Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Economics of Knitting - Classes in Yarn Shops

I worked off and on at my LYS until a few years ago when the owner retired and was unable to sell the business. I was there part time, between corporate jobs, both teaching and working the floor of the shop. 

Retail store owners use classes to bring customers into the shop and as an added value to their customer base. They hope that students will buy more product once they are in the shop for a class. Instructors are paid better than the hourly rate of retail staff but at the very low end of the scale for anyone who is an educator in any industry.  The time it takes to develop course materials is not taken into account. You are typically paid an hourly rate for the class time which is predefined but in reality often runs over as you are in the shop, so it is not unusual for students to pop back in for one on one questions and assistance. I always happily worked with these students as I'm passionate about my knitting as are all of us who pursue this as a career.

Sometimes on busy shop days we would have to ask students, (outside of class time) to wait while we looked after other customers in the store. Most were happy to do so but occasionally there were students who were not pleased by this. One of my co-workers who did not teach, also pointed out to me that attending guild meetings was becoming a problem for her because so many customers  would approach her about shop business during what was a social evening out for her.

Classes were often canceled if not enough students registered. That would mean that an instructor may have prepared materials that did not get used if the class was never run. That results in an instructor being out of pocket on those costs for both development time and hard costs like paper, printing and yarn for samples. Those of us in the industry think of this as a cost of doing business but I'm sure most knitters have never realized that this happens often.

The owner of the shop calculated costs very carefully for classes. They had to break even on the cost of paying the instructor with the amount charged to the students. So that number was the break point for canceling a low enrollment class. I'm not making a value judgment on anything I've written about today, this is just the way it is. These are the realities of the economics of knitting. I suspect that most consumers are unaware of how this all works so I'll continue to share more information in future posts.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pattern Drafting and Grading

I've recently noticed while reading comments in the Ravelry designer forums that there is a melding of the terms drafting and grading. This probably has been happening for some time but because my definition is two separate processes I think I have misunderstood many of the comments and questions posted.

When a pattern is drafted it is an original plan that is used to create a garment. It has a specific size wearer intended as it's target. It is usually based on a medium size if the end result required is multiple sizes, or it is a customized pattern for a specific individual.

Grading refers to the process of proportionally increasing or decreasing the size of a pattern, while maintaining it's shape, fit, and scale of the details. An example would be making a collar or pocket size stay in proportion to a larger or smaller garment. It also means that seams, darts and shaping are in the same place on the body in all sizes. The garment you knit will look the same as the one in the pattern photo even though that was taken on a model of a different size than you. 

The change of size assumes that the type of body is still within a specific target range, for example what retail refers to as a Misses size. Plus, Junior, Petite and Tall size grading starts with a different original pattern due to the differences in proportion that those categories target. For example, Misses sizes have a eight to ten inch difference between the waist and hip measurement and Junior sizes target a less well defined waistline.

In the mainstream fashion world the process of pattern making and grading are often done by different people. Pattern making is the translation of the design idea onto a paper template. Grading deals only with size issues. Some designers outsource the grading of the original pattern to companies that provide this service.

In manufacturing there are several methods of grading: cut and spread and computer grading are the common methods. 

Grading only makes a garment section larger or smaller and isn't intended to change the fit. Grading also reinterprets the pattern with the understanding that people of different sizes are proportionately different. It takes into account that different body parts change at different rates and proportional amounts. The amounts are based on established measurements but there is no one common system used by garment makers. They are also based on heights that do not vary more than four inches in total height.

Take a look at the drawing I've included at the top of this post. You will notice that there are three sizes on the one piece but the increments are not even as you follow the lines around the neckline, across the shoulder and down the armhole seam and side seam. Look at the edge of the shoulder and at the bottom of the armhole and you will see that in those spots the sizes match up. Knitting patterns use a single schematic to represent all sizes. These details are not reflected, so some of the differences between sizes are not obvious to knitters.

Friday, May 25, 2012

An Interview with...Melissa Goodale

Once a week I post interviews with interesting designers about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every designer makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world. 

You can find Melissa here on Ravelry and here.

