Looking Back at 2023
We have just finished another year (2023) and people are making New Year’s resolutions and taking stock of their lives and I’m feeling the need to take a good look at myself and my business as well. I not only want to feel proud of what I’ve accomplished in 2023 but I also want to pay attention to the things that weren’t so great so that 2024 can be tweaked and perhaps be a little more enjoyable.
This is a personal journey. I do it for me. But I’m happy to invite you along for the ride.
I list my 2023 accomplishments to help myself recognize my growth and to see if I can remind myself of all the things I have to be proud of.
I also like to remind myself of a few things that weren’t so great because I need to be realistic.
Your journey might look different. And that’s ok. My list is in NO MEANS meant to shame anyone else. If all you did was survive this year, that’s ok and I’m proud of you.
Crocheted verus Designed
I like to remind myself of everything I personally crocheted because my hands were busy doing these things! Some of these projects were started before 2023 and there are a few projects I worked on that are not shown because I didn’t finish them in 2023.
But I also like to look at what I designed because that also kept my hands busy (computer time is not quite as much fun as crocheting though). This photo collage doesn’t include designs that received an update this year – either to fix a mistake or to add the adjusted mosaic crochet option (where the solid areas don’t show the interlocking mesh).
I’m extremely thankful to everyone who tests my patterns and crochets my designs – without them I would not be able to publish a beautiful version of so many things!
The most exciting thing for me this year was my involvement with big companies! It makes me feel professional and validated but it’s a lot of extra work when I have to make my patterns follow someone else’s format. I don’t have any plans (yet) to do this in 2024.
Crochet Now Magazine
In the spring of 2023 I had a pattern published in Crochet Now magazine (issue 93). Persistent Blossoms is a pretty blanket that uses center-out mosaic crochet squares. A few months after publishing in the magazine I was allowed to self-publish and I added the interlocking crochet version at that time. Read more at https://ashleeslint.com/2023/04/15/persistent-blossoms-in-crochet-now-magazine/.
Crochet Foundry Magazine
Belle to Infinity was published in May of 2023 and I created that pattern in cooperation with Crochet Foundry Magazine. They sent me yarn and a Furls crochet hook (it was so exciting to get that in the mail!) and I created a pattern that can be forever viewed for free on my website (or on YouTube) or you can grab a paid PDF. Read more at https://ashleeslint.com/2023/05/12/belle-to-infinity-free-center-out-mosaic-crochet-blanket-pattern/.
Subscribe to my newsletter to stay up to date on every new Ashlee Brotzell Design. You’ll receive discount codes and be the first to know about new patterns!
You’ll also have access to my Doctor Who blanket pattern!
Patterns Published in 2023
My number one job is “mom”. But the job that brings in the most income for my family (husband and three kids) is being a crochet designer.
Publishing patterns in the main way I make income in this job. Click here to jump down to the financial section of today’s post.
I consider Ravelry my primary platform for publishing patterns. Etsy is a close second because all of my new designs are on there (but my old designs, the small squares, are not all on Etsy yet). I also have less than a handful of designs published on Ribblr and LoveCrafts.
Ravelry is great because it doesn’t cost anything to list a new pattern and the customers who use that platform are looking for patterns.
Etsy is good to have because they have more payment options for European users and the customers who use Etsy may not be aware of Ravelry. Of course, this sometimes causes problems when people purchase a pattern expecting to receive a crocheted blanket in the mail.
Final Count for 2023
The total number of new patterns I published in 2023 is 28.
Nearly every design gets made for both interlocking crochet and overlay mosaic crochet. Plus, some of the designs come with right- and left- handed options.
And I also have designs that come with multiple options such as “Stronger Coffee” which has options for “son”, “daughter”, and “children”. Each of those options comes with a right- and left-handed pattern for both interlocking crochet and overlay mosaic crochet.
Another example with multiple options is “Purpureus Grandiflorus” which can be made in both colorwork techniques from the bottom-up or center-out so that design comes with 4 pattern files.
Which means the total number of pattern files I created in 2023 was actually 87.
Patterns Published in 2023
Pattern Files for the 28 new designs
This count does not include the old patterns I updated this year. I added adjusted, solid overlay mosaic crochet options to quite a few older designs. I should have kept better track of which patterns were updated and when, but the best I can offer is my Ravelry thread where I listed the updates.
