Monday, December 31, 2012

Knitting Resolutions for the New Year

How many of us are making resolutions for the the coming year of knitting? I am, I just can't help it. I like resolutions almost better than I like goals because they are more immediate and they define the action for right now. Goals often seem to exist somewhere out there in the distance future. I have also learned that I am more successful if I write my resolutions on my to do list as a reminder. It seems to help to establish new habits.  

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle

To help you decide on your resolutions, assuming you want to make any, I have a list of questions below to prompt your thinking. 

  • What one word could serve as a theme for the coming year? In the past I've used words such as fun, organize, more and extraordinary.
  • What concrete actions do you want to take to change your life? Do you want to learn a new skill? Do you want start a knitting group?
  • Know that some people hate saying no to themselves. If you are one of that group phrase your resolution in positive not negative terms. "I will start my Christmas 2013 knitting in June." not "I won't leave my Christmas knitting to the last minute and make myself crazy"
  • What do YOU want to do? Try to eliminate the "I should" from your thinking. 
  • Ask yourself about accountability. What are you going to do about tracking your progress? Hint, being accountable to others is one of the strongest motivators.
  • Pay attention to things that are making you unhappy. Do you spend too much time knitting for other people? Would you be happier knitting more for other people? Only you can answer that question.
  • Pay attention to things that are making you happy. If garter stitch scarves are soothing in a stressful life, keep knitting them. If gigantic lace weight shawls with multiple stitch patterns are your escape from ruminating about negative aspects of your life, keep knitting them.
The questions may prompt thinking about other areas of your life as well. I hope so! 

Happy New Year

Friday, December 28, 2012

An Interview with...Margaret Radcliffe

Photo copyright Mars Vilaubi

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 Margaret here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?

Because I am a “process” knitter, I tend to take inspiration from the integration of structure and detail in a knitted garment. First I’ll get an inkling of a way to use a technique I’ve been exploring in some new way, I’ll fiddle with it, and eventually I will end up with a complete project.  For example, lately I’ve been playing with bindings which enclose the edge, and collars, and plan to work on some tailored jacket-type sweaters where the cardigan front is finished inside and out along the front bands and the neck edge is finished inside and out where it meets the collar.  I can envision playing with both color and with texture in these jackets, so there’s no telling how wide a range of designs will come of this.  For me, at this point in my career, it’s all about the details.

What is your favourite knitting technique? 

I can’t say that I have one.  I tend to work for an extended time with one technique, and then to want to do something entirely different.  If I’ve been working a lot with color, I’ll suddenly feel the urge to make a creamy cabled sweater in natural wool.  If you do need a straight answer on this, I find that I love working stranded or Fair Isle knitting, because it is such an efficient and flexible use of knitting as a medium

How did you determine your size range? 

I assume you are asking about the size range for my Maggie’s Rags line of knitting patterns.  I try to make the range as wide as possible so long as the proportions of the garment will work in the particular design.  For example, a garment for an adult with a strong diagonal motif will not look at all the same in a very large size, where the length and width of the front are almost equal, as it does in a smaller size where the length is longer than the width.  I also determine the size range based on the age group the sweater would appeal to.  Some of my children’s sweaters would appeal to pre-school to early elementary and are sized to fit that age group.  The one occasion where I made a bad decision was on my Orca Mittens, which I assumed should be sized for children.  I got so many requests for adult sizes that I added notes on how to adjust them on my web site.

Photo copyright Margaret Radcliffe

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?

I’m not afraid to be influenced by other designers’ work.  I find it very interesting to see the wide variations in how we apply the same techniques.  What I do fear is that I’ll see a design so similar to one I am already working on that I will be accused of copying, even though I developed it independently. Because I do very little design work now (most of my time is focused on teaching and writing books and articles), this really isn’t a big issue for me.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?

I must confess, wasn’t aware that there was a controversy.  I do think there are some issues with what editors are willing to accept.  For many magazines and books, there are space limitations that don’t allow for the explanation of unfamiliar techniques within a pattern.  In these cases, the editor has to make a decision about what to accept, always keeping in mind the work’s customer base.  If a book or magazine is intended to appeal to a wide range of knitters, from beginners up, they have to be careful not to put off their customers.  On the other hand, in cases like this, it would be nice to see an attempt to help knitters learn new approaches by including an article on the unfamiliar technique or construction, to support a pattern using it in the same issue.  I think that everyone would gain from this.  I have a regular column focused on technique in Knit ‘N Style magazine, and even so I am frustrated sometimes by how little I can cover in the space allotted.  Since I self-publish my patterns, “dumbing down” doesn’t apply to my own designs—I try to make the pattern only as detailed as necessary to convey what needs to be done and frequently include tips and hints on how to accomplish what’s specified in the instructions.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself? 

