Canada Post does not make shipping in or from Canada easy or cost effective for artisans.
I started my fibre business by selling handmade items but most items didn't fit in Canada Post's slot of doom, and parcel delivery was way too expensive. So I switched to designing and selling digital patterns.
But now that I have discovered my love of hand-dying yarn, I have had to learn how to work with Canada Post because they are my only option. (I know if you live in other centres across Canada you have Chit Chats, but they only have a few locations in Canada.)
I started by taking my parcels to the Post Office and having them ship it for me. This is not recommended. I have found that if I go to different Canada Post locations I am being charged a variety of amounts. I finally found one location that I liked working with and they knew me and it was great, and then the location closed. So I was forced to find an alternative.
I found it was better to organize my packages and ship from my home, so I created a little shipping station (isn't this cart I found adorable!) and it has made my life so much easier.
Let's start with what you need to get started with shipping with Canada Post.
Begin by packaging your item. Don't over package, because you literally pay for it. When I first started shipping I was using bubble padded envelopes. I was paying extra for the extra packaging. I am shipping yarn which needs to be in a sealed package but it isn't going to break if it is dropped or tossed. ?
So I switched to a durable bag with a good seal and it saved me at least $2.00 per item shipped because the package isn't as bulky. A Canadian company that produces sustainable packaging is https://www.friendlymailer.com/
If you have any other recommendation please let me know!!!
By creating an online account with Canada Post you automatically receive a shipping discount. And as your business grows and you do more shipping, the discount continues to grow. (Sounds good to me!)
Once you have your account and you are ready to ship your item you start by entering the name and address of the person you are shipping to. HINT: you have the option to save this information, if you have a fan of your items just save their info and it makes shipping to your favourite customer easier and quicker!
Next you will be asked the weight and measurements of your package. This digital scale works for packages and letter mail which I appreciated and it was $35 from Amazon. For measuring the height, width and length of the item I just use my fabric measuring tape which you can find under $5.
Once you have all your details entered in on the Canada Post website it will give you the option of how you want to send it and how quick you want it to get there. With the Canada Post account you always have $100 of insurance, but more is available if you need it.
Once your shipping preference is selected you are forwarded to the payment section where you pay with a credit card.
After payment is successful - you are given a pdf to open which has your shipping label. When I first started shipping I thought you had to purchase one of those fancy label printers, but my new venture could not afford a $300 label printer and I didn't want to figure out new software. So I printed the label on regular printer paper and then I used packing tape to stick it to the top of the package.
It doesn't have to cost a lot to get started, and it is so easy to prepare your packages in the comfort of your home. If I have a few packages I will just drop them off at a postal counter and all they have to do is scan them. If I have a lot being shipped out I can arrange a pick up from Canada Post at my front door.
Also remember from a marketing stand point that you need to think about your presentation as well. I always included a thank you note with my orders. I just made something up on CANVA and then printed it on card stock and I write a short note to each customer.
**The best orders to receive are repeat orders.
I hope this relieves some of the pressure of shipping with Canada Post and this information is a benefit to your business, by saving some time in the shipping process you will have more time to create!
Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed, and rearranged to relocate us to the place we are meant to be.
We are facing a new reality on so many levels.
My husband and I have joked so many times that we wish the world would stop so that everything would slow down. I would have never imagined that a pandemic that may essentially kill thousands of people would cause this to happen.
I have been in a bit of shock trying to wrap my brain around everything that is happening.
Do you know that the bestselling books on amazon right now are homeschooling books? That is exciting for me, it shows what people are putting as priorities. I have been so disappointed with the "self-help" books that have been on the bestsellers list - complete drivel. Let's get our minds growing 🌱
A few takeaways:
What are your takeaways? How can you make the most of this time?
There were a few students that weren't too sure about the project. But after they got the sequence down they were determined to complete the project. Once a few of the students were focused that encouraged most to keep moving forward.
This project gave them a purpose.
I can't wait to teach this workshop again!!
Interested in hosting a workshop? Please contact me and I would like to see how we can make it happen.
An easy chevron pattern that works up quickly.
Two sizes available in the pattern: lap blanket & throw.
The Bernadette Cowl is a lightweight cowl that fits nicely under a fall jacket. It is an easy crochet pattern that works up quickly with its repetitive rounds, with a hidden seam.
