Category: instructors

Rebecca Danger

Meet Rebecca Danger!  Rebecca currently lives in Bellingham, Washington in a cute 1920’s bungalow with her husband, Mr Danger, their son and their 2 pugs, Abbey and Lucy Danger.

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She’ll be teaching two classes at Knit Fit! this year: Make-a-Monster Workshop: Tips and Tricks to Make Amazing Toys and Design-a-Monster Workshop.  Click here to register.

Rebecca’s next book Knit a Monster Nursery: Practical and Playful Knitted Baby Patterns is due out this November.  You can see what else she’s up to on her blog, and find her designs on Ravelry under rebeccadanger.

What are some sources of visual inspiration for you?ImageImage

I feel like life inspires me. It seems like every day there is something I see that makes me think of a monster or a toy. I have 2 pugs and I think they had some part in inspiring the “underbite” I like to give my monsters. Recently my kiddo (who’s 16 months) has started to enjoy Sesame Street, and then monsters on there are sure inspirational!

ImageWho taught you to knit?

My grandma–who passed away 2 years ago at the ripe old age of 97– taught me to knit. She taught me the first time when I was about 8, and it just didn’t stick. She tried again when I was 13, and I ended up knitting all through high school and college and beyond!

What is your biggest indulgence?

I think knitting in general is my biggest indulgence! I have a 16 month old, so I don’t get a whole lot of time to myself these days. I just love knitting and everything about it, and I feel so indulged every time I get a fancy pants new yarn, or knitting bag, or tool, or what-have-you (I just ordered 2 pairs of Signature Needles this week, so I am feeling super indulgent right now!).

Favorite yarn weight?

Sock yarn is my total favorite weight right now and I find myself trying to figure out every project I can knit in sock weight!

Most useful knitting tip you ever learned?

Knitting is supposed to be fun. Sometimes as knitters I think we get so wrapped up in everything that knitting can feel very stressful (especially when you knit for “work” like I do). I find myself reminding myself and all my knitting friends, “Remember, knitting is suppose to be fun!”

What was the catalyst that took you from knitting to design?

I ran a handmade handbag business for 7 years and only took about 3 days off in those 7 years. Needless to say, I was worn out, so I told my husband that I wanted to sit on the couch, watch movies, and knit and get paid for it. After laughing a bit, we agreed I would give knitting patterns a try for a couple months and see how I did, and here we are 3.5 years, 2 books, and some 80+ and counting designs later!

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Tell us about your design process.

I like to think about a design for a month or two in my head, then sketch it out and look at that for a bit, then I work from my sketch and try to make my critter match my picture. Sometimes it comes out exactly like my sketch, and sometimes I adapt the critter as I knit it.

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I have my second book coming out this November, which I am very excited about. It is called Knit a Monster Nursery and it is full of all the projects I made to create my son’s nursery when he was born last year. It is a nice little change of pace from my normal toy patterns and includes monster patterns, plus all kinds of blankets, and hats, and booties, and even a sweater pattern.

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Ann Weaver

Meet Ann Weaver!  Ann currently works as a freelance developmental editor, copyeditor, and occasional project manager from her laptop while designing handknits, teaching classes in design and color theory, and transforming some warehouse space in Peabody, Massachusetts into Weaverknits Studio.

She’ll be teaching two classes at Knit Fit! this year: Color Theory and the Albers Cowl and Square and Rectangular Shawls From the Inside Out.  Click here to register.

Check out her latest color explorations in the recently released ebook Twentieth Century Graphic and her Container Ships pattern club which is running now.  You can see what else she’s up to on her blog, and find her designs on Ravelry under weaverknits.

• • •

Who taught you to knit?
My mom and grandma. Neither was very good. I learned to knit and purl in a straight line. I taught myself everything else. My grandma, however, was an excellent crocheter, so I was making granny squares when I was about 7 years old.

What was the catalyst that took you from knitting to designing?
From the time I started knitting I was designing my own things, mostly scarves. I didn’t even know there were patterns for things like scarves; I just made up stitch and color combinations. I learned to knit sweaters from Rowan books when I was about 21, but after knitting two from patterns I started using the schematics in pattern books to create my own simple sweaters. After a while, I started looking at high-end sweaters at Neiman Marcus, take notes on their construction, and use the ideas to make my own, even better, garment. Submitting to knitty forced me to write out and size a pattern, so that’s when I really became a designer rather than a craft worker making one-off pieces.

