Vogue Knit Live: Chicago Recap

Ok now, I have to tell you that I am still reeling from fiber inspiration and energy and all the amazing experiences that were part of my first Vogue Knitting Live New York a few months ago. So when I heard about VKL Chicago I thought - why not carry that energy right along and keep the fiber magic swirling?

Plus it was my birthday weekend so I decided to make it a fiber celebration.

I actually didn't hear about Vogue Knit Chicago until after I got back from New York. I wondered why it was low key, but was still just as excited to attend. I later heard from a friend who owns a local yarn shop they planed it late, in December, and that could be why it was low key. Well, low key or not, it was still super fun.

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They had a variety of classes and many were different from the class offerings in NYC. I appreciated that it was not a rinse and repeat of thr New York class schedule and there were lots that interested me. I signed up for finishing classes with Keith Leonard because um... finishing is where it's at right? It was fantastic.

The man is a WEALTH of knowledge and tips and tricks. In fact, I took two classes and learned so much. My knits are already showing improvement! Sometimes it is that one little thing, that Ah-Ha moment of "that is how yo do that" and it all clicks. Even though Keith's class was full to capacity, he took time to go around to EVERY student and review EVERY technique. It was lively and informative and I cant wait to go back for his advanced finishing course.

I had signed up for an Intarsia class but had to skip it to prep for my Knit @ Nite event. That was a real tough decision because Intarsia is on the tops of my list to learn and master. I kicked myself for the poor planning of thinking I could squeeze in that class before my Knit @ Nite event. Next time I am ALL ABOUT INTARSIA!

Saturday after class I hit the Marketplace. It was much smaller than the HUGE two full floors of shopping that is the VKL NYC Marketplace, but still full of wonderful vendors and fabulous fiber discoveries.


One vendor discovery was Knitcrate. Have you heard of them? I had not and was so excited to learn that they are a knit AND crochet based subscription box. They work with artisans, designers and really seem to have brought something new to the table of subscription services. Not to mention they are based in Miami so of course I took a trip down memory lane and chatted with them about all things sand, sun and beach. Ah... it was awesome. I expect I will be hearing a lot more from Knitcrate in the future!


There were a few other fiber discoveries and of course I had to stop by and see friends. I tried several times Saturday to visit and shop at my favorite Yarn Culture NY but truly could hardly get into the booth it was so busy. It seems the secret is out on how awesome the fibers they carry are. Yes, Rosy Green Wool is AMAZING!! Guess I will just have to order some. Across the way it was buzzing at Steven Be's booth also and it was nice to see so many shopping!

The fashion show was not as ramped up and energized as I expected, and in fact I almost missed it.  I was really excited to see they brought crochet along with the knits and I saw some pieces I definitely plan to make.

Sunday came quickly and it was all over in a flash. I missed my morning class (sorry Patty Lyons) but before I darted off to support Jen Geigley at her book signing I took one more pass through the market.  It seemed that several booths had already been picked clean or started packing early by the time 2pm rolled around. It was already getting those scarce load out and head home vibes.

But of course, just like Vogue Knit Live in New York the most amazing thing about it all were the fiber friends. It was so fun running into fiber friends and making new ones and reminds me that whether big or small, it is the fiber family that makes these events so special.

I have to say that even though it is a much smaller event than VKL New York, Chicago Vogue Knit Live was still a fantastic experience and the Vogue team is top notch. It is hard not to compare because I was just in NYC at Vogue... they are so different and on its own I really enjoyed the Chicago event. I will definitely go back if Vogue returns to Chicago though I hope they will plan more in advance and bring more offerings.

I also plan not to skip any more classes! (sorry Patty Lyons)

Knit @ Nite Chicago Style

Oh what a night!

If you heard or read about my 7 Crazy Days in NYC earlier this year, then you know how much fun Knit @ Nite in NYC is and how much of a great time we had when we went. Hosted by knitwear designer Josh Bennett, it is a weekly gathering of knitters and revelers at Club Cumming in the East Village.

So when I heard about Vogue Knit Live Chicago, and knowing how much fun we have at Stitch Up Chicago I thought why not bring Knit@Nite to Chicago!

Genius right? 

I teamed up with my fave Chicago Yarn Shop - Nina Chicago and reached out to Josh to make the magic happen - and boy did we ever!

We took over the Two-Zero-Three cafe at the Virgin Hotel and turned into a social, evening knit hang haven. Cocktails, laughs, knits, and yarn ... it was a fantastic evening.

We were lucky enough to have so many gracious vendors contribute to over $1000 in prizes!  YES!!! OVER $1000 IN PRIZES!

It was so much fun pulling raffle tickets and seeing people get excited about all the amazing yarn and prizes. We even did a "Yarn for a question" version of the yarn toss! The Grand Prize for the night was quite the catch and the winner needed a tote to carry it all home.

Thank you to each of our sponsors who contributed (and I encourage you to check them out):

I think Knit@Nite needs to come to Chicago way more often and I am on a mission to make that happen. Though the venue had capacity limitations, we had a blast and if (WHEN) we do it again I know we will go bigger so more people can join the fun!I know I will definitely be there as host or just to attend!

And a special thank yo to our event sponsor Nina Chicago

Be You & Shine Your Light Bright - Part 4: Let's Just Talk

I was so beyond honored when Brittany of BHooked invited me on her podcast. As a fan of hers it was deeply humbling. As a designer it was incredibly flattering that she wanted me to share my thoughts on Garment Design with her audience. But scheduling was tough for me this year and it did not work out for that date and she was wrapping up her garment design series.

At first I was bummed. Then she asked me if I would like to be a guest on her Maker & Community Series.  Well, now this is some timing! I had just wrapped up my series of posts on community:

The minute she said the topic, I was instantly so grateful God had a plan better than my own and this message could be shared.

The outpouring of response and messages I have received since this aired has been incredible. So many have been touched and that is just so rewarding. I am re-sharing the podcast below and you can see all the notes, details and sign up to never miss and episode here on her page.

Oh Hey Jen Geigley!

I dare you to try something new. I don’t believe in mistakes. Trust your creativity and let your knits become what they want to be!
— Jen Geigley

It is easy to see why I just love Jen Geigley all wrapped up in this quote. It is so much what I am about - JUST CREATE!

The power and freedom in that quote as a knitter is just limitless. As a human in fact. Imagine taking on that great sweater pattern or idea you have been dreaming about and giving yourself permission to just go for it. Freedom from worrying about mistakes. Freedom to just trust the creative process and CREATE. Jen recently took that creativity to a whole new level and published not one, but two books of knitting patterns.

Visions takes her love for contemporary chunky knits to a new level infusing art and risks with each design. Not just in the finished product but the methodology to get there, Jen will lead you on a journey opening your creative doors. She shows you how to get there with a map but encourages you to chart your own course.

Visions Kids is an entire book of beginner friendly kids patterns that continues the inspiration and combination of knitting and art.

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She did a book signing at my LYS Nina Chicago and I got to sit down with Jen and talk about all the things that matter in creating and designing knitwear:

  • developing your look
  • staying true to yourself
  • taking risks and being bold when you do
  • get out on the creative ledge and JUMP

Stitch & Hustle Channel Episode 2: 

My very first interview and I am so excited! I am sitting down with Jen Geigley to talk knits, inspiration, taking risks and making art.

Be You & Shine Your Light Bright - Part 3: Finding Your Tribe



I recently shared on social media about something I was facing:  The challenging side of maker world. I am both humbled and overwhelmed by the supportive messages I have received. It reminds me that it is too often that we allow others to dictate our self worth and how we feel. In an instant, the person(s) driving this situation had knocked me down. Sure I am human and have feelings. Yes, my feelings were hurt. But more importantly - it got me thinking.

Lots of prayer, quiet reflection and more prayer has gone into this post and what is the message of my experiences. What can these experiences not only teach me but can sharing about them possibly help others as well? I think it can and after receiving such an overwhelming response and realizing I am not alone in these challenges, I decided to expand on that social media post and talk about three of the biggest challenges of Maker World that have come from this recent experience:

Weighty stuff to be sure, but important stuff I think. So I hope that by splitting this up into 3 posts it has been a process for you to evaluate and dig deep in your own world.

Find YOUR tribe. It sounds magical right?
Love Your Tribe: It is more than a slogan but a command that gives the warm fuzzies right?
It can be magical and it can be amazing. If it IS truly Your Tribe!

When we were kids it was easy. Here you go little human. This is your class and these are your playmates now. Boom. Instant friendships formed and the "finding" and "seeking out" of our kindred and like minded folk was nary a factor. As we got older we tended to lean toward some relationships over others and small groups of similar interests are born but this all stems form that initial set up of instant connection.

As adults with busy lives, and especially artisans with a passion, this task of deep connection is much harder. While we seek out those who are like-minded, we may also find ourselves developing trust issues and finding it harder to be vulnerable. We've been burned. We've got the scars of a life lived. We have experiences that shape our view of others. And we have our passions and needs; a determined set of criteria we need from those we give our trust and vulnerability too. Ah yes, it has become much more complicated than those days of here you go class and these are now your friends. 


This new adult version of friend making and tribe finding can be quite a weighty challenge. Especially if you are like me. I am an extremely socially awkward human being, which is probably why my fiber world is so important to me. I feel at home with my fiber.  But we all have that instinctive need to belong and be part of something bigger than ourselves. Part of a group. It is human nature and rightfully so. The key is to find where we fit. Where we ADD value. Where we can lift others up and be lifted ourselves.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
— Gal 5:13 (NLT)

What I have learned in all of my experiences is that we must first DEFINE our tribe!  This can be a painful process. But is so important.  This gives us the freedom to know when it is safe to take risks and know when we are truly supported.

To me, this is a layered approach and not simplistic in any way. My inner circle is so small I can name those in it on one hand and not use all my fingers. It is my circle of trust. It is my tribal elders for lack of better comparison. No questions asked and I have no doubts about trust and am free to be me and vulnerable. The good and the bad and all in between. I KNOW that anything my inner circle says to me is truly because they have MY best interest at heart. There is no other agenda at play.

