It’s time to share our July challenge for Loopy Circus Camp! Remember, this is a virtual camp, so all are welcome and no traveling involved. You can participate all three months (June, July, August), or just pick the months that work best for you.
This month we are celebrating stripes – like the stripes of the big top tent! You can do stripes of color, stripes of sections of stitches, stripes of beads, etc. Just so your project has stripes of some sort going on. (see some examples below). The July project must use 600 or more yards, single knit.
Camp Store Week:
We are offering a 15% discount on the yarn you are using for your July project, between June 14-21.
You will need to leave us an order comment telling us which specific yarn will be used for your project. If there isn’t a note, then we won’t be able to apply the discount.
Also, please note that you are welcome to use Loopy credit OR the discount. We aren’t able to add both. If we see that you’ve used Loopy credit, we’ll not add in a discount on top of that.
To receive Camp Points for your project, please make sure you check these boxes:
Yarn for the project must be purchased from The Loopy Ewe June 14, 2021, or later.
Project must use at least 600 yards, worked single (or 1200, if held double).
Project must not be started before July 1, and must be completed by July 31.
A photo of the completed project must be emailed to us by August 1. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Loopy GroupieRav Groups for July (these will go up July 1): Awesome Acrobats (those of you with birthdays in: January, May, September, December) Terrific Tightropers (those of you with birthdays in: February, April, June, October) Jolly Jugglers (those of you with birthdays in: March, July, August, November)
If you aren’t camping with us in June, still feel free to jump into the ongoing June Camp groups now to get ideas and advice for your July project!
Today we have Lucia Rodriguez in our Designer Spotlight. Lucia was born and lives in Spain. Her patterns showcase texture and color, and I know you’re going to enjoy learning more about her!
Loopy: Hi Lucia! Thanks for being in our spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Lucia: Hi Loopy! Thanks for giving me the opportunity in your space! I’ve been knitting for around six and a half years and I learned by myself. My first workbook was Margaret Radcliffe’s circular knitting workshop!
Loopy: Thank goodness for good books and videos, for those learning to knit without in-person help. Not the easiest, but at least there are options there. What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Lucia: I love knitting sweaters and jackets, although my most valued patterns are shawls.
Loopy: You have some beautiful sweater patterns. I love the textures that come out in your patterns – whether in the sweaters or the shawls or the cowls. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Lucia: Well, I supposed that everything has been a challenge considering that I started knitting relatively recently and designing a year less than knitting.
Loopy: That was certainly a quick jump right into designing, once you learned. What spurred your interest in designing?
Lucia: I actually learned to knit so I could design. It was my goal even before I starting knitting. I had a fashion company, and I found it very interesting to design handmade garments to sell them. Then the objective changed and I designed for others to knit.
Loopy: That’s coming at this from the other way around – wanting to design knitwear, so you had to learn to knit! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Lucia: The latest one is always my favourite one, although I have a few that I love. But i prefer to keep the secret about it!
Loopy: I have several of your patterns that are my favorites, now. And you’ve got me thinking about trying brioche again, because your brioche patterns are so beautiful. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Lucia: I love to have the idea, and starting knitting it. I do not love so much to write the pattern, it’s a bit boring.
Loopy: I think that would be my favorite and least favorite, too. Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard? Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Lucia: I can say that designing is my main job, although I develop other related activities such as giving online workshops and I also work for Rowan Spain as an external commercial advisor.
Loopy: Your Rowan Spain job must be a good way to stay connected to the larger knitting community, too. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Lucia: No, no one in my family knits. My grandmothers knitted, both of them, and they did it very well. One of them was even an excellent designer, but neither taught me, and neither did I have any interest in learning. In my family, everything related to female manual labor was not transferable. Women of my generation had to be professionals outside of our home and that type of work was considered old, outdated and even sexist. Now my family is very proud of my work, but it has been a long way to raise awareness.
Loopy: It’s nice that you have a family history of knitting, and then you also have the benefit of living in a time when that is more respected. I’m not surprised that they are proud of you! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Lucia: I live next to the Atlantic ocean and I love going for a walk, watching the sea with music in my headphones and time to do it, because I don’t have much time. I also love the cinema and of course traveling. And what I like the most after knitting is cooking. I enjoy it so much that I couldn’t live without cooking!
