Just a few years ago, Janine Myska was scrolling through crocheting videos online during university lectures. Now, she’s counting the days until her book, filled with crochet patterns, hits major retailers’ shelves across the continent.
Myska, 27, unwrapped a copy of Modern Crochet Sweaters in November. Her face, handmade sweater and name stared up at her.
"I might have shed a tear," she said.
The Winnipeg-based knitting influencer and designer compiled 20 of her top and dress patterns for the book. She’s been selling designs online to crafters around the globe, but these are new.
Like much of her career, Modern Crochet Sweaters was an unexpected twist for Myska (though her younger self dreamed of authorship).
"I honestly thought (I’d write) a horror novel or something like that," she said.
Canada’s ride with the COVID-19 pandemic had just begun. Myska and her partner, Matt, moved back to Winnipeg from Red Deer, Alta. after he was laid off. The couple was living in Matt’s parents’ basement, trying to find an apartment that’d accommodate their large dogs.
"I was disorganized (and) wasn’t checking my emails very much," Myska said.
Finally, she came across an email labelled "Third Follow Up". It was the publisher asking, again, if she’d collaborate.
"I thought it was a scam," Myska said.
Research and a conference call proved otherwise. She signed a contract promising to write the book in half a year — by January 2021 — and got to work.
Local photographer Stephanie Penner, who goes by Stephanie Lauren, trekked through the Exchange District, St. Adolphe and The Forks, taking pictures of Myska in her knitware for Modern Crochet Sweaters.
On Jan. 25, the book will launch in big chains like Indigo and Walmart; in small craft shops; and online, including on Amazon and Google Play, for overseas fans.
"I have so many different kinds of crafting books in my closet still from when I was younger, and now those photos (in one book) will be mine," Penner said. "That’s really crazy to me."
Penner has watched Myska’s business grow over the years. It began as an Instagram account, where the knitter sold hats to friends and family while in school for food sciences.
That ballooned to an online shop and blog with traffic from Germany, Australia and Qatar. Myska attended markets and sold products in the Manitoba Museum and Coal and Canary. She’d watch Game of Thrones and knit until 5 a.m. to fill orders.
"(They) just look like something you’d spend a lot of money for at the store," Penner said, adding the products don’t seem handmade.
In 2018, Myska transitioned to selling knit and crochet patterns.
"(Selling goods) was fun while it lasted," Myska said. "After a while, I was like, ‘OK, this is too much. It’s wearing off now.’"
Although she offers many of her designs for free online, people still purchase PDFs, she said. She’s sponsored by craft brands and has projects set for 2022, including releasing her own yarn collection.
"I always thought that was so cool, when people made stuff and then they could just turn it into a business," Myska said. "I never actually thought that would happen to me."
Each pattern in Modern Crochet Sweaters is wearable for sizes XS through 5XL and is beginner friendly, Myska said.
The book is available for pre-order at knitsnknots.ca.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.