I currently have one working for me on a regular basis.  For my patterns, which as I said are not my current focus, I would knit at least one sample myself as part of the pattern writing process, and then have at least one person test the more complex designs in a different size than I had knit. I have found that not all test knitters are as good at detecting problems in the writing as I am, possibly because they are too good at knitting!  Sometimes, without realizing it, they adjust for problems that might have stymied a less assured knitter

Did you do a formal business plan?

Not really, but I did come up with a model.  I wanted a business that would not run me into debt, that would not require me to deal with payroll or employment issues (because simply learning and complying with ever-changing laws will eat up all your time), and that would be flexible enough to evolve over the years so I wouldn’t become bored, This dictated that I would be not only the owner but the sole employee and that there must be low overhead. My overhead is minimal since I work out of my home. I also wanted the business to grow slowly, both so that I wouldn’t rack up a lot of debt and so that I wouldn’t be driven crazy trying to keep up. Growing slowly also makes it possible for the business to be flexible, because you don’t have so much money tied up in products that you cant afford to move on to something more interesting and more lucrative.  It also made it possible for me to do this part time so that I could spend more time with my children while they were growing up. Over the last 15 years, I’ve moved profitably from pattern publishing, to teaching, to technical and copy editing, to writing, so I guess my business model worked.

Do you have a mentor? 

No. Unless you count Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books.

Photo copyright Margaret Radcliffe

Tell me a little about your latest book on circular knitting. 

The book is called Circular Knitting Workshop, is published by Storey Publishing, and was released in March 2012. It’s a bit of a departure from my two earlier books, The Knitting Answer Book and The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques. They are reference books, focused purely on technique,  bits and pieces you could use in your knitted projects. 

Circular Knitting Workshop differs in that it’s focused instead on structures. It’s based on a firm foundation of techniques (the first three chapters are ALL about techniques as they apply to circular knitting), and there’s one chapter dedicated to converting flat patterns for circular knitting, but the rest of the book is about how to make things circularly.  This is done through a series of projects that showcase the flexibility of circular knitting, the kind of project that I would use in teaching a workshop on the subject.

It starts out easy with simple, unshaped tubes to make a variety of things like hats, headbands, hand warmers, and bags. Each subsequent chapter builds on the earlier ones, working through shaping different kinds of hats and bags, socks (with several heels and toes), shawls and scarves (learning to make flat things circularly, mittens and gloves, vests and sweaters.  In every project, there are instructions for just one size, with notes on how to make it any size, and notes on how to make it in the opposite directions (i.e. from the top down versus bottom up, or from the perimeter to the center versus center out.)  Within each chapter, the projects move from basic to complex.  The final sweater in the book is knit sideways, with a steek for the bottom and the neck opening!

The most important thing that people should understand about this book is that it’s not a pattern book, but a group of small projects designed to familiarize you with techniques and approaches that may be unfamiliar.  Then, you can take you new skills and apply them to everything you knit in the future.

Do you use a tech editor? 

I do not use a tech editor for my patterns.  Since I am also an experienced knitting tech editor, I set them aside for a few weeks, then read them and knit sections based on the garment to insure that they are correct.

All of my books have three levels of editing: the project editor (who oversees the content, illustrations, layout, etc., and supervises the other editors), the tech editor (who insures that the knitting instructions are as correct and as clear as possible), and the copy editor (who is responsible for correcting misspellings, punctuation, and making the text adhere to the publisher’s standards).

How do you maintain your life/work balance? 

I don’t!  It’s a constant struggle to make time for work, or when I’m overwhelmed by work to make time for the rest of my life. I do try to set reasonable deadlines, not promising anything that I know I can’t deliver in the time allowed, but I am in crisis mode on both fronts more often than I’d like. On the other hand, I’m never bored!

Photo copyright Margaret Radcliffe

How do you deal with criticism? 

It’s always saddening to know that someone doesn’t like your work.  I tend to react emotionally first, so I wait for that feeling to die down and then try to evaluate the criticism rationally.  Sometimes, the complaint is that I didn’t do or include something that I intentionally (for very good reasons) decided against.  In that case, all you can do is shrug and bear it.  Other times, the criticism is unreasonable, and there’s really nothing you can do about it but move on.  Sometimes the criticism is spot on, and I take it into consideration, improving my course materials, correcting an inaccuracy or confusing statement in a pattern, or reporting the problem to my editor for inclusion in future printings of a book.