Then there are other layers to your tribe. You can name them if you want, I don’t. I just know they are there. People who support me in one specific area or another. People I am friends with on various level and speak into my life. People who contribute to my journey. These are all people in my tribe and who add value. People who allow me to speak into their life and add value to them are also an important part of my tribe.

Then there is my own community and the community of this blog. These are also part of my tribe. I don’t care if I have ten followers or ten thousand. I care about the people behind the accounts and connecting with them.  I care about what value I can add to other people's lives, even if it is just this blog as a place to get some free patterns. Whatever it is, ADD VALUE.  

I have come to learn and accept, after much turmoil and these experiences, that all Maker groups are not for everyone. There are too many unknown, undisclosed factors and agendas (whether it is to sell merchandise or get people to believe a certain pricing method or doctrine or business approach or whatever). They serve a purpose to be sure, but may not be a good fit for all. The journey to discover this for myself did hurt, but I got it now. And it is essential for those challenges to shape and help us grow. And oh I have grown and in the process DEFINED MY TRIBE.

And defining your tribe will help you find your tribe and help them find you. Be your authentic true self and the right people will stick around. And they will love you.


In wrapping up this series, I want you to know this:  There are parts of the community that work for you, and parts that won’t. And that is OK!  It's important that you find & stick to your own voice, and find your own tribe.

I hope sharing this experience and the lessons from it encourages you. I encourage you to be a source of kindness and adding value and let the rest take care of itself.

7 Crazy Days & Nights of Yarn in New York City - Part 2: The Big Show

Ah yes - I am still sort of taking it all in... That whirlwind trip home was more than enough fiber food to feed my soul for many moons. And it has been non-stop since, causing a delay in even time to share it all with you. But I am here to say Vogue Knit Live (VKL) NYC 2018 was by far one of the best things I have ever done in my life.

I was already on fiber cloud nine from a week full of pre-game fiber fabulousness but that was nothing compared to the next 3 days. 

I had never been to VKL before and truly did not know what to expect. I was a little hesitant when I first registered because I was going a lone. Sure, I am a natural loner, but it can be intimidating to go to these big events solo. And this felt HUGE to me. This is VOGUE. I was there for myself to learn but also offered a press pass for my blog. I felt an unspoken pressure to measure up to that honor. The pressure wasn't real. It is what we do to ourselves right?

So I just dig deep, pray and be brave.

Well, from the minute I stepped off the elevator, for the first time in my life, that weight was lifted. I truly did not worry about being there "alone" or by myself. I was home. I was with MY people. It all felt just right. I felt confident and welcomed all at once by thousands of fellow fiber enthusiasts. It's funny how we build things up to fear then when we do them it is like.. wait... THIS IS AMAZING... why was I scared?

I had nothing to worry about - It was like instant knit happiness the minute I walked in. The energy in the whole building, heck on the block entering the hotel was tangible. It was elevated and incredible. I knew I was in for a fab few days.

I kicked things off with an all day designer intensive course with Josh Bennett. It was great to have already met him and connected so I felt a bit more at ease. It was truly something special to be in a solid full class with other designers, sharing ideas, talking about ways to elevate. Learning from Josh on how to grow and improve in our own design path. He also took time to meet with EVERY STUDENT one on one about our work. I did not see that coming and it was quite impressive to have an opportunity for that kind of feedback and learning. I can tell you that I left that class with so much gained and so much to think about.

I truly think of all the workshops or classes I took, that one left the biggest impact to my design work. Not just because of the lessons taught. But also the thinking that class inspired me to start doing about my work and my approach to designing is a game changer. Josh's class is what I would call disruptive AF and in the best way. It is a big part of why I changed my plan for 2018 and decided to take a 6 month step back and slow down April - September. To feed my soul and grow and enjoy every stitch and design with intention. AH SO GOOD!!!!!


After class I hit the marketplace with my new BFF Kristy Glass for a bit. That was quite the scene I tell you. The market was a bit of sensory overload. ALL the people, ALL the fiber, ALL the color, and that was just the entrance! We did our first perusal but barely made any headway because we had to keep stopping to touch all the yarn lol. Like ALL. THE. YARN.

We popped over to the cocktail party the Dover Publishing was having to celebrate the launch of the new book Glamourie. Yummy food, unwinding after a crazy first day and hanging out with fellow fiber folk. Yeah - that was my kind of evening. Not quite sure what time I left or it ended but I know I was looking at my watch thinking, whoa nelly better get some sleep for tomorrow.

Guys - that was just DAY ONE!

Woke up super early for day two because I was taking Brioche 101 with Nancy Marchant. You know, only the queen of Brioche Knitting herself. It was one of those things where you want to learn and soak in as much as you can of both the person AND the lesson. She is the real deal y'all. It is a beautiful and magical stitch so I can why it is hot and on trend and everywhere right now, but, as a fairly new knitter, brioche scared the bleepers out of me. Nancy made it so simple. So easy to follow along. I was able to SEE how to do the stitches. I learned also that I learn better that way. I am primarily self taught and this type of instruction was incredible to have someone, a pro, THE pro, sit and show you stitch by stitch is quite something. Now I want to make all the brioche things. Can I? Please?

I even got myself somehow inducted into Team Brioche with Nancy, Stephen West and Lavanya Patricella, so it is official now y'all.

Having done my first walkabout and Marketplace preview Friday, Saturday was my day to shop and truly dive in. I had noted  a few booths I definitely wanted to come back and spend time at and get yarn from. I mean, even now I think back and I am certain I only got to half of the booths. Check my Haul recap for more on the Marketplace of awesome.

I took a market break for the Fashion Show but have to tell you that it was hard to get a good spot. Definitely making note to get a seat early next year. Though at the same time, if you don't mind missing the show, that is prime time to shop as booth traffic is light in that area.

I had every intention of going to the VKL Gala Saturday Night, in fact I paid a hefty ticket price to be there. But I didn't feel like getting gussied up to go solo to a dinner. Because the truth is that I wasn't solo anymore. I had made fiber friends and was with my peeps and that was a far better choice than hitting up a fancy dinner solo.

So I hung with Stephanie from Asylum Fibers (you MUST check her out) and her fab group of indie dyers for dinner then spent the rest of the evening knitting and chatting away with my new bestie Chantal, also known as The Flying Yak. We sat, we had snacks and beverages, we knit, we chatted, we sat in silence at times.. it was in fact my idea of a perfect Saturday night. Eventually the bar closed and we were forced to face the fact that while yes it is NYC and we could relocate, we should probably sleep to prep for that one last day of VKL.

And the most hilarious part is how almost at every turn Kristy and I would run into each other. As if by design this was meant to be our VKL experience. Even when we closed the place down on Day TWO!

Day 3 started with more of a workout than I had planned. The elevator at the hotel broke and that gave me a 32 flight climb and descend just before class. OYE! I was worried I would be late to class (and I was) but all in good fun and plus it was some extra cardio for the day for the win right? This class was interactive, exciting, fun and truly unexpected. You can read more about the amazing Yarn Bomb class here.

One last post class Marketplace perusal, a bit of time with new friends who are like family already and then it was time to say goodby. It was a whirlwind. I am glossing over a few things because I would have to write a book to cover it all thoroughly.

All in all, my first Vogue Knit Live was superb. Lots of things I will do different next year, and some I will only hope and pray are total repeats of awesome. This event is worth every minute and every penny. Knocked me to a new level and could not be more grateful. I do want to leave you with some solid takeaways from my first VKL. So here we go:

1. DO IT! If you have never done it but always wanted to - GO!!! It is worth it.

2. Watch out for the over registration. It all looks good and makes sense on paper so I spent money I did not need to registering for things I never went to. So when you are planning your VKL experience, be intentional with what you sign up for. I signed up for 3 lectures and a Gala dinner I never went to. That money could have bought YARN!

3. Wear comfortable shoes. Good gravy please wear comfortable shoes.

4. It is A LOT. Give yourself grace to miss it all. I will definitely slow down next year and spend more time taking it all in rather than trying to fit it all in. Those are distinctly different and I beleive makes for different experiences.

5. The best thing about VKL Live are the people. Period. Instructors, staff and attendees all included. THESE are my people. And I can say without hesitation or doubt that it felt like home. I made lifelong friends and was inspired by human connection through love of fiber and nothing, NOTHING, is better than that.

Stitch Up Chicago 2018 - HECK YEAH!

Was it a dream? Did that all just happen? Oh my goodness Stitch Up Chicago how you are the most beautiful amazing days of the year. I am filled with so much gratitude and love from two days of amazing connections through fiber.  For me it is so personal, and so very special because when I started this blog it was all about giving back freely, sharing what I know and inspiring the fiber (and maker) community. Stitch Up Chicago was born as an extension of the blog to bring those online connections together and grow in community off line. I had no idea the reward would be so grand. So tangibly amazing. Words cannot describe it so let's just relive it all one more time in a fabulous recap.

And you can bet I am already dreaming ahead and planning Stitch Up Chicago 2019!

We kicked things off with a little pre-game afternoon tea and snacks at one of my FAVORITE places, Nina Chicago LYS (local yarn shop).  This was super cool because Nina has a new owner, Hilary, and I just LOVE HER and she was such a great host. The gals did some (a lot) of shopping and we definitely got into the Stitch Up Chicago mode.  Hilary has done a pretty amazing job since taking over Nina Chicago and if you are in Chicago definitely go say hi and check it out. Also - they make a mean cuppa ;-)

Back at the Virgin Hotel for the second year in a row, things got off to quite the start Friday with the Wool And The Gang Tau Zion Lion Beanie Knit Kit and a super yummy dinner. And of course, cocktails. It was pretty fabulous to have people there who had never met but share a love for all things fiber. The energy was just INCREDIBLE. I cannot put it into words because IT WAS AMAZING and even that in all caps doesn't cut it.

The Tau Zion Lion Beanie was the perfect kit because we had several new knitters who were so excited to learn. I mean how cool is that? Sign up and register for a Knit intensive event and not know how to knit! That is right because at Stitch Up Chicago you will learn. And they did.

