I’m really excited about today’s giveaway! I’m so lucky to have gotten to know so wonderful fibre folk this year. There is such a wonderful community out there, and everyone is very supportive of each other.
Betty McTiernan makes amazing jewlery for knitters. Today’s prize is a set of her stitch markers, that you can also wear as a necklace!
To enter : Tell me about your favorite Christmas (or winter holiday), and why it stands out in your memory.
Only in the Shenandoah Valley can you have all four seasons in one weekend. Okay, maybe three, but still, the weather just can’t make up it’s mind. First we had temps a kin to Autumn. Then freezing rain. Today, it’s gonna be close to 60 F!
To enter – share your favorite holiday ‘oops’ story. I’ll choose a winner tonight after 8pm EST.
Mine is from my childhood. Apparently I’m the reason my parents started wiring the Christmas tree to the wall!
December is fast and furious. I think that it flies by quicker than any other month in the year. That said, I always wish I had some more time to enjoy the season, and all things Christmas .
Speaking of all things Christmas , im excited to tell you about some giveaways that will be starting on my blog tomorrow ! I’m doing a countdown to Christmas , and each day we’ll give away a fun prize. Stay tuned – the fun starts tomorrow , right here.
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).
Welcome to another installment of my guest post series, ‘Fellow Fibre Friends’! This week, I’d like you all to meet Amy van de Laar, knit wear designer. Her designs are out of this world amazing! Visit her blog, BaroquePurls, as well as the pattern links mentioned in the post.)
Hi folks! I’m Amy van de Laar, a knitting pattern designer from New Zealand, currently living in Melbourne, Australia with my partner Willie. I sell my self-published patterns online, mostly through my Ravelry Store, and I’ve also published patterns in collaboration with Brooklyn Tweed, Pom Pom Quarterly, and Knitty. The designs I’m best known for are probably the INSULATE! hat, one of my earlier designs from 2012, and the Beeswax hat,from 2014.
One of the things I love most about knit design is that it’s just so varied. There are so many different tasks and skills involved, and there’s always more to learn. For example, this year I’ve learned a massive amount about product photography, i.e. really showing your knitting or yarn or finished sample in the best possible light – taking an exciting photo, not just a pretty one. I’ve been getting more and more deliberate about composition and lighting and editing, and generally upping my game with my Instagram photos. It helps that I find photography a huge amount of fun!
I’m really lucky to have a photographer in the family (even if he does live two plane rides away).My dad Jos, gives me tons of advice on taking photos and editing them, and when I’m visiting I usually fit in a photoshoot or two with him as the photographer. Here’s a lovely one of his, with me and my Mum modelling two of the designs from my recent La Folia Collection.
To give you a taste of some of the things that I do day-to-day as a knit designer, this week I’ve been busy finishing up a stranded cowl that’s a sample for a new design, taking photos and posting them on Instagram, revising two of my older patterns, communicating with collaborators, sanding and painting a coffee table to use as a photo backdrop, responding to knitters’ comments and questions on Ravelry and Instagram, editing photos, getting ready for the Indie Design Gift-A-Long, and last but not least, doing my tax return. This was one of my less-busy weeks – pattern-release weeks, on the other hand, can get a bit intense!
Last week I released my latest pattern, Silverwing, and I’m still buzzing from the amazing response it had – both in comments/faves and in pattern sales.
It’s a real thrill when a new release does well, because not all of them do, sometimes for no discernible reason. There’s a certain amount of luck involved, and all I can really do is try to nail the things I do have control over – the photos, the marketing, and the design itself.
One thing that’s not so great about being an indie designer is that because you’re often working on your designs and other tasks all by yourself, it’s easy for self-doubt to creep in. Is this shawl really the best it can be? Maybe I should have done XYZ differently? Will anyone like it? Will anyone want to buy the pattern? Gah! I find it does help to talk through my worries with other people – my family, yes, but also other fibre business folk who often have the same struggles. The Fibre Boss Collective group on Facebook is a really wonderful place to get feedback and advice, or vent frustrations – it has a great we’re-in-this-together vibe, and its number-one rule is ‘be kind’. Another community that’s a great source of positivity and inspiration for me is all of the knitters on Instagram. Getting wonderful comments on a photo of a work-in-progress really gives me a confidence boost. And when you see someone proudly showing off a project using one of your patterns, it’s a great rush!
When I’m not knitting or working on my pattern business, I like to hang out with Willie and his siblings and watch TV (my firm favorite is The Great British Bake Off) or go on adventures to parks or art galleries or places to eat. I also crochet and spin, and my main non-fibre interest is music. I play the piano, and until recently sang in a really good church choir (I’m still ‘on call’, so with Messiah season coming up it’ll be all on again soon).