Rural Housewife or Tech Entrepreneur? You Decide

Begone, Personal-Use only patterns.

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Hand knitting has to be one of the most tedious ways to create fabric, but like so many others, I’m addicted to it and fuel my addiction by sharing the patterns I have created.  Now that I’m writing up patterns, one thing I don’t understand  is why some designers annex their copyright saying that you’re not suppose to use their pattern if you’re going to sell the finished item.

When I create a pattern, I have time on my side.  Although I put in hours of work to develop the pattern and  knit a prototype, I can count on reselling the same pattern many times and many visits to my blog to see the free patterns.  In theory, I’ll eventually break even and may even profit as long as people keep coming back.

However, when someone buys a hand knitted object, they have no need for a pattern.  Regardless of skill, or time, if the buyer could knit the object themselves they would and since they’re not, the pattern used isn’t even a consideration.

Therefor, if people are going to create items for sale from my patterns, I’m going to encourage them to do it.

Here are my caveats (AKA help a Sista out)…

  • Do not redistribute patterns.  After all, selling patterns and blog visitors is what keeps me going. If you sell the yarn I used in one of my patterns and want to redistribute it, please contact me.  My bulk rates are reasonable and I’ll even personalize the PDF with your shop address and logo so it will look snazzy for your customers.
  • If you have helpers knitting finished objects for you, please buy a copy of the pattern for each of them.  Again, selling patterns keeps me going and my bulk rates are reasonable.
  • You must include attribution with the object.  If you’re selling online, please include a link back to either the blog post, here, or the Ravelry pattern.  Or if you’re selling at a craft fair, a note safety pinned to the object with pattern name, Karlie Robinson Designs and  KarlieRobinson.com is the way to go.
  • If you like the pattern well enough to create finished objects to sell, would you do me a favor and post pictures and details at Ravelry? I’d love to see your work.

So here’s to all the budding fiber arts entrepreneurs.  I hope my patterns contribute to your success.



Written by Karlie

April 25th, 2012 at 12:15 pm

The Fly Dog

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Fly DogMeet Fly, the newest member of our family.

I have no doubt that someone paid a lot of money for her 2 years ago, but as of last week, she was a cast-off for a second time.

Pine River Fly is a registered Black Mouth Cur.  Both her Dam and Sire are titled champion hunting dogs. The only thing in her life that makes her happy is the chase.  It’s in her genes.

In her case, the chase revolves around squirrels, but any other creature she can get her mouth on is just fine too. Unfortunately for Fly, her last family preferred Guinea Pigs and a young, high energy, stubborn, smart dog with desire to chase rodents just wasn’t working out.

She’s with us because we have experience with Cur breeds.  We usually rescue Catahoulas, but when we saw Fly’s story, we knew that she’d be put to sleep, bounce in and out of shelters or get a bad rap  if an all breeds rescue group took her.

Catahoulas and other Cur breeds aren’t your typical house-pets.  They haven’t had generations of breeding to select traits marketable to modern families.  The breeds are rare and those that are breeding aren’t trying to make lap dogs.

So it’s not a shock that Fly was trying to eat the other house pets. She’s not a bad dog.  She just doesn’t know what to do with herself and the families she lived with just didn’t take advantage of her innate abilities so they became a problem.

The making of a happy Cur

Our technique for turning a nutty dog into a productive member of a family has 2 main components – Exercise and establishing the Alpha.

Exercise is important for the Curs because they have a lot of energy.  If you want them to pay attention to anything, it helps if they’ve gotten the ants out of their pants first.

This, of course, is always easier said than done.

Right now, the exercise portion of the plan is kicking my butt.  Fly has been here 3 1/2  days and I’m worn out. My legs are in pain so I’m seriously lacking positive reinforcement to continue running her.

Fly might force the change in my exercise attitude as well as my body in the next few months. While I might be aching and struggling to get my lead legs to carry me home from a full speed bike ride, the alternative is living with a wild beast.

Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way

The role of the Alpha human is to ensure that you don’t end up with an alpha dog. Cur breeds embody the phrase “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” While all breeds have a similar mindset, Curs are more likely to make your life miserable if you can’t stand your ground.

It’s also the foundation for loyalty and training too.  Curs want to please the Alpha and they usually show it by doing what they’re asked.

Even if you do establish yourself as Alpha, your dogs will still train you to do a few things their way. Let’s just hope Fly trains me to do something benign.

