Megan Andersen, or Rad Megan, is one creative lady. One day she may be needle felting and the next planting a hanging garden in pinecones. All the while she knows how to photograph it beautifully (not in automatic either) and is raising her son to be just as crafty. Megan was always one of my favorite contributors to Kids Crafts 1-2-3 Magazine and one of the first bloggers I ever worked with through BlogHer. I was always amazed at everything she did and more importantly in awe of how she kept it all straight. Today I had the chance to quiz her about knitting forks, online classes, gardening and more.
You are quite the multi-tasker writing for E-How, your own blog, Bust Magazine and more. What are your tips, tricks and secrets to keeping it all straight? Are you one of those pretty planner obsessed people? A Google calendar kind of gal? Flakey people like me are dying to know.
When I worked for large companies, I lived and breathed iCal and then Google Calendar. I still have iCal alerts pop up on my phone that were set to repeat annually for various projects. Now that I'm a freelancer I write everything down on the family wall calendar that hangs in my kitchen. I have the same level of discipline when it comes to deadlines and managing multiple projects, but I don't have to share my schedule with anyone, so I tend to just use the wall calendar. It hangs behind my husband's side of the dinner table, so I see it often which helps me plan how long I will need for various assignments, when I'll need to schedule child care so I can dedicate time to projects, and it helps me to take stock of the supplies I'll need get for future projects. I know there's a convince factor with having your calendar on your person, but I don't mind telling potential clients that I'll need to check my calendar when I return to my home office before agreeing to a project date. That gives me enough time to really think about whether it's a project I want to be involved with. Now I just write what is due when, and to whom.The calendar is of Norwegian landscapes by the way.
When I first became familiar with your work via the BlogHer network I considered you more of a gardener than a crafter. Now I know you are wonderful at both and photography to boot! Where did you love of gardening come from?
I've always liked being in the garden and think there are loads of cute cross-over garden crafts that enhance the home, office or outdoor living space. I think my green thumb comes from my mom. I remember helping her scatter bunny poop on our vegetable garden when I was pretty little. Now that I've got a few years under my belt, and lived in lots of different situations, I've learned that when I'm feeling really stressed out about a certain assignment or life in general, if can go outside and plant some seeds, harvest vegetables or pull a few weeds, I immediately feel better. I will never be a crafter with cute nails. Mine are almost always short and with a little dirt underneath them.
For someone thinking of starting their own vegetable garden what is your recommendation for hardest plant to kill and almost guaranteed producer?
Always grow what you like. If you hate radishes, don't plant them- even if they are easy. Last year, we had massive harvests of squash and gourds which are awesome producers, but need a fair bit of garden space. Swiss chard (which does well in container gardens), kitchen herbs (also great for smaller spaces) lettuces, and strawberries are all great edibles for smaller spaces and patio gardens. Also, don't forget edible flowers like nasturtiums- which look beautiful and will re-seed every year!
Tell me about the Knitting Fork. I love me a new crafty tool, especially one that will make something like knitting easier.
After I recorded my craft photography video workshops I went traveling through Norway with my husband. We went to a folk and craft museum and I was smitten with the knitting fork they had on display there. The legend is that vikings used them to make rope with, but I started making them for local craft stores and my etsy shop as a dexterity tool for kid crafters. You can make a couple of different cords with the knitting forks, that can be used in lots of fun ways. I have a few projects on my website for people curious about what they can do, as well as this video I made a couple of years ago: Two Ways to Use a Knitting Fork, or "Lucet". I started making them in my garage and quickly became overwhelmed by the demand online and in local shops. I haven't had them in my etsy store for months because I'm working on a new batch and have needed to enlist help from a few additional people to get them produced. Sanding by hand with a toddler hanging around your waist just doesn't work too well. New knitting forks will be out this spring. I will make an announcement on my website, Facebook page and on Instagram.
You seem to make the rounds to a lot of craft oriented conferences. For someone who has not ever made it to CHA, BlogHer or Craftification which ones should be moved to the top of our crafty conference bucket lists?
