Better late than never — I was trying to avoid the “named days” like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc, since everyone is inundated by emails on those days and my little notification would likely be lost. Then I lost track of time and here we are, merely 2 weeks from Christmas.
But just because I’m late doesn’t mean the info’s no good — in fact, Christmas may be the thing on a lot of people’s minds right now, but there are countless other gifting occasions throughout the year. I just wanted to offer some ideas in case you have giftees who have expressed interest in double-knitting.
Books and patterns
People frequently like to give physical goods, and my books are indeed physical. However, if digital is also important, buying physical books or patterns from my website gets you (or your giftee) a free digital download — and I’ll even sign the book if you like. You can get my two main books on Amazon, of course, but while you might be able to get fast and free shipping, you can’t get the free digital download or a signed copy that way (also, I don’t really make money on Amazon sales; I have books there because it’s foolish not to put my books where people will actually look for them.
As I do every year, from Black Friday through the end of the year, I’ve removed Media Mail from my shipment options. This means shipping is more expensive, but it’s also less likely to be stolen or lost, as the post office takes better care of Priority Mail packages. It also means that your package is more likely to arrive before Christmas.
Because virtual workshops and recordings hosted on my site use a user-specific access process, it’s harder to gift these to other people. I’d recommend you consider getting a gift card in the appropriate amount (see below for more on gift cards), and add a note to your giftee with your intention for their use of the card. Of course, it’ll be up to them and they might even choose a different workshop or recording (or book or pattern, since gift cards can be used anywhere on my site).
If you don’t know what to get, there’s always a gift card. I’ve made sure my gift cards are as robust as any you’ll find in higher-end shops. You can choose any amount you like (you’re not limited to a set of pre-ordained options), and redemption is as simple as applying a code during checkout. Your giftee can even store the gift card in their account for later use (right in their account dashboard) so they don’t forget about it. If a gift card isn’t used in full, the remaining balance is stored in a giftee’s account for next time they buy something, or if your giftee chooses to check out as a guest, the same code will work the next time for the remainder.
Remember, small businesses like mine are the best thing to support when you’re gifting — for big companies, your money is a drop in the bucket and most goes to the pockets of people who really don’t need more money. For small businesses, every dollar helps us justify continuing to put out more creative stuff.
Thanks for your interest in double-knitting and Happy Holidays!
If you’re just interested in my upcoming live/virtual workshop calendar, click here to skip all the drama between here and there.
Friends, this is a hard post to write, which is perhaps why it’s taken me so long to write it.
Long story short: Fallingblox Designs is taking another hiatus, albeit not as all-encompassing as the last two times I’ve had to do this. Rather than a house fire or a car accident, the reason behind this is more systemic. Read on for what’s changing and why.
Starting Oct 22, I’m cancelling all of my live virtual workshops. The final one this year will be Double-knitting Entrelac, a 6-hour event on Saturday, Oct 21, which is rarely scheduled but a delight to teach (and learn, from what I hear). I’m happy that I will be getting it up on my recordings page for future adventurous knitters to benefit from. Anyone who has already enrolled in those last 3 workshops will be receiving a refund.
There will likely be no live virtual workshops in my BuildingBlox series for the entirety of 2024. I will probably fill in some small gaps in my Workshop Recordings page, but any workshops I haven’t taught before may need to wait.
My social media presence will also diminish, as my social media manager’s contract is up in mid-October and I simply don’t have the money to employ another one right now, nor the time to do the posts myself.
I will most likely not be releasing any new patterns for the next year or so, nor will I make any progress on any books I’ve alluded to in the past year’s posts.
What’s not changing
I will still be fulfilling orders for existing printed books and patterns, and of course any digital products including workshop recordings will remain available.
Anyone who has purchased a recording or enrolled in a live virtual workshop in the past year will still have access to their recordings.
I will still be teaching live and virtual workshops for venues that explicitly book me to teach (see below for the current calendar).
TLDR: I started a major project under better circumstances; circumstances changed for the worse and that project is no longer viable.
A lot of “professional knitters” are supported by a partner’s second income, or otherwise have a safety net that allows them to take risks. With a few notable exceptions at the top of our game, this is not a particularly profitable profession. It also fluctuates as global interest in knitting waxes and wanes, so it’s hard to plan for income from month to month, let alone from year to year. This is doubly true for someone whose contributions to the knitting world are in a niche within a niche. Even in the best situation, my audience is much smaller than that of most knitting designers.
