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Does anyone know why Emmaknitty has blocked me? Or, Tulip’s Tale.

Now, this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down… Well, not really, but let’s say that it’s definitely a story that “flipped-turned upside down” my views on social media, the friends you keep and the people you associate with. Let’s also say that it’s a story of an experience that will stay with me in some form for a long time and one that hopefully can offer YOU some guidance if it ever happens to you.

Cyber-bullying is something that had never really happened to me before the situation I’m going to tell you about today. Sure, I’ve had trolls sliding into my DMs on Twitter when I was politically active there (Brexiteers, pervs, you name it) and a weirdo on Facebook who Googled me, found my address via my Etsy and suggested we meet up IRL at the pub down the road from me. That was scary, but this was scarier in a different way.

Before I regail you with this cautionary tale, I’d like to say that the person who did this will be known as “Tulip” from now on. Please don’t ask me why I chose that moniker… I have no idea. I won’t be giving you the person’s name, account details or giving any kind of hints to who it might be – I’m responsible like that and know how nasty social media can be. I’m also not here to play the victim, even though I was. I will, however, be very candid about what happened, the effect it had, and giving some pointers on what to do if this kind of thing happens to you in the future. Anyone who messages me asking for this singuarly nasty individual’s username will be told where to go, in the politest way. I’m not here to name and shame. Well, not until I quit Instagram, that is… If that day ever comes…

So, here goes. put on some meditative music and grab a herbal tea (lol, get a wine) and let’s get to it.
Imagine yourself in this situation, if you will. A few weeks prior to the event I’ll tell you about I had blocked an individual – Tulip – who I didn’t care to follow anymore for a myriad of reasons. Put bluntly, as a designer who supports and follows designers I respect, I found Tulip’s work boring, samey, derivative and the individual itself turned out to be not my cup of tea. I also knew that this designer had been copying other people’s work, and that thing I love, potentially buying followers. I was not close at all to this person, but instead followed her back because some of my friends followed them as well and we were kind of intertwined in a weird way. You know like at school when you hang around with a person because she’s mates with your mate but you don’t really talk? Very that. One day I decided to stop being a fake and unfollowed, removed anything relating to them on my feed, then blocked them a few days later because I don’t do things by halves, fam.
Boom. I jogged on.

One morning a few weeks later I was chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool before my classes started (I’ll stop with the Fresh Prince stuff now) and casually scrolling through Instagram, as usual. I was planning my activities for the day, thinking about deadlines and looking forward to catching up with students and teaching. Suddenly, a close friend of mine sent me a screenshot of Tulip’s Story post – obviously I had no access to Tulip’s Stories or content as I’d blocked her – that said…

“Does anyone know why Emmaknitty has blocked me? I just really want to know!”

“Bloody hell”, I said, “obsessed much?”. I moved on again. As in, I had to get my arse in gear and go to work. Unlike some people, it seems.

An hour or so later I unsilenced my phone between lessons and noticed that I had a comment under my latest post from Tulip, via another of their accounts. “Emma, why did you block me?” I ignored it, blocked this other account and moved on.

A while afterwards I received another comment from another of their accounts saying the same thing, “Emma, why did you block me? I just want to know!”. I blocked this account and moved on. Slightly bemused. Bit freaked out.

A little while after that I recieved another comment saying the same thing from yet another of their accounts. I know what you’re thinking: so many accounts? I know. This individual has one account for their craft account, another for their other craft account, one for their big toe and three others for their bellybutton fluff collection, neighbour’s cat and cactus garden.

“Right. Hmm. Ok.” Then of course, I thought the following:

Closely followed by a thought of, “How the hell can you think it’s normal to send the same message from all seventy thousand of your accounts and not think that it makes you come across as a total nutter?” I guess it takes all sorts.

Closely followed by another thought of, “who’s life can be THAT empty that they spend an entire morning obsessing over why one person you weren’t close to blocked you? What a total narcissist”.

It’s a fair point. What does it say abut your personality if you can’t actually fathom WHY a person would want to block you? Come on, sis.

