Why not publish a pattern a week for a year?

by Shannon on December 31, 2016

patreon-photo-knitgrrlWell, that’s the question I asked myself, anyway! And here’s what happened…

I ended up starting this.


Every week, I’ll release a new pattern.

Every week, we’ll make careful notes about promotion, sales, you name it, and collate all of that into posts for our Patreon supporters. We’re trying to accumulate as much data as we can so that we can help other designers strategize the best ways to promote and grow their design business in today’s market conditions. I’m also planning to write a followup to my bestselling Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design that will incorporate as much of this information as is appropriate (depending on how things go, I may split it up into more than one book).

Internally we’ve been calling this the 52 Patterns Project but it quickly started to grow as other opportunities popped up, so who knows how many projects there will be in total by the end of this! I’m currently designing something for New York Fashion Week… which is in FEBRUARY. I’m trying to use as much of my on-hand yarn stash as I can to make the economics work out better as we’re ramping up. I’ve got amazing sample knitters who are deciding to do things like knit a second sample in one of their on-hand yarns “you know, to see what it would look like.” I am blessed with an amazing team of people who have pitched in with so much energy and enthusiasm it’s astonishing to me.

Some of the yarns from my stash that should be making an appearing in the 52 Patterns Project this year include: Anzula, A Verb for Keeping Warm, Bartlett Yarns, Black Bunny Fibers, Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Brooklyn Tweed, Cascade Yarns, Cephalopod Yarns (yes, I KNOW, but YOU SHOULD SEE MY STASH and anyway we can tell you what to sub for it), Clara Parkes’ Clara Yarn, Dragonfly Fibers, Elsebeth Lavold yarns, Erica Knight yarns, Fable Fibers, Hope Spinnery, Indigodragonfly, Kaffe Fassett’s amazing Colourscape yarns from Rowan Yarns that I LIVE FOR, Kaunis, Lichen & Lace, Louet, Madelinetosh, Malabrigo yarn, Miss Babs Hand-Dyed Yarns & Fibers, Neighborhood Fiber Co., Noro Yarns, Plymouth Yarn Company, Quince & Co., Spunky Eclectic, Swans Island Yarn, Tahki Stacy Charles Yarns and The Fibre Co…. GREAT yarns, all of them.

I want to stop for a minute and particularly thank my longtime tech editor, idea-wrangler, yarn road trip-taker, and overall wonder of nature Andi Smith (aka Knitbrit) for all her help so far, and everything she does for me, Cooperative Press and Knit Edge magazine on a regular basis. She is a two-color-cable, sock, and (well, let’s face it, EVERYTHING) genius and I couldn’t do it without her. After being reminded that my assistant Christina knit and gifted me one of Andi’s patterns (French Quarter) this day last year, I know that it’s a sign this project is going to go well.

Here’s the French Quarter cowl by Andi that Christina knit for me:

1913740_10156330055460654_5104437813734578369_nOh, and because this design project won’t keep me busy enough in 2017 (ha ha ha), we’re planning to update this website very soon for the first time in FAR TOO LONG, so thanks for your patience with that!


11225723_10156184240180654_3404618327157633361_nI have to admit, this is one of the most exciting things I’ve done in a while! I created a Twitter bot (find it at @whatshouldiknit) that automagically tweets knitting project suggestions once an hour using a defined series of variables including colors, stitch types, pattern types, yarns, and pattern sources. The older I get, the more fascinating software technology is to me, and I am making baby steps towards learning to write proper code. I hope you’ll enjoy this!

What else is going on? Oh, the usual SO VERY MUCH, as you can tell from my lack of blogging. (I hate it, because I love the blog, but I find myself spending a lot of time on other social media as a result of my work obligations, and there are only so many hours in a day).

I’ve been working on reconfiguring how Cooperative Press runs so that I can spend more time writing and running events such as Cleveland Bazaar, which has grown into a business that happens to provide the majority of my personal income these days. I have to tell you, reading this post by Woolly was a massive source of encouragement, because there is nothing that can make you feel more guilty than a business that isn’t going the way you feel it should be.