One of the most magical things that happened Friday night was Nancy. Nancy was a guest at the Virgin hotel, in town for a completely different event over the weekend. On her way to the restroom, she noticed all these laughing, smiling, knitting people. She popped in and asked.. "What is this? Some kind of knitting party?" You bet it is! And within 15 minutes Nancy had a kit in hand, pulled up a spot on the sofa and was fully immersed in Stitch Up Chicago Knit Party. Her husband even came down a few hours later to see what was going on and where she went off to. lol. The magic of fiber!!! And the best - Nancy won the raffle for the day including a London Kaye Kit from Lion Brand. She was even a double winner because London was there knitting with us and signed the Kit for her. Truly could not have been more perfect or more magical.

And super fun bonus - Yes, we made two new knitters and I taught London how to knit. Friday night went way past the designated 7pm end time. And no one was shocked by the wee hour end of our knit hang.

Here are just a few snaps of all the fun and pardon the blur - we were having too much fun to worry about it. I have to tell you it was truly a night of smiles, laughs and kits. Yummy eats and a few cocktails too.

Saturday started off with so many yummy eats, new faces and surprises. We were working up the Betta Knit Adela Kit and it was super fun to see so many new knitters get in the action.  Betta Knit sent some really fun colors and perfect for that chill Virgin Knit vibe we had going. (The fine team at Betta Knit is giving you 25% off through March 2018 with code 144XBK17 if you want to try some too). Saturday morning definitely went by too fast.

Something new this year was that we added workshops to really feed into our fiber souls and maker hearts. First was the Yarn Tasting sponsored by Universal Yarn. Now, I am a fan of Universal Yarn and in fact they are my selected fiber for the Stitch & Hustle Kit Shop. But I know that many are not familiar with them. So this was super exciting for me to introduce these fibers that I love so much to everyone. It is something special to see someone's face when they discover a "New Fiber".  Universal sent some of my favorite fibers along with samples for everyone to see how they work out and lots for everyone to swatch and play with. Based on the feedback I can tell Universal Yarns has some new fans. It was quite a success.

Another workshop series we added was the Photography Series led by my photographer Hannah Weiss. This was special because no matter if you are sharing photos of your fiber for your business or for your passion to friends and family - you always want to show them in the best light (pun intended). And let's be honest - nothing is more frustrating than spending hours upon hours to create something beautiful then having to spend TWICE as long to photograph it!

Hannah led a hands on workshop and Q&A covering everything from at home hacks, how to find the light, filters and apps to help you edit and be true to your own voice and look and how to develop your brand look. It was really fantastic to see so many picking up tips and tricks to improve showing off their creations

As if that wasn't already an amazing event - we closed things out with the most phenomenal Yarn Bomb Party EVER! I had the opportunity to meet and connect with London Kaye, at Vogue Knit Live in NYC and when she said she wanted to come yarn bomb and lead a workshop at Stitch Up Chicago I was beyond excited. In fact, I could hardly contain it. And to top that off, she had just launched her yarn, hooks and kits and the amazing people at Lion Brand joined in the fun and sent us SO. MUCH. YARN. that I could not even count it all.

It was incredible to see so many fiber loving humans come together to make fiber pieces that would become one big PEACE (see what I did there?). London shared a bit of her history and how she found her passion for yarn bombing and developed her ergonomic crochet hooks on a 3D printer. GENIUS! Every grabbed some yarn and moments later there were smiles, creations and it all started to come together.

And of course, my favorite part of the event was teaching people to knit & crochet. Over the course of the event, I taught 5 people to knit and 2 people to crochet and can honestly say that might very well be my favorite part of it all. And we got those pieces worked right into our yarn bomb! Sharing my fiber love is the greatest gift of all.

Truly magical. And the result of us all coming together was so symbolic of what Stitch Up Chicago and this blog is all about: COMMUNITY. This awesome fiber Community. It was in fact the perfect - and only way - Stitch Up Chicago 2018 could have ended.

I am so humbled and so grateful to all who came out and all who supported this event. THANK YOU!

Let's rest up and do it again next year!


Have a scroll through our Yarn Bomb Slideshow and look at all the amazing creative fiber contributions, smiles and laughs as we prepare and then yarn bomb the Virgin Hotel. You can visit our installation all through the month of March.

Special thanks to Hannah Schweiss Photography for capturing the true magic and joy of this event.

A very BIG THANK YOU & HUGE shout out of gratitude to all of the
Stitch Up Chicago Sponsors. Could not have done it without them. Please check them out and stay tuned for more about each of them.

Be You & Shine Your Light Bright: Just Do YOU!

Hi Everyone.

I little off the topic but in relation to my most recent series to Shine Your Light Bright, I want to encourage everyone to please go read VanessaKnits Instagram post from yesterday here.

I’ve shared that I had recently experienced some really poor treatment and drama from Social Media and I have been trying so hard to understand it.

I realized that I have (unsuccessfully) been trying to find a way to remind people not everyone has to make this a business and not everyone has the same path. It’s about what’s right for you or me or whoever. Your fiber journey is YOURS. And some will be a business and some will be a side hustle for a few extra dollars and some will be just to love fiber. NONE will have to be the same.

It’s part of what I feel is the core of so much of the “Maker Community” nonsense and drama I see and hear about and have experienced - and why I’ve had to really step away from it all.

I feel like there’s an unspoken pressure through social media and all these groups to make these big businesses or design this or make that or work with this brand or use that yarn - and all of it is unnecessary - because it’s really ok to just love to knit or love to crochet. It is ok to be on YOUR path and still celebrate or share someone else's.

I work hard and yes this is my full time job but this is MY path. I do not expect it to be the same as anyone else.  I will continue to share ways to help your fiber journey and this blog because I feel that is my calling and part of my fiber journey - to encourage others. You can coem for the free patterns, come for the tips on markets or come for the fiber finds. Whatever your reason you are welcome here and i am glad to have you.

But the thing I want to encourage most is this: I want to encourage every single one of you to follow your path and if you feel that unspoken pressure brush it off, turn on some music and dance. Or make something. 



And thanks to Vanessa who i have had the pleasure of meeting and working with and gotten to know to remind me and all of us about this important truth.

7 Crazy Days & Nights of Yarn in New York City - Part 1: The Pre Game

This post is a bit of a scrapbook entry. A bit of a humble and deeply grateful "I cannot believe that happened" and a bit of wow... I AM DOING THIS! For the 5 Minute recap version, watch this Episode on my YouTube Channel here.


Anyone who knows me knows that I am a proud New Yorker. Born and bred. NYC to the core. I remember when Times Square was where you went to get a fake ID and hope you didn't get caught, not where you went to get a picture with Elmo! My city and I have both been through a lot of changes over the years. So this trip was extra special. This is the first time, since leaving New York that I was going home on my terms. Not for a contract, or a show, or a job. I was going home for my passion - yarn.

Sure I had been back many times over the years since I left in 2002, but that was for work in my former job or social visits. Something about this trip, going for MY FIBER JOURNEY was so special. That my fiber love and work has brought me home, well it is something I am having a hard time describing in words so I hope I am explaining it well as I get a little choked up just typing this.

I had wanted to go to Vogue Knitting Live in New York for a few years now. Previously I didn't go because I was only a crocheter and couldn't knit so I was so super intimidated and also my career and small business wasn't in a place to go to a yarn party in NYC for a weekend. Until now. So as I was planning to head home for Vogue Knitting Live (VKL), I decided to head to town a few days early to see friends, check out the NYC yarn scene and take it all in.

It just so happened that Lion Brand Yarn, who I have had the incredible honor of working with, was hosting a blogger bash the same week of VKL so many of my fellow blogger friends were going to be in town as well. Bonus! So we teamed up to take on Knit Night at Club Cumming hosted by Josh Bennett (yes, I fan-girled a bit). It was a pre- VKL extravaganza of knitters and yarn and awesome and so much fun.

We staked our claim to some road cases for the DJ over by the coat check area and made ourselves what we dubbed Hookerville. Oh yeah - a corner of hookers at Knit Night at Club Cumming in NYC. It was a blast. What a great way to get this trip started!

Since we were all in town we decided to host a Sip & Stitch to bring our online community together offline for a little yarn fun at the Flatiron Hall.  I encourage you to read Stephanie's incredible documentary style recap of her trip here and Alexi of Two Of Wands here. It was an incredible honor to spend time with them and host our event. Connecting through stitching is something so special. Since I live in a very rural area and am a total introvert it was awesome to have this opportunity to connect offline with so many of our community. I was kind of blown away by how many came out for this get together and it gave me all the warm fuzzies. I got to meet people I truly felt like I already had known for years.

Side note - as I am writing this post and looking at all of our fabulous photos I am realizing...I had worn my new Mammoth Poncho that was hot off the hook in so many of the pics - because yes I pretty much lived in it lol. I really do love it. Back to the trip...

It was such a gift that our trips overlapped and I got to spend time with my fellow bloggers. We often speak a language all our own and being part of a group of gals who so inspire me is just so special. I have to say that some of my favorite moments from the trip were those late nights back at the airbnb with the gals.

Another pretty amazing part of this trip was getting to spend time with Brandi of PurlBKnit. She is such a source of constant inspiration for me and her vibe is infectious with joy and light. She was being featured on an Etsy segment for NBC and invited me to join her.

Etsy HQ is so full of light and color and inspiration and creativity.  Being there to support her was a real treat and they didn't mind my natural inclination to goof off a bit and bring the laughs.

As if this wasn't already yarn awesome overload I had to remember, I had only been in town 2 days! Things were just getting started!!!! I took some time to visit some old dear friends and have a mini glam sesh of pampering. I cannot even tell you how much fun that was. These are friends I have known for 20 years! People who have been there for the good the bad and all the many stages of life in between. Such a special and important part of the trip and also a great way to regroup in the midst of all the yarn happenings.

I hit up Knitty City for a quick shopping minute (more on that later) and then if was off for dinner with Kristy Glass and the fiber fam. Kristy pulled a few of her knitty fiber friends together for a super yummy dinner at Max Brennar Chocolate.


