Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Join
Blog Home All Blogs
TNNANews - News and Notions for Needlearts Professionals


Search all posts for:   


Top tags: TNNANews  Summer Trade Show  education  classes  preview  Business tips  Social media  tips  Ask Social  Design Digest  Designer  dropcloth sampler  embroidery  Facebook  first-time attendee  Industry news and notions  Instagram  Recap  Summer Show  trends 

Will You Knit That For Me?

Posted By TNNA HQ, Thursday, July 13, 2017
Updated: Friday, July 14, 2017

 Will You Knit That for Me?

By Lee Bernstein

The Needleart Spotlight monthly column will shine a light on various sectors within the needlarts industry including needlepoint, knitting, spinning & weaving and counted thread & embroidery.

In the world of knitters, there are those who think of knitting as a hobby, those who think of knitting as a craft, those who think of knitting as an art, and those who think of knitting as a business.

In the world of non-knitters, the considerations are different. Many people assume knitting is for the meek, elderly, bored, or for those who are too dim to do something significant.

I’ll concede: There are reasons why some non-knitters might feel the way they do. They could have possibly fallen victim to getting a gift from someone who thinks they know how to knit—one of those squeaky-yarn-people who knits miles of irregular garter stitch to produce nothing short of . . .

Well, nothing.

Yes, there are bad knitters. But, there are also engineers who disrespect infrastructure, actors who are worth casting only as bad actors, sculptors who sculpt lumps, writers who don’t know the difference between a comma splice and an apple slice, and sociopaths disguised as business executives and politicians.

However, if you ask a person what she or he does for a living, and she or he replies “I’m a (n) [engineer, actor, sculptor, writer, business executive, or politician],” then people go, “Oooh.” People go all bubbly inside. People go on to assume she or he is brilliant unless proven otherwise.

If someone says, “I’m a knitter,” people go numb.

Unless they want something.

Here’s how it works: A non-knitter falls in love with something that’s hand knit which, all too often, was unearthed in a social media post. The knit is either:

Ridiculous: A hat that looks like a toilet.

Impossible: A barn cozy, knit in lace to illustrate the story of Charlotte’s Web.

Costly and time-consuming: Socks.

Or, it’s crochet.

Take my friend Sophie for example. Over the holidays, she knit a sweater as a gift for her niece. As her niece opened the box, her parents radiated those saccharine grins that only non-knitters can produce. “Oh, well, oh, my gosh! Just look at the sweater Aunt Sophie made. How sweet is that?”

Timeout. Let’s discuss Aunt Sophie. That “sweet” sweater is one of the most beautiful and intricate cable knits you’ll find. It is perfection.

Sophie designed the sweater. Her use of positive and negative ease makes the sweater fit perfectly, and her pattern calls for innovative techniques. Sophie published the pattern and sold an impressive number of copies. She’s even received critical acclaim for it.

This means Sophie is an artist. She is an engineer. She is a sculptor. She is a writer. She is a business woman.

Sophie sells her hand knits at high-end vendor fairs and online.. Her finished pieces are expensive, or at least as much as the market allows. She respects the trade, and while she usually doesn’t get a full return on the knitting time she puts in, she charges enough to make a profit.

Sophie wishes more non-knitters respected her work and she wishes they understood the reason why her prices are high. It doesn’t help when others undercut her by taking a loss on what they knit to sell online, or when they buy mass-produced items and misrepresent them as handmade.

It helps that Sophie’s pattern sales offset making a proper production wage, the amount of which should be . . .

Well, let’s think about it. Whether Sophie knits as a career or as a sideline, what should a person get paid if she’s one of the finest artists, engineers, sculptors, or writers? Whatever the amount, Sophie doesn’t earn it. Some of it is her burden for putting up with it, and she knows it. Yet she fears raising her prices might hinder rather than help.

And then there’s the curse of non-knitters such as her niece, who have fallen in love with a toilet hat and who know Sophie knows how to knit.

“Aunt Sophie, will you knit that for me?”

Sophie loves to knit, but here is what is going through her head:

I don’t want to knit a hat that looks like a toilet, and I have no idea if the pattern is impossible to follow or filled with mistakes. If it is, I’ll need to redesign it, which can be crazy-making and time-consuming.

Yarn is expensive. I don’t like knitting with inferior yarn. It isn’t enjoyable, and I don’t want my name attached to anything but the best.

In addition, I have issues with asking friends and family to pay for my knitting, even if I only ask them to pay for the yarn. HA! They’d choke if they knew how much it costs, and they’d think me a fool for paying it.

Oh, well. Maybe I have enough in my stash to make it, and I’ll not think about the price.

If all goes well, I might finish it in a few weeks, but only if I spend every spare minute on it, which means having to sacrifice knitting something I might have enjoyed or sold. So, not only am I losing time and money on knitting this thing, I’m sacrificing pleasure, income, or both, for every hour I spend.

Oh, am I?

The niece nudges again, “Aunt Sophie, are you listening? WILL YOU KNIT THAT FOR ME?”

A spotlight shines inside Sophie’s head, and as her emotional curtain rises, she becomes the finest actor in the world.

“I’d love to.”

Oh, dear. Now Sophie’s gone and done it. You think she’d learn. You think she’d remember the countless times she said yes to someone, only to swear she wouldn’t do it again. But, deep inside, she can’t resist. She knows that after weeks of what she prays will not be knitting torture, she will produce a treasure—a priceless piece of love. And love is what it’s all about, right?

Well, yeah, whatever. A person also deserves to enjoy knitting every stitch and a person needs to eat. A person should be able to relish her knitting without toilet-loving-non-knitters stinking up the place.

Will Sophie’s work be appreciated? Probably not. After all, in the non-knitting world, knitting is just knitting.