When I revamped my workshop offerings about a year ago, going from 10-12 workshops to over 30, this was where I was: my wife had a high-paying tech job, and I was making good money in my part-time day job as well as in my knitting work. I was starting to think about how to let my day job go and increase my knitting income. The workshops took much more time to rework than I expected they would, but I was making steady progress. Then everything changed — my wife lost her job suddenly in February, after almost a decade of employment. She got a hefty severance package, but since we are still in a period of housing instability, we decided to hold onto that until we know what our condo rebuild is really going to cost. She’s on unemployment now while she tries to find another job in this tough market, and I have had to re-initiate my health insurance at work, which predictably also cuts my take-home pay. Aside from the purely monetary issues, she’s also needed a lot more emotional support from me.
But I was on a path with my new workshops and I planned to stay the course and make things work. After all, I had raised my virtual workshops’ prices to closer to market value after a couple of years of undervaluing myself, and I was still getting regular teaching gigs from two of the big three fiber convention companies (Interweave had already burned their bridge with me by that time). Then in May, Stitches (by far my largest regular income source over the past decade) went under without warning. This wasn’t a direct hit, because I didn’t have any gigs with them under contract at that point, but it significantly reduced my future prospects. Meanwhile, my virtual workshops’ enrollment continued to decline rather than increase, probably due to a combination of zoom fatigue, waning interest in knitting in general and my niche market in particular, sticker shock from previous customers who had gotten used to being undercharged, and poor social media performance.
I stayed the course, though. I struggled to put together new workshops but I did get some done and recorded under the new workshop portal interface I built. At the same time, our living situation at the Quaker meeting changed. The previous Facility Manager stepped down, and I offered to step up to do some of the handyman/maintenance tasks that needed doing while they searched for a replacement. This further reduced my rent, which was welcome, but didn’t actually increase my pay. When the Meeting finally settled on a new plan, they offered me an actual job continuing to do more maintenance work but adding some other facility-related work as well — not a full Facility Manager job, just the non-administrative tasks. In exchange, we’d get an even further reduction in rent. I felt somewhat trapped — I was already short on time with 3 jobs, and this would mean an increase in work. But if I didn’t take it, the Meeting would still need to hire someone, and I’d suddenly have to pay the full rent on the apartment, which in effect would mean I’d be paying the salary of my replacement, or we’d need to move somewhere less expensive.
We hoped not to move twice — we want to stay here until our condo is rebuilt, at which point we can make a decision to either move in or sell and move elsewhere, but I will no longer have to do the maintenance work to afford a place to live. By that time, I expect my wife will have her private massage practice up and running and her income will have increased significantly.
So where that leaves me for the next year is that I have 3 jobs — one that gives us health insurance, one that gives us an affordable place to live, and one that is rapidly losing income. I don’t have time to do all three and still retain my sanity and/or time to spend with family, friends, or simply have downtime to recharge. Until my life simplifies, I have to let something go. It pains me to let my knitting work go, but it’s the only logical choice.
And as I said, I’m not letting it go completely. I have a lot of “evergreen” content which I will continue to sell and (hopefully figure out how to) promote. I will continue to teach in virtual and live venues as I’m booked for them. And when I return to some semblance of housing stability, I’ll hopefully return to where I left off, get the remaining workshops ready to teach and teach them, etc.
It’s a choice I didn’t want to have to make, but I really don’t see another path. I’m sorry.
What can you do to help?
I don’t want to keep fundraising off of crises rather than making a sustainable business out of this passion for double-knitting I have, but I need to know that it can be sustainable. Until that happens, here are some things you can do to help:
Stay connected to me. I may post less to my mailing lists and social media, but it will ramp up again in the future.
Tell your friends about me. Social media is not going to work long-term (as the algorithms forget about me), but mailing lists are still the best way for me to reach interested people. When I do start posting again, I want to know I’ve got a bigger audience.
Do you have a LYS, guild, or fiber event you think would enjoy my workshops? Let them know about me and tell them to get in touch!
Join my Patreon — while the perks may be reduced, the reason most people join is because they believe in me and my work and want to help me become more independent.
If all else fails, toss something in my Tip Jar or get a gift card for yourself (they don’t expire).
What else is going on?
While I’ve cancelled most of my remaining workshops this year, I do have a few virtual ones this month and some live ones coming in early 2024. I’ve also got some coming in April but those are a secret for now. Without further ado (all times in EST):
Hello and happy Summer (for those of you in the Northern hemisphere)! I’ve got a number of new workshops to announce, but I want to first talk about something that’s weighing heavily on my mind right now. If you just want to skip to the workshop announcement, click here to go there now.
As you’ve probably read/heard already, Stitches/XRX has dissolved as a company, presumably due to the financial pressures of the pandemic/post-pandemic economy. However, they did it apparently out of the blue and with no prior communication with their partners such as vendors, teachers, etc. Many vendors have lost deposits they made for booths in future shows, and many teachers were not paid for virtual workshops they just ran the prior weekend. It’s unclear whether any of the small businesses directly involved in this closure will be made whole. Others have written more about this, and a recent article was just written that seems to sum it up pretty well.
