Friday, March 6, 2015

An Interview with...Staci Perry

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

You can find Staci here and here on Ravelry. 

Where do you find inspiration?

I get most of my inspiration from clothes – clothes I see everywhere.  Things I own, things I see on other people, items in catalogs, etc.  I keep a database of puzzle pieces in my head of the bits of things that I like.  The stripes on a shirt, the length of a jacket, the collar on a sweater.  I draw from this database when I design something new.

But many of my patterns are designed as tutorials, so I don’t start with a design inspiration.  I start with the idea of teaching a skill, like knitting socks or knitting a raglan sweater, and move from there.  My hope is that my viewers take the skills they learn from these tutorials, and apply them to lots of different patterns they want to knit.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
Stockinette.  That probably sounds crazy, and it isn’t even much of a technique.  I like “boring” knitting the best, and when I get a chance to knit for my own pleasure, I’ll always steer toward something that doesn’t require a pattern or charts or even much measuring.  That’s how knitting works as therapy for me.

How did you determine your size range?
I used to offer a narrower size range, and based purely on feedback from my viewers, I expanded it to cover XS to 3XL.  The response has been very positive, so I’ve kept it up.

Learn to knit a log cabin blanket

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I not only look at other designers’ work, I knit it!  When I’m knitting for my own pleasure, I prefer to turn off my designer’s brain and work from someone else’s pattern.  I don’t worry about being influenced by other designs, but I do learn things.  I like experiencing patterns purely from the knitter’s viewpoint.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I am primarily a knitting teacher, and a designer second.  I remember being a kid, and getting stuck on a bit of a pattern that I didn’t understand, and having to wait weeks to visit my Great Great Aunt for help.  When I’m writing patterns, I don’t ever assume that a knitter can easily make a leap from Step A to Step B.  I explain it in the pattern, and I demonstrate it in the video.  If I can help people finish projects without frustration or confusion, I’m doing my job.

Did you do a formal business plan?
A flexible formal business plan, yes.  We (my video producer/editor, my social media manager, and I) start off each year with a planning meeting to discuss goals for the upcoming year, talk about trends, look at stats, etc.  Then we’re each on task for meeting these goals.  I really enjoy being a part of a small team, because of the flexibility to easily modify plans as trends and technology change.

Do you have a mentor?
No, I don’t have a mentor. I’m really out here on my own, since I’m breaking new ground using new technology to teach knitting.  But I do have an idol I try to emulate – Julia Child.  I consider her to be the master of video instruction.  I’m currently watching through every episode of The French Chef, starting in the mid 1960s.  I like her conversational style and the way she demonstrates techniques.

Sixes and threes cowl

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
When we started making knitting videos in 2009, most knitting instruction was sold on DVDs, or was kept behind a “pay wall” online that could only be accessed with a credit card.  My producer and I realized the importance of making as much free and easily accessible content as possible, emulating the Google business model.  Even my premium patterns have free videos and are still helpful to folks who don’t purchase the pattern.  This Google model still works for us, and I’m still making all of my videos free and available to everyone.

How are you using social media to grow your business?
Social media is a huge part of what we do.  Besides being available to answer questions people have, staying in close touch with my viewers is how I get ideas for upcoming videos.  I have a social media manager, and together we’re able to keep the content on the different social media platforms unique to each platform.  Meaning, if you follow me on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest and Twitter, you won’t see recycled content from one platform to the next.

Do you use a tech editor?
My patterns and tutorials are usually pretty simple, so I’m my own tech editor.  I find that if I complete a pattern then put it away for a few weeks, I can look at it with fresh eyes and edit it myself.  It’s working for me.  I have about 75 patterns, and I’ve only ever had to correct two of them after release.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?

Ha, I’m not very good at this yet.  I’m not kidding when I say that I haven’t taken a day off in a few years.  That isn’t as painful as it sounds, because I love what I do.

How do you deal with criticism?
I am one of the very few, very lucky YouTubers who doesn’t have to deal with much criticism.  When I do get criticism, it’s usually from folks who are not my targeted audience, so I let it go.  I get enough positive feedback to more than balance out any negative feedback.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I’ve been supporting myself with a knitting career since the day I started this wild ride.  Back in the early days, before I had much of a following on YouTube or Ravelry, I supplemented my income by teaching a regular class schedule at LYSs.  I haven’t taught locally much in the past couple of years since my business is now almost entirely online.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Don’t do it!  Nah, I’m just kidding.  Here’s the thing – if you want to be successful, there is a lot of sacrifice involved in a creative career.  You have to love it.  You have to remember that you love it, especially when you’re putting in more hours than you ever thought possible for a job.  If you love it, it’s worthwhile.


  1. I'm a huge fan of Ms. Perry! Last April, a friend sent me some knitting needles and a little book. I never tried knitting because I thought that since I'd failed a million times to crochet, knitting was out of my grasp. Thankfully I found her washcloth tutorial and the rest was history... By history I mean my whole family has washcloths and tulle scrubbies!

    With her patterns/tutorials I've knitted socks, cabled wraps, raglan baby sweaters and usually if I get stuck she has a reference I can use. She's my knitting Obi Wan.

  2. Great interview. I love Staci's tutorials.

  3. Staci is great! The fact that I taught myself how to knit mostly using simple patterns and YouTube boggles my mother's mind because back in the day if you didn't have a grandmother or mother or aunt who knit it wasn't as easy to learn on your own.

    She is the sole reason (pun intended) I learned how to knit socks! Because she was able to simplify something that I had convinced myself was complicated.

    And she is so helpful when you ask questions.

  4. She is my favorite "go to" for learning new stitches.

  5. Staci taught me to knit, even though she doesn't know it! LOL I love her ease in front of the camera and friendly style. She never assumes you know how to do something (and I usually don't). Her patterns are great also. I'm her A Number One fan! If you've not gone to her site or her blog, you're missing out!

  6. Couldn't agree more, Staci is great! I too taught myself to knit and Staci's tutorials are always my go to when I get confused! I love that she really "spells it out" for you. Even though I now have many years experience I still need help sometimes and I always turn to Staci!