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Ask the Experts: Advice for Aspiring Knitwear Designers


Are you thinking about taking the leap from following patterns to designing your own? Some of the best-known knitting and crochet insiders share their thoughts and best tips for young designers on breaking into the business, improving your skills, and finding inspiration.

LILY CHIN, author of Lily Chin’s Knitting Tips and Tricks and Lily Chin’s Crochet Tips and Tricks:
Educate yourself not only in the specific crafts of knitting and crochet but also in art, color, and visual language. Continuing adult education is so important, and many fashion and art schools have night classes. You can also take valuable classes at conferences such as Stitches or the Knit and Crochet Show.

JIL EATON, author of Jil Eaton’s Knitting School:
The best way to break into designing is to submit designs to all the fabulous knitting magazines we have today. Vogue Knitting, Knit Simple, Interweave Knits and Knitter’s Magazine are the perfect places to start.

SALLY MELVILLE, author of Warm Knits, Cool Gifts and Mother-Daughter Knits:
Knit what you wear or what the people around you are wearing. That often means designing simple garments, but simple garments teach us the skills of drafting, finishing, and writing that serve us well when we move on to more complex stuff.

LORNA MISER, author of The Knitter’s Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn and Faith, Hope, Love, Knitting:
Go to a wholesale trade show, such as TNNA (The National NeedleArts Association) show. There is nothing as inspiring as a trade show with professional designers, publishers, editors, and yarn companies to help you dive into that world.

Publish something in a magazine or book, or through a yarn company. The experience will help you hone your skills and learn how the business, with real tech-editors and test knitters work. It’s important to understand the standards of the “real world.”

WENDY D. JOHNSON, author of Wendy Knits Lace, Socks from the Toe Up, and Toe-Up Socks for Every Body:
Open your mind—you never know what might inspire a new design. Some of my designs are the results of simply doodling on graph paper, while others are created because I perceive a need. I derive inspiration from many sources: nature, people-watching, music, and even tangles of wires under my desk. View the world as a source of potential knitting patterns and you’ll be surprised how many jump out at you from everyday life.

CLARA PARKES, author of The Knitter’s Book of Socks, The Knitter’s Book of Wool, and The Knitter’s Book of Yarn:
Cultivate swatching as a daily meditation. Pick a different yarn every morning and take it for a stroll through your favorite stitch dictionaries. Clear your mind of any preconceived notions about what you should do with the yarn, and by all means let go of any pressure to produce a brilliant design right off the bat. Give yourself permission to relax and doodle for a while. The more you do this, the happier and more confident a designer you’ll become.



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