Yet, Sophie knits away. It takes her weeks to re-design and sculpt the hat, and when she hands it to her niece, she cringes as she watches the little love crumple it into a backpack and dash off.

Sophie sighs and asks herself why she even tries. For the next few weeks, every time she thinks about the work she put into that stupid project her heart and stomach duel in a battle to see which one aches the most.

Some people might wonder why a person would feel such remorse after doing nothing more than knitting a novelty. Why indeed. Even Sophie would admit that the resentment she feels is unhealthy and a waste of time.

As Sophie vows to never knit anything for anyone again, there’s a knock on her door. It’s her niece. The little love yanks the hat out of the backpack and holds it out to Sophie, as if to return it, but instead asks, “Aunt Sophie, will you teach me how to knit?”

In an instant, that hat becomes Sophie’s tour de force. Sophie smiles because she knows that teaching her niece how to knit spins the promise of becoming a masterwork to live throughout the generations. This time, there’s no acting involved.

“I’d love to.”

And then, there are those who think of knitting as a miracle. 


About the Author

In addition to managing a financial institution, Lee Bernstein loves to knit, design, and write ( Her work has appeared in numerous publications. To some, she is best known for having written “I Love You,” the signature song of the children’s television show Barney & Friends, but to those closest to her, she is best known for loving life, family (including pets, of course), friends, and a good laugh. She is an addicted knitter and intends to stay that way. 

Tags:  TNNANews 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Contracts That Work For You and Your Business

Posted By TNNA HQ, Thursday, July 13, 2017
Updated: Friday, July 14, 2017

Legal Know-How: Contracts That Work for You and Your Business

By Danielle Chalson

The craft and needlearts industry is collaborative by nature. Designers need materials to bring their ideas to life. Needleart companies work with designers to create new designs that promote their product and contract with craft stores to sell their products. Magazines and publishers rely on companies and designers to generate content (and advertising) to fill their latest issues.


Craft and needleart stores rely on companies that provide materials, designers and publishers to attract customers and create products for sale. These are only a few traditional examples. As the needleart industry grows and changes in the digital age so do the number and type of collaborations.

What happens when the collaboration between two people, companies or stores goes wrong? What are the repercussions? Most importantly, how could the situation have been avoided in the first place?

In this series, you’ll learn how to read and understand the most important terms in your existing contracts. You’ll also learn how to create future contracts that aim to maximize the benefits for you and your business. Because that’s essentially what a contract is: An agreement between two entities that want to collaborate.

1. Dispel the notion that “contracts” have to be complicated, expensive and impossible to understand

A contract can be as straightforward as a single page (or even a paragraph) that summarizes the key points of an agreement between two parties that intend to work together. In certain instances, a contract should be longer with additional terms spelled out in more detail. Regardless of what format the contract takes what matters is that:

·         The contract correctly covers the most important points for each party

·         It covers those points clearly so each party understands their rights and obligations.

2. Because contracts can take many forms, we need to consider when it’s helpful to have a contract

The short answer is “almost always!” Designers regularly sign contracts for a design that appears in a publisher’s book or magazine. These formal contracts, which typically have been prepared by the publisher with the input of at least one attorney, are appropriate and necessary because the cost and exposure for both parties is significant. Here are a few more examples of common (and, some might say, “casual”) situations where the two parties should prepare at least a basic contract:

·         A craft store brings in a teacher to teach weekend classes

·         A needlearts company commissions a popular designer to create a design for a promotion such as a knit-a-long

·         A craft store wants to use a published design that they do not own as a teaching tool for a new workshop

3. Where to begin? At the beginning, of course!

We’ll explore how to get to the heart of any agreement, whether it’s a casual one-time collaboration or a more formal, long-term relationship. We’ll ask and answer key questions:

·         Who are the parties?

·         Why do the parties want to work together?

·         What terms are “non-negotiable” for each party?

When we understand the motivation and goals of each party, we’re in a better position to reach a written agreement that can avoid future misunderstanding, financial loss or hurt feelings. This series will be greatly enriched by your own real-world experiences within the craft and needlearts industry. Please write in with your questions and suggestions!

Finally, a disclaimer: The general discussions in this series are not legal advice. If you need specific legal advice about a certain matter, please contact a local attorney!


About the Author

Danielle Chalson is a patent attorney. She’s also an independent knitwear designer who designs for established publications and self-publishes under her own brand, Makewise Designs. You can find her on Ravelry (makewise) and on Instagram (@makewisedesigns). She and her family live in Long Island, New York.

Tags:  Business tips  TNNANews 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Next Steps for Your Blog: Keep Readers Engaged

Posted By TNNA HQ, Thursday, July 13, 2017
Updated: Friday, July 14, 2017

Next Steps for Your Blog: Keep Readers Engaged

By Janet M. Perry and Anita M. Wheeless

You’ve started your blog and successfully pinpointed your audience, but now the challenge is to keep your readers coming back week after week.


 Once blog visitors become subscribers by opting in to receive your updates you’ll be able to send notices of your new blog posts via email. There are useful little plugins and apps you can add to your blog to make getting subscribers easy and completely transparent.

     According to the blog, “... each time you publish a new blog post, it's your subscribers who'll provide you with that initial surge of traffic -- which, in turn, will propel those posts' long-term success. The key to getting more blog traffic (and, eventually, leads and customers) all starts with growing subscribers.”


     Are you willing to update your blog regularly on a set schedule? This is the number one reason why blogs die. It sounds so easy, but you need to commit to the process. Your readers will come to expect the updates on certain days and times. If you miss too many of these days they may not come back. This is the blogging version of the cost of finding new customers. To stay on track, set a schedule and keep to it. Update your blog on the same days and, if at all possible, at about the same time. Doing this consistently allows non-subscribers to visit at specific times and see new content. If you really want to target a specific audience, you can use analytics to see what day and time gets the most visitors and post new content at those times. While there’s no hard and fast rule about how often you should update a blog, the Sumall blog suggests posting new material at least twice per week.


