Hey you guys,
I'm so happy you ended up here! As you may or may not know, I'm Janine and I'm the entrepreneur behind Knits 'N Knots.
I think this blog post is breaking all of the blogging "rules" because it might be a tad long and rambling, but I just want to share with you how I discovered this craft and how I came to the decision to pursue Knits 'N Knots full time. The rest of my posts will be more concise, don't you worry!
I never, ever (ever) envisioned myself as a knitter, crocheter, or small business owner. Although, thinking back at my life, it does make sense. All the signs were there, it just took me a while to see them.
From a super young age, I loved drawing, painting, designing, and sewing. I used to sew my own clothes and participated in a few quilting bees with my grandma. Despite my love for all things creative, I feared a career in the arts as I grew older with the mindset that pursuing art meant I would inevitably be a "starving artist". I thought that art was a hobby and not a career. In high school, I discovered that I was good at math and science, and I put that artsy stuff in my back pocket for later. Thinking science was the "smart" choice, I went to the University of Manitoba for Food Science because I loved food and enjoyed studying the advertisements and business decisions behind major food companies. I was totally engrossed in everything from colour choices, marketing strategies, to branding. At the time, I thought it was the product development and food analysis that interested me, and I wanted a lab/research position. I got a job as a quality control technician with an international food company and realized I was not on the right path.
After working a year in my field, I felt totally stuck. My program and potential job opportunities weren't what I expected. I was so bored, and my heart wasn't in it. My program was equipping me for lab jobs, research jobs, and other repetitive, analytical jobs, and I thought that's what I wanted. But.. it just wasn't the right fit for me. I felt like I wasn't able to use my skills or my personality to better the company. They just needed somebody to do the job, they didn't need me. I realize that all potential jobs are different, but I saw what positions lay ahead of me. I grew less and less interested in my field. Something had to change!
Christmas of 2015, I was gifted a round knitting loom from my mom. I had said in passing that I wanted to learn to knit, and now I had no excuse. Early 2016, I tried it out and couldn't. put. it. down. It came with instructions on how to make a hat, and I made more hats in that first month than I could wear in a year. Once my hat pile had reached its mountainous state, I Youtube'd everything there was to know about these looms and learned to make a few different styles of headbands. I also bought a scarf loom, and made scarves. I started an Instagram account for my knitwear and I'm pretty sure none of my friends understood how passionate I was about this craft.
I was obsessed with it. I was literally dreaming of yarn, dreaming of stitch and colour combinations and I would wake up with a ton of ideas for new things to work on. When I wasn't knitting, I wanted to be. When I was at work, I drove home quickly to get back to my projects. I would stay up way too late to keep on working on whatever I was doing and sacrifice sleep to keep on going. When I say obsessed, I mean obsessed in every sense of the word!
I realized I had enough products to start up my own shop, and posted pictures of each item up on Etsy. (PS - if you're thinking of starting up an Etsy shop .. DO IT.) I remember when I received my first Etsy sale from a stranger.. I cried. I loved the feeling I got when somebody wanted something that I created, and I loved everything about what my small business was becoming. I had a busy winter 2016 and spent many nights (school nights) up till 4am finishing orders when I had to wake up at 6:15am for class. But I honestly didn't care. I did whatever it took to be able to keep that Etsy shop open and keep on taking orders. I loved every second of knitting and crocheting, and didn't mind losing sleep or making the same items dozens of times because they were my designs.
Together, my disinterest in school and my passion for knitting/crocheting created a really difficult study environment. I was only a year away from graduating, so I knew I had to just do it. After I graduated in 2017, I put off job-hunting for months and didn't know what I wanted to do. An opportunity came up at school for a master's position studying something that I found a little interesting, and I thought I should take it. It was a paid position (kind of like a job.. right?) and I only had to take a few classes. WELL.. let me tell you.. you can't force yourself to be interested in something. I tried so hard to like it, and just couldn't. Knits 'N Knots was really picking up and I knew that if I kept with the master's position, Knits 'N Knots would have to take the back seat. I was faced with what seemed to be the most difficult decision ever.. “do I follow my passion and take a big risk or do I stay in school and pursue Knits 'N Knots once I have more time?”
Better question .. Would I ever have more time? Either way, I'd be in school or working full time and likely STILL wouldn't have the time I need to put into this business to build the brand I want. I know it's possible, but I'm not the kind of girl to dabble. I don't dabble. When I want something, I get laser focus and do whatever it takes to make it happen.. Maybe you follow me on Instagram and saw my winter market prep that often went from 6am til midnight? Yeah.. I have a bit of an obsessive personality, but it comes in handy when there's something I want to accomplish.
I felt in limbo. I knew something needed to change. I was doing too many things and something had to give. When I had to be studying for my classes, I was so frustrated because it's not what I wanted to do. I would find myself scrolling Instagram or Pinterest looking for design inspiration for all the things I didn't have time to make. I didn't want to do my university group projects, I wanted to knit. I didn't want to study food microbiology, I wanted to study brand strategies and online marketing for Knits 'N Knots.
So I did it - I dropped my master's position and it was the easiest decision I've ever made. I remember sitting in my car after I broke the news to my professor, and it was one of those moments where you just soak it in and just know that it's a pivotal moment in your story. And it was.
Looking back - I can see now that it wasn't science I liked about my program; it was business (*facepalm*).. but that's okay because now I'm now exactly where I want to be; my story just took me on a bit of a journey to get here. I feel like my life is on the right track and that I have a say in what my future can become.
So... If you've made it to the end of this.. THANK YOU for reading! (I'm so sorry if I put you to sleep I promise this is the only super long post just to get it out there once and for all!) I'd love to know if we have any similarities or if you found any part of my story to be interesting. I love connecting with you guys so feel free to leave me a message!
I so needed this! I’m currently in the early stages of starting my craft (due to a long line of jobs I absolutely hate) so I may be stalking your entire site haha! I seriously am loving the designs you are putting out especially the Wanderer Ruana pattern.
Hi Janine, I follow you on instagram and I looooooved this article. It is so incredible to read that now because I am exactly in the same position. Do I apply for a boring job but secure in the sense that you have money coming every months or should I just finish what I started, finishing my website by adding all the items that I have already made and pursuing my passion? I am exactly like you possessed!
Sometimes when I had a doubt I was looking at your instagram page just ta say to myself: this is possible. I can earn money with my passion. I would loooove you to give me advices of what you think about my page or maybe my items whatever. We already talked a little bit in fact: @formeandyoudesigns and my website (unfinished but almost there is: formeandyou.co.uk
Coming from you I would be so happy to have just an opinion.
Thank you for this lovely article and I am gonna read the others straight away 😊
Thanks so much for sharing, Janine! Reading your story is like taking a very refreshing breath. I am in the process right now of deciding to pursue my passion or play it safe and have a steady income. It is great to follow your story through Instagram and I am so happy for you that you found your rightful place. Keep up the excellent work and just keep being you!!!!
I love this so much! I’ve been following on Instagram and you have been such an inspiration! Funny story, I’m also a food science major, worked in industry for a little while and am somehow now pursuing a handmade creative business! Its crazy how everything leads to something you wouldn’t have expected :)
This is so awesome Janine! I remember a lot of this happening through knowing you on Instagram, it’s crazy to see it all laid out like that though. It’s funny how things work out, you get a degree only to pursue knitting. Haha I’m in the same boat. So glad you chose to pursue your passion :)