Keep this in mind as you choose whom to support. A lot of teachers just lost a lot of real and potential income — Stitches has been a huge boon for teachers in the fiber world for over 30 years, with coast-to-coast live shows and recently, almost monthly virtual shows. A lot of vendors lost a reliable, well-regarded, well-attended series of events where they could ply their wares further afield. There is only one company (Vogue) left in the US that does anything similar, which is a lot of pressure I’m sure.
So how does this affect me? Well, I was perhaps lucky, as I had been on a break from teaching for other people this year (aside from the couple of shows early this year that I’d already scheduled back in 2022) while I worked on fleshing out my new workshop offerings. Ironically, I was just having my virtual assistant apply to Vogue workshops for me, and expected Stitches to be next up when I got word they had folded. So while I am not out any real money like some of my colleagues in the national teaching circuit, I am definitely left stranded as far as big live shows go. I’ve met so many amazing people and taught so many amazing students at these shows, students who often come to find me later to take more workshops. It’s not only a loss of future income, it’s also a loss of promotional capability.
As you know, I have been building a sort of bulwark against this kind of occurrence, in the form of my BuildingBlox virtual and recorded workshops. It’s my hope that the loss of this big company’s presence will encourage students to go searching for those teachers they looked forward to learning from again. I hope I’m one of them. If I am, never fear: I have lots of workshops available now as recordings, and more coming up as live virtual workshops too. And I’m sure I will be at live events again soon, but I don’t know exactly when yet. Stay tuned to my calendar, or better yet sign up on my email lists.
And now, workshops!
Without further ado, here are the BuildingBlox virtual workshops I’m teaching for the rest of 2023; all times are in Eastern Time! Note that a couple of them are coming up this weekend, so sign up soon if you’re interested in either (recordings are also available); you have more time to sign up for the others but why not get your foot in the door? Here’s what’s coming up:
These are not currently on my calendar but will be soon; for now, the direct links above are the easiest way to get to the workshop pages.
If you’re interested in taking a number of these workshops, I recommend joining my Patreon at any level above the lowest, as everyone there gets hefty discounts on my virtual workshops and/or recordings each month. And when I can start designing again, you’ll get free copies of my patterns as well.
Thanks for sticking with me and hope to see you in a workshop soon!
Here in New England we’ve had a couple of false starts to Spring, but this time for sure … or not, as snow begins to fall again. But whatever the weather, my workshop schedule continues unabated. I’ve done my last scheduled in-person workshops (thanks if you attended one at VKL or Red Alder last month) and now it’s all virtual for a while. And in addition to my own BuildingBlox workshops, I’ve also got a couple of new events next month to announce!
Without further ado, here’s what’s coming up in my BuildingBlox series:
You may notice that there are not many people signed up for anything right now. I hope that will change, but I won’t be cancelling the workshops for that reason. I still want to get the recordings up, so I will still be running the workshops even if they’re empty. However, a virtual workshop is always better with live students because people often come up with questions that I might not anticipate, which enriches the workshop and makes for a better experience for all who view it, even later on. So consider enrolling if you have the time and interest.
You may also notice that there are no BuildingBlox workshops in April. This is due to my very busy schedule in April, partially for personal reasons and partially due to two weekend events which I’ll list below:
First, I’m doing a presentation and a long weekend of 3-hour virtual workshops for the Rochester Knitting Guild. Members of the guild get a discount but anyone can sign up. I think you probably need to be a member to attend the presentation. All times are in ET:
Mon, Apr 3, 7-8:30pm: History of Double-knitting talk and demo
Fri, Apr 14, 9am-12pm: Introduction to Double-knitting
Fri, Apr 14, 1:30-4:30pm: Double-knitting in the Round
Second, I’ll be doing one of each of my new Foundations workshops for the WEBS Virtual Spring Knitting Retreat (these are all 2-hour sessions; all times in ET). Registration opened late in February and these workshops usually sell out quickly but as I understand it they’re still only at ~60% capacity:
Fri, Apr 28, 11am-1pm: Introduction to Double-knitting
Sat, Apr 29, 11am-1pm: Double-knitting in the Round
Sat, Apr 29, 3-5pm: Slip-stitch Double-knitting
So what else is new?
My focus has really been on building this new virtual workshop “engine” which will, after a time, create a constantly-updated library of double-knitting instruction videos. The work to do this has been daunting, and considerably more time-consuming than I had budgeted for. I am keeping up with it, but not much more than that right now. This means that it’s going to be a little while until I have time to really focus on new designs. However, through the compiling of new handouts, I am rejuvenating my engagement with double-knitting, as each new handout forces me to rethink how best to present the subject.