Where do you find inspiration?
Silly as it sounds, everywhere. I love flipping through stitch dictionaries, wandering the mall seeing what's on the shelves, browsing Ravelry to see what's popular. Sometimes it's on something someone is wearing as they walk by me. I never know when the mood will strike.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
My favorites are really the whole family of starting and finishing techniques. I honestly feel it's the fit and finish of a design that makes the difference between a passable design and an amazing design. I'm always looking for new ways to cast on, bind off, and work edge stitches to make designs sing.
How did you determine your size range?
It varies. When I publish in traditional media (books, magazines) I simply follow the guidelines set by my editor. When I'm self publishing a lot comes down to me taking a guess at what size range will want to actually knit the design, though I do try to make it as broad as is reasonable.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I very much look at others work and have no qualms being influenced by what I see. There's a big difference between being influenced and plagiarizing.
How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I'm of two minds on this one. As Stick Chick Knits (professional designer), I feel part of the job of a successful designer (treating design as a business, not art or a hobby), is to meet the demands of the customer. So if the customers want more detail, lets give it to them. I write my patterns accordingly.
That said, as Mel (hobby knitter), I kind of think it's silly. 50 years ago patterns were much shorter, with less detail, and knitters were forced to either figure out a solution, or go hunting for an answer at the library or from other knitters they knew (a very time consuming process). Now we have the internet at our finger tips, where finding a video to walk you through a technique takes minutes at most, and we want it all spelled out for us in detail. To me it seems it should have been the other way around. When information was hard to find, the patterns should have included more, and now that information is easy to find they should include less.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I have a few test knitters, depending on the type of pattern I'm working on, but I do all my own sample knitting. I often design as I knit; so I'll cast on with a basic idea of where I'm going, but I'll fiddle with the details while I work up the sample.

I've spent a lot of time working with Jennifer Hansen, of Stitch Diva, and consider her my mentor. I feel like she really blazed the trail for turning self-published designs into an actual business. I also love that she puts out designs that she loves, and that are so different from the mainstream.

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
My business wouldn't exist without the Internet. It's how I met everyone I work with in the business, it's how I retail my patterns. I suppose without it I might have had a small hobby selling patterns to my local yarn store, but it would not be an actual business.

Is there a designer out there that doesn't? There is absolutely no way you should ever publish a design without having a tech editor take a look at it. Yes, it costs money, but it's money well spent.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I feel like it's something I'm still trying to sort out, especially when I'm working on a new design. I've got yarn and projects in almost every room of the house. To some extent what I do is try to set up a few rules to keep me honest. The kids come first, no knitting during meals, no knitting in bed. Beyond that it's kind of a juggling act around here.

How do you deal with criticism?
I try to take it as feedback and improve. I also remind myself that taste is a very personal thing, not everyone will love my work and that's fine.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I'm still working on it. Designing is my full time job, and I've been lucky enough to have seen increased revenue over the years, but I'm still not at where I was when I worked as an engineer. My husband and I moved our family from the San Francisco Bay area to Seattle in order to cut expenses to compensate for that.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Don't quit your day job too soon. In hindsight there was a lot I could have done to grow my design business while still working my old job. I was eager to start, so I quit early and the lack of revenue made it tough. Design on evenings and weekends, grow your portfolio. When you've got a solid set of designs under your belt set up a sales plan and then quit.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why I love Knitting!

I've tried all sorts of artistic and creative pursuits. I took art through my high school years and enjoyed all of the mediums I got to experiment with. I sewed much of my own clothing for many years, made my wedding dress and loved my tailoring classes where I made suits and coats. I machine knit and own a number of machines. I've made a few teddy bears and taken a bead weaving class that teaches you how to work on a small beading loom. I've done various types of embroidery, needlepoint work and I still play with making jewellery, mainly bead and wire work. None of those endeavors have stuck with me the way knitting has, I think it's because I have never stopped learning new techniques with my knitting. It provides endless challenges in both technique and aesthetics.

Occasionally, I am foolish enough to think I've seen it all when it comes to knitting, but I love the way knitting keeps me humble. In a recent post I mentioned that I did two swatches with the same yarn and laundered both during the blocking process. The swatch that I knew was too loose showed some shrinkage and the one that I was happy with did not. 

I asked someone else if she had ever noticed this happening and she hadn't but we both thought that perhaps if the knitting is too loose it somehow allows for more shrinkage.

