How to Choose a Craft Fair

…and how many?

Craft Fair Series Post 1!

Craft fair booth

Craft fairs, flea markets, trunk shows… they pop up all over the place! Wouldn’t we make more $$$ if we sign up for all of them?? The answer is no. If you’re like me, you have a full-time job and craft fairs are something you do to fill your soul and pay for your wicked yarn habit. You can’t do them all and trust me… you don’t want to! There are quite a few things to consider before jumping in head first! What type of show is it, when, where do I even look? Let’s dive in!

How many?

The more accurate question would be “how many can I reasonably prep for?” I am decently fast at crocheting, but I can’t always dedicate large chunks of time to prepare. My worst fear is showing up to a craft fair and selling out on the first day (that has happened to me)! It’s a great problem to have… still problem for sure. Also, you wouldn’t want to have a show with a really low stock because it is a disservice to the market. Your customers may feel like you didn’t care about them and so might your event coordinator. “Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.” – Ron Swanson

Future blog posts will detail market prep and how to have a plan. For me, I apply to 3 craft fairs in the fall. With my full-time job, this is my limit. If you have more time to prep or start really early, you may feel comfortable having more shows.

How do I find craft fairs?

I started with Google in the beginning. Type in where you live and “craft fair”. While looking through all the listings, keep in mind… you can’t sign up for all of them. You’ve got to find the right fit. Once you go to your first show, ask the other vendors!! Find a maker who makes something you truly vibe with and ask them which shows they apply for. The customers at those shows might be really into what you make! There was this adorable booth selling mittens (Whitton’s Mittens) who I knew would be a great resource because people would buy a scarf from me and mittens from them! I’ve found some truly great shows because I’ve chatted with other vendors.

How do I choose a show?

Ok, so this is a big deal. Like I mentioned before, not all craft fairs are created equal. You might go to a show and sell everything and the next show will be a total dud. Be picky. You’ve worked hard on your product and your skill and you want to be sure it gets in front of your ideal customer!

There are many types of craft fairs: juried or curated, handmade only, flea markets, junk shows, trunk shows, festivals, expos, etc..

I’m a huge fan of juried shows. Juried means the event organizer is combing through a list of vendors who apply and choosing the best fit. At these types of events, you’re less likely to have 15 crochet booths all making the same thing. (I’ve had other crochet vendors come to my booth and take pictures of my work…) Also, many of these event organizers are going for a certain vibe at their show. Does their vibe fit your product? If not, it’s ok to pass. When it’s a good match, beautiful things happen!

Another type of show I love is a Handmade Only show. These shows ask you to send them proof you are actually making your items yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good junk show, but people who come to a “handmade only” show are actually interested in handmade things! They know they are going to pay for good work and are prepared to do so. I have a show on Thanksgiving weekend I am always sure to sign up for. My first year, pictured above, I sold out of everything on the first day… Everything. I had to stay up all night to make as much as I could for the next TWO days. (We’ll talk more about properly prepping for a market in another post so that doesn’t happen to you.)

Types of shows that don’t seem to be a good fit for me are flea markets. Shoppers may be coming to flea markets looking for a good deal and I may not be providing that. One flea market had my handmade booth set up right next to a person selling cosmetics for a really low price. We had a great time chatting and I totally got some $3 mascara, but I only did $600 in sales for the whole weekend. There were more than 50,000 people at this event, but they weren’t there for me. While I had a good time, it wasn’t a good fit and I haven’t been back.

Expos and festivals. These can be really good or terrible. Haha! The events that draw big crowds might seem like the perfect place. If those people aren’t there to shop, it might be a bad fit. I went to a HUGE festival and it was so much fun! The people weren’t there for shopping though. They were there for the incredible parade and carnival rides. If it’s a Christmas festival, however, that might be PERFECT! Much of what I sell is intended for Christmas presents. (A huge honor btw!) Christmas shoppers are definitely my ideal customer!

