How did you get started designing?
When I was a kid, my mom was a fashion design teacher. We were living in a rather small apartment where she had to sleep in the living room but she had a sewing and knitting room. In this lovely environment, where I had access to every tool and knowledge I needed, I started sewing and crocheting at 6, designing clothes and accessories when I was a teen, but I really started knitting my whole wardrobe when I quit smoking in 2009 and got to keep my hands busy. In 2012, I realized my dream job would be to design knitting patterns and that’s when I really started being serious about that.
What inspires your designs?
I take my inspiration everywhere! I love nature and a lot of my designs have flowers, leaves or animal patterns. I also like designing youthful and everyday wearable pieces so I get inspired by people I see in the streets. In my nordic city, I enjoy taking the subway and carefully study interesting scarves and hats people are wearing.
Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
I often imagine a pattern first and then go stashbusting. If I can’t find what I need in my stash I try to find the perfect yarn at my LYS and I usually come back with more yarn and even more ideas…
What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
Simplicity is my motto. I like when my patterns are easy to understand and to wear. I try to use most techniques at a beginner level so knitters can enjoy working through the pattern in a stress-free way. My biggest hope is that people will really wear their creations based on my patterns so I tend to create sober yet actual designs.
What is your favourite type of item to design?
I’m very proud when I get to design a cardigan. It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it. I feel like I accomplish something big when the pattern is released. I also love wearing cardigans every single day so they never end up in the corner of a closet.
Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
It depends if it’s a northern or southern island! For a southern island, I would go with Handmaiden Mini Maiden which is a light blend of wool and silk. For a northern island, I’d choose SWTC Llama Lluxury which is 100% Baby Llama, the softest yarn on earth, never pilling and holding its shape well even after years of frequent wearing.
What’s your “comfort knitting?”
I knit most of my scarves and shawls in my PJs while watching movies so I guess it makes it comfort knitting! Shawls and scarves are easy, fun to knit and there are endless possible variations.
Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Without hesitation, the Doncaster Stole. It’s one of my favorite design but it’s also my less favorited neckwear on Ravelry. I like its combination of lace patterns – eyelets, flower and leaves. The construction is different from most scarves because it starts with a provisional cast-on and the lace sections are worked from the middle to both ends. Because of that, the stole is symmetrical. It’s not complicated and I really like the result, I wear it very often.
Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
1. I love love love the Tiptoe Slippers by Hanna Tjukanov
2. The Lucent hat by Hunter Hammersen has lovely details that gives it a very unconventional look
3. My teeth are hurting because this baby coat is too sweet! Red Riding Coat by Lisa Chemery
Continental or English?
I learned the English way at first but switched to Continental because it seems to be more ergonomic. I convinced my mother to switch to Continental even if she had been knitting the English way for over 40 years! We would not switch back!
What’s the best thing about knitting?
I’m still fascinated by the fact that a simple strand can take an infinity of shapes. Isn’t it wonderful? It’s like magic to me, one day it’s a skein, the next day it’s a hat! This is very concrete, in opposition to everything that is virtual in the world we live in.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Never let a cat near a basket full of balls of yarn…!
Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
I have a yearly subscription to the famous resolution “buy less yarn and to use more from the stash”. I’m not really good at it. This year, I have also resolved to translate all my patterns from English to French. I’m quite ashamed that not all my patterns are available in my first language.
View all of Gabrielle’s patterns here. Photo credit for Doncaster Stole and Syvania Cardigan: Robert Tétreault. All remaining photos: Gabrielle Vézina. All images used by permission.
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