Another area often overlooked is search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. Being found by search engines is important for your business and your blog. Having titles for each blog post is a good start for SEO, but there are plugins you can install to help you improve SEO for each post. The one Janet uses is called Yoast and it even gives an alert status for every post.


 In addition to your blog, posting frequently on a variety of social media networks is another way to connect with potential followers. Many tools and apps are available that actually allow you to schedule various social media posts to become live at the best time of day to reach your audience.


 Here’s a quick glimpse at some of the scheduling tools available: With its free automated marketing tools, MailChimp looks like a great place to start. According to the website, “If you have 2,000 or fewer subscribers, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month absolutely free. No expiring trial, contract, or credit card required.” To help you build that subscriber base, MailChimp also has built-in sign-up forms for many platforms such as, WordPress, Facebook and Twitter. There are other direct email providers available at many different prices. From’s description, the free individual plan allows you to connect one type of social account per network. For example, you can connect one Facebook account, one Twitter account, one LinkedIn account, one Google+ account and one Instagram account, posting the same content or customized content on one or each at scheduled times. Connecting with Pinterest requires an upgrade to $10 a month. 


Hootsuite: If $19 per month suits your budget, Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts to a variety of social media networks using up to 10 social profiles. Real-time analytics help determine the best time to post.


If you’re interested in only scheduling Tweets to your Twitter account, you can do so directly from your Tweet deck. Select “compose Tweet” from the Tweet deck. You simply write your tweet and then click “schedule tweet” to select when you’d like it to post. You can even choose an image to go along with it. 


These tools, tips and ideas can help your blog look its best, but the key to keeping your followers is being active. Make it a priority to post the most interesting content you can on a regular basis.


About the Authors

Janet M. Perry is a needlepoint educator, creating print books, ebooks, on-line classes, stitch guides, and blogs that provide great information for stitchers at all levels. She has 13 books in print currently including Bargello Revisited, the most comprehensive Bargello book in print. Her Nuts about Needlepoint blog,, is the leading needlepoint blog. Her Needlepoint News blog provides news to all stitchers. She welcomes folks to contact her (and contribute news) at 


Anita Mumm Wheeless has been a member of TNNA since 2012 and has been certified as a knitting instructor by the Craft Yarn Council.  A former newspaper writer/editor, she designs knitting patterns for toys and novelties. Leisure Arts published her book, “Storybook Dolls to Knit” in 2011. Her patterns are also featured on, and You can find her on and Love Knitting. She maintains a website: and a blog: Connect with Anita on Twitter @AnitaPatternBox or by email:


Tags:  TNNANews 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Summer Trade Show: After the Show

Posted By TNNA HQ, Thursday, June 29, 2017
Updated: Thursday, June 29, 2017

Summer Trade Show: After the Show

By Stephanie Shiman

The summer market is over, your bags are unpacked, and several new projects are underway. What now?  The TNNA summer show is excellent for discoveries, inspiration, connections, and overall appreciating this awesome industry, we are all a part of.  


Now that you’re home, how can you use what you learned and keep the creative juices flowing?

Whether you’re a shop, designer, or vendor, the following applies to you.

  1. Debrief yourself (and companions, if you took others with you).  Take notes!  You won’t remember this stuff next month!  What inspired you?  What are the new trends you should stay on top of?  What did you see that could set you apart and give you an edge?  What do crafters want to learn?  Which items are vanishing from booths that might be a heads-up that they’ve had their day in the limelight?
  2. Next, deal with all the paperwork you came home with—the flyers, catalogs, and business cards.  Evaluate what you will realistically want to remember later and which things don’t seem as useful.  Write notes on the keepers so when you come across them later you will remember why you kept them.
  3.  What crafty things did you bring back—that special skein from SampleIt or that free pattern you can’t wait to get started with?  Make a special place for these items for future projects so they don’t get lost in your stash.


Shops: When the orders start coming in, how can you be sure they get the best visibility to inspire your customers like they inspired you?  

  1.  As soon as you get back, begin sneak previews of items that you will add to your shop’s offerings.  Put a table up front in your store and cover it with samples and cash-and-carry items from the show. Use social media to start a buzz.  Even if you don’t have the items in hand, use photos from the vendor’s website or photos of finished objects (with permission) from Ravelry to get your customers excited.
  2.  Space out orders if possible, even if it means waiting a week to put them on the shelf.  Keeping your shop continually new and fresh is a great way to keep customers coming back. Update your social media outlets with photos from each new shipment along with inspiration for using the new products.  
  3. Unbox orders on Instagram. This hot new trend for social media really gets people excited. Start a live video when you unbox the order, describing the items as you go. Potential customers can then comment if they’d like you to put something aside for them. Just be sure to give a cut-off date for pick-up, and if items aren’t claimed, add them to your shelves.
  4. Show your customers what makes this or that new item unique. Most crafters don’t really need more craft supplies, but we do buy more when we are excited about a new project. Inspiration is the key! Classes, trunk shows, and shop samples are perfect for this.


Designers: What did you see that really inspired you?

  1.  Each year new yarns come out with new qualities. How can you best highlight the hottest new yarns? Staying on trend with the hot yarns will keep your work fresh and appealing.
  2.  What new techniques and construction methods are knitters really into right now?  Garter is out, garter is in. Brioche is hot. Chevron and odd angles are in. Felting is out. Lace is always in. Incorporate currently trending techniques into your work.
  3. Whom did you connect with at market that you would like to work with? Be sure to reach out with design ideas and proposals whenever you have them.  Everyone loves to bounce ideas around when inspired at the show. It’s important to show intent by following up with solid ideas after the market.Vendors: Hopefully you’ve come back with plenty of orders. Now the real work begins.  Besides just filling them, try these tips to keep re-orders coming in.