Now I have to pause for minute and tell you that when I got the invitation I had to check twice. I am a new knitter and still knew as a blogger and designer. Could this invitation really be for me? These gals really want to get to know me? I was humbled. Overwhelmed. Grateful. Blown away. All the feelings. In fact this face Kristy made when I said something outrageous was pretty much the same face I made when I was invited.

Max Brennar was pretty awesome and the gals at dinner were the real deal. All the yummy fiber feels being in the company of gals who get it. As an outsider most of my life this feeling of "family" was so special and I will never forget it. It made me not even mind that they forgot to bring us our chocolate pizza.

Full hearts. Full bellies. Full fiber feels. We then hightailed it ove rthe the mYak launch party for the Michele Wang capsule collection. Michele Wang is the real deal and her designs always inspire me and blow me away. This was super cool because we got a chance to learn more about mYak Fibers, hear Paola Vanzo (co-owner of mYak) talk about their new NYC space and the history of the fibers and what the company is working towards and to hear Michele talk about her design process. I was taking as many mental notes as possible while celebrating this beautiful collection.

I have photos of me talking with Michele Wang and you can literally see on my face I am hanging on her every word. I don't mind admitting that I was both a fan and a student in that moment. It is so incredible to work in an industry where the designers and people who inspire us (me) are not only real but available and welcoming. Knitting is truly the only place I know that is like that. I have yet to encounter someone who has inspired me or who is super successful who has not taken the time to share, encourage and empower my own journey. Michele is just another example of the awesomeness knitwear designers represent.

And I digress. Back to the trip...

And if you can believe it, the VKL Pre-Game festivities were still going so Kristy & I hightailed it uptown to the Love Knitting blogger party. Though we arrived late, I could tell the festivities were still in full swing and we joined right in. I loved how the entire space was decorated in British Themes and meeting the Love Knitting & Love Crochet team was so awesome. 

I got to meet several bloggers I had not known as well as hang with my gals. One blogger I got to meet who really made an impression is Wilma Westenberg. She came all the way from Netherlands and is such a doll. Her NYC recap is also really fabulous and you can check it out here. And that is what is so special about these events. It goes way beyond the cool swag and free stuff (though we all know that is super awesome and fun), but it is about really making those connections with fellow fiber folk. Love Knitting party and team was pretty fantastic and since I have only recently started working with them, I was very humbled when they invited me to their party... And I got to learn about their new yarn programs! Winning!


group photo.jpg

This was truly the most perfect way to cap off all of the VKL Week Pre-Game Festivities. I barely had a minute to rest up because Vogue Knitting Live started in just a few hours!

Stay tuned... Part 2 coming soon

VKL 2018: The Haul

When I was packing for my first Vogue Knitting Live, I had that sudden crisis moment every knitter probably has: yarn or clothes? I wanted to keep my luggage manageable since I was going to be in New York for a whole week and transferring between Airbnb locations, but still needed my best knits. So in the end, I opted for a small duffle that easily popped up on my back and a small carry on with a few wips. I was so proud of myself for minimal packing and streamlining. I brought only the two projects I planned to work on and no extras.

And yet this was an epic fail. Why you ask?

Well, because when I devised my master packing plan I had fully intended NOT to buy anything at VKL. Yes, you read correctly. I had told myself I was going to make this an exploratory trip, take it all in and go for the lessons, classes and people. With the best intentions I set myself up for an epic failure that may have resulted in an extra suitcase purchase to ship a box of yarn home. Live and learn.

I have to say that it was still a small modest hall by my normal show standards. Anyone who has seen my standard Stitches Midwest hauls knows I don't play. So even though I broke the "no buying and no accepting yarn" pledge, I did stay within reason and made what I think are some smart decisions, which was not easy.

The Market Place was sensory overload. I have to admit I had to take it in doses because there was just SO MUCH happening. And though I tried, I did not even cover 2 thirds of it! But that didn't stop me from making some amazing finds. So let's check the haul:


One of the cooler aspects of the VKL Marketplace was how much space they dedicated to education. Books, teachers - it really was as much about feeding the knit soul and mind as stocking up on good finds. I grabbed an advance copy of the Vogue Knitting Ultimate Guide along with a copy of Knit New York which is a curated collection of New York inspired patterns published by One More Row Press. I am so excited for both of these. The patterns in Knit New York are perfect for the theme and I cannot wait to work them up.

One booth I was beyond excited to visit was The Third Piece. You may or may not know that I sort of stalk them on instalk-gram. They are such an empowered women's knitwear brand and they just opened their flagship store in Boston. I have been dying to get my hands on their chunky fiber and as soon as I did I was NOT disappointed. I also got to spend some time with Kristen & Jin (Owner / founder & designer respectively) and fell in love with them. I got enough Lavender to make their New Yorker scarf and the pink to make the boyfriend cardigan.

What is really awesome is that they offer both finished goods to help grow the handmade knitwear industry as well as materials, kits, fibers and host classes. They truly are bringing knitwear to the people of Boston and I love it! And now I will KNIT IT!!!!


The fine folks at Love knitting dot com hosted a pre-VKL party for lots of us bloggers and it was SO MUCH FUN and they loaded us up with all kinds of British themed swag and some of their yummy in house fibers Willow & Lark! I arrived late (more on that later) so I made sure to visit their booth and get the low down on all they are offering. The colors they are offering are so vibrant and fun I am totally keeping them in mind for some fall projects.


One super happy awesome discovery at the Marketplace was Clinton Hill Cashmere. It was instant love. For real I could have just called it a day because I found my divine inspiration fiber. Now I don't typically like cashmere because is typically a finer fiber an I do not like anything under DK weight. BUT... this is worsted weight and so squishy soft. I barely made it out of the market place before I had the first ball cast on my needles to make a hat. It is simply amazing. Yes it is a bit spendy so I will be saving up to do the shawl kit, but it is worth EVERY PENNY I tell you!!!  Meet Becky the founder and Learn more about them here.

I had so much fun hanging out and romping about the Stephen & Penelope booth. They are  such a bright happy place and group of fiber peeps! I had such fun meeting and hanging out with Petra from Undercover Otter. Her fibers were for sale at Stephen & Penelope and well, I may have left with 15 skeins. Hey now... I got plans for them skeins. They will become a beautiful shawl, a marled sweater and something else I haven't thought up yet. Her colors are SO VIBRANT and she is so rad. These will be my spring reward waiting for me when I get through the season.

My last big yarn splurge was with Northside Knit Co. What a hidden gem they were! I was knitting with my friend Chantal Saturday night (instead of going to the gala and I think I made the right call!) and she had this cotton that was simply insane. The color was incredible but the feel of this for a chunky cotton was actually something I have not felt before. They dye it naturally and so the next morning Chantal and I met up to visit the gals of Northside Knit Co. so I can get my hands on this yummy awesomeness. If I was gonna go broke it was going to be in this booth. This fiber just called me. I got 5 skeins of their bulkier cotton. It is an aran weight but really a thick thick Aran. I have some ideas of what I will be making and cannot wait.

So all in all not a bad trip to the Marketplace. Even though I originally planned not to buy at all, I still kept it modest (especially in comparison to the damage I usually do).  I certainly made only thoughtful purchases or accepted yarn I would truly use. To get the full recap watch below.

Getting Out Of My Comfort Zone with London Kaye at VKL NYC 2018

One of my favorite parts of Vogue Knitting Live NYC 2018 was that they had a London Kaye Yarn Bombing Workshop. I was excited because I knew this would be a highly interactive and extremely fun way to learn more about London but also some tips and techniques to achieve my own Yarn Bombing aspirations.

The day started off with a bang. The elevator at the hotel broke and that gave me a 32 flight climb and descend. OYE! I was worried I would be late to class (and I was) but all in good fun and plus cardio for the day for the win right?

The class and London were amazing. She gave us a brief overview of her background and it was super fun to learn so much more about her. I had no idea she was on Amazing Race. HOW DID I MISS THIS FACTOID???? She also talked about how her art, crochet, started and I loved her organic journey. I won't act as her biographer but I highly recommend you get to know her story if you get a chance.

Then we got our hands dirty and by dirty I mean it was PLAY TIME!!!! We not only yarn bombed a chair together but London brought a lot of her scraps from previous yarn bombs for us to play with and create something new. It was magical.

Working with London was super fun and inspiring. It really forced me to get out of my comfort zone and I think that was what I liked best about the workshop.  As primarily a garment designer, math and dimensions and measurements are a huge part of what I do. Shapes and sizing and all the detail are essential. I love it. It drives me and makes me work to do better and improve. But that was a challenge when I want to yarn bomb because I am always too hung up on precise stitch work and detail to every millimeter.

London's workshop really taught me how to throw caution to the wind and just make art. Not that my fashion and garment designs aren't art but this is different and really pushed my thinking and approach. It is more about the overall art. The joy of adding yarn and color and texture or a message.


Truly the class turned out to be more than I hoped and I am so glad I signed up for it. It pushed me to get out of my comfort  zone of charts and schematics and graph paper and into the world of free form and who knows what will happen if I skip  stitch (OH MY GOSH DID I JUST SAY THAT?!) and the beauty of not knowing what stitch may be next.

I also found out London is launching new Yarn Bomb kits with Lion Brand Yarn!!! That is so exciting because now you too can try it out and start to think outside the box. Or even better why not come Yarn Bomb with London & Me! Yup...

To celebrate her new Kit Launch with Lion Brand Yarn,  London is coming to host a Yarn Bomb Party at Stitch Up Chicago!!!! So yes -  you too can come and get outside the box and learn some fun tricks to bring fiber art to the world and join us as we yarn bomb in Chicago. Register Here.

And check out all of London Kaye's new Kits with Lion Brand here!!

Pattern Writing Part 2: But Wait There's More

I have gotten so many messages and notes since the first pattern writing post (hey - thanks for taking the time to read my blog post and write me) that it seemed fairly clear that a part deux would be in order. 

Did I make it seem to easy? Sure, probably ... but that's because it really is. To me at least. And I think that's because designing is a passion for me. It is like food. The more I do then the more it nourishes and feeds me and the more I grow. As a designer there is no end to that growth, while as a human I could probably cut back on the carbs. My point is that like anything in life you love to do and want to do well, then it will take some work. But the work pays off and it feeds the cycle. It's a good thing!