For example, I have, to my shame, found a glaring error in my original Extreme Double-knitting text which propagated to the new version without being noticed by me or my editors. But it has spurred me to discover a new technique which had eluded me back in the early days of my double-knitting development, and that new technique will be added to one of my new workshops. As soon as it’s properly tested, I’ll be adding it to the errata page, so stay tuned. And if you’re itching to know what it is, be aware that it’s so obscure that nobody has noticed the error in over a decade, or at least nobody has bothered to tell me about it. So you’re likely not missing anything unless you’re deep in the appendix techniques.
But what about new patterns? An interaction at Vogue Knitting Live this past February got me thinking about an old back-burnered pattern that I’ve brought back to the foreground and have started testing again. It’s a lace pattern, and very complex, but I don’t love the way the repeats are lining up so I plan to redesign it. This is a bit frustrating since the current version of the pattern is already stretching the bounds of possibility, and now I have to rethink the whole thing. My brain may not always be up to it, but it’s on my needles and I hope it’ll grow into something exciting in the future.
In other news, I’ve got my Virtual Assistant working on setting up an Etsy store for me — this is something I used to have, but which I got rid of when I set up my own eCommerce site. But since then I’ve heard that they handle VAT processing for international shipments, so I’m going to restart it explicitly for that reason. And of course, if more people find me that way, so much the better. No link yet, but stay tuned.
I’m also looking at a couple of ways of getting more word out there about the workshops, and especially what’s new/different between last year’s offerings and this year’s. Look for a podcast on my YouTube channel this coming Saturday morning (March 11th), talking about all of that — and also, I’ll be doing some more regular blog posts, one about each workshop (kind of like what I did when I published my books, focusing on each pattern).
Thanks for sticking with me — hope to see you at a workshop soon!
This is just a quick note to mention a policy change on the BuildingBlox virtual workshops. These workshops exist at an intersection between two business models: live virtual workshops, and tutorial videos. After a couple of emails and some soul-searching, I decided to remove the expiration date on the workshop recordings. Previously, I was offering recordings of workshops for a year, which is generous for recordings of a workshop you took, but in the context of tutorial videos you purchased (think Craftsy, Teachable, etc), somewhat less than generous. It makes little sense to treat the two things differently, so I opted for the more generous option.
Most places where you buy access to video workshop recordings offer “lifetime access”. I’m not exactly doing that, but I will guarantee access as long as Fallingblox Designs and the BuildingBlox virtual workshops last. Given that I have no plans to retire either my main knitting design business or my virtual workshop platform, this will have to suffice for “lifetime access”. I am working on a FAQ which has more info, if you’d like to check that out.
Bottom line: if you take a workshop with me, or buy a workshop recording, you’ll have access to the recording “forever” (for some definition of eternity).
Also, now that my brain is feeling less fuzzy, I’m going to drop in a full list of my workshops in 2023 (thus far) here. All times are in Eastern (US) time unless otherwise specified:
In honor of the season (but also all other gifting opportunities throughout the year), I’ve created a gift-card system on my site. You can now buy a gift card (of any value, thanks to my existing “name-your-price” system) for a friend or loved one and send it directly to them at a particular date, or just have it sent to you for printing. They can redeem it as a guest or a regular customer; customers with accounts can even store gift card value on their account for later use!
I type this from my bed, where I am isolating after catching a pretty bad cold that we are pretty sure isn’t COVID. I hoped to have this stuff out before everyone was inundated with Black Friday emails but I was too sick to get it done. Now that that bizarre “holiday” is over, I feel it’s more appropriate for me to post this on “Small Business Saturday” anyway, as I am the smallest of small businesses.
What you are probably waiting for — the 2023 workshop listings — are a little later on in this post. If you like, you can jump right there now. But you might also want to read on, as there’s an uncommon occurrence you might want to take advantage of.
I do not usually do sales on my patterns, but occasionally I take a chance. For the past couple of years, I have managed to miss the deadline to join Ravelry’s Indie Design Gift-A-Long — but this year I made it in. This means I’ve got 18 patterns which are discounted by 25% until Nov 28th. I am sorry for not giving you more notice of this, but see above about illness. I did mention it was coming up in my last blog post. But more importantly, I am only one of a couple of hundred independent designers with patterns on sale, and I highly recommend you check out the others as well. For example, one of my friends and a designer of stunning lace shawls, Anna Dalvi, is also participating (and I will more than likely be buying some of her patterns at least). For more info, visit the Indie Gift-A-Long group on Ravelry!