Vendors: Hopefully you’ve come back with plenty of orders. Now the real work begins.  Besides just filling them, try these tips to keep re-orders coming in.

  1.  Educate your customers on new items. Even a quick and dirty information sheet tucked into orders is helpful. Key phrases about your products are especially useful: “This kit comes with a full-size skein and three mini skeins as well as a shawl pattern behind the label.” The more a shop knows and understands about your product, the easier it is for them to sell it.
  2.  It can be hard to predict before the show what the hot sellers will be. Now you know! Therefore, stock up on those items as soon as you can, and filling re-orders will be a breeze. When something is hot, everyone wants it yesterday.
  3. Do you feel like some products didn’t get as much attention as you thought they deserved? Use your social media outlets to highlight anything that might have slipped through the cracks.
  4. Believe it or not, even though the summer show has just ended, it’s the perfect time to think about what you’d like to launch next season. Often seeing your product line laid out and taking orders face-to-face is a good way to see where your holes are. Prepare now to fill these holes next season.
  5. Pack up your booth items, for storage, in a way that makes it easy to prepare for the next show. January seems a long way off now, but it’ll be here before you know it.  

Overall, use what you’ve learned at market to keep things fresh, inspired, and interesting!


About the Author

Stephanie Shiman (www.frabjousfibers.comstarted frabjous fibers and Wonderland Yarns in 2004 with a box of yarn stashed under her dining room table.  Now, with a team of a dozen or so creative people, FF&WY hand-dyes fabulous yarns and fibers that make their way to LYS all over the world.

Tags:  Business tips  Summer Trade Show  TNNANews 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Starting a Blog: Find Your Audience

Posted By TNNA HQ, Thursday, June 29, 2017
Updated: Thursday, June 29, 2017

Starting a Blog: Find Your Audience

By Janet M. Perry and Anita M. Wheeless

You’ve decided to join the club and  use a blog as a way to let people know about your needlework business. FANTASTIC! A blog is a great way to build shop, brand, and name recognition. While most articles about blogs concentrate on software, there are many other considerations that go into making your blog successful. Don’t worry; there are easy ways to grow your readership as well as simple methods to implement on social media to promote your blog. 

 The most important decision to make is what you want the focus of your blog to be. Blogs could cover many subjects; however, with so many out there, you won’t get viewers if your blog does not have a focus. . You may want to write about your vacations, your knitting,  or the activities of your local PTA, but you have to ask yourself if all of the same people will want to read about those topics. You don’t have to ignore the rest of your life, but your blog should concentrate on one subject.


Related to this is understanding the purpose of the blog. Do you want to get more people in your classes? Is education your focus? Do you want to drive sales? Do you want to build brand recognition? Pick one main objective and one or more to be secondary. Putting too many topics in one blog dilutes its value and keeps readers away.


Once you know what you want your blog to be about, there are two important things to consider: your platform and your theme. The platform is the basic software that you use to build your blog. It’s what allows you to create this complex edifice without knowing how to program. There are many platforms to choose from, many of which are free. One of the most common platforms is WordPress. There are thousands of themes and tools for it, and there are people you can hire to help you with it if you are unfamiliar


WordPress exists in two forms. The first form is where WordPress itself hosts the website, while the second form is where you run the website on servers from a hosting provider. Both use the same software. There are many books, videos, and websites that will help you set this up. Google also offers popular platforms for blogs. Google's Blogger, a free publishing platform, allows you to publish a blog within your custom website, while Google's Blogspot is an all-in-one free domain service provider. Janet has always used WordPress and she loves it, while Anita uses Blogspot.


The theme is what gives your blog its look. Each platform has a default theme, but there are many others paid and free. You will want to look, test, and learn until you find one you like. Ask your colleagues and friends to look at it.


Another area where blogs can fail is in its accessibility. If your blog isn’t accessible, you won’t have as many people reading it.


Often website templates come with blog pages. You may decide to use one,  but the only problem is that it may not work with the blog-reading software many individuals use. Additionally, it may not give unique URLs to each post, or it may not allow people to subscribe in a simple way.  Any of these problems can wreck your blog. As a new blog, you want to make it easy for people to follow you and to read what you say.


Another part of making the blog accessible is the numerous little things that can make it easier to read. Some of these are:

  • Have titles for every post. People don’t want to read a long URL instead of words they can remember.
  • Use tags and categories so readers can find what they want. These tools make it easier for your readers to find the content they want and for them to see you as the source for authoritative info. As your blog grows, it also helps you find older posts to cross-reference or to give to customers.
  •  Always use dark type on a light background. You may want to be cool and white on black is supposed to be that, but it significantly reduces readability for everyone -- young and old.
  • Use vivid pictures and working links. Both of these make your blog more attractive and will keep people reading.
  • Use subheadings, bold type, captions, and lists. All of these make your blog easier to read and make it more attractive to the hurried reader.
  • Don’t neglect copyright. Image stealing on the Internet is common, but that doesn’t make it right Always give information about the source, even if it’s “unknown” or “public domain.” It sets you up as a good Internet citizen.
  • Remember the mobile user. When you are looking at themes, you may see some labeled “responsive.” This means they adjust so they can be seen on cell phones. As more people search the web on their phones, having this capability is important. Test your theme by looking at it on a phone. If it isn’t responsive, pick a different theme.
  • Add a Call to Action (CTA) subscriber check box. This is one of the first ways to grow your reader base, according to HubSpot.


