Why Not Me? I Also Can Do It

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Chances are that you are actually MUCH more creative and capable of designing more beautiful, visionary designs than I ever could. I do not say that to downplay myself, because I know that my designs are well-known and enjoyed by many, but the fibre community is FILLED with creatives who have yet to unlock their potential and discover their true calling in life.

Why am I telling you this? I will get to the point soon, but first a story about myself.

I had been trying to get into a certain magazine for YEARS. EVery time they release their call for submissions, I pounce on it immediately. Getting into a magazine is hard, yes, because when you think about it, the acceptance rate is around 5-10%.

So, after the 6th attempt, I stopped submitting and started focusing on expanding my brand in other ways.

Then comes in Natalie. Natalie joined Swatch Studio two semesters ago —going through the course a little at a time, going at her own pace (that is one of the biggest pluses of the course, you can go as fast or as slow as you like!).

When I asked my students for examples of their work, she was unable to provide any links as she had yet to publish a pattern.

But for good reason. Her first ever pattern also happened to be her first ever design submission, which she was now hard at work on.

There is a huge misconception that only established designers with lots of self-published patterns will ever be selected to be in magazines and absolute beginners had no chance at all. Natalie showed that this is certainly not the case.

How did SWATCH Studio help her take that leap forward? In her own words,

"I'm the person, for whom it's easier to find 10 reasons why something will not work, rather one reason why it will. But your course helped me to finally get this feeling ‘why not me?! I also can do it' ”.

Why not me? I also can do it. That’s one of the most powerful things that I’ve ever read. And she certainly did it. She didn't see her lack of design experience as an immediate rejection to magazines, because she was able to discover through SWATCH Studio that her creativity and magic for knitwear design, that she could bring something unique to the table, which was more than enough to get that "Yes" she was searching for.

Chances are, again, you are much more capable and creative than I am. Much like Natalie, you have a creative vision inside you, which is powerful and magical.

Why not you? You also can do it.

I can attest that the most valuable aspect of SWATCH Studio… is making you feel as Natalie did. I've been hesitant to say this out-loud for fear of seeming egotistical, but... I'm extremely proud to say that after almost two years since the first enrollment of SWATCH Studio, I have seen it literally change lives. From helping people find out their true calling in life, to pushing people outside of their comfort zones in order to make their dreams a reality, this program has truly impacted people (which, for someone like me who strives to create something meaningful, I cry every time one of my students reaches their goal or achieves something great because of my work).

You can read more stories like Natalie's from other designers who were in her same shoes here.

In SWATCH Studio, you do not only learn how to create, design, write, and publish patterns. You also find the confidence you need to step outside of your comfort zone, and make magic happen for you and your knitwear design brand.

Enrollment into SWATCH Studio will be limited to 50 students this semester, going on a first come, first serve basis. Enroll today to secure your spot before they fill up! 36 spots remain.

 

P.S. Natalie's design was finally published in the Fall issue of Amirisu magazine! Check out her stunning work here!

Should You Become a Knitwear Designer?

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There’s no point to being a knitwear designer; it’s just making patterns, that doesn’t matter in the big picture. Besides, you can’t make any money as a knitwear designer - everybody knows that! Nobody wants to pay me for the things I can design, and my patterns could never be unique or impactful. I can’t come up with amazing and creative designs like the ones that I see on Ravelry. I’ll never be the next Stephen West or Andrea Mowry, so why bother even trying?

Have you ever had thoughts like these? If you’ve been considering dipping your toes in the waters of knitwear design, I’ll bet you have! Doubt is a natural part of being human; overcoming doubt is something all of us struggle to do.

At the heart of these negative statements is the idea that knitwear design is about pleasing other people: making designs knitters want to knit, or competing with specific other designers. If you’re thinking about becoming a designer because you want to please other people, maybe you should find another career.

I believe knitwear design isn’t about pleasing other people - it’s about finding the creativity inside of you and bringing it to life with each design. It’s about pleasing yourself and bringing a part of yourself into the world.

Will you create amazing and innovative designs that skyrocket to the top of the “hot right now” pages in Ravelry? Maybe! You never know until you try. If your goal is to win a popularity contest, you’ll probably be disappointed every time. But if your goal is to create something that fulfills you and ignites your inner spark, then you’ll feel successful with each new design.

