I Want to Be My Own Boss: 5 Things to Learn This Year

I have wanted for so long to be able to be my own boss. To set my own hours, travel freely, do what I want to do, but still pay the bills.

It seems like a lofty goal, but I know it is possible.

Given that I am working a comfortable day job (40 hours a week, top-notch health insurance, 401k, the works) my whole family thinks I’m crazy, I’m sure.

There are dozens of reasons I want to be self-employed, but now is not the time to divulge on that.

The problem now is that I moved ~400 miles away for this job that pays the bills and not much else. Recuperating from a move, adjusting to new tax rates, and unplanned expenses are not setting me up for success. (It costs $120 per month for my fiance and I just to park our cars here. Landlord left that bit out when I signed the lease).

There are several things that I will need to learn in order to make this happen, and maybe they’ll help you as well. Then I can look back on this at the end of the year and see how much I’ve learned.

 

1. How to do taxes for self-employment

I can tell you the ins-and-outs, ups-and-downs of credit, but I don’t know a darned thing about filing taxes. Thank goodness for the free edition of TurboTax. (I’m only 22, so I haven’t been filing my own taxes for very long, ok?). I do know that I should save my receipts for all business expenses and keep track of what I earn. Other than that… not a clue. I’m sure there are plenty of online resources to research on that, I know it’ll be a long time before I can hire an accountant.

2. Effective Budgeting

I’ve tried just about every budgeting software out there. I just can’t stick to it, but still manage to [barely] not overspend. I was considering the cash envelope system, but I feel it would be too much hassle, since everything is done electronically. Except my electric and parking bills…. *evil glare*

Next payday I’m going to try putting away my debit card and relying on a separate prepaid card for purchases. My bank has a prepaid card that I can log into the app and transfer money onto. The reason the cash system works so well is that you physically see the money leaving instead of just swiping a card, but with the prepaid card I would have to log into the app every time I make a purchase and transfer the money. Or at least only transfer the amount I have available to spend, so it will be impossible to overspend as it doesn’t allow over-drafting. This will also prevent another incident of my debit card being compromised…

I was just thinking the other day, 5 years ago it was safer to carry a debit/credit card than cash. Now I’m more likely to get my card electronically compromised than I would be to get mugged and have cash stolen. If anyone has never had their account “hacked” please let me know which bank you use, because I want to be sure it’s not just mine that gets hit!

I’m planning to document my experiences with paying off debt and saving on my YouTube channel Loving Minimalist.

I want to have an emergency fund saved up before I even think about leaving my current job. I should probably also figure out what happens to my 401k and life insurance….

3. Establishing a cleaning routine

While I dream of a clean, uncluttered apartment – it just isn’t happening. The only closet I have is a tiny coat closet, so the extra boxes I had crammed in the closets of my old apartment are stacked into about 7 different corners. If I haven’t used that stuff by now, I probably don’t need it. The only thing that is somewhat organized is my desk.

Once I get stuff put away/sold/tossed, I want to make a schedule of when and what to clean each day. If I’m going to be working from home, I surely don’t want the leaning tower of moving boxes looming over me.

This worked well when I was younger, we had a “chore chart”. Although, that one resulted in an allowance if I finished everything. I guess all I will get now is the satisfaction of a clean apartment. Hooray.

 

4. How to make better content, regularly

I’ve been at the YouTube and blogging thing for a few years. My forte has not been consistency. Aside from the idea that more posts = more views = more followers = more $, readers and subscribers trust someone more that devotes their time to producing quality content and knows what they’re talking about. Are you going to take advice from a channel with 200 subscribers and 50 videos on the subject, or a channel with a million subscribers and maybe 2 or 3 videos?

Just like starting a “real business,” content creators need to have a solid plan for what they’re producing. It is much better, in my experience, to have a list of video ideas and a schedule versus just making something up when it’s time to film.

Maybe you’re reading and not going to be a content creator (i.e. YouTuber or blogger). The idea is to have a plan and a schedule as to when this plan will be executed, no matter what you are producing.

There are a lot of factors that go into content creation (videos or blog posts). First, you need an idea. Then, the actual content (words). Pictures or demonstrations, charts, graphs, maps, the featured product or service, final editing, uploading, the description, thumbnail… it goes on and on. Not to mention, it is insanely beneficial to promote your new post.

This can sometimes be daunting. To combat this, I film, edit, and upload in batches. That way I don’t have to do all the videos start-to-finish, and it is more efficient, so I don’t have to keep moving around my work space.

