I am Yorkshire based hand knit accessory designer Sandra Nesbitt. I am now in my sixties, having spent my earlier working life in a completely different direction. Here is a little resume.
In my 20's - Left Doncaster teacher training college with certificate in teaching. I studied Biology and Maths as my main subjects but really had to teach all subjects ! Yikes! Armed with my teaching certificate I took a job in northern Italy in a small village near Cuneo, looking after 2 young Italian children. I travelled on my own by train through europe. I had never eaten any Italian food and couldn't speak or understand any Italian. Not sure what I was thinking at the time of applying for the job but so glad I did.The travelling bug started on my first 'real' trip abroad.
When I started to feel a little home sick; to have my friends and family around me who I could speak with properly I came home and embarked on a 'proper' job. The thought of being in a school environment for the rest of my life alarmed me, so whilst I was deciding what to do I took the first job I was offered which was in a sock making factory. Monitoring, counting, watching those marvelous sock knitting machines whirring away all day was a delight. My boss Philip was the Yarn buyer and I used to go out for trips with him to the local Yorkshire yarn suppliers. I soon got moved in to other departments though, to help with computerising all the admin, wages, purchases. I became a whizz with the computers!
And we travelled! 3 times I travelled through europe with my friends. Once we drove to the south of France in a mini with 4 of us and our luggage! Another time we hired a caravennette from Calais and 7 of us travelled around Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg and Switzerland. The 3rd time, we risked hitch hiking and hitched to Trieste and back.
The end of my 20's saw me change jobs and become a systems analyst and computer programmer at a company that manufactured wire and hospital beds. At the same time I had my daughter Michelle.
Me at 60
Vintage hosiery knitting machine
In my 30's and 40's - Working life continues very much like it was. Still working in computing , although did change jobs a few times. My spare time was spent doing up the house and garden and bringing up my daughter in a safe and loving environment. I took an Open Univerity degree in Biology and I loved studying at home and meeting other students at the summer camps at Universities around the country.The crafting bug hit me during this time too. Sewing up my own clothes and those of my daughters and making curtains for the house etc. My travelling bug had waned; I did travel but it was on 'packaged holidays' now.
In my 50's - Still working in IT, although I'm now a manager of a team of techies and programmers. Life is good until job reviews and redundancies were all that were talked about at work. During that time I started designing and creating felted accessories when a trip to Hebden Bridge, my local crafty town inspired me to use charity shop bought sweaters and turn them in to pretty feminine felt purses. The travelling bug was back too, me and my fella bought our very own motor home so we could travel round europe in comfort. I started knitting on my trips, It was a craft I could easily take with me.
I decided to set up a shop on Etsy, an online market place to showcase my creations, the felted accessories and some knitted items too.The 1st few years on Etsy I was still working full-time, so I spent my evenings and holidays perfecting my craft, picking up tips as I went along. I attended local knitting workshops at the Rowan Mill headquarters at Holmfirth, learning all I could from the wealth of knowledge the Rowan designers had.
I fell in love with Rowan yarn, such as Kidsilk Haze and the Big Wool. My love of wonderous yarns has developed further over the decade along with my knitting skills. As well as working with the fine lace mohair, I love working up chunky cable knits , fairisle and mosaic colour work too.
In my late 50's I was convinced by 2 other knitter's I met up with in York that I could publish a few of my knitting patterns on Ravelry. I had never heard of Ravelry and didn't realise that independent designers like me had a means of publishing their own patterns. So I embarked on a quick learning session in getting others to 'test knit' and 'tech edit' my patterns to make sure that all knitter's from the beginners to the experienced could understand and work up one of my patterns. I went from self publishing a few patterns on Ravelry to getting knitting magazines such as Knit Now, the Knitter and Simply Knitting to accept my design ideas and publish my finished work, all within a matter of 2 years. I went on a designer retreat in Manchester to meet other designers, tech editors, magazines editors and I embarked on a tech editors course myself. I am mostly self-taught, I see a technique or knitting stitch I like and I attempt to learn it as soon as I can. I am progressing my design skills as quickly as I can too, moving from simple accessories to cardigans, waistcoats and childs dresses has been a rewarding challenge. The mathematics involved in the pattern checking and size grading is monumental. It's a good job I have that mathematical logical mind and that need to provide information that guides people through the process.
In my 60's - This is where I am at today. Still learning, designing and writing up patterns. I have undertaken my first teaching workshop in "creative cables" , which was very successful, which I now offer to local companies or to people wanting that 1:1 experience. I am working alongside Gill Bond on the "Wild About Wool" project, arranging and organising woolly activities, events and pop up yarn markets. I am a member of the Knitting & Crochet Guild, another way of learning from the more experienced knitter's. Hopefully I'll improve my crochet techniques too.