Keep in mind, the big names in knitwear design didn’t start out that way. Most of them have been working for years to hone their craft and build a reputation in the industry. Don’t compare their polished result to your early stages - remember that everybody starts somewhere, and focus on inward growth rather than outward comparisons.

You will never know the full extent of the reach your work has in the world, but every once in awhile someone will tell you that your work has made a difference in their lives. That knitting your pattern got them through a difficult time in their lives, or that the pattern you designed was the perfect gift for a knitworthy recipient, or that the beauty of your design inspired them to try something new. Those are the moments that keep you going; the moments where you know that you have truly put something special into the world.

Design what you want. Create what you love - that passion will come through and attract other people to your work!

Are you ready to get started? You don’t have to go it alone! I’ve built a community inside my online course for budding designers, Swatch Studio. Inside the course, you’ll not only get instruction from me on how to take your ideas and turn them into published designs, but you’ll also get access to a free, private community of other design students so you can ask your questions and get support as you learn to light the fire of your inner muse and put your creativity out into the world, one pattern at a time.

If that sounds like your kind of community, click below to learn more about this one of a kind e-course!

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Ignite your inner muse: making time and space to be creative

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There’s a common misconception in the world that some people are born creative, while other people don’t have a creative bone in their bodies. When we scroll through Instagram or Pinterest and see amazingly creative projects from other Makers, we might think things like:

"That’s so creative! I could never come up with something like that."

"I wish I would have thought of that! That person is so much more creative than I am."

"I wish I could make projects like that, who has that kind of time?"

The thing about creativity is, it’s not some mystical gift bestowed upon only a lucky few people. It’s a skill that anyone can learn and develop in themselves - including you! It takes time and practice, but if you truly feel called to create, then it’s important to make that time and devote yourself to the practice of creativity.

My mission is to help you ignite the muse inside of you - to dig deep and find the inspiration for designs that only you can bring to the world that is so in need of more beauty and authenticity. If you sometimes feel like everyone in the world is more creative than you are, or if you feel like you want more creative space in your life but there’s just never enough time, here is a creativity ritual you can use to engage all of your senses and put yourself in a place to feel inspired.

Prepare Your Creativity Zone

Set up a space that’s just for you, even if it’s only for a few minutes a day. Bring elements into the space that will engage each of your senses:

  • Sight - use pillows or blankets in your favorite colors; bring your favorite skeins of yarn and drape or display them around you; hang up or lay out images that inspire you and take your breath away.

  • Sound - Play soft, peaceful music or rock out to your favorite jams - whatever makes YOU feel the most inspired to create!

  • Touch - Make sure the area where you’ll be seated is soft and comfortable. Bring in textured blankets or pillows, or sit in your absolute favorite chair.

  • Scent - Light candles or incense or diffuse your most inspiring essential oil blends.

  • Taste - Brew a cup of your favorite tea, a mug of rich cocoa, an energizing espresso, or pour a glass of your favorite wine.

Make Space, Mentally and Physically

Sometimes we have so much to do that it can feel like a “waste of time” to practice something like a creativity ritual. If you’re reading this post, though, I’m going to guess it’s because you want more creativity in your life - you want to make the space to design and create new things, and you crave this time even if you feel like you can’t make room for it. So I encourage you to block off some time in your calendar for this ritual - even if it’s just a few minutes a week - because part of being the best person you can be means taking care of yourself and feeding your muse.

Once you have scheduled time for your creativity ritual, set up your physical space using the sensory guidelines above. Ideally, you will create this space in an area of your home where you can be completely alone; if that’s hard to come by, it might be best to go visit a nature center, park, or other quiet space nearby. The final thing you need to do is to keep a sketchbook and pen or pencil near you when you begin your ritual.

Connect with Your Creativity

Now that you’ve got your space set up and time set aside, it’s time to begin your creativity ritual. It’s a very simple process - you don’t need any advanced training to be able to do this! The more you build this practice into your life, the easier it will become to get into the proper mood, and the more you will want to make time for it.

Take a few moments to read over the ritual before you begin so that you can just be, in the moment, without having to read from a printed page or your phone in order to participate.

