Monday, September 8, 2008

becoming a knitwear designer: present day

when i first started out on my own, i had visions of designing and selling finished garments; either one-of-a-kind special order type things or making small runs of things for boutique type stores. in order to be able to make my things affordable, i knew i wouldn't be able to hand-knit things. so, i dug out my two hand flat knitting machines and went to work designing and making some things. i opened a shop on etsy (you can see my shop here: http://indulgedistinctivekw.etsy.com/), i held some home parties (think tupperware but with knits), i developed a direct marketing list and began to mail and then e-mail postcards, and i put some things on consignment locally. somewhere along the line i began to knit and crochet with wire and beads so i added jewelry to my offerings.

although i had some success with this, it became increasingly apparent to me that it was difficult to make a living selling finished items when i was the sole employee. in addition to designing and making everything (which i enjoy immensely), i had to do the accounting, pay the bills, do marketing and sales, search out vendors to supply me with my materials, and a myriad of other things which are often less appealing to me. with that in mind, i had to start investigating other methods of bringing in income with my knitwear design.

one of the things i had long ago thought about was seeing if i could publish some of my designs as patterns. i researched submission guidelines with knitting magazines, yarn companies, and other knitting publishers and thought i'd give it a try. i was pleasantly surprised when two of my first designs submitted were accepted and published. the first, twisted rectangles was published by jca, inc in their reynolds saucy sport book in the spring of 2007. the second, yellow fitted tank was published in knitsimple's spring/summer 2007 issue. since then, i've published designs with Y2Knit http://y2knit.net/ (lilah and kalinda); one planet yarn and fiber http://oneplanetyarnandfiber.com/ (analise); knitter's magazine (fracture-spring 07; bamboo leaves, chalk stripes, and tickled pink--all winter 07; fractured tulip and kiwi bands--spring 08; sand & surf--summer 08; and two more coming in the winter 08 issue), and another style in knitsimple (traveling stripe vest-holiday 07). i also will have some baby hats and booties in a knitting book, tops & toes, due out in february 08.

although i've had quite a few designs make it into magazines, i had many more designs that weren't chosen for one reason or another. it seemed logical then to try my hand at self publishing. i owe a big thanks to my lys owner, karen wilkins of temptations in dublin, oh http://knit2temptations.com/ as well as diane kraus who also works there to help me get going. they both have given me generously of their time and offered me their opinions and insights regarding self-published patterns in general and my designs in particular. this is a wonderful shop, i highly recommend it if you live in the columbus, oh area or are visiting. karen and her staff are incredible.

so far, i've released 3 patterns: marnie, cassandra and allison. all are avaiable for download directly from the sidebar of my blog. marnie will also be available in select yarn stores that carry tilli tomas (http://tillitomas.com/) yarns and patterns. cassandra and allison will also be available in select yarn stores that carry o-wool products (http://o-wool.com/). i'm working on several new designs at the moment, so look for new patterns to be posted soon.

1 comment:

Kara Gott Warner said...

Hi Amy!
Thanks for your encouraging words! It's now been over 3 weeks since he was born...and it is getting easier!

BTW- I enjoyed reading your post about designing. It's like reading about myself! I hear what you're saying about selling finished items on a place like etsy, but you know if you keep marketing yourself and hang in there, you really could make it a big part of your income. Have you considered looking into a company like "Ghost Knitters?" They are located in NJ, and they do sample knitting, and also small runs of RTW lines.

Also, have you done any PR for yourself? You should write press releases and send them mags, and why not the media too!

As knitters, we LOVE knitting everything we design, but to really be in BUSINESS- we just can't. I grapple with this all the time. What I've promised myself, that if I "let go" of having to make everything, then I can do the fun stuff with now strings attached! I don't now if you're like me- but I get excited about a new idea, I decide that I want to make it myself, but then I'm already thinking of a new idea, which in turn makes me lose interest in the current idea. For me, the design process is the most exciting!

Enough of my babbling!
Take care,
-kara