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How to Become an Affiliate with Online Teachers

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, October 12, 2017
Updated: Saturday, October 7, 2017

By Joy MacDonell

In the past two decades, you as an independent retailer have been challenged by the rise of offline mass-market stores. Mass stores were able to leverage lower prices, broader selections and convenience, to put your retail success in jeopardy. But the seemingly overwhelming rise of mass stores has slowed and the new dominant force plaguing both mass and independent retailers is e-commerce. The next decade will be about the market fragmentation e-commerce will create. In this new climate, the independents who best adapt to the needs of the modern e-commerce shopper can not only compete in this new arena, but thrive.

The old retail goal used to be to get a customer to make a purchase. But in the new online world, an equally important goal should be to get permission to talk to these customers in the future. The most obvious and useful method is to obtain e-mail addresses. Failing that, getting your visitors to follow you on social media is vital to communication and your store’s community. Social media has shown that people enjoy sharing their creations and with a little encouragement from you can provide another outlet for that desire.


A new opportunity is now available to the independent retailer that was out of reach in the past. One method independents were able to utilize to compete with big box stores was in-store classes. This created a method of bringing in foot traffic, increased the educational level of your customer base, and created an image for you and your store to be the educational authority on your crafting. But as with all things, your customer is moving online. Your store needs to move with them.


There was a problem with in-store classes. They created tremendous pressure on you as an owner to generate new class ideas, find teachers, promote classes, and attract attendees. I am very familiar with the pressure of retail education as I used to own a scrapbook store where we had to teach new classes regularly. Online education opens a new line of revenue for you and can make it easier for a retailer to teach their customers without adding a ton of work to their already busy schedules. 


One method would be making your retail store an affiliate to an online educator. Often, that word "affiliate" gets tossed around without a definition.  Basically, it is a fancy word for "sales person" or "retailer".  Digital content is a sell-able item in a retail environment.  A store can earn an agreed upon percentage of a student's tuition just by telling customers the classes are available. For example, if I were selling an online class for $10 and your store were my affiliate and we had agreed upon a 25% commission, then you would get $2.50 every time you sent a student to my online school.


Thus, when a retailer becomes an affiliate of an online school - they can turn a profit, just like selling an item on the store shelf!  Except they don't have to reorder product or worry about being out of stock or even have to unlock the doors or turn on the lights to the store!  The customer can take the class at her leisure and maintain lifetime access to the education along with getting handouts and classroom assets.  The only thing the retailer needs to do is tell their customers that classes are available and provide their class affiliate link to the customer.  When the customer signs up for class, using the link, the store gets paid by the teacher.  It is that simple!  The store can provide links to classes on signage in-store, or through emails, blog posts, or social media - how they promote the class is completely up to them.


This accomplishes several things for the independent retailer.


1.       It is another way to get permission to talk to their customers in the future. Signing up for an online class also captures the customer’s email.

2.       It provides additional utility for your customers. The retail owner is now able to offer instore and online classes to its clientele.

3.       Education moves your customers into a deeper appreciation for the hobby they love. Craft enthusiasts who consider themselves an “expert” spend a disproportionate amount of their discretionary income on their hobby than crafters who consider themselves a “beginner.”

4.       It saves the owner from not only the headaches associated with creating an instore class from scratch, but also from the technical and logistical challenges of filming online classes (camera, lighting, audio, studio, scripts, etc.).

5.       Making your store an affiliate to on online school can generate income just like a product on a shelf - except that it is digital!


There are several teachers in the industry who have online classes that would love to be promoted in stores. One of the most popular is Mimi G who has a sewing academy ( Another is my own new online educational site called I am putting up new classes every few weeks. Becoming an affiliate with sites like these would provide numerous online classes immediately to any independent retailer.


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If you do have a little tech savvy with applications like Premiere Pro or Final Cut or know someone who does and would like to host your own classes, there are any number of sites such as Teachable ( that would allow you to host your own classes. In addition, many of these sites, including Teachable, allow you to determine who can author your courses. So you could recruit teachers locally, give them permission to author online educational videos and then share revenue with them in the same way.