 

5. Overcoming the anxiety of selling at craft fairs

What if they deny my application? What if I can’t make enough stock? What if they kick me out because I sell out too fast? What if I don’t sell anything at all? What if there’s someone at the fair that is selling similar items?

This is going to be a tough one, because I legitimately have anxiety. I’ve learned over the years that I just need to jump into things before I give myself a chance to worry and I’m perfectly fine.

I have a sizable amount of things made up, all of which are currently listed on my Etsy shop… so either I would have to remove those listings, or just make more on top of that. I think I would rather sell at fairs because packing and shipping is a pain, especially the larger items I’ve been making.

There is a farmers market around the corner. The catch is, they’re open on Saturdays from 8am to noon…. and I go to bed around 5am. Yay for night shift. Maybe that’ll be a project for later on. And I’ll have time to make up some stock in the meantime. Look at me, figuring stuff out as I’m writing about it.

 

I hope this was somewhat helpful. If not, at least I can look back on it like I mentioned earlier.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

With love and yarn,

Abby G.

Pink and Sunny Granny Square Afghan – FREE pattern!

 

Hello hello thanks for stopping by!

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my process of coming up with this pattern. I had 3 colors of yarn that I didn’t know what to do with.  Continue reading “Pink and Sunny Granny Square Afghan – FREE pattern!”

What Kind of Yarn Should I Get? | Beginner Lesson 2

Hello everyone! I hope the last lesson was helpful. Today we’re moving on to yarn. 


In some cases, having the right kind of yarn can make or break your project. I’ll be explaining about the different materials that yarn is made from, the different weights (thicknesses), and what each is generally used for. 


Yarn can be made from probably dozens of different materials. Besides the usual acrylic, wool, and cotton, you can also make yarn out of old plastic grocery bags, fabric scraps, t-shirts, and pretty much anything else that can be cut into long strips. 



The cheapest, most widely available, and most popular yarn material is acrylic. It is made from plastic (I have no clue how, is there a “How It’s Made” on that?). Popular brands of acrylic include Red Heart “Super Saver”, “Red Heart Soft”, Caron “Simply Soft”, Caron “One Pound”, and Lion Brand “Homespun”. Some chain craft stores in the U.S. also have their own store brand of yarns – JoAnn Fabrics has their “Big Twist” brand and Hobby Lobby has “I Love This Yarn”. 


My experience with acrylic is – the more expensive the better (i.e. softer). This is most often true with other yarn fibers as well. Although the frugal stand-by Red Heart “Super Saver” is very durable, but not too soft. Most acrylics soften up in the wash though. 


Acrylic is completely safe to machine wash and dry, although I do suggest line-drying it to preserve the shape and to keep it from getting fuzzies, just use a liquid fabric softener. Always refer to the label for washing instructions, as some cannot be put in the dryer. 



The next best fiber (in my opinion) is cotton. It is just slightly more expensive than acrylic, but comes in a huge selection of colors and is a must for certain projects. Things that will come in contact with heat, such as pot holders and kitchen towels, cannot be made from acrylic as they could melt. It is better for clothing than acrylic because it will breathe better, and it also doesn’t seem to shed little fibers, as acrylic sometimes can. My only qualm with cotton is that it usually comes in very small quantities. 


Cotton is, of course, machine washable and dryable and gets softer after washing. 



Another widely-used fiber is wool. There are tons of different kinds of wool, there are even wool blends, so a few different types of wool or even wool blended with acrylic. 


(Just a disclaimer, you will never see me use wool here. I am vegan so I don’t use any animal product. But, I know everyone else may want to use it, so I’ll do my best to weigh the pros and cons for you. There are lots of ethically sourced wool varieties out there, but I choose not to use it.)


Wool is not as widely available as cotton or acrylic, from what I have seen. Sure, Joann and Michael’s and other stores carry a small selection, but not nearly as much variety as acrylic. However, if you’re lucky enough to have a small local yarn shop near you, their selection will be mostly wool.


Wool is noticeably more expensive, but can also last a lot longer than acrylic. It is very common for clothing, because it’s very warm but still breathes (I wouldn’t use acrylic for clothing because it’s essentially plastic so it can get hot and sweaty real quick LOL!)


Caring for wool can vary widely by type. Some can be machine washed and dried, while some have to be hand-washed and laid flat to dry. I would never suggest machine drying wool, as it can “felt” in the dryer (all the stitches will start to fuse together) unless you actually want to felt the item, then go for it. Again, always refer to the label. 



