Small Beginnings

I’ve come to realize that my life is made up of a series of small things. Sure, I have big goals and dreams. But in reality, every day is a collection of hourly increments, which I fill with small things like chores, work, and screen time. Lately, fewer are filled with cleaning, and more are enjoyed with people, dogs, and knitting.

Reflecting on how I arrived at this new Spout Knitting Design business, I see that it’s been about a series of small things.  

When I began knitting, back in 2002, I was a stay at home mom with two small boys and a little baby girl on the way.  All those special baby patterns looked tempting, but each required specific yarns and needles to purchase. Ever practical, I played around with my own hat designs, using double strands of worsted yarn and size 10 needles.  Bigger gauge, faster projects, economical yarn - that fit my budget and time! Once I’d made a few newborn toppers, I started sizing them up to fit my boys.  Soon I had a design that could be used in a pinch to produce a cute baby gift, a few hats for the winter clothing drive at school, or for my boys and their coaches in the season’s hockey team colors.

It could have stayed like that, just me and my happy little knitting for family and friends.  But I started popping in at my local yarn shop, Country Needleworks. They wanted the pattern for the cute hats my little girl was wearing. I stepped into the unknown and figured out how to write up my design, from the notes I’d been scribbling and the multiple sizes I’d been knitting. I sold some printed patterns, started making lots of knitting friends, and kept pushing on in my knitting skills.

Fast forward to the summer of 2011. This is where Moby Dick enters my story. I had gotten curious about this big book that I had never read. A small thing - I picked up a used copy one day, opened it and started reading. I got hooked. When I discover something I like, I get obsessed with it, and I talk about it a lot. That’s how I learned about a knitwear designer, Ann Weaver, who was soon to publish a book of designs based on Moby Dick. I did another small thing: I sent her an email to introduce myself and pretty much beg for information about her work. Her enthusiastic reply, with pics from her White Whale projects, set us on a course to becoming fast friends. I’d found a kindred spirit, and I started knitting lots of Weaverknits designs, becoming a sort of uber fan. She sent me work to test knit and tech edit, and I got my feet wet using specialty hand dyed fibers made by her friends.

Then I stepped even further beyond my local knitting community, accepting an offer from Karida Collins to work in the Neighborhood Fiber Company booth at Vogue Knitting Live Chicago. I joined that NFC/Weaverknits collaboration, wearing the things I'd been making with their yarns and designs. Wow! At this point, I kinda marvelled at where my small things were taking me. Over the next several years, I connected more and more to the knitting industry, travelling to more shows for NFC at Vogue and Stitches events, and meeting lots of designers and business owners; tons of learning, inspiration and fun, and lots of opportunity to interact with knitters from around the country.

My LYS involvement grew to joining the retail team, becoming a knitting instructor, and helping them expand their product line into small indie dyers, like NFC and Dragonfly Fibers.

All these small things - the next new things I was daring to do - were bringing me to a place where I could begin something significant of my own. I had encouragement from friends in the design industry, opportunities to work with indie dyers, my LYS as an ever supportive knitting community, and time to pursue ideas for designs.

About a year ago, I started Spout Knitting Design. More small things: a name, a logo, them some yarn support, a photographer, a few patterns, a Ravelry shop, and a growing local and online following.  

Come to think of it, this website launch is really another small thing I’m doing. I hope it will lead to new people and opportunities, and more ways to grow my design business.

My first blog post is the small thing I’m doing today. It’s unfamiliar and new, but I want to share my story. Perhaps in my story there’s an experience we share or a perspective I can offer.

I call these steps “small things”, because I’m sometimes easily overwhelmed by the tasks ahead of me and the prospect of trying something new. It’s my way of coping. Some small things are easy. Others represent much more significant obstacles to overcome. But I know that if I just keep doing them, these small things will somehow result in progress, adventure, community, perspective, and growth.

I’m betting that you, dear Spout reader, can relate.  What small things are in front of you today, offering the possibility of newness and discovery, taking you to places you want to go, or places you are afraid to go?

In your knitting journey, maybe the next small thing is a trip to your LYS to shop for a more challenging project. Maybe it’s reaching out to a new or old friend to set up a knitting date. Have you been thinking about taking a class, or connecting online with a knitalong community? Go ahead and do it, and be surprised by where it will take you.

Of course, I’d love to be included in the small things of your life. Select Spout patterns, make plans, reach out for support, and cast on something fun! I want to see what you’re making and to help in any way that I can. Toss me a line by email, or tag me in your Instagram posts of Spout designs.

In celebration of where Spout really began, with a small thing fifteen years ago, I’m offering my original basic roll bottom hat pattern as a free gift to you.  I’ve put the Spout logo on it, and I’ve renamed it “Skipper”, to make it feel welcome in the Spout pattern family. By the way, you won’t find it on Ravelry or in my pattern store, because it’s an exclusive gift for my newsletter subscribers. So sign up today, and enjoy!

I hope you come back to my website often and follow me on Instagram @spoutknits. I’ll let you know what small things are coming next for Spout!