Type of Business: Online knitting blog with patterns for purchase
History of Business: About a decade ago Turlock native Hilary Callis found herself commuting from San Francisco to Mountain View for a job that was becoming decreasingly satisfying. In an attempt to stimulate her mind, she returned to a fond childhood activity: knitting.
Having witnessed people knitting in coffee shops around San Francisco, Callis took up the craft her grandmother taught her as a girl and utilized it to stay busy during her commute to work with her husband. Several years later and her hobby has become a fully fledged business, but it all started with a single stitch, or pattern rather.
After writing up a few patterns for knitting projects and putting them online for free, Callis was contacted by Julie Turjoman, an author and cofounder of Ravelry.com, an interactive online community space for knitters. Callis was featured in Turjoman’s book titled Brave New Knits: 26 Projects and Personalities from the Knitting Blogosphere which was released in 2010.
“After that I thought maybe I should try submitting to some magazines,” said Callis who soon sought out Knitty, an online knitting publication.
“I heard they were really nice with rejection letters,” she laughed.
However, Callis received quite the opposite of a rejection letter as Knitty accepted her pattern and photos of her shawl submission, titled Citron, which went viral. To date over 12,000 individuals have knitted Callis’ Citron shawl and shared their take on the project on Ravelry.
By this time Callis had also gained confidence in her knitting ability and had taken to combining knitting patterns to create her own unique projects, like a kimono-inspired sweater with belled sleeves.
“It just sort of came together,” recalled Callis.
Callis’ online success soon lead to more notoriety in the industry as she was featured in Knit Scene Magazine and online magazines like Twist Collective. She also operates her own blog, The Yarniad, where individuals can view her work and purchase patterns. Callis’s online network has proved not only instrumental in her own ability to hone her craft, as she often utilized tutorials in her early days, but also serves as a vital way for her to connect with other knitters and in turn grow her business.
“I think the big thing is that you don’t necessarily know knitters in person, but you can find each other online,” explained Callis.
Now a knitter well versed in various styles, what would be Callis’s advice to those who have yet to make their first stitch?
“If you can master a few techniques you can pretty much knit anything,” said Callis.
Business Specialty: Patterns for hand knits for women.