The simplicity of this ritual means you can really do it anywhere - if you don’t have time to set up an ideal place, just grab a few quiet minutes and do this wherever you are!

The whole idea is to use your breath - deep, healing breaths - to take in the positive and release the negative. With each pair of statements, breathe in for 5 counts, and out for 5 counts. Say these phrases to yourself in your mind as you breathe in and out. You can tweak the overall emotions here to suit your particular situation, but this is a good place to start!

Breathe in (say the first phrase)... Breathe out (say the second phrase):

  • I am peace… I release chaos.

  • I am joy… I release anger.

  • I am contentment… I release disappointment.

  • I am enough… I release criticism.

  • I am powerful… I release fear.

  • I am creative… I release doubt.

Continue to breathe in and out, noticing the inspiration all around you. Focus on bringing in light, peace, and creativity - focus on letting go of any negativity you’ve been holding onto.

When you reach the end of the ritual and you are in a place of peace and inspiration, take out your notebook and sketch something you’d like to design. Don’t think about it too much, don’t worry if you don’t know how to make it just yet - just think “What would I love to own in my knitwear collection?” - and then sketch out a design for that piece.

You’re on your way, fibre dreamer! You’ve taken a MAJOR first step toward embracing your creativity, letting go of your inner critic, and designing a life you love.

If you’d like to go one step further and learn how to transform that sketch you’ve made into a fully-realized knitting pattern, join me for Swatch Studio: the hands-on, digital course for aspiring designers who want to transform their yarn into publish-worthy patterns manifested from their own creativity and imagination.

The course includes 15 videos in 6 modules, a bonus section, worksheets + resources, an  exclusive Facebook Group, weekly trainings + Q&A, Forming Shawls and Their Charts, and free content upgrades!

Are you ready to join me inside? Click here to learn more + enroll!
 

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Originality is Over-Rated: How to Manifest a Design that is Authentically YOU (Free workbook download!)

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In those of us who live a creative life, there is often an internal struggle between the desire to create and the fear that everything has already been done before, and that we have nothing original to offer the world. In the realm of knitting, this can feel especially true: how are we to design something new and original when there are so many patterns already out there in the world?

If you’ve been too afraid to express your creativity because you’re worried that you would just be copying something that’s already been done, I’m here to tell you that originality is overrated. There is nothing entirely new in this world; everything is just a slight twist or change from something that has existed before. Once you recognize that, you can let go of the idea that your design has to be life-altering, and instead look inside yourself to find the inspiration to create something truly, authentically YOU.

Are there already a lot of really amazing knitting patterns in the world? Of course! But the thing that’s missing from this collection is YOUR vision. Only you can manifest your ideas and turn them into a design; only you can bring your own unique perspective to the needles of knitters all over the world. Your design doesn’t have to be earth-shattering; it just has to be inspired by what’s inside of you.

Here are some tips to help you if you’ve been holding yourself back from designing because you’re afraid you won’t be able to do better than what is already out there:

Release your negativity

We are our own worst critics. It’s so easy for us to find something to compliment (or to be jealous about) in someone else, but it’s so hard to compliment ourselves! The first step is to release the negative self-talk that may be running through your head, so that you can move forward into a creative space.

If you believe certain statements about yourself - like, “I’m not creative,” or “I could never be a designer,” or “nobody would want to pay for my work,” then you will make those statements true because you’ll stop yourself from working to overcome those negative beliefs. It’s time to recognize these lies you tell yourself, and let them go.

Take a moment to write out all of your negative thoughts about yourself, your ability to be a designer, your creativity or your worth.

Now, tear that piece of paper up! And move on without those feelings.

Acknowledge your originality

We all have various traits in common, but no one else is exactly like you. Remind yourself of your own uniqueness by asking yourself these questions:

  • What do people often compliment me on?

  • When was the last time I contributed an important idea or effort at work?

  • What does my spouse or best friend love most about me?

  • What do people often ask me about?

Find your Muse

Now it’s time to get inspired. What would you truly love to have in your knitwear collection? What’s the one garment or accessory you’ve always wanted to make, but something has held you back? Describe it:

  • What type of item is it (shawl, cardigan, scarf, hat)?

  • What color(s) will it be?

  • In which season will you wear it most frequently?

  • Which of your outfits will you pair it with?