About the Authors

Janet M. Perry is a needlepoint educator, creating print books, ebooks, on-line classes, stitch guides, and blogs that provide great information for stitchers at all levels. She has 13 books in print currently including Bargello Revisited, the most comprehensive Bargello book in print. Her Nuts about Needlepoint blog,, is the leading needlepoint blog. Her Needlepoint News blog provides news to all stitchers. She welcomes folks to contact her (and contribute news) at 


Anita Mumm Wheeless has been a member of TNNA since 2012 and has been certified as a knitting instructor by the Craft Yarn Council.  A former newspaper writer/editor, she designs knitting patterns for toys and novelties. Leisure Arts published her book, “Storybook Dolls to Knit” in 2011. Her patterns are also featured on, and You can find her on and Love Knitting. She maintains a website: and a blog: Connect with Anita on Twitter @AnitaPatternBox or by email:


Tags:  Business tips  education  Social media  tips  TNNANews 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Ask Social: To Tweet or Not to Tweet

Posted By TNNA HQ, Thursday, June 29, 2017
Updated: Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ask Social: To Tweet or Not to Tweet

By Vickie Howell and Mari Chiba Luke

Welcome to Ask Social, an advice column for TNNA members aimed to demystify social media practices and strategy. In every issue, we answer questions from store owners, manufacturers, designers, teachers and bloggers about simple and effective ways to use new media to influence their businesses.

Dear Ask Social, 

I signed up for a Twitter account ages ago, and I just never post to it, because what can I say of value in 140 characters or less? Is this a channel I need to be spending time on? I'm just not sure what I should be posting on Twitter, or how important it is, when there are so many things I need to do to promote my business. 

- Clever Name

Dear Clever Name, 

I have good news; you don't need to add Twitter to your task of daily to-dos. The reality is,  our crafty demographic spends more time on other channels. Sure, there are knitters, spinners, and stitchers of all sorts on Twitter, but there might still be a few on Myspace too. As a small business, you need to focus on the channels where you're going to get the best bang for your buck, and  odds are, that isn't on Twitter. Twitter is predominantly male (22 percent of males online use Twitter, while 15 percent of females online use the platform), and the largest segment of Twitter users are 18-29. Furthermore, the average Twitter user spends 2.7 minutes per day on the platform, whereas Facebook users spend 20 minutes or more a day on the platform. 

That being said you could use IFTTT or another automation app that automatically exports your posts from other channels directly to Twitter, so that your feed still has fresh content. We recommend connecting your Instagram feed directly to Twitter, and if you can train yourself to write a short intro, then include a hashtag or two, and then the rest of your caption, you can get a post that also looks great on Twitter without any extra work. Bonus: Since Instagram also clips your captions, they will make more sense on Instagram, too. 

We do recommend that you check in on Twitter regularly (once a week or so) to make sure that people aren't trying to reach you there. Twitter seems to be a favorite platform for people with a complaint, so monitoring the channel for feedback and responding quickly will help you provide the best customer service. 


 Dear Ask Social,

As a relatively new knitwear designer trying to make a name for myself, I’m having a hard time balancing my design work with what I think I should be doing on social media. Other than a blog, how important is it that I have a presence on all of the prominent platforms? I want to be taken seriously by publishers and yarn companies, but I also want to maintain my sanity. Help!



Dear Overwhelmed,

First off, know that you’re not alone. Shop owners, yarn companies, and freelancers alike struggle with keeping all of the plates — involved in both running their businesses and promoting it — spinning.

Secondly, although in the digital age it is very important that you do have some social media visibility, it isn’t crucial that you are on ALL of the major platforms. Social media is the new portfolio, so publishers and yarn companies looking for designers go straight to the web as a source of confirming experience, talent and legitimacy. Because of that, we recommend that rather than spreading yourself thin by having a mediocre presence on several platforms, you instead work towards strong, well-thought-out campaigns on a couple. Digital marketing is a numbers game, and a perspective creative director or editor for company X will be much more impressed if you have 3,000, truly engaged followers on two platforms rather, than only 500 followers on five.

Lastly, as a designer, visuals are key. We recommend putting your efforts into a beautifully curated Instagram feed, including a mixture of your finished designs, styled shots of your works-in-progress, and perhaps some lifestyle or inspirational photos that exude your aesthetic. Most importantly, though is that the photography for your main stream is Instagram-worthy meaning, clear, well-lit, and styled, if appropriate. Fortunately, thanks to the ever-improving smartphone cameras and a plethora of photo editing apps out there, getting a strong snap isn’t difficult. We recommend using the A Color Story App (available in the iTunes App Store or on Google Play) to amp up your images. With over 100 filters, 40 effects, and 20 tools, it’s an invaluable asset at an affordable price (around $10.)

Designers are also often teachers of one form or another, so a place to interact with your community authentically, and in a less calculated manner, is Facebook. The ability to share info, give updates, broadcast live, and upload video tutorials is key to creating a community. Varying content is important, as is not only uploading native content but also sharing other people’s content. To quote marketing guru, Guy Kawasaki, “If you’re not sharing other people’s content, then you’re not following the right people.”

Perspective hirers look to see if you engage with fans of your work, and thusly —in addition to your mad, design skills — bring a dedicated audience to the mix. Your followers then become accessible to that company and therefore increase their promotional reach.

You’ve got this!


Got social media questions? Send them to or leave a comment below!

Ask Social is a collaboration between Vickie Howell (@vickiehowell), executive producer and host of The Knit Show with Vickie Howell (premiered on YouTube, October 2017), and Mari Chiba Luke (@mariknits), business integration manager and design director of Stitchcraft Marketing.

