Monday, June 10, 2013

Set Your DVRs!

Tune in June 11th to see me on Marie Osmonds' talk show on the Hallmark Channel. We talk about everything from Bewitched to romance to raising alpacas. Find out what's coming up for Erin Murphy Knits & the Tranquil Veranda Ranch. Marie let me know that she thinks my alpacas look like her little brother Jimmy. I was surprised to learn that I have more children than Donny Osmond! Fun interview. Check your local listings. Click the link to order one of the Erin Murphy Knits handknit alpaca hats featured on the show.\
Click below to get a personalized autographed photo of Erin Murphy from Bewitched.
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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Erin Murphy Knits: A Year in Review!

What a great year 2012 was for Erin Murphy Knits! In our very first year of alpaca ownership, we not only launched a knitwear company, but also bred, then delivered, our first two beautiful cria: Erin Murphy Knits Moorea and Erin Murphy Knits Don't Mess With Texas. We had our first shearing day and spun all the raw fiber into yarn. I launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, donated items to charity auctions and fulfilled orders as fast as I could knit. We also began using our alpacas for animal therapy for special needs children. In our efforts to spread awareness about the American alpaca fiber industry and these wonderful, eco-friendly animals we were featured in several magazines, newspaper articles and radio and news programs. Most importantly, our family has met some wonderful people all thanks to our beautiful alpacas. I can't wait to see what the future brings!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Diary of a Kickstarter Campaign: All or Nothing!

It's the countdown for the Erin Murphy Knits Alpaca Project! My Kickstarter Campaign has three days to go and is 82% funded. I've receeived several messages from my backers saying that they'd like to honor their pledges even if I don't reach 100%. That's not how Kickstarter works. Kickstarter is an "All or Nothing at All' platform. If I don't reach 100% funding, your credit card will not be charged. But I'm not worried yet. I feel great about the support of my backers and the enthusiastic messages that I've received. Hopefully when my project hits the 'Ending Soon' page on Kickstarter I'll pick up a few extra sponsors. You can help by telling your friends about the Erin Murphy Knits Alpaca Project! All rewards will be received in time for holiday gift giving. Wouldn't a hand knit alpaca hat make a great gift?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Erin Murphy's Knits: In The News

