free pattern :: Crocheted T-shirt Yarn Rag Rug


My little dog — a heartbeat at my feet. ~Edith Wharton

I love my dogs.  They protect me, watch over me, and provide endless amount of joy and amusement.  Their favorite perch in the house is in the bench window seat of my studio on the second floor of our house.  They love to watch all the action on the street, barking their warning of approaching dogs and humans.  The bench seat was getting a bit torn up by their claws, so I need to add some protection and with my ever growing stash of t shirts, I decided to upcycle them into t-shirt yarn that I could crochet into a rag rag.  I wanted the rug to be substantial, machine washable and yet a  soft spot for my dogs to hang out.  As you can see above, Josie loves her new spot.  Miss Toony was jealous and decided to move in on Josie's territory.  Missing from the pic was their ensuing dog spat of snarling and snapping at each other.  Josie wanted the rug to herself.  

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CHA Mega Show Blog Hop

Cha banner

So you are going to CHA, the annual Craft and Hobby Associations mega show.  Oh, lucky you!  I am having to miss it this year.  What am I missing out on? 

Hundreds of vendors each with hundreds of fabulous products for art and craft making.

Many of these vendors offer demonstrations on how to use their products, as well as make and take projects.  I love this time to just wander the aisles trying out new pens, test driving various glues.  I mostly work in textiles, the yarny arts, as well as surface design, so its great time to try out so many products I don't really know. But my favorite?  My absolute favorite?  I love the fashion show by Lion Brand Yarns. Here is a short video I made several years ago from their 2013 Fashion show, narrated by Vanna White.  They often feature the work from student designers which gives you a glimpse of trends in other parts of the world.  In 2013 the students were all from Israel.  If you aren't a knitter or yarn buyer, you may not get a seat, but that's okay.  Get there a little before showtime to grab a good spot to stand. Bring your camera or video recorder, with Vanna White as MC, you know it's going to be a good show.  

As a vegetarian, make sure you bring some food with you. I tended to stick to the wraps from one of the kiosks outside the show floor.  I also brought a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated.  I'd buy my wrap before heading to the show floor, so I didn't have to leave when I got hungry.  I prefer to sit at the tables in the back area near the hamburgers and such.  Sit down and ask folks what they do.  I found it a great way to hear the needs of shop owners and to have a personal conversation with them about how I could offer them my services.  

Be sure to bring LOTS of business cards.  I generally go through 1000 per show.  I followed another designer's advice, have your photo on one side.  This has made a huge difference for me. Folks recognized me at the second show. And make some sort of swag for vendors and editors to remember you.  I made lavender sachets with envelopes I made.  I sealed them with a sticker feturing my website.  The sachet was usable and a nice way to sent their belongings while packed and it was light weight and noncaloric.  Yes, candy is nice, but one can only eat so much candy.  I also have a personal trademark, I always where unusual, brightly colored glasses.  It helps make me stand out.

Another must is a folder to organize all the cards you receive.  I always jot down snippets of conversation onto the cards so I can directly follow up after the show.  I then organize them in a folder so I can easily find them.  You will collect dozens at a time and they are easy to misplace, so a folder keeps it tidy and useful to use.  I then reviewed them each night, making a list of 10 people I for certain want to contact, writing notes of ideas, etc.  It's easy to get distracted by all the fun, but this is about business, and hopefully making some money. Right?

My last piece of advice, you will see many women dressed in professional suits wearing heels.  But you will be walking miles every day, wear good comfortable shoes. Not sneakers unless you designed them.  And wear something you made.  It's a great conversation starter.  I know some designers who've landed book contracts this way.  Someone comments on their jewelry and a conversations begins and then you are asked to send a proposal.  Go for it!

