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Friday, December 30, 2011

Reflections 2011

Well, here we are again!  Another year has gone by, and it's time to look forward to 2012.  I went back to the "Reflections" post that I wrote a year ago, in which I tried to articulate some goals for this year, to see if I had actually met any of them :-) 

Although I don't have a 1000 followers (yet) and haven't been actively participating in 5 social media forums, I have been doing a lot!  I've been designing a lot of new patterns, some of which are now up on my Ravelry page and some of which were featured in Inside Crochet magazine.  I also launched my "101 Crochet Tips" Kindle book and adopted a sheep.

So, lessons learned?  Put out valuable content and the followers will come.  It's really a simple concept but a really hard one to execute.  How do you know if you've produced valuable content?!  There are analytical tools out there now that help you determine what impact, if any, your content is having, and one of my goals this coming year is to make better use of those tools.  But, it is still really important to stay true to yourself as a creator -- don't make anything you don't want to make:  your heart won't be in it, and it won't result in something that you will want to share with the world.  With limited resources, you need to find your niche and fulfill it to the best of your ability.

Another lesson learned is that, even if you have great content, you have to present it in a compelling and professional way to attract followers (and hopefully buyers).  I received a scathing review of my old website -- it was really tough to hear, but I really recommend finding an objective observer who will truly give it to you straight.  You don't have to actually follow all the advice you receive (though you probably should try to absorb it, think it through, and adopt a new way of looking at your work, and you have to try to remind yourself that the person is trying to help you), but you sometimes really need help in objectively seeing what you are doing.  I haven't yet been able to implement all of the suggestions for the website that I have received, but it's one of my primary goals for 2012 to create a really user-friendly and compelling website, a real basic for any (small) business these days.  It was interesting how "trust", a topic we've discussed in the past, kept coming up -- a website that engenders trust, that professionally presents content, and that potential buyers feel comfortable visiting and purchasing from.

In December's newsletter, which really wasn't a newsletter as much as it was a "thank you" to all of you who have found and stuck with me this past year, I really tried to think about and outline the new content I want to create and how I will deliver it in the new year.  This goes back to the two words that I plan on making my mantra for 2012 -- content and focus.

So, what do you want to accomplish this upcoming year?  What are your two words that will be the driving force behind your actions in 2012?  Please share them here or on my Facebook page as a way to help you visualize them and to give me the opportunity to encourage you to embrace them!

Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Name That Sheep Contest!!

We can name the sheep!  Caroline Owens explained to me that they bought her and a few other ewes from a well -respected West Virginia Coopworth farm when the breeder suddenly needed to downsize.  It happened quickly and during a busy time for the Owens, so they never got around to naming their new acquisitions beyond "the West Virginia ewes".  But Caroline tells me that Coopworth 236 has distinguished herself from the flock in terms of personality and performance and could really use a name.

To catch up those of you who are not (yet) regular followers of my blog ;-) I adopted a sheep recently from the Owens Farm, located in Sunbury, Pennsylvania (you can read more about her and see another picture of her in a previous post).  Shearing time is almost here (January 14th through 18th), and # 236 deserves a name by then.

So, here's the plan.  Please go to the Many Creative Gifts Facebook page by January 5th (midnight EST) and comment on this post by entering the name that you think we should give "Coopworth 236".  After the 5th, Caroline and I will discuss and choose the winning name.  Now, we do reserve the right not to choose any of the names and instead come up with one of our own, but we'd really like your help on this!  As an added incentive, the winner will not only get bragging rights but also a free copy of my "101 Crochet Tips" Kindle book ($9.95 value) and some of the newly named ewe's fleece (priceless!).

She's one of those furry bottoms in the picture where the sheep are getting herded by the dog, but there she is, in the blanket, in the other picture!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I just adopted a sheep for the upcoming year!  I'm so excited because, when shearing time comes, her wool is mine!  I haven't even thought about what I'm going to do with it, but this is something I've wanted to do for a while, so I just did it :-)

She is a Coopworth ewe, a breed that was developed in the 1970s for New Zealand's grass-fed sheep industry.  Caroline and David Owens, the Pennsylvania family behind Owens Farm, purchased her from a breeder in West Virginia last year, and she apparently really stood out from the rest of the flock through her friendliness and curiosity.  And she sheared a gorgeous fleece and ended up having triplets!!  And she managed to feed them all so well that each is "chunky and vigorous" (which sounds good to a non-farmer :-)  But, they were all rams, and the Owens are hoping she'll have some ewes this upcoming year to perpetuate her characteristics.

I'm looking forward to more updates from the farm and will share as they come in!

Friday, December 9, 2011

My First Giveaway!

In partnership with the AllFreeCrochet folks, I'm giving away a copy of my "The Crocheter's Design Companion."  Here's the link to enter the contest:

Please feel free to share the link, retweet, etc.  Spread the word!!  The deadline is December 22nd, and there are ways to get multiple entries, so please check it out.  I really appreciate the 4-star review that the editor of AllFreeCrochetAfghanPatterns gave it.  It's so great to see an objective description of the usefulness of the book and suggestions for how crocheters can make the best use of it.  So, please enter the contest -- I'd love for one of my regular readers to be the winner!  But, of course, you can always pick up your own copy for just $9.95 at CreateSpace or on Amazon :-)  Makes a great gift for all the crocheters in your life!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Oh Canada!

I know I say it often, but technology is really amazing!  My latest discovery (with a lot of help from my brother in law) is VPN.  I have no idea what it stands for, but it's allowed me to have an anonymous IP address.  Now, why would I want one of those?!  Well, in my case, it's so that I can watch a TV show that's only available on a Canadian website.  I really got hooked on "Being Erica", which is a show from Toronto that had been carried by SoapNet for its first three years, but was not picked up for its fourth and final season.  I went searching around and found the CBC website on which back episodes, including this season's, are stored.  But, when I clicked on the play episode button, nothing happened.  That's when I was told that, since I have a US IP address, the Canadian website isn't going to work for me.  But, there's always a workaround isn't there ;-)  So, my laptop and I take a little trip to Canada these days....