New Patterns of 2023
- January Knot
- Tranquil Leaves Set
- Tranquil Leaves Blanket
- Large Tranquil Leaves Runner
- Small Tranquil Leaves Runner
- February Knot
- Repeatable Many Hearts
- Purpureus Grandiflorus
- March Knot
- Persistent Blossoms Blanket
- Stronger Coffee
- April Knot
- Seamless Footballs
- May Knot
- Beloved B
- Belle to Infinity
- Coffee Time Mug Wall Hanging
- June Knot
- The Leaves
- Floral Weave
- July Knot
- August Knot
- September Knot
- Tumbling Curls
- October Knot
- October 2023 Mystery
- November Knot
- December Knot
- Ashlee’s 2024 Block
CALs in 2023
I only did 2 Crochet-A-Longs (CALs) in 2023. However, some consider my “Year of…” series to be a CAL (and I suppose they’re technically right) and I also gave my Facebook group a small mystery pattern in October that was sort of a quick group CAL.
The “Year of…” series goes all year long. This year was Celtic Knots.
In June 2023 I set up a CAL using an old pattern (a first for me – usually my CALs use a new design). Read more about the Magic Decanter CAL here.
In October I published Tumbling Curls with a pair or free CAL option.
And, October was also when my Facebook group crocheted a small mystery pattern together. See more about the October 2023 Mystery pattern here.
I put only a few of my favorite photos from this year on the cover image for this webpage: Purpureus Grandiflorus, Belle to Infinity, Persistent Blossoms, my family, Celtic Knots, Tumbling Curls, Tranquil Leaves.
Tutorials Published in 2023
I consider tutorials to be videos and PDFs that either show a skill or a pattern.
Often when I make a video tutorial it goes along with a PDF. Even the quickest tutorial takes a lot of time if I want it done properly.
There are SO MANY more tutorials on my to-do list. I really wish I had more time because I know how valuable these are to people who want to join in on our crochet adventures but they need the video or they need a clear photo tutorial.
YouTube Walk-Thrus of 2023
I created a few full-length walk-thrus in 2023. A video that is an hour long on YouTube probably took me a week or two to record and edit. I have limited “quiet time” in which to record videos in this tiny tailer with three rambunctious kids! haha And I don’t get a reprieve by sending them off to school because we homeschool.
Full walk-thrus are requested a lot and unfortunately it’s just not something I’m able to offer for all my patterns.
- Small Tranquil Leaves Blossom, Interlocking Crochet, Complete Step-by-Step Walk-Thru
- February Knot Mini Square, Overlay Mosaic Crochet from the Center-Out
- Belle to Infinity; Center-Out Overlay Mosaic Crochet Pattern using Furls Wander Yarn
- Persistent Blossoms Small Square: Center-out Overlay Mosaic Crochet FULL Walk-Thru & Joining Support
- Persistent Blossoms, Interlocking Crochet Support Video & FULL Small Square Walk-Thru!
My most popular video of 2023 was actually this impromptu video I made when my yarn winder quit working!
YouTube Tutorials of 2023
Some tutorials are quick and to the point and others show a few things and work best when you use the timestamps to jump to the part you need help with. These are videos that are not included in the walk-thru section I just listed.
- Tunisian Mosaic Crochet Stitch Tutorial, translating from Overlay Mosaic “Many Hearts” Pattern
- How to Fix a KnitPicks Yarn Winder that has Stopped Making Pretty Cakes (Donuts instead)
- Stop the Curling by Using a Tunisian Honeycomb Border with Tunisian Mosaic Crochet
- Magic Ring Tutorial for starting a Crochet Project from the Center-Out
- Left-Handed Magic Ring and Invisible Join for Center-Out Overlay Mosaic Crochet
- How to Fix a Mistake in Your Interlocking Crochet Project
- Locked Double Crochet for Overlay Mosaic Crochet. A No-Flaps Option!
- Prym Comfort Twist Knitting Mill, I-Cord Tutorial for Crochet Bag Straps
- Crochet an I-Cord with 3 Hooks
- Joining Squares for a Bag Using my February Knot Mini-Squares
- Winstitch Export as Excel Chart for Interlocking Crochet
- Mosaic Crochet in the Round: create a tube for a bag or pillow – no cutting after each row!
- Mosaic Crochet: October Knot Squares; Optional Skipped Rounds Support Video
- Asterisks Showing Repeats in Interlocking Crochet Patterns
- Tutorial: Adding a TSS strap to your mosaic crochet bag
- Invisible ? Seams with Mosaic Crochet in the Round ? Quick Tutorial
- Interlocking Crochet in the Round Tutorial
Videos are preferred for most people but there are times when videos don’t work for people (maybe they live remotely and can’t stream videos, maybe they prefer a written tutorial).
Yes, I promise I will make more tutorials! It’s the biggest special request I get and I do try my best to make time for tutorials as well as patterns.
Personal Projects of 2023
Designing involved more time on the computer than I expected when I started this in 2020. I still try to make time for some personal crochet projects along with work crochet projects.
I make something for my kids for each of their birthdays and I try to increase my knitting skills a bit throughout the year. I own a few circular knitting machines as well as a drawer full of every size of knitting needle. I also have some flat bed knitting machines but I haven’t yet had the time to clean them properly or really give them a try. Maybe next year?