The yarn is from the new Living Skies Fibre Studio Aspen collection. Light Fingering weight, 75% Merino, 25% Nylon, 462 yards / 100 grams. All Living Skies Fibre Studio yarns are available on Etsy.
The pattern is now available on Ravelry and Etsy.
I am so excited to introduce you to my new line of hand-dyed yarn!!!!
It will make it's debut at the Biggar Fibre Fair in Saskatchewan! The online store will open this summer!
I have a degree in Marketing and Communications, I am not saying that I am an expert but I have learned a few lessons along the way to get where I am today. In December I quit my office job to become a full time fiber artisan. I make money crocheting. Not enough to retire on, but enough to pay for groceries. ?
So here are a few pointers so that you can skip learning the hard way and start selling your crochet items right away.
First you need to start with the 4 P's of marketing: Product, Price, Place & Promotion.
Let's start with your product. What are you going to make? What are you good at making? I started with making scarves and toques. I made a ton of toques, some special order and a lot for craft shows. Toques drove me crazy! Customers were so picky - it drove me nuts.
At craft fairs so many people would try on the hats that I got worried about lice and even a few of them were stolen because I would be busy helping one customer and someone asking to try one on and someone would walk away with my item on their head. I did not want to make any more toques.
I knew that wasn't my thing, so I kept creating until I found what I liked to make and wear. I choose to use higher end yarn and make more elegant items that I have designed myself. I did not want to compete with the Grandmas and their dishcloths and baby hats. I wanted to be different.
Discover what you like to do, do it well and make it unique.
Your Business Name
I started with another name and it just wasn't suited to what I create. So I thought a lot and asked a few people and came up with Living Skies Crochet. Why that name? I live in Saskatchewan, Canada. Saskatchewan is called the Land of the Living Skies due to our huge open skies, Northern Lights displays and amazing sunsets.
Saskatchewan has winter for at least six months of the year, that is a lot of time to wear crocheted items. Because I chose a name that reflects where I live I have received a lot of press coverage, lots of local sales and even worldwide sales because they think Saskatchewan is exotic for crochet designing? My name change has increased my sales and exposure exponentially.
*Update: my name has changed to Living Skies Fibre Studio. You can read about why here.
When choosing a name be sure to google it. You do not want to be the 500th Happy Hooker shop. Find something that is unique, ask for help. Don't worry it will come; until then keep creating you have a shop to fill.
After you have your name, create a logo and use the same one everywhere. Facebook, your website, Etsy, Ravelry keep it consistent.
I am really frustrated with people undervaluing their items. Just because you are sitting watching TV when you are crocheting items does not mean that your time should not be figured into the cost.
Your work is hand-made and unique, customers will recognize the quality and be willing to pay for it.
Don't undervalue it or you will be crocheting like a mad woman trying to keep up to orders and you will feel like you are not making any money.
I charge more than most, but after people feel the quality of the yarn and see the handmade quality of the item I have no problem with purchases and repeat customers.
This has lots of variables.
I have attended a lot of craft shows and farmers markets. This is where you need to be careful and plan well. The majority that I have attended in the past have been a waste of time and money.
What to consider:
Who are your buyers (this will depend on your prices), who is your competition, what advertising does the sale do? If you have never heard of the sale before, most likely no one else has either. There is nothing worse than sitting there all day with no customers. (at least you can get some crocheting done?)
Be over prepared and have the best looking booth. Customers will decide if they will look at your merchandise based on their first impression of your booth. I created a board on Pinterest that has a lot of great ideas. Click on it and check it out.
I did not want to waste my time on a table at yet another craft fair but I didn't want to spend hundreds on a booth at a big show. So I compromised and paid $60 for a booth at a local Christmas Artisan Market. This is a juried show and because I sell higher end items I thought this would be a perfect fit. I advertised on my Facebook page and my website that I would be there and where I would be located and it was my best sale ever! The market was open Friday from 4-9 and Saturday 10-5 and I made $1,000.
After Friday night I had sold out of my Madison Necklace design and Gwendolyn Cowl designs, I had no idea what a big hit they would be. I stayed up till 2am to make more for the next day. All day Saturday I crocheted while I was at my table, I was selling them before I had them made. My table was practically sold out by 2pm. I did end up taking pre-orders with deposits at the sale.