Loopy: What a beautiful place to live – so close to the ocean. I think I would walk more if I had that view! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Lucia: Being with my husband. We don’t have much time to be together so that’s the best idea I can think of right now. 🙂
Loopy: Maybe a walk along the ocean with him! Ok, last questions: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂
Lucia: Night. I can knit until 1 am almost every night. I was a coffee girl, but now I’m starting to love tea! Always Continental and solids, please!
Loopy: Thanks again for being with us today, Lucia. It was lovely to get to know you a bit more!
Lucia has set up a code for her Ravelry Pattern shop. This gives you 20% off one of her patterns. The code is: theloopyewe and is valid June 11-18, 2021.
Happy Knitting, and pop back to the blog on Monday to see what our July Camp Loopy Challenge is going to involve!
Today we have Elizabeth Smith in our Designer Spotlight. Elizabeth designs beautiful garments from kids to adults. I think I added more patterns to my favorites than any other time I’ve written a Designer Spotlight post! She lives in Maine and I know you will enjoy getting to know more about her.
Loopy: Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for being in our Spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Elizabeth: Hi Loopy – thank you so much for the opportunity to share a bit of my story with you! I learned to knit in 2003, so about 17 years ago now. My Mom is a knitter but at the time I was living on the opposite coast so she wasn’t able to teach me. And it was before the days of YouTube, so I learned the basics from books. Because of this, learning to knit was actually a very slow process for me (ironically since it’s now my career!). Some of the first books I used didn’t have the best illustrations so it just took a while for things to finally click for me. But once it did I was off and running and haven’t put the needles down since! And I think because of my many false-starts with learning to knit, it inspired me to want to create good photo and video tutorials for a lot of the techniques in my patterns – I know how frustrating it can be to try to learn something new and it just isn’t clicking.
Loopy: I think I must have had some of those very same learn to knit books with hand drawn sketches and bad photos. I’m glad you persevered! What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Elizabeth: I love knitting vests and other layering type pieces. They are super versatile and are a fun way to add a little knitwear to any outfit. I often recommend vests as a first garment to people because it’s a great way to start to learn about fit and ease.
Loopy: That’s a great first knit – and you don’t have to mess with sleeves. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Elizabeth: Oh that’s a tricky question! I don’t have much time to knit other patterns so instead I guess I’ll share a recent design challenge, or I should call it a pattern writing challenge! I recently revamped my Lilac Trail Vest. It’s not hard to knit by any means, and at first glance, it seems like a very straight forward design. But it was the technical writing that was a challenge because there is front shaping, armhole shaping, and there’s also a back lace panel (all happening at different intervals for each size). None of these things are hard, but I didn’t want to have any “at the same time” kind of directions, and I also wanted to write-out each line of the lace pattern so that it would still be simple enough for a more beginner knitter who maybe hasn’t done a lot of lace before. And I revamped it to include a total of 11 sizes! So figuring out how to best communicate all of this in a way that was not only accurate for each size but also clear and beginner-friendly was definitely a challenge! But I feel really good about the end product so it was all worth it.
Loopy: That is just kind of mind boggling. So many sizes, each one written individually, and then not having “same time” instructions? You set yourself up for a lot of work! But it’s a beautiful design. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Elizabeth: I released my first pattern in around 2008 and I’ve been slowly by steadily publishing designs ever since. It evolved from a fascination I had with knitting patterns and how they were created. I’ve also just always had a love of clothing and fashion – my grandmother was a seamstress in the garment district of NY when she came here from Sicily, and she went on to have her own dress company with her brother, and so a love of clothing and appreciation of its creation was always a part of my family and upbringing.
I was always a crafty person from a very young age – my favorite things to do always involved creating something with my hands. Even one of my first jobs as a teen was at a scrapbooking rubber stamp store! But the crafts I loved the most were ones that had instructions. I enjoyed following things step by step and seeing something come to life with each progression. So obviously when knitting came into my life it just felt like a perfect fit. And because of my analytical personality, combined with my professional experience in communication and technical writing, that initial fascination and curiosity with pattern writing slowly and steadily turned into a career that fit my brain, crafty nature, fashion interest and skill set all really well.