Next Steps

This week, we’ll get Fly to the vet and make sure she has a clean bill of health and find out when she can be spayed. Although she has the potential to be a champion in her own right, the reality is that we’ll never competitively hunt with her and we don’t need to make puppies while there are dogs being put to sleep simply because they’re misunderstood.

So a big welcome to Pine River Fly.  Good luck with your training, little miss.  Let’s hope you like it here as much as we like having you in our little pack.


Written by Karlie

April 7th, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Posted in at Home,Dogs,family

Knitted Broomstick Lace Scarf

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Knitted Broomstick Lace Scarf

Here’s my latest Project, Knitted Broomstick Lace. Aren’t the stitches divine?

I saw the Stitch Diva videos showing how to do Broomstick Lace and fell in love with the look of gathered loops, but too many years of abusing my wrists makes crocheting a very painful experience for me.  With that in mind I spent a few evenings doodling while watching TV and came up with a method to create a 100% knitted Broomstick Lace.

Then, a few months ago I saw Storey Publishing’s call for submissions for their next book – 101 One-Skein Lace Wonders! It was the kick I needed to formalize my doodles into a usable pattern. I was so pleased with the results.  Lace can sometimes look too formal for everyday, but not this scarf.

I know there isn’t anything terribly exciting about a scarf, but with just one skein, and stitch not normally seen as a knit, I figured a rectangle was the easiest way to kick things off. Though I couldn’t get past the boringness issue so I chose Habu Textiles A-174 Cotton Gima in color 25, “Lemon” (1oz, 100% Cotton, 265 yards).

The project knits up quick and is so light and airy, it’s the perfect accessory for cool spring outings. The best part is the lace is created without a complex chart and there isn’t a yarn-over to be found.

The pattern, if you’d like to knit your own Broomstick Lace, is available at Ravelry.

UPDATE: 4/25/2012 You can sell this scarf as a finished object. See Begone, Personal-Use only patterns for details


UPDATE: 7/11/2012  This pattern has been accepted for inclusion in Storey Publishing’s One-Skein Lace Wonders! (click to see acceptance letter)

Written by Karlie

March 20th, 2012 at 11:34 am

New Direction for the Blog

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Karlie's collected seed stash


Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what my blog should be about.  I just can’t pump out business topic posts like a machine because I’m lucky enough to have so much flexibility that I’m not slaving away at… well anything and that means business isn’t always at the front of my mind. While I’m still working in my own businesses, helping others with theirs and testing new business ideas, business isn’t the only thing I do.

In fact, over the last few weeks, my focus has been devoted to developing a knitting pattern for a book submission and the 2 acres of lawn just outside my office window, tease me like a blank canvas teases a painter. But, while I was hearing the seed stash, pictured above, begging for some organization, I downloaded my banking statements and filed NY State sales taxes. I also did a cost analysis of fencing versus hedges and outlined a new business plan, in my head. Then I shucked more than 3000 accounts from my tweet stream and nagged my husband about cutting down the hollow, bug-filled Hawthorn tree in the front yard.

Super Duper Seed StashI’m a modern woman with a Family, Home, Business, and a slight inability to say no to my distractions. Though I think I’ll have more to say, here, if I don’t limit myself to being so single minded about business and let my other passions spill out onto the Internet now and then.

Besides, Google Analytics doesn’t lie and after importing my old blog posts and re-directing my Blogger visitors, I found that more people want to see my Buttercup Bag knitting pattern than want to know about Social Media for TV news.

Which makes sense.  Social Media advice is a dime, a dozen, but a unique knitting pattern only has one source.  (Well it didn’t hurt for me to do a little SEO for the pattern either.)

But anyway, look for a wider variety of posts coming out of this blog as I continue my adventures as a 21st century woman.

Written by Karlie

March 11th, 2012 at 10:17 am

Tips for Enhancing TV News with Social Media

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Washington - Television News Studio (1984)In December, I had a chance to spend the afternoon talking about the news and social media with the staff at WEYI, NBC 25.   After I left the meeting I spent a lot of time thinking about the point where Social Media and Traditional Media intersect and how to integrate new techniques into a successful format.

My Top 6 Tips:

  1. Create a hierarchy/Flow Chart of news importance and Direction.
    TV news is one of the most limited formats since a broadcast may have as little as 20 minutes of air time per 30 minute show. Not every tip, press release or AP story can be covered in this amount of time.  However, news that doesn’t make a the broadcast should be directed elsewhere.  Creating a flow-cart or other formula for deciding, before hand, what information should be shared, and where, gives reporters an opportunity to engage the audience more often.