During that morning and early afternoon, in total I recieved five messages and five comments from five different accounts that belonged to this person. All saying the same thing more or less, all sent closely together, all of which were blocked, ignored, giving a very clear message, along the lines of “Bitch, if I blocked you I blocked you. Sling yer hook, leave me alone and get yourself a fulfilling hobby. Oh, and don’t forget to make an Instagram account for it, too, just to give yourself extra options in case someone blocks you!”

Here’s something important to know. The backstory.

In the past Tulip had bought a pattern from me for an item and taken a very lovely image of her kid wearing it. It was an awesome image, and I asked Tulip if I could use it for marketing purposes, to which she gave a very enthusiastic “YES” and I added it to my Etsy and Instagram marketing, with thanks. Basically, consent was given.

After I blocked Tulip I removed the images of her child from my Etsy and Instagram. Why would I keep photos connected to her, after all? That wouldn’t be on. They got deleted and yes, I moved on. One thing I didn’t realise however was that there was still one photo of their kid far back on my feed that I hadn’t noticed.

A few hours passed and I was just about to sign in to my final class of the day, an extremely important group of professional adults which requires 200% of my brainpower. I had 15 minutes to get an enormous coffee, decipher my notes and make sure that Windows Update wasn’t going to well, update, before I logged into Zoom, as it always seemed to do.

“VROOOM!” – my phone vibrated. Again. And again. In total I recieved around thirteen messages along the lines of;

“REMOVE THE PHOTO OF TULIP’S KID!”
“WHY ARE YOU USING PHOTOS OF SOMEONE’S CHILD WITHOUT PERMISSION?”
“DELETED THAT F***ING PHOTO OR ACTION WILL BE TAKEN!”
“I WORK IN CHILD PROTECTION (chinny reckon) AND WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS WRONG!”
“YOU’RE USING IMAGES OF CHILDREN WITHOUT PERMISSION!”
“ARE YOU A P**O?” (I have blanked out the word here as it’s more offensive than effing, but you can work out what it says).

I don’t care why Emmaknitty has blocked me! I just want her to remove the photo of my child from her feed! That’s all I want and she’s refusing to!


The above was posted fully-publicly-like on Tulip’s Stories for all their thousands of misguided followers to see. Tulip had posted publicly on their Instagram account that I was using photos of their kid without permission and refusing to remove it, which was not true, but what were her followers to know? In the eyes of someone who doesn’t know the full story, that looks awful, right? If I’d seen that, especially as a mother of a young daughter, I’d probably be searching for my pitchfork/lighting up my torch like a medieval villager hungry for blood. Or one of that crowd looking to lynch Beast from Beauty and the Beast. Guess where that photo was? It was a photo that was part of a collage that I hadn’t noticed when I was removing all the images before I blocked her, and I had overlooked without malice. I didn’t know about this until a friend told me and sent me a screenshot.

Unfortunately I could do sod all about that because I was at work and was no longer able to see her Story posts. Some of us have jobs that mean we can’t look at our phones every 32 seconds.

I’m not going to sit here and type to you about how damaging it is to imply publicly on social media that a person uses images of children without permission. Psychopaths and sociopaths see people as pawns and do not consider the dangerous consequences that their own creepy actions can have in the real world.

Let’s just say that it’s a very disturbing way of expressing your frustration about not knowing why a person has blocked you, and a potentially devastating one at that. Interestingly 99.9% of people who I spoke to about this were not at all surprised that Tulip responded in the way they did. There’s a hot cup of T for you. It was telling, and I could say more.

The people who messaged me abuse were either blocked instantly or told into which orifice to insert their phone, and given a beautiful selection of pretty Anglo Saxon swearwords or all three, followed by being screenshotted alongside the messages I recieved from Tulip. We’ll discuss this later.

What happened after that? Well, Tulip got a semi-calling out from me on my Stories (which they were clearly told about by someone who follows me and I lovingly also blocked too, haha). Tulip then messaged me about it via ANOTHER OF HER INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS – is this even for real? – then I replied to that message. Then Tulip blocked me so she couldn’t read my reply. I mean. You couldn’t make it up. Hilair.

I had no other option but to email her my polite response, with a nice “I hope you find the help you need” as my closing words. In a way I hope Tulip does. In another way I hope the same happens to Tulip one day just so this person discovers how appalling cyberstalking and bullying feels. Like I said at the beginning, one day I’d like to tell more people about who did this. But not yet. Maybe never. Writing this article is cathartic enough, right?