I have been, as I’ve mentioned already, going absolutely nuts trying to get my ducks in a row to get the new slate of BuildingBlox workshops out and ready so you can sign up for them. They’re finally up, and you can get all the details on my Workshops page (for workshop descriptions and more info in general), my BuildingBlox page (for info on my virtual workshop series), and my Recordings page (for a listing of all recordings that are scheduled/available).
I also have another set of virtual workshops I’ll be teaching for Maryland Sheep & Wool’s Virtual Winterfest in late January; these are listed on my main calendar along with all of the other events I’ll be teaching. Nota Bene: these are all in a two-hour virtual workshop format.
Other workshops including the live ones I’ll be doing for Vogue Knitting Live and Red Alder in February 2023 are also listed on my calendar.
Under normal circumstances I would post links to all of my workshops here in the blog post but I am exhausted enough from all the work I’ve done today and it’s already getting dark. I hope you’ll forgive me and just click through to get where you need/want to be! I’ll be posting more about all of these workshops in the near future!
Lest you think I’ve been “resting” for the past month, I want to give you some updates. Hold tight, there’s a lot of info coming. Want to skip ahead? Jump to Patreon, In-person Workshops, or Website updates rather than slogging through the general Workshops updates (but honestly, read the workshop updates — it’s exciting stuff, at least to me).
BuildingBlox & Workshops in general
The biggest news is on my workshop front. For a long time, my workshop offerings have remained approximately the same. Earlier this year, I added a couple of new workshops and taught each of them once — then I put everything on hold. It was clear that I needed to make some big changes, and I was never going to be able to do so if I didn’t take the time, pause, rethink, rework, and restart. This has meant a lean quarter, but I think in the long run it will be well worth the lost revenue from these 3 months.
The new workshop offerings are now up on my website! There are 35 of them, as opposed to the previous 10 or 12! Only a handful have anything scheduled, as I’ll be doing a couple of live shows in February 2023 but nothing else is announced yet — still, you can get a preview of what’s going to be offered in 2023 and beyond.
I have deliberately held off applying to teach anywhere else until this step is complete, and have missed a couple of opportunities in the meantime. Still, my priority right now is getting ready to schedule my own virtual workshops.
So, about that: the BuildingBlox virtual workshops will also be restarting in 2023, although dates and precise selections of workshops have not been selected yet (stay tuned for that — and sign up for my workshop interest lists to be among the first to find out). But I do have some good info that you may have been waiting on about the pricing and other infrastructure stuff that’s changing.
First, you may have noticed that the workshops are all listed by Tiers (previously “levels”). Each new tier builds on the previous ones in some way, and there are four tiers, including the Foundations workshops. There are now four Foundations, but only two of them are really meant to build most of the next Tier of workshops on top; the other two are specialized Foundations for specialized skill building. This is important because the Tiers inform the new pricing structure. Rather than all workshops being the same price, workshop prices now rise with each new Tier.
In addition, all workshops are recorded and made available to those who enrolled for a year from the workshop date (previously 6 months). But these recordings will also be sold (at a discount) to those who can’t or didn’t make it to the workshop.
Without further ado, here are the prices by tier (for a 3-hour workshop; multi-session workshops will have different prices):
Foundations: $39.95; $34.95 for the recording only ($5 savings)
Tier 1: $59.95; $44.95 for the recording only ($15 savings)
Tier 2: $79.95; $54.95 for the recording only ($25 savings)
Tier 3: $99.95; $64.95 for the recording only ($35 savings)
So, let’s talk about the “why” of this change. It’s a pretty radical change; my previous workshops were based on a sliding scale starting at $35, across the board — so I’m sure you have questions about why the big jump. As I mentioned in previous posts, the old price was based on faulty math, and here’s why. I have been teaching for the big shows for about a decade. I have come to expect payment of a certain amount per workshop, and if it’s more, I feel extraordinarily fortunate. When I started offering my own workshops, I based the price I required on those payouts. When I started doing the virtual workshops, I set the price so that if a workshop filled halfway with people who only paid the minimum, I’d get approximately what I’d have been paid if I taught that workshop for one of the big shows. You can do the math, but I’ll do it for you: a typical payout for a 3-hour in-person workshop at one of the big shows is around $350. Obviously, if I got more than 10 people, or people paid more than the minimum, I’d make more than that.
But here’s the thing: when you pay for a workshop at one of the big shows, only a portion of it goes to the instructor. Typically, quite a bit more of it goes to the show and all of their overhead. This is fine — the show needs to pay its bills and still show a profit or there’s no point in them running it again. But even though there’s a maximum I can expect to get from a workshop taught for a big show, it’s important for me to remember that that amount does not determine my value as an instructor.