Another consideration is timing. I hand make crochet and knit items in the Midwest. Summer shows do not work for me. I’ve tried. Crop tops may be a great seller if I lived in Florida, but I don’t… not anymore at least. Baby items aren’t really part of my brand. I tend to make items for adult women and teens. That’s where I feel the most passionate and it shows in my work. To find those people, I’ve got to sell those items when they are looking for them. Let me repeat that because it’s soooo important. Sell the items your customers are looking for WHEN they are looking for them.

That time for me is in the fall! I do all my craft shows from September 1 through the middle of December. That’s my sweet spot! If you crochet baby items like crazy, you may have a much wider window of time. The idea is to get your handmade items in front of the people who want them and when they want them. I don’t buy winter coats in July!

Here’s a shot from my very first craft fair! I wish I could go back and add height to my booth!! (and white table cloths and a back drop and… ok I’ll stop for now.)

My first Craft Fair

Things have changed so much for me since that day. This was in November of 2014! Props to my sister for my setup.. I had NO idea what I was doing!

I’d love to hear all about your craft shows, how you found it, and why you chose them!

Stay tuned for my next post about How to Prepare for a Craft Show!

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How to Write a Crochet Pattern

How to write a crochet pattern

Since I began crocheting in 2013, I’ve worked with A LOT of patterns. Some of them have been good, some bad, and some have been EXCELLENT! The goal for any maker who writes a pattern is to make it possible for someone to duplicate your work. (Like a paint by numbers, but with yarn!!) There are tons of ways to go about writing a pattern! The more clear your instructions can be, the happier your customers will be. Happy customers mean good reviews which could lead to the ultimate goal: more sales!

Patterns can consist of multiple parts: Intro, The Rules, Measurements, Gauge, Materials, Stitch Abbreviations, and The Steps.

Not all of these parts are necessary for every pattern. When in doubt, more detail is better. Before we get too far…. USE FONT THAT IS EASY TO READ! Font is no place to get fancy. Let your work be the fancy part!

Blog post pic

The Intro: This could be as simple as a picture of the item, your logo and the name. Some of the more interesting patterns have a bit of detail about how this pattern was invented. You could write how it got it’s name, some detail about you and your business, or a quote that says something to your customer about you as a maker. It can be a tiny part that establishes a connection between makers.

The Rules: It might seem obvious that a pattern buyer shouldn’t ever resell a pattern, but you’d be surprised how frequently patterns are stolen. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened to me personally, but I do know a few makers who have watched someone else profit from their hard work and creative genius. Here is an example of what you might say:

Please do not alter, change, share, or sell this pattern as your own.

Feel free to sell your finished work, but credit my shop (insert shop name).

That is, of course, if you are allowing the maker to sell their finished work. I always do because I think it’s great for a maker to profit from their skill and that’s just more of my designs out in the world!

Measurements: How big is this thing? If the size of the finished piece is important, include those dimensions! I find this to be less important than the Gauge of my stitches.

Gauge: We all have different tensions. My mom and I have completely different tensions so our work looks completely different even when we’re making the same thing! My stitches are often way too tight, while hers are a bit more normal haha! I usually have to go up a hook size and she would have to come down for us to match our work. When I do this part, I ALWAYS use the same main stitch from the pattern. If my scarf is mostly double crochet then my gauge swatch will be too. I’ve seen gauge sections with a completely different stitch!

Confession time! As a lazy maker, I rarely do a gauge test before diving into the pattern.

Mine usually instructs makers to make the swatch like a tiny pattern then provide the measurement of my finished square. (See picture above for an example of my gauge section.) Some designers list a number of stitches and a measurement (12 stitches = 4 inches for example). Either way will give your customer an idea of how big your stitches are and what they’re trying to replicate.

Gauge is an important step. Don’t skip it.

