Eclectic Closet Litblog, Book Reviews & Knitting Designs

A litblog dedicated to book reviews/recommendations, as well as literary and publishing news. Now enhanced with knitting designs.

Interview: Tania Richter

December22

Tania Richter is a both an artist/illustrator and a designer. Her illustration style clearly influences her knitting design work.

Tania Richter

Tania Richter

How did you get started designing?
I mostly got into designing by accident. About a year ago I was playing around with the Cloud Dragon Scarf pattern and showed it to the Double Knitting group on Ravelry to see what people thought. Turns out there was a large number of people who really liked the pattern, so I decided to release it as a Mystery Knit-along. Everything grew from that!

What inspires your designs?
I’m really inspired by fantasy art and nature.

Cloud Dragon Scarf

Cloud Dragon Scarf

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
Typically, the inspiration. I get hit by an idea, sketch it out, and hunt down the perfect yarn to fit the idea. Sometimes the yarn decides it wants to be something else, so there can be some mixing and matching at times

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
Unique motifs you can’t find on most knitted pieces. I try to think of designing as doing fiber-based pixel art.

Rise from the Ashes Shawl

Rise from the Ashes Shawl

What is your favourite type of item to design?
I love making scarves. They’re one of the best vehicles for showing off double-knit patterns.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
Malabrigo Finito.

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
Big squishy scarves.

Kitsune Nine-tailed Fox

Kitsune Nine-tailed Fox

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
The Winter’s Ward Double-Knit Dragon Cowl seemed to fall a little flat.

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
Due to some time constraints, I only get to cast on Kate Hepell’s Through the Woods this GAL, but I also want to do Kimberly Golynskiy’s Debra Peacock Tail Shawl and Annie Watts’ Neck Kraken.

Continental or English?
A weird mix of both.

Drachen Jaeger sweater

Drachen Jaeger sweater, to be released in January 2015.

What’s the best thing about knitting?
Getting to wear the finished product!

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Never be afraid to try new techniques.

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
Finish the Drachen Jaeger and Sekiryu sweater patterns, actually release a hat pattern.

View all of Tania’s patterns here. Rise from the Ashes photo copyright Jessica Troy. Remaining photos copyright Tania Richter. All images used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

Interview: Sara Peterson, Knotty Gnome

December19

Today’s interview is with Sara Peterson of Knotty Gnome Designs. Sara designs both knit and crochet patterns.

Sara Peterson, modeling Tilt Shift Shawl

Sara Peterson, modeling Tilt Shift Shawl

How did you get started designing?
I started knitting around 2003 and by 2007-ish I had enough skills to start figuring out how make the designs that were dancing in my head like this Pringle of Scotland-inspired cardigan. Not long after that, I started writing my own patterns.

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
I’m usually inspired first by a stitch pattern or something I see (a shape, a texture, or maybe a RTW item of clothing). Then I search for the right yarn. I also design quilt patterns and I approach it the same way–I almost always come up with a design first and then choose fabric.

Nicke's Hat

Nicke’s Hat

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
As a knitter, I have to be in the right kind of mood to focus on something really dizzying and I’m often distracted by my dogs and cats, so I like to design what I like to knit–simple designs with just a bit of flare. Nothing super boring but also something I can put down at a moment’s notice without losing my place. I love lots of different types of knitting–lace, cables, colorwork, and I design crochet patterns too.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
I really like to design hats. They’re a nice blank canvas with so many potential shapes and possibilities but they can be finished quickly.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
I love me some Madelinetosh. If I had to stick with one yarn, I’d probably pick Tosh DK.

Naughty or Nice

Naughty or Nice

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
Definitely socks. If I’m busy or frustrated with other projects, I can always knit a row or two on a pair of socks.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Probably the Snowcone Mittens.

I personally love them and they’ve gotten a lot of favorites, but they weren’t a big seller for me. My guess is that stranding multiple colors might seem daunting, even though you only work 2 colors at a time.

