Friday, January 24, 2014

Crocheting for My Etsy Shop

Items that appear in my Etsy shop, RobinsNestAndBeyond:

So, what can you do with a big ball of yarn and a crochet hook?  A lot, actually!

When I started my photography business, I looked at all the cute props that everyone had (the adorable hats and baby booties, etc.) and wanted them!  All of them!  In every color and size!  But, some were so expensive!  And, since my goal was to be an inexpensive photographer, I couldn't spend that much on props and still make money.  So, I decided to teach myself to knit and crochet so I could make my own props.

For some, that may sound easy, for others it sounds impossible.  I looked up some websites and youtube videos and went from there.  I started with knitting.  I bought some yarn and some knitting needles (though my mother also gave me some materials and a friend brought me a huge supply of yarn that had been given to her) and found some patterns online and went at it.  One of my favorite websites to learn knitting was  In the beginning, a lot of my patterns and projects came from one Etsy shop, that had the cutest patterns!

Patterns and yarn became my new obsession, right behind nail polish.  "Hi, my name is Robin and I am addicted to buying nail polish, yarn, and patterns."  Ok, actually, I am a recovering pattern-buying addict.  Now, after discovering Pinterest and free patterns and making up my own patterns, I am less likely to buy new patterns.  It's only an occasional buy now.  But, every time I am in a store, I check out the nail polish.  Doesn't matter that I have a whole drawer full of them, there is always a new beautiful color or something fancy like "crackle" or sparkly or magnetic or scented and I must have them.  Good news is that they are pretty cheap.  Yarn is not very expensive either and when you use a coupon (I love the 40% off with Hobby Lobby) or a sale and also sell on Etsy to support your habit, it's not so bad.  I love walking into Hobby Lobby or Joann's or Michael's and feeling the textures and seeing the bright colors.  I buy the yarn and then think of something to make with it most of the time, instead of going in to buy yarn for a project I have already decided on.

Then I taught myself to crochet.  For the most part, I looked at patterns, which sometimes explained the stitches in the beginning of the instructions.  If I didn't get it, I googled the stitch and found a video and watched it until I got it.  One of my favorite sources of crochet patterns is Micah Makes.  Before long, I decided that I liked crocheting much better than knitting.  It went a lot faster, so I could churn out projects quickly.  Plus, I didn't like knitting in the round much.  I never got the hang of the circular needles and juggling four needles at a time was irritating.

I liked sitting around in the evenings, watching TV with my husband or my kids while crocheting.  I like to multitask.  If I am not doing at least two things at once, I feel like I am not getting anything accomplished.  And it was nice to stash a project in a bag and carry it with me to work on while waiting anywhere.  The only problem I was having was that occasionally my hands and fingers would go numb and I had to shake them out before continuing.  I went through a period of a couple of months where half of one of my hands was numb continuously.  I couldn't hold the yarn at all because I couldn't feel it.  I went to a chiropractor, thinking it must be a pinched nerve.  After going repeatedly for a while and experiencing no relief, I went through some physical therapy and that eventually brought the feeling back into my hand and I was able to start crocheting again.  The occasional numbness comes back sometimes, but it's manageable.  My doctor described an extremely painful electric nerve shock test they could do to figure out what the problem was, but I politely declined.

At first, all my projects were for my own personal use as props for my photography business.  But, then I started making items for my kids and then as gifts.  I gave items at baby showers and made accessories for my son's Halloween costumes.  I posted pictures of my projects on my Facebook page and had a few people ask me if I would be willing to make them to sell.  I hadn't thought about it, but sure!  The more comments I got about my projects, the more I decided I should sell them.  So, I started an Etsy shop a couple of months ago.  After selling a handful of orders, I knew I liked doing this.  Crocheting relaxes me and if I could work with that beautiful yarn and relax myself with a hobby, and make money doing it, that would be amazing!  And if I could make enough to be able to be a stay-at-home mom since my son needs me at this stage of his life, that would be awesome too.

I was able to meet with an old friend who started two Etsy shops recently and we worked out some bartering with each other for Christmas gifts.  She also gave me some pointers and let me borrow an "Etsy for Dummies" book and encouraged me to start this blog.

