Occupation: knitting pattern designer
Business: designing and selling knitting patterns
Background: I’m a self-taught designer, making up my own patterns seemed easier than following a pattern!
Favourite designer/role model: I love Kate Gilbert and Norah Gaughan, they’re so good at using sculptural construction and interesting stitch details to creating beautiful but wearable garments.
Writing patterns didn’t occur to me until I started posting my creations online and people started asking for my designs. I live in Edinburgh in Scotland and love to travel, especially when it means meeting the people who helps me make my patterns.
I published my first design in Knitty.com and things grew from there. I don’t put levels on my patterns, although sometimes I’ll mention if something is particularly beginner friendly.
Knitting isn’t a practice with a set order of progression, once you have the most basic stitches down and have practiced a little you can then go on to all sorts of techniques in whatever order appeals to you. Often successful projects for new knitters are about being able to correctly interpret the pattern and attitude. I try and make patterns that are as easy to figure out as possible, attitude is up to you. My best advice to beginners is to make things you really want to make or wear so that you’re motivated to figure out how to do it.
I became a designer pretty accidentally, when I started knitting I preferred to improvise my own designs because it seemed easier than following a pattern.
Amanda my wonderful model
It’s true that I considered other design paths, including architecture and costume and for quite a while I wanted to be a filmmaker. I was also the kid that read every craft book in the library, there was an origami phase, a glass painting phase, a miniature doll phase, etc… My class choices in high school were also a little allover the place, I liked maths and physics, creative subjects and literature and didn’t want to narrow that down as my adviser strongly suggested. But what put me off all of the creative paths I considered was the lengthy training process and the time spent working as essentially a technician, being a tiny specialized part of a larger creative process terrified me.
I learned to knit as a child, but to be honest, for a long time I thought it was pretty dull. Somehow, in my late teens, something clicked and I became fascinated with discovering the underlying structure of it. From a very young age art materials were always available and I was encouraged to experiment and create my own projects rather than following step by step directions. Recipes were basic cake formulas inviting variations and I listened to my mother rail against my formulaic school art classes. Thanks mum!
My first real (ie. finished) knitting project was the “lil devil hat” for a friend who asked if I could knit it for her because I was her crafty friend. I had no idea what I was doing but it turned out OK and left me excited not about that project in particular but that about my new-found hat making knowledge and all of the other hats I could make based on the basic process. I didn’t think about becoming a knitwear designer (I didn’t really know that was even a thing), it was just natural to me when learning a new craft to create my own projects, just following patterns as written never even occurred to me I wanted to figure out how it worked and put that knowledge to use.
I went from creating my own rather free form projects to writing patterns because of the internet, I’d post photos of my projects online and other people wanted to knit them. Learning very much as I went along I started sharing patterns and in the process discovered that this was a way I could do many of the things I loved – maths and writing, design and craft, without having to choose.
Little Red in the City
I mostly self-publish my work but have also had designs published in Twist Collective, Brave New Knits. I sell original patterns on my website, and I’ve just completed my third book Little Red in the City, which is a collection of sweater patterns and information and tips on altering patterns to achieve your perfect-fitting sweater. I’m incredibly proud of Little Red in the City and very excited to see it finally in print, but working 10-14 hours a day every day for months is HARD even when you love your job.