Cozy up to Crafty Saturday

Many thanks to my wonderful friend Diana from joliefemme for creating this lovely treasury and being one of the biggest supporters of Crafty Saturday Show and Sell!



'Cozy up to Crafty Saturday Show and Sell' by joliefemme

Chunky Infinity Scarf, Ready...
$22
2 Handcrafted golden African...
$44
valentine's gift for wom...
$26.75
red orange fused glass neckl...
$32
Small Fabric Storage Bin Bas...
$12
Antique R.S. Prussia Covered...
$14.5
Sacred Geometry, Sterling Si...
$25
Rustic Rooster, Primitive Ch...
$19.5
Children's mittens, kids...
$16
Man's Leather Bracelet B...
$44
Sale Autumn Road, Original I...
$150
Ceramic Condiment Dishes Blu...
$45
Tibetan Capped Coral Guru B...
$23
Angel Wing, Gold Bell, and Q...
$17
Angel Oranamnet, Angel Bookm...
$5
Cats' Love Greeting Card...
$4.25                           
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Knitting Pattern: Grammy's Favorite Potholders

One skein wonder - Grammy's favorite, easy to knit, potholders.

I have to thank my wonderful mother-in-law for providing the inspiration for this project! She recently sent me one of her favorite, handmade potholders. Hers was crocheted, likely by some lovely friend or family member. The pretty stripes and simple design inspired me to create my own knit version.

Don't blink, because the stitch pattern for this one is an easy linen stitch worked in the round.

Materials

It is very important to use 100% cotton yarn for this project. Acrylics could burn and/or melt.

Gauge


To ensure the fabric is nice and firm, you will need to use needles that are slightly smaller than recommended on the yarn label.

24 sts or 36 rows = 4 inches in linen stitch

Finished Dimensions


approximately 7 inches square

Abbreviations


co - cast on
k - knit
yf - yarn to the front
yb - yarn to the back

Directions


CO 119 sts leaving a long tail.

Place a stitch marker at the beginning of the round. However, there's no need to count rounds.

*K1, yf, sl 1, yb* repeat until the piece measures 1/4 of the total cast on length ending at the stitch marker. Continue in the stitch pattern for 30 stitches (that's 1/4 of a round in case you are wondering).

My cast on edge was 19 3/4 inches around, so I worked the stitch pattern until my piece was slightly less than 5 inches from the from the cast on edge.


Bind off all stitches leaving a long tail. Notice that the yarn tails are offset.

Fold the cast on edge in half so that the yarn tail is at the beginning of the fold. Like magic, the cast on and bound off edges form perpendicular diagonals on the front and back of the potholder.


Use the first  yarn tail to join the cast on edge. Then use the other yarn tail to join the bound off edge.

Of course, make sure to be careful when you are using potholders and working around hot pans and dishes in the kitchen because you don't want to burn yourself.

One skein wonder - Grammy's favorite, easy to knit, potholders.

A printable version of my Grammy's Favorite Potholders Pattern is available in my pattern shop. Happy knitting!


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Shop Talk: Handmade Designs & Deals

New craft inspired designs from The Chilly Dog on Zazzle

Between my blog, pattern writing and my online shop, I take hundreds of craft related pictures every month. Usually I am focused on the process used to create a specific item or the finished item itself, but sometimes my photos end up looking a little artsy. I noticed this recently when I took a close-up of a sweater I was knitting. The colors and geometry of the stitch pattern were quite striking

I headed over to Zazzle to design myself a phone case using the sweater picture. (Yes, I am a knitting nerd!) I have used Zazzle in the past to make shirts, mugs and even a cool pair of shoes for my daughter. After designing my case, I began wondering if it might be fun to post my funky new phone case for sale and my new Zazzle shop became a reality.

My goal is to add at least one new craft inspired design a month on cell phone cases, mugs, bags, shirts and more. Hopefully I'll be able to use the proceeds from my sales to offset some of my blog costs. I hope you'll bookmark the shop and visit from time to time to see what's new.

New Patterns Released


This month I also released my latest crochet pattern for a springy, triangle motif vest. The pattern is written for 3 sizes (up to 34 inch bust, 36-40 inch bust, 42-46 inch bust) and is available for purchase and instant download in my shop, on Ravelry and on Craftsy.