I strongly suggest you read the first post here and I am going to dive into a few of the most common / frequent questions I have received as a follow up:

First up: Sizing


No, I do not make up my own sizing. But man that would save me so much time if I could do that lol. I follow the industry standard and in truth, most designers should be doing that so that you know your customers can rely on sizing information that is consistent. You can find the guidelines here from the Craft Yarn Council. And yet another reason to love the folks at CYC, you can print or download that information here and always have it handy!

Now, what size do you make?
Well, you can make whatever size you want. Typically I make things for myself so I design and make them for my size. But then I create the pattern for all sizes. This is where math and grading and the real not fun part of pattern writing comes in. It's math. It's work. But it is just part of the process.

Most of my garment patterns are sized for standard XS to 4x. That's because women come in all shapes and sizes and I have no idea what size my potential customer is. Someone once told me, "oh but that won't look good in your size" when I was a bigger gal. (I recently lost over 50 lbs). That made me so mad I wanted to scream. How DARE someone else decide what will or will not look good on me based on a number. With that experience in mind, and remembering I was also once a size 2 miss skinny mini me who liked a baggy look, I decided to make my patterns available in a range of sizes that are most common.

This is also why gauge and pattern notes are SO IMPORTANT! (READ THIS FOR MORE)
Let customers know if there is positive or negative ease. Let them know what size is in the "sample shown". Knitters and crocheters can tweak to their size with the right detail. So when you are writing your pattern give your customers ALL THE DETAILS they need to achieve your look and go for it - give them all the sizes. It's only a few extra minutes of math once you are in the thick of it.

Next up: Testing vs. tech Editing

Personally - I do both. I have a tech editor and a pool of reliable testers. They do different things. My tech editor is checking my math, checking my notes and the actual pattern for best practices and that it meets industry standards. Sometimes when I am on a super tight deadline, my tech editor skips ahead and grades the sizing for me. (OK I may take advantage of this more than I like to admit but hey, I got my design mojo going). 

I have to say I have grown a very reliable and amazing group of testers that I am grateful for in so many ways. OK, mushy part aside, testing is really important. Testers are actually TESTING the pattern. They will find errors (if there are any) while working up the patterns that may get missed in the mechanics of writing and grading. There may be something in the assembly that wont get caught on paper until it is worked up. testing is really not to be skipped. It is always best to have testers for each size if possible.


Next up: Copy Me Copy You Copy That.

OK that was me having a little bit of fun with wordplay. (anyone who knows I used to work in television production and knows what "copy that" means is probably giggling a little right now). Look, copying happens. I don't know why. I don't understand it. I also cannot worry about it. I was once not only copied, but the person SAID SO in her blog post. Yes, I kept a screen shot because I mean I could not believe my eyes lol. But here is the thing: if you are going to worry about copying then you are not focus on creating. I do not stress about being copied. It takes too much energy and there is nothing I can do about it. Just focus on creating and finding YOUR voice.

Designing is my passion so for me it is deep joy. Working up new stitches, new shapes, new combinations in my own point of views is not something someone else can do. So I keep focus on my designs and find it a much happier thing to focus on!

And Next Up: Policies

Policies is derived from "policing" someone told me. I am not here to police the interwebs or what other people do. Having said that, I have seen some cut-throat people do some cray cray stuff over this. Here is what I say: First of all: Ask a lawyer. No really, read this. Ask A Lawyer. (Thank you Vogue Knitting).

Personally, I have something on my patterns asserting what is my right and enforceable along with  my request that they credit me for the design if someone sells something they make from it. But guys - that's all I can do: REQUEST. Keep that in mind. This falls under the "pick your battles" in life column and my energy is not best spent chasing down something I cannot enforce in a court.

Last But Not Least: Photos & Charts

My patterns are quite detailed and include charts and photos. I take a lot of time (and pride) to include these along with the standard written pattern. Some have more detailed photo illustrations (which ARE covered by copyright by the way) and some have less. It really depends on the design. But the bottom line is consistency. I want my customers to know when they buy my patterns they are getting the full package. The full work went into making them a design and instructions they can follow. Sometimes I do freehand. Sometimes I use illustrator. Sometimes I use Crochet Charts. It all depends on the design. I know that is a bit of a dodgy answer but this question comes over to me a lot and it is really too complex to simply answer. Each design is different.

For real, Last but not least: Pricing & Paid vs. Free

What do you charge? Do you put it up free? Oh this is a tough one. I can only tell you how I decide and you have to make your own choice for what works for you. I put free patterns up on the blog often as part of collaborations or for examples of my work or if I have something great and easy for a beginner who wants to start or for many other reasons. I like to put up freebies. But it is also how I pay the rent. It is my livelihood. So I don't put them all up free and a lot of work goes into each design.

I base my pricing on the degree of difficulty. Not just in the finished piece but also in the process to create the pattern. I also offer multiple pattern purchase discounts and do a lot of bundles of things that work well together. Pricing is personal. Never let anyone tell you what you "should" charge. But also know your worth. So set a price that YOU feel you are comfortable with, represents the quality of your design and that a customer will pay.

In summary, pattern writing and designing is not easy or fly by night and I do apologize if my first post gave that impression. Like I said - for me it is my passion and comes natural and I do not mind the work because I just love it. Designing is MY JAM! So I want to encourage you but know it takes work. If you have a vision and an idea for a design then YOU SHOULD GO FOR IT!  I will tell you that when I do not hear from a customer until the project is complete I am happy. I know I have provided them a clear road map to create something. I know that all that work was worth it and my design is out there living and being created. THAT IS SO COOL.


Be You & Shine Your Light Bright - Part 2: Know Your Worth


I recently shared on social media about something I was facing:  The challenging side of maker world.

After an overwhelming response and realizing I am not alone in these experiences, I decided to expand on that social media post by doing a three part blog series to talk about three of the biggest challenges of Maker World and what I have learned about them:

This situation I experienced reminds me that it is too often that we allow others to dictate our self worth and how we feel. In an instant, the person(s) driving this situation had knocked me down. Sure I am human and have feelings. Yes, my feelings were hurt. Yes it blindsided me and knocked me off my game for a minute (a week). But all of that comes down to allowing someone else to determine my worth.

As I said in the first post of this series:

I have come to learn and accept, after much turmoil and these experiences, that all Maker groups are not for everyone. There are too many unknown undisclosed factors and agendas (whether it is to sell merchandise or get people to believe in or practice a certain methodology or something else) that work for some and maybe not for others. They serve a purpose to be sure but may not be a good fit for all. And that is ok.

While it was a a bumpy tough lesson to learn, this makes sense to me now.  Just because something may not be a good fit does not mean you are (I am) worth less. A bad fit does not equal less value. Period.

Keeping it real: Nobody will EVER care about what you do more than you. And the truth is that is how it should be. Fact! Yes, I care deeply about people in my life and what they are doing and want to support them, but I care MOST about what I am doing and what I can bring to the table and how I can serve my purpose. When we spend more time seeking and working for the approval and acceptance of others then we have let them determine our worth.

This is a hard pill to swallow. So get some tea. Take a minute. And soak it in. With love.

I love this article by Tania Kotsos and she really gets in the deep dive on self worth. She breaks it down and gets really real.

For me personally, it comes down to my relationship with God and who I am in Him and my ability to add value to the lives of others. It comes down to knowing I left more than I took when I leave a table.  It is about the quality of my work as a knitter, crocheter and human being. It is about MY voice and not the trend. My self worth comes from knowing at the end of the day I have given it my all and go to sleep and rest easy.

Yes of course insecurities pop up and we all have self doubt. But face that doubt head on and knock it down with your own awesomeness instead of projecting it onto others.


Without relying on others to validate your awesomeness - dig deep and KNOW that you are awesome. Say it out loud if you need to: Your worth is determined by the value you add to the lives of others, by what you bring to the table when you sit down. It is NOT determined by what others say it is.

I believe in community and I believe in the power of coming together as we are meant to be. I look at the scripture to know this is right:

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.
Heb 10:24-25 (NLT)

Because when we come together to learn, listen and engage we end up transformed in ways beyond our imagination. When we come together to add value to each other we are reminded of our awesomeness. But we must be cautious not to rely on the community group to determine your (my) value. It is so essential to know the value you (I) bring to the table before we even sit down!

Sometimes we feel so much pressure for being a "community" that we forget that we are awesome and listen to the voices of others instead of that small voice within. I know because I let this happen.

It is also easy to forget that some people need to knock others down to feel they are higher. I do not believe in this method. That is NOT community over competition. Heck, that is not even competition. I believe that we can all succeed and all meet our own destination and should all be striving for the best. I don’t have to knock you down to climb higher. We can both rise UP. And to do so we all need support. But that support should not determine if we are worth it. Knowing we are worth it needs to come from within.

So remember:

BE YOU but NOT at the expense of others.
Find YOUR groove and YOUR voice.
Embrace who you are with gusto and might and let that empower you to celebrate who other people are as well.
YOU determine your worth

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OK 2018... I See You!

As a blogger it is hard to fight the self imposed obligatory New Year Goals Post. So consider this my contribution to the online encouragement to set the year off to the right start and make it the best yet.  Ugh just typing that seems to trite and not really me or what this blog is about. We keep it real and crafty here right?

All kidding aside - I am a big fan of goals and milestones. For business. For life. For the blog. They are helpful to check in and make course corrections if needed. The problem is that I am also driven by my creative passion and well... that leads to more detours than I would like to admit. In 2017 I fought those detours and did not give myself much grace.

So to talk about a goal - in 2018 I would like to practice giving myself Grace.


That is my big goal. Grace to soar and be the best crocheter and knitter I am able to be one stitch at a time. Grace to push myself on design elements even into new shapes and styles. Grace to fall and make mistakes along the way. Grace to forgive others and forgive myself. Grace to ask for forgiveness. My word and my goal for 2018 is GRACE.

For the blog, we have lots of exciting things coming up. First up is Stitch Up Chicago and I cannot wait to get my knit on with you guys! Yarn, yummy snacks and all the good stuff!