Snowcone Mittens

Snowcone Mittens

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
Oh, the Gift-a-long. I purchased so many patterns that I’m itching to make. The ones I’m most excited about are Cable Bunny by Julia Trice, Fuego Hat by Justyna Lorkowska, and the Swift River Cardigan by Mary Annarella. But I’m not officially allowing myself to cast-on personal knits until I finish the sweaters I’m making for my nieces and nephews (Jane and Ziggy by Georgie Hallam and Little Fisher Pullover by Andrea Sanchez).

Continental or English?
I’m a thrower.

What’s the best thing about knitting?
For the most part, it’s very soothing and relaxing for me to come home from a long day at work and knit. It’s a great way to unwind.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Don’t be afraid to deviate from the pattern. As a newer knitter, I was terrified to go off-book and I ended up with a lot of ill-fitting sweaters. Modifying patterns isn’t so scary and it usually results in a much more flattering garment.

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
I’m not big on resolutions but I would like to publish at least one design per month in 2015, and I’d also really like to focus on adding to my crochet catalog.

View all of Sara’s patterns here. All photos are copyright Jennifer Dassau and used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

Interview: Katherine Matthews, Purl Diving

December18

Today’s interview is with Katherine Matthews of Purl Diving, a friend and design colleague.

Dulce - Scarf and Shawl

Dulce – Scarf and Shawl

How did you get started designing?
I’d always played around with making changes to things and doing things my own way a little, but when Knitters magazine had their first sock designing contest, I realized that I had knit enough socks to have totally absorbed the mechanics of the basic shape, and that all I had to do was figure out how to plug in a stitch pattern and tweak some design elements to make things pleasing. I entered two pairs in the contest: Tipsy Knitter socks, and Ribble socks, and both of them made it into the Socks, Socks, Socks compilation. Then a sweater I’d designed for my niece made it into their collection of baby patterns. Even after that, I mostly just designed things for myself, until my friends at the LYS (Shall We Knit?) encouraged me to start publishing patterns for what I was doing.

What inspires your designs?
Lots and lots and LOTS of things — it can be a phrase in a book I’m reading, or something from a movie I’ve watched that will set an idea in motion. I love museums and art galleries, so sometimes the exhibits I see will spark something off. Or, I can just be walking down the street and see an interesting pattern or shape. So many different things can be an influence.

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
I’ve had it work both ways — bought a yarn and then worked an idea around it, or had the inspiration and gone searching for the yarn. But I think, most often, the inspiration comes first, and then I search for the yarn.

Breakwater Shawl

Breakwater Shawl

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I like minimalistic garments — those are what I wear most often, and those are what I enjoy designing most. I love garter stitch, and it finds a place in many of my designs.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
I love to design shawls and scarves — again, they’re what I use most often on a daily basis, and I like to wear what I design.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
I don’t think I could pick one yarn, especially with all the beautiful ones out there these days — however, I do know that it would be fingering weight. That’s what I love to design with most.

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
Socks — plain socks. I generally only knit socks for my husband Rob, and I’ve got his socks down to a science. I know exactly how many stitches to cast on, how many rows to work, I just put the yarn on the needles and go.

Tide

Tide

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
I have to say that I wish there had been a little better reaction to Tide — though I think I understand why there hasn’t been. I’ve recently started working with a photographer and model for my pattern photos, and Tide was the design that was, essentially, our learning process. Also, the day we chose to shoot was incredibly bright, and I don’t think the colour shows up as nicely as it might have otherwise. But it’s a pattern I love, and I’m looking forward to knitting it again and maybe re-shooting the photos at some point.

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
I’ve already cast on Ananke by Shannon Squire — that pattern was just so “me”, with the garter stitch and ribbing. I suspect that’s the only one I’ll have time for during the GAL, sadly. I have the yarn set aside to make Linda Choo’s Kawartha Morning Mist, which is such a pretty shawl. And I need to brush up my almost non-existent crocheting skills, but I would really love to work one of Beth Graham’s crochet patterns, maybe the Swirly Blanket or her Chained scarf, at some point.

Continental or English?
Mostly English, but I can knit Continental, and use it for two-handed colourwork.