    • Twitter has the highest volume but the fewest characters allowed, and should be used for snips, teasers or as a directional service getting followers to visit videos, on-scene cell-phone pictures captured by reporters or other websites where they can interact with the news you’re reporting.
    • Facebook & Google Plus don’t have the tight character limits that Twitter does but since your fan’s home page feed doesn’t move as quickly, posting too often can be overwhelming.  Weather maps, Follow-ups and viewer-to-viewer based communities can boost station loyalty.
    • YouTube. Posting segments after they’ve aired is a great way to keep people talking and gives you a way to gauge response.  People also like seeing themselves in the news and Youtube offers a way for broadcasts to be shared or included in blogs.  Youtube can even generate revenue for the station.
  2. You have to give to get.
    Traditional media tends to push out information, but Social Media demands interaction.  The easiest way to interact is by Following-Back and replying… within reason.Take time to look at your followers and a few of their posts. There are a lot of useless and undesirable accounts that will only bog down your efforts.  A DNFTT (do not feed the trolls) policy wouldn’t hurt either.
  3. Cover more Local businesses and Not-for-Profits.
    Being neighborly and engaged locally is a great way to increase station loyalty across all media outlets.  This can be as simple as following and sharing or re-tweeting informational posts. Showing people who are working hard to better the community also counters negative news and illuminates bright spots.  Directing fluff pieces to social networks also saves air time for more serious news.
  4. Create custom Twitter and Google Plus Hash Tags.
    Information overload is the side effect of social media success.  At a certain point it’s just not possible for a human to consume every post your followers, prominent citizens and organizations create. Creating the Hash Tag is as simple as choosing a word or phrase (without spaces or other special charters) and adding the pound sign to the front.  For Example – #MINewsTip. Just be sure to search using your potential tag first to be sure it’s unique enough to lay claim to it.  Then search for the tag to gather your tips, comments and relevWashington - Television News Studio (1984)ant information.
  5. Create a Social Loop
    All of the social networks you’re using should feed into one another. Tweets that send people to YouTube, Facebook, your website and then back again are part of a  interaction loop you should strive to create. Creating content across the various formats also allows you to interact with people who use Facebook, but not Twitter, etc.
  6. Use Feedback on the air.
    Don’t forget to include air time in the social loop because it’s the one thing you have that Social Media doesn’t. Viewers who are empowered to comment and rewarded with air time are more likely to develop a deep loyalty to the station.


Written by Karlie

February 18th, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Colr.org, The secret to creative color schemes.

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Good design is one of those things that when it’s right, you might not notice but, when it’s wrong, there’s no hiding it.  One of the easiest ways I’ve found to create good design is by getting the color scheme right and my favorite way to nail it every time is with Colr.org.

Color sets the mood, carries the theme and can convey ideas. When a website’s elements such as links, tables and mast-head images all work together, the other elements of the design seem to fall into place.  After all, it’s much easier to see when a table is too wide than it is to put your finger on just 1 of the more than 16  million colors represented in hexadecimal.

With the help of Colr.org I only have to find a picture that represents the idea I’m trying to convey.  Once I have it, the site’s software allows me to load it and sample it’s colors.

I’ve used this technique for everything from client websites, to matching the tables and links in my Twitter profile to a custom background image.

The “right” picture is one of those intangible things that I can’t really help you find, but I like to start with a short list of adjectives to help me focus my search.  Peaceful, happy, warm, bright, or any number of words that might describe the mood or theme of the design.  From there I just go with an image that I like the best.

Get creative, but if you have a picture you’re going to be using, like a head-shot, or some other main image on your site, I would suggest pulling your color scheme from it.

For this post I chose “Lobster Adirondack Chairs” by  cbgrfx123 on Flickr because it had an Attribution Share-a-like license and could use it, here, and in the example to the left, without running afoul of someone’s copyright.

But if all you need are colors that work well together, and won’t be displaying the picture publicly, it’s fine to use any image you want.

My suggestion is,  if you’ve never used Colr.org’s software, pop over to the site and start playing around with some of the features by using one of the random Flickr images on the home page.  There’s a very handy button allowing you to load other, random images in case the ones on display don’t float your boat.

The button I use most is “Pick a Scheme from image” since that will auto generate a scheme with 3 or more colors taken from the image.

The “Edit Scheme” box is handy too.  With the features found there, you can delete a color you don’t like, add a new one with the + or get the hex so that you can add the colors to a template. There’s even a feature that allows you to find paint by brand name in case you’re designs are for a physical space.

