We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalie Koons and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natalie, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
When you imagine the knit and crochet industry, you probably think of a sweet elderly white woman knitting with metal sticks on a scratchy, burnt orange blanket. Am I right?! Maybe in 1989… but fast forward to 2021 and the modern day knit and crochet community is wildly diverse. Walk into a yarn shop and you will see young professionals, mothers, men, college students, likely half or more of the group under 50. Business owners in the industry have to keep up with ever-changing popular dyers and designers to keep their customers coming back. Will it be speckled yarns made of soft wool this year or scratchier “woolly wools” in muted colors? Are we doing the cropped sweater thing again?! The knit and crochet community is expansive on social media where many of the most prominent figures have a followings in the hundreds of the thousands. Knitters and crocheters aren’t afraid to advocate for each other. Discussions about racial-equity and size-inclusivity are common. Knitters and crocheters want to know where a maker stands before giving them their business. Overall, it’s not just your grandma’s church circle any longer. The knit and crochet community is growing in bigger and better ways!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I love to design knit and crochet patterns with a focus on simplicity and function. Let’s back up… what is a knit and crochet designer? Most people who knit and crochet follow a pattern- a set of instructions that tells them how to make an item. I write the pattern! I come up with an idea and then I test it on small scale, sometimes making and remaking the item several times. Then I ask for other makers in the community to test out the pattern I’ve created. Finally, after much tweaking, the final pattern is available for sale! The timeline from scarf concept to scarf pattern is typically months long. When I started designing patterns I had a huge fear that I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to sell my patterns. The truth? I totally wasn’t! I had to learn a bunch of new skills. That very first pattern took ages for me to publish. I’m sitting on a pattern right now that has taken me six months to get right. But I think I’ve finally got it! I’m about to hit my three-year anniversary of publishing that very first pattern and I have just quit my stable, full-time job as an elementary school teacher to pursue my creative career full-time. It’s still scary, but it’s also exciting. I would never be at this point without pushing through the fear and taking the time to learn something new and scary.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ooh if I really wanted to show off what Dallas has to offer… we would probably just eat all week! We’d have to do barbecue at Terry Black’s or Pecan Lodge. I’d definitely want to drive up to K-town in Carrollton and eat at Gen- my favorite Korean barbecue place. We’d probably end up in Deep Ellum to hang out at the different shops, restaurants, and bars. Since most of my friends visit from outside of Texas, I’d definitely want to give them the Whataburger and Braum’s experience too!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Whew! Where to began? There is no doubt that I have made it to this point in my career thanks to the support of the people around me. I have to start with my husband. I remember a time about a year before I met my husband where I was crying to a friend about how I’d probably never find a person who would think knitting was cool. Well lucky me! I found a person who not only thinks knitting is great, but one that encourages me to do more with it. My husband has supported me with every “level-up” decision I’ve had to make. He is my greatest motivator. I also have to shoutout my YouTube coach and mentor Brianna. Without her guidance, I would never have propelled my channel forward to what it is now. She empowered me to make big, bold life choices and to follow through with confidence. Finally, my knitting friends and the yarn community at large. I have a tight group of friends (we meet virtually every week to knit) that help keep me balanced. They check in on me, they make sure I don’t get too busy, and they let me know that who I am is enough. There are so many people in the knitting community that inspired me to start different aspects of what Knitty Natty is today. Dianne shouted me out on her YouTube channel and my subscribers multiplied overnight. I hadn’t committed to a weekly video podcast at that point, but boy I did after receiving so many warm messages! Kristin suggested that I teach online knitting lessons and eight months later, I finally got the courage to make it happen! Then there are all the amazing knitters and crocheters that send me kind and thoughtful messages every day. It’s incredible to feel so supported by such wonderful people!