I thought I'd share the article I did this week with The Examiner: Many will remember actress, Erin Murphy who played that loveable little witch, Tabitha in the classic series Bewitched! Today, Erin continues working in the entertainment business behind and in-front of the camera. But one might not know that Erin is a Alpaca Rancher. I was able to chat with the stunning Erin Murphy about Bewitched, Alpacas, & her current Kickstarter project. Enjoy. Mike Pingel: How did you become a Alpaca rancher? Erin Murphy: I got my first 2 alpacas for 'pet therapy' for our little boy with autism. We fell in love with the animals quickly and our herd grew from there. M: What was your son's reaction to the Alpaca? E: Our little boy, Parker, loves the alpacas. They're such gentle inquisitive animals and they communicate by humming. They don't always like to be touched, but they approach you on their own. In many ways, they're similar to individuals with autism. M: What kind of characteristics does the Alpaca have? Like a goat, dog? E: Some alpacas are dog like, but most alpaca ranchers say they're more cat like. If I had to describe them as similar to another animal, I'd say they're most like a deer. M: How much does a Alpaca eat? E: Alpacas eat primarily grass hay (orchard) with a little alpaca hay for protein. I also feed the pregnant/ nursing females alpaca pellets and have loose minerals available at all times. About six alpacas eat the same amount as one horse. M: Have you always knitted? E: I was first exposed to knitting watching Agnes Moorehead knit on the set of Bewitched, but I really got into knitting after getting the alpacas. My friend actress Carolyn Hennesy was also very supportive in improving my knitting! M: Is the Alpaca yarn the best to use in knitting? E: I think alpaca yarn is the best for knitting. It's soft like cashmere, but has a longer staple length than cashmere so it's stronger. it's a hollow fiber so it light weight, but very insulating and naturally water and fire resistant. Alpaca fiber also doesn't have lanolin in it, so it's hypo allergenic. M: How long does it take to knit a hat? E: That's a hard question to answer. If you start from the beginning, it takes a year for the alpaca to grow the fiber, then it takes hours and hours to process and spin the raw fiber into yarn and a couple hours to actually knit the hat. I think one of the reasons, so few people offer hand knit items, is that if you really break it down and look at the time involved, it's not a money making venture. Definitely a labor of love! M: What do you hope to accomplish with your Kickstarter project? E: I'm excited about the Kickstarter project for several reasons. I'm just launching my Erin Murphy Knits company and I'm looking forward to having my items available in several small retail stores for the holidays. I'm also going to be getting a portable alpaca corral so I can bring the alpacas to special ed, school, hospital and boutique visits and I'm hoping to increase the public awareness of alpaca fiber. Alpacas are originally from Peru & Chile and although alpacas have been in the US since the early 80's, the fiber hasn't really been promoted as much as it should be. Most alpaca items available at retail are imported. I'm interested in supporting the local economy, so even as Erin Murphy Knits expands; every aspect from start to finish will be made in the USA. M: What kind of incentives are you offering? E: It was fun coming up with the rewards for Kickstarter. I'm offering things that should appeal to everyone from the casual Bewitched fan to those interested in luxury alpaca accessories. I have alpaca felted soap (which is like soap encased in a wash cloth, handknit scarves, hats and baby sets and woven alpaca rugs. One of the surprisingly popular rewards is a visit to our small ranch to hang out for the afternoon with me and the alpacas (or is it the alpacas & I?). M: Do you have a favorite or funniest moment with one of your Alpaca? E: Alpacas are funny animals. They look like Muppets. One occasion, one of the girls leaned in to give me a kiss & spit right in my face. It wasn't really funny to me, but was to everyone else! M: ..and I have to ask.. for all the Bewitched fans reading this… do you have a favorite moment on the show? E: Bewitched was just wonderful all around. I worked with amazing people on a show that was so well written and really held up over time. People have been so kind about it over the years and I feel really lucky to have a small place in TV history! M: Where can people go to get more info on the Alpaca project? E: You can find out more about the Erin Murphy Knits alpaca project on Kickstarter or on my blog:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Diary of a Kickstarter Campaign: Gaining Momentum

By most accounts, the middle of a Kickstarter campaign is where you hit a lull and backers drop off drastically. I think by holding off putting up my project video until the middle of my campaign, I avoided that. Six days ago, when I added the video, my project was 33% funded. Today, I'm 72% funded with 11 days to go. I felt a huge rush of relief when I reached 50% funding! One 'bad' thing happened this week with my Kickstarter project. There was a suggestion to have a vanity URL, which you get by simply checking a link in settings. Supposedly that makes your project easier to find. Sadly, it also deleted all 300+ 'Likes' that my project had. Since popularity on Kickstarter is based not only on backers & dollars but also on "Likes', this sent my project into Kickstarter oblivion. Even with the increase in numbers, it's no longer listed on the popular page. So I would suggest if you want to use a Vanity URL, you add it at the launch of your campaign. Right now I'm feeling cautiously optimistic. I love when my family and friends get excited and call when they see that I have a new backer. Another great thing happened this week, when five of my previous backers increase their pledge amounts. I'm so excited about knitting up the rewards and having people out for ranch visits. One supporter is even having me knit her ring bearers' pillow for her upcoming wedding. What an honor. I can't tell you how much your support is appreciated. Look at the amazing illustrations that Sean McHugh did for me.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Diary of a Kickstarter Campaign: The Project Video