Trade shows were a big part of my life when I worked in the corporate world. I've been to CHA a handful of times for various stores and companies. That show feels very much like the trade shows I used to attend in the software industry. It's a business to business show, not so much for consumers. Yes, there are loads of big names who do go to CHA, but everyone there has a specific reason for being there. I've been fortunate enough to be invited to a couple of after-hours blogger parties during CHA and that's a real treat because you get to see lots of the people you interact with online, but it's more casual and social. Craftcation is an awesome craft and small business retreat that has a very laid-back vibe with a kick ass mission. It's basically a group of speakers who teach workshops that will help you further your crafting/making/baking business. Or, you could skip all the small business/marketing/photography/finance etc. workshops and take ONLY craft classes like sewing and making Kombucha-making. I've taught photography classes there since they started the conference in 2012. Mark your calendars and sign up here: Craftcation Conference 2015. I've never OFFICIALLY been to BlogHer, though I would love an invitation from them!
What is your favorite craft medium. You seem to do a little everything, but what do you do in your “free” time when it is not a project for a publication?
Free time sounds like a myth at this point in my life. I really love to steal time in the garden when I can. If I had a week "off" I'd either be sewing some of the dress patterns I have stashed in my craft room, I'd be cooking and baking up a STORM or I'd grab my DSLR and go camping with my family. Travel and photography are two of my favorite words.
You have an adorable son Lars. What are some ways you are raising him in craftivity? Any suggestions for other crafty mamas trying to make sure their kids are as well versed in the alphabet as they are paint and glue?
Thanks. Lars is the best. (And so is the term "craftivity!") He'll be 2 in May and has already had lots of experience crafting with mama. I'm the opposite of a neat freak, so I don't mind making playtime a little messy. We draw together a LOT. He has gone through more sidewalk chalk in his short life than I care to admit. He also loves to paint. He's absorbing so much these days and it's fun to let him pick out his own paint colors and go to town on a canvas. Last week we were looking at the sunset one night, and the next morning he was picking out "shunshet" colors for his morning painting. Sometimes we make projects together, like these Grandparent's Day project we made for eHow: Grandparents Day Kid-Drawn Patchwork Coasters | eHow, or just lay on the grass and look at shapes in the clouds. He's so observant and I want to feed his creativity and curiosity in as many ways as possible. Messes can always get cleaned up.
Tell me about your online classes? Do you prefer teaching online or in person? If someone was thinking of trying to pitch an online class what are your pearls of wisdom about doing so. Speaking of online classes as a busy mom myself I am such a big fan of what my father always refers to as PIGS (Positive Income Generators) or things that make money while you sleep. Not only do you have online classes that people can download and gain access to at anytime I noticed you also have PDF instructions in your Etsy store. Can you give us some ideas about writing and selling instructions for projects in a world where there is so much information online for free?
PIGS are a crazy important part of my income. I've recorded workshops for lynda.com and online craft classes with Creativebug. I really enjoy teaching small groups in person- it's a totally different and intimate experience, but there's something about being on camera that really appeals to me. I'm not quite sure what it is, but somewhere between the "Im totally going to puke" nerves and the magic of a second take when you realize your shirt button has popped open, puts me in a weirdly confident place with teaching. To anyone looking to pitch workshops for online publication, I'd suggest that you do your homework (think about what that site doesn't have online yet), get organized (put all of your credentials online in an orderly fashion) and then be tenacious as hell. Also, being polite doesn't hurt! My etsy store only has two items in it right now- both downloadable PDF patterns. I finally sat down and created a couple of patterns of projects I thought might be popular enough for people to want to purchase, when I had several of my free blog posts go viral. I watched the page hits go through the roof and thought, "If everyone reading this post, left me even a quarter...!" When etsy made their automated digital download possible, my pattern-selling became so. much. easier.
What are you crafty plans for the future? Are you determined to learn how to screen print in 2015? Write a how-to book? Hoping to become the spokesperson for your favorite yarn company?
This year, I'll be recording my first video workshop with CreativeLive! More on that as soon as I can share it! I'll also be speaking at Craftcation in March, and after that, I'd LOVE to write (my first of many!) crafty how-to books. I have a couple of pitches that I'm working on between deadlines, but life is pretty busy, so I need to move those up on my priority list if I want to make them a reality! And If a company wanted to enlist me as a spokesperson, I'd give that a serious think. I love the craft industry with all my heart and feel like this, more than any other "job" I've ever held, is where I belong.
Be sure to check out more interviews by Jennifer Perkins here.