Tian Connaughton of @knitdesignsbytian designed the Moulton Hill Shawl for Issue 3 | Cables.
Hello there, my name is Tian Connaughton, also known as KnitDesigns by Tian, living in rural Massachusetts. For the last 7 years, I’ve been working as a full-time designer and technical editor offering mentoring and coaching to other designers and tech editors wanting to level up, with a strong focus and prioritization on women and POC, particularly black and brown women.
My designs have been featured in books and magazines. For over a decade, I’ve been trusted with tech editing patterns for major publications such as Knit Picks, Interweave Crochet, I Like Crochet, I Like Knitting, and for books published with Springhouse Press, F&W Media, Capstone Press. In addition to designing and tech editing, I am passionate about helping others in the yarny world achieve their goals with my two books currently available for print on Amazon: 1) Unlock Your Inner Designer: How to start designing especially for aspiring designers wanting to learn how to turn their ideas into a finished design they can write up and share with the world, and 2) Pattern Launch Plan: Sell more patterns consistently without being sleazy to help designers understand marketing is not about yelling into the void and self-promotion, but rather it’s about providing value to the yarn world.
I learned to crochet in 2001 from a co-worker during my corporate days. We would sit in the break room at lunch and after many weeks of watching the fascinating ways her fingers would glide effortlessly over the stitches, I asked her to teach me. Immediately I was hooked (pun intended). For years I was content just crocheting. My mother-in-law, a knitter, for a long time would try to convince me to pick up knitting. Really, two sticks when one hook worked just fine… and faster? Nah, I was good. It wasn’t until years later when I quit my corporate job as a credit manager and maybe a whole week at home with my then 2-year old totally bored that I discovered HGTV’s Knitty Gritty. Knitting was actually pretty cool and working with two sticks wasn’t too bad.
Like everything, I went down the knitting rabbit hole, hard. I’m never satisfied, so once I learned the basics, I needed more so I sought out more information and stitch patterns. After seeing an episode of Knitty Gritty with Shirley Paden, a black knitwear designer, the seed of designing was sown (representation matters). I was inspired by seeing her do this thing I didn’t even know was possible. Within a year of learning to knit, I was designing. From there, this whole journey stemmed into spinning, tech editing, teaching crochet and knitting, creating online courses, coaching other designers and tech editors, and writing books.
And as a child of immigrant parents, the options were very limited but straight forward with a clear path – teacher, nurse, engineer, doctor, lawyer, etc. There wasn’t room for creativity. But after I discovered crafting (I didn’t do much or any crafting as a kid) and having my son, I started to look for ways to become my own person as a 20-something wife, mother, and homeowner. During a time when my peers were out discovering themselves by going out to clubs and having late nights, crafting helped me to tap into a piece of myself I’d never known to discover a path that is non-traditional and without a blueprint, but wholly life-changing and fulfilling. Remember those career options I mention above – nurse, engineer, etc.? What do they have in common? A clear journey to achieve – a career track with steps to take.
With crafting, I’ve taken my career in the complete opposite direction. With entrepreneurship, there are no maps and blueprints. I am making things up as I go. Every day is a new experience and it’s amazing. Without crafting, I can’t imagine where I’d be now. And the best part about it, I don’t have to wait until I’m 65 to start living the life I want.
[Image Description: Tian is wearing rectangular glasses and looking towards the camera with a slight smile. Her dark, tightly curled chin-length hair is parted in the middle. You can see some trees and landscaping in the background.]