What I should be doing when I run workshops myself is to charge something similar to what you pay when you enroll at one of the big shows. So that’s what I’m doing. I did some research, talked to some people whose opinions I trust, and made the changes I needed to make. Typically, I’d have sent out a survey, asked my existing customers how they felt about the proposed changes, and used the responses to decide on a set of prices. But multiple people advised me not to do that, and just to make the prices reasonable based on what others were offering for similar products. I got advice that I could easily get $90-125 for most of my workshops. This seemed like too much of a jump, and the people who advised me thus will probably roll their eyes at my relatively modest increase — but the math works well, and offers room for increases over time if needed.
The issue with my research was twofold: first, almost nobody is doing anything as robust as this virtual workshop series, at least as far as I could tell. Second, there’s no way to compare the content of my workshops to others. Why not? Well, I am the only person on the planet running workshops on the vast majority of what I teach. That’s one of the reasons behind the Tier-based increases. There are plenty of people teaching Foundations-level double-knitting, in-person and virtual. With each successive Tier, there are fewer other people teaching these techniques (and at Tier 3, there’s really nobody else doing anything remotely that advanced). In addition, there are fewer students who are both willing and able to take workshops in the higher Tiers, so a higher price covers lower expected enrollment. But I found prices, and found that the prices I am charging here are reasonable based on what others charge per hour, whether independent or through some other venue.
I also don’t intend to cancel workshops for low enrollment. Even if I only get a handful of people taking a Tier-3 workshop, I’ll still run it because I will get a recording which I can continue to sell for most of the next year (although I expect fewer people will purchase them the longer they sit, given the finite end date).
So here’s the bottom line: My virtual workshops are longer than average, have access to a recording for much longer than average, are mostly on topics you can’t learn anywhere else, and are still less expensive than many of the big shows’ fees. Do you need any more reasons to be willing to enroll?
There is one caveat, however. The BuildingBlox workshop experience will be somewhat different (better, I think) — each workshop will have a dedicated page where homework, links, Zoom links, and (later) the video recording will be housed. Everyone who enrolls in the workshop will get access to this, although those who buy the recording only will get access only to certain parts of it (no Zoom link, for example). This means that everyone who enrolls in one of these workshops will need to have an account on my site (as that’s how I can control who gets access to the page). You can make an account at checkout by simply choosing a password, or you can get a head-start by creating your account now.
If you’ve been keeping track of my Patreon, you might know that the highest tier had a free-workshop-per-month perk. This was based on the fact that the tier price and the workshop base price were the same. This is no longer the case, so that perk has been removed. However, in its place there’s a benefit to almost all patrons in the form of a monthly workshop discount coupon. The coupon will work on any one virtual or recorded workshop per month, and (like the workshops) the value is based on the Patreon support tier. Now here’s the neat thing: the discount you get is more than the amount you pay monthly for Patreon support. So this is the one and only way you can get regular discounts on my workshops! If you think you’re likely to want to take a bunch of my BuildingBlox workshops in 2023 and beyond, maybe think about joining my Patreon! Here are the discounts:
Slip-Stitch Tier: $5/month gets a $10 coupon ($5 savings)
Modern Tier: $15/month gets a $25 coupon ($10 savings)
Extreme Tier: $35/month gets a $50 coupon ($15 savings)
Sorry Tubular backers, the lowest tier doesn’t get a lot of perks and also doesn’t get a discount here.
One other change, only affecting the Extreme tier backers: I removed the “office hours” perk because in over a year of offering it, only one person has ever used it, so it wasn’t worth it for me to keep paying for the booking system. If there’s more interest in that in the future, I’ll look into reinstating it some other way.
Yes, as I mentioned before, there are in-person workshops scheduled, and you can sign up for them now if you’re in (or traveling to) NYC or Tacoma, WA next February for Vogue Knitting Live or Red Alder. Red Alder even has a couple instances of new workshops I’ve never taught in person before!
Because this post has gone on pretty long already, I’m just going to refer you to my handy Events Calendar, where you can get all the info you need. You can also (of course) look me up on the individual event pages. I’ll do another post later with updates on all my upcoming workshops once I’ve scheduled my first set of BuildingBlox workshops, and have even more virtual workshops aside from those to share as well.
Website, Blog and Social Media updates
You may have already noticed if you’ve been following my blog for a while, as well as if you’ve followed many of the links from earlier in this post, that I’ve been doing some heavy work on my website and blog.
The work on the website has mostly been focused around the places one might visit while looking for workshops, while the books and patterns have been left alone for a little longer. I’ve made a lot of aesthetic changes along with the structural ones. One of the changes you might not immediately notice is the one you’re using right now: the fonts! The fonts have been changed to web versions of the same ones I use in my books and patterns. I’m excited that I’ve been able to figure out how to achieve this, and I hope you like the look of them. Fine-tuning continues, so please let me know if anything is broken.