So, what can you do if you are being harrassed on Instagram?

Harassment – When someone is being harassed on social media, they may receive continuous messages from one person or a group of people with the intention of causing embarrassment, distress or fear. Persistent harassers will continue to harass the victim even after having their social media accounts blocked, by setting up numerous anonymous or ‘fake’ identities so that they can simply move to the next account. There is legislation in place to protect people from on-going or long-term harassment in most parts of the world.

Step one: firstly, do as I did and screenshot all the messages, comments, tags ANYTHING you get from the person. This is important evidence that you should keep safe. I still have all messages and evidence from Tulipgate kept safe in a Google Drive folder for a rainy day. Cyberbullying and stalking is taken very seriously by the Police and is no longer seen as something that should be ignored or overlooked, and a Police officer in my family told me, what I had would have been enough to justify a knock on the door from Tulip’s local constabulary. I didnt go that far, although I certainly thoght about it, but it’s nice to know that these options are available in the future if need be.

I’m worried that if I block someone from now on it might happen to me.

You have the right to block anyone you like. You also have the right to keep your reasons for blocking a person to yourself and not to feel pressured into telling anyone why you have done so. If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, upset, annoyed, irritated or you just don’t like them, you can block them. If they don’t like it and hassle you about it, ask them to leave you alone or ignore them, and if it carries on Tulip-style, consider step one above.

Remember that if a person cannot handle the fact that someone has unfollowed or blocked them that is their issue, not yours, and shows a lot about their maturity level. The fact that you have chosen to surround yourself with people you love and respect shows a lot about yours. Personallly, I don’t enjoy fakeness directed towards me and certainly don’t enjoy having to be fake to people, unless absolutely necessary. Like at the school gate. Social media is one of the few places in my life where I can be comfortable enough to be honest and frank to people and that’s why I use the block button lavishly on occasion. You can be sure that if I follow you, I love you and your work. No fakery, all T.

If I could go back, would I have done anything differently?

I’ve thought about this a lot and the honest answer is, “I dunno”. It might have been a lot easier if I had just told Tulip frankly that I didn’t like them or what they did, but would it have made me feel good? Should I have just told Tulip that I didn’t want to follow them anymore and that’s that? I have heard from people that this individual doesnt take kindly to that kind of thing, so it may have blown up further, or not. Who knows? Is it possible that Tulip thought we were super bezzie mates and I didn’t and that would have explained why she acted so intensly? Would it have made things easier if I was truthful to her and told her that I found it abhorrent that she was copying other people’s art whilst myself and my peers in the craft community are frying our brains daily to produce original work? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and what I did on that day was disassociate from the situation by ignoring and continuing to block. All I can say honestly about that day is that Tulip truly showed her real side and cemeted the fact that I shouldn’t have been supporting her in the first place. True colours and all that.

What else can I do if I’m being bullied online?

Something else you can do is to tell trusted friends and family in real life and online (if you have a close circle – I was lucky enough to have support in the online creative community) what is happening so they are aware.

Don’t forget that you can also contact Instagram directly. Bullying and harrassment is taken seriously by Instagram and can result in the perpetrator’s account being suspended and even closed down if the harrassment is deemed serious enough.

Don’t forget that bullying and harrassment is not your fault and you shouldn’t be ashamed. There are plenty of options available to help you and anyone you know who is being treated this way on social media. Keep yourself as safe as possible and always reach out to friends if you feel uncomfortable.

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How to Not Be Annoying on Instagram – Part II

I decided to wrote Part II “THE REVENGE” of my original ”How Not to Be Annoying on Instagram” because, since I wrote the last one, I’ve been inundated with messages with examples of the GALL of some people on social media.
I’m not sure why, but some people think that because ou are a small business you somehow OWE (yes, I am aware of the number of capitalised words I’ve been using here) them advice or… Something.
The thing is, it’s very easy to come across as tetchy or overly-sensitive when describing some of the irritating messages that small business owners often recieve. For example, if you get a message saying “could you show me how to write a listing up on Etsy” or “show me how make that XYZ” you’re effectively asking for someone to show them your business model or to show them – a stranger, using your own time, for free – something you have spent hundreds of hours working out for yourself. It’s not the same as someone asking what hairspray you use, or where you bought that amazing jacket for your kid, it’s bigger than that. Still don’t get it? Maybe this list can help. BAM! This article does contain some swearing, so best to avoid if you dry heave at naughty words.