I haven't officially listed it in the shop yet, but if you are interested in purchasing the actual sweater shown (it's a small) or custom ordering it in a different color, you can e-mail me directly.


New Items Listed


I am in the process of listing 6 new crochet hook and knitting needle cases. You can find them, and a variety of other patterns in the "For Your Hooks and Needles" section of my shop.

Organize your knitting needles and crochet hook cases in handmade style


Sales!


Finally, if you are looking for some bargains, for a limited time I am celebrating 2016 with 16% off all items in the "From my Hooks and Needles" section of the shop. The discount is automatic and no coupon code is needed. This sale won't be around long, so don't miss the deals on hand knit and crocheted afghans, scarves, shawls, jewelry, washcloths and more.

Happy shopping!


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Crafty Saturday Favorites: Lavender

Crafty Saturday Show and Sell Favorites: Shop for one of a kind items and support small, handmade and vintage businesses



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Google AdSense, You're Fired!

5 reasons why I stopped using Google AdSense to monetize my craft blog

Most bloggers would likely agree that using Google AdSense is the easiest way to monetize a blog. You sign-up for the program, copy and paste the code for 1-3 ads onto your site and watch the money start rolling in, fractions of a penny at a time. As your readership grows, your earnings increase. It sounds like a great way to make a few extra bucks for doing what you love.

Why then, have I removed all Google AdSense ads from my blog?

Google AdSense is very unclear about how much you earn by placing ads on your site.


Honestly, when I started blogging and using AdSense I knew very little about ad networks and how they calculate what the ad space on your blog is worth. Some networks pay publishers a specific amount when someone clicks on an ad. Some pay  a specific amount based on the number of views the ad receives. Others pay a commission when someone clicks and purchases a product that was advertised. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these types of networks.

Unfortunately, the Google AdSense terms and conditions don't clearly specify exactly how a publishers earnings are calculated. Here's a snippet:
Subject to this Section 5 and Section 10 of these AdSense Terms, you will receive a payment related to the number of valid clicks on Ads displayed on your Properties, the number of valid impressions of Ads displayed on your Properties, or other valid events performed in connection with the display of Ads on your Properties, in each case as determined by Google.
Umm... I am providing some valuable property on my blog and Google gets to determine how much they are going to pay me but they don't have to tell me how much they're going to pay me. No thanks.

AdSense penalizes publishers for invalid clicks and impressions.

Google is very clear about their AdSense Program Policies. In theory, I agree with the policy regarding invalid clicks and impressions 100%. It's not fair for people to click on the ads placed on their own site just to make a few extra bucks. It's also not fair for people to try to inflate the number of page views they receive.

However, even though I have NEVER clicked on an AdSense ad from my own blog and I do not view my blog a million times a day to inflate my page views, I have had money deducted from my AdSense earnings because of invalid clicks and impressions. What's worse is that there was no explanation of why the money was deducted other than a statement that invalid clicks and impressions occurred.

AdSense has a high payment threshold.


In the US, you don't see a penny of your earnings until they reach $100 and then, you have to wait up to a month for funds to be deposited into your account. Unless your blog is getting well over 100,000 page views a month you can expect it to take months to reach the payment threshold. In AdSense's defense, many other ad networks have similar thresholds, but it just doesn't work for me.

My blog was filled with ads irrelevant to my readers.


I'm sure there's some magical algorithm used to determine which ads get shown on each site. Unfortunately I began to witness and receive complaints about ads that had nothing to do with my blog content (i.e. crafting, hobbies, tutorials), and more worrisome, ads that were simply not family friendly (think sleezy dating services or worse).

If I may or may not be earning ad revenue based on people clicking the ads on my blog, I don't want the space filled with junk.

More importantly, I value my readers and do not want to offend them with ads that are blatantly inappropriate.

It's deceptively difficult to restrict the ad content that is displayed.


To protect publishers like me, there are AdWords Policies stating what types of ads advertisers are allowed to share. There are even some topics that are classified as sensitive because not all publishers want to promote products or services that are not family friendly. I greatly appreciate that publishers are allowed to block the sensitive ad categories shown below.