A final suggestion for how you can leverage online classes to compete with bigger competitors is turn some of your old monitors into instore class displays. We have all walked through chain craft stores and seen displays running videos on a loop. You can do this with your own online courses. We all have an old monitor lying around. There are 7” HDMI displays on Amazon for as little as $60 ( or 24” monitors that are highly reviewed in the low $100s ( You can covert one of these monitors to a workable computer with an ASUS Chromebit for $85 ( or an Intel Compute Stick for $127 ( Now your old monitor can connect to the internet and run your own online educational courses on a loop.


This is just one of many methods you as an independent retail store owner can adapt to this new  e-commerce education model with your brick and mortar store. Adding your own courses to your online presence or becoming an affiliate to sites like or create new revenue streams, offers new utility to your customers, and captures email addresses that you need to generate conversations with your clientele.


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About Joy Macdonell

Joy Macdonell ( is 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:  business  business tips  TNNANews 

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Falling in Love with Embroidery for the Home

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, September 28, 2017
Updated: Thursday, September 28, 2017

Falling in Love with Embroidery for the Home

 By Angela Davis

There is just something about that first nip of autumn in the air that causes the desire to nest and craft! Maybe it is in our DNA. Plus, there are feasts and holidays to prepare for! How nice would it be to have a chest filled with hand-embroidered pillows (both throw pillows and pillowcases), padded hangers, napkins, tablecloths and aprons, just ready to be brought out and enjoyed?

Whether you are shop owner, a teacher, a designer, or a wholesaler, fall is the perfect time to encourage your customers, students, buyers and vendors to pick up a hoop and embroider something lovely for fall. Below are some links to inspire you, and at the bottom is a class idea to help bring forth beautiful, textured fall heirlooms! Best of all, these links cover embroidery by hand and machine, using threads, flosses, yarn of many weights, as well as any number of other supplies and materials that you may already have around.

First, have you seen the cover of the September-October 2017 Piecework Magazine? It features a project that embodies everything to inspire a perfect fall day at home ─ felted slippers in a perfect fall color embellished with embroidered peacock feathers! 

Are you a machine embroiderer? These sources have most every design you will need for decorating table runners, placemats, napkins, aprons and the works! 

Designs by JuJu

Embroidery Designs

In addition, here is a project for hand-embroiderers of almost any skill level! 

Do you want to embroider on a knitted or crocheted piece, even a weaving? The ever-popular Dottie Angel, Tif Fussel, does what she calls Woolly Tattoos, and they are always peachy! Just pop over to the Woolly Tattoo Pinterest page for some incredible inspiration!

And we promised a class idea too. Perhaps my own first memory of embroidery was a fall project in elementary school. It involved a piece of burlap and a needle threaded with orange, olive, gold, scarlet, or beet colored yarn. Our teacher showed us how to knot the thread and pull the threaded needle through the burlap from the back at the bottom of a simple design that she had drawn on the burlap with a marker. From there we were off! I remember the room being very quiet as we were all very absorbed in watching the magic of the outline of a leaf as it appeared on our work. Yes, there were tangles and tails that were too short and needles that were too aggressively pulled and freed of their yarn, but overall it was a success. Our teacher collected our pieces and strung them all up on a long piece of kitchen twine while we were at lunch. We came back inside to see a very rustic bunting hanging across the reading area, which, to a child in Tucson, Arizona, was the closest thing to fall leaves that I might ever see. This has inspired the idea for a class. Well, this experience, coupled with an episode of The Loop and Bar podcast and the lovely Kate. 

Kate makes adorable Tea Time buntings with each of the blocks having an appliqued letter to spell out Tea Time on the front, and a pocket in the back for a packet of tea. Perhaps our rustic, embroidered fall version can hold individual packets of cider mix, hot chocolate, or another instant soup or beverage that one associates with fall.

Class: To Embroider - A Fall Café Bunting
Skill Level: All


5” x 7” rectangles of burlap
5” x 4” rectangle of burlap (for pocket backs)
Embroidery needles
Scraps of wool yarn in fall colors (mixed weights are fine)
A marker
Small scissors
Some embellishments like buttons, shells, feathers, beads, or sequins if you’d like
A piece of kitchen twine or (a long strip of torn cotton fabric) 


Draw or trace a fall shape onto a 5” x 7” piece of burlap, with the piece oriented so that the 5” ends are at the top and bottom.