The blog is a separate, less-complex site, but I was also able to import the fonts here, and with some CSS wizardry I’ve been able to customize this theme to use the same fonts my website uses.
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you have probably noticed I haven’t been doing much in those spaces. I made a post a while ago about this — in the absence of my former social media manager, I have had to choose between “production” and “promotion” weeks. I have been deep in production and have had no time for promotion — but as time goes on I will need to do both, so I have hired a new virtual assistant. I’ll introduce you to her in a future post, but you’ll start seeing more from me on social media if you follow Fallingblox Designs in those places.
What about knitting?
Among all of these time-consuming projects, what about knitting? This is the season for knitting, where I live. It’s getting colder, and I really, really want to get the needles and yarn out and make some stuff. I hope I have the time, after all this workshop prep is done but before I actually have to start teaching them. I miss the simplicity of just knitting, whether for myself or for a new pattern. It’s hard to find the time for it now, but I hope that after all this infrastructure is done, and I have someone to help schedule workshops and take some other work off my plate, I’ll be able to get back to the basics of this craft I love so much.
Thanks for your patience with me, and for reading this far in such a long post.
Read on if you want to hear an early report on the direction I’m taking with my 2023 (and beyond) workshops — but before that, let’s talk about what’s already on the books:
I will have more virtual and in-person workshops to announce soon, but since time is of the essence, I wanted to let you know that I will be teaching a few workshops at Vogue Knitting Live in NYC next February (2023). VKL doesn’t allow me to link directly to workshops, but here are the ones I’ll be running there; you can go to their main site to sign up. Early bird pricing is in effect until Oct. 27, so get your tickets now!
Fri, Feb 10, 2-5pm: Intro to Double-knitting (SOLD OUT)
Fri, Feb 10, 6-9pm: Texture in Double-knitting
Sat, Feb 11, 2-5pm: Multi-color Double-knitting
Sat, Feb 11, 6-9pm: Intro to Double-knitting
I have more to tell you about, but it’ll need to wait until workshops are posted! One hint: expect me later in that same month in the Pacific Northwest again …
Now, to business
If you’ve been following my virtual workshops over the pandemic, you may have heard me wax philosophical about how to proceed into a “post-pandemic” world. While you can read more of those musings in a previous blog post, or watch my recent podcast, I want to keep you updated on my current thinking so you know that there is movement, not just silence, from my desk.
I’m not going to offer numbers just yet, partially because I haven’t fully settled on them yet, but I do want to give you advance notification that my prices are going up. Significantly, in some cases. Why? Bottom line: the numbers I was using were based on faulty math. I’ll explain that in a later post.
It’s hard for me to ask for more, but the fact is that if I ever want to realize this as a full-time job, I need to. And here’s the thing: I’m worth it. I am teaching workshops that nobody else in the world is teaching. I’m doing them for 3 hours rather than 2, and I’m recording them so you have access to them for a long time. Anywhere else, you pay much, much more per workshop, and in some cases you don’t get as much as you do from a BuildingBlox workshop.
Will I lose some customers? Almost certainly. I’ve kept my prices artificially low for altruistic reasons, and that means that some people who have gotten used to those prices will not be able to afford the price increases. But I will always be open to negotiating on a case-by-case basis with those who truly can’t afford the prices.
So here’s the breakdown of what the new BuildingBlox workshops are going to look like:
There will be almost three times as many workshops, including some project-based ones. This means that a workshop might run only once per year, unless I start offering more than 3-4 per month.
Workshops will be scheduled several months out — a whole season at a time, if possible. This will give people more time to plan, more time to enroll, and gives me more time to advertise.
Workshops will be charged under a tiered model. Previously called “Levels”, each tier will have a base price. Lower tier workshops (such as Intro to Double-knitting) will be priced lower. As the tier level rises, the price will rise.
Workshop recordings will be offered to all workshop attendees for a year from the date of the workshop, using a new portal which I am building into my site to keep people from having to navigate a video hosting site.
Workshop recordings will also be sold at a reduced rate (also per tier). So people will have the choice to take the workshop at the time with all the interactivity that entails, or access the recording without the interactivity at a discount.
When a workshop runs again, the recording will be replaced in my shop, but the original recording will still be available to any who purchased access to it earlier (until its time limit runs out).
In order to take a workshop or buy access to a recording, you will need to have an account on my site. This is the only way I can control access (a guest user can’t be given access to the recording in the same way).
Patreon supporters will get a monthly discount code equivalent to a certain amount more than their support tier (in other words, those who support me at $5 might get $10 off a workshop in a given month; supporters at $15 might get $20 off, and so on). It’s my hope that this will encourage more Patreon supporters as well.