To see my reviews of past shows - 

2014 Mega Show and 2014 Mega Show - it was so big it required two posts.

Winter Show 2013

Summer 2011

My Designer Showcase Summer 2012

In honor of CHA's 75th anniversary, we are celebrating with a blog hop and giant cash drawing.  Their are just three entry options to win a $500+ Visa gift card:

  • Leave a comment on my blog (mandatory) answering the question - "What is your favorite "can't live without" craft supply or tool?"
  • Tweet about the giveaway  (tweet text includes #CHAshow hashtag; can tweet daily for extra entries)

Answer a multiple-choice poll about how often you "cre8time" for crafting  (double entry value)



a Rafflecopter giveaway




Yarn "Bomb" Installation at New Motorola Offices

Motorola Christmas logo

Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.   —  Pablo Picasso

The Chicago Artists Coalition contacted me several months ago about working on a potential project for an architectural firm.  Sure.  Little did I know I’d been asked to consider yarn bombing the reception spaces at the new Motorola office and research facility.  Holy yarnola!  Working under the guidance of the architects and CAC, I am creating a permanent installation inspired by the yarn bombing movement. I knew there was no way I could tackle a 12’ x 65’ fence / wall on my own, so I’ve called in vegan crafter extraordinaire Mary K. Lawrie to assist.

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7 Lessons I've learned about crafting a creative career

Crochet book

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.  --  Mae West

I recently read a great blog post by artist, curator and teacher Sergio Gomez on the 7 lessons he has learned about the art world.  I found myself nodding along as I read through it and decided to add my two cents.  Here are 7 lessons I've learned about crafting a creative career.

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crafting a business :: why I joined the Chicago Craft Mafia.


This post is a reprint from an essay I recently wrote for the Chicago Craft Mafia website.  I repeat it here as I think the concept of networking with your peers is relevant for everyone, whether you are in the crafts or fine arts. Our businesses can only grow from sharing what we know with each other.

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Trying to Get It All Done and Not Lose My Mind in the Process

Fargo 3-in-1 pressure cooker

"Stress should be a powerful driving force, not an obstacle." -- Bill Phillips

How can I cram more minutes into my day without totally losing my quality of life? This was my opening question when I recently met with my business coach.  Michael had two responses - delegate everything that doesn't require you to do it and second, get a pressure cooker.  Good advice for someone who has been working 12-14 hours a day  with few days off.  I'm not complaining, but with recently having accepted a full-time teaching position at a local university at the same time as my business is growing has me running all day long.  I need a better way of managing the details or I may go completely out of my mind.

Michael loves to cook as much as I do, so he sent me a link to the model of pressure cooker he has successfully been using for several years, plus the names of a bookkeeper and a general contractor. I'm excited about the pressure cooker I just ordered (see above).  Good meals are not only more nutritous than fast food, they give me a moment to relax and unwind.  Lately I've been coming home from a full day of teaching to then cook dinner.  By that time, I am so exhausted I just want to cook whatever I can make in 15 minutes or under so I can then attend to my business.  As a result, my menu has become just a tad boring. A pressure cooker opens up a whole new set of possibilites!

Nex,t I called Mr. Brady,the general contractor he recommended. My call was  returned within 20 minutes!  I have been trying to job out the remodel for several weeks and until today, I couldn't get anyone to call me back.  I understand busy, but not returning the call of a potential customer seems like a crazy business practice to me.  Fingers crossed that he works out.  The broken, sliding floor tiles are more than a tad dangerous and the cracked counter probably harbors every known nasty bacteria.

Finally, I  called the bookkeeper.  We had a good conversation.  He's coming to my studio next Thursday to get a better sense of what I require.  I hate doing paperwork.  Quickbooks' inventory module drives me nuts.  I can't figure it out.  I am thrilled to finally jump this hurdle.  Just think, I will be able to generate necessary reports with the press of a finger this time next month!  Such are my thrills at 45, but I really am excited.  Too feel in control with a few more minutes at the end of the day to take a walk, chat with friends or take my daugther out makes me very happy indeed.

why you need a headshot

Lindsay Obermeyer Headshot, photo by Michelle Kaffko

"To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart."  -- Thomas Watson, Sr.

While I prefer to spend my time in the studio, I recognize that for my business to grow, a certain amount of day-to-day maintenace is required.  A new headshot has been high on my priority list for several months.  I've been putting it off as, well, I don't like to be photographed.  I always feel awkward the moment a camera appears.  

Why do I need a headshot in the first place?  It's a primary tool for marketing my business.  Whether I am at a gallery opening or walking the floor at a trade show, it's important for people to recognize me.  Yes, my work should be enough, but seriously, does it sprout legs and develop the capability to talk?  No.  If I want to get my work into that next show or land a contract for a project design, I need people to place a name and a face to the work.  

