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Interview: Kate Bostwick, Cowtown Knits


Today’s Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2014 interview is with Kate Bostwick of Cowtown Knits, a fellow Canadian designer.

Kate Bostwick, Cowtown Knits

Kate Bostwick, Cowtown Knits

How did you get started designing?
I think my story is similar to many others’, I wanted to knit something specific but couldn’t find a pattern for it. In my case, I wanted to knit a very simple hoodie for my toddler, something she could wear every day. I had a vision in my head of what I wanted it to be and realized I had the ability to do it myself. Then I did a LOT of reading about how to go about pattern writing and grading the right way. That first idea became the Everyday Hoodie pattern and I haven’t been able to stop designing since.

Everyday Hoodie

Everyday Hoodie

What inspires your designs?
A lot of my inspiration comes from fashion. I’ll see something in fabric and wonder how I could translate that shape or print into knitting. For example, I was inspired by all the paisley fabrics from last fall to design something with a Paisley colourwork design – which became my They’re Paisley! mittens. And right now I’m tossing some ideas around in my head on how to do some interesting construction techniques to mimic some draping I’ve seen on shirts recently.

They're Paisley!

They’re Paisley!

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
Inspiration is always first for me. I am very much a product knitter/designer in that I have a vision of what I want to wear, then think about the qualities that piece must have. Then I search out the yarn that will give me those qualities.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
First and foremost, I like clean lines. You’ll notice that a few of my patterns have turned hems (Everyday Hoodie, Hearts and Butterflies, Helen Pencil Skirt). I chose that finishing technique because I like the look of the fabric to continue all the way to the edge without being interrupted by a border.

Helen Pencil Skirt

Helen Pencil Skirt

I also really love colour. Lots of colour. It’s pretty rare for me to design something in just one colour, I’ve always got to find some way of getting another one in there somewhere. My Beverly Beach Shirt was a dream come true for me – the opportunity to use the whole rainbow in one piece!

Beverly Beach Shirt

Beverly Beach Shirt

What is your favourite type of item to design?
Sweaters! Sweaters, sweaters, sweaters. I love to design sweaters. Sometimes it’s fun to fire off an accessory here and there, but I’m finding my focus more and more on pieces I want to wear every day. There are just so many possibilities for construction techniques, textures, shapes and colours.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
I knit a pair of baby booties with Road to China Light from The Fibre Company and it was just the most delicious yarn ever. How could you go wrong: Alpaca – check, Silk – check, Camel – check, Cashmere – check! I have some left over but I don’t want to commit it to anything. But if I had an unlimited supply, I would use it forever.

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
A big squishy sweater.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
That’s a tough one. I guess I’d have to say the Atticus Pullover. I think that people like the look of it but are afraid or unwilling to do the seaming. If I ever have time in the future I would like to give it an overhaul to make it top-down seamless.

Atticus Pullover

Atticus Pullover

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
1. I have already cast-on the Irena Wrap by Deirdre Lejeune.
2. I’m also hoping to make a Molly Hooper by Kimberly Golynskiy with some scraps I have laying around.
3. I’d also love to make myself a pair of Tess slippers by Ann Kingstone.

Continental or English?
Both. English most of the time but when I’m doing Fair-Isle I work with one strand in each hand.

What’s the best thing about knitting?
A chance to sit and relax while still feeling like you’re doing something, not just wasting time.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Learn how to fix your mistakes. Once you’ve learned to read your knitting and fix your mistakes, it’s all gravy from there. And those mistakes in your work will bother you if you leave them there!

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
Slow down and spend more time with my family. It’s hard, because I know it’s best for business to regularly be putting out new designs. But this is supposed to be something that’s fulfilling and enjoyable. If I put too much pressure on myself then it becomes stressful, which defeats the purpose. So, even if it’s not the best business decision, I’m going to try and put out fewer patterns next year and enjoy the process more.

View all of Kate’s patterns here. All photos, except for the Everyday Hoodie, are copyright Kate Bostwick, Cowtown Knits. Photo credit for Everyday Hoodie – Ryan Barr. 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 in GAL group on Ravelry!

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