Behind the Scenes: How CERF+ Helped Me Level Up

Never heard of CERF+? Six months ago, I would’ve said the same. But if you’re a designer or artist, they’re a game changer. Let me tell you how.

federal grants for artists

What is CERF+: Artists Safety Net?

The Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+) helps artists get back to work when a disaster strikes and helps them prepare before disasters before they begin. Designers, indie dyers, and artists of all kinds operate on tight margins in crafts that are reliant on a single person’s skills and tools. So getting hit with an emergency can be devastating to a business.

CERF+ has helped crafters after hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and mudslides. And they’ve helped designers like me, through their Get Ready Grant.

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Why I Needed to “Get Ready”

When I first started designing, I lived a mile off of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. Cold does not even begin to describe it. While living there we got caught in a winter vortex that had the wind chill dropping lower than -60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then we moved down to Alabama… straight into tornado alley. To say I was not prepared for the multiple tornadoes that hit just miles from our house was an understatement.

But what does bad weather have to do with knitwear design, you might ask. Fair question.

The answer is the photographs.

federal grants for artists

How the Get Ready Grant Helped Me Level Up

For every design, I need beautiful photographs to best showcase the knits. If the photographs look crap, no one buys the pattern. I have the data.

The problem was that my ability to take photographs was dependent solely only the weather.

If it was snowing or raining, if the sky was too dark or too bright, that affected my photographs to an alarming degree. But sometimes, we were in a streak of bad weather and I didn’t have a choice.

In one memorable Alabama photo shoot for Kay Day, I had to stand under a tree in a thunderstorm to grab a couple semi-dry shots before sprinting back to the car.

In Wisconsin, that looked like taking photos outside in 20 degree temperatures… with no coat… so that you could see the Lavender Bloom cardigan.

You see, I had no indoor photography equipment and couldn’t afford to buy it.

To take proper indoor photographs, you need lighting… which my house in the shade does not have. A backdrop is also helpful, but I was batting 0 for 2.

Until I applied for the CERF+ Get Ready Grant.

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From Amateur to Professional

The ability to get an indoor lighting and backdrop allowed me to go from photos like this:

To photos like this:

mosaic knitting pattern
Truly Madly

Taking the weather out of the photography instantly upped my lighting and photography game and gave me clean, clear shots that made the knitwear shine.

But this $500 grant from CERF+ allowed me to do one more, very necessary thing. Get serious about videos.


From None to Fun in the Sun

Before the CERF+ grant, I did not have the set up to take videos. Me taking a video involved bribing my 4-year-old to hold the phone (never worked) or elaborate and ridiculous set ups involving a shawl, a necklace and my chin holding the phone in place while trying to get the shot… Do you know how many falling phone videos I have?

So I planned my CERF+ Get Ready Grant well, shopped the sales, and was able to get a Canva Lamp.

This thing is incredible and makes taking videos not only a breeze, but a lot of fun.

When I get to something I think you guys would find interesting, I pop my phone in the Canva Lamp holder, sit down, and do it. It’s just that simple.

Doesn’t matter if it’s day or night. It takes minutes.

Now I’m dropping reels on Insta, video pins on Pinterest, and… nope. You still can’t drag me to TikTok. Not happening.

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How Were Those Last CERF+ $$$ Spent?

Well it starts with Pinterest and ends with 3 hours in Hobby Lobby.

I wanted to create a vibe, a feeling when you see something of Nurture Knitwear out in the wild (of social media) it gives you an instant shot of calm and peace and makes you think of me.

So I had a lot of fun creating a brand aesthetic board on Pinterest with all the different colors and textures I thought could be a good fit for Nurture Knitwear.

Then I tucked my kids in for a nap, said “good luck” to my husband, and headed off to Hobby Lobby to find everything that fit into that vibe.

When my cart was full to bursting of at least $500 in merchandise, I found myself the sad and deserted little discount corner and sorted through everything. In the end, I walked away with about $90 worth of cloth and props, which now make up my videography and flat lay station.


CERF+ – Making A Difference

Within a month of receiving my grant check from CERF+, I was able to take Nurture Knitwear from my best attempt at being professional to actually having professional-quality photography and videography.

It’s been a game changer and I could not be more grateful!

If you are an artist/craftsperson and you need a little help to get ready, check out the Get Ready Grant! (Or if you love artists and the beautiful things they create, consider donating to CERF+ to help artists in need around the world!)

who will make this?

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Behind the Scenes: How CERF+ Helped Me Level UpBehind the Scenes: How CERF+ Helped Me Level UpBehind the Scenes: How CERF+ Helped Me Level UpBehind the Scenes: How CERF+ Helped Me Level Up
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