I have been taking counsel from many wise friends and colleagues, and prioritizing my own health and sanity in the face of many challenges over the past year. If I had a dollar for every person who has confided in me that they are considering leaving the yarn industry, I wouldn’t have to change anything about what I’m doing, because I would be SO VERY WEALTHY. The publishing industry is often much the same. And guess which two industries I’m straddling? Aiyi.

It’s funny. You can flat out insult me directly and it won’t make me blink, but make me question my own judgment in how my businesses are run, and I am suddenly a sodden wreck.

(I recently told a good friend about an ex-friend-with-benefits who told me he’d take me to the Caribbean as a reward if I lost weight…she was flabbergasted and I was just laughing because COME ON, THAT IS HILARIOUS. He wasn’t throwing me out of bed for eating crackers, as the saying goes. Wait… what do you mean it isn’t hilarious? Ok, I think it’s hilarious, and I know the place he was coming from as the child of a mother with health problems exacerbated by her weight, but… oh… yeah. I’m learning to rethink my former ability to blow off comments like that, and call people out on their bullshit).

So that’s where I’m at these days. I’m trying to make a lot of improvements both personally and professionally in the face of what can sometimes seem like insurmountable odds, but I’m taking comfort from my wise friends, and really internalizing what they’ve been telling me for a while now:

  • You don’t have to be a martyr.
  • You have already done so much.
  • You should be proud of your accomplishments, not focused on your failures.
  • Your “failures” were all made in good faith, in an effort to succeed, and there’s no shame in that.
  • Don’t envy the picture-perfect you see on Instagram and social media; you don’t know the full story

So those are my lessons to keep repeating until I really, truly can believe and act on them.

The publishing house will continue, both books and magazines, albeit in new sales formats. There isn’t enough money available to support the level of service I want to see for the old way of doing things, but we are working on creating systems that can continue to pay the higher royalty structure while cost-cutting on the me side.

The events will continue, and even expand.

I will continue to work on my own health; migraines and other problems are no picnic but with the allergy diagnoses I finally got earlier in the year, I’ve been able to remove or at least lessen some of my triggers. Fingers crossed it holds up all winter, usually my worst migraine series come around February.

Things change. It’s the only thing that never changes.


Aurora Borealis Mittens is here!

March 4, 2015

I’ve been working on this book for over a year, and it’s FINALLY OUT and I could not be more excited. Here are just some of the patterns inside: Buy the digital edition on Ravelry here! Buy the print + digital edition at Cooperative Press here!

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Happy anniversary, Yarn Harlot!

January 24, 2015

Stephanie put out a call on the Twitter-Bat Phone this morning about the “Class of 2004” knitbloggers on the occasion of her anniversary. Ok, lets do this. Class of (knitblogging) 2004, still online.. sound off! (please retweet, so we can find them all) — Steph Pearl-McPhee (@YarnHarlot) January 24, 2015 *raises hand* According to the […]

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Holiday gift-giving guide for knitters, crocheters and fiber people!

November 11, 2014

Obviously I’m biased and think you should buy all your books and patterns directly from me and/or Cooperative Press. (Hey look! shiny new website — that happened a few months ago, so you can understand why I’ve been distracted and not needing One More Tech Problem). But how about some other ideas? Here are two […]

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I’m BACK. Holy technical error, Batman!

November 11, 2014

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Hire me!

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I’m looking to book additional teaching gigs this summer and this fall and have openings in my schedule that can save you money, dear yarn stores. Here’s the deal. I am exhibiting at the American Library Association show at the end of the month (come see me in booth 1348, librarian friends!) in Vegas. I […]

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Katherine Shaughnessy crewel (part 2) at my former shop

June 10, 2014

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Introducing: Daily Zen

June 9, 2014

I’m starting up a new feature called Daily Zen with knitterly stuff from around the internet. Pictures, books I think look interesting, you name it… Let’s kick it off with the source of our hobby. SHEEP! Image by James Good “Sheep along Highway 395 in California.” Image by Peewubblewoo “Sheep in winter, in a field […]

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Updated shop page & new stuff on the way

June 9, 2014

I’ve been playing around with some new tools and toys (when I’m not up to my eyeballs working on the new Cooperative Press shopping cart…seriously, it’s been 12-hr days around here with that alone), and one of the fun things I like is Amazon’s astore functionality. Here’s one I’ve been working on putting together with […]

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