Dulce - Scarf and Shawl

Dulce – Scarf and Shawl

What’s the best thing about knitting? What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
I kind of see these two as related — for me, I love the fact that you can rip something out if it’s not right or it’s not working — and I’d tell knitters not to be afraid to do just that. Nothing is a waste, and you can always learn something from the experience. And sometimes, ripping out a project that just isn’t what you want is incredibly freeing!

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?

Oh, too many! But I’ve got several projects that I’ve left percolating, and I think it’s time to see if I can make some progress on them in 2015.

View all of Katherine’s patterns here. All other photos were taken by John Meadows Photography, with modeling provided by Jennifer Santos Bettencourt. Photos are used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

Interview: Svetlana Volkova

December18

Today’s interview is with Svetlana Volkova.

Svetlana Volkova, modeling Aurys

Svetlana Volkova, modeling Aurys

How did you get started designing?
I started designing in early childhood when my doll desperately needed a new dress :), since then it was part of my life – I designed for myself, friends, home, etc. I always had ideas in my head. But never thought about it as profession till I found Ravelry and published my first design in 2010.

What inspires your designs?
Everything around: nature, art, different cultures, music, but yarn and people the most of all.

Jango mitts

Jango mitts

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
Usually inspiration comes first, then I start seeking for a perfect yarn… And when I think I’ve found it, the yarn gives me even better inspiration.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I love my designs to be simple, fun and wearable. Also there should be something unusual about it – new construction, interesting stitches, etc…

Origami Leaves

Origami Leaves

What is your favourite type of item to design?
Sweaters, I wear them more than other things.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
Do I have to choose one? My latest passion is Malabrigo Twist.

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
Anything, but intarsia.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Padovane, I love everything about it, maybe I published it in a wrong time.

Padovane

Padovane

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
This is hard to choose, especially when I know that I’ll have no chance to knit them. Howlcat, and Ballymeade Boot Toppers would make great presents I think.

Continental or English? Continental.

What’s the best thing about knitting?
Knitting is like a meditation. It helps to relax, reduce stress and to restore balance. And it is such a pleasure to wear or to gift finished projects!

Star Anise

Star Anise

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Enjoy the process!

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
Well, I’ve promised to make my own group on Ravelry. But couldn’t find time. So it remains a challenge for next year. And maybe to master intarsia?

View all of Svetlana’s patterns here. All photos are copyright Svetlana Volkova and used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

Interview: Carol Sunday, Sunday Knits

December17

Today’s interview is with Carol Sunday of Sunday Knits. She lives in rural northern Illinois.

Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love

How did you get started designing?
I was a fashion designer at age 6. That is, it was my very favorite thing to do. I liked to draw and created a cardboard doll, cut her out, and used her as a template for a huge wardrobe of paper outfits … drawn, colored and cut. I was really into it and put a lot of thought into fabric patterns, sleeve styles, collars, pockets and trim for her little coats and dresses.

My mom taught me to knit when I was 7 or 8 and it was love at first stitch, so needles and yarn replaced pencil and crayons, and my Barbie, among others, acquired a wardrobe dominated by knitwear. By the time I was in high school, my own wardrobe, besides a lot of things that I had sewn, included nearly a dozen knit and crocheted designs of mine … a color-block pullover, a cabled cardigan, a fitted henley, an argyle sweater dress (worn with a wide cinch belt and tall lace-up boots), a mini skirt inspired by elaborate Mexican hammock lace.

Knitting has always been my passion … while I was in the restaurant business, in environmental engineering, and then medical school. Whatever job or career I wasn’t particularly well suited for, knitting was always the thing. Most recently, before designing knitwear professionally, I had been self-employed as an artist, so had a studio and a routine and liked being my own boss. But after 18 years, my artwork seemed stale to me, art fairs weren’t as lucrative as they used to be, and severe storms were making it sometimes downright scarey to be out on the street in a tent.

The best thing, though, about doing art fairs was the time I had to sit and knit. When customers would ask me about my artwork, I would do my best to engage in the conversation … and tear myself away from my knitting. But if someone asked me what I was knitting … well now THAT was something I could get excited about! I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out that I was working at the wrong craft.

