Maximizing Social Media Interaction

Kia ora knitters! You may have noticed some changes around the website, most notably on the landing page. After reflecting on this past year, I'm expanding my brand to include "mentorships" for aspiring designers, consults and collaborations for current designers, yarn makers and any other independent crafter or blogger. This came from my already one year experience of running this website and acting as mentor and resource to knitters needing advice. While I am still developing this program, this is my official announcement to the knitting community that I am available to help you on any topic that you need - just shoot me an email! As of now, this service is free so please feel free to take advantage of this opportunity!

As part of this expansion I'm also going to be making some changes to blog posts. Every week will feature a set type of posts. Motivational Mondays, which will feature some patterns from Ravelry that popped up over the weekend. I'll continue having a post dedicated to "Let's Chat" topics on Tuesday. Thursdays will be my biggest change: I'll be writing informative articles or tutorials about knitting, design or business acumen. Guest posts are very much welcome and encouraged! Other blog posts such as WIP Wednesday, FO Friday, sneak peak and pattern releases will be posted accordingly when they come up. 

And I'll be making a few changes to my IG account to. FO Friday images from followers will be featured on my Facebook and Pinterest account. You may start seeing a shift in the type of content I share on IG but that will be a more gradual change.

And now that the big announcements are over, let's move onto... Maximizing Social Media Interaction (FB and IG).

I used to work as a PR manager intern pre- and post-college for a while for several different companies (each for about a term, the turnover rate was pretty high) but I think I've learnt the most about PR and marketing from running my own independent design brand and from mentors in the knitting community. After making some personal changes on how I use social media such as Facebook and Instagram, I'll be sharing some tips on how to get the most interaction from your followers, regardless of how big or small your following may be. Please note that these are just general guidelines and will not guarantee immediate success every time. It is still up to you to put the work and effort into it!

#1 Find When Your Followers are Most Active

Most people would assume that followers are the most active over the weekend, since they're not at work. This isn't always the case. Check out your Facebook Pages "Insight" tab to see when the majority of your followers are online and make posts around that day/time.

My page's Insights -> Posts view

My page's Insights -> Posts view

As you can see, my followers are most active on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday either early in the morning or late in the evening, so I try to post my content accordingly. Sometimes I experiment to see what follower interaction during different hours (such as in the evening and during non-peak hours) and sometimes it works, other times it doesn't. Be sure to check on this tab often as your follower activity can shift and you will have to evaluate your scheduling times!

Instagram doesn't have such tools, but you can use to get a look into your insights. Iconosquare can tell you what day and what time your followers are more likely to be online.

#2 Facebook Prioritizes Original Content, Starting with Images

Don't post just text and links. While sharing posts from other pages is a nice gesture, it too won't reach a lot of people. What does? Original images. Facebook places high priority on original content so be sure to post your photos! Square images also fit better into the space so be sure to crop it. You can put your blurb in there as well, but put any links in the comments section. If you want to announce that you have a new blog post, use an image + text introduction as the status then put the link in the comments. You'll get better reach that way. 

#3 Facebook Tip: Be Human and Personal

While I like to post nice, "professional" and clean photos, sometimes followers get intimidated or tired of it. They want to know that the person behind the screen is a fellow human being and not some robot. So I will post unedited photos of things that are happening around me (that are knitting related in someway) that is cute, funny or spur of the moment. Those images usually involve my kitten up to no good. And these posts usually get lots of likes and comments. 

I find that my "personal" IG posts don't get as much likes in comparison to WIP, FO and yarn photos.

#4 Interact with your followers

In the image caption ask them questions. Encourage them to interact with you!

Every Wednesday I post a new topic in my Ravelry forum that people can join in on. I pose the same question on my FB and IG accounts so people can chime in and if they want to get entered into my Ravelry giveaways, they can do so if they wish. Reward that extra participation when you can!

Another type of interactive post that followers love is when you share their works. Every Friday I post an FO pic that a knitter has finished and present it to my followers with tons of praise. Even if their photography isn't the best, both they and your followers will still very much enjoy it.

#5 Experiment and Practice

I'm still learning how to use FB and IG to their fullest potential but the small changes I've made already have helped me see good results. Take risks, experiment a little, try new things. It can't hurt you and the results are worth it! One week I posted a variety of images and posts at different points of the day spanning the entire week to see which ones hit the most people. Was the high engagement due to a post that people just really liked? Or was it just the right time? 

It should go without saying that good photos get high engagement so if you are struggling to take good photos, just practice, practice, practice. I'll be writing up some basic photography articles in the upcoming weeks to help you out!

If you want a more in-depth and one-on-one workshop on learning how to use Facebook Pages to its advantage, I highly recommend contacting Lucinda Iglesia of Mont-Tricot. She can provide workshops on this topic over Skype (that's where I learned a good amount of these tips) for a good price. Just send her a message if you're interested!

Yarn Shipment: Frabjous Fibers

And the second package of yarn that I was waiting on has finally come in. Its funny timing; I just released a pattern that uses gradients and the next project I'll be working on involves another set of gradients! This is Frabjous Fibers Cheshire Cat mini skeins pack in the gradient color way "Shilling and Pence". I love these blues so much and they have a slight shine!