Ideas for shapes include leaf, feather, harvest moon, squirrel, chrysanthemums, aster, acorn, raven, pumpkin, stag, fox, etc. (There are MANY free stencils for these shapes available online).

Embroider the design according to skill level. This is an excellent opportunity to learn new stitches! Embellish with buttons as desired too!

Place a 5” x 4” piece behind the embroidered piece and either whipstitch, blanket stitch, or sew with a running stitch along bottom and sides, creating a pocket on back.

When multiple pieces have been finished, string them together bunting style across the tops. Place packets of your favorite fall drinks in the pockets, hang, and enjoy!

Click here to see Kate’s adorable Tea Time Bunting.

About 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:  embroidery  TNNANews 

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How to Engage Your Community in an Event

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, September 14, 2017
Updated: Monday, September 11, 2017

How to Engage Your Community in an Event

 By Stephanie Shiman

Shop events are a great way to connect with your current customers and attract new ones, but how can you get the word out? Here are some ideas for publicizing your event and making it enjoyable for everyone.

Get the word out

Use your social media outlets and start mentioning the event two to three weeks in advance—or earlier if it’s a bigger event, like a weekend retreat.
Place eye-catching posters at other business or places where potential attendees will see them. Fabric stores, bead stores, and coffee shops are all good spots.
Put invitations in customers’ bags when they make purchases, perhaps including a coupon that is only valid during the event.
Post to your city or town’s online calendars. 
Consider cross-promoting with another small business. Will the local cupcake shop set up a table and sell goodies at your event? Will a local brewery or wine bar give out free samples? Help each other advertise and you will both benefit.
Signs and balloons outside your shop during the event will help get you noticed and make it easy for new customers to find you.

Provide some “shoppertainment”

Learning opportunities and demos during an event are great ways to get people excited to come and learn something new. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Set up a few tables and show simple but useful ideas and techniques, such as pom-pom and tassel making, needle felting and god’s eyes. A quick search on Pinterest for “simple yarn crafts” will bring up a wealth of clever ideas.
Coordinate vendor trunk shows with your event. Feature one brand or type of yarn during your event and have sample garments on hand for inspiration. Keep in mind that trunk shows often need to be reserved months in advance.
Feature a specific yarn’s story and help the customer get to know it better. For example, the story behind a hand-dyed yarn, or facts about raising alpacas and how their fiber is processed. When customers understand the story behind a product, they will more easily connect with it and have an appreciation for it.
Encourage your customers to bring their favorite knitted garments for a fashion show. Everyone loves show and tell!
Offer an exclusive buying opportunity during your event: a limited-run colorway or a flash sale.
Last, the classics are always a hit: free food and door prizes!

Learn all you can for the next event

Be sure to take many photos during the event and post them on social media. That will help people visualize what happened, even if they didn’t come. When you host the next event, they will have a concept that you can build on.

As soon as you can after the event is over, put everything you learned into a big envelope and label it “Next Event.” You can pull this information out next time, and it will give you a jump-start on planning, getting the word out, and providing a fabulous experience for you and your customers!

About Stephanie Shiman

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  business tips  TNNANews 

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Fall Fashion: Key Items for 2017

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, September 14, 2017
Updated: Monday, September 11, 2017

Fall Fashion: Key Items for 2017

 By Joy Macdonell

Fall is arriving and with it are fall fashions that focus on comfort and versatility. Sweater and dress silhouettes are slouchy and oversized, which means our knitting does not need to be perfect in fit. There is a minimalist fashion trend that focuses on monochromatic and ombre color transitions that feature texture achieved by stitch definition or cabling. In addition, roll-neck sweaters and the cropped top remain key layering pieces.

The Boxy Sweater

The boxy crew or cardigan is a versatile item that can be decorated with hand stitching, a textured pattern, garter stitch, or mismatched stripping. Bristol Ivy’s Newsom and Waits cardigans capture the season’s look in a boxy shape with a touch of perfectly placed detail.


The Cozy Wrap

Fall wraps with cozy warmth are the best for a chilly fall evening. Necklines are higher for the fall a cowl or scarf can add the decorative look of a higher neckline while keeping with the casual look of the season. Warm wools, alpaca, and mohair can create a cozy enveloping feel.