I kept that day job after starting to sell my knitwear design patterns and, at the same time, my line of Sunday Knits yarns in 2008. The yarn side of the business and the design side are symbiotic. But atypically, I don’t design so that I can sell yarn, I sell yarn so that I can design!

What inspires your designs?
I always have knitting on the brain, so anything I see could influence a pattern idea. We live in the woods and I like to spend time outside, so I see a lot of flora and fauna, which makes nature-inspired motifs a given.

Milkweed

Milkweed

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
Quite a few of my designs – Kelmscott, Adam’s Ribs, Milkweed, Acorns – have been inspired by nothing more than yarn and needles. Rather than beginning with an idea for the garment and then swatching for it, these started with the swatch. I love playing with yarn, engineering my own stitch patterns … what happens if I do this? and what will it look like if I try that? … and so will spend many (some suggest too many) blissful hours developing and tweaking, and retweaking a stitch pattern. My swatch may be several yards long before I’m completely pleased with it, and only then might I consider whether it will be used for the front panel of a sweater, or a yoke, or maybe mittens. I have a basketful of such swatches, still waiting to become … something.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
I am a sweater designer. I love the engineering aspect of garment construction. I’m a fanatic about fit. And then there’s the wearability factor. Maybe it’s because there are so many possible ways (infinite?) that one can design a sweater. It’s never boring!

Santa Fe

Santa Fe

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
That’s easy … I have my own line of yarns, so it would be something from Sunday Knits, and probably Nirvana, my merino-cashmere blend. Yummy.

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
If I just want to knit for relaxation and pleasure, then I would probably stay away from color work or cabling, but would definitely opt for something with some texture to keep myself engaged. Whatever the stitch pattern, though, it would definitely be a sweater.

Clair de Lune

Clair de Lune

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Wow … there are so many (lol). But my absolute biggest dud that I think is a actually a very nicely designed little number is my Flower Wrist Purse. Total flop.

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
Three’s a very small number, and with so many gorgeous designs this year! But if I must narrow it down, I am starting with Tori Gurbisz’s Coastal Hoodie. It’s designed with such nice attention to detail, and I’ve admired it since it came out. For number two, I really enjoy making little stranded mittens in the dead of winter, and do so love Elizabeth Elliott’s charming Firenze mittens. And third, for my head, I simply cannot resist Alex Tinsley’s cute and clever Kotiya. I know you said just three, but in my mind the list is going on, and on, …

Continental or English?
Both. My traditional method of knitting is with long straights – the right needle wedged between my thighs, and the left moving just a bit as my finger pivots yarn above the stationery right. I’m very fast! Although I’ve recently taught myself to pick (much less fast), which I do when working in the round or when stranding – both strands held in the left hand.

Ginkgo & Lotus

Ginkgo & Lotus

What’s the best thing about knitting?
I really appreciate that it’s portable, but the thing I love the most about knitting is that doing it is just so very, very enjoyable! I’m not sure what makes it so pleasurable. But for me, the best thing about knitting is … the knitting!


What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?

Be creative. Which means to take chances with your knitting. Feel free to make mistakes. Do not rip them out! Keep them, relish them even. Perfection is highly overrated.

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
It’s the same one every year … fewer starts, more finishes.

View all of Carol’s patterns here. All photos are copyright Carol Sunday and used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

Interview: Maureen Foulds

December16

Today’s interview is with Canadian designer Maureen Foulds, best known for her sock designs.

Trellis & Coin

Trellis & Coin

How did you get started designing?
I published my first sock pattern in 2010. I had found a luscious skein of HandMaiden sock yarn in purple and wanted a pattern that would really show the yarn off. Nothing I saw on Ravelry felt right, so I came up with my own design Trellis & Coin.

Then in 2012 I started designing more seriously, struck by sudden inspiration. Knitters responded very enthusiastically to my designs so I was encouraged to continue.

What inspires your designs?
Inspiration can come from anywhere. I’ve been inspired by nature, architecture, the pattern on a hotel bedspread, and a pair of gloves knit by my great-grandmother. Or, I start with a skein of yarn and start imagining what pattern would suit it best: something organic (leaves, curves) or structured (cables, angles). When I design for yarn clubs, the club theme is the stepping off point for inspiration.