There are also currently 262 other general categories for ads ranging from Arts & Entertainment to Occult & Paranormal and publishers are allowed to block up to 30 of these categories. As a publisher, you can even block ads for specific ad networks or even specific URLs.

Unfortunately, even when I blocked categories or URLs, the ads continued to appear on my blog. My only guess as to why blocked categories and ads continued to be shown was either because it takes an extended period of time for the blocks to take effect or advertisers (intentionally or unintentionally) categorize their ads incorrectly so they can reach a larger audience.

Either way, no matter how many times I see these notices on my AdSense dashboard, I am not going to approve this type of content.

5 reasons why I stopped using Google AdSense to monetize my craft blog

Farewell, Google AdSense. My readers are much more valuable than the meager earnings you sent my way.


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January Giveaway: Knit Orchid Beanie

It's giveaway time and this month I have a pretty, pink and purple, hand knit beanie to keep you cozy!

It's still pretty chilly in a lot of places, so this month I am giving away a soft and cozy knit beanie. I have to say that besides the pretty color, the tassel topper is my favorite part of this hat.

Good luck and stay warm!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Crafty Saturday Favorites: Lovely Landscapes

Crafty Saturday Show and Sell Favorites: Shop for one of a kind items and support small, handmade and vintage businesses


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Featured Artist: Your Niche Factory

One of my goals in 2016 is to introduce you to a new artist each month. To get things started, I feel lucky to present two creative English teachers from New Hampshire, Jessica Ryan and Sarah Fenerty, the owners of Your Niche Factory on Etsy.

What do you create?

Jess: Sarah is a truly fantastic artist, so we had the idea to start putting her art on cards, totes, shirts and mouse pads. I just started making headbands, and I love it!

What is your favorite craft or hobby and how did you learn it?

Jess: My favorite hobby is writing. It’s something that has been just for me, and I’ve been doing it since I can remember. I’ve gotten pretty crafty since getting out of college, so I have a knack for making headbands and homemade costumes. It’s definitely been a lot of trial and error!

Sarah: I have too many! I love cooking, reading, writing, and playing the piano, but my art is by far my favorite. There's nothing better than having a blank canvas in front of you. I guess I've just been drawing since I was little. I'm constantly inspired by other artists and illustrators.

When did you realize your creative passion?

Jess: I definitely started feeling more of a passion when I got out of college. I really focused on writing for so long, and it was just a breath of fresh air to try something new. I didn’t know how much I would enjoy this and running a shop until I met Sarah. She definitely lit a fire in me.

Sarah: That's something that has always been there- my imagination has always been running rampant. I think when I was younger and realized I could draw the world in whatever form I wanted, it completely changed the way I saw everything. Later when my family and friends took an interest in my art, it only encouraged that passion. It's a great feeling know that people find joy in something that came from my head. Jess was the push I needed to share it with a larger platform.
What or who inspires you in your crafting?

Jess: I am definitely inspired by literature. My favorite series of all time is Harry Potter, so a lot of the graphics and script reflect that.

Sarah: I try to be open to as many things as possible when it comes to finding inspiration. Lately, animals and music have played a big role in my artwork. I'm obsessed with elephants so they come about pretty frequently in my illustration work. Dreams are another fun inspiration- whether they're mine or friends'!
What’s your philosophy about crafting and/or life?

Jess: It would definitely be to always remember the reasons we started this in the first place. We wanted to do something different, and we wanted to spread beautiful art to others.

Sarah: I think my philosophy has to do something with people needing to find that creative outlet that provides them with both happiness and release. Life gets so chaotic, and it's an amazing thing to take a step back from it and get lost in whatever it is you love to do-whether its drawing, carving, knitting, gardening, cooking, making music, etc. I hate when people say they don't have a creative bone in their body. We all do! You've just got to tap into it.

Is crafting a hobby, business, or something in between?

Jess: It definitely started out as a hobby, but as we got more and more into designing graphics and planning for the future, it turned into more of a business venture. We still have full-time teaching jobs, so we have definitely had to find a delicate balance between Your Niche Factory and teaching.

How did you choose your brand or shop name?