Tell us about your design process.
Well, first I get an idea about the sort of thing I’d like to capture in a piece of knitting. It can be something simple and visual (like the Steve McQueen jacket after which I modeled my Le Mans baby jacket in Craft Work Knit), or it can be a vague idea (“The Whiteness of the Whale” chapter in Moby-Dick). I think about how it fits in with my other work, because I have a lot of themes I’m following and will continue to follow, and I think about the sort of garment that would best capture the idea I want to convey. For the White Whale books in particular, I don’t approach them thinking, “This chapter will be a hat. This will be a jacket because it talks about a jacket.” I think about the sort of yarn, textures, and silhouette that would be best. And the best size. At this point I usually have an idea of what I’m going to make. Then I start swatching like crazy to get the pattern, texture, gauge, and yarn perfect before I start the sample.

That’s the more labor-intensive design process, when I’m thinking about a collection of patterns or a theme I’d like to follow. My simpler design process is based on experiments with texture, color, and creating different shapes and structures that are knit in one piece. I’ll be teaching this process in my Square Shawls class at Knit Fit. I’ve done so much experimentation with these ideas over the past year that I like to pass on the knowledge so knitters who take the workshop have a base from which to start their own completely personalized projects (with no counting and no charts unless they want one)!

We love the way you talk about knitting as skilled work, a craft in a different sense that how we usually hear it.  How did this perspective come about for you?  How do people tend to react to this idea?
A lot of people don’t understand it, which is fine. The idea sank in when I was a bread baker and felt the satisfaction that comes from working in a skilled trade, producing something wonderful. My husband has worked as a mechanic, and interior painter, and now in facilities maintenance, and is always making things and fixing things. I realized that that’s what I do with my knitting: I do skilled work and produce a wonderful product. Studs Terkel’s book, Working, is also a HUGE inspiration. Some of the most fulfilled and content workers he profiled were those who made things, who could point to what they did and say, “See?” I think that’s a blessing. I like looking at the things I’ve made and say, “See? I made that. It was nothing, and now it’s something.”

Do you have any tips for people just starting to cultivate their color sense?
Here’s a simple one. If your colors are looking really bland when you put them together and you can’t figure out why, squint your eyes and imagine that they are shades of gray. If you’re more meticulous, you can take a photo of your yarns and look at it in grayscale. If you’re getting a blah vibe from your yarns, it’s most likely due to the fact that they’re very similar in value—that is, none are much lighter or darker than the others. Add a very light (stay away from WHITE white however; stick with natural sheep white) or a very dark color in place of one of your chosen colors. There! It’s better, right?

Tell us about your new studio and grand plans for it.  (when can we visit?!)
The studio is LOVELY. I’m waiting on two more small parts for my HUGE Le Clerc floor loom, and then I’ll be weaving. I’m looking forward to having some relaxing time there, weaving for myself—a hobby! I should be full steam ahead by the end of August. Right now I’ve been using it as a space to measure and examine the garments for which I check patterns (I do some tech editing and  pattern checking) and to lay out my own garments and write the patterns. My home “office” is far too cluttered with editing stuff to spread out what I need to write knitting patterns.

In the fall, I’ll be having some knitting nights and teaching some workshops. I’m also going to open the studio to other teachers who would like to use the space to teach on a very reasonable per diem basis. It can be difficult to find yarn stores at which to teach, and often this teaching doesn’t pay very well, so I want to offer teachers an alternative space.

I encourage anyone in the Boston area, or visiting the Boston area, to contact me and stop by!

You seem to approach design sort of like painting or photography – can you tell us more about the conceptual phase of your design work?
I think I put more thought about theme, mood, and references into my designs than a lot of knitwear designers do. When I started designing, I was working out my aesthetic and created a lot of patterns that I think are cool, wearable, and flattering, but that I probably wouldn’t design now because they don’t have enough meaning to me. I think there’s a learning curve to becoming a proficient designer, and I’m getting to the point where I have enough skills in my toolbox to execute my bigger ideas. My process now includes more thinking, listing, researching, looking at new yarns, and swatching than it does actual knitting. The knitting part is the relaxing part, which is why I knit nearly all my own samples, because I love it.