The Trifecta cowl by designer Angela Juergens made from Blue Sky Fibers Woolstock is a perfect example of a high neckline created by a shoulder cover that is perfect for the beginner and uses the fall fashion of hombre color. 


A Refined Cape

A refined cape is a transitional seasonal piece moving from a cool morning to a warm fall day. With an elongated shape and handkerchief hem, it is a wonderful garment for a minimalist look. This piece benefits from clean detailing in a plain fine wool, merino, cashmere, or cotton cashmere blend for a classic look.

Bernat’s Chill in the Air cape with cables is made from a drapey alpaca with clean long cable lines.

Cape Rodney by designer Ann Dewey is a soft, lightweight cape with a flattering front and a dramatic back. Made in the round with 12-ply Mohair by Bendigo Wollen Mills it is a beautiful piece that can be worn day or night. 


A Relaxed Cardigan

Oversized sweaters are key for the fall with relaxed and unstructured construction. Cardigans can do more than button: they can wrap, tie, snap, zip, pin, and belt. Make your cardigan fall boho with drop sleeves, fringing, embroidery, or fair Isle patterning for a colorful fall fashion.

Georgie by Kim Hargreaves features long lines with a little sleeve detail that can be pinned, belted, tied, or left open.


The Mock Crop

New for Fall 2017 is an alternative to the shrug. The cropped mock-neck or mini cape create excellent layers for the fall. These flexible pieces can be worn as shrugs or scarves. Designer Julie Turbide made this shrug/scarf garment from a Bernat Chunky fiber using a moss stitch and a large gauge in a seasonal green. 


The Mountain Caplelet by Purl Soho is another great example of a simple fall knit that covers the shoulders and features a high neckline. Made from Purl Soho’s Gentle Giant on size 19 needles, this would be a quick knit that would get tons of wear in the transitional fall season.


About the Author

Joy Macdonell ( is 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:  TNNANews  trends 

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Tips for Keeping Business Outreach Organized When You're Busy

Posted By TNNA HQ, Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 24, 2017

Tips for Keeping Business Outreach Organized When You're Busy

 By Stephanie Shiman

As the summer ends and the weather gets cooler, we enter into what is, for most, the busiest time of year in the needle industry. Add that to school starting, weather changing and holidays on the horizon; so much to keep up with! A little planning now can save you a lot of headache later when it comes to keeping marketing and customer relations organized during this busy season. Here are a few tips to help you manage your customer outreach.

Plan.  Make a calendar and map out the coming months.  Fill in holidays, special events, festivals, shows, sales and important shopping days, such as the three below:

Black Friday – November 24th

Small Business Saturday – November 25th

Cyber Monday – November 27th

Think about what you’d like focus on between now and your “end date”.  For example, using the winter holidays as the end date, September and October could be spent working on larger gift projects, November finishing last minute quick-knits and December choosing gifts for crafters—such as project bags, gift cards or other ideas that take little time to prepare.  What can be planned alongside the themes you choose -  classes?  Sales?  Webcasts? Pattern promotions?

Set realistic goals.  What goals do you have that you’d like to accomplish this busy season - better attendance at classes?  More sales from your website?  Research has shown that setting yourself two to three goals a day is more productive than giving yourself a long list for the week.  A short list helps keep goals manageable instead of overwhelming.  One acronym used in goal-setting is S.M.A.R.T.

Specific:  Be clear on what you want to accomplish.
Measurable:  How will you know when you’ve accomplished it?
Attainable:  Don’t set yourself up for failure by aiming too high.
Realistic:  Is what you’re working toward truly possible?
Time:  Attach a time frame, breaking bigger jobs into smaller tasks if necessary.

Keep this acronym in mind when planning.  Everyone loves that empowering feeling that comes with checking things off the to-do list; a carefully thought out list makes that easy! 

Schedule.  With most social media marketing platforms you can create posts in the present that can be scheduled to automatically post in the future.  This can help you stay currant with your customers even when you are at your busiest.  Set up as many of these as you can, saving time for on-the-fly posts as they occur.  The same can be done for email newsletters.  Even if you don’t have all of the details now, fill in as much as you can and save the drafts for later.