Sarah: What I love about our shop is that we offer a wide range of products and designs- stuff for everyone. We all have our quirky and unique interests, and it's our goal to produce products that will appeal to people with niche interests. A niche is that special, comfortable place you find for yourself, so we thought why not apply that to the hobbies and interests of our consumers- a store that caters to your own niche in the world.



What is a typical day for you?

Jess: In a typical day, I wake up early to spend a bit of time with my dog and boyfriend before I have to leave for work and then I spend the day teaching my quirky, crazy and lovable sophomores and seniors. When I get home, I try to go to the gym; I’ve definitely been making an effort to be healthier lately. After all of that, I work on things for Your Niche Factory for a couple of hours, while my dog patiently (not patiently at all) waits for me to give him all of my attention.

Sarah: A typical day for me consists of a busy and entertaining day at school with my awesome kids, lots of talking with both my people at school and at home, a few cups of great coffee, some yoga, and at least one new sketch. Guilty of binge watching Netflix in between drawing and grading.

What is an ideal day for you?

Jess: An ideal day would be a day I can see my family and just take a minute to breath. It would include my dog because I am obsessed with him.

Sarah: An ideal day would consist of waking up not tired, getting in some early morning drawing, seeing some good friends and family, grabbing a coffee at a cozy bookstore, cooking an awesome meal, and then hanging out around a bonfire.
What projects are you the most proud of?

Jess: I love the “I Believe In Magic” shirt and tote. It sums up so much in a simple phrase.

Sarah: That's a tough question! I'd have to say the drawings I've made special for family and friends that later get reproduced for the store. So many of them have special meaning.

What is the strangest thing you have ever created?

Sarah: Oh, that would be the ceramic angel I made for my mom my senior year in art class. It's awful, seriously the ugliest thing you've seen. She still has it in a curio cabinet, and I've been trying to break it for years.
How do you deal with crafting failures?

Jess: When we started this, we knew there would be failures, but we’ve taken it all in stride. We look at what worked and what didn’t and move forward from there, and we usually get a pretty funny story out of the failures.

Have you ever experienced a dry spell when you put your crafting aside? If so, what brought you back to crafting?

Sarah: There have been several times where I've fallen off the band wagon because no ideas are coming to mind. Usually when an event occurs that elicits a lot of emotion for me, I'll find myself reading from my sketchbook. I'm an emotional person so that dry spells never last too long, haha.

What keeps you busy when you are not creating?

Jess: Teaching keeps me super busy. When we are on school vacations, I get to spend a lot of time with my dog and family. I feel like I am always on the move in terms of having places to go, so I usually try to make sure I just have some “me time” in my schedule.

Sarah: Like Jess said, teaching doesn't ever let you feel not busy while school is in session. When I do have downtime, I'm big into socializing, trying new recipes, and catching up on my personal reading while in the bathtub. I also love to travel.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your craft, or business tips to help others with small crafting businesses?

Jess: We do what we love, and we hope those who visit our shop love what they see. I think my tip would be to not get discouraged and to keep trying to get your name out there. Keep doing what you love!

Stay Connected with Your Niche Factory

YourNicheFactory on Etsy
YourNicheFactory on Facebook
@yournichefactory on Instagram
Pins from Your Niche Factory










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How Does Knitting Needle Size Impact Gauge?

How does knitting needle size impact gauge? Using the stitch/row ratio to find a yarn that will create the required gaugeI have been knitting for many years and for me, one of the most dreaded aspects to creating any knit project is making a gauge swatch. Yes, I know that if I want my knitting to turn out exactly like the pattern I am following, it's really important to check my gauge before I start working. But I'll be very honest here, if I am making something that is not terribly size sensitive (i.e. blanket, scarf, shawl...) I frequently skip the gauge swatch.

Knowing that almost every person who has ever cast on a single stitch hates the task of swatching as much as I do, I decided to do a little experiment to see how needle size actually effects gauge (number of stitches or rows per inch, or more frequently per 4 in/10 cm).

I started with a skein of Lion Brand Baby Soft yarn in pastel print. This is a Light-3 yarn and the recommended gauge using US size 6 (4 mm) knitting needles is 22 sts or 30 rows = 4 inches or 10 cm.