I normally draw out the size of the swatch on graph paper as a comparison tool for after blocking. I lightly steam the swatch, place it on the paper and mark the size before the serious blocking takes place.

A little later I swatched for a project that I am collaborating on with a yarn the other designer has used many times. She mentioned that the yarn was very stable when washed and she never had the gauge change post blocking. I started my swatch and had to change needle sizes twice to get to the correct DK gauge. I did one long continuous swatch this time, the first two sections were each about two inches long before I changed needle sizes. The third one was a full four inches. Afterward I did my usual graph paper drawing. You know where I'm going don't you? The section that was too loose shrunk the most, the section that was just a little off gauge shrunk just a little. The correct gauge section was exactly the same before and after blocking. So I've learned another reason to make sure that your gauge is accurate and the fabric you create is stable.

Then in the same week I learned something else new. Someone asked me for my opinion on braided joins? I'd never heard of a braided join before but I was told that there is a Youtube video...I've linked to it above. How cool is that? Two new things in just one week!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Character of a Knitter

"The clearest indication of character is what people find laughable." Goethe

I read this quote the other day and it got me thinking about how much little things can tell you about a person. With knitting it's the character of the knitters. I have so often observed that knitters approach their knitting in the same way that they approach everything else in life.

As an example, will you tear back many hours of knitting to correct a mistake or do you follow the theory that if a man on a horse galloping by won't notice the error you don't bother to fix it? I'm unfortunately the anal type who will tear back and I'm frequently jealous of the other type when I know that no one other than me will ever notice the problem that I absolutely MUST fix.  

Which knitter are you?

Friday, May 18, 2012

An Interview with...Mel Clark

Once a week I post interviews with interesting designers about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every designer makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world. 

You can find Mel here and here. 
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere: people on the street, nature, museums, textiles and books on textiles, fashion, my kids. 
What is your favorite knitting technique?
I don't really have a favorite. I like variety, although knitting a garment in the round is very satisfying, whether it's top down or bottom up.
How did you determine your size range?
It depends on the garment. Some lend themselves to a wide variety of sizes, and others don't. I do believe in making sizes democratic and accessible to people of all shapes whenever possible.

Everyday Cardigan from Knitting Everyday Finery

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I see other designers' work when I look through books and magazines. It's helpful to see what others are doing but I try not to let it influence me. I have favourite fashion designers whose work I look at.
How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I hadn't heard of this until you explained it to me. I don't see making patterns clear to the knitter as dumbing down. I taught beginners to knit in my shop in California for several years. Teaching makes you aware of what new knitters want in the way of detail. I try to strike a balance between providing enough detail and being concise.
Rowena from Knit 2 Together
How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I make most things myself but I do have a couple of knitters whose work is much neater than mine. They test patterns for me or make projects when I don't have the time to knit everything.
Do you have a mentor? 

Not really, but I do run things by my daughter whose taste and wisdom I admire.
Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
I do what I do because I love it even when I'm not earning very much. Most people in the regular business world would look at someone like me and think I'm crazy. There's not much money in it for the amount of time you spend working.
What impact has the Internet had on your business?
The internet has had a huge effect. Ten years ago I could never have imagined writing a blog. The fact that I can talk about what I'm doing, share my inspiration is a fantastic way to communicate with people. Then there's Ravelry, which has revolutionized hand knitting. The era before Ravelry was so different. It has democratized designing. Everyone can have a shot at it, and try selling their patterns. Patterns sold as PDF downloads is another huge change. I resisted it for a while, but now I've joined the crowd although I have just had a book published (Knitting Everyday Finery), so I still believe in print.
Do you use a tech editor? 

Yes, it's very hard to edit your own work. You need a second pair of eyes.

Lacey Hug-Me-Tight from Knit 2 Together

How do you maintain your life/work balance? 

Not very well. I'm always working, although is it really work if you love it? Some of my work involves knitting, so I don't know if that counts! If I'm not writing a pattern or knitting a sample, I'm thinking about it and working in my head, so it's safe to say it's a 24/7 thing. I sometimes wake up in the night thinking about a design and creep downstairs to work on it.
How do you deal with criticism?
I try not to pay attention to it and just do the best work I possibly can.
How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
It happened almost immediately back when I was designing ready-to-wear knits. There's more money in that. Making a living from writing knitting patterns is much harder.
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Make sure you have enough money to live on for a couple of years or much longer (or a supportive partner who earns a good living!) and make sure you love knitting enough because it takes extreme dedication. I would say, if there's something else you're good at, do it. There is not a lot of money in hand knitting and everyone works very hard.

