Journeys: Designing Knitwear

Launching Jean Kaori was a life-altering change that was many years in the making. Trying something new; making a change; taking a new path -- all of it sounds so easy to do, but isn't really so when you actually start along that new path. While the concepts of transition and change are nothing new, it is the individual journeys toward making those changes that I find to be the most interesting. Through Journeys, a periodic blog series, I hope to share my personal journey from leaving corporate life to creating Jean Kaori, starting with my beginnings as a hand-knits designer.


Designing knits was a do-able way to be creative and still be dedicated to my career in the biotech industry. I traveled a lot for work at that time, so knitting was the perfect, portable way to have creativity in my life. There was only one time when I felt odd bringing out my knit project in public -- our flight home was delayed and we were in a premier lounge for frequent fliers. It was late, I was tired and I just wanted to zone out with my knitting. Unfortunately, my colleague was all-work, all the time, and gave me this look -- so I had to get my laptop out instead. I definitely don't miss those days!


First Design in Vogue Knitting 

In 2007, my first hand-knit design was published in Vogue Knitting, an international magazine that is one of the premier resources for knitters. The year before, I had submitted a few sketches and knit swatches on a whim -- to see if there would be any interest in the things I was designing. My aesthetic was simple and streamlined -- no fancy intarsia or color work -- just clean lines and textured stitches. I was so thrilled to receive word that they were interested in a couple of my designs. It was a milestone moment for me -- as it was the first time I had that feeling of "I can do this!". 

Selection of published designs. All photos courtesy of Soho Publishing, except for Daisy Stitch Tunic, which is courtesy of Interweave Knits.


Process from Acceptance to Publication

The process from acceptance to publication was long, as Vogue Knitting is a print publication in addition to online. They provided the yarn and I knit the sample and wrote the pattern instructions for the sample size. Every publication has their own criteria of how they want the patterns written -- as an example, some require pattern grading for specific sizes. The larger publications have technical editors and sample knitters so you don't have to worry about those issues. They don't give you a lot of time, maybe a month or so for simpler projects, so you have to be a pretty quick worker! 

Design process for Mandarin Collar Tank, published in KnitSimple (Spring/Summer 2007). Model photo courtesy of Soho Publishing.


From Knitting to Sewing

From there, I continued to have a few designs published and tried my hand at self-publishing. Wow -- it was a lot of work to to self publish knitting patterns! It felt even more overwhelming at this point, as I was juggling a demanding full-time job as well as night classes in fashion design. I was also becoming more and more involved in sewing garments, influenced by tailoring, draping and other technical skills I was learning. 

Collection of self-published knit designs and projects.


I'm still knitting and designing knits, and hope to incorporate them into the main Jean Kaori business in the future. I am grateful for all of the support I've received, which definitely made it easier to start on my new journey. Visit our Pinterest page and as always, stay connected with us on FacebookInstagram or Twitter!





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