“Could you kindly tell me how you make that? How much yarn do you use? How did you set up your shop? Where do you buy your equipment, please?”

Could you tell me how to make that? Buy the pattern and you’ll see.
How much yarn did you use? Buy the pattern and you’ll see.
How did you set up your shop? Long nights, low pay and surviving on the preserved blood of my enemies and exes.
Where did you buy your equipment? I carved them out of the bones of my enemies and exes.

Please be aware that the questions above are VERY rarely asked in that way. They are normally a single noun (PATTERN?) or extremely direct question (WHERE DID YOU BY THAT?) which adds to the irritation. However, even if these are asked in a nice way, I don’t share this stuff with people I am not friends with.

In short, please don’t feel anxious about being cagey about skill and knowledge sharing with total strangers.

“I was wondering if you could give me pointers on how to improve my sales and build my following”.

Innocent question, but don’t be surprised if the person you’re asking doesn’t respond how you’d expect. There are entire careers dedicated to this stuff (hello marketing executives) and often small businesses don’t have a specific model that they follow. To be honest though, even if they did, this is a pretty broad question to ask and something that takes a LOT of answering. Like, it’s a huge ask and something people work at understanding sales tactics for years and might not want to share. It’s personal, involves hard work and years of learning and the person you’re asking most probably had to learn the hard way themselves. If you’re considering asking these type questions to a small business, think about how you could learn yourself rather than expecting free knowledge. It’s actually more fun that way. Learning is FUN.

Regarding how to get followers? Be yourself, offer quality, don’t copy and for GAWD sake don’t bloody buy them.

EX-POH-SHA!

Okay. Deep breath for this one, because it’s probably the biggest fuckery you can come across on social media right now (apart from bullying, but I’ll be writing about that very soon)! When you are a designer or maker in your chosen craft area it is the same as any other job, right? You perform an action or task and you get paid for it. Let’s compare it to the real world. Some jobs pay better, some pay worse, some don’t pay because they are internships and you are trying to get a foot in the door… Still shit but you know about that when you apply for the job. In some ways, running a small business on your own is harder than a 9-5 job because we have to be ON IT all the time, at weekends, updating social media, all of those things you have to do to stay relevant. It’s exhausting. I digress, but you know what I mean.

So imagine the gumption of people expecting you to do design work and making of things for no money with the only compensation being that funny new thing they call ‘exposure’. Nope, I don’t mean dying of the cold in a flimsy tent in mid-Feb by the side of the M62, but this baffling concept of “you work and I give you emptiness in exchange, that ok hun? xx”.
This is offensive when random people drop into your DMs asking if they can have a free hoodie, weaving, hank of yarn, wax melt or crocheted item for nothing and expect you to be all happy that they’re going to post a blurry photo of it on their rubbish TikTok account, but when bigger names and companies ask people to work for free and create brand new work just so their designs can be added to a blog, subscription box or anything, there lies the problem.

The solution to this is to know your worth. It doesn’t matter if you are freelance, a ‘newbie’, have 100 or 100k followers, it’s all irrelevant. If you work, you need to be getting money or at least something you are happy with in exchange. Sometimes both, please. This can be a company using you as an influencer to market their products and they give you a lot of yarn, an incentive in the form of pattern revenue, etcetera or an agreement you come to with an individual, but there must be an exchange you are satisfied with. I have heard some people say that they’re okay with doing things for free if it means that bigger accounts share their work and help them get ‘out there’. Maybe I’m an idiot, but I have never heard of a designer or small business becoming successful because a random influencer shared a few of their products or put one of their pattterns on a blog for a bit.

Like I said to a friend the other day, exposure doesn’t pay your phone bill, sis.

“It would be great if you could film a quick tutorial on how to work that stitch.”

Is this one to genuinely get annoyed by? I’m not sure, but this is mostly irritating when the person asking is expecting you to do this for them off the cuff, seeing doing something like this as a ‘quick’ thing and hasn’t bothered to do a quick Google about and research for themselves. Personally, I am starting to involve photo tutorials of more complex stitches and techniques in my patterns, and a lot of designers include them in their paid patterns, but to me this type of question screams entitlement.