If you’d rather pick your colors on your own, simply hover your mouse over one of the 3 pictures on the Colr.org home page and click into any one of the colored boxes to find out more about it.

Colr.org also has a very handy how-to page for help using the site’s features.

Once you have some colors that you think will work well on your site, don’t be afraid to move them around in your template.  My first instinct isn’t always right when it comes to backgrounds and readability.  It’s perfectly acceptable to switch things around or go back to your picture and find a new color or two to substitute if things just aren’t right yet.

If colr.org can make me look like a design professional, I’m sure it can help you too.

Written by Karlie

January 2nd, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Hints for Presenting with Sliderocket

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A friend suggested I look through VMWare’s job listings to see if anything jumped out at me.  Frankly I didn’t expect to find anything that matches my skill-set because, I don’t fit the standard mold most corporations create.  However, as I perused the surprisingly long list of openings I came across a listing for a Sliderocket Coach.

I checked out the listing for 2 reasons.  First, what’s Sliderocket, and, second, what kind of coaching?

Then the shocker,  I might actually be the type of person they’re looking for.  Most of the time I work to create my own opportunities because it’s easier than trying to find a job that’s well suited for my odd combination of technical knowledge and entrepreneurial kung-fu.

One requirement of the application was that I submit a presentation along with a formal resume and truthfully, I was a bit nervous about that.  I’ve created slide decks, but never as a cover letter and never with the level of sophistication I thought I’d need to get my foot in the door.  I was also concerned since I’ve never used Sliderocket and wondered if I’d be able to use it effectively?

The good news is that the user interface was straight forward and anything that wasn’t immediately apparent was fairly easy to figure out.  Even more “advanced” techniques like creating my own template weren’t all that hard to do.

In just 2 days I managed to create this presentation…

I say 2 days, but that was more like a total of 8 hours.  The first 4 were spent thinking about what I wanted to say, how to say it and learning to use the software.  The final 4 were creating the slides.  Though that’s not completely fair either.  I could have finished an hour earlier if my inspiration hadn’t run out.  For some reason the only closing I could muster was some sort of Southern Belle saying, “lookin’ forward to talkin’ real soon!”

Now, if you’ve never used it before, Sliderocket.com is a cloud platform, so your work lives on the internet.  The advantage is that you don’t have to maintain the software and are always using the current version.  Also, because it’s a native to the internet, it’s designed for sharing and collaboration.  The only disadvantage right now, and this is a disadvantage for all cloud applications, is that connection is key.  For whatever reason you’re caught without a local copy and can’t get online to get one, you could be sunk.  But I suppose this is just a new way to look at the old mantra of “back-up, back-up, back-up!”

If you haven’t done much with cloud applications or just want to see what kind of presentation you could make, sign up for one of Sliderocket’s free accounts.

If you’d like to create a presentation like this one, here are my top 4 hints;

  1. Get inspiration for your theme by seeing what collateral is available first.  The only reason the Ninja worked well for this presentation was because I was able to find just the right photo to kick things off. If I had wanted a picture for every slide I wouldn’t have been able to do it with the choices that Flikr presented me with.  So make sure you have what you need, or know how to work around what you don’t, before you go too far into the process.
  2. If you need a soundtrack for your presentation, check out Jamendo.com.  There’s lots of Creative Commons licensed music for you to choose from.  The song I chose, Plastic & Flashing Lights by Professor Kliq, was found there.
  3. If the text is all you have to convey your ideas, make sure the letters represent you well.   I used a version of the drop shadow that was available in the software to give the white on black words some depth.
  4. I used a QR code because I wasn’t sure the link I added would be click-able or easily copied/pasted to a browser.  Using it gave me one more way for the viewer to go where I wanted to send them.

If you have any questions or comments about presentations, or how I managed a certain effect with SlideRocket, feel free to leave me a note, below.  Otherwise a tweet, Thumbs up or sharing on your favorite service would be greatly appreciated. ~Karlie

Written by Karlie

October 21st, 2011 at 12:55 pm

The Business of Linux at the Ohio Linux Fest

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Thanks to those that came to my talk. Sorry it got off to a rough start, but we managed and I want to thank you for your patience.

The slides are available to download in .pdf format or you can view the presentation as slides with voice over at FOSSLC which was recorded at FSOSS 2010 at Seneca College, Toronto.

There are also 3 articles in this blog under the topic of OLF which cover the presentation in an easier to digest format and if read in order of date posted should closely match the slide deck.  They are:

There are lots of other articles here that can also help you as you start a new business, so feel free to look around while you’re here and leave comments or questions.