Materials: Yarn size (Maybe include which yarn you used in the picture) and how much you used of each color. Try to be as accurate as possible so your buyers don’t need to go back to the yarn store. Unless they want to! 😉

Hook or needle size, Yarn needle, Scissors, Measuring tape, and stitch markers are all good things to list. If you have anything special, be sure to include those. Buttons, for example, would need to be listed for my Bandit Scarf pattern.

Stitch Abbreviations: Always list if you’re using US or UK terms! They are different!

If you’re going to use any shorthand, be sure to properly explain it. When I was learning, I would have to type a bunch of abbreviations into google to try to sort out what they meant. That was frustrating as a beginner. Here are a bunch of abbreviations:

chain – ch

single crochet – sc

half double crochet – hdc

double crochet – dc

treble crochet – tc

slip stitch – slst

single crochet 2 together – sc2tog

back or front loop only – BLO or FLO

back or front post sc – bpsc or fpsc……  and so on and so on (crochet has a lot of stitches!)

The Steps: The most important part of the pattern, of course. You can check some of the other posts in my blog to see how I write out the steps. More detail is always better. Separate your rounds clearly. Be sure to note if your chains count as stitches. Provide stitch counts after each round or row. Are you crocheting into the space right next to your chains? When you sit down to make a new design, you should keep very accurate notes!

Something I always do no matter what the pattern is… add pictures. Many pattern writers don’t add pictures. That’s totally fine! Many pattern readers don’t need them. If you’re writing a beginner pattern, you need to speak to the beginner. I’ve got an intermediate pattern as well as a beginner pattern (linked above) on my blog and they both contain quite a few pictures. You’ll have fewer follow up questions from your customers if you provide a visual.

 

At the end, I always congratulate the maker and give them information on how to share their finished work with me! #gingerknots or @ginger.knots

There is nothing like seeing those finished projects and sharing them! It truly makes my day like nothing else.

If you’ve written your pattern in Microsoft Word, go up to “save as” and save it as a PDF!

Now all you have to do is ask for testers, list it in your Etsy shop, and learn all about SEO!! 🙂

Chunky Scrap Coasters

Ginger knots (1)

You’ve just finished a gorgeous scarf. The ends are all tucked in and you’re ready to flaunt that baby at the gross winter weather. Its such a great feeling! Or… you’re prepping for that craft fair and you are churning out infinity scarves as fast as your hook can work. It comes to the same conclusion… what the hell do you do with all that left over yarn?

I’ll be honest, to avoid dealing with it… I’ve thrown it away. That hurts me to think that I’ve thrown gorgeous yarn in the trash because I didn’t know what to do with it. I stopped doing that pretty quickly. Yarn is expensive and that is wasteful.

My next solution was to buy a yarn winder and make it into balls for later use! Genius! Except I currently have two big totes full of left over yarn. Raise your hand if your stash is out of control. (Visualize me with my hand waiving maniacally in the air.)

Then, one day, while making baskets, I ran out of yarn and thought, “the bottom of this basket would make a cute coaster”! That’s how these Chunky Scrap Coasters were born!

Now, I throw them in with my custom orders as a free gift or give them to my family even if they’re sick of my coasters. You can do the same! Grab your N/10.00mm hooks and your size 6 yarn! (Also a yarn needle and coffee or beer depending on what you’re into.)

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Materials:

Each coaster takes roughly 31 ft or around 10 yards depending on your tension.

Yarn: Super Bulky/Size 6

Hook: N/10.00mm

This pattern is in US terms.

Stitch abbreviations:

Ch – Chain

Sc – Single Crochet

Hdc – Half Double Crochet

Slst – Slip Stitch

 

Pattern!

Start with ch 4 and slst into the starting chain to form a ring

or a Magic Circle, but I’m terrible at those. (I probably shouldn’t say that huh?)