My goodness Mavis, I could go on and on, but I need to save matrial for the next one… There will absolutely be a part three of this coming soon, but in the meantime, feel free to message me about all the Instagram things that grind your gears over on my Instagram page @emmaknitty!

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The Spookette Knitted Pumpkin · Free Pattern

Halloween is almost upon us, sort of. I mean, we’ve got a whole month to go, but in the mind of a knitting or crochet designer it may as well be tomorrow what with all the prep involved. This Halloween I decided to keep things simple and design a very easy, very cute and very beginner-friendly knitting pattern – a pumpkin!

Instagram has been full of pumpkins recently, and my faves are always the simple ones. With this design, you don’t need ribbing or fancy stitches to make it look textured, all you need is to know how to knit in the round, and the gathering at the top of the piece gives a lovely natural look to your piece. Plus, knitting these up on XL needles gives an incredibly squishy feel that will drive you crazy. Come on Autumn, we’re ready for you…

The yarn for this project was gifted by Borgo de Pazzi & We are Knitters.

You Will Need:

· 200g (one ball each) of Borgo de Pazzi Bulky, We are Knitters The Wool or any similar super bulky yarn (5-6 wpi) 100% wool yarn in your choice of shade. You don’t have to use 100% wool but it is highly recommended as the texture and feel will be different with other compositions.

· 15mm (80cm) circular knitting needles. I used We are Knitters 15mm beechwood needles.

· A yarn needle, a stitch marker and scissors and a stick of cinnamon for the stalk.

· A bag of fiberfill stuffing (approx 100g) or leftover yarn to stuff the pumpkin.

Skills: Knitting on circular needles, knit stitch, invisible join in the round, cast on and bind off, weaving in ends.

Method:

Cast on 38 stitches, leaving a 20cm tail and join to work in the round.
Knit every stitch for 28 rounds.
Bind off all, leaving a 20cm tail.
Weave the tail end in and out of the cast on stitches and pull tight to close. Take care when pulling the yarn as it could break.
Stuff the pumpkin well until it forms the shape you like.
Weave the tail end in and out of the bind off stitches as before and pull to close.
Insert a cinnamon stick into the top of the pumpkin.

Don’t forget to share your pumpkins using the hashtag #spookettepumpkin so I can check out your makes!

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A Testing Issue

I wanted to start out by saying that the purpose of this blog post is not to throw shade, target individuals or be nasty, it’s simply my own take and my own views on this topic. Debates like what follows are always valid, and sharing ideas and viewpoints on different asects of our craft community is educational and useful. I’ve also included some opinions expressed by my friends in the craft community – both testers and designers – sharing their opinions. I am also aware that there is a barbarity of RPDR .gifs here and I am so not sorry about it… You have been warned!

What is a knitting/crochet pattern tester?

A pattern tester is not a Tech Editor. Firstly, pattern testers can come from a range of ability levels (tech editors are expert knitters/crocheters) who give feedback on more general aspects of the design and are not necessarily required to give feedback on technical errors. They are certainly not required to rewrite, rephrase, correct or amend. In short, a tester is there to give feedback on how the item was to knit, if the pattern was easy to follow, if their measurements were more-or-less like yours, if the typeface used was clear (no Comic Sans or Chiller, please) and to get a free copy of the pattern as a thanks from the designer. Some amazing designers also give testers another free pattern to say express their gratitude, some do not, but the agreement is accepted by both designer and tester, and it’s common. And, althought this doesn’t sit well with some people, designers benefit from the exposure that other people sharing their testing process gives them.

So what’s happened? Here’s the T.

Recently there has been some talk about whether using pattern testers to check knitting and crochet patterns is unethical, exploitative and unfair. Because of this, last night I took the decision to stop using pattern testers myself in order to avoid conflict and give the benefit of the doubt. That’s the way it has to be sometimes on social media, especially if you run a small business. I’m not happy knowing that there are some people who might think what I do to ‘quality control’ my work is somehow exploiting others, so from now on I will test my own work and improve my editing skills.

That being said… Do I agree with the above? Do I think using volunteers to test my work is somehow harmful? No. Here’s why.