Right now I’m finding a way to make books and collections that speak cohesively about a theme (Moby-Dick, color theory and graphic design, shipping and industry, and regional themes, to name a few of my current and upcoming projects—looks like it’s going to be a three-book fall, which is crazypants), that are beautiful objects themselves (especially in a digital age), and that contain patterns that are appealing to a large range of knitters. I also want the individual patterns to be strong enough that knitters who aren’t into whatever theme I’m exploring will buy one pattern because it’s just cool. So far, so good.

What are some sources of visual inspiration for you?
My current and ongoing obsessions include early punk style, rust, ships old and new, machinery and industry, athletic uniforms (the odder the better), the Bauhaus school, Ad Reinhardt’s work, signs/flags/symbols, Edward Burtynsky’s work, abandoned buildings, David Lynch. That’s just a few. I’m always thinking about new things and making lists that usually get lost in the mountain of paper and clutter that is my life.

Tell us about your most epic knitting disaster.
I’ve knit a lot of ill-fitting stuff, and I’ve knit with some unfortunate yarns, but the biggest disaster for several reasons was when I was knitting a new sweater design. I had a tight deadline and the project had a small gauge, but I was moving quickly. The sleeves were knit separately. When I blocked the pieces, I realized that one of the sleeves was INCHES smaller than the other. I had used a needle TWO SIZES SMALLER than I should have. I spent the evening trying to “block it out.” (That did not work. Duh.) I am such an idiot.

Favorite recent project?
Definitely Chittagong. The idea of a series of knitting patterns based on container ships and shipbreaking had been on my Unprofitable and Likely Unappealing Ideas list for a while (below the Ad Reinhardt Black Collection and above the Blank Generation sweater series inspired by Johnny Rotten and Richard Hell). I mentioned the idea on my blog and got a bunch of enthusiastic comments, so I decided to go for it. Chittagong was the first project, and the response has been far greater than I could have imagined. I LOVE the finished object, but more than that I love seeing others cranking out versions in different color combinations. Having a design you love, and that others love, and that others “get” is the best ever.

Show us some grellow!
You’ve got it!

L-R: Weaverknits Grellow by Dragonfly Fibers, Doubloon edge closeup, yellow on yellow.

Lee Meredith

Meet Lee Meredith AKA leethal! Lee is a maker of things, doer of stuff, with a main focus on designing and self-publishing original hand-knit accessory patterns. She lives and works in Portland, Oregon, where she spends her time brainstorming, knitting, writing, photographing, spinning, teaching, and creating.  With a background in photography and art, and a love of color, puzzles, and experimentation, she brings all these elements into her creative work, known for designing knitwear with unusual construction, bold lines and shapes, and lots of color.

Lee is teaching Self-Publishing Your Own Knitting Patterns and Sideways Edge Cast-On and Bind-Off at Knit Fit! 2012, and she’ll also be hosting Game Knitting on Saturday night.  Learn more about Lee on her blog, and check out her new pattern website and of course you can find leethal on Ravelry.

• • •

Who taught you to knit?
A college roommate sparked my interest in learning and taught me knit stitch, and my mom helped me out a little with what she remembered from when she knit in college, but then once I did my first garter stitch scarf I self-taught myself with books and the internet.  Debbie Stoller was a big help, as the first Stitch ‘N Bitch came out right when I was first getting more into knitting and I just couldn’t stop from that point on.

What was the catalyst that took you from knitting to designing?
That was definitely knitting’s growing presence on the internet – Ravelry introduced me to the world of knitters who wanted to knit other peoples’ designs, and Knitty showed me what independently designed patterns looked like.  I was always an improvisational knitter; from the very beginning, I would just teach myself techniques and make up projects with them, never knitting from patterns – I think mostly because patterns scared me and seemed over my head.  Improvising projects just always worked with the way I thought about knitting, but I never wrote things down or thought of myself as a potential designer, until I started paying attention to Ravelry and Knitty.  This was before Ravelry hosted pdfs and I didn’t yet know about the world of independently published pdf patterns, so when I wrote my first pattern, I submitted it to Knitty and it got in and there my life as a designer began!

