I believe that have always been a designer, but my career in knit design is something that happened a bit by accident. For as long as I can remember I have loved the challenge of making something new and functional out of raw material, and as a very small child I used to sit alongside my mom as she was sewing, using her discarded scraps to make clothing for my dolls. I started sewing my own clothing around the age of 8, and as a teenager I would often have my friends over before a school dance to sew us all dresses to wear that same night. I also learned to knit when I was in high school, teaching myself from a dusty old book of my mom’s I’d found buried in our basement. I absolutely loved knitting, but in those pre-Ravelry days and without a community of other knitters to learn from and be inspired by, my passion for the craft fizzled out after a year or so.
A little later on, for lack of any better ideas, I decided to make a career out of my love of design. I earned my degree in apparel design, which was followed by a couple of years working as a designer for a menswear company. While I enjoyed my education and career, it never really felt like a great fit for me because I was passionate about sustainability and slow-living- philosophies that aren’t really compatible with the traditional garment industry. I temporarily gave up my career to start a family, with the thought that I would probably pursue a different path when the time came.
Fast forward a few years to this past winter, and I was looking toward the coming year when my youngest would enter kindergarten, thinking about the possibility of working again. Around this time, I was gifted my first ever skein of luxury yarn by my mother, a beautiful grey fingering weight wool, and I was inspired to find a pattern that would do it justice. I was aware of Ravelry but hadn’t had much opportunity to use it since before my twins were born back in 2009. I was completely blown away by the number of patterns available there, and the community that had grown since I had last visited the site. I went on a bit of a rampage, ogling patterns and project pages, filling up my queue with everything from cardigans to fair isle pants (oh, yeah!). I also visited my very first LYS, and that was all it took to make my transformation into a fully obsessive knitter complete.
After knitting my first couple of projects, I started feeling the creative itch. I wasn’t finding patterns that were exactly what I wanted, so I decided to design my own. My Rock Creek sweater is the first knitting pattern I designed, and it was born from my desire for a perfect modern and simple pullover with a few special details that I just couldn’t find in any of my searches.
After that first pattern the designs just started flowing and things really took off from there. At some point I realized that even though the medium and platform were different, the skills I had learned in my previous career actually translated perfectly and I could turn my love of knitting into a career. Hand knitting is the antidote to all of the things that had given me pause in the traditional world of apparel design. I love that wool is a sustainable fiber, that it is warm and comfortable and beautiful. When I touch a skein of artisan yarn it is easy to imagine the sheep grazing on a lovely pasture somewhere, the farmers who raised them and the dyers who lovingly and thoughtfully transform it into a work of art.
I imagine the rich history of women spinning their own yarn and knitting for their families out of love and necessity. I love that knitting is such a slow process, and when you look at a hand-knitted item you can feel the love and care that went into every stitch. I love creating a well-written pattern that knitters put their own touch on when they select their colors and make personal modifications that I might never have thought of. The fact that knitters are willing to invest their time (the most precious resource we have, in my opinion) into knitting something I designed is the highest compliment I can imagine, and I am humbled every time I think about it.
Thank you, Knit Purl for inviting me to share my design story and love of knitting with your readers!