I feel that it’s most important to turn out work that you yourself respect and, if you have colleagues or peers that you trust and respect, to value their opinions equally with your own.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself? 

My professional knitting activities are only part of the portfolio of work that I do, so I can’t pretend that they support me entirely.  I’d say they make up about 50% at this point, and that I reached this level of profitability after about 7 years, but you must remember that my plan was to grow the business slowly.  I feel I’ve met my goals because I’ve made good profits in all but two years at the very beginning and my business continues to grow.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting? 

Be aware before you begin that the needs of a business for record keeping, promotion, tax reporting, etc., can take all of your time. Look for local services that help small business startups understand the required licensing, record keeping and accounting. If you have no background in business, take a few courses at a community college or online in management, accounting, and marketing to get off to a good start. Reading books and articles on these topics is good, but it helps to have someone to answer your questions.

Focus on what you love about knitting, and build from there.  Bring your own individuality to your designs, or your teaching, or your yarn dyeing, or whatever it is that you do—don’t try to imitate anyone else because it won’t work. Think about the kind of work you really want to do and whether pursuing it as a career is going to require you to change your focus.  Be realistic about the value of your time; it’s not a good career choice if you’re only making a few cents per hour of work, with no prospect of increased profit in the future.  Make the portfolio of services or products you offer and our customer base as broad as possible to reduce your risk.  Always keep an eye on costs versus potential profit and price your products and services accordingly. In other words, treat it like a business, because it is.

Join a trade organization like The National Needlearts Association that will put you in touch with your peers, your customers, and your suppliers, keep you abreast of industry trends, and provide opportunities for professional development.

Photo copyright Naomi Skena.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I'm excited to announce that I'm part of a team working on a new retreat coming in April 2013.

Welcome Spring 2013 at Fern Resort with the first annual Yarnover Sleepover Retreat on the second weekend of April. The retreat will interest knitters, crocheters, dyers and machine knitters with a choice of 9 different classes chosen for all skill levels.

The weekend will begin on Friday evening with dinner, entertainment, and a fashion show featuring garments displaying the techniques you’ll be learning over the next 2 days. On Saturday there are 3 classes of 2 hours each, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and an evening pyjama party. On Sunday, there’s breakfast, lunch and one 2 hour class. You’ll have until mid-afternoon to check-out so exploring the woods if it’s not too wet, or visiting nearby Casino Rama, are available options. A lounge, with fireplace, will be open most of the weekend manned by one of the teachers and of course, vendors will be there to tempt you and supply anything you may have forgotten to bring.

Accommodation, meals, snacks, and classes are all included in the $550.00 price. Book at Fern Resort with a $100.00 deposit.

Class details will be posted and more information can be found at

The 10 organizers, all professionals in the field, are looking forward to the Yarnover Sleepover Retreat. Please join us!

Monday, December 24, 2012

But is it Art?

I'm starting work on my next presentation for the knitting guild I belong to here in Toronto. I begin the research months in advance of the presentation. I find that lots of pre-work results in faster writing when I get to that stage. I generally end up with too much material. I edit down to the final result once I do a general outline and work out the flow of information. I was thinking about what motivates so many of us to want to work in an industry that does not guarantee financial success and that led me back to the is it art question.

I reread my posts listed below and thought you might like to as well. The comments are interesting. I've also included some links to other writing on this topic. The newest wrinkle I've been seeing is discussion about yarn bombers who are being labelled as graffiti artists or vandals by various observers.

This post is about Art yarn:

Friday, December 21, 2012

An Interview with...Drew Emborsky (aka The Crochet Dude)

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 Drew here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find my inspiration from an eclectic grouping of sources. I very much like the vintage fashions, home decor, etc, and at the same time I love to see the outrageous fashions that they present on the runway each season!! Simultaneously I love the mountains and the great outdoors in general. When I look at my designs I can see some or all of those influences.

What is your favourite crochet technique?

I've been in love with post stitches for several years now. I think it's amazing how beautiful they can make any project. I tell the students in my Post Stitch Boot Camp class that post stitches make crochet do everything that you've always wish it could.

How did you determine your size range?

Completely depends on the garment. For example if I'm designing for women I'll use women's sizes. If I'm designing for men I tend to use men's sizes. I find that works best for me.

