Hello everyone! My name is Alena Ruman and I am so excited to introduce myself as the IDP Program Administrator!
In case you do not know, the Independent Designer Partnership is a platform where Knit Picks and We Crochet host patterns from independent designers that showcase the gorgeous yarns under our brands. Designers retain all rights to their patterns as well as receive all revenue from pattern sales. I have been a designer in the IDP program for many years and I’m excited to now work on the other end to make it even better for our designers and customers.
I grew up as a crafty kid in northeast Ohio and knitting was one of the many things I dabbled in. It wasn’t until high school that I zeroed in on it being the hobby for me. I had a great art teacher who took me under her wing and showed me this wonderful world of fiber art outside of the knot filled scarves I made as a child. I learned by finding patterns that were just a bit outside of my skill level, then my teacher would walk me through step by step until I got it and the project was complete.
A few years later, a friend of mine asked me to make him a hat “with the zig-zag stripes like Charlie Brown has on his shirt.” That first special request pushed me off the ledge into designing. I have now designed more than 70 patterns, with hats being my favorite to both knit and design.
I continued knitting and designing mostly as a hobby while becoming burnt out at a job that no longer fulfilled me. I had a dream that I could make knitting and fiber art a full time job, but thought that would only happen decades down the line. After a few years, I quit that unfulfilling job, packed up my car, and moved to an alpaca farm where I interned for a little less than a year. I spent my mornings doing chores while occasionally getting spit on, and my afternoons learning other kinds of fiber art like needle felting, weaving, and spinning. I loved every second of it!
I discovered a deep connection with the entire process of turning fiber into yarn, then yarn into design and garments. For me, when I hold a skein of yarn, I hold both the past and the future. The past includes the farmers who grew/raised the fiber and everyone who skirted, milled, spun, and dyed that skein. The future is the yarn’s potential of what it can be made into, where that final project will go, and what it will mean to the person using it. Yarn also connects us in the present to everyone in the past who made and used yarn to clothe themselves as well as everyone in the future who will pick up knitting needles or crochet hooks.
When my time on the farm ended, I knew this was the industry I wanted to be in forever and that there was room for me in it right now, not far in the future. I earned a Masters of Art in Art and Culture Management where I soon had the reputation in the department of being “that knitting lady.” Toward the end of my degree program last spring, I began working as an associate at the Knit Picks and We Crochet warehouse in Columbus, Ohio. I had been a Knit Picks customer since college so walking through the aisles stacked floor to ceiling with yarns and tools I already loved was magical. In September, I moved all the way across the country to Vancouver, Washington to step into this new role as IDP Program Administrator at headquarters.
My hope is that my work to make more patterns available. We can all be inspired by each other to keep loving fiber art. I am so excited to work with all the incredible designers in the IDP program to showcase the gorgeous yarns in the Knit Picks and We Crochet family!