Tell us about your design process.
A design usually starts with a concept – like a construction idea, or wanting to use some technique, or wanting to try designing a certain kind of item – and then I’ll usually kind of think on it a bit, sometimes sketch, or write down ideas.  Depending on the design, I’ll swatch a lot, or not swatch at all and just jump straight to knitting a first prototype.  Sometimes I write out the entire pattern first draft before picking up the needles; sometimes I write the pattern as I knit the sample, it depends on the design.  With the kinds of accessories I design, I usually knit several prototypes of each design, making changes to details as I go, until I’m eventually happy with it.

I notice that you have affection for the old (records, zines, recycling garments) but you embrace the new too (ebooks, your twitter KAL, drawing on the ipad).  Are you an early adopter or do you need to be convinced about new technology and ways of doing things?
Hmm I’m always up for trying new things, but if trying a new thing is expensive (like an iPad) then I need to be really convinced and think about it for a long time before going for it (or, you know, I can’t afford it so I just try not to think about it – I still don’t have an iPhone, just an old school flip phone).  I don’t think of trying new things as a decision to veer away from the old or anything like that – like, I listen to both streaming music on Spotify and records on vinyl – I just use what appeals to me.

You use a lot of recycled yarn (and other materials!) in your projects – what drives this?  Thrift, environmentalism, creative constraint… ?
Pretty much a combination of all three!  I think when I first read about the idea of making yarn from thrift store sweaters, it was the price tag that appealed to me most of all – a sweater quantity of nice wool (or cashmere if you’re lucky!) for under $10 is quite the deal.  I’ve always hated waste, so I love bringing a new life to an old unwanted sweater, especially if it has holes or stains so I doubt anyone would rescue it from the thrift store to wear.  And I’ve made projects with recycled yarns that I never would have made with commercial yarns, that I love.  So yeah, I’m pro recycled yarn on all accounts!

Tell us about Game Knitting.
Game Knitting is a concept that turns the act of knitting your project into a game, which creates randomness in the stitch pattern, whatever the stitch pattern might be.  What you do is make a list of things that you know will happen at random intervals – I usually play to TV shows, so the list would be things that happen a lot in the show, but you can also play with movies, audiobooks, podcasts, real life.  So then you use that list while you’re knitting and make changes in your work whenever something on the list happens; this might mean you switch from knit to purl, or you make an eyelet hole, or you cable, or you slip a stitch… my ebook has tons of different game patterns that work well with the randomness.  When you’re done, you have a totally one-of-a-kind knit piece that not only looks cool, but also carries with it the memory of playing the game – and it’s super fun to play with other people and shout out the things when they happen.

The online world of leethal gives the impression that everything in your house is covered with colorful knitting and fabric, from light switches to chairs to speakers etc. and that you and your husband spend all day making up games and drawing.  How close is that to the truth?
Haha umm, I guess it’s partially true.  The part about everything in my house being covered with colorful knitting and fabric… except that most of the surfaces are just cluttered, not decorated on purpose.  I just started drawing a bit this year because I miss it – I minored in studio art, so I drew constantly in college, and when I got into knitting and other crafts after college, those things kind of took the place of drawing.  But my iPad has made is easy for me to do more drawing now, so I’ve been playing around with different apps lately – as for my husband and I drawing together, we do play Draw Something a lot when he’s away for work.  We’ve made up a couple games over the years (we invented Game Knitting together, and Bad Movie Bingo) but we mostly just play games, and we go to trivia nights weekly-ish.  Mostly though, my day to day life is just working on designs, and everything that goes with that, plus freelance photography jobs here and there, stuff that wouldn’t be exciting to read about on my blog, so the “online world of leethal” is made up of the bits and pieces of my life that people would care to see.

