A. I moved to Salt Lake in 2009 and began teaching knitting classes at the award-winning yarn store there, Blazing Needles. I chose to teach the skills that I thought that intermediate knitters needed to learn. Knitting in the round on Magic Loop is one of those key skills that, for a little effort, dramatically improved my students' knitting abilities and opened up a world of options.
It was among the wonderful students at Blazing Needles that I began to realize the potential of creating my own knitting-instruction business. I was having so much fun, and so were my students! The classes were booked full, and a few nights I had to stand on the table so that everyone could see what was going on.
I got the inspiration for the online business when I could no longer keep up with the demand for the classes. The store was getting so full during my classes that people didn't have room to shop, and many of my students couldn't get the one-on-one help that is so important. I was also getting exhausted. I thought that if I could just film these classes one time, I could teach hundreds of people at once, over the Internet, and everyone would get a front-row seat!
I could never have anticipated such a perfect match for my skills and the needs of my students all over the world. I love putting all my effort into one set of lessons, and then getting to move on to new videos, and my students love that they can pause, play, and rewind me, and that they feel like I'm sitting right there with them, guiding them every step of the way!
Q. What a wonderful way to become inspired to explore new avenues for your creativity and skills, Liat. I felt honored to get a peek at your newest comprehensive, lively and informative E-Book, Becoming A Knitting Superstar. Share with us some of the juicy aspects for knitters out there who are clicking their needles together in anticipation, over this exciting and innovative E-Book.
A. Thank you! I'm so proud of this book and I'm excited to share it with you and your readers! My entire business model was formed on the idea that this was a product that needed to be created, and I was going to make it. The juiciest part of it is that this has never been done before – and it's exactly what every intermediate knitter needs!
I conceived of and created this book completely backwards compared to most of the knitting resources out there. The standard mentality is: you (the knitter) decide what you want to learn, and choose a book that will teach you that topic.
MY take on it is (developed after ten years of teaching and helping intermediate knitters solve their knitting quandaries): I will decide what you need to learn in order to be able to knit 95% of the projects on your list. I'll take your hand and guide you through the skills. All YOU need to decide is to stop spending so much time searching the Internet, YouTube, and Ravelry trying to piece together the information you need!
My favorite sections of “Become a Knitting Superstar” are the Video Knitting Dictionary, which you can keep on your computer desktop anytime you need me to demystify a knitting abbreviation and show you the correct way to perform the technique (my favorite is the S2KP), and one of the Top Ten Lists: The Top Ten Techniques that make any project AMAZING. Practice along with the videos in this one chapter and your knitting projects will fit and flatter you better, your knitting speed will skyrocket, and your fingers will never be sore again.
Q. Liat, what do you consider the biggest challenge of an online knitting business today? Are there any pearls of wisdom that you would like to share with readers who may be struggling right now to start or maintain a yarn or knitting business.
A. The biggest challenge of owning an online knitting business is that, in my case, what I'm selling has never been done before. So, in some sense, I have to sell people on the idea as well as on my product. Imagine trying to sell an app four years ago to someone who didn't have a smartphone. Now, everyone knows what an app is and how it can make your life or work easier, more efficient, or more fun, but, back then, it was a challenge!
For readers who may be starting or struggling to maintain a knitting business, just the fact that you have chosen a career in a field you're passionate about gives you a huge advantage. I would never have had the dedication or determination to keep working toward my goal if I didn't LOVE my work, and feel just as at home doing it as a fish does in water. You also have an advantage in that YOU ARE your core audience – you are an insider.
The great thing is that knitting is HOT right now and millions of people are spending money doing it. It just remains to identify what that one thing is that sets you apart from everyone else – what can you offer to solve your customers' problems?
If you are a retail business, an online store (not just a website) is a huge advantage. But even without a website, you can boost your local traffic by improving your local search-engine rankings (e.g. appear on the first page of a Google search for “yarn store Wichita”). First, create a Google Place Page (this can be done in 15 minutes), and second (and most importantly), print out a form requesting that your customers write a review of your store, and hand them the form on their way out of the shop. The more customer reviews you have, the more Google will help people find you.
Q. These are such useful tips, Liat, thank you. How do you envision sock knitting for the future?
Two words: TOE-UP!! I have not had one student who has not fallen completely in love with the elegance and speed of creating a sock from the toe-up. The free beginner toe-up sock pattern I've created incorporates the best and easiest techniques out there: Judy's Magic Cast-On for the toe, the No-Holes Fleegle Heel, and the Invisible Ribbed Bind-Off for the perfect finish.
Add to that the fact that it's as easy to knit two-at-a-time as it is to knit one, plus that it's a snap to modify the pattern to use any yarn and fit any foot, and you've got an incredible teaching tool that results in a warm, snuggly, and satisfying pair of perfectly-fitted socks.
Everyone I've taught to knit toe-up socks has told me they're never going back.
Q. Excellent! I enjoy the toe up version and all of your free patterns as well. Now comes the time in the interview we all love the most. It’s time Liat to toot your horn, share the knitty scoop, your favorite dreams for a knit filled future, upcoming events or what’s on your mind with us.
A. Something really exciting that's happening with KNITFreedom right now is that our community forum on Ravelry has blossomed into a fantastic and happening place to be! This is where the most dedicated and enthusiastic students gather to ask and answer questions, share photos in the “I can't believe I finished this..!” thread, and give encouragement aplenty. My favorite thread: the “with Liat's help I will make...” I love this topic title because it's true! You can do anything with the right attitude and the right learning environment.
I am also hosting weekly chat parties in the KNITFreedom forum on Ravelry, where my students and I ask and answer questions and say, “Hello!” in real-time. Subscribe to my video newsletter to get your invitations!
Another thing I've got up my sleeve that (as far as I know) no other knitting instructor is doing is that I am available for live emergency knitting help, often in the wee hours of the morning (I specialize in helping you when your yarn store is closed). I do live chat as well as Skype, and the first five minutes are free, which is often enough to clear up someone's knitting question and get them going again!
My dream for the future is to break (or create) a Guinness World Record for the World's Largest Live Knitting Class – I want to teach Magic Loop to thousands of knitters at once, in a huge stadium, with a video of my hands up on a Jumbotron and helpers running around in the audience with mics and cameras, so that I can use live examples for troubleshooting. I would also simultaneously broadcast it around the world!
Thank you, Liat for taking time away from your busy adventures in knitting and inspiring us with your creativity, passion, and enthusiasm.The future of knitting is evolving to new levels of creativity and it's nice to see that you're knitting instruction is reaching so many hearts, minds, and hands.
A special note from Liat:
I've priced the e-book at $77, and subscribers to my newsletter will be getting 25% off during the first week of the launch, beginning Monday, February 7th.
Margaret (always thrilled with the prospect of 21st century knitting and beyond...and grateful for the long line of knitting adventurers that got us this far)