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Round 1:

Ch 1 (counts as a stitch here and throughout)

9 hdc into starting ring

Join with a sl st to the ch 1 from the beginning

(total of 10 stitches)

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Round 2:

Ch 1

Hdc in the same stitch as the join from round 1

2 hdc in each stitch around

Join with a slst to the ch 1 from the beginning

(20 total stitches)

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Round 3:

Ch 1

Sc in the back loop only (BLO) of each stitch. There are no increases in this round so feel free to be a bit loose with your stitches. This makes the coaster give the bottom of the cup a little hug. 🙂

Join with a slst to the ch 1 from the beginning of the round.

(20 total stitches)

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Round 4:

Don’t chain!

Sc AND slst in the next stitch and in each stitch around. This gives the edge those little spikes. Continue to sc and slst in each stitch around until you get to the last stitch.

Sc in the last stitch then sl st into the same space as the slst to join from the previous round

Cut your tail and weave in the ends.

You’re done!! Now pour yourself a fancy drink in your cutest mug and give your coaster a test drive.

Share your finished coasters with me on my Instagram by tagging me @ginger.knots! I frequently share pictures from my yarn friends who have made something with my patterns! Let’s be yarn buddies!

 

Bobble Tote

My fellow makers,

Thank you for coming to my blog. The maker community is incredible and I’m happy to share this pattern with you! Love and yarn 🙂

tote-40

Bobble Tote

Materials needed:
Yarn: Super bulky/size 6 yarn (Big Twist Natural Blend in light grey for color A and Lions Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick in Fig for color B)
Approximately 150 yards of color A and 150 yards of color B
Crochet Hook: M/9mm
Yarn needle
Tape Measure (optional)

Stitch Abbreviations:
Ch – Chain
Sc – Single Crochet
Sc2tog – Single crochet 2 together
PS – Puff Stitch*
*Puff Stitch – (Yarn over and insert your hook into the stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop) 4 times. Yarn over and pull through all loops on hook except the last one. Yarn over and pull through last 2 loops on your hook.

Tote
*There are two sizes in this pattern. The numbers in parenthesis are for the larger size. The small size holds two small skeins and the large holds three or four depending on the yarn. Happy Crocheting!!

Ch 16 (24)
Round 1
Sc in second ch from hook and in next 13(21) [total of 14(22) sc]
5 sc in last stitch
Working along the other side of your starting chain, sc in next 13(21)
5 sc in the last stitch
Slip stitch in first sc to join
Total of 37(53) sc

Round 2
Ch 1 and sc in the same stitch as join
Sc in next 14(22) stitches
2 sc in next 3 stitches (around the end)
Sc in next 16(24)
2 sc in next 3 stitches
Join with a sl st to the top of the first sc from round 2
Total of 43(59) sc

tote-8

Round 3
Ch 1 and sc in the same stitch as join
Sc in next 15(23) stitches
*2 sc in next, 1 sc* repeat from * to * twice more
Sc in next 16(24)
*2 sc in next, 1 sc in next stitch* repeat from * to * twice
Join with sl st to the top of the ch 1
Total of 50(66)

tote-9

For the remaining rounds, work continuously without joining and chaining
Rounds 4-17 (20)
Sc in each stitch around [Total of 50(66) sc]
Use a stitch marker if you have any trouble seeing where your rows begin. (purple yarn in picture)

tote-10

Hole for yarn (optional): Round 6 and 12, sc in each stitch until you’ve gotten to the side of your bag. (Different stitch count depending on the row) Lay your tote flat to be sure you’re working on the crease on the edge. Ch 1 and skip the next stitch to leave a hole for your yarn to work through. Continue sc in all other stitches.

Round 18(21)
Lay your tote flat again. The center 4 stitches will be left open. Use a tape measure to help find the center 4 stitches. For this round, sc until you reach the center 4 stitches, ch 4 and skip the next 4 stitches, sc in remaining stitches. Flip tote over and repeat measuring process. Be sure ch 4 spaces on each side line up with each other.