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?

I will look at other designer's from different industries mainly. I like to look at pottery, ready to wear fabric garments, etc. I don't seek out other knit and crochet designers as inspiration mainly because it's more fun for me to take my own design journey. Having said that, we are such a close community in the fiber world that I can't imagine we don't rub off on each other constantly anyway! 

You are known mainly as a crochet designer and teacher. However, you design knitting patterns as well, do you have a preference for crochet over knitting, and if so why?

Absolutely no preference at all because I think of them as complete individuals. Crochet has been a part of my entire life, it helped me to mourn my mother's passing, it has brought me great joy as The Crochet Dude grew from a nickname with a charity afghan group into a blog, into a trademarked brand. Knit has been a part of my entire life and I have fond memories of reading Fair Isle charts to my sister as she knit sweaters, and I didn't start taking my own knitting journey until after my mom's passing, and I've taken classes with some of the most amazing teachers, and it has been such a valuable tool in stretching my design skills. Choosing one or the other would be liking choosing favorite children - they are uniquely important to me.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for crocheters and knitters?

You know that actually caused me to discontinue working with one major yarn company because their design director kept saying to me "you don't understand how stupid crocheters actually are - dumb it down even more". And I remember that as a pivotal moment in my career because I hung up the phone and with every part of my being I said "No, I don't accept or believe that". 

From that day on I have stood firm that there are many different skill levels, but that none of those levels need be dumbed down - they just need to have well-written patterns.

Do you have a mentor?

I have several mentors. For my yarn company there is one, and when I have marketing questions there is someone else. I have been very very VERY blessed to be surrounded in this industry by some of the best people I have ever met in my life. And in turn I try to help others when I can. 

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

Brighton has always been an inspiration for me. I like how they have a vision for the product design and don't waver from it. 

What impact has the Internet had on your business?

Since my business grew out of the popularity of my blog, I would have to say that the Internet is the reason that I pursued design as a business. I love the way the Internet gives me opportunities to not only explore, but to also market and sell my product. But way beyond that, I love how I am able to be in touch directly with the thousands upon thousands of people who buy my products every week. It's just amazing.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?

That is so tricky because I've had a lot of people give me advice about it over the years. Trust me, I've tried it all too because having a good life/work balance is essential, especially when you are the creative force behind the product. Some say "don't work at home", some say "always work at home", or "set strict hours" or "take frequent days off". But when it comes down to it each of us has to get into a rhythm that works well for one's business and one's life.  For me the best balance has evolved into working as hard as possible during the work week, sun up to sun down, taking a good couple hours off to cook dinner (my current favorite hobby), and also taking the weekends off.  It's often makes the deadlines harder to meet, but "time on" and "time off" must be balanced for my creative brain to function at full capacity.

How do you deal with criticism?

I don't. Criticism is none of my business. If you don't like what I do there is NOTHING I can do about that. There is a lot of design-work out there that I don't like, but I would be shocked if Marchesa changed their designs because Drew Emborsky happened to not like them. We all have our own design vision and if others happen to like it then we are lucky, but the vision must never be influenced or it will no longer be ours.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?

I was working as a full-time designer within a year of launching my blog. 

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in crochet?

Don't do it for the money, do it because you are an artist and crochet is your medium and you can't think of anything else but your next design. Be willing to compromise on some things, but never on your design aesthetic or your own personal code of ethics. If your design is rejected from a magazine or yarn company, always remember that they have a story that they are telling and when they reject your design it's because it doesn't fit in with their story - DON'T TAKE THAT PERSONALLY!!! Just keep on submitting designs until you get some traction.

To my readers: If you enjoy reading my blog, I'd really appreciate it if you would tell your knitting friends or share links to your favourite posts online with Twitter or Facebook. Word of mouth is really helping to grow my business as knitters respect the views of other members of our community. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I've just finished reading Overdressed and found it to be a fascinating look at the world of retail clothing. 

Most knitters are aware that the yarns we work with are often far superior in quality to the yarns that retail sweaters use. It's not uncommon for non-knitters to express shock at the amount a knitter will invest in materials for our work. Many assume we knit for economy and don't realize the pleasure it gives us and the health benefits accrued. I heard the same commentary when I was sewing many of my own clothes. I realize after reading this book and thinking about what people who have never made clothing say, that many of them were not even noticing the quality of what I was wearing, was far superior to anything they could purchase.