  • What inspires your design (something in nature, a favorite color, a person you know)?

  • What will the fabric be like (lacy, textured, cabled, colorwork)?

  • What weight of yarn would you like to use?

Now, make a sketch of your design. It doesn’t have to be fancy - just a general idea to get you started.

You’re almost there! Need a little help?

My mission is to help you ignite the muse inside of you - to dig deep and find the inspiration for designs that only you can bring to the world that is so in need of more beauty and authenticity. That’s why I’ve put together a FREE 10-day workshop to help you take your inspiration and transform it into a knitting design. Join me October 9th as I will be running this popular workshop, Initiate Knit Design, where you will discover how you can transform your yarn into designs of your own creation. This workshop is NOT about creating the perfect design on the first try. It is about guiding you through the process of knitwear design so that when inspiration hits you, you know exactly what to do and do it with CONFIDENCE + CREATIVITY. ENROLLMENT IS NOW CLOSED.

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Enrollment for the challenge is now closed. However, I've got a special gift for you in the meantime. Sign up below to get the FREE "Manifest Your Authentic Vision" workbook which will go over the prompts outlined in the blog post here with space for you to write + sketch your thoughts.

My Transformational Journey to Becoming a Knitwear Designer

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Lounging on the couch at my parents’ house, in Austin, Texas, after a long day working my shift at the local French Bakery, I see my mum working on her latest project: knitting a simple stockinette cowl, in the round on thick needles, in even chunkier yarn. A simple project to me now, of course, but back then, it was like magic. 

How does taking two sticks and string create something like that?!

At the time, I was living with my parents waiting for my US citizenship. My fiancé (now husband) was working in Japan, and I was missing him terribly. And, I was incredibly bored, as I was only working part-time at the bakery. My hands needed something to do in my downtime. So, I asked a question that changed my life forever:

“Mum, can you teach me how to knit?”

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As I am working on my second collection of patterns, for the next issue of the Fibre Muse Quarterly, I have often found myself reflecting about my transformational journey that I have experienced over the past three-and-a-half years, from someone struggling to find purpose and direction, to a creative who gets to pursue passion projects. Now, with 70+ patterns published on Ravelry, in the past three-and-a-half years, it is hard to believe that I have been able to come so far from starting at point zero. There is the saying that goes along the lines of: “A year from now you will be glad you started today,” which is definitely true in my case. I thank my past self from three years ago for taking up the incredible journey of knitting, which has led me to where I am now.

Discovering Knitting

I worked my first stitches on January 2nd, 2014. Learning how to knit, and picking up a new hobby in the process was my goal for the year. I did not know what I was going to do when I moved back to Japan, once I received my citizenship, but at least now I had something that I could do when I did!

Little did I know how obsessed I was going to get with the craft. Once learning the basic cast-on, bind-off, knit, and purl stitches, I set off to make my first cowl in the round. And, I actually finished the darn thing! Taking it off the needles, my eyes shone with excitement and glee! I FINISHED IT! Rarely, when I set out on a creative endeavor did I complete my task. But here, on my first go, I had a completed item.

That felt really good.

And then I immediately set out to cast on another cowl.

And then a cabled hat (and then again another one of the same design for good measure).

Soon enough, my room was filled with knitted goods. I was really liking this!

But it was not enough.

Discovering Designing

I wanted to push myself to learn more techniques, and expand my knitting repertoire, but I had yet to discover the magical world of Ravelry. Not being able to find what I needed on the internet, I headed to the library to pick out some stitch dictionaries.

Coming back home with 3 or 4 books in tow, I flipped through them, seeing what I could knit up into a cowl. Finding a simple textured stitch, I did some quick math and then cast-on. I finished my cowl a few hours later (this was to be the Honey Comb Cowl).

That was fun. Let’s do another one! (Enchanted Vines Slouchie Beanie).

My knitting skills EXPLODED. Even if I did not know how to work a certain stitch, I did not care. It looked pretty, and I was going to make my own finished object from it.

I started to move from cowls, to hats, to shawls. And if you look at my design portfolio now, you know that shawls are my THING.

I wrote up the patterns I created, and uploaded them to Ravelry (which I had discovered at this point), despite not knowing what “gauge” was, or the proper format for writing up the recommended yarn. Thankfully, as I knit and designed more, I learned how to write patterns better.

