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: Cynthia Levy


This morning’s interview is with Canadian designer Cynthia Levy of Redtigerdesigns. Cynthia is from the North West Territories, a part of Canada I’m eager to visit.

Cynthia Levy

Cynthia Levy

Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit?
My paternal grandmother taught me the basics of knitting, crochet and embroidery when I was very young. I promptly found a fair isle yoke pullover in one of her pattern books and announced that I would make it to match one of my figure skating dresses. Fortunately, my mother was quite accustomed to my habit of skipping any learning curve and diving straight into a complicated project, so she willingly supplied the yarn and left me to it.

How did you get started designing?
I grew up wearing hand-knit socks produced in great quantity by my grandmother, and after she passed away, realized that I would just have to make my own. To avoid the monotony of knitting plain socks, I started designing fancier patterns that gave me more enjoyment in the sock production process. I later discovered that, in keeping with her nurturing and hoarding character, my grandmother had left behind a huge stash of completed socks for everyone!

What inspires your designs?
My inspiration comes from a variety of sources. Stitch dictionaries and yarn content often provide my starting point. The landscape and scenery around Yellowknife also provide inspiration. Tundra Trails Socks were designed during an autumn camping trip on the tundra north of Yellowknife.

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
I’d have to say that the yarn usually comes first. I often receive yarn support from indie dyers or yarn clubs and am tasked with finding the inspiration to design a pattern specifically for the supplied yarn. Given that there are no yarn shops within visiting distance of my community, my stash generally dictates my design options.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
Symmetry and continuity are important to me. I try to ensure that each element of a design flows smoothly into and out of the next element. In my cabled sock and fingerless glove patterns, the cables grow out of the ribbing and fade away into ribbing or stockinette.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
Socks and fingerless mitts are my favorites. Since they usually require just one skein of yarn, it’s easy to find the perfect yarn for any deign in my stash. Living so far from yarn shops forces me to work with the materials that I have on hand unless I can find the patience to order yarn and wait for delivery.

Tell me about designing socks, why do you find these compelling/interesting to design?
Socks are fun to design because they provide a small canvas on which to feature interesting stitches and patterns. Cables, lace and colorwork are all suitable for socks, so the design possibilities are endless.

Do you have an aspirational knit – a complicated/challenging design that you want to knit “some day” when you feel ready?
I’m always ready for a challenging or complicated project but there just aren’t enough hours in the day! One of my hibernating projects is Viticetum Coat. It’s a very complex allover colorwork pattern that is absolutely gorgeous, but unless you’re tall and thin, it needs some daunting alterations.

What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?
My next release will be Midas Touch Scarf: a pretty little project suitable for a single skein of luxurious laceweight yarn. Look for it as a new release during the Indie Gift-a-Long on Ravelry (ed. note – the pattern is now available)). I also have a few sock and fingerless mitt patterns in various stages of completion and slated for release through indie dyers, sock clubs and self-publishing.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
It would depend on the location of the desert island! If it’s in the north where I live, I’d need a warm yarn to survive, so I’d choose qiviuk. If it’s a tropical island, I’d opt for a cotton or linen blend.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Stoloniferous Fingerless Mitts seem under-appreciated for a new release. It’s a quick project and perfect for gift knitting, and they’re both simple and cute, so I’m not sure why they seem to be lacking in love.

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

Trust the designer! Much time and effort goes into creating a design and writing a pattern. While an instruction may seem counter to a knitter’s experience, the designer likely has a valid reason for it, so give it a fair chance.

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
My goal for the upcoming year is to dedicate more effort to my website and blog. I have ideas but struggle to find the time to execute them. I’m going to experiment with scheduled posts, starting with “ToolBox Tuesday”, which will feature my favorite knitting and designing gadgets and trinkets.

If you could have dinner with one knitting designer (living or dead) who would it be and why?
I’d love to sit down to dinner with my online friend Jennifer Wood of Wood House Knits. She designs the most amazing cable and lace sweaters with incredible attention to detail and fit. It would be fun to meet her in person and chat about knitting.

View all of Cynthia’s patterns here. All photos copyright Cynthia Levy. All images used by permission.

You can find Cynthia 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!

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My Knitting Patterns

Audrey II

Angular Path Scarf

Cartouche Stole

Fossetta Cowl

Fossetta Hat

Sargaço Shawl

Whitman Hat

Every Which Way Cowl

Every Which Way Hat

Every Which Way Fingerless Mitts

Gothic Forest Scarf

Valencia Scarf

Branching Path Cowl

Flower Bell Stole

Whitman Cowl

New Tech Cowl

Vieux Carré Stole

Stacks Socks

Anna Perenna Shawlette

Taming of the Fox

Don't Ask Y

Cantilevering Leaves

Amplification Stole

Combs Cowl

Mindfulness Cowl

Tipsy Scarf

Gridwork Scarf
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