By all accounts, the project video is the single most important component to a successful Kickstarter campaign. Only 30% of projects without a video end up being fully funded. Kickstarter strongly recommends that you post your video at launch. I didn't do that. I'm trying to keep the momentum going with my campaign, similar to the 'But wait, there's more!' pitch used in direct response. My Erin Murphy Knits Alpaca Project was up on Kickstarter for a full fourteen days before I added a video today. I think the thought of making a video can be pretty daunting. It doesn't have to be. My video was completely made by my twelve year old son, Dylan, during a two hour Apple Film Camp.
He produced it, directed it, filmed it and scored it. He wrote the music on Garage Band and used I-Movie. We shot it in one take. Some of the project videos on Kickstarter are pretty fantastic, with hired production teams and big budgets. Our video is decidedly low-tech with no budget. We included the basics that every crowdfunding video needs. First, you need to tell the audience who you are. It's definitely nice to put a "face" with the project. I also think it's a good idea to tell a little bit about what Kickstarter is. Crowdfunding is still a fairly new concept. Then you need to talk about what your project is and what you're trying to raise money for. Then, talk about your rewards. Kickstarter is a win/ win type situation. Backers support up and coming creative projects and in return they get something cool from the project. Tell the viewers all the different ways that they can help support your project. In addition to backing you, they can also spread the word via Twitter, Facebook and blogs. Finally, thank them! Crowdfunding is a team effort! My project is currently 33% funded with 16 days left in the campaign. Click on the link to see our new video and a huge thank you to all my supporters!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Diary of a Kickstarter Campaign: The First Week

The first week of my Kickstarter project, Erin Murphy Knits Alpaca Project, has been invigorating, embarassing, exhausting and FUN! Not all projects sent in to Kickstarter are approved. My initial project was sent back because it was for 'general business expenses' and Kickstarter only allows projects with a finite goal. I also have a charitable aspect to Erin Murphy Knits and Kickstarter doesn't support charitable campaigns. I rewrote my pitch in five minutes and sent it back for approval. They contacted me 24 hours later to tell me it had been accepted. I think what most people expect when they launch a project on a public funding platform is that the 'public' will be able to see their project. With over 4,000 projects on Kickstarter right now, only a precious few are featured on their front page. You need to reach out to your friends to spread the word. In the first 24 hours of my launch, I wrote about my campaign on Facebook and Twitter. On the second day, I wrote about it in my blog and on my favorite Bewitched website message board: For most Kickstarter campaigns, including mine, there's an initial burst of traffic and backers at the launch, then there's a 'trough' in the middle with occasional backers and a sudden burst at the end as the project is featured on Kickstarter's Ending Soon page, where it's visible to all the Kickstarter viewers. In my first three days I had fifteen backers and was 12% funded. The part that's been most difficult for me is asking friends for support and asking everyone to share the link via Twitter and Facebook. Asking for help is a crucial component of crowdfunding. You have to be able to reach outside your group. As a "pitchperson' by trade, I love to sell things. I love to point out the benefits of a product and tell people honestly how that product is a solution to a problem. Also I'm involved with many charities and have no problem reaching out and asking for help for someone else. With my Kickstarter project I'm definitely out of my comfort zone reaching out and asking for help for myself! I'm trying to keep my campaign interesting and adding rewards as I go. I'm hopeful that will keep the project fresh and allow me to share updates that aren't completely repetitive. Some Kickstarter employees Tweeted about my project and commented that they "Wish I had a video for my project". I'll be adding one this week. I shot one on Friday, but when I went to put it up the video and audio wouldn't sync. I'm not using my TV production connections to film my video. I'll be shooting it in one take on my 12 year old son's camera. I'm sharing lessons I learn with my launch in hopes to help others make their projects successful. The goal of my campaign and most Kickstarter campaigns is to raise funds to complete a creative project and I don't think you need to spend money or be high tech to do that. Yesterday my project was featured on a website called They had me listed as #2 on their Hot List; but also had me trending as only getting 63% of my funding goal. Fingers crossed that they're wrong! I think timing the project you launch is crucial. I may be fighting an uphill battle promoting handknit alpaca accessories in the midst of a summer heatwave. But there really is a method to my madness. The goal of my project is to launch a Winter 2012-2013 Erin Murphy Knits Alpaca Collection. With a summer Kickstarter launch, everyone will get their rewards well in advance of Winter and holiday gift-giving. Please click on the link below to check out my Kickstarter campaign. While you're there click on the "Like" tab right under the photo. If you're feeling particularly generous you can also click on the "Tweet" tab to share with your friends and be sure to check out the rewards!