By the time I moved to Japan, in August, I had designed and published more than 6 patterns. It was still a hobby, but I was making some pocket money from it, which helped pay for fancy yarns, and it helped pass the time. 

Creating Aroha Knits

When I hit the publish button on the “Caprius” shawl pattern, in January of 2015, little did I know that I was going to experience my first taste of success, enough to give me the confidence to think “Hey, I can really make something out of this.” This prompted me to really think about my designs. What colors went nicely together? How would this stitch look with this yarn? How could I make this design beautiful? I told my husband at the end of that month that my goal for the year of 2015 was to transform this hobby, I had just picked-up, into a full-time, sustainable business that would bring me joy and purpose.

(I have to give major props to my husband, as he accepted my goal without hesitation, and has been my biggest supporter—and solid rock since then. He is definitely benefiting from the rewards reaped now!)

And thus Aroha Knits was born.

***

Nearing the end of 2017, Aroha Knits has come a long way. In 2015, I started consistently publishing patterns, every month, mostly to grow my audience and attain exposure, which is now, a thriving business. I have expanded my offerings to a quarterly luxury subscription box, a quarterly collection of patterns, and my signature e-course teaching aspiring designers how to transform their yarn into designs of their own making and creation, and thus, kickstarting their own design career. Now a year later, I am seeing my students blossoming and blooming as they begin their transformational journey!

It has not all been sunshine and roses. Projects fell through. Ideas did not work out. Some patterns bombed. 

But. I would not have it any other way. I am so passionate about designing knitwear that the mere idea of not having this gift in my life scares me. This is enough to push me through the hard days, and crappy moments.

In just a couple weeks, I am gearing up to run the 4th round of Initiate Knit Design, my free 10-day challenge, where I lead you through the knitwear design process, from the idea, to having your pattern written up. This challenge has been the catalyst for many a new designer whom have popped up in the past year, and it is only a fraction of what I teach and provide in my signature e-course SWATCH Studio (in which its value truly lies in how much confidence and clarity students experience as they go through the course). 

So, if you have been wanting to start your own transformational journey into knitwear design, as so many others have in just the past year and a half, come join us for the Initiate Knit Design challenge, starting October 9th!

Transform your yarn,

Frenchie

Why You Should Stick with Your Current Subscription Box

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With a new subscription box hitting the market soon, you're probably wondering if the Fibre Muse Alchemy Kit is worth signing up for. And honestly, you're probably better off with sticking with your current subscription box. These subscription boxes have been around for a much longer time and have a large consumer base, allowing them to expand their businesses and upscale. What does that mean? More customization and options for you! Not just in the yarn color ways, but the brands they work with. They can offer several patterns per box from different designers because they have the resources and reach. 

Because they have a larger customer base, they have better negotiation power for the items they curate for their boxes, resulting in deeper savings for you. Which is the whole point of a subscription box: you want to get great value each month!

The Fibre Muse Alchemy Kits offers value in a different way. While we aim to save you money on each kit, because we have chosen to work with small/indie, artisan, handmade, local businesses in the Fibre industry, the payoff for quality, unique products crafted and created with love and passion, is a higher price point. So I totally get it if the Alchemy Kits will be priced as a luxury item - because they are!

And because we're limiting subscription sign-ups to only 100 spots for the first launch, our negotiation powers are not going to be as influential (why would a maker want to give us a deeper wholesale discount when my audience is much smaller compared to the bigger box brands? And I don’t believe in paying just with “exposure"). However, we believe in paying makers what they are worth and collaborating in a way that is fair to everyone involved and contributing to the growth of the Fibre industry, especially the small brands.

But why should you care about the growth of the hand-made industry? It's more expensive and not as convenient and you're iffy on the quality of customer service and the product you’re buying. At least you know machine made is consistent! Hand-made, local or artisan are just buzz words to you and you don't really care that much (and maybe we *should* get real jobs!). And you know what? You're totally in the right to feel that way - because you’re not wrong.

But if you do care deeply about the Fibre industry and want the excitement that comes with hand-made, unique items, a tight-knit community, then the Fibre Muse Alchemy Kits may be right up your alley. Join the VIP launch list to be the first in line when the kits go live.