Elizabeth Cline explains how cheap fashion has completely changed the way most North Americans both shop and dress. She says "Retailers are producing clothes at enormous volumes in order to drive prices down and profits up, and they’ve turned clothing into a disposable good. But what are we doing with all these cheap clothes? And more importantly, what are they doing to us, our society, our environment, and our economic well-being?"
She explains how the pressures of cheap have forced retailers to drastically reduce both craftsmanship, and the quality of the materials our clothes are made from. For me it answers the questions of why I've recently abandoned several stores because the quality of their clothing has declined so radically in the last few years. It explains why even in the custom clothes making world it has become so difficult to find buttons that are not made from plastic or zippers and ribbons out of natural fibers instead of polyester. Even the vintage market is being impacted by this shift to poorly constructed synthetic fabrications.

In an interesting chapter of the book Cline discusses how consumers can break the constant churn of cheap clothing by buying less of better quality clothing or return to custom clothing. The suggestions for DIY clothing is something I have done all of my life however I know that is rare in our society. Even amongst knitters I often feel that my sewing background has supplied me with a base of knowledge that many lack. Past generations often had much more knowledge of both construction and quality which created a greater appreciation of clothing and a willingness to invest more into it's purchase.

What I liked most  about the message of the book is Overdressed  may inspire us to find the way back to being well dressed and feeling good about what we wear in the same way we do about the things that we knit.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Question for an Expert

The title of this post was in the subject line of an email to me. 

The note reads:

Hi Robin,
After about 70 years of knitting, I didn't realize I wouldn't know the answer to this question until I came upon it.
If a pattern calls for size 4 mm needles and farther on asks you to use needles one size larger, are they asking you to use size 4.5 mm or size 5 mm?
My answer:

I use that scenario to explain why bands in patterns don't always work properly. You need to look at the pattern source. Even then you may not match your needle with the designers plan. U.S. needles are all whole numbers except for the 10 1/2. If the pattern was written with U.S. sizes and converted to metric one size up is 4.5. However not all the charts agree on an exact equivalent  for each size. Currently, more metric needles are being used for accuracy, so the designer could mean one size up on the metric chart. The same problems exist with the UK/Canadian system. The simple answer is that only the original designer or sample maker knows for sure what their one size up means if it is not listed in the materials section of the pattern.
How do you know for sure which is the best already know what I'm going to say, by knitting a swatch.

Needle conversion chart here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

An Interview with...Zoe Moulton

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. I met Zoe at VKL in Chicago, we had a lovely chat while knitting in the lobby in the morning before my classes.

You can find Zoe here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere!  For designs and ideas my eyes seek out a pattern in nature, architecture, wall paper, anything.  My brain’s been cooking up how to implement some things I saw at a quilt show since last winter, and I’ve had a lace pattern idea from the design on a chair at a Chinese restaurant.  Visually stimulating objects catch my fancy, and my first question is always, “Can I do that with yarn?”

I also find music to be very stimulating to my creative process. I like to go to local performances of lesser known artists, and when I leave I usually have a new idea or new ambition. I am currently in the position of not yet being able to leave my day job, and seeing artists who have been able to put themselves out there and are now doing what they love gives me the energy to keep working during my coworkers leisure time.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
Lace, cables and most anything that involves a chart. I’m a very visual person, and I like the ability to draw pictures with my knitting. I am also a very mathematical person, and the challenge of increasing/decreasing around such patterns intrigues me to no end.

How did you determine your size range?
I try to encompass the majority of sizes, but find it is most important to design something that will fit me. I am not a small person, and I feel that there should be more representation for the larger sizes in the fashion world. There are design elements that your average model can’t pull off, and I’d like to see these featured more.

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I get my influence from everywhere, and I'm not afraid to be drawn in by another design. When I design, I do make sure that I’m creating something that comes from within me and that I’m not simply copying someone else’s work, but I find it hard to believe that people don’t let the world influence them in one way or another.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?
Everything in life is made more user friendly over time. Computers are a fine example of this. Twenty years ago, you would need a solid understanding of code and computer logic if you wanted to set up some basic procedures for your computer to run. Now you click a button and wait a few days and yarn shows up at your door!  However, there is a lot of work that went on through the years to make that possible. The same thing happens with patterns. As knitting continues its resurgence into popularity these days, more people want to make hats, scarves and sweaters, and more people are willing to translate the more “vague” knitting patterns into nearly line by line instructions.