**All it took was figuring out what I am selling and doing it well in the right location. That market continues to give me sales and people still call and ask for items. I can't wait to see what happens this year! (*update I made 300% more my second year because of return customer and I also took pre-orders that I had customers pick up at the show - it saved a lot of running around and then they purchased from other booths as well. Supporting each other is really important)
I have also done Farmers Markets, you can read about my experience here.
A website: I have been a website designer in the past and I now only use Weebly. It is so easy! All you do is pick a template and click and drag boxes where you want add text, pictures, forms, video, you name it. The free version gives you what you need. I highly recommend it, I have designed 15 websites using it and I do not know anything easier.
Social Media: Facebook is a must, it is how you can keep in contact your customers and showcase new items. Remember your crochet business is a page not a person or a group.
Twitter is something that I haven't spent a lot of time on. I haven't seen much return using it, I have it linked with Facebook and Instagram but I usually just get people trying to sell me something. It is more a news source.
Instagram has worked for a lot of people, my friend Becky grew her leather cuff business through her blog and Instagram. It has been incredible to watch - you can purchase custom leather cuffs from so many people on Etsy and at a cheaper price but Becky's sales continue to grow. Why? Because via social media her customers are connecting with her and therefore want something that her hands have created. Becky also spends a lot of time praying for her business and listening to God for direction. Being grounded is a good place to be. You can find me on Instagram here.
With all social media it is something that you have to invest time in and you have to keep posting. Facebook pages makes it easy with scheduled postings. You can sit down for 10 minutes and create a full week of Facebook posts. (I teach a full hour class on just this subject.)
Another avenue that has worked for me is selling via consignment at local Art Galleries. I do not need to sit anywhere for hours, other people sell my items for me. Win, Win! Again going back to choosing the right name, I now sell at Tourism gift shops because of my Saskatchewan themed name.
Etsy: I sell a lot of patterns via my Etsy shop. Shipping from Canada is so expensive that I usually loose money when I ship a finished item. If you are going to have an Etsy shop you need to have merchandise. Fill it up! Make sure you have used all your search tags when you are listing. Have a great description and watch your stats. When are people looking, what keywords are they using to find your item. Build on those. If you see that one item is getting more visits than others make that item in a variety of colors.
If you want to start an Etsy shop, CLICK HERE and receive your first 40 listings for free!
Ravelry- I love to design crochet patterns, Ravelry gives me the option to either sell or offer my patterns for free. It is a great place to hang out with fellow fiber artisans. Anyone involved in this craft should be hanging out on Ravelry.
Listening to your customers is key! Let them help guide and grow your business.
This is where you spend your money wisely. One of the best investments I made in this area is my mannequin for $80 from Winners. I have a friend that will come and be my model and all she requires for payment is a free item or two. But my mannequin in always ready for a picture. I use it for product shots (great photography = more sales on Etsy and Ravelry) and it is also great for driving traffic to my table at craft shows. At craft shows I change the item on the mannequin often but usually whatever the mannequin is wearing sells faster (especially if the item is blue, a little something that I have noticed).
Watermark all your pictures, I use Canva. This way if someone likes your item so much and they want to steal your picture your name is on it. Canva is great because it sizes what you need for each social media and has fabulous templates to make it look professional. Represent your business well.
Facebook giveaways may be good to drive a bit of traffic to your page but those likes are usually people wanting something for free not people who will be willing to put money into something that you are selling. I have also paid for advertising without much return. I have taken a few "Facebook" classes and they say that the first 2,000 likes are the hardest and then it gets easier. I now have over 7,000 followers on Facebook and it is still work to keep engaged with everyone. But I have such encouraging and supportive people on my page that I just love hanging out with them.
I teach crochet classes at the local arts center and fibre festivals. This is a great way to connect with other fiber artisans in my community but it also helps build my network. My students are also people I have test my patterns and help me in the future. A support system is always a good idea.
I am a member of Handmade Saskatchewan, The Saskatchewan Craft Council and The Crochet Guild of America. There are many networking opportunities on Etsy and Ravelry. Connect, get to know people.
Always wear your own items when possible. I get stopped and asked all the time. Usually it is because people notice my labels, they ask what store I purchased it from. It is exciting to tell people that it is my own design!
