In today’s Designer Spotlight, we’re happy to have Louise from Inspiration Knits. Louise has designed some really fun patterns (and I’ve made several!) and I know you’ll have fun getting to know more about her. Be sure to read all the way to the end for a special offer from Inspiration Knits.
Loopy: Hi Louise – thanks for being in our spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Louise: Hi Loopy – thank you for interviewing me! I’ve been a knitter for over 30 years. My Home Economics teacher taught me to knit when I was about 8 years old.
Louise: I usually knit accessories, which is probably why I gravitate towards designing them. One skein of luxury yarn is affordable for a small project or lovely gift, even if it’s out of reach in a sweater quantity. There is less risk it won’t fit, less worrying over gauge, and you can really show off a beautiful yarn. I like my knitting to be fun.
If I had to pick just one thing, it would probably be a cowl – they keep you warm, look pretty and are way faster to make than a scarf. I think big garter stitch scarves should be outlawed as a first-ever-knitting-project – they go on and on until they’ve drained the new knitter’s enthusiasm. A snug cowl is barely bigger than a hat, but without the fit issues. I’ve seen cowls referred to as “knitters’ snacks”. They’re very more-ish.
Loopy: That’s true – a cowl does make a fun project any time (first project or 100th project). What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Loopy: When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Louise: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t designing things. It’s like breathing.
Loopy: Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Louise: I get asked this a lot. I have trouble choosing! The answer is often the last thing I designed, which at the moment is Siren Song. I resisted making this shawl version of Song of the Sea because the stitch pattern is so much easier in the round, but I was being asked constantly for the flat version. I’m glad I did it because I think it shows the waves off even better. And knitters who’ve made Song of the Sea can progress their lace skills with the shawl.
I love Foolproof for its weird construction. I love people’s reaction to the idea of a cowl made flat that comes out in the round. Imagine me trying to explain to my knitting group what I was swatching? They just looked at me very strangely!
I love Knit Night for its sheer versatility. It solves so many knitterly problems – getting a proper-size scarf out of one skein of 4ply, easy for knitting-and-chatting but not boring, what to do with variegated yarns, trying out beads for the first time, good for a novice and the more experienced, popular gift… Most of the sample and test knitters had cast on another one before the pattern was even published. The most I’ve heard that anyone has knit so far is 8!
Loopy: Knit Night is on my list! And I have to say, your Song of the Sea cowl is one of my favorites. It looks so impressive, but was easy to knit. I’ll have to check out the shawl version. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Louise: I love swatching new ideas. I love playing with yarn, putting colours together, trying new textures. I love gathering ideas, going to galleries, filling the creative reserves and giving it a stir around. It’s fun.
It can be hard when something that feels like a fantastic idea in my head turns out to be dreadful in reality. That’s really disappointing, but part of designing is about trying and trying again to find a better solution.
My kids have a lovely book called “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, where Rosie celebrates such situations with “That’s great! Now you know one of the ways in which it doesn’t work!” It’s now a running joke at home so sometimes when my husband asks me how my day went, I reply “I found lots of ways in which this yarn doesn’t work!” I like this kind of creative challenge, to make a beautiful yarn look gorgeous when knitted-up.
I’m less keen on the final part of pattern tweaking, when it’s almost ready for publication. By that stage, I just want it done, but I get sucked into obsessing about all the tiny details. I’m prone to fiddling with it quite a bit after testing, trying out different wording, just to make sure it’s really clear. Luckily my tech editor is excellent. I get quite stressed about wanting the pattern to be the best it can.
Louise: I’m mum to two young children. They’re both at school now, but only just.
Loopy: School days give you a little more design time, then, I’m sure. Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Louise: I’m a full-time designer and a full-time mum, or at least that’s what it feels like! So yes, two full-time jobs is hard. Designing has to fit with the school routine, plus a lot of evenings and other odd bits of time.
Also, the internet is always on so designing can feel like 24/7 sometimes, and two 24/7 jobs is too much. I have to be really disciplined to stay off the internet at times, so I get some proper downtime. I was secretly glad when my cell didn’t work when we went abroad in the Summer…I couldn’t check in with work and I couldn’t even Instagram! It was definitely for the best.
Loopy: A break from being online is good once in awhile. Nice that you had a vacation without it! Does anyone else in your family knit?
Louise: My mother-in-law knits. She makes me socks, which I love. I’m not a sock knitter (yet), which is mainly because having big feet makes it less appealing. When/if I write sock patterns, they will have sizes, not a vague statement about adjusting the gauge. My mother-in-law is also an incredible crocheter.
My husband can knit but rarely does so. He did knit for our son when he was born…but he lost the will on the sleeves so I had to step in to finish it up so it had a chance to be worn before it got too small!
Our kids are really interested in my knitting, particularly petting the yarn. They occasionally ask to do a few stitches on my projects. They’re getting their own needles and some brightly-coloured wool this Christmas. Hopefully they won’t comment that it’s not as soft as mummy’s special cashmere or silk blends…they are learning fast about fiber
Loopy: That’s fun that they are getting yarn and needles for Christmas. I hope they love knitting. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Louise: I love baking. I gravitate towards making cakes, brownies and cookies, but I try to do savory things too so it’s not all sugar-laden treats! I’m also trying to persuade my kids that “cinnamon is a condiment”, as an American friend put it. They prefer it when my baking involves chocolate or frosting.
I’m getting back into basketball this Autumn after a big break. I played (very) competitively in my youth but I’m thinking about coaching now. My kids are taking an interest so it feels like its time for it to come back into my life.
I’ve just started learning to spin with a spindle. It’s partly just for fun, but it’s also because friends who spin have told me that a lot of my patterns are good for handspun. I want to have a better understanding of the process of fibre to handspun to knitting project. A kindly person told me that the lumpy stuff I’m making at beginner stage is “art yarn”, ha, ha!
Louise: Bake something for family breakfast. Shoot some hoops. Go for a good coffee and a leafy walk with my husband (I’m assuming he has the day off too), finishing up somewhere we can have a delicious leisurely lunch, with wine. Play with the kids (they’ve been at school). Collapse on the sofa with my knitting, my husband and a film. And good chocolate.
Louise: I’m a morning and night person, but not good at afternoons. I love the structure of a Spanish day, with a siesta. Coffee and tea, but if I had to pick one it would be good coffee, with a palmier from our local Italian bakery. I’m a terrible coffee snob. English or Continental? Is that breakfast or knitting? English knitter, Continental breakfast. Is it becoming clear that food is almost as big a thing for me as knitting? I love solids and multicolors, which is how I wind up designing patterns for both. Maybe my answer should be semi-solid?
Loopy: Ha – I think more of your personality came out in that answer! Anything else you’d like to add?
Louise: There’s never anything “right” or “wrong” in knitting. There’s lots of different ways to do most techniques, so pick the method or effect you like best, and that’s “right”. Knitting should be fun.
Loopy: That’s a good way to end. Knitting should be fun.
Louise is offering a 20% discount on one of her patterns via her Ravelry Pattern Store. You can check out her patterns here, and the discount code is: loopyinspiration The discount is good between today (the 7th) and next Friday, the 14th. Have you made any of her patterns before? They are great. Have fun picking out a new one, and then I’ll bet we have just the yarn for you to make it!