Pam shares how she came to be a successful knitting pattern designer.
CF: You studied math — how did that lead you to designing knitting patterns?
PP: I originally wanted to become a math teacher, but teachers in my area were being laid off because of state budget cuts, so I didn't go on to get my teaching credential. I later became a stay-at-home mom and started knitting recreationally. When I couldn't find the exact patterns I wanted, I started making adjustments and figured out that writing patterns was not that much more work. You have to be somewhat math-oriented to write knitting patterns. Patterns are built on a grid and you have to be able to negotiate gauge and measurement. I occasionally use the Pythagorean Theorem, dispelling the math-student myth that you will never need to use this in real life.
PP: I am a self-admitted clotheshorse. I love knitted accessories you see in fancier boutiques that have a handmade look to them. I couldn't really afford to buy hand-knitted boutique accessories and felt that there were not many patterns out there with that sort of indie / bohemian style, so I thought I would try and fill that void for myself and other DIY-ers. I spend a tremendous amount of time looking at fashion trends on the internet, especially when fall fashions start appearing. I also subscribe to several Japanese fashion magazines.
CF: What advice can you share with knitters who want to design patterns?
PP: Ravelry.com is a great place to start. You have immediate access to over a million knitters who are seeking out patterns. They also have very reasonably-priced advertising. You can have a fantastic, unique pattern, but if nobody can find it, then it won't sell. Then the book-writing process is a whole different deal when it comes to designing and pattern-writing. Having to develop that many projects is a full-time venture, even when done over the course of a year. You have to be pretty organized and committed to see a book project to completion.
PP: I like hand-dyed yarn —I know, who doesn't? My favorite color palette is neutral with subtle variation to give it depth and not look so flat. Madelinetosh and Anzula have great selections of these types of colors. I also prefer really sharp circular needles. My needles of choice are HiyaHiya Sharp Interchangeables.
CF: What other creative pursuits do you and your family enjoy?
PP: I owned a florist business for 9 years and also used to make and sell jewelry, but currently, I don't have time to do anything else creatively besides designing and knitting. My 15-year-old daughter is a wonderful knitter — she has won first place in our county fair a couple of times for projects she has knitted. She is really busy with school and ballet, so it's been a while since she has picked up the needles. I am hoping someday she will start again. Kids typically love to knit. If you have a local kids' knitting class, I highly suggest enrolling girls or boys in it. With teenage girls, sometimes if you show them modern knitting patterns for accessories they can't buy in stores (or can't afford to buy), that is the motivation to start. I really believe in the Handmade Movement, especially with kids. There are so many great life lessons in making something yourself.