The story of a new design - Ardmore sweater dress
The three stages of knit – or my motivation for design

My stall at Yarnporium is about much more than selling patterns on the day

I have a stall in the Indie Spotlight section of the new Yarnporium yarn show this weekend.


As I prepare pdfs and head to my local printers, steam samples and weave in the ends of new additions, I have been thinking about why I am doing this.

The answer is about so much more than standing at a table encouraging people to try the knitted samples and hopefully selling some patterns.

It is about me pushing myself forward, forcing me to share the fruits of my teeming brain and exposing my ideas to public view.

“Exposing” is the right word.

I recently read a blog by someone who said they would find it hard to be a knitting designer because it took her time to come up with ideas. I am the opposite – if see inspiration everywhere from picking up a skein of yarn, visiting museums, to just colours or shapes I see as I am walking down the street. I have no problem (at least most of the time) of turning the inspiration into an item, I am always itching to be making. Of course, I generally want to be making a dozen items at once and would like another three days a week.

As an experienced tech editor and pattern writer putting the patterns down on paper and sorting some test knitting aren’t issues either.

PicMonkey Collage

My problem is getting the patterns out into the world in finished state where other people might see them and judge my creative outpouring. I will be exposing part of me.


Some patterns are inspired by memories so they can feel v personal

However, when I am working on a magazine commission the pattern gets written up and sample completed on time and oddly I don’t seem to have any anxiety about my work being seen – perhaps because the magazine staff have already liked my idea.

One thing I have realised is that I work best to deadlines, probably because of my background in journalism.

So why not set myself a massive, exposing deadline and book a stall at a yarn show to share my patterns? Hence I will be at Yarnporium.

Booking for the show meant I needed a plan both for the day and in terms of getting myself ready.


The first decision was what to focus on. Having worked at Yarn Shows of various sizes as well as visited many, I know one of the regular conversation goes along the lines of:

“Look at this wonderful skein of yarn I’ve bought”

“What are you going to make”

“I don’t know but it is beautiful.”

So I decided to concentrate on finishing (and revamping) accessory patterns that would work with those lovely skeins – so shawls, cowls, hats, gloves and mitts etc – and on the day doing something I enjoy ie chatting to people about lovely yarn and how it might be used. I believe that the ture joy of that wonderful skein is finding a pattern that is a pleasure to knit and results in an item that brings you some joy when you wear or use it.

The next stage was to look at the samples and yarn for new samples where necessary and check what would be feasible in the timescale. From that I had a list of patterns to work on, samples to complete and pictures to take – a set of deadlines that were real. And it’s worked, there many more patterns in my Ravelry shop and a bulging bag of samples at my side as I type. I did have to narrow down the plans slightly which mean I have plans for two gorgeous shawls to start soon.

Accessory collageI'm determined to keep everyone cosy this winter

The success of the weekend will not just be measured in whether I sell X number of patterns. I have already scored a success in terms of letting go of these designs and ideas.

I have also worked on a process of building relationships by making sure that I have samples in yarns that will be available at the show and talking to those yarn producers and dyers about what I’m doing. Those connections include Travelknitter, Third Vault Yarns, Eden Cottage Yarns, Easy Knits, Whimzy, The Little Grey Sheep, Baa Ram Ewe and Debonnaire. So if you come along you can match the patterns to the lovely yarn.

And it is about me saying I am proud of my work and that’s a big step in itself.