The more I knit, the more I find that I like patterns with texture. A mixture of fun stitches that “pop” on the socks, shawls, sweaters, or hats that I’m working on. (Ok, not on the sweaters, since I don’t make them. Much. But I favorite textured sweaters with high hopes!) Today’s designer has patterns that always catch my eye, when I’m scrolling around on Ravelry. I love what she does! I’m happy for you to get to know a bit more about Stephanie from Verybusymonkey.
Loopy: Hi Stephanie! Thanks for being in our Designer Spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter, and who taught you to knit?
Stephanie: Hi Loopy! A big thank you for asking me to do this! I learned how to knit when I was pretty young, probably 7-8 years old, but I didn’t like it much at the time. I thought it required way too much counting, I preferred crochet, which I did for many, many years – I’m pretty sure most of my relatives and good friends have afghans as evidence of this! I re-discovered knitting about eight years ago and haven’t looked back since!
Loopy: Lucky for us that you re-discovered knitting, and pattern-designing in the process. What is your favorite thing to knit?
Stephanie: I really enjoy knitting shawls. I love the loose gauge (easy on the hands), and the magic of blocking them. They create such elegant garments, and you can use luxurious yarns to create them.
Loopy: And shawls are so wearable. Around the shoulders, around the neck – great for warming up. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Stephanie: Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I like a good challenge in most things so I’m not sure anything I’ve knit stands out in that way. Mostly projects become challenging for me when I don’t like knitting them (that is, they are too fiddly, or hurt my hands) or I’m not happy with the yarn/pattern combo. Generally speaking though, I like to knit/design things that look complicated but are not actually so, it is supposed to be relaxing after all! 🙂
Loopy: Your patterns have a lot going on in them, which is one of the things that I really like about them. When did you start designing and what spurred that interest?
Stephanie: I started designing in Summer 2008 when my baby horse was born. Horses are not a practical hobby as most people are aware, so at the time I thought that perhaps if one of my hobbies could pay for itself that would be great. 🙂 I found that I really enjoyed it! As an academic/teacher in my “real life”, I enjoy pulling together different ideas/elements and being able to explain/show things to people in a way that make them easy to understand (hopefully). I find pattern designing similar to teaching in that way. I also like to learn new things and, as mentioned earlier, I like a good challenge, so whether it be designing new courses or new knitting patterns, I like the creative aspects and elements of discovery of both.
Loopy: Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Stephanie: Hmmm, another tough one… There are so many that I’m proud off and love to wear all the time. I suppose the one I am most proud of is the Olympic National Park shawl. I was really excited the day I managed to design a shawl to look like a forest! 🙂
Loopy: That one is pretty cool. A forest around your shoulders! What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Stephanie: I really like the challenge of coming up with something different and yet accessible/appealing to many people. I still haven’t figured out how to anticipate what people will or will not like, but there’s something really exciting about releasing a new pattern and seeing what kind of reception it gets. As for my not-so-favorite part, I suppose it has to be the unproductive, negative comments I sometimes get. I had one person contact me to tell me she didn’t like the way my pattern is written, will never buy one again, and that she considered her purchase of the pattern a “gift” to me. I feel like there’s nothing constructive in doing that. We’ve all tried patterns we don’t like, but there’s nothing to be gained from going out of your way to tell a designer that. It wasn’t as if she was asking for help, she just felt the need to be critical. I know you can never make everyone happy, but it is sometimes frustrating that people feel the need to make hurtful and unproductive comments.
Loopy: I don’t understand that about some people, either. But on the positive side, I know you have a HUGE group of fans out there, and that should more than make up for a few frustrating people! Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Stephanie: Yes, in my non-knitting life I teach college students about monkeys (amongst other things)! 🙂
Loopy: I’m thinking maybe you should be teaching them about sheep, alpacas and goats. But ok, monkeys! Do you do this business full-time or on the side, and is that hard?
Stephanie: I design part-time, and it is hard. My academic work load varies from semester to semester and I commute to where I teach, so the amount of knitting time I get varies. Lately, I’ve been teaching a lot (which is great) but it has seriously cut down on my knitting/designing time. Luckily, with academia comes summer break so I plan to do LOTS of knitting/designing soon!
Loopy: Good – something to look forward to for the rest of us, too! Does anyone else in your family knit?
Stephanie: Most of my family has been or is creative/artistic in some way, but I’m the only one who is into “fiber crafts”. One of my grandmothers used to knit, but she stopped long before I had any interest in it.
Loopy: Are there any other hobbies you enjoy?
Stephanie: Yes, my first love has always been horses. Ever since I could talk, it’s all I ever wanted. I now have two that I adore greatly.
Loopy: What would be your favorite way to spend a day off? (I’m guessing it involves knitting and horses!)
Stephanie: I am naturally a morning person, so waking up early to enjoy my coffee and knit is how I like to start my days. Once the sun is up, I will gladly play with my horses all day until the sun starts to descend and then it’s time for knitting again! I should add that my cat likes to join in (or interrupt rather) the knitting time by sitting on me, he’s rather a large cat… 🙂
Loopy: I’ve got a couple of cats like that! Now – Coke or Pepsi? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?
Stephanie: I am not one for sugary drinks, so sparkling water, definitely coffee, although tea sometimes too, English, and semi-solids (of course there are some more subtle multicolors really draw me in).
Loopy: Thanks so much for being with us today!
As a special for our blog readers, Stephanie is giving a $1 discount off of any one of her patterns when you use the code: theloopyewe. The discount will be good from today (4/11) through next Friday (4/18). Bonus – Stephanie is also running an anniversary sale on her patterns for the month of April, so if you find multiple patterns of hers that you’d like to buy instead of just one, you can take 10% off an entire purchase by using the coupon code: VBManniversary2014. Pop on over to her pattern shop on Ravelry and pick something fun! I’m currently making her Saturn’s Rings pattern and have learned a couple of new stitches in the process. I’ll share that with you soon.
One of my fave designers. Thanks Loopy!
She’s one of my favorite designers. I have many of her patterns in my queue. Thank you for the spotlight!
I knit Olympic National Park a while back and am working on Bryce Canyon right now. I have plans to knit several others in the near future, so this interview came at a great time! Stephanie’s patterns are absolutely gorgeous and so well written.
Totally off topic. Absolutely love your site’s upgrades. Here’s hoping “webguy” got a generous bonus!! (Is it still your son)?
This has got to be the easiest, cleanest, clutter free site ever.
Simple to use and the photography of the goods is wonderful.
I love Stephanies designs and have knitted most of her shawl designs (some of them more then once). Really nice to read more about her life and her work as a designer.
I love her designs. The patterns are so interesting – clean and elegant too. I may have just ended up buying a bunch of them 🙂
I have one of VBM’s patterns on the needles (Metallurgy Shawl) and several others in my Favorites. Off to use the coupon code… Thanks so much!
thanks for this write up! VBM patterns are wonderful and the plus side is the LE has sooooooo many possible yarns!!
I love VBM design’s! Thank you for bring her to your blog!
I love VBM patterns – always well written and fun to knit. And they turn out great! Thanks Stephanie!