 Vickie Howell      Mari Chiba Luke
    Vickie Howell              Mari Chiba Luke    


Tags:  Ask Social  Business tips  Social media  TNNANews 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Summer Trade Show: One Attendee's Experience

Posted By TNNA HQ, Thursday, June 15, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summer Trade Show: One Attendee's Experience

By Joy Macdonell

Stepping foot on a trade show floor is exciting. There is a shared energy as vendors get ready to show off their new products in beautifully curated booths and attendees are prepared to begin a search for new products to introduce to their enthusiastic customers.

Summer is the perfect time of year to gather as a trade organization because fall creative content calendars are being firmed up, retail events are in the planning stages, budgets have been analyzed, and open to buys have been approved!

TNNA returned to Columbus, Ohio for the 2017 NeedleArts Summer Trade Show, where the familiar North Market offers delicious foods and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams can be enjoyed!

#stitchlove by Stitchcraft MarketingOver in the convention center, there were new experiences including Blue Sky Fibers’ booth visitors on Sunday of a llama and two alpacas! The newly conceived TNNA Lounge provided tables and chairs for mini meetups and gatherings. Also located in the lounge area, presented by Stitchcraft Marketing, the #stitchlove wall filled the space with good vibes and warm sentiments from attendees.

The convention kicked off Friday night with the Yarn Group Fashion Show and Sample IT! This year, there were 104 looks presented on the runway from 35 companies and 100 brands. Resourceful, discrete, playful, intense and integral are words used to describe the fashions that hit the catwalk. Silhouettes included dusters, shawls, wraps and ponchos.

This is the year of the sleeve and we were presented a variety, including minimalist sleeves, textured sleeves and, most notably, a garment featuring one long-tapered sleeve and one poncho sleeve. Asymmetry was found in hems and wrap shapes.

Color created movement on the runway. “Let the colors move; let the colors come to life,” the presenter said as solid colors, color gradients and touches of glitter moved in front of our eyes. Sweaters featured yolks with stranded work, cowls, and hoods.

The showstopper was a piece of art named the “Woodland Sweater” by Nicky Epstein. This piece stole the show with a knitted forest scene, appliqued knitted pieces and embroidery. The excitement at the Fashion Show set the mood for the weekend.

There were more than 90 exhibitors on display on the show floor with the majority participating in the “Discover What’s New” area — perfectly placed by registration. If you were early to the show, this was the place to linger and stroll. Each tabletop vignette offered a peek at the newest products on display at the show. This was a must-see destination prior to walking through the show and before leaving — just to make sure you did not miss anything in the show!

An Education Theater, conveniently located on the showroom floor, offered instruction on trend-right topics that included introductions of new tools, explanations of how fleece becomes fiber, and the importance of the fiber value-chain. Instructors included Karin Skacel, Tabbethia Haubold, Trisha Malcolm, Lisa Meyers and Sy Belohlavek. These educational moments were easily accessible by all attendees and provided a great opportunity to rest for a moment while still participating in the show!

The vendors, however, were the stars of the show! Each booth carefully arranged to present an artful display of products. All vendors focused on the attendees and welcomed everyone to touch, feel and explore their goods. Exhibitors provided plenty of literature to share with every type of attendee from the retailer to designers and teachers. The vendors fostered new relationships with open arms. The spirit of the show was led by the exhibitors, and their energy and excitement will continue to contribute to the success and growth of the industry!


About the Author

Joy MacdonellJoy Macdonell (www.craftingwithjoy.comis a Creative Blogger and Fiber Consultant. Her job has provided her with lots of great opportunities to teach, including as the host of a television show on the DIY network (Greetings, from DIY) and one on PBS (Crafting at The Spotted Canary). She has also been the guest representative for Martha Stewart Crafts on the Home Shopping Network and has been the education director for the Martha Stewart Crafts brand since it launched in 2007. Prior to starting her career with EK Success Brands in 2001, she and her sister owned the very popular scrapbook store in Fairfax, VA, My Scrapbook Store.

Tags:  Recap  Summer Trade Show  TNNANews 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Design Digest: Leaping into the Rabbit Hole of Embroidery

Posted By TNNA HQ, Thursday, June 15, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Design Digest: Leaping into the Rabbit Hole of Embroidery

By Angela Davis

In Design Digest, we highlight a particular favorite technique, type of popular design or share our experiences learning how to do something. Today, I am going to do all three!

Hand embroidery has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity recently, in both the craft and fashion worlds, and this revitalization is inspiring all kinds of crafters and crafters-to-be to join in. Discovering one particular technique has me very excited and planning all kinds of embroidery projects.

According to Wikipedia, the “basic stitches on surviving examples of the earliest embroidery — chain stitch, buttonhole or blanket stitch, running stitch, satin stitch, cross stitch — remain the fundamental techniques of hand embroidery today.” Embroidery is thought to have originated as a natural outgrowth of the practice of tailoring, mending, patching or reinforcing precious fabrics. Inspired, bearers of needle and thread sought to incorporate decorative stitches and colorful threads to embellish their work and enhance its beauty.

Embroidery has also served a functional purpose in marking one’s clothing and household linens for being sent out for laundering. As it has evolved, embroidery has become appreciated for its decorative function as well as for its more practical purposes.

Like many young girls, I began embroidering as a child in elementary school — first stabbing a tapestry needle threaded with yarn through burlap for an art project. After devouring library book stories in which pioneer girls were embroidering samplers, I started trying out various stitches and different weights of cloth and thread.

This was happening in the 1970s, when embroidered jeans and denim shirts were de rigueur, so I picked up various tips and techniques from women in my family and my neighborhood, and from women’s magazines. Along the way, I also learned counted cross-stitch and a bit of needlepoint, too.