Headshots should be used in all social media platforms as the avatar, on a website and blog with a bio and in brochures.  Well-known project designers in the crafts industry also suggest you use it on your business card.  A logo is lovely, but you are your business, not your logo. Point taken and I will soon to rectify this ommission now that I have a swanky new headshot. Thank you Michelle Kaffko of Organic Headshots!

I didn't think much about headshots until a few years ago when more and more requests were being made from marketing departments at universities.  I was doing a fair of amount travel as a visiting artist / guest lecturer.  At first, I used basic snap shots friends took such as these three.  

©2007 Lindsay Obermeyer headshot  IMG_0173
©2012 Lindsay Obermeyer headshot

They are cute photos, so what's wrong with them?  With the one of the left, you can't really see my face. My work dominates. Yes, I want my work to be showcased, but not in a headshot.  And even if you can see my face, I'm squinting from the glare of the sun.  The second is a great shot of my face, but the background is really busy.  Really, really busy compounded with a busy outfit.  My face and background art are fighting to win which is noticed first. The last one is great shot, but obviously a snapshot taken of me in my winter coat outdoors one winter afternoon.  Ho, hum.

©2012 Lindsay Obermeyer headshot

So, I tried again.  I love this photo.  It shows me having a great time with my face framed by my work and was perfect for promoting my community art.  One problem, I no longer do The Red Thread Project®.   If I no longer do it, why should I still use an image that promotes it?  Sigh.  Back to the photographer.  

Lindsay Obermeyer headshot by Larry Sanders  Lindsay Obermeyer Headshot photo by Larry Sanders
This time I met with photographer Larry Sanders.  I love these!  They are silly, funny and non-traditional.  They promote both my art and my handmade hat line.  Fun, but ultimately limiting. These photos tell an education or marketing director of a craft company that all I know how to do is textiles.  As a project designer, I work in a variety of mediums - paper, clay, glass, paint and metal as well as textiles.  


Here we go again.  This photo was taken by Maria Ponce for the Chicago Artists Month 2011 poster. It's an amazing portrait of me, but is it actually a headshot? I wasn't sure, so didn't use it other than to promote CAM 2011 events.

Lindsay Obermeyer photo by Michelle Kaffko

So on I struggled continuing to use the shot of me from The Red Thread Project® until this spring when Michelle Kaffko took this shot of me for the Chicago Craft Mafia.   I love this photo!  Wow! Colorful, sassy, confident.  Perfect!  Yeah!  Headshot trauma over!    I've been using this image on Facebook since it was taken in May.  But when folks saw me at the trade show in July, the frequent refrain after visiting my booth was, "Oh, wow! You don't just knit." Arrrrrrrrgh!  I had limited my business once again with a single photo.  I am a knitter, but not just a knitter.  Oh my lordy!  I wanted to hide under the covers.  

You are your business.  If you want to be seen as friendly, professional and confident, then your image must show it.  It can be as colorful as you are, but the image of you shouldn't fight with backgrounds, funky clothes (unless you are a fashion designer wearing your own clothes) or other props  As I do so many things, I need a photo that showed me as me, minus the art or the tools.  After 10 years and multiple attempts, I think I finally have one that will work.  Let's just hope my hair doesn't turn fully grey in the next year!

CHA Summer 2012, my booth

©2012 Lindsay Obermeyer CHA Summer 2012 booth

"Patience is the ability to count down before you blast off."  - Author Unknown

I'm slowly making progress.  It's taken 4 shows to finally get a handle on how to develop a collection of ideas that fully show off my range of skills and ideas.  This is my table display at the CHA Summer 2012 Designer Showcase.  I decided to go for a theme, specifically DIY wedding.  

I had so much fun making everything, especially all the work with paper as my diecutter is a rather recent acquisition (ie - toy). I used it to cut out hundreds of paper flowers that I then snipped, bent and twirled into scores of flowers for the initials in the background. I considered different letters "I do," "We do" "Love" etc, but I settled on my own initials to advertise my business, LBO Studio, while also giving the impression that they are the monogram of a newly married couple.   

