We’re entering the last week of the Indie Design Gift-A-Long over on Ravelry (check it out here if you want to join in the fun!). One of the best things about the GAL for me is discovering new-to-me designers.
Tanja Luescher designs gorgeous lace shawls and accessories. She kindly answered a few questions for me, so without further ado, here’s the interview!
Triona Murphy (TM): What inspired you to start designing?
Tanja Luescher (TL): I modified patterns or used recipes to create my own very soon. I’m very small, so I had to make changes to get something that fits me. After a course on shawl design by Renee Leverington I felt confident enough to publish my own patterns.
TM: You have such gorgeous intricate lace designs! What is your design process like for these?
TL: In the beginning, I take out my huge collection of stitch dictionaries and see what I fall in love with this time. Sometimes I have an idea what I’m looking for, sometimes I just let the pictures inspire me. When I’ve found one or more stitch patterns, I change some details here and there to make them work for the item I have in mind, and after that begin to knit. In that phase, a lot can happen. A shawl might become a cowl, stitch patterns get added or removed. I have to see the knitting on my needles to know what the design really wants to be. I envy those who have a perfect plan and a pattern written out before they begin to knit. Maybe I’ll get there some day. :)
TM: Are you participating in the Gift-A-Long as a crafter as well as a designer? If so, what do you plan to make/have you made?
TL: I’ve cast on Vining Roses by Natalia Sha, Fairy Ring Socks by Kirsten McTeer, Pleach by Clare Devine and Sand Tracks Scarf by Tracey Lee. I love this opportunity to knit other people’s designs! :)
TM: Is there a design of yours that you love and would like to see more people make?
TL: Yes, Soraya’s Faroese Shawl, I’d love to see it get more attention.
TM: What are your design goals for the next year?
I want to have more than 30 patterns available and answer some submission calls. An idea I’ve already begun with is working with Caterpillargreenyarn’s Shawl Striping yarns and see what happens when you use them for other shapes than the triangles that they are meant for. It’s so much fun to experiment with the gorgeous colors!
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?
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!
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!
Write about another knitter or crocheter that you admire.
After TNNA a few weeks ago, I was overflowing with admiration for my fellow knitting and crochet designers. Most have families, many have day jobs, and all have obligations, but they still manage to produce beautiful, quality patterns for others to enjoy. It takes a lot of dedication and love of the craft!
I was at the show exhibiting through my print pattern distributor, Stitch Sprouts, so I got to chat and hang out with several other Stitch Sprouts designers. Since I can’t pick just one, I’m going to show you my favorite designs from a few of them.
First up, Corrina Ferguson of PicnicKnits. She designs, among other things, stupendous lace shawls. I’m in awe of this one in particular, which I got to see in person at the show:
This is Biellese (Ravelry link):
Next there’s Katherine Vaughan. She has a great mix of accessories, baby knits, and garments in her portfolio. I got to see this lovely tank top design at the show before its official release (it’s since gone live on Ravelry–check out May Dance!):
Heather Zoppetti, the creative wizard behind Stitch Sprouts, is also highly talented designer (although I honestly don’t know how she finds any time to do it–I think maybe she’s figured out how to clone herself).
Here’s one of her new designs, Tulsi. I love the colorwork:
The other cool thing is that this hat is knit in a brand-new yarn, Stitch Sprouts Yellowstone (DK weight, 80% wool, 20% silk). I got to fondle it at the show and let me tell you, it’s dreaaammmy. I may, without admitting anything, have picked up a few skeins for a colorwork hat/mitt design of my own.
Finally, there’s Mindy Wilkes. Mindy specializes in clever lace shawls, and I love that she doesn’t just stick to one weight of yarn. Harvest Moon, one of my favorites, is knit with a worsted weight yarn, Tosh Vintage (which, if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know is probably my favorite yarn ever):
In the interest of space, I won’t gush about all of the Stitch Sprouts designers (although I will mention that Andrea Rangel, Stephannie Tallent, and Lindsey Stephens of Poetry in Yarn all have some awesome designs I got to ogle at the show too). But let me just say that I left the show feeling inspired (and frankly, a bit humbled) by all the talent.
Rhinebeck was AWESOME. Completely amazing. I’ll be going again next year for sure!
Warning: very photo-heavy post ahead.
I spotted another Chandail just walking around, which made me stop in my tracks and squeal to my husband like a little girl. And I had several people tell me they had been following the progress of my new sweater on Ravelry and were excited to see it in person! I passed out loads of business cards and (of course) bought some delicious yarn.
More on that in a few days :-)
Today’s topic requests that I blog about someone in the fiber arts who really inspires me. I knew right away that I’d want to talk about one of the designers I admire–after all, looking at them is what made me think, “Hey, I might be able to do this design thing!” in the first place.
But who to choose? There are so many talented and awesome designers out there right now, and thanks to Ravelry, I can
stalk follow their every designing move. I especially love Ysolda Teague’s modern and simple style, Marnie MacLean’s romantic, textural designs and willingness to help upcoming designers, and Romy Hill’s beautiful shawls (if I actually, you know, KNIT shawls, I’d be all over that).
But the designer I decided to focus on today is Wendy Bernard, who blogs at knitandtonic.net. She designs modern, figure-flattering garments that pretty much always appeal to me. And although she lives in southern California too, she doesn’t shy away from my beloved wool!
A look through my Ravelry projects tells me she was a good choice (these are all projects from before I started designing, of course).
Here’s Jordan (all pattern links go to Ravelry pages):
A striped Tomato in-progress (I did finish it, promise, but for some reason never got pics!):
I’ve also made Sizzle, which was gifted to a friend before pictures could be taken, and Something Red, which turned out a little too small (totally user error) and then had to be frogged to make something else due to lack of yarn.
Now, five FOs from the same designer may not sound like much, but that’s BY FAR the most I’ve knit of anyone’s patterns in my almost 10 years of knitting. And even though I can’t really justify knitting anything that isn’t my own design right now, I still am dying to make these sweaters from Wendy’s wonderful Custom Knits book:
Also Opulent Raglan, which I actually BOUGHT YARN FOR right before I started designing and then ended up destashing so it would stop taunting me.
I haven’t bought Custom Knits 2, because I have a feeling I’ll fall in love with sweaters in there too and it’ll just make me sad. But I will continue to admire Wendy’s design aesthetic and prolific output (Custom Knits: Accessories comes out next week!). I will also continue reading her blog, where she shares interesting and often moving stories about the business of designing, knitting, and life in general.
So thank you, Wendy, for being such an inspiration to this newbie designer :-)