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: Yvonne of Thread Forward


This morning’s interview is with Canadian designer Yvonne of Thread Forward.

Yvonne modeling Liassic

Yvonne modeling Liassic

Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit?
I was surrounded by fiber for almost as long as I can remember – my mother was a knitter, weaver, spinner and sewer. I can remember the excitement of the day that her spinning wheel arrived in the mail and helping her braid a cord for my new mittens. I was thrilled to show them at school the next day. My mother taught me to knit at a young age and I knit off and on until I was in university. Then I took it up as a form of relaxation and have never looked back!

How did you get started designing?
My first design was made for our local knitting guild’s 15th anniversary. I chose a stitch pattern with a fifteen stitch repeat and made a cowl as part of our summer challenge for the guild. A few knitter friends within the guild encouraged me to publish the pattern on Ravelry. Shortly after that, a non- knitter friend asked me to make a couple of cowls for her kids for skiing and snowboarding that winter so I designed the Fledgling Owl Cowl for her daughter and the Kids Creeper Cowl for her son. I soon published those patterns and I have been was hooked! Early in 2015, I started a blog about knitting from an early Victorian era knitting book by Miss Lambert (1843, My Knitting Book, First Series) which I affectionately called my MKB Project. At the same time decided to start publishing more patterns with the help of a technical editor. Both ventures have been great fun!

What inspires your designs?
I like simplicity, practicality and colour. I am often inspired by a need for a hat for myself or mittens for my children or to deal with some challenging yarn in my stash. As I have been working through the early Victorian era knitting book, I have found that the patterns are also simple, practical and use colour in an interesting way. I am inspired by the stitch patterns in the book and am working towards (a) publishing photographs and patterns in modern day knitting language on my blog and (b) bringing versions of the stitch patterns forward to the present in a modern context with a vintage flare.

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
For the most part, I would say I am first inspired and then choose the yarn to fit. However, I have to say that sometimes it is the yarn that comes first. For example, I had a small skein of very bright fingering weight yarn that I really loved when I bought it but found I couldn’t find the right pattern for it. I found that it went really nicely with another heavier weight yarn and created the pattern for The Bus Stops Here hat.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
My goal is to make my designs simple but include something in them that people may want to try on a smaller scale such as a provisional cast on, lace or combining a crochet edging on a knitted project. As I continue to design, I hope to be able to bring old and forgotten knitting stitch patterns back to life in a modern context. Living in Canada where it can be very cold in the winter, I also want my designs to be practical and provide warmth!

What is your favourite type of item to design?
I don’t have a favourite item – I think my favourite item is whatever it is that I’m working on at the time. It grabs my attention, enthusiasm and challenges me. Right now, I am working on a design for fingerless mittens and so far I am greatly enjoying the challenge and the process!

Tell me about “Timan Ridge Cowl”, what is the story behind this design?
I was inspired to design the Timan Ridge Cowl after knitting the first pattern from Miss Lambert’s 1843 knitting manual for Siberian Cuffs. When I researched Siberian Cuffs in other knitting books and online, I learned that there are several early Victorian knitting patterns that used shades of grey and/or brown to knit garments that mimicked various types of fur, including sable and chinchilla, worn by the wealthy at the time. The Victorians were fascinated with natural history and I chose to name the cowl after Timan Ridge, geological feature found in Siberia, the home of the Siberian sable.

Do you have an aspirational knit – a complicated/challenging design that you want to knit “some day” when you feel ready?
I think my aspirational design would be to design a lace shawl. I find them to be so beautiful and delicate and hope that I will be able to incorporate some Victorian lace patterns into a unique object with historical significance in the future.

What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?
My next two designs will be released before the end of 2015 and will include a pair of Victorian inspired fingerless mittens (Penny Post) and a buttoned version of my previously published Guild Anniversary Cowl.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
If I could only choose one yarn to work with from now on, I would choose some kind of silk/alpaca blend to knit with. My son is someone who does not enjoy the texture of most yarns (sadly) but he loves silk/alpaca blend. But, if I was on a desert island, I would want a sturdy sock yarn that would withstand being knit, ripped out, and knit again while I wait for rescue!

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
My most under-appreciated design is A Tunic For Violet. I really do love this pretty baby tunic with vintage appeal. I combined a modified version of a 173 year old Victorian lace stitch pattern with the simple shaping of a 1930s era singlet. There is a crochet shell stitch along the hem and forming the caps of the sleeves which also adds to the vintage feel. I feel that the pattern is a nice small project to try out a simple lace pattern, venture into the world of knitting garments and combining knitting and crochet without a huge financial or time commitment! And, at the end you have an adorable little tunic for a person who is new to this world!

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Don’t be afraid to try something new and don’t overthink your knitting!

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
Not yet, I really should make some!!!

If you could have dinner with one knitting designer (living or dead) who would it be and why?
Elizabeth Zimmerman. Do I need to say why? I would love to talk with her about her life, her knitting and what it was really like for her when she started ‘thinking outside the pattern.’

View all of Yvonne’s patterns here. All photos copyright Thread Forward. All images used by permission.

You can find Yvonne on the following social media sites:

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!

posted under interview, Knitting
One Comment to

“Interview: Yvonne of Thread Forward”

  1. On December 19th, 2015 at 11:03 am MKB Project 14: A Sontag (Or Cephaline) Update | Thread Forward Says:

    […] other news, I am very excited to share with you this interview that I did with Janelle of the Eclectic Closet blog as part of the Indie Designer Gift-Along 2015. […]

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