The big non-work project for me this year was the Magnus Cardigan I made in December.
There’s no way I would remember all the things I made if I didn’t take pictures and record each project in Ravelry. Mostly I use the Ravelry Projects section to link my projects to my yarn stash and keep track of what I have. If I didn’t need to know that for my business I probably wouldn’t do as good at keeping track of these projects.
Finances is a tricky topic. It’s important for me to know what’s working and what’s not so that I can make good choices for next year. I don’t mind being somewhat transparent about where I earn money but there are a lot of details that I’d prefer to keep private.
2020: The Beginning
When I started designing in 2020 I was hoping to make maybe $20 a month. I was a stay-at-home mom, losing my mind, looking for a creative outlet. The idea that it could also give me a bit of pocket cash was alluring.
I was blown away when I did my year-end taxes and learned I had a net income of about $5000 CAD! (If I could go back and tell 2020-Ashlee that 2023-Ashlee would be making about 7x that amount I think I’d faint!)
Through my early motherhood years I had tried a few things to earn money. I was lucky when it balanced out to $0 and felt like a massive failure during the times when my new ventures cost us more than they made us. Not to mention the time, effort, and stress I was putting into those things.
Throughout 2021 and 2022 my hobby-business turned into a REAL business. In 2022 I was required to get a federal GST number due to having reached the maximum income allowed without one. That felt like a terrifying and exciting milestone!
The growth I saw in my business from the first few years was largely due to lucky timing. The world was shut down for awhile, people were looking for hobbies and creative outlets, and I accidentally jumped into a niche without realizing it.
I also worked REALLY, REALLY hard to get the foundations for my business set up. My website, my YouTube channel, Facebook, and Instagram – all these platforms took a lot of effort on my part to learn how they worked and get them set up.
The great part is that it’s a bit easier now that it’s there and ready. The hard part is that I have a lot of platforms to keep updating with current material.
My daily work tasks look much different now versus when I started because I have over 300 patterns that people may need help with. Answering emails and messges on social media is a daily task that I need to do.
Projected Growth vs Actual
If I had been charting my growth from 2020 you would see a pretty steep climb up for the first 2 years and then it plateaus a bit.
2023 was a slower year for a few designers that I’ve talked to (but we’re all very careful about how we discuss finances and success, in public and in private conversations with each other).
I was a little bit worried when 2023 didn’t seem to be as wild as the previous years but I’m currently feeling satisfied with where I am.
I put a lot of work into the foundations of my business and I’m able to see the fruit of that labor now.
Primary Income Source
Pattern sales on Ravelry is where I make the most income. I don’t rely solely on Ravelry’s search algorithms though. I refer to my Ravelry listings on my website, on YouTube, and on almost every Facebook post or Instagram post I make.
Secondary Income Source
I refer to my Etsy shop in all of those places as well, but I make a lot less sales on Etsy versus Ravelry. I also have to pay a lot more fees on Etsy. But I like having Etsy because it’s valuable to different customers (they have different payment options available and their search algorithm may place me in front of different customers).
Supporting Income Sources
In the middle of 2022 I reached the requirements to be able to monetize my YouTube channel. It started off slow but I’m consistently making about $100 USD /month there now.
Around the middle of 2023 I added advertising to my website. I don’t want my website to ever become unusable because of pop-ups and advertising banners, but I do appreciate being able to earn about $50 USD a month the way things are currently set up.
I do have patterns on LoveCrafts and Ribblr but the sales from there are so infrequent.
I did make some money for the pattern I published in Crochet Now magazine but I made even more when I was able to self-publish a few months later.
You can find all the links I linked to in these paragraphs above by going to ashleeslint.com/link-in-bio.
2023 Summary & Conclusion
In conclusion, I’m very proud of where I’ve come these last few years.
2023 was a rough year personally. It felt like my kids and I were sick more this year than the past 5 years combined! It was very difficult for me to meet the goals I set for myself (I did NOT meet a lot of them).
I know my goal needs to be to say “no” more often in 2024.
- No, I can’t make a custom pattern.
- No, I don’t have time to add that project to my list.
- No, I can’t remake that.
- No, I can’t work 24/7.
This will allow me to say “YES” to more of the things I want to say yes to.
- Yes, I will make myself a sweater.
- Yes, I will experiment with more crochet techniques.
- Yes, I will knit more often.
- Yes, I will draw things that interest me.
I still want to publish new patterns in 2024 but I have a lot of catching up to do in regards to my website’s functionality and making all my old patterns meet my current standards.
I’m so thankful for the ways everyone has supported me throughout the years. I truly couldn’t do this without you.
I’m extremely thankful for the kind words and supportive messages. I consider a few of you friends now, even though we’ve never met. Thank you.