An Interview with...Mel Clark

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Feminism and Designer Compensation

I've been thinking a lot about how Feminism relates to how much money designers make. (The answer about the money part, is not very much). I thinks much of it relates to knitting being seen as women's work just like house cleaning is and therefore it receives low compensation.

A friend and I recently tried to think of equivalents in more male dominated professions that are comparable to the position that many designers and knitting industry workers  find themselves in. The closest we could come were musicians but music is not so exclusively female. 

I'm one of the lucky ones in that I have income from my previous corporate job. My friend estimates that at least 25% of knitting professionals have alternative income. Going by my interview series the numbers could be even higher.  

Another professional knitter I know has commented about the past of knitting design when yarn companies paid stay at home housewives to design their patterns to provide yarn support. They paid very low rates for the work and that may have depressed the rate of compensation from the beginning creating the current situation.

I find it difficult to promote myself in ways that I know most men have no problem doing. Some time ago I read a great book about this. It was, Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation--and Positive Strategies for Change by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. Maybe it's time for me to reread this one?

I don't want to appear to be moaning as I feel very fortunate to be able to pursue a creative life that I was denied when I worked full time. However, having said that, I am very aware that my position means that I make decisions differently than those that must make a living from their knitting related work. I also feel that it's problematic for our industry's growth when many potentially great knitting professionals simply can't afford to follow their calling.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Why are Armholes so Deep on Patterns?

I get asked this question often, "why are armholes so deep on patterns?"

Hand knit designers are under a lot of pressure to produce a much larger size range for the patterns that they write. 

Sizes get larger not with the assumption that bigger sizes carry more body fat but with the assumption that the underlying bone structure is larger. Extra weight changes body shapes in a different way than the changes that occur due to larger or smaller underlying bone structures. Age also has an impact on body shape due to hormonal changes in women. It is for this reason that retail clothing changes depending on if the retailer is selling to teenagers, young women or mature women.

Alternative pattern systems in retail and sewing have separate categories to address these issues. As an example, plus, tall, and petite sizes in retail don’t just make things bigger or smaller, they adjust proportions as well.

Many knit designers are using the Craft Yarn Council measurements as a guidelines Check their website for further details. The measurements are limited. For example there are no neckline standards.  Take note that the sizing charts do not include information about height. This is unique to the knitting world. 

Manufacturing and sewing patterns have height standards. In ready-to-wear these variations are dealt with by a number of different size ranges that target a more narrow scope of body types. Most people figure out what size range fits by trial and error when shopping for clothing. Yet knitters are asking patterns to somehow cover all of these size ranges in a single pattern.  Hand knit designers are trying to respond to requests for more size options by grading patterns up in unusual ways, that don't really work for everyone. The goal is to provide as many options as possible. 

The alternate sizing systems in both retail and sewing use height target ranges. There is an underlying assumption in some systems that smaller sizes are for shorter women and larger sizes will fit taller women. However, the variations are relatively small, usually less than four inches for total height. In knitting patterns, it has become standard for lengths to increase at much greater increments than in ready-to-wear, as sizes increase. One pattern source that sizes from 36 to 54 has eight inches difference from the shoulder to the high hip. To put this into perspective, if the 36 was five feet tall, the 54 would be approximately 6 feet, 4 inches. This is a way of eliminating the need for petite, average and tall size categories that creates a whole new set of problems. 

To address the topic of this post, the knitter can wear a garment with a too deep armhole but not one that is too short. Designers are trying to avoid that problem for the knitter. What this means is that the individual knitter must always check the required measurements against those in the pattern and adjust to more closely match those of the intended wearer.

Friday, May 11, 2012

An Interview with....Lorilee Beltman

Once a week I post interviews with interesting designers about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every designer makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world. 

You can find Lorilee here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration for designing just comes from wondering (usually while falling asleep) and fiddling around with needles and yarn in the morning. Stitch dictionaries are also inspiring, as is generally being engaged in my surroundings enough to notice things that are pleasing. 