How does knitting needle size impact gauge? Using the stitch/row ratio to find a yarn that will create the required gauge

Procedure

I knit one square with the recommended needle size, four swatches with larger needles and four swatches with smaller needles.

All my swatches are 22 sts wide by 30 rows high with a narrow seed stitch border around each swatch. I added the border just to make it easier to measure the finished pieces without having to worry about rolled up edges. The border is not included in my measurements.

Results

How does knitting needle size impact gauge? Using the stitch/row ratio to find a yarn that will create the required gauge

Conclusion

It's no surprise that using smaller knitting needles yielded smaller swatches and larger needles yielded larger swatches. For this weight of yarn (Light-3), every 0.25 mm change in needle diameter, changes the swatch size by between 1/8 - 1/4 inch. Meaning that for each 0.25 mm change in needle diameter, you'll need to increase or decrease 0-1 sts and 1-2 rows to knit a 4 inch swatch.

However, my biggest takeaway from this experiment is that no matter what needle size was used, every swatch remained mostly square. (Maybe this should have been pretty obvious, but I was a little surprised.)

But what does that mean in the real world the yarn shop?

In a perfect world, if you want to knit an item with a different yarn than stated in a pattern, you would be able to find one in the perfect color and the same weight (lace-0, super fine-1, fine-2, light-3, medium-4, bulky-5, super bulky-6) with the exact same recommended gauge, but we all know that NEVER happens.

So, when you are looking for a substitute yarn, begin by calculating the necessary stitch/row ratio. For example, the yarn I used recommended 22 sts and 30 rows = 4 inches so the stitch/row ratio would be 22/30 or 0.73.

If you can't find a similar weight yarn that has the required gauge or stitch/row ratio, look for a yarn one weight higher or lower that has a similar stitch/row ratio.

The good news is, you should be able to get the gauge you need by using slightly smaller or larger needles than recommended on the yarn label. The bad news is you'll need to knit a gauge swatch before you start your project to make sure everything is sized perfectly. Sorry :(

One final note, if you are following a pattern, I wouldn't recommend substituting a yarn that is more than one weight class higher or lower, especially for items like sweaters where there is a lot of shaping and size really does matter. Even if the stitch/row ratio is similar to what is called for in the gauge, and you can use a larger or smaller needle to obtain the right gauge, the fabric you knit may be too firm or too relaxed to hang properly.

Happy knitting!


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Crafty Saturday Favorites: Silver Shimmer

Crafty Saturday Show and Sell Favorites: Shop for one of a kind items and support small, handmade and vintage businesses


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Knitting Pattern: Simple Reversible Boot Cuffs

This easy to knit boot cuff pattern is a simple stash buster projectOver the holidays, I had the cutest outfit planned for a work event and found myself in need of a set of boot cuffs to complete my look. Since I am a knitting geek, I immediately raided my yarn stash to see what I could whip up. This wasn't a project I ever intended to blog about.

In my creative frenzy, I was indecisive about what color yarn I should use, mainly because I didn't think I had enough of either of the yarns I liked. Then I had an epiphany, why not use both colors! That way, later, the cuff could be reversed for different outfits.

My cuffs are about 5 inches wide by 8 inches long. I used Lion Brand Jiffy Yarn and Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool on US size 10 knitting needles and cast on 44 sts, but you can easily adapt this pattern to use any color or weight yarn for a quick and easy stash buster project that will accommodate super skinny or fabulously full legs.

This easy to knit boot cuff pattern is a simple stash buster project

Materials


  • two colors of leftover yarn from your stash (They should be a similar yarn weight.)
  • dpn or circular knitting needles appropriate for the weight of your yarn


Directions


This design is worked in the round. With your first color, co any multiple of 4 sts. The length of the cast on edge should be about 3/4 of the circumference of your leg.

Rnd 1: *k3, p1* around
Rnd 2: *k1, sl 1, k1, p1* around

Repeat Rnd 1-2 until piece measures 3-4 inches from cast on edge.

Switch to the second color and work Rnd 1-2 for an additional 3-4 inches.

Bind off.

I ended up wearing my cuffs with the lighter side showing because it matched my poncho, but I'll definitely try the darker color with another outfit.

This easy to knit boot cuff pattern is a simple stash buster project


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