Rounds 19 and 20(22 and 23) sc around

Once you’ve reached the correct number of sc rounds, sl st into the next stitch. I prefer to end my final round on the edge. Cut your yarn and use an invisible join to weave in your end

tote-20

Bobble Strap
**Your number of rows could differ from mine. You’ll want to do the row increases until your puffs reach the bottom of your bag. Line your starting ch 6 up with your ch 4 hole in the bag to measure. Once you’ve reached the bottom, you’ll have 3 rows of sc with no increases (rows 19, 20, 21 in pattern) before you begin your decreases.**
Row 1
Ch 6, sc in second ch from hook and in each stitch across (5sc)

tote-21

Row 2
Ch 1 and turn
Sc in first stitch (the space immediately next to your chain 1), *PS in next stitch, sc in next*
Repeat from * to * across (Total of 3 sc and 2 Puffs)
Row 3 (Increasing Row)
Ch 1 and turn
2 sc in first stitch, sc in each stitch across until last stitch, 2 sc in last stitch (each row will have 2 more stitches than the last)

tote-22

Row 4 -19
Each row of puffs will have one more than the last row.
Repeat rows 2 and 3 until your puffs reach the bottom of your bag (for the last row [19] sc in each stitch across without adding increases)

Row 20 and 21
Ch 1 and turn
Sc in each stitch across (These rows should run along the very bottom of the bag)

Row 22
Ch 1 and turn
Sc in first stitch, *PS in next stitch, sc in next stitch*
Repeat from * to * until the end of the row
Row 23 (Decreasing row)
Ch 1 and turn
Sc2tog in first 2 stitches, sc in each stitch until the last 2, sc2tog in last 2 stitches (each row will have 2 fewer stitches than the last)

tote-27

Row 24-37
Repeat rows 22 and 23 until you have a row of 2 puffs left
Row 38
Repeat row 2 (the last 2 Puffs)

tote-28

Row 39-41 (3 rows of sc)
Ch 1 and turn
Sc in each stitch across (5 sc)

Row 42 (2 Puffs)
Ch 1 and turn
Sc in first stitch, *PS in next, sc in next stitch*
Row 43
Ch 1 and turn
Sc in each stitch across
Row 44 (1 Puff)
Ch 1 and turn
Sc in first 2 stitches, PS in next stitch, sc in last 2 stitches
Row 45
Ch 1 and turn
Sc in each stitch across
Rows 46 – 57
Repeat rows 42 – 45 three more times or until your strap is as long as you want it. (alternate rows of 2 puffs and 1 puff with sc rows in between) Mind ends up being about 8 inches before moving on to the last row of 2 puffs.
Row 58 and 59
Repeat rows 42 and 43 (last row of 2 puffs)

Row 60
Ch 1 and turn
Sc in each stitch across (5 sc)

tote-33

Once you’ve finished the Strap Section, cut your yarn and pull that section through one of your ch 4 gaps.

tote-34

Flip your tote over and pull the end of your strap through the other ch 4 space.

Weave your yarn tail through the stitches on each side to join your strap.

Your sc rows should line up on the bottom of your tote.

tote-39

All Done!!!

Please share your Bobble Totes with me on Instagram!

Tag @ginger.knots or #gingerknots

All pictures and this pattern are property of Ginger Knots. Feel free to sell your work and share this blog post! Please give credit for this pattern to my blog and do not reuse or resell as your own.

What are we doing here?

Welcome to my very first blog post!

I’m pumped to start this new platform to share with those in the maker community!

In the coming months, I have a series of posts I’m gearing up to publish:

  • Tales from the Craft Show: Tips, Tricks, and Stories (sometimes there are meanies!)
  • Taking pictures of your work
  • Buying Patterns and why I do it!
  • When to start selling your handmade products

and much more…

My next blog post will be a pattern for My Project Tote! (pictured above)

Thank you for being here and taking the time to read my first blog post! Want to see something specific? Shoot me a message! Check out my patterns in my Etsy Shop!

I love you guys!