Loopy: It does sound like you have moved into a job that celebrates all of the things you love and do best. Not everyone gets to do that in life. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Elizabeth: Usually a pattern becomes a favorite when I see others enjoying it so much. My whole design process is all about creating an enjoyable knitting experience for the knitter, so when I see that a pattern has really connected with others and they’ve had a great experience knitting it, then it becomes a favorite. My Audrey’s Cardigan, which I released last Fall, has become a favorite for that reason. I did an educational KAL for it where I created videos of every step of making the sweater, and so the pattern became a lot of people’s first sweater project. It was so awesome to see so many people gain confidence in their sweater knitting because of that pattern, so it definitely became an instant favorite.
Loopy: I love the tiny pop of color above the ribbing. Fun details like that really catch my attention. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Elizabeth: I really enjoy almost all of the steps in the designing process. From initial concept and swatching to the knitting, figuring out the best verbiage to use and the final layout – each step taps into a different part of both my personality and skill set and I find them all so rewarding in different ways. I guess one of my favorite parts is in the initial concepting phase when I have an idea of the general look I’m going for in the piece, and then I need to figure out how to achieve that look. My goal in every piece I design is for it to have a modern, simple aesthetic that’s super wearable for everyday, but it’s also enjoyable to knit even for a more beginner knitter. And I feel my job as a technical writer is just as important as a designer – so I need to make sure that the concept I have in my head and in my sketchbook can be created using simple knitting techniques and the pattern can be written in a clear and straight-forward manner so that I can create that enjoyable knitting experience for others. It can be a challenge but I really love it.
My not-so-favorite part is that I can be a bit of a perfectionist and so there is always a lot of stress that goes into releasing a new design and putting my work out there. You spend months and months on one design, obsessing over every little detail, and when you put your work out there it can be a very vulnerable feeling. You would think it would get easier with time, but over 10 years later, I still get nervous releasing a new design!
Loopy: I can understand that nervousness. You put so much of yourself into your work, so to have it out there feels vulnerable. I’m glad to know that your patterns are so beginner-friendly. I will have to remember to recommend them in the shop to new knitters! Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Elizabeth: I’ve always done my knitting design business along with other work, but through the years I’ve been slowly and gradually able to spend more and more time on it. In my early days of knitting design (so starting in 2008/2009), I worked full-time in the advertising industry and so I could only work on my pattern designs at night and on the weekends. Now, 12 or 13 years later, I’m able to spend a lot more of my week on knitting design and I split my time between designing and also working part-time as a contractor in the tech/start-up industry. I’ve worked with software development firms and start-ups doing project management/operations-related work, along with doing some other web/marketing contracting. I really enjoy having both my knitting design world as well as my other work. It means I’m working all the time, but I’m so grateful to be able to work in both industries and to be able to do work that I enjoy and that fulfills me.
Loopy: It sounds like you have a good balance in your different jobs. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Elizabeth: My Mom is a great knitter, and so was my grandmother. No one else in my family currently knits, although I’ve tried to teach my husband on several occasions. Unfortunately he just hasn’t taken to it, but he does all my knitting tutorial video editing so I think he’s watched enough video footage that he definitely could knit!
Loopy: Ha – or maybe he sees all that goes into it and thinks the video editing part is enough! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Elizabeth: Knitting takes up most of my time, although in the past I have enjoyed some sewing projects. And I hope to try to fit painting into my life one of these days! I used to paint a lot when I was younger and I miss it, so hopefully one day I can get back to it!
Loopy: It’s probably good for your hands and fingers to rotate crafts from time to time, so multiple hobbies is a good idea. What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Elizabeth: I love being out on the water, or at least near it! And living in Maine, I’m lucky to live so close to some beautiful areas like Casco Bay (photo attached of me knitting on a boat!)
Loopy: That does look beautiful. And you have the very best fall colors there. Ok, last questions: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂
Elizabeth: I’m definitely more of a night person! And a coffee lover. I knit English and usually with solid yarns.
Loopy: Thanks again for being with us today, Elizabeth!
Elizabeth has set up a 20% off discount code for the patterns in her Ravelry shop. Use the code: loopyewesmith Code is valid June 4-11, 2021.