What is your favourite knitting technique?
There is one technique that stands out as having changed my knitting, as it allows me to execute some dimensional designs seamlessly. Because the lights went on for me when I learned it, I try to force Judy Becker's Magic Cast On on any knitter willing to learn.

The teacher in me also wants every knitter to learn magic loop knitting, Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind off, and more than a few ways to cast on.

My favorite knitting style for me is continental, although I love to watch people who throw with their left hand, or Victorian knitters who hold their needles like pencils. I love to see variations that get the job done. 

How did you determine your size range?
To date most of my published patterns have been for accessories made in the sizes determined by whomever has hired me to submit the pattern. 

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
Certainly I enjoy looking at other designers work, but I feel strongly about only putting something out there if it looks different from things currently available. There are designers who do stunning things with cables or color or lace, for instance. I am interested in looking, but rarely knit them, as I'd rather look into something I am personally curious about. I'd love to have many designers' works magically appear in my closet, but I don't feel the need to knit them. 

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?
What is this controversy of which you speak? You may have to dumb down the question for me to understand. 

Bloggers note: for more background on this question see my post here.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I am new to this and do it myself, but I would be happy to change this going forward.  

Did you do a formal business plan?
When I had a shop, absolutely. Now? No, just goals and schedules on calendars.  

Do you have a mentor?
I have absorbed thrilling bits of knitting knowledge from many people. When I teach I like to remind people that everything I know, I learned, usually the hard way. No single person stands out, which could be due to the fact that I find a lot to admire in many people.

What's the most important thing you have learned?
The most important thing I have learned in my life is something I experience in the knitting community. Time and time again I have found that any person is worth getting to know if you just take the time with them to find out what you share or what you find interesting in them. I have observed knitters who would perhaps not even notice each other in passing on the street sit and knit together and form friendships despite great differences. It has been a real eye-opener for me. This knowledge also keeps me from idolizing or elevating one person over another.

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
I consider myself a teacher first, designer second. Social media is useful for spreading the word about upcoming events and newly-released designs.  

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
To decide what is most important to get done in any day, then do that, is often challenging in any job. Knitting is no different, except working from home has its extra challenges.

How do you deal with criticism?
Anyone who criticizes me is an idiot. Okay- I am totally kidding! I shouldn't joke around like that with people who don't know me. Like many people, I accept it when I ask for it, but unsolicited criticism isn't usually productive for me. On balance, most of my feedback is very encouraging.

This does remind me of a specific example of criticism that does bug me. On Youtube there is a CraftSanity video of me giving a continental knitting tutorial. I get "love" mail regularly regarding the tips in that video, which at this moment has about 800,000 views. Not too shabby. What I have stopped responding to are the comments from people who, in response to my five seconds of throwing, get super critical of my throwing technique, or feel like I am dissing throwing. Anyone who takes a class from me will attest to me not saying that my way is the best way, just the best for me. And, yes, I am a crap thrower, which is why the tutorial is not titled "English Style Knitting." 

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting? 
Don't think you know everything, ever. But don't let missing knowledge prevent you from giving it a shot. Everything you need to know you can learn if you pursue it with great curiosity.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Shoulder Drop - A Solution

Shoulders that stretch out of shape are a frustration to many knitters. On cut and sew knit garments sewers are taught to use a piece of clear elastic which is sewn right into the seam. Normally it is pinned into place after being stretched out about 1/2 inch. It draws the shoulder up slightly without gathering it. The real advantage is when the sleeve is sewn in place. The elastic counteracts the tendency of the sleeves weight to pull the shoulder down. I've got two methods that work the same way for knitters. The first is to use your project yarn and a crochet hook. Measure the length of your shoulder seam, lets say it is 4.5 inches. Pin your shoulder seam down on a firm pillow and squeeze it up to 4 inches, then using your crochet hook, create a chain along the seam drawing it up the 1/2 inch. If you no longer have any of your project yarn you can use thread. Put a double strand through the needle so that you have four strands in total after knotting the end. Anchor it firmly and after using the same pillow trick to stabilize the seam, stitch along the edge of the seam making a knot every inch or so to compress the seam down. If it puckers on the outside you have gone to far, however depending on your gauge you should be able to easily remove 1/2 inch and often you can get up to 1 inch in total out of the seam length.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Knitting Tips - The Aesthetics

Untitled #5
The colours match

Untitled #5
The colours don't match

Untitled #5
The colours mix

Colour mixing and matching is all just a numbers game. In the first photo the bag and the shoes look great together as they are both blue reds. In the second the shoes are orange red and the bag is blue red so the colours fight. In the third I added two more reds that fill in between the orange red and blue red and now the colour combination is monochromatic. Think about this when you use multiple shades of a colour of yarn in a single garment or when you want to mix your knitting in with other items in your wardrobe.

