Friday, 30 December 2016

2016 in review


So friends, another year's over, and while 2016 was a bit gloomy I actually had a blast. It was so full of adventure and achievement, because after years and years of scheming, I finally got this little creative venture of mine off the ground!

Here are the knitting-related things I'm most proud of:
  • I opened my Etsy shop.
  • I published my first knitting pattern.
  • I pivoted my Instagram account to focus on my knitting.
  • Patterns published: 7
  • Items sold on Etsy: 20
  • Finished items that other people have made from my patterns (that I know of): 8
  • Number of people I taught how to knit: 22



I realise I haven't posted anything about how this all happened, so, lets start from the beginning.

January - April: A cross-continental leap of faith


  

In January, I flew into NYC from Sydney for some job interviews. I'm a software developer by trade, but I've been obsessed with knitting for as long as I can remember, so for the last few years I've dreamt of bringing the two together by working at Etsy. Apparently I made a good impression, because at the end of March I flew back into NYC again to start working there! The move was as tricky as you'd expect a move across the world to be, but it was so incredibly worth it.

May - August: A storm of knitting and an Instagram revival


When we got to the States, I realised a few things:
  1. Buying things online isn't prohibitively expensive due to shipping. I could suddenly buy all the beautiful yarn I'd been eyeing off.
  2. Moving overseas means you basically wipe out your social network, and along with it, your calendar. This means you have a lot of time to do other things... like knit.
Because of this, in a very small period of time, I bought a tonne of yarn from We Are Knitters and The Spinning Hand and made myself a t-shirt, then designed some baby booties, a baby blanket, a pretty criss-cross cowl, two beanies and a scarf. I took the plunge and published my patterns. Pattern writing turned out not to be so scary after all, and it's actually pretty fun.

I also started using my Instagram feed to show some of this off. I'd been hesitant to put too many knitting photos up because I didn't want to bore my family and friends, but then I posted these two photos back to back:



They got more likes by far than anything I'd ever posted, and I realised that maybe focusing my feed on knitting wouldn't be a bad idea after all.

September - December: A new beginning online


I had opened an Etsy store a few years back, but I wasn't selling knitted things and I never got very far with it. I also started a Ravelry profile a few years ago but only ever published one unfinished project. 

By September I'd been working at Etsy for a few months and found myself surrounded every day by so many talented and creative people and stories about successful sellers. I'd also realised that I actually did have the time and the drive to knit and write a patterns a lot, so I started making plans to open a shop for real. The last push I needed came from a co-worker - he mentioned he needed a gift for his new nephew, and I went out on a limb and asked if he wanted a baby blanket, and he said yes without any hesitation. I gathered together the items I'd already made, knitted the blanket for him, did a bit of market research, took a bunch of decent photos and finally did something that I've been on cloud nine about for the last few months: I opened OliphantKatKnits.


I also revisited Ravelry and started posting my patterns. The photos of finished projects from people who have used the patterns are some of the most rewarding things I've seen all year.

Here are the things I learned that you should know


If you want to try something new, just do it. Take as much time as you need planning it so you feel comfortable, but then after that just go for it. This year I went from never having a published pattern to having 7 of them, one of which people have actually paid me for. A few even have charts, which I used to find terrifying. I wrote a few workshops and got up the nerve to teach them, and have had students come back proudly showing me their knitted hats and telling me about the scarves they've started. After deliberating for years I finally opened my Etsy store and now there are twenty things I made by hand out there in the world making someone happy. So start on that thing you've been wanting to do forever - what do you have to lose?

There is a massive community of makers and knitters online and they're so lovely, and connecting with them is actually really easy. If you like something you see on Instagram, comment and let them know even if it's just a heart emoji. If you like something on Etsy, click the favourite button. If you start a project on Ravelry, actually link it back to the pattern you used, and give the pattern a rating when you're done. All of these things will cost you nothing but they make the person on the other end do a little happy dance. Plus you may just end up having an awesome conversation with a wonderfully creative person.


On to 2017


So, my goals for next year:

  • I'm going to buff up my branding and my packaging, and bring a bit more of myself into my work.
  • I'm going to start publishing tutorials and blogs - I discovered teaching is so much fun that I want to try doing it in this little online space too!
  • I'm going to try my hardest to get a pattern into Knitty - I've loved their site for so long and I've used so many of their patterns that I want to try and give back.
  • I'm going to experiment with a few new things and keep the momentum up in my shop even during the summer. It's going to take some creativity, wish me luck!
  • I'm going to take some time out to knit items I really love for myself, my family and maybe a charity or two if I can find some that need knitwear. Let me know in the comments if you know of any.


A big dose of gratitude


To all of you who are reading this - if you've been following me on Instagram, or bought something from my little shop, or have wandered over from Facebook - thank you so much. All of your likes, comments, purchases, conversations and cheering from the sidelines have made this year amazing. None of this would've been doable without you.

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