I’m happy to share another installment of Fellow Fibre Friends, my guest blog spotlight. This week, we meet Allison O’Mahony. Allison is a knit wear designer and tech editor from Canada. Please give her a warm welcome!
I’m Allison and I live in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada with my husband, Dave. I grew up here. It’s isolated, but it’s a place with lots of culture and character and I love it dearly. I knit a lot of things, practice a lot of yoga, enjoy a good DIY project, and have an awesome family and close-knit (har har) group of friends that I love.
My grandma taught me how to knit when I was a child, although it never really “stuck”. When I was in university doing my Computer Science degree I picked it up again (because I had SO much free time *eyeroll*). I worked as a software developer after finishing my degree, knitting obsessively in my free time.
As time went on, I became unhappy and unfulfilled in my career as a software developer. I didn’t feel like I was being challenged, learning, or growing. I realized that I was the only person who could make me happy. My unhappiness in my career was no one’s fault and no one’s responsibility but my own. I had been complacent with my own life and happiness and mental health. Instead of depressing, it was actually empowering, realizing that I could do something about it. I felt like I HAD to do something about it. All of a sudden, I couldn’t wait to start working for a living doing something I loved.
So what WAS I passionate about? What fulfilled me and made me happy? My hobby. Knitting! I thought about ways I could turn it into a career. I had dipped my toe into knitting pattern design before but it had never really taken off, mostly because I hadn’t been motivated. Things in my day job weren’t “bad enough” to spur me into movement. I still “designed” things but I didn’t create and release patterns for my designs. I knew it wouldn’t pay the bills, at least not immediately, but I was finally inspired to throw myself into it and see where it took me. At the very least, having something to work towards in my spare time made my day job tolerable. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel.
In January of this year, I dove in head first. I read books and blogs, listened to podcasts, joined online designer groups, wrote down ideas, knitted swatches and samples, and did everything else I could think of to gain knowledge about all the elements of knitting design. It was during this madness that I first learned what a tech editor was.
The “ah ha” moment came when I was listening to an episode of the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show by crochet blogger/teacher Marie Segares (which I highly recommend to anyone thinking about starting/growing a fibre-related business). It was about test knitting and tech editing knitting patterns. I found it so interesting. I didn’t even know what a knitting tech editor was or that tech editing was even a thing that people did. I did some more research online and this feeling came over me. I heard the glass shatter. How did I not know that this field existed AND that it would be a perfect fit for me?! It was in the knitting industry, which is where I wanted to work. I had done writing and editing for technical documentation in my other life as a software developer, so I just knew I would be good at it. I’m an analytical problem-solver and I love math. I also hate poorly written patterns and cringe (or fume) when I purchase a pattern and the layout is confusing or I find a mistake. Again, how did I not know that this field existed AND that it would be a perfect fit for me? I felt like I had wasted so much time NOT figuring out how to become a tech editor.
Within days I was registered for Joeli Kelly’s Learn to Tech Edit course. Before long I had my first client. Almost a year has passed now and I’ve been able to help so many incredible designers take their patterns to the next level. I help them produce clear, concise, error-free patterns without stifling their creative voice. I help them feel empowered and confident that they can deliver professional quality patterns to their customers, and build their reputations in the process.
My client list is constantly growing (including many repeat clients). I’ve also independently published seven knitting patterns and have had two others published in 3rd party publications.
Best of all? With the help of a part time job at a local shop (and my amazing husband), I’ve been able to quit my job in software development and am now working in the knitting industry full time. Not every day is perfect, but everyday I get satisfaction from what I do, because it’s challenging, rewarding, and I love it.
Allison is a knitting designer and technical editor who loves to create functional, modern knitwear that she can wear every day. She lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, where she can usually be found within arm’s reach of my knitting bag and calculator (and quite often either a coffee or a pint, depending on the time of day).
Periscope & Snapchat: kniterations