We’re happy to feature Stephen West in our Designer Spotlight today. You’ll find Stephen’s patterns run the gamut from more traditional looking designs to the truly unique. It’s always fun to see what he comes up with! I’ve made two Pogona’s, but have quite a few more of his patterns on my list. Get to know a little more about him, and then get in on the special pattern offer at the end of the post!
Loopy: Hi Stephen! Thanks for being in our Designer Spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Stephen: I’ve been knitting for 9 years. My friends in high school taught me to knit while we were rehearsing for a musical. I joined my school’s knitting club after that and all my birthday presents after that were yarn.
Loopy: Yarn is always fun to get as a present. Nice of your friends and family to support your knitting like that. What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Stephen: I will forever love shawls, but right now I’m obsessed with knitting sweaters and jackets. I love modular knitting and constructing colorful garments that can be worn many different ways.
Loopy: Your photos of different garments and the ways they can be worn are always interesting. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Stephen: I knit an art sculpture several years ago with cut strips from plastic bags. That was physically challenging for my hands to knit. I also just finished a super chunky tank top with cut strips of clear vinyl. That was tricky.
Loopy: You have so many patterns available! It’s fun to look through them all. There really is something for everyone there. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Stephen: In 2009, the owner of my first local yarn shop asked me to write a pattern for a shawl I knitted. It was for the Boneyard Arts Festival in Champaign – Urbana, IL so I called it the Boneyard Shawl. I shared many more patterns on Ravelry and seeing everyone’s projects pop up on Ravelry spurred me to continue knitting new creations and share my work with everyone online.
Loopy: Boneyard is on my list to make one day – it’s a great pattern. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Stephen: I always like my latest project. I have a new brioche stitch sweater pattern that also has a sweater dress option. That’s my favorite at the moment. I also love this year’s Mystery Shawl. It’s very colorful and it has a typical Westknits look while still being different and fresh. Some past favorites include Rockefeller, Color Craving, and Royally Striped.
Loopy: Your Mystery Shawl project looks like fun! What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Stephen: I LOVE picking new color palettes and starting projects. I knit everything myself so the knitting is my favorite part (and yarn shopping). My least favorite part happens when I knit something without writing down the complete instructions and try to figure it out months later. I’m getting better at writing patterns as I knit or immediately knitting another sample after completing the first one.
Loopy: I think picking colors and starting new projects is fun, too! That’s probably why I have too many ongoing projects …. Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Stephen: I am now a co-owner of Stephen + Penelope, A Yarn & Craft Boutique in Amsterdam which I’m very excited about. We have many new yarns and products coming all the time and exciting teachers and guests are always passing through. Amsterdam is one of the coolest places for knitting! You are all invited. 🙂
Loopy: Amsterdam definitely looks like a cool place and thanks for inviting us all. We may just show up sometime! Does anyone else in your family knit?
Stephen: My mom knows how to knit, but she quilts more. I teach her a thing or two about knitting. My whole family is very musical so I grew up hearing my dad playing the piano and my mom singing. My mom always encouraged me to do what I loved so I sang, performed in musicals and plays, and danced in my free time. It eventually led to a full dance scholarship at the University of Illinois, but then knitting took over so that takes most of my time now.
Loopy: So you come from a very creative family. Even if they don’t knit too often, I’m sure they are the recipients of some of your wonderful work. (And hopefully you get some of your mom’s quilts!) Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Stephen: I love jump roping and soaking up inspiration while traveling to new cities.
Loopy: What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Stephen: I knit during my days on and knit more during my days off. My ideal day would include traveling by train to a beautiful city nearby like Antwerp, Paris or London knitting the whole way. I would have many tasty snacks with me and a slammin’ music playlist. I would wear one of my ridiculous knit outfits to intimidate everyone in the streets. I’d visit the local yarn shop and find cafes to knit in once I arrive.
Loopy: How fun to live a train ride away from Antwerp, Paris and London! Ok – last question: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂
Stephen: Super late nights. Tea (& beer). Continental. Semi-solids. 😉
Loopy: Anything else you’d like to add?
Stephen: I have A LOT of patterns to share this fall winter. My new book with Quince & Co. yarns comes out this winters in addition to many brioche garments. I’m always working on the next 10 projects. You can continue to expect the unexpected with different styles and colors. I like to keep knitters busy. 🙂
Stephen has offered our Loopy blog readers 20% off of one of his patterns of your choice. Click over to Ravelry and take a look at his pattern page, then pick one to try out. The coupon code is: theloopyewe and is valid from today through Friday, October 31st! Which one will you start with?
Only one Stephen West pattern is like trying to eat only one potato chip. At least you can’t PHYSICALLY knit on more than one project at a time (you can have more than one started, but you have to put one down to knit on the next!).
Oh! my! I love Stephen West’s patterns and colors! This is a treat to read a little more about him and his knitting. Thank you!
Thanks for having Stephen visit; I admire his innovation and appreciate the chance to learn a little more about him.
I think we were just at that yarnshop but didn’t know Stephen West was part owner! I love his Clockwork shawl/scarf. Girasole is beautiful also!
Oops, Jared Flood did Girasole. Sorry! But Clockwork is definitely West’s and great!
Love Stephen’s patterns. I have made at least seven shawls and scarves from his patterns and have several others picked out. The patterns are amazing, easy to follow, and never a disappointment. In 2012 I used three of his patterns for my Camp Loopy projects.
Sheri — Dustland is a great choice. I knit one for a nephew as a gift. His brother — who usually doesn’t like hats requested one. Both used very different yarns but came out nicely.
Just realized I told you wrong. I was thinking that I did Chadwick for Camp Loopy, but I think I did it after camp. Anyway, I love Stephen’s patterns.
Chose “Rising Dawn” for my discounted pattern – thank you! What a nice treat!
Thank You Sheri for a wonderful insight in Stephen West’s life!!!! He is one of my favorites and have knitted several of his patterns. Color Craving was the most wonderful pattern to knit, I enjoyed every minute of it, you should try it. I am planing on doing another one soon. Thank you for the coupon!!!!