Now that the holidays are over (well, ok, quite a ways over), we can get back to our Designer Spotlight feature, which is always fun! Today we have the talented Hilary Smith Callis in the Designer Spotlight. You might know her as the designer of the Citron (which I love and have made twice – how about you?), or you may know her from one of the many other great patterns she has come up with. We’re sharing more about her and her patterns, below!
Loopy: Hi Hilary! Thanks for being in the spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Hilary: Hi Loopy! Thanks for having me here. My maternal grandmother taught me to knit while babysitting my brother and me when I was about 8 years old…but only how to knit. I learned to *purl* about 11 years ago, so I guess that’s how long I’ve been a real knitter.
Loopy: I think you can still count back to when you were 8. Knitting it knitting! What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Hilary: Right now I’m obsessed with knitting cowls that start out like semi-circular shawls, then are joined to work in the round (such as my Starshower, Appia, and Adama cowls). With a new baby in the house, I’m finding that those require just the right amount of brain power to keep things interesting but not overwhelming, and they’re small and portable. But I do also love to knit (and wear) sweaters!
Loopy: I love all three of those patterns and have linked to them in the blog here before. So cute. They are on my personal knit-sometime list! What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Hilary: That would probably be my pride and joy, my Bohus sweater. I felt like I owed it to my Swedish ancestors to get it just right, so I really had to pay attention to that yoke pattern.
Loopy: Oh, I love those colors. The teals really pop against that black. It’s beautiful! I’m sure your Swedish ancestors would be proud. 🙂 When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Hilary: I started designing immediately after knitting my first sweater in early 2007. I had an idea for another sweater I wanted but couldn’t find a pattern that looked like the one in my head, so I took bits and pieces from other patterns I found online, recalculated things based on my gauge, and put it all together to make something new. It came so naturally to me that I just kept doing it!
Loopy: Based on how many designs you’ve done, I’d say it certainly does come naturally to you. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Hilary: My shawl-cowls are a very close second, but I LOVE Itineris. (Now I feel bad for my other patterns — I love you too, other patterns!)
Loopy: Stripes! Hey, that pattern would work well for one of our Loopy Academy projects this month. (I already had that in my favorites. Must make.) What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Hilary: My favorite part of my designing might actually be the math part. I do love the knitting as well, when it all comes together, but filling in a blank Excel sheet with all the numbers that will create a knitted object makes me very happy. My least favorite part may be the swatching phase. I usually have a strong idea in my head of what I want the knitted fabric or stitch pattern to look like for a design, and it feels like it takes *forever* to get it just right. I just want to figure it out quickly so I can get to the math part!
Hilary: I used to have a day job as a Project Scheduler at NASA, but as of a year and a half ago, my only other job has been mothering two little ones. My “bosses” are almost-4 year old Daniel and 4 month old Elin.
Loopy: That’s one of the most rewarding jobs around! Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Hilary: I guess the way I do it counts as both. Because the young ones require so much attention right now (and I don’t want to miss out on these early years), any designing and knitting I do is secondary to them. But I recently counted up the hours I spend on my business every week, and it’s pretty close to a full time job! It is hard not being able to spend several hours in a row working on something, but I know that will get easier as the kidlets get older.
Loopy: Does anyone else in your family knit?
Hilary: The (amazing) grandmother who taught me to knit is the only other knitter I’m related to. Somehow, with 14 grandchildren and a handful of great-grandchildren old enough to learn on that side of the family, I’m the only one who ended up a knitter! I think I need to work on that…
Hilary: I enjoy sewing when I have the time and space to bring out all the required equipment, and I love non-digital photography. I got a new-to-me Polaroid camera last Christmas that I can’t seem to put down. (And I should put it down, because that film is expensive!)
Hilary: Day off? What is that? 🙂 Honestly, I would love to be able to spend an entire Saturday knitting, drinking coffee, and binge-watching Harry Potter movies.
Hilary: Sadly, I’m not really a morning *or* a night person these days — ask me when the baby is a little older! 🙂 Coffee for sure. Continental always. And solids (or semi-solids) are preferred.
Hilary is offering our blog readers 20% of one pattern of your choice with the code: theloopyewe Code is valid between February 20 and 27th. (Good luck picking – there are so many fun ones. You’ll find her pattern at this link.) Have you already made one of Hilary’s patterns? Do tell!