One year of fulltime designing!

One year of fulltime designing!

One Year of designing fulltime

Oh. My. Goodness. This Sunday, September 20th, will be my first fulltime design-iversary! Had I ever thought I would be here a year ago? I can barely believe I’m actually living my dream: designing crochet and knitting patterns for a living. After having spent four years trying to grow my business on the side while still working fulltime, I had NO idea I would actually succeed in making it work. So I thought, it would be fun to look back on this year so far, and share how I got here!

In Japanese yarnstore Avril browsing their yarn cones

A trip down Memory Lane

Okay, so first I’ll tell you a little bit more about myself. Hi! My name is Carmen, I’m 29 years old, living in the Netherlands. I studied Mandarin Chinese for 6 years, and I lived in Beijing (China) for one year to study there. I had (and still have) such a passion for language, the connection between different languages, etymology, linguistics, oh! I could talk about it all day. When I graduated, I thought I would go on to be a translator, since I loved translating and debating with classmates over the different options, making sure the translated sentence offered all of the nuances the original sentence had. But as it turned out, it was quite difficult to get into translating, and on top of that it was difficult to find paid work.

I gave up on trying to find translating jobs as a fulltime job, and I went to look for other jobs instead. Because everyone had told me “Ooh you’re so smart to study Chinese, there will be LOADS of jobs waiting for you”. Spoiler alert: there weren’t. Unless you also had a degree in Business Management, or Economics, or Law, or whatever. It was never JUST the language skill they wanted. Still, I found a job reasonably quick, at a food import & export company. They specialized in Asian foods, had loads of Asian customers – some of which spoke Mandarin Chinese – and so I was given a job in customer service.

I had a great time working for this company, but as anyone who has worked in customer service will tell you: it sucks the life out of you sometimes. I really enjoyed chatting with my co-workers, trying new food samples from the suppliers, learning about the daily struggles of supermarket owners; I learned a lot and really enjoyed my time there.

Getting into knitting and crochet

I actually got into knitting and crocheting when I was living in China, and never would I have guessed I would make it a fulltime career. My mom had taught me how to knit before that time, but I hadn’t taken any of my projects with me. So when my mom came to visit me, she brought some cute crochet kits from HEMA (a Dutch store) of typical Dutch foods. I remember being so frustrated with the ‘magic loop’ (didn’t seem like the magic was working for me!) that I threw the project in a corner and didn’t look back until a couple months later. At that point though, it clicked and I was hooked! If you’re interested in some of my earliest knitting and other crafty projects, have a look here. (Beware: pictures taken with flash! *shock horror*)

Starting a blog

When I studied in China, I had a travelblog (I know, SO many people had a travelblog!). I came to love writing, and I really missed it when I came back and had no more travel stories to tell. So what I did, was create a blog about my new-found hobbies: knitting and crocheting! My blog was called Crafty Queens at the time, after the many crafty women (queens) in my family. That was back in 2012, I’ve come a long way since then!

I’ve just realized! I started my blog on September 18th 2012, and I quit my job on September 20th 2019 to become a fulltime designer. Oof! Apparently the second half of September has magic in the air for me 🙂

My first crochet pattern

Just a month after launching my blog, I published my first pattern in October 2012: the Teeny Tiny Mushroom. Back then it didn’t really matter to me if people would like it or not, I was in LOVE with these tiny shrooms and thought they were too cute NOT to share. It’s a very basic pattern, and the pattern is so different to how I would write patterns now, but I’m still proud of it. Everyone has to start somewhere!

How to become a designer?

In a previous blog, I shared three things that helped me get into designing, and I’m still so grateful for those opportunities! If you have the dream of becoming a designer too, this is a good place to start! Remember though, everyone’s journey looks different.

Fast Forward to now!

So here I am, eight years after starting my blog and one year after quitting my day job to become a fulltime designer. Would I ever have dreamed this? Nope! And I’m loving every minute of it 🙂 There are SO many more things to come and I can’t wait to show you. So many of you have been with me since my Crafty Queens website, or even my Breiclub days, “Vezelvlogs” or the Mollie Makes award, and I’m so grateful that you’re still here. I read every message even though I might not reply every time, and your support is so very much appreciated. I couldn’t have done it without you all!