©2012 Lindsay Obermeyer my CHA Summer 2012 Designer Showcase
There is a beaded bridal headpiece with matching groom's boutonnière and bridesmaid barrette. The French beaded daisy bridal bouquet is gorgeous and a great momento of the big day.  The flowers are among the easiest to make, so a great project for those just learning the art.  

©2012 Lindsay Obermeyer CHA Summer 2012 booth

I carried the beaded flowers onto embellished boxes for the safe keeping of wedding notes and cards.  As I grew up with cornucopias as table top favors filled with candies and nuts, it was a nostalgic trip for me to make my own versions for the display.

I start several months in advance of the show researching trends and thinking about what resonates with me and my design sensibilities.  The hardest part is settling on one concept and then carrying it through different mediums.  I want to do everything, but have learned that without a bit of editing, I tend to confuse folks.  Feedback has been that editors aren't sure how to market me and my work. Thankfully, that's no longer a problem.  I am finding my niche.  To anyone wanting to enter this business, I have to say - be true to yourself, be patient, and keep making!  

storytelling: a talk with Pon Angara of Barkada Circle


"We remember best through stories." -- Pon Angara


The arts providing tools for nonprofit businesses to grow?!  As I read about branding and listen to all the balu about social media, I find the need for experience-based marketing to be  ever more relevant. I recently caught up with Pon Angara, creative director and principal of Barkada Creative to discuss his launch of Barkada Circle.  Barkada Circle provides educational arts-based programs that help participants discover and harness the transformative power of the visual arts, music, theatre and more to spark creativity in telling their organization's stories, stories that fully engage people.


What made you launch Barkada Cicle?
After years of years of working with nonprofits on branding, visual communication and marketing, it became apparent that a critical piece of the message was missing.  This lack of message prevents a nonprofit from taking it to next level.  I kept thinking, “Your story isn’t compelling. Why should I care?  Why should I want to be conncted to this organization?" To effectively help my clients, I realized that I had to help them tell their story.

Isn't a story the same as a mission statement?
No, a mission statement is just a statement of purpose.  One statement of why a business exists. That's it.  A story goes deeper.  It involves the emotions, relating the struggles and successes of a nonprofit, its people and its consituency. It can take many more forms than a statement.  It may be told in different mediums - word, image, sound, etc.  The key thing is the emotional part.  We remember stories because we remember the emotions running through them. 

Give me an example.  
The mission of Barkada Circle is to give nonprofits a creative forum in order to develop different ways to craft their own stories using techniques in the arts that is usable on their website, in their brochures, etc.   

One story of Barkada Circle is in why I launched it. Immersing myself in the activities of a nonprofit organization, I had the opportunity to experience the same struggles they were having in trying to get a compelling message across. Some nonprofits were more successful than others, but the challenges were there nonetheless.

I'm reading a lot these days about the use of storytelling in branding.  How is Barkada Circle different?
The Barkada Circle approach differs from the others in that the focus is on a multi-sensory experience using the arts, whether the visual arts, theater, music, writing or cooking.   The best way to really embody a story is for the storyteller to engage as many of his/her senses as possible in creating the story, so that telling it engages multiple senses for the listener. This approach was inspired by the book The Experience Economy:  Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine.  

Barkada Circle, Fall 2011 Workshop
Why have your targeted nonprofits for your program?
In my book, they are the ones that deal the most with complex emotions, concepts, ideas, and challenges.  They deal heavily with humans, not just products for humans.  It’s all about the people.  Nonprofits generally have direct impact on issues that affect the quality of life in our communities. It has become my personal choice to share in this mission.

If teaching artists are interested in working with you, what’s the best way to contact you and what will they need in terms of experience?
They have to be skilled in their craft, but also have a personal mission for educating others about it. They need a minimum of 5 years of teaching experience with adults, sharing and demonstrating their passion.  I am willing to talk to new artists after June to see what they have to offer. It's best if they read through the website and then leave of comment expressing their interest on the Our Artists page. 