Divide and conquer! For larger projects and events, share the load with other members of your team!  Assigning tasks makes sure everything is dealt with and eliminates confusion regarding responsibility.  Whether you like pen and paper or project management apps such as Asana, it’s helpful to take the guesswork out of what needs to be done and who will be doing it.  

Ideally, applying any one (or more) of these tips will help you make it through the busy season with enough time to get to your own holiday craft projects!

About Stephanie Shiman

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  business tips  TNNANews 

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Contracts That Work For You and Your Business: Part II

Posted By TNNA Editor, Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 24, 2017

Contracts That Work For You and Your Business: Part II

 By Danielle Chalson

In my previous article, I touched on the collaborative nature of the needlearts industry and concluded that, when two parties want to work together, even a basic contract is a good idea. So how do you draft contract language if you’ve never done it before?

Chances are, you have done it before, simply by exchanging a series of emails with another person in which you both agree to complete a project together. But even if you haven’t done that before, or if you’re interested in a more structured approach, then you can start by answering The Five Ws and One H: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? I’ve provided some simple examples below. 


1. WHO are the parties to the contract?

A designer creating a design for a publisher?  A craft company selling a product to a craft store?  A teacher teaching a class at a TNNA or Stitches show?

This question tends to be more relevant when the contract is more complex or the financial stakes are higher (e.g., as part of a book contract).

2. WHAT is the contract for?

A design?  A series of classes?  A new book or magazine?  A new product? 

Always double-check this answer!  In my experience, a boilerplate contract can be sent with the wrong details for a design if it isn’t updated from one project to the next.

The answer to this question also may include WHAT happens if any of the terms of the contract are violated: if a deadline is missed, if one party fails to hold up its end of the bargain, or if a warranty term (e.g., the designer warrants to the publisher that the design does not infringe another designer’s intellectual property) is breached.  

3. WHEN is the contract in effect?

When is payment due?  When is the class?  When is the sample due?  When will the product hit the market?  What is the publication date?  When will the collaboration between the parties end?

The answer to this question is more complicated when license (e.g., copyright) terms are introduced.

4. WHERE is the contract in effect?

The United States?  Worldwide?  At a specific store, venue, or trade show?

The answer to this question is more complicated when license and venue terms are introduced.  The answers to WHEN and WHERE can be related, especially when license terms are included.

5. WHY make a contract?
Contracts can be useful for many reasons:

 - The parties may have many obligations to each other and a contract may make it easier to keep track of everyone’s responsibilities.

- The details can get confusing—or even be forgotten—if they have to be pieced together from various emails or letters over time.

- Contracts can force the parties to consider forgotten or overlooked details regarding timing and what happens in the event of a breach.

- The answer to this question may overlap with the WHAT question: what is the reason that the two parties want to collaborate?

6. HOW will the contract be fulfilled?

The answer to this question often involves spelling out each party’s responsibilities.  Who will complete the design?  Who will teach the class?  Who will provide the photography for the product?  Who is paying for the project?  How and when will payment be made?

The answers that you generate to these questions (a) should be included in your next contract, whether that “contract” is one paragraph or dozens of pages; and (b) may lead to further questions that the parties need to answer before they begin working together.  Clarifying each party’s expectations and roles up front is one of the greatest benefits to making a contract in the first place! 

In future articles, we will begin to explore terms that can complicate the contract-drafting process.  

About Danielle Chalson

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  business tips  TNNANews 

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How to Submit a Design for Publication

Posted By TNNA Editor, Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How to Submit a Design for Publication

 By Anita M. Wheeless

No matter what your needleart, you’ve probably looked through many books and magazines geared toward your craft. At some point, you’ll find yourself coming up with your own designs. Once you do, you’ll want your projects to take their rightful place in the published world! 

Fortunately, there are many craft publishers today, both in print and online, that are seeking submissions all the time. Submission guidelines for individual publications are often available online, as well. 

Submitting a project for publication, however, isn’t as easy as coming up with the original design. Just because you made something incredible doesn’t necessarily mean you can help someone else recreate it.


Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Start with a notebook. Detailed note taking while you’re working on a project is essential. Every piece of information, including precise measurements, specific colors and exact names of the materials you’ve used are vital. Be sure to write everything down. Here’s an example of just how detailed Handwoven magazine expects your submission: “Give complete information about each yarn (yd/lb, color numbers, manufacturer’s name, etc.) and exact amounts required. To calculate warp yardage, multiply the number of warp ends by the warp length. To calculate weft yardage, multiply the number of picks per inch by the woven length in inches, multiply the result by the width in the reed, and add 10% for weft take-up. Include with your article a 6” sample of each yarn used. Include floating selvedges in the total warp ends required by the project.”

Poorly written patterns can be extremely frustrating. In fact, this has become such an issue that the Craft Yarn Council actually established basic guidelines for project submissions. And, while these guidelines (available on the Craft Yarn Council’s website) were compiled specifically for knit and crochet designers, many of the suggestions are best practices for all needle-art project submissions. The Craft Yarn Council also has a list of designer pitfalls, which is a must-read!

Other points to keep in mind:

Follow the submission guidelines closely. If the editors only want one page, make sure your submission is only one page, and make sure that it contains all the elements they are seeking. 

Check for an editorial calendar. Many publications have editorial calendars that provide deadlines for future issues. Some offer themes and mood boards to help you visualize exactly what they want. Take the time to study these. If a publisher is looking for fall colors, don’t be disappointed if your beautiful, spring-garden motif gets rejected.

Don’t use discontinued colors or unidentifiable scraps from your stash for your project. How can your exact project be duplicated if the materials are not available?

Take clear, vivid photographs. This is critical. Set up a simple photo shoot. Find a clean, uncluttered place with great lighting. Avoid shadows. The best light is often found outside in the early morning or early evening hours. Add props that show off your piece to its greatest advantage. For instance, a beautifully textured sock looks best on a foot form (or real foot), rather than lying on a table. 

Do not post your project photos on social media. After all the hard work you’ve put into your project, you might be tempted to post the photographs all over, but don’t do it! Publications, in general, want an exclusive, never-before-seen-anywhere design. So don’t share your piece in public! 

Be professional. Read over your work before you send it off. Make sure to check your spelling, grammar and punctuation. 

Submit your project to one publisher at a time. It takes patience, but most publishers frown on simultaneous submissions. After all, how can your project be exclusive if you’ve sent it out to different editors at the same time? Wait until you get a negative response before you send it off again. And here’s hoping it won’t be negative!

Don’t get discouraged. Craft publishers need designs! Leisure Arts, Inc., a major craft publisher, has this to say, “We currently publish books and leaflets in virtually all craft categories. Since our beginning in 1971, we have depended on free-lance designers to create designs for these publications. If you have original, fresh, and trendy designs, patterns, or ideas, we would be interested in hearing from you “

Sources and Further Reading:


About Anita M. Wheeless

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  business tips  publishing  TNNANews 

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Engaging a New Generation of Stitchers

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, August 10, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 10, 2017

Engaging a New Generation of Stitchers

 By Beth Woolbright

A significant part of our mission at San Francisco School of Needlework and Design (SNAD) is to ensure hand embroidery’s future, which logically includes attracting new generations to this heritage craft.  Some people are under the impression that embroidery is old-fashioned, but one merely needs to look at fashion trends to see that stitch embellishment is en trend, and on a resurgence.  DIY-ers may start with YouTube videos; they often yearn to learn more.

Since SNAD opened its doors to the public last year, we have had some success in reaching younger adult audiences outside the traditional needlework world.  We use Facebook and Instagram often, as well as online community calendars and vibrant needlework examples on our website to generate excitement.  

For the students new to embroidery, we offer a three-hour Bite-size Embroidery for Beginner class with a choice of eight patterns, including a cat, cactus, sugar skull or owl.  To target the young and hip for these classes, SNAD CEO Ellice Sperber says, we have “simple silhouettes and shapes that fit into today’s social context.”  Studen
ts are given freedom to stitch however they like with the basic stitches they learn in the class.  As Ellice puts it, these fun, modern designs “give them the confidence to take the daylong classes in SNAD’s introductory series,” where they have a choice of a traditional or a contemporary pattern on a particular subject.  (SNAD’s contemporary giraffe design has over 800 followers on Facebook!)