Jump ahead to the present: I came across an image online of something called a Dropcloth Sampler — a stamped cotton cloth featuring a charmingly chaotic mix of lines, shapes and lettering that positively begs for embroidery. I found the designer’s etsy shop, ordered my own Dropcloth Sampler, pulled out my box of DMC floss, pearl cotton, and supplies, and got ready to start.

Then panic hit. I didn’t want to ruin the cuteness of the sampler with my awkward stitching. I decided to order the Creativebug class taught by the designer, Rebecca Ringquist, and got started.

Angela Davis' in-progress samplerRight away, I knew that I was onto something here. Rebecca’s teaching style is friendly and clear, and the instruction — it has set me free! I have been doing my own DIY-version of satin stitch for as long as I can remember. When Rebecca said that we should always stitch the outline before filling with satin stitch (even if you plan to remove it after), suddenly, my embroidery looked so much better! For so long I have struggled along, treating the printed or drawn outline of a shape as the guide to fill in. If you fill in a stitched outline, the results are so much better!

As I prepared to write this article, I reached out to Rebecca and she graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me. She is an artist, designer and teacher, who currently lives in Portland, Oregon. She comes from a crafty family. Her parents are both makers; her mother is a weaver and her father is a furniture maker.

As an art major in college, Rebecca became interested in the social history of samplers and their makers. Designing her own sampler patterns then became a logical next step for her. Because her sampler business and her art studio are housed in the same place, she is noticing that her samplers are becoming more painterly. Her drawings are influenced by her embroidery, so both practices are having an effect on one another.

Rebecca says she is excited for there to be more threads on the market and sees the trend toward more hand-dyed and artisanal threads as a hopeful one. Her samplers are available for wholesale, and her book Rebecca Ringquist’s Embroidery Workshops, published by STC Craft/ Melanie Falick Books, released in April 2015, has an exclusive sampler to embroider included.

I can’t say that I have fallen into the rabbit hole of sampler embroidery as much as I have jumped in — all because of stumbling across one really great technique that empowered me and opened up a whole new world! My next plan is to learn how to embroider on hand-knits, so stay tuned for that!

For more information about Rebecca Ringquist and Dropcloth Studios:


Learn: Online Workshops with Rebecca

Follow: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest

Shop: Dropcloth Samplers


About the Author

Angela Davis

Angela Davis, B.S.B.M., is a fiber artist, Craft Yarn Council of America certified-hand knitting instructor, author, artist and designer. She is passionate about supporting the needlearts, handcrafting, slow-fashion, visible mending, supporting small-batch producers of ethically and ecologically sound fibers, and reducing textile waste. Angela has taught knitting on European and Japanese tour buses, started a knitting-for-charity club at an inner-city high school in Los Angeles, has knitted props for the television show Mad Men, and is a contributing author and designer for publications including Piecework, STUDIOS, Knitting Traditions, and Sockupied magazines.

By day, Angela is director of product development and artist relations for internationally renowned punk, garage, rock and metalcore bands. She lives in Long Beach, California with her three sons. Angela’s Ravelry ID is alittlebird, and you can find her on Instagram as @angelaxdavis and on Twitter as @angelaxxdavis.

Tags:  Design Digest  dropcloth sampler  embroidery  TNNANews 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

How to Market Yourself as a Designer at the TNNA Summer Trade Show

Posted By TNNA HQ, Friday, June 2, 2017
Updated: Thursday, June 1, 2017

TNNA Summer Trade Show: How to Market Yourself as a Designer

By Brenda Bourg

Attending your first TNNA show can be very overwhelming, so I've asked three experienced designers for their best advice to new attendees.


All three designers agreed that setting appointments with the top companies you want to meet with are a top priority. Go through the exhibitor list carefully, and make a must-see list and a secondary must-see list. When you set your appointments, be specific about what you would like to meet with them about, such as a proposal for a jacket, sweater, etc. Be sure to keep your meeting brief, 20-30 minutes at the most, unless your contact says they can give you more time when you schedule the appointment. Wear business casual attire with very comfortable shoes  you will be on your feet a lot!


If you are a new or unknown designer, bring a one-page resume that has thumbnail photos of various projects that are representative of your skills. Or even better, if you have a tablet, create a portfolio of your designs. You are more likely to sell your work if they can see visuals of your capabilities.


For more experienced designers, bring photocopies of book covers or designs from magazines to hand out to contacts. Be sure to bring plenty of business cards and give them out. You will also collect a lot of business cards in return write notes on the business cards while on the floor. This will make it easier to remember what was discussed and help with follow-up organization. You may also want to bring a small notebook, pen, and tape or small stapler. This can help organize the business cards.


Don't forget to stop by and thank companies who have given you support in the past. It is a great chance to introduce yourself and put a face with the name. If you are a published author, check to see if your publisher is there and if they offer to do a book signing. Also, if you have a book and one of the yarn suppliers is there, ask if they will display your book. This is a great opportunity to bring in wholesale orders!


If you continue checking back on a busy booth to introduce yourself to no avail, drop a card off and get a card to follow up later. That said, never, ever interrupt a meeting unless someone calls you over. Often, an official meeting looks like a casual conversation. Business relationships can be quickly ruined over this.

Don't ask for materials from a company you've never worked with before. Instead, ask about their supply support for designers' policy. If they offer it to you, then it's fine to accept it.


You do need to work the floor, but make sure to take some breaks, too. Your feet and sanity will thank you! Your first show can, and probably will, be very overwhelming and your brain can be quickly overstimulated.


One of the three designers said it best: "I guess the bottom line is that if you want to be considered a professional, act like one. I think that sums it up."

About the Author

Brenda BourgBrenda Bourgauthor of Fair Isle Tunisian Crochet, is also an editor, writer, spinner, knit and crochet designer for 10 years and counting. She is co-editor for Annie's Talking Crochet Update newsletter – a job she's enjoyed immensely for almost 4 years. Brenda also loves to blog about crafting, encouragement, finding humor and beauty in everyday life on Encouraged by Design.