Blue Train Mystery

Blue Train Mystery

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
It really does vary with each design. For my second Agatha Christie collection, the Poirot series, it was definitely the yarn that came first. I visited the SweetGeorgia studio in Vancouver, BC and came away with over half a dozen skeins of their gorgeous sock yarns. So I decided to do a collection using entirely SweetGeorgia.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I try to design something that I would want to knit. Something which challenges my skills but isn’t too complicated. I try to balance new techniques with simplicity. In my collections I try to ensure there is a balance of ‘easier’ patterns and more challenging ones. I like to think of the collections as skill builders for less experienced sock knitters, while for more experienced knitters they’re a mix of lighter fare and really ‘meaty’ knits.

Nemesis Hat

Nemesis Hat

What is your favourite type of item to design?
Socks. Hands down. There are so many possibilities in that 1 skein of fingering weight yarn. So many colours to play with. A sock is basically the same construction no matter the pattern, but still has infinite possibilities. You can customize the cuff, the heel, the toe; knit it toe up or cuff down – all with the same basic design on the body of the sock.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
Ohhh! That’s a tough question. I don’t really have a favourite brand of yarn. I’ve been having so much fun exploring Indie Dyers over the past year or so and have found so many lovely yarns.

But any yarn I chose would have to have a tight twist, be superwash and a merino/nylon blend. And I very much prefer solids and semi-solids. I find that patterns tend to get lost in variegated yarn.

Flying Buttress socks

Flying Buttress socks

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
Socks for sure, usually a plain sock with ribbing, maybe a recurring simple 2×2 or 1×1 cable thrown in for fun.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Perhaps my Flying Buttress socks. These are fairly simple, with clean lines.

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
Well, I’ve made 3 Howlcat cowls by Alex Tinsley and 2 cowls from Andi Smith’s Synchronicity collection. Three of those cowls are gifts. And I really want to knit the Polonaise Cowl by Cristina Ghirlanda – those cables look so luscious!

Interrupted Swirl Hat

Interrupted Swirl Hat

Continental or English?
English. That’s how I was taught.

What’s the best thing about knitting?
You can either lose yourself in knitting and think of nothing at all. Or you can use that knitting time to think through whatever’s on your mind. It’s so relaxing. And at the end of it all, you have something useful!

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Nothing is ‘too difficult’. All knitting is done 1 stitch at a time. It’s just variations of knits and purls. Everyone is clumsy and gets frustrated when learning a new technique. It just takes patience, practice and determination.

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
I want to make time to knit more of other people’s designs. I think I need that downtime and exposure to different ideas to maintain and refresh my creativity.

View all of Maureen’s patterns here. All photos are copyright Maureen Foulds and used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

Interview: Monika Sirna, What Dreams are Made of

December15

Today’s interview is with Monika Sirna of What Dreams are Made of, a designer of sleek and modern pieces.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon

How did you get started designing?
Designing was a natural progression from knitting for me. I modified most of the patterns I knitted – I was always analyzing the stitches, thinking why ‘this way’ it would be better than ‘that way’. My first design was Green Apple, and it was such a fun design to work on! However, I was shocked at how many different levels a designer has to cover before a pattern is ready to be published. From the first idea, to knitting samples, then making calculations while ensuring every single stitch adds up, not to mention the spelling, the editing, the photography…! But after working on the pattern for 3 months and knitting 6 Green Apples myself, and seeing how everything came together, I couldn’t be happier!

Green Apple

Green Apple

What inspires your designs?
I find my inspiration almost everywhere! It can be a new skein of yarn, a color, a little dress in a magazine, a little girl crossing the street, a tiny piece of fabric, a button, a kids’ coloring book, a piece of ribbon, a painting, a photo (not knitting related), a new design I am currently working on …. However, most of the time, new ideas pop in my head when there is peace and quiet around me, no tv, no radio, no kids running around. Letting the thoughts flow brings my inspiration new life.

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
Most of the time – the yarn! Although there are a few designs, which made me search the internet for hours (while looking for the perfect yarn)!

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I love natural fibers, beautiful bright colors, and I am always searching for the perfect combination.