There are several other types of fibers, such as bamboo, silk, or polyester. All I have to say about those is they are expensive, so it’s up to you if you want to use them. I have made a few things with bamboo and it’s very soft!




Now let’s talk about weights.


A yarn’s “weight” is really just how thick the strands are. Thicknesses are rated on a scale from 1 to 6 (usually, unless it’s hand-spun). 1 being the thinnest and 6 being the thickest. 



Here’s a nifty little chart that explains better than I could. Those symbols with numbers on them will be on the yarn label. 

Super fine yarns are used for things like lace and doilies. 

Fine yarns are used for baby clothes and blankets, and detail-oriented pieces.

Light yarns are used for clothes and blankets, and good if you want to make smaller amigurumi. 

Medium yarn is the most common and easiest to find, and is what I will be using for my beginner series. It’s good for pretty much anything but lace. 

Bulky yarn could be used for blankets, hats, scarves, etc. I like working with thick yarn because it’s faster!

Super bulky is good for scarves and blankets, anything else gets difficult to work with. Maybe a sweater. 

Of course you can make whatever you want, there are no rules. Except remember to make your pot holders out of cotton. 


The yarn label has a lot of information about the yarn and how to use and take care of it. I will show you what everything means in the video that accompanies this blog, it’s a bit much to explain here. The only thing I always have to look up is the care symbols, which are the same symbols that clothing tags use so they’re easy to find. 



Let me know if you have any suggestions for future topics, or special stitches! Next I’ll take you to the yarn store, and then we’ll start hooking! 


Thanks for reading!


With love and yarn,

Abby G

 

Note: This post was originally published on my previous blog A-Street Crochet. I simply copy and pasted it here so that anyone visiting Cruelty-Free Stitchery could see it.

What You Need to Know About Crochet Hooks | Beginner Lesson 1

Hello everyone!


Today I’m bringing you the first lesson in my beginner’s crochet series! 


There are LOTS of crochet videos and websites that show how to do the stitches and all that, but I’m taking you from square one in case you haven’t had experience around crochet, knitting, or any other needle craft. 


In a future video I’ll take you to the craft store (hello comfort zone) and show what options are widely available. Even Walmart has crochet hooks and yarn. Of course you can get everything online also. 


There are sellers on Etsy who customize hooks with polymer clay in all kinds of different shapes and characters. I have resisted them thus far, but they just keep getting cuter and cuter! 


You absolutely DO NOT have to spend a lot of money on hooks, more expensive doesn’t mean better quality (yarn is a different story, but that’s the topic of the next lesson). A single hook is less than $3 or $4 for a basic one. 


(psssst, if you want to skip to exactly what you need to know, scroll down to the bottom of the post! You can read the rest later if it seems like TMI right now). 


Let me show you my favorite brand.

The brand I use 90% of the time is Boye. They are very inexpensive, I’ve never had to replace one, and they are easy to use. The shape of these make them easy for a beginner. If you can see the very end of the hook part, they are slightly pointy. This makes it easier to put the hook where it needs to go. 


They come in a multitude of different sizes, I’ll get to that in a second. 








The other most common brand is Susan Bates

Not sure if you can tell the difference between those and the Boye hooks from those pictures. (I’ll show this much better in the video). Guys I had to research the difference between these because I have always used Boye because that’s what my grandma uses… 


These are more blunt and rounded at the top. So the top is the same diameter as the rest of the hook. This is actually GREAT for beginners, why didn’t I think of this before. Later I’ll be discussing the importance of tension (how tight you hold the yarn) so having all parts of the hook the same size will help. Just trust me. 



There are of course lots more brands of hooks, but these two are the ones you’ll always find at stores like Walmart, Joann, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, etc. 


Those stores generally also have hooks with rubbery grips which do cost a bit more and are definitely not necessary just starting out. But they are worth the investment if you see yourself doing a lot of crocheting in the future. I only have one rubbery one in the size I use to make dolls (size F if you’re curious) because the small hook hurts my thumb after a bit. Also great if you have sweaty hands. 



Let’s talk about hook materials for a second. 


The most common is aluminum. They are light weight, cheap, and the yarn glides over them smoothly. Just make sure you get the shiny ones. I have a few that look kinda dull and they don’t play nice with the yarn. 


The second most popular/widely available is plastic. I have maybe 2 or 3 plastic hooks. These are unpleasant (in my opinion) because they squeak, especially with acrylic yarn. I don’t know why, but they do. The only benefit to plastic hooks is they’re the cheapest ones to use with HUGE yarn, or even more than one strand at a time. The aluminum ones don’t come in very big sizes. 


