Monthly Archive for: ‘December, 2014’

Interview with Designer Gillian Grimm of Birch Hollow Cottage!


I have another fun interview with a fellow Indie Design Gift-A-Long designer today! Gillian has some adorable patterns in her Ravelry shop, and I’ve already seen several pop up in the KAL/CAL threads in the Gift-A-Long Ravelry group. I asked her a few questions about her design background and inspirations.


Triona Murphy: What inspired you to start designing?
Gillian Grimm: I’ve always been a tinkerer when it comes to patterns, in both sewing and knitting. I spent several years making adjustments to existing patterns to better suit my needs and that led to designing things from scratch. Once I started down that road there was no going back :)

TM: Your mitten patterns for kids are adorable! I especially like the Gnome Mittens and Little Hedgehog Mittens. What inspired you to start making them? Which one is your favorite?

piclab_copy_5_medium2 hedgehog_1_medium2

GG: Well thank you! My animal mittens were inspired both by the creatures that lived in the woods around us and also characters from children’s books. I was especially inspired by Jan Brett’s The Mitten and some of her other picture books for my first round of animal mittens and I have some new picture book inspired mittens in the works that I hope to release during the GAL! I also draw inspiration from my children and their friends. I’m always looking for ways to create items that they will wear and love and have fun with!

TM: The name Birch Hollow is very evocative. Do you really live near birch trees, or are they just favorites of yours?
GG: Birch Hollow Cottage is, indeed, a real place. Until this spring we lived high up in the mountains in Vermont in a house surrounded by birch and maple trees, plenty of wild animals and two creeks. It was the perfect place to curl up in front of the wood stove with piles of wool and knit and dream away. We’re now living in an old house in Portland, Oregon, which we also love, although I’m not sure anyplace will every compare to our time in the Birch Hollow. :)

TM: Are you planning to participate in the Gift-A-Long as a crafter as well as a designer? If so, what do you plan to make?
GG: Definitely! We try to make Christmas each year as much about handmade and homemade gifts as we can. I’ll be picking out some hat and scarf patterns to make as gifts but I’m also on the hunt for a great sweater pattern that I can make for myself in the new year.

TM: What are your design goals for the next year?
GG: I’ll be releasing most of my animal mittens in adult sizes as well as introducing some more animals into the group. I’ve also got some fun hat projects in the works, plus I’d like to branch out more in the shawl area. I’ve got lots of sketches and ideas and I can’t wait to get knitting.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Gillian as much as I did! As for my own GAL knitting, I finished a present for my son’s first Christmas. Stay tuned for that soon!

Interview with Designer Tabi Ferguson!


As part of the Gift-A-Long 2014 festivities (check out the Ravelry group if you haven’t already!), I got the chance to interview designer/spinner/yarnie Tabi Ferguson. See below to find out more about her designs and her yarns!

Triona Murphy: What inspired you to start designing?
Tabi Ferguson: With my first design, Link and Link Cowl. I wanted  a lace motif that included circles but there wasn’t anything in the stitch dictionaries that worked, so I decided to design my own. Now I try to create new motifs in every design I do based on a sketch. I also wanted to design based on the yarns I carry. Each yarn has different characteristics: elasticity (or not), bloom (or not), loft (or not), relative durability, etc. Some designs work better with some yarns.
TM: Besides being a designer, you’re also a spinner and an indie dyer. How do the three activities compare? Do you find one more difficult than the others?
TF: They all have their fun aspects and their challenges.  I’d say designing is the most challenging but it keeps the mind sharp. Sometimes it’s not the motif that’s the most challenging. I recently designed a sock pattern with a new cable/circle/texture motif that only took a day or so to get charted. The challenge was figuring out how to work it into a sock shape. Let’s just say I have even more respect for sweater designers now!
Spinning is meditation. If I go too long without spinning, I get a little cranky :-) I went almost immediately to spinning luxury fibres, so for the last year  I’ve been concentrating on spinning fleeces. Spinning silk is such perfection, that It’s been a fun change imagining the personalities of each individual sheep based on the characteristics of their locks and spinning to that.


Dyeing is relatively instant gratification. Though it takes longer to dye silk because of the extra time needed for soaking, when I’m standing over the dyepots I imagine all the cool things people will knit and spin with the outcome…. which is dry the next day! The challenge is you don’t always have full controll when you’re dyeing so sometimes you have to let go of the colour idea you had in mind and just let things flow. Colour is highly subjective and someone will love it. I also really enjoy seeing the colour combinations customers choose, it gives one fresh eyes!


TM: From your design catalogue, it looks like you gravitate toward fingering and laceweight yarns. Do you have any plans to work in other weights in the future, or have you found your sweet spot?
TF: I carry mostly lace and fingering yarns because luxury fibres are very fine and, unless they’re multiple plies, they work best in those weights. But….
It’s funny that you ask that! This fall I brought out a new 50/50 Silk/Yak 4ply and 100% Yak 3ply series in…..Sport/DK! specifically because I wanted to design something luxury for guys. Ok, my guy :-) I also wanted to see if the natural brown yak took the dye with the same intensity as the natural buffalo. The results are exactly what I wanted. Anyway, I threw together a double-sided Fair Isle scarf design from the natural yak and a handspun similar to the Silk/Yak but A) I’ve now worn it more than ‘the guy’ has (oops) and B) I’ve had a few requests for the pattern, so I’d better get knitting one for myself so I can figure out what I did! I did manage to get a neckwarmer version of my Ceylon Cowldone up in one skein of Silk/Yak for the Woodstock Fleece Festival.


TM: Are you planning to participate in the Gift-A-Long as a crafter as well as a designer? If so, what do you plan to make?
TF: I’m a little late starting my Holiday knitting, but a pair of fingerless gloves has been requested by mom and the guy really needs a toque, so I’ll be checking out the GAL for those designs!


TM: What are your design goals for the next year?
TF: I have a new side-to-side and triangular shawl design based on the design I did for the PLY Magazine Silk issue but using my new Multi-Ply Silk. I think another Fair Isle design similar to the Clouds of Luxury, mixing and matching different luxury yarns. The Ceylon Series or the Link series may get another addition. I enjoy exploring different interpretations and trying new shapes.
Thanks for being on the blog today, Tabi! If you want to check out her designs, they’re available on Ravelry here. There’s still plenty of time to knit up one of her designs as a gift or for yourself and be entered to win fabulous prizes in the Gift-A-Long!