I love perfection in every detail and I share those details, tip and techniques in my patterns, so a knitters may achieve the same effect seen on my samples. On the other hand, I love to offer options and tips for customizations. This is what makes knitting live, what makes every piece unique, and it gives you the gentle push to knit a piece you would like to wear.

Tutu

Tutu

What is your favourite type of item to design?
Skirts! I love how happy they make a little girl feel, and I love how feminine and beautiful they make a women look.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
This is one of the hardest question, almost like choosing your favorite child. Hmm, I would go with the buttery softness of Cashmere Delight by Colour Adventures!

Alyssum Way

Alyssum Way

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
My comfort knitting is miles and miles of stockinette – hands at work and mind free to play with new ideas!

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Saku Hana. I was over the moon when I came up with the idea, feeling like I discovered the world! These are the happiest mitts I have knitted so far, and I was pleasantly surprised with the photos as well. The mitts feature a very elegant cable panel at the top and an intriguing ribbing at the palm side. The combination of those two will give you the perfect fit and will keep the mitt in shape for years to come. The generous length will make sure your hands stay warm, your knuckles covered without the extra bulk in your palm you will get with most of the mitts.

Saku Hana

Saku Hana

Continental or English?
Continental.

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
Ooooh, the top three GAL designs I want to knit are Snowstorm Hat by Anna Rauf, Lady Schenley by Jenn Emerson, and Granny’s Favourite by Georgie Hallam.

What’s the best thing about knitting?
The satisfaction it gives you when you finish a project, the great feeling that you created something. The feeling that you didn’t waste your time even if you watched TV, were sitting in a traffic white taking a buss to work, or in a waiting room.

Tiger Lily Shawl

Tiger Lily Shawl

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Ohhh, advice! That can be dangerous! Well, I think it’s important to stretch your knitting knowledge to new horizons, like for example by trying things, as new techniques. It’s sometimes thrilling to see what you can do with something new! Sometimes new techniques make you understand old ones even better! And sometimes they solve a longlasting hassle/problem.

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
I must finish the sweater designs I am working on, and write the patterns for the ones I already finished samples for. Also, I want to work on a few designs with neutral colors.

View all of Monika’s patterns here. Photo of Tiger Lily Shawl is copyright KnittyO. All other photos are copyright Monika Sirna and all photos are used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

Herzblut Scarf

December14

Herzblut Scarf glamour shot

I’m thrilled to finally release Herzblut Scarf. This scarf has been ready for a while but I was saving it to release during the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long 2014. This scarf is perfect for chasing away winter blues. Select a brilliant jewel tone like the deep red shown in the sample or something that will make you smile on a grey day. The scarf is designed to take advantage of the generous yardage of Wollmeise ‘Pure 100% Merino Superwash.’

Interview: Sarah Jane

December11

Today’s Gift-A-Long interview is with crochet designer Sarah Jane from Brisbane, Australia.

Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane

How did you get started designing?
Once when I was browsing around on the internet I came across an ad on the website of an Australian yarn company looking for designers/sample crocheters or knitters. I sent them an email, they took a chance on someone who had never designed a thing in her life and I never looked back…about 6 months after that I stumbled across Ravelry and things were never the same again!

What inspires your designs?
Just about anything can inspire a design, sometimes it’s the yarn, sometimes a stitch pattern and sometimes I am after a certain ‘look’. For the most part I seem to have more ideas than I could possibly ever create, I have a notebook full of (very bad) design drawings and notes. My mind is constantly thinking about different designs and how to construct them in crochet.

Rough Cut Diamonds

Rough Cut Diamonds

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
It varies, sometimes I am inspired by the yarn and sometimes I have an idea that I need to search out the perfect yarn for. There are times when I need to design to a criteria that includes a certain yarn as well.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I’m not sure really, I love texture and I like things that are just a little different, I would say that my main criteria is to try and design things that are outside of the ‘norm’ for crochet.

