Friday, March 13, 2015

Figheadh: A Brief History

Celebrating a full notebook with a Mazurka Tart!
To further our tenth anniversary celebration,
I thought I would just interview myself for this post. What a kick!

Hi, Jen. I'd like to know a few things. May I ask?

Why knitting?
I learned to crochet at about 11 years of age from my maternal grandmother, but I did not learn to knit until college. I wanted to knit to be able to make Aran sweaters. That's why you'll still see more cables in the Figheadh line than anything else.

Why knitting patterns?
Because there's even less money to be made in knitted finished products than selling the patterns, and because I wanted a passive stream of income that I could produce anywhere and that would allow me to knit a lot! This was a big career change for me, coming from being a high school English teacher for eight years. I was ready for a big change!

Why such a funny name?
Because my husband and I were studying Gaelic at the time and I found the word figheadh, meaning "knitting" and "weaving." I liked it and knew no one else would be using it. Why would they? You can't say it! Actually, it's pronounced fee-yugh, with the second syllable sounding "like the sound you would make finding you've accidentally stepped on a slug" (credit goes to our Gaelic teacher). I guess we Pacific North-Westerners understand that reference all too well. There are slugs everywhere here!

How many knitting patterns have you published?
The Figheadh line presently has 101 active patterns and one collection. One pattern is free, one is a class project, one is parked at the moment for maintenance, and we discontinued eight of the earliest patterns. Because this week also marks ten years of knitwear design for me, I have also published 16 knitting and crochet patterns in my Mirth line, 25 freelance patterns in magazines and books by others, one magazine article and one chapter in a book. My Ravelry design page says 151 designs. That's about right.

Organizing pattern samples: 91 Figheadh patterns represented here!

What have you learned in these ten years?
1. That there's an awful lot to learn. That's great--job security!
2. That I have no competition if I am true to myself and listen to inspiration, I have my own vision.
3. To forgive myself of all my silly mistakes. There's been a bunch.
4. To know my limits. I can't do everything, so I shouldn't even try. 
5. To make a plan and be ready to shift the plan.
6. To be open to letting something go. To know the difference between a good idea and one that you love so much you become blinded to its badness.
7. To stay out of debt.
8. To listen to everyone, even the meanies. There may be a nugget in there somewhere that you can use.
9. To take breaks and know when to rest. 
10. That it's good to choose your niche and learn all you can about it.

What's next?
I am so excited about the next ten years and beyond. For Figheadh, we are changing the format of the patterns to make them more accessible on electronic devices and to reflect the way we do business now. The old format was designed for our sales reps to show to yarn shops when we were wholesale-only and printing patterns. Now we have no reps and sell only PDF downloads. Yarn shops are now selling PDF patterns through Ravelry and we love that!

This year we plan to release a scarf/shawl pattern and three Aran cardigans, one for girls, one for  men and one for women. We are also working on two new Fundamental patterns--a blanket and a mitten pattern. The Fundamentals are some of our top sellers, because they include multiple directions for at least four yarn weights and lots of sizes. 
They are pretty much blank templates.

I have a few other wishes, but this is a reasonable amount to expect. 
See #4 above.

I am so grateful to the universe and to my own brain and hands and to all the testers and editors and sample knitters who help us and to all the knitters and crocheters who buy our patterns. Because of all this, I get to make my own path pretty much every day. It's the biggest challenge and the most fun all at the same time.

Here's to another decade and many, many more!


Lace-lovin' Librarian ~ Diane said...

Congratulations on your ten years! I found your blog through Knitspot, and I hope to learn a lot from you!

Anonymous said...

So glad I found your lovely patterns! :)

Jen Hagan said...

Thank you, Diane! I'm glad you found me and I hope you pick up some tips!

Jen Hagan said...

Thank you, kind stranger (anonymous)!