This month I’m talking to Carmen Nuland of A Simple Homestead, a crochet and knitwear designer, homesteader, crafter, maker, and all around DIY enthusiast.
These monthly features of other creative businesses are a way for all of us to get to know these wonderful makers; it has been a long-time interest of mine to explore how other creative people make their way as professionals.
Heaven and Earth Shawl by Carmen Nuland
Welcome Carmen Nuland of A Simple Homestead!
Q: I’m assuming there isn’t just one inspiring person for someone who has so many prongs to their business?
A: There have been several people who have been a great influence over the past couple of years.
First, some beloved designers I erroneously thought must have been designing for years. When I learned that one of my favorites had only been designing for a few months and already had a dozen patterns to share, I realized that I could do the same! I only needed to give myself the push to start.
One of my biggest influences has been Tara Swiger. My one-year anniversary in her Starship program is coming up, but I’ve listened to her podcast much longer than that. She delivers such practical, timely advice – on how to keep your focus and to make sure you know what your vision (map) is for your business.
I didn’t listen to her advice as well as I should have this last year – namely, instead of trying to do All The Things, her advice is to pick one – just one, and become consistent in that before moving on to another. This fall I have scaled back to just my blog (and a little Instagram) before doing anything else.
That is a lesson I never seem to learn! I’ve got the consistency, but I do get spread thin!
I know “Mom” wasn’t supposed to be on my influence list, but I’d love to include her too. I have fond memories of crafting with her even as a child. It wasn’t until my mid-30s that I requested she teach me to knit and crochet. She gave me just the basics, and I’ve surpassed her in knowledge and skills very quickly. After just a couple of finished projects from patterns, I was off-and-running with my own designs.
Our favorite thing is to shop for supplies (whether or not they get used is a different story)! This has been a terrific way to connect with her even now when she lives at the opposite end of the country.
I learned to sew from my mom, but not knit or crochet. I too went beyond her skill interest after not too long. Jane learned more about knitting techniques after I started writing patterns than she had in all the years leading up to that (she learned to knit in about 1928).
Another influence has been Novella Bobo. Who is is my weekly accountability partner. She is also in the beginning stages of her business, and has not only kept me moving forward in my business but has taught me to dream big! As is common with craft entrepreneurs, both of us are often plagued with self-doubts so it’s beneficial to have someone cheering you on and pushing you to aspire to grand ideas.
I like accountability too. Although I have other sources, sometimes I just tell Mitch my plans so he’ll follow up with me about them.
Q: What is A Simple Homestead?
A: My business started mainly as the blog A Simple Homestead – a place to write about our family, do-it-yourself projects, gardening, and our chickens. When it came time to brand the crafting side of my business, I decided to stick with the same name – after all, how many fiber artists use a chicken as part of their branding? LOL! I soooo love chickens!
My knit and crochet patterns help crafters expand their repertoire of stitches and techniques. I like a challenge! But I don’t want to discourage anyone, so my patterns don’t come with an Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced rating. My feeling is that if you want to learn something, just do it! Nobody told me that I shouldn’t make a cabled pillow set as my second knit project ever, or that I should have waited with that lace scarf until I was better at knitting. My goal is to encourage others to have the same bravery in their crafting. Most of my patterns are quick projects (e.g. hats, shawls, mittens) to give knitters / crocheters a sense of accomplishment.
I also create knit and crochet stitch markers. It started as a hobby to make them for myself. After I gave many away to friends, I was encouraged to sell them. My stitch markers are made with beads and/or polymer clay in a variety of sizes and styles.
Q: So where does this all happen?
A: I don’t have just one spot where I work – as my husband will attest, the whole house sometimes becomes one big craft room! I spend many nights knitting or crocheting on the couch or in our bedroom. Many of my supplies are in a special room in the basement. Often, I work at the dining room table which has excellent lighting for making stitch markers. As I’m writing this, I’m in one of my favorite spots: at a desk in my living room, next to an east-facing window so I get plenty of fresh air and sunshine while I view a gorgeous fall day.
Q: Tell us about any exciting projects you have going on or coming up.
A: I work full time outside the home as a Senior Systems Analyst and the job kept me insanely busy this summer so my business faltered for several months. But that’s changing now that life is settling back to “normal” (whatever that is).
I have several designs in the works including the lovely crocheted shawl shown above which should be released soon. There don’t seem to be many designers making fingering-weight crocheted shawls, so I’m trying to help fill the gap 😊.
I’m a HUGE planner and am already prepping several ideas for 2018, including the possibility of some Excel tutorials and finishing up more than a dozen designs in my queue.
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Visit Carmen on her website A Simple Homestead.
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