Hardware Heaven - Statement Neck piece

Hardware Heaven – Statement Neck piece

What is your favourite type of item to design?
I would have said that I don’t have a favourite until I looked at my page…it seems that I have a particular penchant for designing hats and cuffs. I do love designing accessories, they are a type of instant gratification and they suit my lifestyle, I am hoping to branch out into more garments though.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit/crochet with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
Goodness, the pain of having only one yarn to design with..how to choose! I think I would have to go with Dream in Color’s Jilly…the range of colours is gorgeous and fingering weight yarn is my favourite to use.

Soft as Butter

Soft as Butter

What’s your “comfort crochet?”
Ummm, I don’t really have any, it’s usually just whatever I am working on at the time along with a good movie.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
My Asperous Hat and Cowl is a design that I really love but it never really went anywhere.

Asperous Hat and Cowl

Asperous Hat and Cowl

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to knit/crochet?
I’m not sure how to pick only 3 but I love Shakespeare in Love by Carol Sunday, Sheepy Draughts…and a Wolf Too by Aurelie Colas and Floral Bubbles by Elena (Lena) Fedatova.

What’s the best thing about crocheting?
The creativity available with only a hook and some yarn…you can make almost anything and it doesn’t make much mess (if you don’t count the stash!)

Frostberry Hat

Frostberry Hat

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other crafters?
Don’t let any technique or stitch scare you. Anything is possible if you take it a stitch at a time.

Any crocheting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
Not yet but I’m sure I’ll have some by the end of the year. I am hoping next year to become more serious with my designing as my youngest child starts school and I should have more time.

View all of Sarah Jane’s patterns here. All photos are copyright Sarah Jane and used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

The number of crochet designers participating in Gift-A-Long this year has grown. For a listing of all crochet designers, please click here.

Interview: Jennifer Dassau, The Knitting Vortex

December10

Today’s Gift-A-Long interview is with Jennifer Dassau of The Knitting Vortex. Jennifer is known for her use of interesting construction techniques and simple, attractive garments.

Jennifer Dassau, modeling Shadow Dial tee

Jennifer Dassau, modeling Shadow Dial tee

How did you get started designing?
I’m not much of a recipe-follower, so not long after I began knitting, I started deviating from patterns; I especially like making things seamless, and if it’s a garment, working from the top down. Designing my own pieces was a natural extension, because I like to use interesting techniques, and atypical construction.

What inspires your designs?
I like to make things I’d want to wear myself, especially sweaters and small accessories. And when it comes to shawls, I’m definitely inspired by unusual shapes and methods.

Vary, an asymmetric shawl with slipstitch color work and garter stitch.

Vary, an asymmetric shawl with slipstitch color work and garter stitch.

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
They’re symbiotic! Typically, the yarn will be calling out to become a certain sort of item, or the item will be perfect for a special yarn.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
Seamless shapes, or shaping if it’s a sweater! I can seam perfectly well, but I really like the organic nature of a piece that’s made as a whole.

Elizabel, which uses seamless, simultaneous set-in sleeve construction.

Elizabel, which uses seamless, simultaneous set-in sleeve construction.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
I love topdown sweaters, and have been on a two-color sock yarn shawl binge as well. Lately I’m getting an urge for wintry accessories, like hats and infinity cowls, so some of those are in the works.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
You’re killing me! I’ll just narrow it down to a merino/cashmere/nylon blend, that’s the best I can do. String Theory Caper Sock is a favorite.

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
Garter stitch, in any weight or item.

Arachnophilia crescent shawl

Arachnophilia crescent shawl

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
I have a soft spot for the Arachnophilia shawl . . . crescent, a pretty beaded edging, silky/merino blend yarn . . . I wear mine all the time, but I’m sadly alone in my fandom.

Continental or English?
English; when I first learned to knit, I tried Continental but it didn’t click. My goal now is to be able to knit with both hands, but I never have time to practice, so I’m not making much progress.

What’s the best thing about knitting?
The FO! I’m a product knitter all the way; I love being able to make things.

Fish Moderne Scarf, a cabley winter scarf in EcoWool.

Fish Moderne Scarf, a cabley winter scarf in EcoWool.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Just go for it – there’s no knitting police!

View all of Jennifer’s patterns here. All photos are copyright Jennifer Dassau and used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

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