I couldn’t have completed my first pattern without the help of my testers. They really spurred me on!

– M

What we need to worry about in the creative industry – and especially in undervalued areas of it like knitting and crochet design – are things like racial discrimination, elevating BIPOC voices, homophobia, pattern theft, copying, big clothing brands underpaying workers who are crocheting bags for €2 an hour… Not, I repeat, not small businesses who, once and a while, ask their friends if they’d like to try out their pattern for free and check it for them. People can – and do – say no. It’s a choice. People are not being forced to test patterns in dark, grotty rooms like some kind of mafia situation. Let’s be real.

TEST MY PATTERN OR I’LL HUNT YOU DOWN YOU SCUM

So, can you afford to pay testers? I am super happy for anyone who is selling a lot of patterns, killing it, slaying in their game and making a career out of what they love. It’s hard out here for a creative bitch and those of us getting a regular income from pattern sales are in a fantastic position. Some, the majority, are not. I have friends who pay Tech Editors themselves before they release patterns because they have the money to do so. I have friends – myself included – who cannot afford it and don’t sell enough to be able to cover that cost and make a profit. Are we running the risk of shaming those who cannot afford this tool? Let’s hope not.

Let’s put a different spin on this. I’ve heard from a lot of people who have been confident enough to say that they are from low-income backgrounds or have a low salary and would be unable to have access to paid patterns without pattern testing for people. It works both ways.

I’d have never had the courage to release patterns if it hadn’t been for willing testers. I thank them by giving them another free pattern from my collection, but most say that it’s not necessary and are just happy to help out and take part.

– C

Yeah, but people who use pattern testers are just interested in getting exposure for their work. Gosh darn right we are, lady. This is out work and income, and if a friend wants to test our patterns willingly and share it on their platform we will be happy for the publicity. That doesn’t make us exploitative. How?

There’s a difference between pattern testing for a designer and pattern testing for a person who is knitting and crocheting for a hobby. Try again. Both are making an income from selling patterns and both have need for testers. Also, being a designer doesn’t automatically mean that you are raking it in.

Is asking people to test your patterns in exchange for a free pattern exploitative? Given the massive (and I mean, massive) amount of work that goes into creating a pattern, no. If you are a designer, how much do you charge for your patterns? I’m guessing not enough and this is an issue that I’ll maybe deal with in the future. Just because you see a designer offering a pattern that will be sold for €3 as insulting to the tester, think beyond the price tag. All designers undersell their work. The pattern that is recieved is worth far, far more than the amount you see on Etsy.

Are your fellow makers being forced into testing patterns? This is what I don’t get. I almost gave myself a brain injury last night trying to work out how doing a call out for people to test for you – that is, asking for volunteers, giving a choice, not forcing people into a sweatshop at gunpoint – could be construed as unfair. Here’s a little illustration:

Designer: Hi! I’m looking for a few people to test this item for me. You’ll need Xg of chunky-weight yarn and the deadline is in a month’s time. Interested? Drop me a DM!
Lovely maker: I’d love to test, thanks for the opportunity. I have that yarn in my stash.
Designer: Awesome! Thank you so much. I’ll send you the pattern tomorrow.

That person is clearly being coerced. Am I missing something? I could be thick. Please educate me if so, because I’m having a hard time understanding this part. As are plenty of people who slid into my DMs last night, all of us rolling our eyes so far back that we got a good look at our spines.

An accurate representation of the other night.

Is it exploitative for them to use yarn that they already have? Are they out of pocket? No. It’s arguably not fair if the designer is asking the tester to buy yarn specifically for that pattern, but the tester has a choice. From experience I have had testers ask if they need to buy anything and my answer has always been a firm NO WAY. Use your stash, have fun, destash that pesky yarn, us designers are flexible, plus it’s exciting and amazing to see what makers can do with our patterns when using different yarn types.

I have done pattern testing before, and it was my choice and has only been a positive experience!

– K

Are most brands and companies in the position to pay for testing? Yes. This is a different point altogther. Big brands, magazines, yarn companies will be in a position to Tech Edit patterns for you. Not test. That is part of the deal. If you submit a pattern to a magazine there will be a team there to edit it. Independent designers are not in that position, unless they are very well-known and making a good income. If you are assuming that the majority of designers are in that category then you need a reality check.

