Friday, November 10, 2017

An Interview with...Linda Courtney

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
Linda here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration? 
I feel incredibly lucky to live in gorgeous Down East Maine. Quite a few of my designs have been directly inspired by my surroundings: Sea Smoke Scarf (and Hat), and Tidal Cove Scarf for example. I'm also inspired by necessity. Jo-Jo's Vest was a special birthday gift for, of course, Jo-Jo! The need for a gift tailored to a friend of mine who loved to knit socks inspired Sock Lover's Socks. I didn't think it would appeal to many other knitters, but it became one of my best selling patterns!

What is your favourite knitting technique?
I'm not sure I have just one favorite. I actually love garter stitch and especially the kind of architecture you can build with it when used modularly. I've used modular garter stitch on several hat patterns like Garter Geometry Hat. One technique I don't work with a lot is lace; for some reason it doesn't interest me as much as shape and texture do.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I try to keep up with what other designers are doing through the Designers' Forum on Ravelry. I don't worry about it in terms of thinking I would copy their work. I have my own voice as a designer and it serves me well.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I do the sample knitting by myself as I haven't gotten to the point where I am comfortable enough in my first draft working directions to just hand them over to someone. They usually go through many versions as I knit the sample and realize ways to improve the design, or come across parts that have unexpected issues. Once I have the sample knit, the pattern fully written, and it has been professionally tech edited, then I use test knitters to make sure each size has been knit up before the pattern is released. It is a long process, but the pay back is in how few support questions I receive. The kinks have all been worked out by the time it is out there for purchase.

Did you do a formal business plan?
If you mean something that you could take to the bank, then no. I do have a very loose plan in my head about where I want to take my business. But unexpected life events happen and I am not yet where I had planned to be. I have to keep readjusting the plan in my head.
No. I wish I did. I have felt like I am reinventing the wheel a lot of times - trying to figure out how to do things like grading, graphic design, marketing. Over time I have found the designers' forum on Ravelry to be a wealth of information and a good source of sharing helpful resources on all those things.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
Again, no. I designed my own model I guess.
Absolutely! I would never put out a pattern for sale that was not professionally tech edited. I have one free pattern on Ravelry that is not tech edited, but all my other (for sale) patterns are. Yes, it is expensive, but I feel it is extremely important. I want to build a reputation so knitters can count on any pattern from Knitwise Design being clear and error-free. I have used several different tech editors over time and always had good experiences with them.

How do you maintain your life/work balance? 
Oh gosh, THIS. I have always struggled with this in various ways. I find working from home to be a challenge since there are so many other claims on my time and people tend to not understand that you actually have a job when you work for yourself at home. I no longer have young children at home - they are all grown and lovely young adults. I could not have done this when they were young and admire the very organized designers who can work during nap times! I took care of my mother with Alzheimer's disease for a year in my home and it completely stalled my business. Mom is now nearby in a home, but I still find myself needing to work hard to carve out focused work time for my business. We live in a wonderful spot for vacation visits and hosting family and friends is certainly something I give high priority to, but balancing that with trying to make some time for working during visits is challenging! 
I actually haven't had any to deal with in terms of my business. Personally is another matter!

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
To be honest, I could never support myself on my designing alone. Realistically, it is not even one of my goals for the business. I have a set goal for the amount I hope to have the business contribute to our income. I still have a ways to go to meet that goal!

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
Get as much education about the field as possible! I envy those countries where you can actually choose knitting design as a course of study. I would also say that completely beyond the skills and knowledge of knitting and design you need just as much study about things like computer software programs, photography, graphic design, running a business, websites, newsletters, writing, and especially marketing. Most of my time working on my business is spent on things other than sitting down with yarn and needles.
I just published a sweater pattern - Camp Cardigan- in seven sizes! I would like to be able to release a big project like that again next year, and am in the fun design experimenting stage with that. I have some accessory designs in the pipeline also that I am really excited about. I ran my first KAL this year in my Ravelry group, and definitely plan to do that again. I am also experimenting with more professional photography for my designs and hope to even go back and have the photography on some of my earlier designs re-done. A big focus for me at this point is to try to get my work out there and seen by more knitters. I have recently started a newsletter - News and Notes from Knitwise Design - and I am still on the learning curve for working with that. I also plan to increase my teaching. I am a former high school science teacher and really enjoy teaching, so teaching knitting classes makes a lot of sense as another focus for my business. At some point I also want to re-do my website: . Lots of work, but lots of fun as well!


  1. Great interview! I've knit many of LInda's designs and enjoyed them a great deal.

  2. Wonderful interview with a wonderful knitter and friend.

  3. Hello, I live in Poland. I love crocheting, very much. I have found your blog as very interesting and very inspiring, as well. The view with tree and ocean , with you crocheting is amazing. I adore every single work you have done. Send you my greetings

  4. Thanks so much for your kind words!