Shannon & Jason Mullet-Bowlsby (Shibaguyz)

Meet the Shibaguyz!  Shannon & Jason are the DIY duo behind the design studio of Shibaguyz Designz. Shannon’s award winning crochet & knit designs have been featured in and on the covers of both US and international publications. Jason’s stunning fashion photography can be seen in many of their client’s pattern lines as well as in their new book, “Urban Edge”. Shannon has been teaching for 20+ years and the duo has just released their third pattern book with three more books scheduled for release in 2012 including one through their new publishing company, Shibaguyz Publishing.

Shannon and Jason will be teaching The OH! of Math and The Perfect Hoodie at Knit Fit! 2012.  For more information about the Shibaguyz visit their website www.shibaguyz.com.

• • •

What is your favorite mindless knitting/crocheting entertainment?
Swatching! I love to sit down with yarn, hooks and needles and really see what a skein of yarn can do. Working in both crochet and knit, the possibilities of fabrics I can create are endless!

What are some sources of visual inspiration for you?
I like walking through downtown Seattle and the surrounding neighborhoods and seeing what people are wearing and how they are putting their outfits together. The diverse population of Seattle really lends itself to an amazing array of color, fabrics and textures.

Who taught you to knit/crochet?
My grandmother and my great aunt were my main teachers. I remember my mother knitting and crocheting a lot too but I remember spending weekends at my grandmother’s house learning to crochet, knit, sew, cook… they even let me do a little quilting.

Favorite yarn weight?
My favorite yarn weight is the one that best makes the fabric for the piece I am designing at the time. Every yarn weight and type has its own unique properties and I love working with them all.

What is your greatest weakness?
Ice cream… it’s my kryptonite… and chocolate… yeah… THAT is my kryptonite. OH! Coffee… really good coffee… wait… did I have to pick just one??

What would you change about your stash?
We prefer to call it our “stock”. And if I could change anything about it, there would be a teleporter in (one of) our stock room(s) that we could use to pick up any yarn anywhere in the world when I needed it. Perfect solution, yes?

Barbara Seeler

Meet Barbara Seeler!  Barbara learned to knit as a child and has a life long ongoing love affair with fiber.  In the early 90’s she started spinning and quickly realized the pairing of spinning with knitting allowed unlimited exploration of fiber, color and texture.  She taught at the Greater Los Angeles Spinning Guild while living in Southern California, Peachtree Spinners Guild and Chttanoochee Guild while living in Georgia.  She served as director of The Handweavers Guild of America and is currently an active member of Valley Spinners Guild in Snohomish, The Snohomish Knitters Guild and Northwest Regional Spinning Association.

Barbara will be teaching Knitting from Silk Hankies (Mawata) at Knit Fit! 2012 and her website is BJS Fiber Creations.

• • •

Who taught you to knit?
My piano teacher when I was 5 taught me to knit in order to keep me occupied while I was waiting for my lesson. Years later I realized her goal was to strengthen the non-dominant hand and to learn how to do 2 different things with each hand. What a wise women she was to know how much playing he piano and knitting had in common.

What are some sources of visual inspiration for you? 
Color and sparkle are my current obsessions. Attempting to capture the sparkle of the light in the morning shining off the water and shining through the trees and translating these images into handspun yarn is my current focus.

Tell us about your most epic knitting disaster.
Nothing is a disaster, only the creation of an object of art, the learning of a lesson or the opportunity to have a supply of felt.

Tell us about the project you’re most proud of.
My 45 year old son who ,when I broke my leg, brought me his blanket that I had made for him when he broke his wrist some 40 years ago. I am incredibly proud of my son as a man and of the blanket that he has kept for so long.

What’s the best place to knit in public in Seattle?
Anywhere.

Most useful knitting tip you ever learned?
From Kathryn Alexander: One sock is a piece of art, 2 are a pair.


Jen Hagan

Meet Jen Hagan, a knitwear designer and writer with two pattern lines— Figheadh Yarnworks and Mirth— has been published in several books (Julie Turjoman’’s Brave New Knits, Clara Parkes’ The Knitter’’s Book of Yarn and The Knitter’’s Book of Socks, Kim Werker’s Crocheted Gifts, and The Perfect Finish, by Kara Gott Warner, and more) and magazines (Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knitting, Interweave Crochet, and Creative Knitting, among others).  Jen graduated with BA and MEd from the University of Montevallo and taught high school English for eight years, a background which helps her produce clearly written patterns that inspire and challenge crafters.