I use the Square for all my purchases. This has made keeping track of sales so much easier! I use it for not only credit card sales but every sale. It gives me tons of stats about my sales and I have to the option to input what payment, how they paid and to send receipts all from my phone, where ever I am. I love this! To receive $1,000 free processing fees, sign up HERE.
In conclusion, selling crocheting for a profit is not for everyone. It takes a lot of work and commitment. I have had to tell myself over and over again that it is okay that I am crocheting and watching tv in the middle of the day because it is my job. Sometimes I get tired of crocheting but I know that I have to stick with it.
I hope that I was able to share a few new things for you, good luck with your endeavor!
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I just released the Rosemary Shawl pattern. I have always wanted a nice chunky shawl and I love working with James C. Brett yarns. This shawl worked up quickly and has a simple repeat pattern that makes it an easy project to take on the go.
I am so excited to be teaching at the Biggar Fibre Fair on Saturday, June 8th, 2019!
Here is the workshop info:
Carolyn chooses to live life bravely - which has led her to write a National award winning book, travel across Canada teaching and encouraging women and start her own creative business as a crochet designer and yarn dyer at Living Skies Fibre Studio in Prince Albert, SK.
Carolyn’s education in marketing and communications has helped her achieve success in her business - through her mistakes, trials and success she now coaches other creatives to get their business off the ground, a breath new life or take it to the next level as she encourages, equips and empowers you to live your bravest life.
If you would like to know more about being Creatively Equipped CLICK HERE.
I have so missed connecting with my fibre community.
After my accident I gave up on this community (which was a really bad choice on my part) - I had thousands of friends on my email list and I deleted them all. ☹
Now that I am designing and teaching again I want to reconnect with the community that supported me through so much through the years.
2018 brought me back to the fibre world! It was so rewarding to be crocheting and creating again.
After my accident I didn’t think I would ever be in this place again and to be able to post patterns and teach classes was a highlight of my year.
Thank you so much for your support and encouragement throughout the year. ? The fibre community is a unique environment that I am so thankful for.
2019 has so many opportunities that I can’t wait to share with you. I am collaborating with a few different yarn companies, watch for more designs ? and February is going to hold something very special for you. I am going to be doing a joint workshop with my personal business, it is going to involve encouragement and crochet - I can't wait to share it with you. If you want to find out first please sign up for the emails and you will have the first opportunity to join me in February.
I could barely sleep last night in anticipation for what 2019 has in store. Get your hooks ready for a new year, new projects and new discoveries.
I can't wait to show you all the new patterns for 2019!
Pinterest is full of color palettes that have already been created to help inspire your next project.
This works so well for granny square combinations, striped blankets, or just finding the perfect combo to match your favorite outfit.
Enjoy and happy creating!
I have wanted an elegant shawl for a while and now I have designed one that I want to wear everyday! It is made with Lion Brand Yarn - Shawl in a Ball. There are so many colours that I will be creating a few more to go with every outfit!
It is an easy pattern that works up quickly once you get the repeated pattern going. Have fun and please share your photos with me on Facebook and Instagram!
Making your own fur pom poms is easier than you think. In this quick tutorial I show you how you can make them in any colour to add that special flair to your crochet or knit projects.
The materials list can be downloaded and printed at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!
Be sure to tag me in your photos on Facebook and Instagram so I can see your talent!
The Waverly Scarf has to be one of my favourite designs. It was so fun to work up and the Loops & Thread Charisma Tweed yarn is so beautiful to work with.
I designed this pattern for my crochet class to teach increases and decreases and it turned out beautiful! Who doesn't love a simple chevron pattern?
This past weekend I took it on an adventure as my family went for a hike in Prince Albert National Park. The temperature was hovering around the zero mark so the scarf served it's purpose well.
I have already gone back to the store to purchase more of this yarn to work up another scarf. I think a few friends and family may be receiving this as a gift this Christmas.
I love fall and adding crochet decor pieces is one of my favorite ways to decorate.
In the past I designed a fall wreath and this year it is pumpkins! As soon as I posted this photo to Instagram it got a lot of attention. So I quickly wrote up the pattern and posted it on Ravelry so everyone can enjoy decorating with fibre pumpkins and use up some of that yarn stash.