People pattern test to get a pattern that they might not be able to afford for free and to help each other out. People do it enthusiastically because they want to. I will continue to do it and help my Insta-friends out as much as I do my friends’ businesses in the ‘normal’ world.

– M

So, what’s the deal? Every single person I spoke to about this had a positive view of pattern testing, mainly because they’d done it themselves at one point. I know people who live for pattern testing. People who are spending their retirement knitting up beautiful work and helping designers (who are often their friends) make sure their work looks good before it is published and goes on sale. People who simply want access to fab patterns without having to pay, but as an exchange. People who have become next-level crocheters because they spent their early crocheting years testing for people.

Fierce.

On the converse, I have heard from people just starting out on their creative journey as a designer who are now worried about using their friends and followers for pattern testing purposes because they are scared that ‘bigger names’ might cause a revolt and look down on those who do it. There’s that snobbery thing again…

Pattern testing is a two-way street that benefits both designer and tester. If a designer is willing t trust me with their hard work then that’s enough payment for me!

– P

I’m on a low income and can’t to afford to buy patterns. Pattern testing for me is a way of getting a pattern for free in exchange for offering feedback, help and I can learn new stitches.

– G

So, what can we do? Carry on doing what we’re doing. Some designers have a small pool of regular testers who love doing it (like the other 99.9% of testers) and rely on them to try out their patterns. Some people do call outs. Some people, like me from now on, will test their patterns themselves. Some can afford to pay their testers. Some cannot. Some find the whole thing exploitative (I must have typed that word 465 times today) and don’t do it. That’s great. We will do our own stuff. Also, we can put our energy into solving and exposing real, problematic issues in our community instead and let people continue quality controlling their patterns how they like. Let’s not forget that we are all part of the same community and we have all been a beginner once, no matter where we are at the moment. To quote Sister Sledge – always a good idea – We Are Family.

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10 Crafty Questions · Emily / Make.e

When I first discovered Instagram, Emily – known on social media as Make.e – was one of the first makers/designers that I fell in love with, no lie. Her buzzing creativity, eye for colour and honest approach to crafting and life was and still is so inspiring! Whether it’s knitting, crochet or handcrafting crochet hooks and notions, she’s always making something unique and fabulous. It’s Make.E, need we say more?
In this interview, Emily talks 90’s bags, staying true to yourself (amen) and crushing on Tom Cruise. No judgement Em…

When did you first discover that you had a knack for making stuff? I have always made stuff, from a very young age. I’m sure any maker starts very young, I used to watch Blue Peter only for the ‘craft’ section, you know, where they would show you how to make a paper mâché money box, or stick plasticine on a frying pan to make faces (I remember doing that one for hours). I’m not sure I really realised I had a knack for making things until I was a lot older, I think it was probably when I was given my first sewing machine for my birthday. We had sewing lessons in D&T at school, that’s where I learnt to thread a machine and sew ‘properly’, as soon I got my own machine I would sit in my room sewing stuff for hours. I remember being about 15 years old, making a small rucksack out of this cotton fabric that was white with a blue stripes, I put in a zip that almost went the whole way round the bag because that’s what I had available to me at the time. I added extra long shoulder straps so the bag sort of sat at the base of my spine, it was very 90’s, I loved that bag. Then my best friends very cool big sister asked to borrow it to go to out to a club and I think maybe it was then that I felt that something inside me knew I had crossed a line and I might actually be alright at this making thing.

How important would you say social media is for budding designers, makers, creative folk and those of us who want to try and make a living out of a ‘hobby’?Instagram has been hugely important to me as a designer/maker. When I joined instagram there is no way on earth I would have called myself a designer. Making is my passion and its what I would do even if no-one was going to see it. Instagram is a great way to join a community of makers and crafts people, many of which share their craft and offer tutorials giving you access to an unbelievable amount of inspiration. I had absolutely no idea I would be welcomed into insta land as I have, instagram has been an incredible platform for me to share what I do, it just so happens people think I’m good at it and I can turn my passion into some kind of earnings. To make a ‘living’ out of a hobby is something I think most people would love to do, but let me just ask this question ‘what if your hobby became a chore?’ That sounds really dramatic doesn’t it? sorry to bum you out. Instagram can give you the opportunity to turn your hobby into some kind of earnings, its just what you want that to be? To make the real money as a maker takes serious hard work. To turn your hobby into a side hustle, instagram is fantastic, link yourself up to an Etsy shop and you can test the water that way, you never know where it might lead…..

