Meet the Sexy Knitter

Sarah Wilson, the Sexy Knitter

Designer Sarah Wilson, a.k.a the Sexy Knitter, is presenting a web seminar tomorrow, all about selling things on Etsy. I thought it would be fun to get to know Sarah a little, so I interviewed her! Here's our conversation.

Q: You're known as the Sexy Knitter. How did you get that name?

A: Oh wow, you're starting with the toughest question! Most folks think it's because I'm a glamor girl, or because I design a lot of dresses and skirts and figure-flattering pieces, but it's so much more than that (and in fact, those reasons have very little to do with it)! It's hard to sum up in just a couple of sentences, but let me get up on my soapbox for a minute or two. . .

Basically it came down to a desire to remind myself that even on the days when I don't feel good about myself, that I'm still deserving of feeling sexy and beautiful. As women I think this is a battle we all fight on a near-daily basis, wondering whether or not we're "good enough". The answer is, YES! YES! A thousand times, yes! Whoever you are, whatever your age is, or wherever life has led you, you are unique and special and sexy and you deserve to look in the mirror and be excited about the person staring back at you. If you're not a movie star, you don't need to look like one and, most importantly, you should stop expecting yourself to!

There are about a thousand other reasons I've chosen this moniker; I actually filmed a video about why I chose the name, which can be viewed on my YouTube channel, and I was able to get more in-depth about it in a podcast with Marly Bird. Basically, I want it to become socially acceptable for women to say, "I am sexy. I feel happy with myself/the way I look/who I am as a person" instead of only being okay for us to say, "I want to lose 10 pounds/I hate my thighs/I'd feel better about myself if I was 20 years younger." I decided to lead by example! It isn't any easier for me than it is for anyone else, because these issues are ones that all women face. In the end, we're all in this together!

The Urban Houndstooth by Sara Wilson

Q: Who taught you to knit? How old were you?

A: I was about nine or ten when I first learned to knit. I had always enjoyed crafting, but I had never tried knitting or crochet. I remember seeing a woman at a basketball game crocheting, and asking her about what she was doing. She gave me a spare hook and showed me how to chain, and I spent the rest of the game happily chaining away! When we got home, I told my mom I wanted to learn how to do that. My mom's the kind of lady who's tried all the crafts and stockpiled all of the basics, so she had this little leaflet on learning how to knit and crochet. There were patterns for a poncho and matching bellbottom pants! So that was that. I still have that first leaflet, along with a couple of other 1960s magazines she had. They'll always have a special place in my heart, along with my grandma's collection of vintage Workbasket magazines.

Q: What's your favorite thing to knit?

A: You know, you'd think I would have a favorite, but really as long as there's something on the needles I'm happy. I love knitting garments, accessories, socks, baby things, you name it. My true passion is creating one-of-a-kind showpieces, which I get to do about twice a year. If I had to name a favorite technique, it would definitely be cabling. I LOVE cabling. I've even started designing some of my own original cables, which is a lot of fun.

Q: Do you consider yourself a picker or a thrower?

A. I hold the yarn with my left hand, and throw. It's a weird combination of styles that I'm sure has a technical name, but it's pretty unique. I haven't ever met anyone else who knits quite like I do! And it's very, very fast.

Q: Have you had an epic knitting failure?

A: Tell me about it! Oh, I think we've all had our moments. There have definitely been things that I've finished and looked at and said, "Well, that has to go"! I remember once, pretty early on, knitting my dad an Aran sweater in Lion Brand Homespun in a dark navy colorway. That's not something I'd recommend to others! Cables need smooth yarn, kids. Ha!

Principesa Dress by Sarah Wilson

Q: What's your most popular design?

A. I think it's probably a tie between my Principesa Dress (which started as one of my showpieces) and the Urban Houndstooth Cardigan. Mostly, I think I've been really lucky in that I have somehow wound up with a pretty well-balanced portfolio! But usually any time I put out a dress pattern, it's received really well, because people know that that's what I love doing the most. I feel very blessed. 🙂

Q: What's been a challenge for you in your knitting?

A. At this point in my career, the challenge is really making time to keep learning. I know enough now to not only get by but do fairly well, and I look back with envy on the time I spent as a child learning one new technique after another. There's so much left to learn, but it's getting harder and harder to make time to do that.

Q: You're doing a web seminar about Etsy stores for knitters. What would you advise knitters to sell on Etsy?

A. The best advice I can give anyone, for any kind of Etsy shop, is to sell something that they themselves love and believe in. Focus on ways to make whatever you're selling unique and special, and find some way to set it apart from all the other similar items that Etsy sellers are offering. Put your own unique spin on things—that's key! Etsy is a very competitive marketplace and there's a danger of becoming white noise if you don't have something that sets you apart. Even if you just have one item that is your signature thing, it will help sell your others listings, as well.

Q: How do you get the word out about your etsy shop?


A. Ha ha, how DON'T I get word out about it? I'm a big fan of social media so my followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Ravelry will definitely see me talking about what's new in the shop or what special promotions I have going on, but there's also simpler things like just being a big user of my own products, which people see when I'm out and about and inevitably ask me about. And I have sooooo many repeat customers that tell me that they purchased a Tool Tin or a set of markers or what have you for themselves and now they're back to buy six more for their friends! Word of mouth is huge. I'll also be wholesaling my Tool Tins for the first time at the May TNNA in Indianapolis, so come by and see me in booth 467 (I'll be inside the Anzula booth) and say hello! I'd love that.

Q: What does etsy stand for, anyway?

A. It does seem like it would be an acronym, doesn't it? It isn't, though; I can never remember why they named it Etsy but I think it was fairly arbitrary. My husband once told me it should stand for "Easy To Sell it Yourself" and that's always kind of stuck in my head, because Etsy is definitely user-friendly.

Q: Do you have any advice for beginning knitters?

A. Yes! Don't be afraid of trying new things or of making mistakes. Mistakes are going to happen, and you won't get better if you aren't making mistakes. Also, don't let anyone tell you that something is beyond your skill level. If you want to make it badly enough, you'll be properly motivated to learn the skills it takes to get there. That's how you advance! And always remember, if you like what you're making and you're having fun, you're doing it right.

I so enjoyed meeting Sarah and learning more about her and her knitting. To find out how to start a successful Etsy shop, join Sarah tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. And don't worry, if you can't attend the live seminar, all registrants get a recording to watch and listen to whenever you have the time. It's really convenient.


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