The blog direction will be taking a shift in 2018. After lots of thought and prayer, on top of experiences of 2017, I have more clarity than ever that my calling is to share, lift you up and encourage you to soar. To inspire you.

While there may be an occasional small business post, the focus will be shifting to sharing my fiber passion for knit and crochet. New stitch tutorials and more patterns. More tips and tricks to get the best our of your fiber journey.

And yes - we will have exciting collaborations and The Stitch & Hustle YouTube Channel will be launching soon. We have already started planning great content for you guys.

So I look to 2018 with excitement and determination and cannot wait to see where it takes us.


Stephanie's Big Stitch Story!



One of the gifts of what I do (knit and crochet and this blog) is that I get to meet amazing people. Even when I least expect it. I once paid a whopping $125 for an online "mentorship program for my Maker Business". While that quickly revealed itself to be anything but a mentorship program it didn't matter. Because the purpose, I found out, of my presence in that group was to meet and become friends with Stephanie of Triple Knot Studio. She is truly one of my BFF: Best Fiber Friends. And had I not taken that wrong turn I would never have made the right friend. So before I go off on a tangent of how we need to always be open to what God may REALLY be doing in our lives, let me tell you about Stephanie.


She is smart and sassy. And when I say smart - did you know she is a scientist? Yeah... she is THAT smart. She makes me laugh. Once she made me cry. I don't think I have gone a day in the last 2 years without talking to her. Her kids are the best. I love them so much. They even sent me HAND PAINTED yarn bowls as a surprise gift. (Yes, I cried. Wouldn't you?). And when I am having a really bad day I am often cheered right up by a facetime from Stephanie and her merry gang of three littles. She is talented and truly makes me want to be a better human being.

So when, with the help of Sarah at Mama Knows Luxury, I was able to help cross off a wish on Stephanie's fiber bucket list - you know I jumped at it. Then, because I am who I am... I asked her to guest blog about it... so read on for Stephanie's Big Stitch Story!  

Like many knitters and crocheters out there, I have a fiber bucket list.

With my current lifestyle, and budget, the vast majority of what I make still used predominately acrylic yarn.  But that doesn't mean I haven't dipped my toes into the ocean of good stuff.

I save my pennies for a few skeins of hand dyed yarn here and there (and usually end up spending a few more pennies than I had planned because I have ZERO self control when it comes to yarn - and chocolate - but I digress), but I still have that bucket list.

And smack dab at the top of that list?  Big Stitch Wool - like the kind I have been drooling over ever since I discovered Mama Knows Luxury.  


Now Michele, knowing this and being the most amazing friend, took it upon herself (with the permission of Sarah at Mama Knows) to send me a some of the wool she had left over from a collaboration she did.  Seriously - how awesome are these ladies - and there was no way I was saying no to Michele when she asked if I wanted some.

Well the box arrived....in the middle of my big push for market prep and holiday prep.  So there it sat, opened (because how could I NOT take a peak), taunting me.  And I promised myself, I would NOT let 2017 end without getting started on something - anything - with the wool.

A few days after Christmas I decided it was time.  Included in the box was a ball of wool, beautifully vibrant in color green color that was just calling my name.  So I took it out and cuddled it, and mulled it around in my hands a bit, getting a feel for the fiber.  Almost immediately I knew what it was destined to become.  I live in the desert and have little use for any apparel or accessory that many use this wool for. Over the course of my fiber journey, my makes have shifted from apparel and accessories to home decor and "care-free" plants.  This green ball was to become a cactus.

I unrolled a bit of the ball, and using the ginormous 40mm hook, made a few stitches, and immediately frogged them.  While the cactus would be gloriously huge with that hook, there was no way I had enough to finish it.  I had to split the yarn...Insert minor panic attack here.

I headed over to Sarah's YouTube tutorial for splitting yarn.  She made it look so easy, and explained it so well that it gave me the confidence to finally do it.  Splitting that yarn terrifying but exhilarating - the "what if I mess this up and ruin this beautiful yarn" was quickly replaced with "damn, this is easy! I've got this".


Using the split yarn, I started in on the cactus form, gently frogging as I needed, to adjust my design to accommodate the yarn and yardage.  For all the "talk" about how delicate the yarn is on social media, I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to work with.  Like most things in life, if you treat it with respect it will shine beautifully for you.  

I got through most of the main body of the cactus when the first ball of split wool ran out.  So back to Sarah's tutorials I went to learn how to felt the balls together with a felting kit I purchased from Sarah's shop.


Again, a process I had never done before - but had seen done and heard mention of.  Oddly enough the felting process was similar to the splitting.  Her YouTube tutorial made it seem so easy, but when it was time for me to give it a go, my head was swimming with self doubt.  But after ripping that bandaid off (and maybe drinking a beer), I was "gently" stabbing away with the wool per the instructions - and was giddier than a kid in a candy store when the balls were actually connected - I DID IT!

I finished up the design with a grand total of 6" of wool left after weaving and felting in the ends.  A little poly fill and some sewing later and the cactus was born.  I used some acrylic yarn I had on hand for the "soil" and some and dyed wool scraps for the flowers.

While I love making cacti, this one is hands down my favorite.  So many firsts are embodied in each squishy stitch, this is the first cactus I'm keeping for myself - be proudly displayed in my work space.

A huge thank you and virtual bear hug go out to Sarah and Michele for providing me with this opportunity.  I can't wait to sink my hooks into more of this squish.




Be You & Shine Your Light Bright - Part 1: In Your Community


I recently shared on social media about the challenging side of maker world. I'm humbled and overwhelmed by the messages I have received. After such an overwhelming response and realizing I am not alone in these experiences, I decided to expand on that social media post and talk about three of the biggest challenges of Maker World and what I have learned about them:

  • community aspect
  • defining our own self worth 
  • finding your tribe

Weighty stuff to be sure, but important stuff I think. I am splitting this up into 3 posts because it is a lot to process and I think each topic on their own is too important to gloss over.

So let's start with the community aspect.

I first heard the term “Maker” when I started my business Instagram account in January 2016. As I began to find other creative accounts this word kept popping up: “Maker”. Then, after I launched this blog in March 2016, I started to hear it A LOT.  Truly it seemed like “maker” this and “maker” that kept popping up everywhere. Along with social media accounts, Facebook groups also started coming across my suggestions feed.

And so many times “maker” was followed with the word “community”.

Now, community is a word I knew and was fond of. I had long been a supporter of building a community, not a following on other social media platforms. But this “Maker Community” was new and interesting. Have I stumbled upon some amazing group of creative people scattered all over the world but coming together online? Short answer: Yes. Longer answer: keep reading...

Sidebar: I will do a future post about being a “maker” but for this post I want to stay focused on the “Maker Community” aspect.

A year later I have come to think that by associating those two words “Maker” and “Community”, that a silent pressure is created and it actually, in my opinion, can be stifling to your own individual creative calling. Being part of a community is incredible. But so is our individual calling. You should not have to sacrifice one for the other and it concerns me that I see pressure to do so in groups and with hashtags like "community over competition".  I support and use the hashtag but worry it is misleading. You can, and should, have BOTH in harmony!

Personally, I love competition. It pushes us. It pushes ME. It makes us (me) do better. It inspires us (me) to work harder and achieve our (my)  best results. I also believe it is in our DNA. It is in fact instinctive.

Putting it scriptural:
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

I am also a huge fan of community, as anyone who knows me will tell you. I truly believe it is in  our best interest and it is our responsibility to be in community and be of service to one another.  Lifting people up comes naturally to me. I have been accused of "people pleasing" and "kissing up". Neither are true. I just find it natural to support people.

Putting it scriptural (again):
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.
Heb 10:24-25 (NLT)

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
Gal 5:13 (NLT)

I am not trying to give you a sermon. I want to give you the basis of my belief. My ethos.

With this blog, for example, I want to impart my knowledge to you and share things that have helped me succeed as well as share failures that have taught me lessons. I am not worried about "giving it away" because ultimately, the core of my business is to best serve my customers and the community. It is just that simple.

I want to share my knowledge to support, encourage and empower you to make your own decision for YOUR journey. So, for example, when you ask how much should you charge for something you make, I can give you the well used and pretty standard pricing structure. I can tell you to look at what the “market” calls for in competitor pricing. I can suggest you charge what you think you're worth. I can suggest you charge what you think you can get. I can suggest lots of things.

Still, none of us are the same and no one can know all of someone else’s factors. Only YOU know what pricing formula works for you and your target market and your customer base and only YOU have to feel like you are satisfied at the end of a day. A dollar in New York City is not the same as a dollar in Peoria, Illinois for example so can you really charge the same in both? I don't know. That is for YOU to decide. This applies to all areas, not just pricing of your creations.

When we share knowledge, I think it should be given freely so that the person receiving it can then apply it (or not) as it suits their own course. Only you (or me for myself) can ever decide how to use information we receive.


To me, this seems natural.  We are making handmade creations so it is natural to me that each business would be as unique as the “Maker” behind it.  No cookie cutter format works for all of us. This is what makes what we do so very very special: who we are as individuals. Maintaining that individual clarity is very freeing. These recent experiences have really taught me that.

So be that. BE YOU!

Still, being part of a community is equally awesome.  After all, in business or in personal journey, isn't it all about people, relationships and having an impact on each other? Life IS about community. It’s about adding value and serving each other well.

Having that resource for encouragement and support from people who are in the same trenches as you can be invaluable. Being able to shine YOUR light and bring something to your community is essential and fulfilling. It is about what we can do that adds value to the community that matters. We can only do that by being ourselves. By shining our OWN light. It is not about conforming but rather bringing something TO the community.

So do not dim your light so that others may shine. That is not what "Community of Competition" or being in community means. As I elaborated more in this post, it's not about self-deprecating humility where you knock yourself down just to lift others up. Nor is it about being equal.

Because the truth is that some businesses will not make it. For one reason or another that is a fact. You can root for them and support them but we all have a different path. Being part of a community does not mean helping another succeed at the expense of your own success. 

And while I am a huge fan of the COMMUNITY aspect, I am weary of things I have seen when pressure is applied to follow certain thoughts or methods or a process that may not work for all under the guise of "community over competition". I have to wonder if that truly serves the community or is that serving the agenda of THAT group leadership?

