different needs. Each company uses their marketing to advertise their SUV as a solutions to needs of completely different customer bases.

If you think you can not charge your customer a suitable price, you are marketing to the wrong customer.
Yep. When thinking of your ideal customer, the first thing you need to consider is marketing to someone who can afford your work. Period. Do you think Mercedes wastes time marketing to middle class families? no…they historically market to a slightly older, upper middle class professionals with a larger income. How can you raise the VALUE of your work to match the cost of the production plus margins for business growth? Think of that ideal customer(who can afford your price) Why would they buy from you? What will they love about your work? I probably could not afford to buy my own work. That is okay, I am not my ideal customer.

Running a business requires the exchange of money to be sustainable. And for handmade items labor costs are are almost alway more expensive because you do not have equipment or manpower to produce sustainably at a cheaper price. But ideally your customer will LOVE handmade, love the subtle differences in your work. Find the people who will shout “take my money!!” not the people who are grinding you down on your price.

Here’s a hint: Look for art enthusiasts
Straight up, aligning what you make as art will help you raise the value. Yes this can even be done with handspun yarn… Here’s how I did it. My customers for hand spun yarn are older professional women who love art and love to knit, and are right-brained knitters who love the textures and colors over techniques and process. I marketed my yarn as being luxurious enough to feel like they are making art just by knitting with my work. Working with my hand spun yarn would be like making a collaborative piece with me. I encourage them to use the yarn sparingly for accents(looks better in small amounts, besides being cheaper), and provided excellent customer service and knitting resources with invites to brainstorm ideas for their work. Feel free to steal this marketing tactic.

They are not buying the what, they are buying your why
When you are an artist, people love to hear about inspirations, back stories, your passions, your studio. When people are paying more for your work they are buying into your dreams and creative genius. When you share your why’s (and how’s), people want to support those dreams. Buying your work is giving them a piece of that dream. With social media today, artist can so easily market these visions, dreams and stories through instagram, blogging and videos. I know you probably are already doing some social media, just share more art and I promise people with be asking you to take their money.

Maybe selling your work is a just bad business decision
Have you ever noticed there are rarely hand made socks for sale? The time making them is LONG. The numbers just never crunch out enough to be productive or sustainable. Not all art is worth selling. In Lauren Venell’s Bookkeeping for Crafter’s class, Venell shares behind the scenes numbers that helped her decide to move her hand made meat plushies to being mass produced. Sometimes you just can not shave any more time off your own production time, or source the materials cheaper. Sometimes the idea of selling what you make dies in the number crunching. Even in big business, ideas often die when the numbers prove unsustainable. It is okay. There are other ideas to find that WILL be sustainable, save your time and energy with those ideas that work.

What is not okay is doing ignoring the numbers, rethinking your marketing and just charging a bad cheapo price anyway. That is not smart marketing and you are only hurting your fellow fiberistas with your own insecurities about the value of your work. You may or may not be serious about your handmade side business, but there are some people out there who need the numbers to work. I spend a lot of time helping other fiberista’s see their work as art with blog posts, forums, and support groups for this very reason. I want you guys to understand that what you do is not just of monetary value that is worthy of sustaining you financially. Your visual language is worth putting out there and finding customers who VALUE that voice. I promise, they are out there and waiting to help you with your vision and dreams of selling your fiber art.


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