Friday, May 4, 2012

An Interview with...Myra Wood

Once a week I post interviews with interesting designers about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every designer makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world. 

You can find Myra here and here on Ravelry.
Where do you find inspiration?
Mainly from teaching and interacting with the fiber community online and through my local guild. I get so excited sharing the love we all have for sticks and string.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
That's a toss-up. I love the ease and speed of Russian knitting. It's great for even tension and much easier on my wrists. I also think backwards knitting is a wonderful tool to have handy for entrelac and other styles where a lot of turning is involved. Then there's lace knitting and freeform…top down raglans… should I go on? And then there's crocheting! I think one of the best techniques any knitter can learn is how to crochet. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities. I like to remind's ALL sticks and string.

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I look at everything! I think absorbing as much as you can is part of the creative process. I look at regular fashion blogs and go mall shopping all the time to see how things are constructed.  I'm addicted to Ravelry. To me, creativity isn't about reinventing the wheel. It's about combining and translating everything we see around us through our own eyes and putting our own spin on it.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?
I design garments I want to wear and write them accordingly. Sometimes they're easy, sometimes they're complicated depending on how many techniques are involved. I write patterns for all levels of knitters so it really depends on the design, not the audience. I stopped designing for publications that request a specific garment in a specific style written a specific way. That's way too boring. I have too many of my own ideas I want to explore. I love a good challenge.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
One of the reasons I limit how much I publish is so that I can work on the designs myself. I often find better ways to construct something as I knit or crochet so doing the work myself is integral to the design process.

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
The internet and Ravelry specifically was a paradigm shift for the fiber world. Before Ravelry, actually before the internet, it was very hard to network and connect with other knitters or people in the industry. The only way to personally interact was at the consumer and trade shows.
I'm primarily a teacher so I love having direct contact with people. I would meet people wherever I'd teach but I'd lose contact soon after a class. Now it's very easy for anyone to see where and what I'm teaching through sites like The other amazing thing is online teaching! I can now connect and teach people globally with
The internet has made all the difference! 

Do you use a tech editor?
Absolutely! If I'm self-publishing I actually use two. There's no way to publish a proper pattern without tech editing. You can never see all of your own mistakes.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
My life is my work. I don't have kids and my husband is an artist so he understands my obsessive need to have something in my hands. If I'm not working on a specific project, I'd still be knitting or crocheting so I might as well have a purpose for the end product. I do find that I need to limit my traveling so that I can stay creative and inspired. I cut down the amount of time I spend on the road and give myself breaks of at least a month in between to recharge.

How do you deal with criticism?
Criticism's never fun but I try and remember not to take it personally. I listen to what's being said and first try to determine the motivation behind it. If it's valid, I'm all ears. I'm always open to growing. But if it's just snark, then I try and let it roll off my back.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I'm not sure how long it took but it was years and more importantly it's from various directions. The whole key for me is diversifying and having lots going on. By combining book publishing, teaching, designing for other publications, tv appearances, etc I'm able to have a revenue stream that works for me. That takes a while to build up.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting? 
Don't expect overnight success. It takes a long time to build a career so initially continue to do what you've been doing for an income. Be patient but be tenacious. Keep working at it and it will happen if you really want it to.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I had a comment from a reader about how difficult it is to find all the posts for the Design-a-long that I did a few months ago. I'm going to go back and add links between them to make it easier to find each one. I've added a master list below that I hope will be of assistance as well.

Blogs can be difficult to navigate especially if you wish to return to old postings. One little trick I learned was to search the blog URL itself. If you put site: in front and hit search the first things that come up are postings with their individual titles. It looks like this, how to become a professional knitter  

If you add a tag to the search it looks like this how to become a professional knitter design-a-long and takes you here.