In the past, I’ve always tried to avoid making these kinds of big changes without checking with my customer base — I’ve run questionnaires, had focus groups, etc. This time I was counseled from a number of quarters to just make the changes I need to make, and let the chips fall where they may. This is hard for me to do; I care a lot about what my students think about me and my work and workshops, but I also need to make sure I’m able to continue doing this without so many workshop cancellations.
Thank you for understanding. More info will be forthcoming as soon as it solidifies.
Well, folks, it’s been a long time since the last one of these, but here’s the new one! Thanks for your patience; I hope it’s worth the wait! In it, I talk about plans to futureproof Fallingblox Designs (specifically regarding virtual workshops), some new innovations, and more. If you click through to YouTube, the clickable links for the various things I share in the video are also there.
In other news
I want to give you a heads up about the next few months. I will be closing out my Fall season with this month’s virtual workshops, listed here:
It has become clear that I need to find a sustainable way to continue to offer virtual workshops in a post-pandemic world (as alluded to in my previous post), and that if I just continue to offer the same workshops in the same way, I’ll never actually find a time to make that transition. At the same time, I need time to work on workshop content, perhaps formulate some new workshops, and then come back in 2023 with a real workable plan. So I’m taking the rest of 2022 to figure this stuff out. Want to make sure you’re among the first to know when the workshops return? Join my mailing lists on my contact page.
Want to stay updated on what I’m doing in the meantime (and help me weather 3 months of no workshop income)? Join my Patreon! Patreon folks saw (and got way more detail on) the techniques I worked on during my August of Innovation, mentioned in the podcast above, in more-or-less real time.
First of all, I don’t believe we are in a post-pandemic world. A lot of people have decided that masking is no longer necessary for them to feel safe, but regardless of how we feel, the pandemic is still occurring and it’ll be a while before we can truly say we are past it. But in the knitting world, as in other communities, we have already started to move past pandemic measures — more in-person events are being scheduled and happening, to begin with.
The current phase of Fallingblox Designs is primarily based on education — during the pandemic, I found virtual workshops possible and practical (and profitable) and this has been my main focus over the past 2 years (I got a late start due to the fire). Throughout these years, I’ve told myself (and others) that I intend to keep doing virtual workshops even as physical ones become possible again, primarily because I’m able to reach people I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to reach. Not everyone has a “big show” near them or can afford to travel to one.
But as people tire of the pandemic and the trappings of pandemic life, I am seeing fewer enrollments and having to cancel more of my virtual workshops. This is almost certainly partially my fault for letting my social networking slide — but if the survey I put out last year is any indication, social networks are less important to the majority of my customers and the issue could be simple market saturation. Regardless, I need to figure out how to proceed.
A few things occur to me, after conversations with some students and further discernment on my part:
I need to schedule my virtual workshops further out. I’ve been scheduling them a month, maybe two, ahead for the past couple of years. This worked during a time when people had fewer conflicts due to lockdowns or simply lack of events, but with more and more events now vying for everyone’s time and money, I need to allow my students to plan further ahead. This also means I need to be able to plan further ahead, which has been difficult.
If I need to settle into the reality of lower enrollments, I need to raise my rates so that I won’t need to cancel so many workshops. This may mean I come up with a slightly different way to deal with my “sliding scale” model, perhaps enacting a more formal “scholarship” process. More on that later.
I need to figure out how better to get the word out about my virtual workshops to people who might actually be interested in attending.
Am I ready to take all of this and put it into practice? Not yet. Right now it’s more important that I let folks know about my upcoming workshops than that I radically change my process — but expect workshops for the rest of the Fall season to be announced soon.
Right now, here’s what I’ve got scheduled. As usual, I’m starting my season with an intro workshop, then I’m bringing back the two workshops I cancelled in June for a second chance. Then, at the end of September/beginning of October, I’m teaching some workshops at Knitters’ Day Out in Harrisburg, PA. These are the last of my in-person workshops for the year (stay tuned for more in 2023). All times are in Eastern Time:
I made a proclamation to my mailing list that I was taking August as a break from knitting-related work — no workshops, no pattern work, etc. August last year was miserably hot and I don’t have effective AC that makes it comfortable for me to knit. This year it’s been a bit better but I have largely been absent, on “actual” vacation (from which the photo above is taken). It’s also a time when many others in the US take vacations, and less knitting is done due to the heat, so workshops rarely fill. But I knew I needed to schedule some workshops, so it couldn’t be completely devoid of knitting work. I also said that I hoped to use this month to do some experimentation on some new or undeveloped techniques, and I’m happy to say I probably have enough to do a workshop on double-knit short-rows, and am starting work on stacked stitches. I hope to have some experiments to show for my next podcast, but if you want a look sooner, I recommend joining my Patreon, where I’m showing these swatches as I go.