Welcome to the designer feature section of Crocheters Have More Fun! Each week will be featuring a different size inclusive indie designer! If you have additional questions for a specific designer please leave it in the comments.
Courtney Clark is the designer and maker behind Tinderbox. She is also a teacher, a dog mom and a lover of travel. Courtney lives in British Columbia, Canada and when she’s not crocheting you can find her enjoying the great outdoors with her pup, Boomer!
- What is your name?
My name is Courtney.
- What is your designing/business name?
My business name is Tinderbox. I know what you’re thinking “TINDER?” Well, Tinderbox was Tinderbox before Tinder was Tinder. Here’s how I got the name: A Tinderbox is a little box that explorers and adventurers used to carry with them. Inside, they’d keep flint and tinder dry so that they could spark a fire wherever their travels brought them. My Tinderbox is filled with hooks, yarn, notions, and poorly drawn sketches—everything I need to start my own little fire.
- Where can people find you?
You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest. I also have my own website and a Ravelry store where you can view and purchase my patterns.
- How long have you been in business? Have you always designed? Has it always been garments?
I started out making all kinds of accessories (hats, headbands, scarves etc) as I was selling finished products at craft shows and artisan shops between 2011 and 2015. I started writing down and selling my patterns in 2016. Shortly after this I started to realize I could do more complicated designs (e.g. garments) without having to worry about selling the final physical product. I published my first garment pattern in 2018 and have predominately designed garments since then, with the odd accessory in there.
- What is the most challenging thing about designing for you?
Focus. I tend to have 8-10 projects on the go at each time and each time I come up with a new idea I want to start it right away. I need to get better at grading (doing the math for making it different sizes) right after I finish a project as this tends to be the stage I procrastinate the most.
- Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I love looking at stitch books or image searches online for different stitches. When I see a stitch I love I often picture it as a sweater. I also really love pulling inspiration from non-yarn fashion and trying to make something I’ve see in store or online into a crocheted piece.
- How long does it take you to get a design from an idea to a final pattern available to the public?
For simple accessories – only a couple of weeks, but for garments usually 2-3 months. It can take me anywhere from a week to two months to actually crochet a piece, then a couple days grading/writing it up. Then I like to give my testers 4 weeks with garment patterns.
- Please describe your designing process.
I wish I had more of a routine when it comes to designing. Usually I get some kind of vision in my brain but I’m such a terrible artist that sketches don’t really help. I try to sketch/write out the idea best I can in my ideas notebook and come back to it when I’m ready to start it. Then I source the right yarn and get to swatching – yes I always swatch first for garments! From there I make the piece and always regret not writing down the pattern as I go.
- Which 3 of your designs are you most proud of and why?
The Mya Sweater
I based this sweater off of my popular Mya hat design. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out as a sweater but it turned out way better than expected. This one gave me a lot of difficulties in the designing/testing phase so it makes me even more proud of the final result!
The Jasmine Pants
This is my “happy accident” design. I had the idea in mind, it worked out perfectly, then my testers decided to try it in children’s sizes too. Turns out this design works for any human of any size – child through to adult male!
The Dottie Collection
The Dottie Dress is my favourite thing to wear, hands down. This three piece (skirt, dress, top) pattern was such a fun design for me!
The Reina Sweater (I couldn't pick just 3)
Reina is an honorary mention because when I was doing research for her I realized that I couldn’t find a single circular/top down v-neck crochet sweater pattern. I found out why in the designing process – it’s insanely hard – but I made it happen!
- What are your MUST HAVES in your final patterns?
GAUGE. It always shocks me when I buy a pattern and there isn’t gauge or when I get customer complaints that something isn’t the right size and they confess to not having done a gauge swatch.
- Who is a designing you admire and why?
Stephanie from @by.stephanie.erin – I found her because she applied to test one of my early garment designs. At the time she was just starting out designing herself and now this woman is cranking out the most stunning, size inclusive, innovative patterns constantly all while working full time. I don’t know how she does it but I’m so glad she does.
What is one random fact about you that most people probably don’t know?
I’m a houseplant addict. I’d have entire walls of plants if I could afford it. One day I picture living in a house that I basically turn into an indoor jungle.
What is one piece of advice you have for someone who is just starting out designing garments?
Research. Research. Research. I spent an entire year testing garments for other designers, reading every knit/crochet blog about garment construction, and did so many trial and error attempts with garment designing before publishing my first garment pattern. I think testing for other designers is a really great way to learn about garment construction, to see different pattern writing styles, and to get an idea of what you want to include in your designs or not. I also recommend subscribing to Crocheters Have More Fun’s email list for designers as the blog is going to include so many good resources for designers in the near future!
If you have any other questions for me you can comment below or send me an email at: email@example.com!