Written by Karlie

September 10th, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Making a fuss about “The Situation”

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Recently, Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino was offered a substantial amount of money to stop wearing Abercrombie & Fitch Co. apparel.  Draw whatever conclusions you like about Sorrentino and his cohorts, but what lessons can we learn and apply to Small Business?

First let’s examine “The Situation.”  Isn’t he famous for being famous?  Doesn’t he get plenty of air time in front of a key demographic on MTV’s “Jersey Shore?” Aren’t people talking about him? Isn’t the paparazzi snapping pictures of him lifting A&F shirts to show off his abs?  Isn’t that loads of free publicity?

The answer to all of those questions is a resounding YES, but there’s more to consider when a company, large or small, begins to think about branding it’s products.

The best definition I have for the term branding comes from my good friend, Julian Yudelson.  As he puts it, branding is a promise to deliver.

For some brands like Coca-cola, and Pepsi, the brand is associated with a particular flavor.  When you open a can of cola, you already know what it will taste like and how it will make you feel after drinking it.  For other companies, branding is about how bright your whites are after they’re washed (Clorox), the long lasting quality of the tools (Craftsman)  or even an emotional response such as gratification that your family is keeping up with the neighbors.

In this case, the issue probably centers around Sorrentino’s persona and how the public perceives his lifestyle.  If A&F want you to feel as if you belong to a certain socioeconomic class when wearing their clothes, it seems reasonable to disassociate with individuals who don’t reflect the standard.

When considering your brand, what perception do you want to project and protect?  Many times this has to do with who your target market is and how they perceive your products.  Some companies will even go so far as to limit the use of their name with a price point or retailer because price and reputation are big components of a brand.

One example is Ollie’s Bargain Outlet (Warning, Ollie’s site has audio) .  Their ads will often tout a famous maker, but won’t actually say what brand to expect. The reason is that even high end brands have surplus from time to time, but for a brand that wants to be perceived as high end, association with a discount is the kiss of death.  After all, how can you convince your deep pocketed, brand loyal customers that they’ve gotten something special if regular people have it and paid pennies on the dollar to get it?

The answer is you can’t.  It’s really easy to lower prices, but it’s hard to raise them.  It’s also easy for the low price to make the product seem low quality and that effects your ability to live up to to a customer’s expectations.

So when thinking about the brand image you want to create for your business and it’s products, how would price, quality and personal association play a role in your promise to deliver?

If you have any questions or comments about branding, feel free to leave me a note, below.  Otherwise a tweet, Thumbs up or sharing on your favorite service would be greatly appreciated. ~Karlie

Written by Karlie

August 18th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Flint’s Buckham Alley Fest

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On July 16 starting at 6pm in Flint, Michigan,the Buckham Alley Fest will be rocking downtown.  As part of the festivities, Flint Handmade is taking over the sidewalk next to the Rutherford Parking Structure for the First Annual Flint Handmade Craft City and we get to be part of the goodie bag! 

Since the products we make at On-Disk.com are handmade, we’re putting together 25 CDs loaded with Creative Commons licensed music so Flint Handmade can give them to it’s first 25 visitors to craft city.

I don’t expect that the 25 lucky recipients of our discs will turn right around and buy loads and loads of things from our little online shop.  Instead I’m using the discs as a gesture of goodwill  and the first step in gaining some brand recognition in the area as being a local company.  After all, word of mouth has to start someplace, and this is our little way of starting that process in Michigan.

What ways have you, or could your business get involved within the community? I’d love to hear about the things you’ve done to get your name out, so please leave a comment below.


P.S. In case you’re wondering, you will be able to get this disc from On-Disk.com, next week, after BAF.  Remember, it’s Creative Commons content from start to finish.  Click on either image or on the song titles below to learn more about the artists.

  1. Annexation By Love by Panda Nation
  2. Built To Last by Fall Walk Run
  3. Dance Wit Me by JackDazey
  4. Dropping Out of School by Brad Sucks
  5. Every small little thing I’m able to … by BlondBlood
  6. Fragile by Aloges
  7. Hasta Abajo – All The Way Down HQ by Kellee Maize
  8. I See by Tryad
  9. Just Imagine by Hungry Lucy
  10. Lorelei by On returning
  11. Secretions by Hello Citizen
  12. She by TenPenny Joke
  13. Six Twenty Nine by BOREA
  14. VOCE VAI by Vir Braun

Written by Karlie

July 11th, 2011 at 1:30 am