The other thing I have started to do is create my own patterns.  It started when I wanted to make a costume for my mother-in-law's Build-a-Bear.  She dresses it for the different seasons and I couldn't find a pattern for a Build-a-Bear sized outfit.  I used a boot and hat pattern, but I needed a pair of overalls (I wanted a gardening theme).  So, I invented my own overalls.  It was a little rough around the edges, but it worked.  I have modified other patterns to fit sizes that weren't included in the pattern or to alter or improve the design.  Other times, I have just decided I want to try something and invent it out of thin air.  And there are times when I see something, recently a Valentine's hat, that I love and just eyeball it until I figure out how I will go about it.  I hope to perfect these patterns and begin to sell some and also offer some for free, for testing purposes, contest winners, and just free to anyone.

I can't keep up with all the projects I want to do.  I confess that I resisted Pinterest with fervor!  I didn't get Pinterest at all and swore I would never use it.  But, when one of my photography clients was showing me ideas for poses she wanted during their photo shoot, I got sucked in.  I created a couple of boards for photography poses.  I found it was nice to be able to go back and remind myself of portraits and poses I wanted to do or to show clients what I wanted to do.  And then I discovered the crochet projects on Pinterest and that sold me.  I began creating boards for projects that I wanted to try.  It was nice to have a place to bookmark the items I wanted to come back to.  So, I am working my way through those, which never ends as I add more and more.  At least I will never be bored!

Right now, I am thinking about starting a crochet class or club, not only to socialize or teach crocheting, but as an outreach to charities.  I'm thinking in the winter, the club can make hats for the homeless and children's home.  And the rest of the year, we can make hats for cancer patients and hats/blankets for bereavement packages for maternity wards.  After working for a newborn portrait company in a local hospital and seeing items that are made for those precious stillborn angels, I knew I wanted to help with that too.  But, even though I can churn out items fairly quickly, I am still only one person.  A whole club could do so much more.

I hope you will subscribe to my blog and check in often to try out my upcoming patterns!  Below are some projects I have done that may eventually make it onto my Etsy shop.  And, you can always look into the future of my crocheting projects by visiting my Pinterest boards.


  1. I *used* to sell on Etsy too! Hand knitted and crocheted items. One of my biggest frustrations was having people ask me for custom sizes of items or items I didn't already make. I found it became too stressful for me and was NOT what I really loved doing after all. I'd much rather be knitting for my own enjoyment and coming up with new designs for myself. So I quit and instead I now focus on improving my skills, designing new patterns, and writing up my knitting and crochet patterns. For now, I only have my patterns on Ravelry, but someday I plan to re-open my Etsy shop and sell my patterns there too!

    1. I am sorry to hear about your frustrations! I haven't had much of that yet. I have an order currently where someone asked me to make two of one piece of a set I offer, which didn't bother me. I have a friend who has two Etsy shops and she often contacts me and asks if I have ever made or would like to attempt something. That's fun for me. I whipped up some boot cuffs for her (which are now in my Etsy store) and will be working on some beards for a party for her soon. I enjoy that because it stretches me and allows me to be creative and try new things. I figure I can always say no. I try to list the sizes that I can make the items in, so there isn't any confusion. I have one pattern that I would like to try to modify for other sizes, but for now, it's only for little ones. Working on my own patterns is something I'd like to do also, so hopefully I can sell patterns and offer free ones as well, in the future. What's your Ravelry account under? I'd love to see your patterns! Hope to see you back on Etsy soon! I do understand your frustration, though, because I feel that way about my photography business. I often have people ask me if they can get a particular picture in color (when I have edited it in b/w, per my artistic touch) or could I do a studio shoot (when I don't have a studio nor is that the kind of photography I do) or can I get their prints back by this weekend (then the USPS misroutes them to New York--yes, this has happened to me!) or can we negotiate on price or can I just print the pictures myself without paying for printing rights? I love the artistic side, but the business aspect is so hard for me. I wish I was successful enough to hire someone to do that for me! Ha, ha! I love taking pictures, but the business aspect and the struggle to reconcile customer satisfaction with being true to my style and philosophy is part of the reason I have backed off and not pushed my photography business as hard.