Tell us a bit more about yourself. Where do you live? Who do you live with? How did you end up there? Where are you from originally?
I’m Janine, the Winnipeg-based independent knit and crochet designer behind Knits ‘N Knots. I live with my partner, Matt, and our two husky-crosses, Pancake and Joe.
I have been designing patterns full-time since 2017, specializing in size-inclusive sweater design with customization tips included in each and every pattern to help achieve the best possible fit for your unique body measurements.
In 2022, I authored my first book, Modern Crochet Sweaters, featuring 20 chic, size-inclusive sweaters designed with style, fit, and comfort in mind.
Who taught you to knit? And crochet?
I was looking for a creative outlet and taught myself to knit and crochet in 2016 on YouTube while I was completing my Bachelor of Science in Food Science degree at the University of Manitoba.
You design both knitting and crochet patterns! How does that work? Do you first decide on Knitting or Crochet? Or do you say to yourself “I want to design a hat” and then go from there?
Most of my patterns are in collaboration with yarn companies, so normally I will be tasked to design with a specific yarn. After I come up with a pattern idea, often it will work best in either knit or crochet, depending on the design and my desired fabric drape. My audience is primarily crochet-focused, so the majority of my designs are crocheted.
Do you write all your patterns the same way? Or, are there differences based on the craft?
When I’m designing new knit or crochet patterns, I follow the same steps for both crafts. I always have my pattern template open in front of me and I make notes as I create the sample. Then I grade it (if it is a pattern with multiple sizes) and send it off to three different tech editors before it moves to the testing phase.
All of my clothing patterns are sized from XS-5X to suit 28-62” busts, so each garment pattern goes through a 4 to 8 week testing process before it is released.
Do you design full-time or part-time?
I have been writing patterns full-time since 2017.
What are your favorite things:
a. Colors – I love neutrals and muted colours.
b. Yarn weights – I usually go through phases with each yarn weight, but I really like DK weight and fingering weight.
c. Fibers – I like to use natural fibres when possible, like wool, cashmere, or linen.
d. Types of objects (e.g., shawls, hats, etc.) – I grew up wanting to be a fashion designer, so garments are my favourite designs to create.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration strikes in all kinds of places: movies, TV, music, fashion trends, pop culture, or in nature.
I have a notes app on my phone where I draft all of my ideas the moment they pop into my head because you never know the next time a good idea will knock at your door! Most of my ideas come to me when I’m about to fall asleep (which is quite annoying).
[Jody] I put things in notes on my phone too! Unfortunately, I’ve learned that I also do nothing with them after that 🙁
Often I’ll be watching a TV show or movie and one of the characters will be wearing something that will inspire a new design, whether it’s a colour scheme that speaks to me, a neckline shape I want to incorporate into an upcoming pattern, or a general garment idea that I want to loosely recreate using yarn.
What does a typical work-day look like for you?
Each day is different from the next. Often I’ll have 4 or 5 patterns in the works, each at different stages in the design process, so my schedule is created on a priority-basis.
Every two weeks or so, I block out days for photography and spend the day photographing upcoming designs with my photographer. Some days I will spend the majority of my time working on samples, but 90 percent of my time is spent on the computer grading patterns, answering emails, running pattern tests, writing blog posts, editing photos, or drafting pattern listings.
Earlier this year, I was working on the finishing touches for my book, and this summer I’m spending a lot of my time dyeing yarn – every day is different, so it keeps things fun and interesting!
[Jody] Wow! I’m amazed at everything that you do!
Other than knitting and crocheting, do you have any other creative endeavors?
I also dye yarn, write, paint, draw, garden, to name a few!
Do you have a stash? Or if you buy it you make it up pretty quickly?
I work with a few different yarn companies who are generous enough to send me new yarns pretty regularly, so I have accumulated quite the yarn stash!
I have an entire room in my basement that is filled with yarn (we refer to it as the Yarn Room), and I have a home office that is filled with yarn as well!
Since I have begun dyeing yarn, I now have a dye studio filled with my own yarn, too. No shortage here!
[Jody] many of us have a yarn room, or a yarn closet, or a yarn cabinet, or…
[also Jody, but this deserves its own paragraph] THANK YOU SO MUCH to Janine for letting us into your world for just a bit! It’s been so much fun to get a peek into your world!
About the Interviewer: Jody Richards
Jody is the founder and lead editor of Knotions. She loves poring over stitch dictionaries and trying out new stitches. And while she likes all things crafting (well ok, except that one thing), yarn crafts are her true love (and she has the stash to prove it).
She’s a serial starter-of-projects and has a serious problem with finishing things without a deadline.
And don’t get her talking about hand-dyed yarns. You’ve been warned.