Stephanie of Frabjous Fibers contacted me after I had released my Arius Shawl pattern, asking if I could design a pattern for their yarns and of course I said yes! The moment I laid my eyes on the yarn I knew what I was going to design with it (well, what type of design): a triangular shawl. It's been a while since I've used this shawl shape and working on the Maia tee reminded me how much I've missed it! Now I've just got to think, what design do I want to work into it? I've got all next week to figure that out, since I'll be out of town for a few days for a much needed vacation...

Huatau Cardigan and Hat Test Knits

Yes, I have two new test knits ready to go on my Ravelry forum! I've already got the Whakemārie well under way so I'll be managing three test knits all together. July is going to be ridiculous filled with new designs.

Huatau Hat

I had two goals in mind for this design: one, use one skein and two, work the decreases so that the lace pattern stays intact right until the last few rows. If you look at it from the crown down, the decreases converge to make a star shape! Nice and neat. I used one skein of Quince & Co's Chickadee yarn (181 yards) and it is absolutely lovely. If you are interested in this test knit, sign up here.

Huatau Cardigan

Oh boy, this one. This is my first garment design (and second garment I've ever knit? Yes, I believe so!). This is a dolman sleeve, crop-top, open front cardigan with a lace and cable pattern on the back. It is very airy but when the front is left open (second image), the back doesn't leave for much shaping as it hangs away from the body, instead of clinging to it. Nonetheless, it is a very graceful and cute cardigan, great for throwing over your shoulders on the slightly chilly days. Accompany this piece with a clasp or your favorite shawl pin! If you are interested in this test knit, sign up here.

Finding Confidence in New Techniques

This week has been a rush since Wednesday. I have found myself with two new deadlines (that are not self-imposed!), three collaboration opportunities and new design submissions. And on top of that, a test knit and another secret project for a secret collection. ;-)

I've been really pushing myself in my designs as of late, trying new techniques that I've been wary of before. This week, I learnt how to knit fair-isle flat, which is a huge deal for me because I'm still rather uncomfortable knitting fair isle in the round! But now that I've been knitting swatches for design submissions that involve fair isle, I've become more confident in this technique. And now knowing that I can do this opens up so many design possibilities!

Another technique I think I have mastered, or at least am more at ease with is the mattress stitch. The mattress stitch is used for seaming up garments, a technique that may knitters fear to use (I don't blame them, it is rather scary!). However, I found a small adjustment in the type of selvage stitch helps me a lot in keeping the stitches in line and stay in the same column. I was able to seam up the Whakemārie top in less than 30 minutes! 

Now what technique should I tackle next...?

Pattern Giveaway: Arius Shawl

The Arius Shawl is slated for release this Friday (May 15th). As always, I will be giving away a copy of the pattern to a select few lucky people! If you haven't seen already, here are a few images from my project page.

This shawl is knit bottom-up, using decreases and increases to shape the shawl into its asymmetrical shape. The shawl features an eyelet section paired up with a pop of color in the form of miniature bobbles on a stockinette background.

To Enter:

There are two ways for you to enter this giveaway. I will be choosing four lucky knitters at random from my blog and IG account.

1#: Leave a comment on this blog post! When you do, please leave your Rav ID!

2#: Follow me, like the giveaway image and tag three friends on the giveaway post on my Instagram page

And that's it! Two easy and quick ways to get your name in twice for the drawing! Good luck! Winners will be announced upon release of the pattern this Friday!

Lessons I've Learned: Importance of Swatching

Knitting is an expensive hobby. Designing knitwear might be even more so, at least in my case. Why? Because at least one skein of yarn is going towards just the swatches, meaning I have to make sure to purchase one more skein of yarn on top of the set amount. I'm quite particular about my swatches, since different yarns will produce different results. Once I swatched a lace/nupp design using wool-based fiber and it didn't work out at all. Then I swatched it on linen yarn and the results were remarkable.

I still wasn't satisfied with the top two swatches. The bottom one doesn't count since it's pretty much needed.

I still wasn't satisfied with the top two swatches. The bottom one doesn't count since it's pretty much needed.

Sometimes, however, when I am working on a design and I already have all the yarn I need for the project, I have to make extra swatches, apart from the standard stockinette swatch. The pattern I had envisioned to use for the project doesn't work well with the yarn and I can't simply just use a different yarn because... I have already invested quite a bit of money into the skeins. So I have to make changes and adjustments and use up just a bit more yarn until I have swatched a design that is to my satisfaction. Designing knitwear has taught me to be patient and flexible. I believe that the more I work with different yarns, fibers and weights, I'll be able to know which ones are best suited for different types of projects, like lace, cable, colorwork, accessories, garments and even seasonal knits. 

Confession time: I actually enjoy swatching for garments (I never swatch for accessories unless it is to test a pattern), since the information I gain from them is rather invaluable - gauge, how it reacts to blocking, drapiness of the fabric, etc. It's just a part of the process of designing!