Bringing guest instructors from the fashion industry is also a draw.  Our evening classes with Brooklyn-based artist Marie-Sophie Lockhart sold out.  For these events, the mostly millennial students sipped wine and stitched denim patches—or their own jeans—with her straightforward yet spirited—even tattoo-influenced—designs.  On her next visit, students can design with her to embellish other pieces of their wardrobe such as a hat or sneakers. 

We also take projects into the community as well as host community events here at the school.  For World Embroidery Day, on July 30, local park visitors were encouraged to celebrate by adding their own vibe to a giant 10 x 10 foot peace symbol, constructed entirely from repurposed jean pant legs. SNAD staff and volunteers were around to hand out needles, colored thread and applique shapes as well as to share embroidery wisdom.  Delighting us all, many young girls and boys were particularly smitten with adding their stitching to the project.  After learning a few basics, like running stitch and back stitch, they were thrilled to be able to add to their own designs.  

We regularly stay engaged with our audience on social media and with our students who come into SNAD. Building relationships and learning what matters to our community helps drive the programs we develop to offer content that appeals to students both new to the needle and experienced with the needle, as well as creating a context that is ageless for a time-honored craft.


About SNAD

San Francisco School of Needlework and Design was founded in 2015 by passionate embroiderers, Lucy Barter and Ellice Sperber. Ms. Barter was trained as an apprentice at the Royal School of Needlework in England and ran their courses in the United States for eight years. Ms. Sperber earned her Diploma at the Royal School of Needlework. The two met during the US-based courses and began envisioning a school of needlework that was not only based in the United States, but would bring a fresh and modern creativity to the art form.

The organization's goal is to inspire the next generation of hand-embroidery artisans, building on traditional knowledge with updated skill sets, expanded technical abilities and a fluent understanding of the vast methods.

Tags:  stitching  TNNANews 

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Reaching Teens Through Needlepoint

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, August 10, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 10, 2017

Reaching Teens Through Needlepoint

 By Janet M. Perry

Needlework is often associated with math; there are even books and websites on mathematical knitting. A project developed by a math professor has been one of the most popular Internet needlepoint projects ever. However, few of us think of that connection as a way to reach teens.

In 2015, Jenny Huff, a math teacher in Los Angeles, decided to share her love of needlepoint with her students by starting a needlepoint club in a school where 75% of the students qualify for lunch subsidies. Here is how she described her goals: “By introducing Needlepoint to my students it would create a new type of environment for them to relax and de-stress.”

Today the club has over 70 enthusiastic students who stitch, talk to each other and share their successes, including pictures and posts on Facebook. Yamile Morales Perez, the Vice President of the club for next year, recently shared pictures of a Jack O’Lantern she’s stitching this summer using a donated canvas. 

“It has made my summer more enjoyable and I am going more places with it looking for a quiet spot to do it,” she said. Her comments are typical of the club members.

The students have an enthusiasm for needlepoint that is infectious. The projects they stitch and share are beautiful, and everyone in the club is excited by the possibilities and grateful for the donations.

The club has spawned a Facebook group, Needlepoint Millennials. Its mission is “to bring the art of Needlepoint to the youth nationwide.” Adult members of the group are often looking for ways to create similar clubs in their areas.

The needlepoint industry has taken the club to their hearts. Local shops donate supplies. Stitchers and designers who are decluttering donate lovely hand-painted canvases. Others donate finds that are used to pay for finishing. One shop, The Wool & the Floss is Grosse Pointe, MI. had a garage sale and donated the proceeds to the group.
The generous donations allow these students to work with materials and designs that are out of their price range while, often, encouraging them to try new stitches, threads and customization.

Not only do the students have fun stitching the needlepoint, the results often become gifts as well. Last year a donation of Stitch & Zip coin purses were stitched and donated to the school’s annual toy drive.

If you’re interested in getting involved with Needlepoint Millennials and encouraging needlepoint to grow among the younger generations find them on their Facebook page. 

Please note: Because the school is closed until September, they will not be accepting donations until school reopens.


