Journey of a Knitwear Designer

The Sierra Sunset Cowl
I was recently talking with Laura (Jimmy) about some of the things I’ve learned in the last six months as the official in-house designer for Jimmy Beans Wool and she suggested I write about those things here. I’ve learned a lot, had some hits and misses, and continue to come up with new ideas and find inspiration every day. This is my journey…

Basic Neckie Design
Some of you may know that I designed a few knitted items before I started designing for Jimmy Beans Wool. My first design, the Basic Neckie (which eventually became a free pattern on the Jimmy Beans Wool site) was designed for a friend who came to me with an idea for a short buttoned neck scarf and asked if I knew how to make something like that. I said sure, I could figure it out. I did, then I taught her how to make it, then I made and sold them on Etsy. It was fun for a while, but got pretty burned out after a while.

Sharon and her Donner Pass Cowl
Flash forward eight years. By last fall I’d self-published a few more patterns under the name “Marinade Designs,” including the Hipster Hat, Donner Pass Cowl, and Winter Wheat Hat that a bunch of the gals here at the shop have knit. (Sharon, Shevawn, and Sandy are usually the first to knit my designs, thanks for the support ladies!) Then, in September of last year I was offered the HUGE opportunity to design something for the Knit Red book. I was SO thrilled and nervous too. Being published meant that I actually had to start trying harder to make something of this little passion of mine. Now was the perfect time, the momentum was starting. It’s funny, once I started putting that energy out into the universe, it was easier to make things happen. 

So, I started submitting designs to magazines early this year. There was one hit and a lot of misses, but that’s ok, I knew it would be a challenge. While at Stitches West this year, I mentioned to Laura that I was starting to submit designs to magazines and that I really wanted to give this designing thing a shot. Being the amazing boss that she is, she listened thoughtfully as I told her my goals. I had no idea that a month later, she’d find a way to make my dream a reality! (I really do work for the most amazing people. Seriously.)

Laura and Huck in my hats.
So here I am, six months and nine designs later (mostly knit, one crochet and two sewing patterns), the official in-house designer for Jimmy Beans Wool. I create at least one new free pattern each month for our Newsletter and Free Pattern page of the website. Knitting patterns are definitely my specialty right now as that is where most of my experience lies, but as I continue to develop my skill range in crochet and sewing I am planning to offer more of those patterns as well. In fact, last month’s pattern was actually two-in-one. “Hats for the Whole Family” featured both knit and crochet versions of a simple hat pattern that covers all sizes from Infant to XL adult. The best thing is that these patterns are free to all of you on the Jimmy Beans Wool website. Hopefully you are finding some of them useful!

Green Market Tote
The market bag pattern I designed for Knit Red turned out to be my first official published design. When it hit in June, it felt so surreal that I had a published design. In an actual book. Right in between patterns from Jared Flood (aka. Brooklyn Tweed) and Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton. JARED FLOOD AND CORNELIA TUTTLE HAMILTON!!!! Wow! So amazing and such an honor to share a space with these two greats, along with so many other brilliant designers that I've idolized for years.

At the Knit Red book signing.
My next published design (aside from the Jimmy Beans Free Pattern each month) is due out in the Winter 2012 issue of Knitscene Magazine. I am SO excited! I think I have every issue of Knitscene ever published. I am so honored to have been given these opportunities. I hope that you’ll join me as I learn and grow here at Jimmy Beans Wool.

I’ll be blogging about these designs and my process here regularly and would love if you would join me here when you can. Feel free to send me your comments and feedback. I would love to hear from you and welcome any advice you might want to share. I know that we all have a design aesthetic that we lean towards and you may have noticed by now that I love garter stitch, short rows, and simple design. Someday, I would love to design beautiful sweaters and larger garments as my knowledge base grows. I am learning day by day and cannot wait to see how my style evolves over time. I welcome you to my journey and hope that you’ll pull up a chair, sit, and knit a while with me.

Happy knitting and crocheting,

PS. Did you know we have a Jimmy Beans Wool Group on Ravelry? Come on over and join the conversation! Not on Ravelry? We are also on Facebook and Twitter!

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Winter Wheat Hat


  1. Congrats, Kristen! When you are a famous designer, I'll be able to say, "Oh yeah, I knew Kristen way back in the neckie days..." So awesome about Knitscene!

  2. Heehee! Thanks Ani! I'll always remember those days of knitting neckies for my co-workers at Patagonia and selling them in the winter craft fairs! So fun! Thanks for your support! :)