You can also find hooks made of wood. These also are good for the bigger sizes but can be super expensive. They’re definitely not available at any chain stores, but some Etsy sellers make them and some smaller yarn shops. However, I have found hooks that are aluminum with wooden/bamboo handles which are good for arthritis and such, as they heat up in your hand. 


The last material I’m aware of is steel. You’ll only find steel hooks in SUPER TINY sizes, like for crocheting with embroidery thread or regular sewing thread (Google micro crochet if you wanna know how that is possible). I strongly suggest you do not use these as a beginner. 



Now onto the different sizes

Don’t get caught up in the numbers and all that. If you’re in the US, hooks are referred to by their letter. If you happen across a pattern from a different country, just check the millimeters. All hooks will have the letter and millimeters either on the flat part in the middle (thumb rest) or on the end. That picture doesn’t show every single size but you get the idea. 


For your first hook(s) I would go with one between H and K (so H, I, J, or K). Any smaller or larger will be difficult to work with. If you’re interested in amigurumi, go ahead and get F and G. Hook sets usually include from D to K so getting a set would be the best value. You really only need one to start with though. Totally up to you if you want to go ahead and invest in a set or not. 



Why are different sizes important? 


The size of the hook directly relates to the size of yarn you should use with it. It also affects how tight the stitches are. I like to relate it to painting, if you want to paint a small surface, you would use a small paint brush. If you want to paint a large surface, you would use a large paint brush. The bigger the hook, the looser the stitches will be. The smaller the hook, the tighter the stitches will be


Items like blankets and scarves would use larger hooks (maybe I and above), while amigurumi, dolls, etc would use smaller hooks (between D and H, personally I use F but it depends how tightly you hold the yarn). Then for doilies and things like that, you would use the small steel hooks. 


There really is no “right or wrong” with picking hook sizes, it just will affect the feel and look of your finished piece. Obviously though you want to make sure the yarn fits in the hook part! 


Some patterns will specify what “gauge” you need. If you’re making something that needs to be a specific size, such as a sweater or hat, it will help you pick the right size hook for the project. Do not worry about that right now, totally not important, I’ll explain in a much later post. 


And all yarns will have a suggested hook size on the label. This is helpful if you get a type of yarn you’ve never used before. 



I will definitely explain all this better in the video and show you actual hooks and how they look side by side. And if I can remember, I will make simple squares with a bunch of different sizes so you can see what it does to the finished piece. 



If you didn’t want to read alllllll that, here’s what you need to know.


For now just starting out, you’ll want an aluminum crochet hook, either size H, I, J, or K. You can get a set if you want, but totally not necessary at the moment. That’s what I’ll be using in the following videos. 


Thank you for reading this far, I really hope I didn’t scare you away! It seems like a lot of stuff to remember when it’s all written out like that, but you can always refer back to this post later on. 


Check out the video also, hopefully I can find all of my hooks to show you…. it would make too much sense to keep them in a centralized location. 


We’ll be talking about yarn next, then I’ll take you to the craft store! 


Please leave a comment below if you have any questions, or any suggestions for future topics! You can receive email notification whenever I make a new post, just put your email address in the form at the top right of the page! 🙂


With love and yarn,

Abby G. 

 

Note: This post was originally published on my previous blog A-Street Crochet. I simply copy-and-pasted it here so that it was accessible to anyone visiting Cruelty-Free Stitchery.

Welcome!!!

Thanks for stopping by this new blog!

 

Well, maybe it won’t be so new by the time you read this. Hello from June 2017.

 

I was hosting my site www.astreetcrochet.com on blogger, but I decided to host my own site with 1&1, and I also wanted a better name. I have never used wool or silk in my creations, so I thought the name “Cruelty-Free Stitchery” would be appropriate. Sadly, the name Vegan Hooker was taken on Instagram already… also might bring up some unsavory Google image search results…..

 

As I work on building up the blog, I’ll be continuing my beginner crochet series on YouTube. So if you don’t already know how to crochet, check it out! I’ll be covering everything from picking out a hook and yarn to designing your own project (and everything in-between of course).

 

I am open to suggestions, so please leave a comment below about what kinds of patterns you would like to see, or any tutorials also! If you ain’t got time to be crocheting yourself, click the link above for “Contact Me” where you can find my Etsy shop and request your own handmade item, or purchase one I’ve already made! 🙂

 

With love and yarn,

Abby G.