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Interview: Jennie Santopietro


Today’s interview is with Jennie Santopietro of A Lovely Homemade Life, a designer from Texas.

Jennie Santopietro

Jennie in Lady Wren

Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit?
I started off crocheting in college. A sweet friend taught a whole bunch of us in the dorms how and let’s just say, there were a lot of scarves around campus that year. I didn’t switch over to knitting until many years later when I joined a local yarn club that met once a week at a coffee shop. I had just started dabbling with knitting, learning from YouTube videos and taking on projects that were just a little beyond my skill level. Soon after, a couple of the women decided to open a local yarn shop–The Fiber Universe in Peoria, IL–and I wanted to help in any way I could. They needed some samples knit for opening day, so I picked up patterns and yarn from them and got busy knitting. Once I realized how versatile knitting was and the endless variety of patterns and techniques, I was hooked.

How did you get started designing?
Having kids, and being able to stay home with them, was a big part of becoming a designer. I love making special things for them and I started imagining different pieces I wanted to create. I could never find patterns for exactly what I had envisioned, so I started making up designs myself. Baby Wren was my first published design, and after I released it, the ideas just kept flowing. I now work with a tech editor and have brought all of my early designs in line with my style sheet, so I’m excited about what the future holds as I continue to grow my portfolio.

What inspires your designs?
Featuring a certain technique or stitch pattern is usually the impetus for a design. Once I’ve decided how best to showcase what is special about a particular knit, the rest of the details seem to fall into place.

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
Definitely the inspiration. I have two sketchbooks full of designs that I hope to get around to writing up in the future. When an idea hits, I try to draw it out and make notes about it right away. I’ve tried buying beautiful yarn first, but I tend to get stuck working from yarn to design and all the while my stash keeps growing!

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I like to incorporate texture into my designs. There are so many lovely stitch patterns and variations to work with, and I like combining them in different ways. I also love to provide multiple options within the same pattern for lots of customization possibilities.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
I really enjoy designing sweaters of all varieties! My sketch book is filled with mostly sweater designs, in fact! They’re so much more time consuming to sample knit and to grade, so I try to intersperse sweater designing with smaller accessories to avoid getting burnt out.

Tell me about “Lady Wren”, what is the story behind this design?
Lady Wren is by far my most requested design. When I released my first pattern, Baby Wren, I got tons of messages asking if there would be an adult version in the future. Honestly, I hadn’t even considered it, but it really was a great idea. I live in Texas, so as much as I love wool sweaters, I don’t get to wear them very often. A short sleeved cotton blend sweater seemed like a very functional piece. I wanted to be sure the pattern was accessible for beginning knitters too, because I know making the jump to adult sized garments can be intimidating, so I tried to balance simplicity with just enough detail to be an interesting and beautiful project to knit and wear.

Do you have an aspirational knit – a complicated/challenging design that you want to knit “some day” when you feel ready?
I have plans to design a series of sweaters for men, women and children that incorporate colorwork using a cool technique at the shoulder to preserve the continuity of the colorwork pattern. I have all the yarn, and the sketches–it’s my big project for 2016.

What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?
I have a hat design, called Featheround, off to my tech editor now that will be out in December. It’s a hat with a feather motif brim band that can be knit as either a beanie or a tam, depending on what shape you like. I’m also working on a MKAL called Bowties Are Cool because I’m a huge Dr. Who fan. The release of Clue 1 will coincide with the season finale in January 2016! It’s my first MKAL so I’m really excited!

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
Just one? That’s tough…can I say anything MadelineTosh? Okay, Tosh Merino Light. The colors simply glow. Each colorway has so much depth and tonality to it. And all of their bases are heavenly. I’m really spoiled to live only an hour away from their flagship store…it’s my favorite yarn shop destination!

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Scarlet Ibis. It’s my first shawl design and it also includes instructions for an asymmetrical shawlette. It’s charted and written, so it’s easily accessible no matter your instruction style preference. It’s knit sideways from the center out to the tips and I just love the garter wedge in the center that gives it a wing-like shape when blocked. It was such a joy to knit and I love the elegance of how it drapes around the shoulders and the feather motif. I just want everyone else to love it too!

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Don’t be afraid to frog! I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted working on projects that I knew weren’t quite right or that I wasn’t in love with. Life is too short to waste time on knits you won’t wear!

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
I’d like to publish 10-15 new designs next year. I would also love to host more knit alongs in my Ravelry group (A Lovely Homemade Life) and build up a fun community of knitter friends! I love connecting with people on Ravelry!

If you could have dinner with one knitting designer (living or dead) who would it be and why?
Asja Janeczek. I am in love with everything she releases. We’re “friends” on Ravelry, but I’m thinking we’d be BFFs in real life 🙂 The language barrier might be an issue (I have my BA in French, but I don’t think it would help much)…but I’m sure our mutual love of knitting and designing would win out.

View all of Jennie’s patterns here. All photos copyright Jennie Santopietro except for the first photo which is copyright Michael Santopietro. All images used by permission.

You can find Jennie 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: Jennie Santopietro”

  1. On November 23rd, 2015 at 5:37 pm Jennie Says:

    Thank you so much Janelle! It was fabulous to “chat” with you!

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