About the Author

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

Tags:  needlepoint  TNNANews 

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Ask Social: Instagram's New Features

Posted By TNNA HQ, Thursday, July 27, 2017
Updated: Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ask Social: Instagram's New Features

By Mari Chiba Luke and Vickie Howell

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

Dear Ask Social,


With all the live video options, I’m overwhelmed! I just read an article about Instagram Live, but why would I do Instagram Live instead of Facebook Live? How is it different?





Dear Over-grammed,

There are many social media platforms, and I totally understand that it’s overwhelming trying to figure out where to spend your precious time and resources. When it comes to Facebook vs. Instagram, quite simply that you most likely have different audiences on each channel. Although you’re likely to have some overlap, many people who are following you on Instagram probably aren’t on Facebook, and vice versa. Even if they are, depending on how much they’ve interacted with your account on each platform, the algorithms may or may not be showing your posts to them. By engaging on both platforms, you increase the chances you’ll reach your target audience.


Instagram Live is similar to Facebook Live: it will let followers know that you are currently live, allow for comments and live interaction, and you can save the video once you’re done broadcasting. Thus, many of the strategies you are using/considering for Facebook Live will also carry over to Instagram.


Here are some content ideas for your Instagram Live videos:

1.    Announcements - just as you announce a new product launch to your team; host a live video kick-off meeting with all your loyal followers.

2.    Early Access - to a sale or coupon code, reward your followers and let them know you value them.

3.    Behind the scenes tour - show your followers your studio, a new shipment coming in, a peek behind the curtain to how the magic is made.

4.    Host a live tutorial/lesson - teach your users something! Advice on using your products, crafting, or anything else that’s related to your brand, letting your expertise can shine.

Remember that your video should reward users for watching your video, provide something of value and incentivize them to watch again in the future.


Here are a few tips for getting the most bang for your buck with Instagram Live:

1.    Before you go live: post images on your feed and use Instagram Stories to tell your followers when you will be live with a teaser to what you’ll be talking about.

2.    Capture emails: ask users to submit a question to a specific email before you go live, or direct them to a link for the special offer you announce in your video. Now you’ve captured emails and you can incorporate these followers into your future marketing plans.


Happy Gramming!


Dear Ask Social,

I’ve been hearing a lot about Instagram Stories lately, but I don’t really get what the benefits of using it are. Can you please explain how Stories is any different than my regular feed, and why I should be using it to promote my business?





Dear Unclear,

Stories was created as Instagram’s response to the popularity of SnapChat. For those unfamiliar with the format, both of these app functions offer a form of micro-communication via low-quality, quick (15 second) videos, photos and GIFs which may or may not be doodled over with text, location tags, or silly overlays. These bits of content are only “live” for 24 hours, and then disappear into the web ether. The former means taking a lighthearted approach to content creation, the latter means that followers will want to check your feed regularly for fear of missing these little, insider’s nuggets!


The simple way to think about the differing purposes of Instagram streams versus stories is like this: whereas the smart approach for your Instagram photo feed is to be inspirational, the benefit of using Instagram Stories is to create a relatable face for your brand. What that means is that although the strategy for your feed might involve posting an ongoing series of beautifully curated and styled photos, your stories can be somewhat off-the-cuff, and with very little attention paid to aesthetic. Your stories can either be a direct extension of the activity on your feed, or a slight departure (as long as it’s still relatively on-topic.) This is a business owners' chance to let followers know that in addition to being an impressive brand, it’s also run by real people who are as passionate about needlearts as their fans. Stories can humanize your company, which opens the doors for consumers/followers to feel like your business is more than that — it’s also composed of virtual friends. When people feel like you’re accessible and authentic, it creates loyalty, which not only feels good — it’s also smart marketing!


Here are 3 post ideas you might play with for your business’ Instagram Stories:

1.       Behind the scenes photo of your messy warehouse or studio during a hectic time, with accompanying text like, “It may not be pretty here, right now but your new Brand X yarn will be GORGEOUS!”

2.       Quick video (you’ll need a friend to hold the camera for you) of your hands stitching with a link (just click the link icon at the top of the screen) to a corresponding pattern or blog tutorial.

3.       Use the Boomerang option to create a GIF of a product order going in and out of a mailbox so customers know their stuff is on their way!


Have fun — we can’t wait to see YOUR Stories!


About the Author

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

Tags:  business  business tips  Stitchcraft Marketing  TNNANews 

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