It is a quick and simple pattern and can be adjusted to make your pumpkins in various sizes with whatever yarn you want to create with. The creases can be made with twine or matching yarn and add a little nature or a cinnamon stick to the top and you have a rustic woven pumpkin.
Sometimes life gives you an anniversary date that you didn't choose or ask for. Today is that date. Three years ago as I picked up my daughter from school to go to the craft store we were hit by a drunk driver.
That moment has changed so much about me. These experiences give you a different perspective on how you do life. Three years later I can still see the daily impact this accident has on my life, with consistent pain and lack of mobility. The concussion has left me with blanks in my memory, ongoing headaches and foggy thoughts.
Right after my accident I did go through a period of feelings of pity and despair. I was a busy on the go person, I was on a few boards, taught crochet classes at the Arts Centre and Living Skies Crochet was doing well as I was designing for magazines and yarn companies were just sending me yarn.
The accident made that impossible, I taught a crochet class and they should all get their money back because I have no idea what I taught them. Everything became difficult, I had no energy, I couldn't complete a sentence and choosing rest was a difficult choice for me. I had to step away from everything, my concussion was not healing and I was now going through a series of tests to find out what was going on.
It was at this time that I decided to close Living Skies Crochet. Someone with a concussion should not be making decisions for themselves. There was not a lot of rationale thinking going on, I didn't talk to my husband about it, I just deleted everything. Looking back I wish I made a different decision - but that is the choice we make and have to live with and learn from.
Now here we are three years later and I am trying to break back into the crochet market.
My Living Skies Crochet name was taken by a third party who won't release it. So I have changed my name to Living Skies Fibre Studio, which is a good change because it will now include the yarn dyeing that will soon be available. I am designing patterns but it is a slower process - I have so many designs written down but it is hard to make them. My shoulder can only handle short periods of crocheting. I know that I am so much further along than I was just last year at this time and I year from now I will be in an even better place.
I want to thank those that have stuck with me on this journey, I really appreciate your support and I am looking forward to designing more crochet patterns for you to enjoy.
Please continue to join me on this journey - I will be blogging more in this space and you can find me on Instagram and Facebook!
I was recently approached by my city's arts and culture director about doing a yarn bombing in our city's downtown core. It didn't take me long to say "Yes!"
I put out a Facebook post and the fibre community came through with over 100 squares that were quickly donated. It was perfectly timed with our Downtown Art Walk and fall classes starting up at the Arts Centre - where I get to teach crochet classes!!!
Have you ever participated in a Yarn Bombing? I would love to see pictures.
Here is a little about the yarn I used and my newest design the Celeste Shawl.
I love new fun yarn and the Silk Sari from Red Heart Yarns is definitely a fun yarn to work with. I used the color Ravishing and paired it with Red Heart Soft in toast, teal and berry. The silk sari yarn could be used in a variety of ways - I would love to make a beach bag and even slippers. The variety of colors and the texture is so unique!
As I was creating the Celeste Shawl I had many more design ideas going through my mind. You will definitely be seeing more designs using this yarn from Living Skies Crochet!
I am thrilled with the final design of the Celeste Shawl! To add a bit of boho flair I added a leather lace and stripes of the silk sari yarn as the tie and added hammered metal buttons as an accent.
Please leave me a comment telling me who you would make the Celeste Shawl for....
If you caught the segment on the CTV News today here are the directions for the Tassel Garland.
sturdy cardboard or foam board
yarn colors of your choice
I LOVE bulky yarn! It is one of my favorite mediums to work with. When I was given the option to work with the new Infinity yarn from Red Heart Boutique I had no idea what I was getting because I couldn't find the yarn anywhere near where I live in Saskatchewan.
I was pleasantly surprised with how it worked up, the striping pattern helped take my Adeline Sweater to a higher level. Because it is a bulky yarn I used the suggested 15mm hook and it hangs nicely and isn't too heavy.
What is also special about this yarn is the bit of sparkle woven into it. Which helps the Adeline Sweater go from casual to dressy casual ~ its all how you accessories!
Look for more designs using this fabulous yarn in the future from Living Skies Crochet!
I love to create with yarn and I love living in Saskatchewan. This is where the two merge to become one.
Find Living Skies Crochet on Ravelry!