A special thank you to my Patreon supporters, you guys are my cheerleaders! I cannot even begin to tell you how much it means to have a relatively stable income every month, partly thanks to my Patreon income. If you’d also like to support my work even more by subscribing to my Patreon page, and to have access to even more patterns and tutorial videos, click here to see what levels I offer on Patreon.

Other ways to support my work

There are so many ways to support me as a fulltime designer, and some of them don’t even cost a thing! These things really help:

  • sharing my blogposts or webshop links with your friends
  • visiting my website regularly
  • For my YouTube videos: watching the commercials to the end if you see any
  • Turning AdBlocker off for my website and YouTube
  • Commenting on and liking my posts on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube
  • On Instagram: clicking the little ‘save’ icon for my posts
  • Subscribing to my YouTube channel
  • Showing my Instagram pictures or YouTube videos to your friends so they might subscribe
  • Joining my free Facebook Group

Those are all free ways to support me! Beyond that, you can also support my work by:

  • Buying my patterns via my own webshop or via Ravelry
  • Becoming a member of my Inner Circle on Patreon
  • Coming to my in-person workshops or any virtual workshops I might do in the future
  • Purchasing yarns via affiliate links in my blogposts (usually the pattern posts), they have a 30-day cookie!

Whichever way you show your support, THANK YOU!!

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  1. September 16, 2020 at 2:46 pm — Reply

    Hi Carmen,
    Mijn petje af, je uitstraling en de liefde met hoe je alles ontwerpt sprankelt door alles heen. Je leeft je passie, dat straalt door alles heen. Zowel jouw uitstraling, als je kleurgebruik, je maaksels en je patronen, het is heerlijk naar je te kijken. Ik volgde je al toen je het nog in het nederlands deed en nu internationaal. Echt mijn petje af, ik weet uit ervaring dat het heel veel energie kost om te komen waar je bent. Ik ben er ook mee bezig, alleen mijn focus gaat soms vele kanten uit, dat is niet handig. Ik weet dat ik er kom, waar ik graag zou willen wezen, ik neem de tijd, straks gepensioneerd dan meer tijd.Carmen, dank voor wie je bent, je bent een liefdevolle inspiratiebron voor velen. Go go go ik geniet ……….Een creatieve groet van Gerda Olgers

    • September 17, 2020 at 11:15 am — Reply

      Hoi Gerda, super bedankt voor je lieve berichtje! Dat doet me echt goed om te lezen. Het is één ding dat ik het zelf met plezier doe, maar het is nog veel beter om te weten dat mijn enthousiasme overkomt. Wat leuk dat je zelf ook aan je droom aan het werken bent. Inderdaad, focus.. erg lastig, vooral omdat er zóveel leuke dingen zijn om te doen, om dan nog maar over andere verplichtingen te zwijgen. Je komt er zeker en vast!
      Heel veel groetjes en geluk,

  2. Barbara B.
    September 16, 2020 at 7:26 pm — Reply

    Happy anniversary, Carmen! I’m so happy for you! I never knew you speak Mandarin Chinese! That is amazing! Love your videos! You have such patience!

    • September 17, 2020 at 11:20 am — Reply

      Thank you so much Barbara! Haha yes the Mandarin Chinese comes as a surprise to many 😉 It was so much fun to learn and so motivating because you could use your newfound knowledge almost instantly – using new words in conversations. Almost like knitting actually, haha. I’m glad you enjoy my videos!
      x Carmen

  3. September 17, 2020 at 2:06 pm — Reply

    Gefeliciteerd met al deze mijlpalen. Ik lees je blog graag, en al jaren.

    • September 17, 2020 at 5:30 pm — Reply

      Dankjewel Jeanette! Wat fijn om te lezen dat je me al zo lang volgt!

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One year of fulltime designing!