Today we welcome Alasdair Post-Quinn to our Designer Spotlight. Alasdair lives in Cambridge, MA and is a double knitting expert. Check out his story, and his gorgeous designs! (Pattern links lead to Ravelry, yarn links to The Loopy Ewe.)
Loopy: Hi Alasdair – thanks for being in our Spotlight today! How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Alasdair: Hi Loopy – I am a little ashamed that I don’t remember the name of the person who taught me to knit. I learned to knit at a craft-sharing event in college almost 20 years ago. I was there to teach origami, which I’d been doing since a very young age, but nobody came to my origami session and I sat in on a knitting session instead, led by a fellow student. I got hooked and my life has never been the same since.
Loopy: It sounds like that was a very fortunate turn of events! (And who could’ve known that evening, how much this would affect your future?) What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Alasdair: Looking at my catalog, I’d have to say hats are my favorite item to knit. They’re small-ish projects, great for practicing a new technique or two, and it’s always fun to play with crown decreases. Ironically, I don’t wear a lot of hats, despite living in a cold climate, because I tend to wear large headphones. One of these days I’ll design a hat that has room for headphones!
Loopy: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a headphones hat – sounds like a good idea! And you’re so right about hats being a perfect way to try out different techniques (and also different yarns). What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Alasdair: That’s hard to answer because part of my design aesthetic involves pushing boundaries and stretching what’s possible to do in double-knitting. Many of my patterns are challenging, and doubly so for me while designing them. Looking back at the finished patterns, it all just seems to fall into place so cleanly that it’s sometimes hard to remember how many hours and prototypes and swatches I went through to get there. For this reason, I guess my most challenging knit would have to be the Spinneret hat I just finished, which incorporates my signature “off-the-grid” style, textures, marling, and color-changing cables.
Loopy: Your designs certainly look technically challenging and impressive. I can’t imagine the designing ending of all of that. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Alasdair: To be honest, after learning to knit, I taught myself most of the rest of what I know in knitting. Sure, I got help here and there, and researched in books and the internet (although YouTube was not a thing when I was just beginning). So after the requisite garter stitch scarf, I was designing my own patterns from almost the very beginning. However, my first pattern, the Corvus scarf, didn’t come out until the end of 2006 as a free download from my website (it remains a free download, but now on Ravelry). I have always been a creative person, and I majored in Studio Art in college, so it simply never occurred to me _not_ to design my own things.
Loopy: Creative people are like that – always seeing a different way to do things! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Alasdair: I love all my designs, and I have many favorites for different reasons just as I have different favorite foods in various cuisines and different favorite songs in various genres. I think my answer for this is going to be unpopular because it’s a pattern that isn’t published, and which I currently don’t plan to publish (and still hold out hope that I’ll be able to dedicate more time to creating more patterns in the same vein: to be presented as art rather than being designed for reproducibility and released as patterns). A while ago, I produced the Parallax collection, a series of (mostly) scarves based on the op-art “warped checkerboard” design concept. After designing Parallax v3.0 (in three-color double-knitting), I worked up a significantly more complex chart and created Parallax v3.5. The final piece is about 10 feet long because I just didn’t want to stop working on it, and kept knitting until I ran out of one of the three yarns.
Loopy: That’s really interesting, and I totally understand you wanting to create art instead of just patterns. There is a lot of freedom in just going where the needles and yarn take you on a project. I’d like to see that exhibit someday! What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Alasdair: I suppose my favorite part is the problem-solving – or perhaps not the process but the solution, which makes the process worth it. I love the “a-ha” moment when a bunch of pieces of a design I’ve been struggling with finally click into place in my mind, and I can move forward. When I’m working on a complex piece, I’ll often turn out a bunch of little samples which focus on problem areas, so that I can solve those problems before I cast on for the final piece. I am always looking for the most elegant solution, and sometimes I get a big grin on my face thinking about how much fun people are going to have when they get to that part in their projects. I hope they actually do. My least favorite part of designing is putting a lot of time, heart, and soul into a pattern that just doesn’t get any love, like the “Rats Live on no Evil Star” scarf. I guess the subject matter is just a little too niche?