Jen is teaching Beginner Pattern Writing at Knit Fit! 2012. For more info on Jen’s Designs, see her website or find her on Ravelry.

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Tell us about your design process.
Sometimes the design will be something I want and do not see in the world. Sometimes a stitch pattern will possess me and demand to be put into some object in a reasonable way–I think some of my favorite projects have come from making various stitch patterns work together in the same piece. Other times a type of construction will challenge me and I just want to see if I can make it happen. It’s always all about the challenge. If I could just push my brain farther out into the outer reaches of wherever it needs to go and do this more often maybe I could really come up with something fantastic. That’s my goal, anyway. Until then, sometimes the simplest things catch on. There’s room for everything in this world.

What was the catalyst that took you from knitting to designer?
Stubbornness.

What’s your favorite mindless knitting entertainment?
X-Files, for sure. I’ve seen almost every episode, so I don’t need to pay strict attention. Besides, I love the eerie background vibe it lends. For some reason I can think better with it playing. Does that mean I’m an extraterrestrial? Or that I am an abductee? Or that I’ve been impregnated by an alien? Or that the truth is still out there, at the very least?

What are some sources of visual inspiration for you?
Period costumes, architecture, patterns in nature.

What’s the best bar to knit in in Seattle?
Hilltop Ale House or Fado—my favorites, so good places to knit.

Favorite recent project?
Brackenhill Shawlette designed for Ravenwood Cashmere.

Most useful knitting tip you ever learned?
Russian join.

What’s the most unreasonable request you’ve made of your spouse/partner/companion to enable your knitting?
Oh, it never gets that crazy…right hon? At least not anymore. There was that span of time when there was nowhere to sit or even put anything down because there was knitting on every conceivable surface. We’ll forget that…someday.

Tell us about the project you’re most proud of.
Wanda Nell. She keeps amazing me. Look at what people are doing with her. It makes me most happy when a pattern I write makes other people happy.

Wanda Nell Cardigan

Lisa Ellis

Meet Lisa Ellis!  Lisa has been teaching knitting for over 8 years in LYS’s, Knitting Guilds, and several large venues.  She has 2 knitting books with Leisure Arts and is a contributing designer to over a dozen books and magazines.  She just began writing “How To” articles for a few magazines.  In addition to owning a wholesale knitwear pattern line, she has designed for several yarn companies to include Cascade yarns, Simply Shetland, Fiesta yarns and Frog Tree yarns.

Lisa will be teaching Two-Handed Fair Isle at Knit Fit! 2012.  You can find her designs on Ravelry (LisaEllisDesigns), and her blog is My Fish Likes to Knit.

• • •

What was the catalyst that took you from knitter to designer?
While I was studying in Europe, I re-learned how to knit by my Spanish host mom. While there, she never measured anything, never wrote down any stitch count, any measurement, nothing. She would simply hold the cardigan panel up against me and eye ball it. Then she would either tell me to keep going or decrease! And in France, a Norwegian student sat in the back of the room and knit grabbing any color she felt like and dropping others and never once looked at a pattern, a chart or any notes. This free-form knitting opened my eyes to a whole new concept of knitting!

What’s the strangest place you’ve ever knit?
Well – it’s not the strangest place – it seemed perfectly normal to us to knit with wool while we tan in the hot sun at our local waterpark while watching our kids.  Hey – it’s like killing 3 birds with one stone! I will forewarn you though that our gauge became very tight as the day went on and our sweaty palms were beginning to affect our tension.

What is your biggest weakness?
I can’t sketch a design to save my life! Sketching out a design is just as crucial as knitting the design in so many ways. If you can’t relay your thought process, concept and idea to the potential publisher or yarn company, you can’t convince them to accept your design. No matter how hard I tried, my sketching looked like a child drew it. Luckily, I fell upon a fashion sketching course at the local technical college so my daughter and I signed up.  We initially signed up just to “do” something together for a mother-daughter moment and it ended up being the best class I could have ever taken! I can safely say that I sketch with confidence now – and actually even like it!