I have come to learn and accept, after much turmoil and these experiences, that all Maker groups are not for everyone. There are too many unknown undisclosed factors and agendas (whether it is to sell merchandise or get people to believe in or practice a certain methodology or something else) that work for some and maybe not for others. They serve a purpose to be sure but may not be a good fit for all. And that is ok.

(we will talk more about this in posts 2 & 3 of this series)

The journey to discover this for myself was bumpy and not without hurt, but I've got it now. And it is so important for those challenges to shape and help us grow and move forward. And just as important to share them so others can learn and grow.

So I encourage you to sharpen others. Shine YOUR light and lift others up. Serve your community well. Not at your own expense and not out of jealousy or hidden agendas but out of love and fellowship. Show compassion to those who may need it if they hurt you and add value where you can. THAT is the value of being in community. And the value of being YOU!

I go back to that scripture:

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.
Heb 10:24-25 (NLT)



Rhinebeck Newbie

It's that time of year. Looking back over the past and maybe making a list of what you want your 2018 to look like. Maybe you need more of this in your life?

Have you heard people bring up "Rhinebeck" in conversation and wonder what the heck they were talking about? And why they said it while gazing wistfully into the distance? I first heard the it uttered during the load-out of a Broadway show I was working on. Someone was happy the show closed before "Rhinebeck" so she could attend, because otherwise she wouldn't have been able to get time off to go. So - she was happy to be unemployed because it meant she could attend an event that wasn't a wedding, family vacation, graduation, etc. I thought, "This thing must be pretty awesome."

I'm definitely more of a sewist than a knitter/crocheter but I'm curious about all kinds of fiber arts. So, of course, I googled. The official name is New York State Sheep and Wool Festival and it began in 1980. It's held on the Duchess County Fairgrounds in beautiful Rhinebeck, NY (hence the nickname) on the third full weekend in October every year.  Workshops, competitions, livestock displays, and vendors, vendors, vendors. It makes me think of my county fair days back in Ohio - but much more colorful! I'm lucky to live about an hour away from Rhinebeck so I thought it would be fun to check it out for myself. I'm so glad I did...

I had work-work on Saturday morning (and was getting over the flu) so I wasn't able to go that day, which is the 'big day.' I was originally bummed about this but there was still PLENTY to see on Sunday. Looking back, I think it was a good thing I had to go on the second day of the festival. I overheard that Saturday was their highest attendance EVER so I would've just been dealing with that and not able to see the loveliness. As a vendor told me, "My advice for first timers is this: Look on Saturday, buy on Sunday." I don't know how I would've been able to hold back but I think it's good advice!

I grabbed a friend and hit the road early. We made a stop on the way to real-life meet some lovely people: @vanessa_knits, @premknits, @sere_k_nity, @knittysknittycreation and @lnsandbe. They all attended Saturday and were heading out. I wish we could've visited more but there was just time for a quick meet/visit and some festival coaching from the ladies. They made me feel much better about being a first-timer and what to expect.

The "festival" part of the name of this event is so appropriate. There really is a fun, festive air to the entire scene. It takes place on a picturesque fairgrounds and there are so many makers, doing their thing and excited to meet other makers. Along with the over-200 vendors, there are competitions, livestock displays, demonstrations, workshops, book signings, an equipment auction and even kids' activities. Pace yourself!

I didn't take any workshops and I (regretfully) did not get to see the canine frisbee demonstrations, but I did walk around aaall the vendor booths. I thought it would be the best way to get a real overview of why a maker would be so excited to go to Rhinebeck. Let me tell you - I get it! As you may expect, the majority of vendors were yarn-focused. I found one lone sewing booth (Hi Brooklyn Haberdashery!) along with many rug-hooking and roving vendors. If you are looking to pick up any new skill that involves wool, this event will start you on your way. I've always wanted to start needle felting so I was in heaven. (And I later heard from a co-worker the roving prices were great, which made me feel better after the fact because I bought a few big puffy bunches of it!)


I've always wanted to start needle felting so I was in heaven.

Not to doubt your superhero abilities but YOU WILL NOT REMEMBER ANYTHING. That yarn you saw just as you were leaving and had already hit your spending limit but maybe you'll find later on-line? Gone to history... A system I've used on some vacations is to take a photo of the sign of every landmark/park/attraction before I take any photos at the landmark/park/attraction. That way my organizing is done for me and I don't have to stop to write notes. I didn't take my own advice at Rhinebeck and I'm kicking myself now. And remember to clear out your phone storage before you go! I did manage to pick up many, many business cards. One of the great parts of an event like this is discovering new stores and sources.

I heard many vendors taking orders to ship items direct to customers. Many stalls were even set up as more display/touch-and-feel areas than straight-up shopping areas, which I thought was a good move. The staff was free to really talk to people and take time with them instead of working around the crowd while trying to restock. Some vendors bring special Rhinebeck-y items that are limited edition (keep an eye out on Instagram in the weeks leading up to the big event) so definitely seek those out and pick them up if you want the special kit or limited-edition yarn for that year. But don't be shy to ask someone working the booth if you want to order something and if they have any deals on shipping. 

Many vendors have gift items for display as well. Finished garments and projects, decorative objects and toys share space with materials and supplies. Next time I'll budget for holiday gifts as well as my craft materials. 

My favorite unexpected discovery was Sweitzer's Fiber Mill. It was my first time seeing corn, soybean and mint yarn! (Yes, I smelled it and, yes, they caught me.) They were very nice people. Their focus seems to be on fiber processing but they had some lovely items of their own to offer (see above photos). Some of the colors were inspired by the photographs of the owners' daughter, Lilli. Hence the name "Lilli's Rainbow Yarns." Hearing that definitely tugged at my mama heartstrings. Unfortunately, I found them late in the day after I'd spent my budget.  I didn't buy anything on the spot but I'm looking forward to buying some of their yarn in the future.



I Ran my fingers through that.

A word about festival merchandise: If getting the tote bag, t-shirt, etc. is important to you, think about taking advantage of the pre-sale and pick up option available on the festival's website. I saw a 'Sold Out' sign on the merchandise tent for multiple items. And why wait in line to buy something you already know you want? This is the Super Bowl of Yarn for many people - you may find yourself being one of them!

As with any large event, planning is key: There are many, many small buildings spread out over the grounds (among vendors set up outside buildings along the walking paths) and it's easy to get overwhelmed. In the week before the festival, I took some time and wrote down the names, building numbers and stall numbers of the vendors I didn't want to miss. While I was at the festival, I realized the stall numbers weren't very helpful. The stall numbers aren't displayed as clearly as the vendor's name, so it ended up being extra information I couldn't use. The program that is provided with admission is fantastic. It has a great map and a full list of vendors. 

Some nitty gritty stuff...Parking was free and very well-organized. I saw only one small water fountain so plan to either buy water or haul around a lot. The bathrooms were excellent but, given the fact this event attracts a majority of female attendants, there were lines as the day wore on. The fairgrounds are very well-maintained with paved paths that can be navigated easily. As per usual in this part of the country, the terrain is hilly but I did see people in wheelchairs and motorscooters that were getting around without difficulty. There's a bag check! I personally like to lug around my purchases in order to keep spending in check, but that may not work for everyone. 

This event is very popular (and not in a major metropolitan area) so housing options fill up quickly. If you are really excited to attend, book workshops and a hotel ASAP. (As a guideline, workshop registration this year opened on June 1.) I am lucky to live within driving distance but I heard that all hotels within a 30 minute drive were sold out. Also, in case you didn't hear, Indie Untangled hosts a trunk show the Friday night before Rhinebeck in a hotel near (but separate from) the main event. I heard it was a busy, busy place but definitely for good reason.

The booths get very, very, very crowded very, very quickly. As lovely as fiber artists are in general, I did experience some light jostling ... I'm not going to say shoving. Maybe because it was Sunday and people were filling out their shopping lists. Who's to say? Also, I'm going to wait until my daughter is around 7 or 8 to share the Rhinebeck shopping experience with her. She's beyond stroller age but I witnessed some heated exchanges around a stroller in a booth and would not like to put either of us through a similar experience if I can help it. If I do choose to take her with me next time, I would bring along someone to sit with her, watch the sheepdog shows, take her to the petting zoo and let her visit with lamas.

Oh, and a veeeery yarn-y friend of mine directed me to this post before I went and I found it helpful.

 i'm guessing that face was made because I was high on wool fumes.

i'm guessing that face was made because I was high on wool fumes.

Just to finish things off, here's the roundup of my purchases. Lots of colorful roving from Bartlett Yarns, sashiko needles from Brooklyn Haberdashery (two different lengths!), and lovely white fluffiness from Twist of Fate Spinnery. Oh, and some yarn from Dragonfly Fibers

 the obligatory haul photo...yup, i'm a sucker for roving.

the obligatory haul photo...yup, i'm a sucker for roving.

I'm so glad I made time to visit this lovely event. It really has it all - beautiful scenery, passionate attendees, and sheep!

Me & Milo Together Again: My New Collaboration With Manos Del Uruguay


This may be one of my favorite collaboration projects ever and I am honestly having a hard time containing my excitement enough to even type this up. Let me start here: I LOVE MANOS DEL URUGUAY Fibers. Period. This is my second design collaboration with Manos Del Uruguay Milo and it is still mind blowing that I get to work with them.

So let me take some time to tell you why and then you too can fall in love.

Manos Del Uruguay has been a creative fair trade leader for over 40 years. Started by a cooperative of women, who became the first to fully fund a local kindergarten in their town, Manos is more than just great yarn. The brand and company represent the very ethos this blog is about: feeding and seeding back into the community.

On top of that awesome mission, their yarns are simply drool worthy. I have not tried them all yet, but I plan to. Currently continuing my love affair with Milo which is an incredible merino wool & linen blend. The fiber is so interesting because it works up creating a textile that is soft and comfortable and luxurious and just a delight to wear. Milo creates a drape that is luxurious and perfect for any garment.