Loopy: I think the fact that you could figure that palindrome out and design a double-knit scarf out of it is pretty amazing. It needs more love!! I’m glad you shared it. Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard? Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Alasdair: I do have a day job in computer repair for a university, although I went part-time at that job some years ago explicitly to give myself more time to design, work on my books, and travel for teaching. I keep the day job for stable income, although I have recently started a Patreon to explore the possibility of getting a regular paycheck through other means which might eventually allow me to consider leaving my day job. It has been hard to balance everything in my life, not merely the jobs, and it’s a constant struggle to make sure I’m giving everything the time it deserves. One blessing (if there are any) of the pandemic has been that I’ve had a lot more time off work to dedicate to knitting design and virtual teaching.
Loopy: That’s the toughest part of having multiple things you like to do (and are good at) – figuring out how to balance it all. I’m glad you’ve been able to find more time for designing and teaching during Covid – one bright side. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Alasdair: If we’re talking extended family, yes – my mother and grandmother both used to knit while I was growing up. I still have fond memories of the smell of rustic New England yarns like Bartlett, which was a favorite of my mother’s. For my grandmother’s 80th birthday, all of the knitters in her extended family (my mother is one of four sisters, who have all knitted and several have children who also knit) got together and made a sampler afghan. I was charged with coordinating the assembly (and also knitted two squares of my own, plus a redo of one more that someone knitted way off gauge). If we’re talking current family, my wife and I actually met at a knitting group almost 20 years ago, when I was first learning to knit. She worked at a yarn shop at the time, but she rarely knits nowadays. Sometimes she and I bounce ideas off each other; actually, the 52 Pickup scarf was a slightly tipsy dare from her which I took and ran with.
Loopy: Ha – I love the dare story! And what a cool gift for your grandmother, from all of the knitters in her family. I bet she treasured that. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Alasdair: Few that I’ve dedicated nearly as much time to as knitting. I love cooking, bicycling, camping, some flow arts (think juggling, but more esoteric), folk singing, dancing … but time is short, and my creative impulse is strong, so knitting really takes the most time.
Loopy: I’ve never heard of flow arts and had to google it. It looks very mesmerizing and relaxing. But I do understand that creative impulse calling for most of your time. What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Alasdair: Just a day? Assuming I really have no other work or responsibilities (a rare occurrence), I like to spend some time with my wife (and maybe our cat, if he’s feeling cooperative) relaxing in our camping hammock by the river. If we had more time, I’d pack a picnic lunch, and my wife and I could bike out to some forest-y swimming area, hang the hammock, go swimming, have some lunch, maybe a little walkabout, and have a nap in the hammock. I get too few real days off to do this very often, but it’s wonderful when it can happen. If I’ve got a whole weekend off, I like to spend it at a music festival or burner event. Nothing spurs creativity like spending a weekend in the woods surrounded by art, music, and other creative/weird people.
Loopy: Weekends off are always full of more potential than the occasional day here and there. But your day off sounds great! Ok, last question: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂
Alasdair: Both – I wake up with the cat at around 7am, and generally don’t get to bed until 11 or later. Caffeine doesn’t really work for me but I like a good hibiscus or other herbal tea. Neither – as a self-taught knitter I have my own style which uses a left-hand wrap with no tension to speak of. Solids work best for colorwork but I have been known to combine solids and multis (or better, gradients) to good effect.
Loopy: No tension? Hmmm. I will need to see you knit sometime to see that in action! Anything else you’d like to add?
Alasdair: Goodness, I think this has been pretty complete. I guess you could show a picture of my cat. His name is Avery Longfellow, because he is a very long fellow, and he’s a Siberian Forest cat. He’s been leash-trained since he was a kitten, so he likes to take walks with us. We hope at some point he’ll be chill enough to take on hikes, but he’s barely more than a kitten now. You can follow him on Instagram at @averylongfellow And here is my latest blog post for information on some of the upcoming classes I have going on.
Loopy: Oh, I am always happy to add in cat pictures. And your Avery Longfellow is a handsome one indeed. Thanks again for joining us today, Alasdair!
Alasdair has set up a discount code for 20% off anything in his Ravelry shop. The code is “doubleloop” and is valid May 28 – June 4, 2021.