To me, these detailed instructions are more fitting for a learning atmosphere. They should be geared for the knitter who is just about to learn what a short row is and how it is used to turn a heel in a sock, or for a knitter’s first raglan sweater to figure out just how those arms get attached. Once the technique is learned, the knitter should be able to utilize it in future projects without expecting an accounting of each action and stitch count in every row.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I’m still small enough to do all of my test knitting, but once I get a pattern figured out, I send a call out for sample knitters who will give me feedback on the pattern writing as well. Most of my designs so far have been for a company willing to provide the yarn to the sample knitters, and a compensation of enough yarn to knit up the garment for themselves as well. This has helped immensely.

Did you do a formal business plan?
I took an entrepreneurial class in college because I knew it was in my blood to run my own business.  My father owned a welding shop, his father ran a granary, and his father homesteaded a farm in the big land sale at the end of the 19th century. In my class, my professor said that while it is best practice to create a business plan, most entrepreneurs don't. My business grew from wanting to knit, but we were in a rough spot financially, so I thought it was a great idea that I got to knit for other people, and earn yarn money at the same time. I then had knitting friends ask me to convert patterns for a specific size, and customers started asking for specific design ideas. It was all very organic, and when I started yearning for sock yarn, I wouldn’t have imagined that I’d hold the title of “professional designer.” I do have an idea of where I want Knits by Zoe to take me, but it’s really more up to the markets that embrace me.

Do you have a mentor?
We seem to have a rather established and diverse population of fiber artists in Wisconsin.  I am currently a member of two spinning guilds and a knitting guild in my immediate area, and they all inspire me to continually challenge myself and create. Tracey Schuh of Interlacements Yarns has spent a good deal of energy on me, allowing me to use yarns for my designs, encouraging me to spin, and so much more.  Jessie Nordholm and Melissa Bohrtz of Hello Purl Fiber Arts have also guided me through the learning phase of spinning, dyeing, carding and selling yarn.  I know I wouldn’t be doing the things I do today if it were not for these three ladies, and I love each one of them for being such a part of my life.
Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
I never sat down and laid out a plan, I got into this business because I wanted to knit and couldn’t justify spending the grocery money on  yarn.  I have branched out into my different departments (knitting, designing, spinning yarn, and soon dreadlocks) from either customer demand, or my own interests in creating a salable idea.   The future is uncertain, and although I may have an opinion on which direction I would like to move, I’m not opposed to veering off that course as long as I’m still moving forward.

Do you use a tech editor?
I do all my own tech editing right now.  I took a class on it this summer and realized that I’ve been nearly tech editing for a couple of years now.  I walked out of that class wanting to start a tech editing department under my umbrella, and I still hope to be able to offer that service soon.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I don’t really know if there is such a thing as life/work balance.  Everything I do is with me everywhere I go.  I currently have a full time job, which has nothing to do with fiber arts, but it is integrated into my life well with everything else I do.  My work, all of my work, has always been important to me, and I have been fortunate enough that it is all enjoyable and feels like leisure time.  People make the time for the things that are important to them, and although I find myself joking about how I don’t like sleep, the reality is that I am able to find the time I need for all the things that matter to me.

How do you deal with criticism?
I am not really sure I’ve come across any yet.  Not to say that I’m so perfect that people don’t criticize me.  Any criticisms directed my way, I’ve perceived as opportunities to improve myself, or suggestions on how to produce a better product. I see the knitting/fiber world as a community of encouragement, not one of denunciation.

Could you tell me a little about your custom knitting work?
Have you ever looked at an article of clothing and thought, “This sweater would be perfect if only the,” sleeves were shorter, or the bust was smaller, the hips wider, etc. One of the reasons why I detest shopping in regular retail stores is that I know what elements work best for me, and not a lot of clothes seem to be designed in the manner which I like best. Once I started knitting my own sweaters, I found that I had the control to incorporate these elements, which gave me sweaters I love. My clients are able to give more input on exactly what they are looking for. They can be involved in the knitting design process as much as they want to be. From picking out the yarn and patterns to increasing the hips or decreasing the bust.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting? 
Just keep knitting. No matter what happens in your journey, don’t let yourself get discouraged.  Most artists work for years in smaller venues before they reach the eye of popular culture. Engulf yourself with your successes, no matter how small, and treat every experience as a learning opportunity so you can be even better the next time.  Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there for everyone to see. You never know who that person is who will come along and bring you to the next level until you’ve reached that new plane. Surround yourself with what you love, what inspires you, what keeps you going. Just. Keep. Knitting.