Marcia Weiss, Director of the Fashion & Textiles Futures Center and the Textile Design programs, took a minute to speak with one of our alumni, Courtney Chu Donkin, BS Textile Design ’13, about her current role as Knit Designer for URBN. URBN, which is the parent company of Anthropologie, Free People, Beholden, and more, is well-known for its avant-garde, texture-rich, interesting, and colorful knitwear. The reason behind this exceptional work is the powerhouse team that runs the Knit Room on the URBN campus. Not surprisingly, that powerhouse team is made up of Textile Design Alumni.
Tell us about your work.
Courtney: The URBN Knit Room works as a hands-on, collaborative space that is at the disposal of any designer/design team across all URBN brands that wish to create knit fabrics. We have V-bed and flat-bed knitting machines ranging from 12 to 2.5 gauge. We are an extremely creative space, and all knitters are encouraged to experiment and find new techniques to create fresh and new fabrics.
Tell us about your team.
Courtney: I manage the room (machines, yarns, and organization) and our workflow. My assistant, Morgan Jefferson, BS Textile Design ‘17, Associate Knitter, helps me keep the room clean and organized and knits swatches and yardage per our projects. We are the only two who work for all brands under the URBN umbrella, but there are other knitters who work for specific brands that come in and out of the room to knit for specific designers/teams. We also have two interns working with us: Cierra Colleran, BS Textile Design ’23, and Emily Radomski, BS Textile Design ’23.
Morgan Jefferson, BS Textile Design, ’17: I get to work with designers across all brands under the URBN umbrella to create original knit swatches for sweaters you would see online or in stores. I think my favorite thing about my job is that we are considered the knit experts, so we really get to put a lot of our own input and creativity into these original ideas.
Logan Connelly, BS Textile Design, ’22: One of my favorite aspects about working on the Anthropologie Sweaters team is the appreciation of knitting for the craft that it is. I get to spend hours experimenting with yarn combinations or stitch structures with my own two hands, eliminating the “what if?” that virtual designing presents. Other special moments I cherish are when the designs launch online and in stores. Getting to see in real-time how the customers receive something you helped create almost a year prior to launch can be the most heartwarming feeling. I could go on & on about this job!
Quotes from the Interns.
Cierra Colleran, BS Textile Design, ’23: My favorite part of working in the Knit Room has been learning tricks directly from people in the field. I learned how to hand knit from YouTube, so having a more romantic way of learning knitting techniques is exciting! Also, it’s nice to understand where the design process works in a real-world setting.
Emily Radomski, BS Textile Design, ’23: Every day in the Knit Room is collaborative, productive, and fun! I have learned so many new knitting techniques and have grown even more comfortable with operating the machinery. Something unique about the Knit Room is that mistakes are embraced, and perfection is not expected, which creates a positive, creative, and rewarding work experience!