I'm honored to have been working with Pon on this venture since its inception.  My workshop for Barkada Circle, The Power of Symbols, looks at the way symbols have inspired change throughout history.  It's an amazing experience to work with directors from small and large nonprofits, helping them to better understand and harness the storytelling potential of their organization's visual symbols.   

school of hard knocks

Craft Racket, Spring 2012, Rebecca George and Shawna Smith

Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.
– Coco Chanel

The topic of last week's Craft Racket, a quarterly networking and professional development program hosted by the Chicago Craft Mafia, was on getting your crafts into shops. Leading the discussion were Rebecca George of Purple and Lime, Shawna Smith of Shawna Smith Handmade Goods and Amanda Shell of Whirley Girl Designs, Inc.  Each presented a different aspect of the process, whether selling on consignment or wholesale and how to go about approaching retailers. The conversation was lively with folks attending from as far as Grand Rapids.  One question really struck a chord.  An artisan relatively new to the field asked how we as Mafia members have managed to keep going with our respective businesses despite all the challenges of being self-employed.  It got me thinking, how in the hell have I managed it?  Truth be known, I have several advanced diplomas from The School of Hard Knocks.  

My first mistake came with my first business, a wholesale jewelry company with sales in the US and UK.  I was a brazen hustler.  I did everything Rebecca, Shawna and Amanda advised against doing - I went door to door.  Yep, I flew to NYC and with samples in hand I went up and down the streets of Manhattan entering stores that looked like a good fit.  If the store was slow, I asked to speak to the manager / buyer / owner.  If it was busy, I took a business card, called later and set up an appointment.  This was before the age of the Internet (I am dating myself here...) when you can do retailer research online.  Doing your research is critical to not only finding shops that are a good fit, but also to making sure they will pay for orders.  I got my jewelry into a great store on Madison Ave.  At least I thought it was great until I realized the owner was never going to pay.  If I had done some research with others showing in the shop or run a credit check on him, I would have learned that he was in default with many of his suppliers.  I was owed thousands of dollars, tried using a collection agency to collect,  finally filed with the NY courts, but never received payment.  After filing yearly for seven years (the extent of the statue of limitations) for debt collection I finally wrote the loss off on my taxes.   

Lesson learned: Do a credit check whether formally with a credit agency or informally with other colleagues in the field.  Do not send work without payment upfront until a level of trust has been established. I apply this same lesson with the exhibition of my art.  I always ask others before approaching a new gallery.  Do they pay on time?  Are they professional and responsive?  Work is not sent until a contract has been signed by both parties (me and the gallerist) regarding consignment terms and expectations.

The ramification of not receiving payment also meant that my cash flow was tied up.  Without cash flow, you can't sustain a busines.  I hobbled along for 3 more years before I finally called it a day and entered graduate school.

Unfortunately, MFA programs don't offer business classes.  I got a great training in semiotics, postmodernist theory and such, but nada in terms of what one needs to know to start and run a business.   (And yes fellow artists, art is a business.)  Well, I'm lucky in that I come from a family in which self-employment is the norm. I had a great resource to draw upon - my parents.  But as is often the case with families, I thought I was smarter than my parents.  

When I finished graduate school I took over an existing textile art supply store.  It was well established with an existing customer base.  Groovy!  Yet, once again I learned my lesson the hard way.  This time I killed my cash flow by moving my store to a new location while simultaneously opening two new departments.  I didn't realize the impact moving would have on foot traffic.  Though I had an active mailing list with over 2,000 customers, many others were not on it.  I'd get these panic calls from customers sitting in front of the old space demanding, "Where are you?!"  This transition may have run smoother with the development of the Iternet (which was in its infancy at this point) and the invention of smart phones, but that's just a guess.  I compounded the problem by adding the new departments.  Customers needed time to adjust to the move, but I still had bills to pay.

Lesson Learned: Build your business slowly.  Get advice.  Take business classes.  

Fast forward to now, I am selling retail online, consignment to galleries, and freelancing with international craft supply companies.  I am much more cautious and do tons of research on prospective clients.  I've joined trade associations, attend conferences, network and attend professional development workshops.  Most recently, I've hired a business coach to help keep me on track with my goals.  In other words, I am finally learning from previous mistakes, including the one that failure isn't failure, just a learning lesson on the path to success.