This design is inspired by the history of Manos Yarns. I wanted to create a piece that has texture and shape but  can be for every woman. A piece that can celebrate the journey. I named it the Montevideo Pullover simply as a tribute to how Manos del Uruguay began in 1968 at a local market in the city of Montevideo. I knew what I wanted to create and feel I have achieved it.


In the beginning I was torn about whether to crochet or knit to create my vision. But after a few swatches I knew crochet was the ticket.

I wanted to create something where the maker and wearer could have fit options. Some may wear it as a snug fitted dress. Some a loose winter dress with boots. Some as a pullover poncho. I wanted to crate something that could be as diverse as those who would create and wear it. Crochet allowed me to have that flexibility exactly as I had envisioned.

The textile and fabric came together like a dream. I added in a few details to give it that little something special. I had recently been experimenting with random pops of stitch changes and this was the perfect project to put that into action. I love how it came out.


This design came together over a few months and of course took on a path of its own. It is quite a gift that I had some personal travel planned during the same time I was working on this project because it inspired the stitches along the way. So yes, this design has some miles on it. I worked on it in New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago and many places in between.

I could not be more pleased with how this design came out. It is more than I envisioned. It is more than I hoped. It is truly a design for every woman and I think that celebrates what the Manos Del Uruguay mission is all about: making something for ALL!

Thank you again to the Manos Del Uruguay team for allowing me the honor of this collaboration.

And because I love it so much and I know you will too I am offering up the Free Pattern on the blog. Want me to make you one? OK - order it here!

Finding Your Fiber Community!

This is such a fun fiber story and the perfect follow up to The Secret To Social Media Success post. One night, in the wee hours when I should have been sleeping but was up late crocheting away, I took a break and hopped on Instagram. I LOVE the Instagram "discover" feature. Have you used it? I can honestly say I have found some of my favorite accounts and fiber friends using this feature. It is such a great way to truly randomly discover new people.  And one such person is Alex Reynoso, of Alex Creates.

It must have been about 1:30 am my time which meant it was even later for him and he was listening to some amazing music and knitting and spinning his fibers. I thought I had hit the Instagram "discover" jackpot trifecta: A fellow New Yorker, A fiber artist AND listens to great music. So I messaged him and struck up a conversation. Of course, my very first question was: "What are you listening to?". "Childish Gambino" he replied. "WHO?" I answered. And just like that I hit up the iTunes, bought some great new music and had a new fiber friend.

Over time I got to chat with Alex more and discover his fibers. I had never purchased indie hand dyed yarn over the internet or social media (more on that in a future post) but this seemed like a good time to take that leap. Especially because Alex is one of the few indie dyers to offer chunky fibers. So I reached out, clicked his website and bought some of his luscious hand dyed ombres.

I was not disappointed. The colors are so vibrant and fabulous and the weight of the yarn is somewhere between worsted and chunky which is a great hat and scarf weight. It has a great texture too. I really love the way the yarn worked up for my hat giving the illusion of Fair Isle without having to do the work to create Fair Isle color changes. That is a dang nice bonus! I wish there was a bit more of the color in the ombre. The hat was perfect but I ended up frogging the scarf because it was just so much ivory. So I went with making 2 hats, which I just love. I may make a scarf out of all the left over yarn and ivory from those skeins. I haven't decided yet. I really love the texture of the fiber so hate it to go to waste.  I have some holiday plans for the green ombre I got too. 

And, I am very excited that Alex wanted to team up with me & Vanessa of Vanessa Knits for our Urban Jungle Collaboration featuring 3 designs inspired by the awesomeness of New York City. Two knits and one crochet.  Read more about the collaboration here.

The fibers for this collaboration range from fingering weight to chunky and are just delicious. The color scheme for this collaboration is the perfect depiction of the concrete but beautiful urban jungle New York City is.  The first design of the 3 piece collection is the Gotham Nights Scarf by Vanessa Knits, to be followed by a chunky cowl and a spring crochet wrap. The perfect accessories for you to make and enjoy!

I am so thankful it was just my good fortune to be wandering the halls of Instagram in the wee hours on a crochet break. So if you have not yet hit the instagram discover link, what are you waiting for? You never know what inspiration or friend you may find! Or have you already found new fiber friends through the discover feature? Would love to hear your stories below in the comments!


The Secret To Social Media Success

I was recently included in a list of people who make social media better. It was incredibly humbling and I am honored. Not just because it was created by a professional content creator and marketer, but because it is really a message about social media and what makes it work. Especially for small brands. The secret sauce? Just Be Social.

For real. That is it. Seems simple right? I mean the thing is called SOCIAL Media. But yet it is not simple. I see so many struggle. Let me break it down for you & get real. Ready?


Social Media is not a broadcast radio network. It is not a television channel for you to just run ads and broadcast content. It is full of noise from blind random contributors. Post & run is NOT a strategy. Sure you CAN do that. But there is minimal payoff (if any) and that is not what it is about. It is about people. Period.

Social Media is an amazing thing and yes there are lots of strategies and marketing perspectives out there. I may or may not agree with some of them. But for me? For my brand?  I look at it slightly different than most. Yes, it is marketing. Yes, it is a way to reach new audience. But most important, it is a way to CONNECT. Let me take it to you from a different perspective. The Grandpa Small Business owner perspective.

dancing with grandpa.jpg.jpg

My hero is my grandpa and my small business, 144 Stitches, is named after him. When I was a kid, one of my fave things to do was skip school and hang out with my him. I spent most weekends with him as a toddler and he became my best bud as I grew up. In fact, looking back, I probably learned more applicable life lessons from those days with him than in any classroom!

He was a cool dude let me tell you. He had swagger before swagger was even cool to have!  Somewhat older in years, he was a businessman in New York City. I did not really know what that was, a "businessman", but knew someday I wanted to be it too because I wanted to be as much like him as humanly possible.

One of the businesses my grandfather owned was a paper goods company. No, this isn’t glamorous, but we never ran out of napkins or plates so there’s that bonus. This business stood out to me, not because of the products but, because of the people.

I used to go with him when he would stop by stores who carried his product on those days I skipped school to hang out with him. Grandpa gave me a nickel or dime to go play at “the machines” and he would go about his business talking to store clerks, shopkeepers and owners about business, their families and life in general. It always seemed like these were his friends, not  customers. He knew their families and I played with their kids. Some came over to the apartment for poker games or dinner.

I also distinctly recall when we would ride down the streets and Avenues of Harlem and the Bronx, where he worked and had his warehouse, in his silver Cadillac with his custom tags, that people would yell out his name and wave as we passed by. They knew him and they knew his car. “Hey Mr. Al” or “Yo, Mr. G” they would say. It made me feel proud because he was clearly loved by so many.

I always thought it was interesting just how many people knew him.
Was he famous? No.
Was he a hero? Only to me.
Was he a politician? Nope, not even close.
He was a neighborhood businessman and that was his turf. Those were his people!

I always wanted that. Not for the fame and money - I wanted those connections. It left an impact and imprint on me.


When I started my business as an online store I was crushed a little bit inside. I knew I would never have what he had. Without a cash register or storefront how would I make those neighborhood and customer connections? Who would I have a cup of coffee with or bring flowers to for their wife after birth of a child? How would I achieve those relationships? I had achieved only a small piece of the dream by starting my business.

Then I had an epiphany. I CAN HAVE THAT! Just different.

When I started managing my own brand I decided to do it differently than the norm and make it what I had thought I missed out on and social media became my store front. My “neighborhood”. I can go days on twitter without mentioning my products. Just interacting with people and building those connections.

It is not an easy task and I will tell you it takes work for sure. You can't force it. Just like opening shop in a neighborhood, starting out on social media is a slow build.  But it can be done. I am in fact creating an updated modern online version of the connections and relationships like my grandpa had.   

My platform of choice is Twitter, though I thoroughly enjoy Instagram as well.  Each is different and gives me different audiences. It is like having two store locations!

While I do post and share my links to products and special sales events, I do not use social media to spam people with my offerings or as a broadcast channel.  I have seen small businesses with twitter accounts that are merely link farms or post only products and sale info. Sell. Sell. Sell. Look at this product. And now look at that one. Look at this celebrity client endorsing me. And now look at this. That is broadcasting and not connecting.

It isn’t really the social media experience I wanted for my customers, or for me. I want something with meat on the bone. So I deliberately made an effort and started tweeting about NON business related things. Let that sink in for a minute.

Seems to go against the purpose right? Nope. It IS the purpose!  I use social media as a relationship builder to get to know people. I use it to JUST BE SOCIAL. Revolutionary right?

If there is a television show I enjoy, I tweet with people about those shows. If I need a break in my day I join a twitter chat. I like fitness and am a FitFluential ambassador, so I tweet about that. I tweet about things that interest me and engage with others who have interests like mine. In doing so I have developed and cultivated relationships, friendships, and yes, customers too.

When people I tweet with or interact with on Instagram come to meet me at my shows it is so incredibly awesome. These are just a few special moments out of many many more when I get to connect offline with my online neighborhood.

I love when I do events and people come to see me not just to shop but also people who I have connected with on social media. It is still surreal.  I think to myself, "You came just to see ME" and I am so grateful. I have met amazing people. And yes, some jerks. But hey, the world is a big place and there is an unfollow button available to us.

Social media is what we make it. I have decided to make it my neighborhood.

I have met some of my closest friends via social media. I have a group of women I mentor, all met through social media. I have connected with other small businesses for partnerships through social media. I have launched a campaign to give the homeless hats and scarves, through social media. and yes, I have made sales. In 2016 ... ONE THIRD of my sales traced directly back to social media somehow. So yes, I AM building that business but also building so much more.

If you are looking to use social media as a broadcasting tool then I have no advice for you. If you are looking to use social media to connect, grow and engage with people then I say pull up a chair and join the conversation!

When I spoke at an Etsy event on turning Twitter into my shop storefront people were amazed and so many noted how it never occurred to them.  They wanted to know how to use Twitter or Instagram as a marketing channel. I wanted to teach them how to use it as a SOCIAL channel. Those two are related for a small business. At least, my grandpa would say they are.

So what is the secret to social media? Just like my friend Joel Renner says: #JustBeSocial