If you could only sew, sculpt, knit or crochet for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Oh god… Serious?… Urm…. Damn that is hard… Ok, so crochet is what I suppose I’m best known for, but having learnt to knit last year I feel like I can’t just ditch that… And I do love me a bit of fimo and clay… Sewing isn’t something I really make time for so much, I find it too stressful with kids and dogs and all the pieces… It’s making me anxious just thinking about it! Can we make the question Snog, Marry, Date and push off a cliff? I’d snog knitting, Marry Crochet, date sculpting, and push sewing off the cliff…. Though I would probably divorce crochet and marry knitting later on….

Your hooks and notions bags are iconic at this point.I was lucky enough to nab a bag last year and it always gets a lot of compliments! What are your favourite hook/project bag styles that you have made so far? OMG, stop it….. The hooks and bags are so fun to make, I have to be in the right mood though. I find if I make because I ‘have to’ then I don’t produce work I’m proud of or happy to sell. The hooks and the project bags are really personal to me, they mark my growth as a maker. I love looking back at my earlier hooks and seeing how my style has become more refined and much more of a reflection of me. My favourite hooks are probably my crystal hooks.. mainly because I’d had the idea in my head for so long but wasn’t sure how they would work. I love the project bags, I actually love it when the project bags are all different, I try not to repeat a dye combo too much, I love that each one has its own personality. I have some new bag ideas that I hope to introduce soon….

What is important to you as a designer and brand? Being me…. This is absolutely the most important thing. I make things that I like. I don’t want to be a performing monkey, I want to explore and have freedom in my craft. I hope that comes across in my work and to my followers. 

Back in the day, children learnt skills like knitting and sewing at school. Is this something that you think should be brought back as part of the curriculum?100% yes… Im teaching my girls at home how to sew, knit and crochet, that’s when they want to of course. There is so much to be learnt from making, it’s problem solving, creative, mindful, imaginative and perfect for self expression. 

Describe your ‘happy place’ Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin… Ahhhhh, my happy place. As a family we LOVE the mountains, we have a small apartment in the Alps which we visit as often as possible. We kayak and paddle board on the lakes, we go rock climbing, walk, explore, hit the trails on our bikes and ski and snowboard in the winter. We are all so happy there. I think it is safe to say that is my happy place…

What’s usually going on in the background when you’re crafting? Do you need to have music, the telly or a series on or are you happy sitting quietly? Depends… if its something where I need to concentrate then I will probably put on some calm music. If its a more repetitive easy project that needs me to look at it while I make it then I love a podcast, I love the ‘Off Menu’ podcast and also ‘Films To Be Buried With’ is a bloody good listen, oh, and Ricky Gervais ‘Deadly Sirius’ has me in stitches. I also listen to a lot of Radio X, and of course Netflix is a staple for crocheting and knitting.

Has there been any craft you’ve tried your hand at and, well, been rubbish at? I’m sure there is… Spinning… Damn that shit is hard! Anything that is super intricate seems to go to pieces for me… I mean, I’ll try anything, but I am that annoying person that will just keep practicing until I get it… Urgh I hate myself!

…And how about a craft you’re dying to try and haven’t been able to have a crack at yet? Urm…. Basket making… Y’know, with willow sticks… I’d love to give that a go…. Oh oh oh, and whittling… Fuck, I’m slowly going full hippie….

Finally, which celebrities would you snog, marry and avoid? Ok…… so I don’t have any major current celeb crushes right now. I feel like I’ve let the team down. I could confess my past celeb crushes? When I was about 14 I had a real thing for Tom Cruise (oh god, the shame), I loved, loved, loved, Michael J.Fox, oh and there was the awkward Jim Carrey phase…

You can follow Emily on Instagram here and visit her Etsy shop here.

Thank you so much to Emily for her time and awesome answers. Stay tuned next month when another amazing crafter gets the 10 Crafty Questions treatment!