Tags:  Business tips  Designer  Summer Trade Show  TNNANews 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Social Media Corner: 13 Tips for Taking the Perfect Shot for Instagram

Posted By TNNA HQ, Friday, June 2, 2017
Updated: Thursday, June 1, 2017

Social Media Corner: 13 Tips for Taking the Perfect Shot for Instagram

By Joy Macdonell

Whether you're an Instagram newbie or a veteran on the platform, here are 13 tips to bring engaging visual content to your followers. Our industry is colorful, vibrant and creative, so that's what you need to deliver!




 Framing 1 Framing 2 


Instagram finally broke free from the square frame. You can now post landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) photos, too! There is still an emphasis on the square aspect ratio of 1:1:

  • The gallery still uses square thumbnails;
  • The app only shoots photos in square; and
  • If you input photos into the app for posting, the default is the square.

You can choose to preserve the original aspect ratio of your uploaded photo in the upload screen. There is now a small icon in the bottom left of the image where you can toggle between square and not-square. For landscape photos (horizontal), you can use aspect ratios up to 1.91:1. For portrait (vertical) photos, you can use an aspect ratio up to 4:5. And you can still use square, of course. But you can’t use very narrow banners or panoramas. If the square framing did not work for you, now there are more options for presenting your content!




Symmetry creates balance in photography. Look for opportunities to frame the subject of your photo with objects in the scenery: other props, architecture, branches, window sills, etc. Use objects in your environment to create balance and frame your shot.




Lighting is key. Natural light always reads best in photography. Prime times for shooting outdoors are: cloudy days, early morning or late afternoon. The lens of the phone camera absorbs light in a different way compared to traditional cameras. Play with the light coming from above or behind your subject. As you are taking your shots, move around the subject and look to see how the light changes position light in unexpected places to capture an ethereal look.




Look for depth of field. Most smartphones allow you to touch the screen and focus on your subject. Use this tool to bring the objects closest to you into focus and allow the objects further away to blur. The blurry background and the focused foreground creates depth in your photo and guides the viewer’s eye to the focal point of the photo.


Turn On the Grid

Turn On the Grid

Respect the Rule of Thirds. Use the grid on your phone to aid in creating a balanced composition. The grid marks break the frame of your photo into thirds, vertically and horizontally. Position the elements in your frame on the 1/3 marks instead of the center and you will find that your photos are instantly more interesting.


Clean the Lens

Clean the Lens

Get clarity and sharpness in your photos by wiping off the lens of your camera phone. Our phones go in and out of our pockets, sit on tables, and collect dirt and dust. Taking a moment to clean the lens before you shoot will make a big difference in the quality of your photos.



Top Instagram Editing Apps

With a little editing, every photo can be Instagram-worthy. My favorite editing apps are: A Color Story (in-app purchases), Snapseed, VSCO, Facetune ($3.99), Darkroom (in-app purchases) and TouchRetouch ($1.99). Each app provides a unique experience. To find your favorites, you need to play. You do not need to be a photographer to use these apps; you simply need to have the desire to try them out. These apps have great YouTube support. Download the apps, watch a few tutorials, and you will learn to produce Insta-awesomeness!


Tell A Story

Tell A Story

Find a clear point of interest. Shoot photos that tell a story about the product, person or place of interest. Remove clutter from the photo and lead the viewer’s eye right to the heart of your content.


Colors, Shapes and Lines

Colors, Shapes, and Lines

A powerful Instagram photo has strong colors, defined shapes and lines. These elements can frame your content and draw the viewer into the photograph. Train your eye to use these pieces of content to create emotion in your frame.


Shoot from Different Angles

Shoot from Different Angles

 Change your position and look at the objects in your photo from an unusual perspective. Try shooting from directly above or very low to get an interesting view.


Less Is More

Less Is More

Use white space to your advantage and give your content room to breathe, but also think about context. Give the viewer an understanding of the size of product you are filming or the use of an interesting object. Use your photo to engage your followers and invite them to investigate further.


Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice, Practice, Practice

Take tons of photos. Release yourself from perfection. If you see something interesting, take a photo. Through practice, you will learn more about your style, your aesthetic, and, in time, you will capture your brand.



Keep Your Feed Consistent

Keep a consistent look to your photos. When they tile together in your feed, you can see a story unfold. There are many approaches to consistency; it could be color, framing, lighting, content or the use of white space. Also remember to remain consistent with feeding Instagram: The more consistent you are, the more present you will be on the platform. A good Instagrammer considers how each photo looks within the whole feed. Planning is a big part of telling your visual story.

Instagram does not allow for automatic programming; each photo must be uploaded in real-time. How do you stay ahead and keep your feed cohesive? Check out Plann  a scheduling, planning app that makes curating your Instagram gallery quick and easy. The app notifications will keep you on schedule so that you never forget to post!

About the Author

Joy MacdonellJoy Macdonell is the education director at Simplicity Creative Group. Her job has provided her with lots of great opportunities to teach, including as the host of a television show on the DIY network (Greetings, from DIY) and one on PBS (Crafting at The Spotted Canary). She has also been the guest representative for Martha Stewart Crafts on the Home Shopping Network and has been the education director for the Martha Stewart Crafts brand since it launched in 2007. Prior to starting her career with EK Success Brands in 2001, she and her sister owned the very popular scrapbook store in Fairfax, VA, My Scrapbook Store.

Tags:  Instagram  Social Media  Tips  TNNANews 

Share |
PermalinkComments (1)
Page 1 of 2
1  |  2
Sign In
Sign In securely