Designer Spotlight: Hilary Smith Callis

MiraborNow 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?

Mielie VestHilary: 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?

StarshowerHilary: 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!

AdamaLoopy: 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?

AppiaHilary: 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?

Cloudy SundayHilary: 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?

ItinerisHilary: 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?

Lilas CardiganHilary: 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!

SidereLoopy: Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?

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?

SafireHilary: 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 Cerus Scarfolder.

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…

Indicum PulloverLoopy: Yes, it might be time to bring some of the rest of them into the loop, so to speak. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?

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!)

Luna ViridisLoopy: Non-digital photography is an interesting hobby. I didn’t realize they still made film that was readily available. What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?

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.

Betty MinisweaterLoopy: OK – last question and it’s a multi-part. Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?

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.

Lysa PulloverThanks so much for spending time on the blog with us today, Hilary. It was fun learning more about your knitting and designing career. We’ll look forward to seeing what you have next for us!

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!

Sheri thinkingaboutStarshowerformyself


    1. I love those cowl patterns. Especially the ones where it looks like you can pull them down over your shoulders if you need to be a little warmer.

  1. I love your designs! I can’t decide which I like best…. Several are in my queue! Turntable… Starshower… Sidere… Ugh. Where to begin!

  2. I’m assuming the code is to work on Ravelry, not your site, correct? I have knit Adama and would like to do Starshower. Now I need some sparkly yarn for it!

  3. I, too, have a few of her patterns in my Favorites that I want to knit. This must be a sign I should start one. What’s another WIP among friends, eh?!

  4. I love her work! I made a Citron for Camp Loopy one year. So nice!!! I have quite a few of her patterns in my rav library and here at home! Great post! Thanks, Sheri! And for the code!!!

  5. I’ll have to take a look at the pattern store! I didn’t realize she designed sweaters, etc. All I see are the cowls and shawls (which I really like!). But wow! those sweaters!

  6. I am making the Mielie vest right now, and it has the best instructions I’ve ever read. I’m very picky about that, but this pattern has just the right combo of detail and clarity…it’s a joy to knit, and it’s so cute, too! i can’t wait to wear it.

  7. I’ve knit the Eclipse Top from Knitscene Summer 2013, and I used her Safire as the starting point for a cardigan I made for a co-worker’s daughter to wear at her wedding reception.

  8. I’ve got starshower on my needles right now! Hoping to finish it this week while the temperatures are still chilly here in NC!

  9. enjoyed the interview and thanks for the discount! I have NOT knitted a Citron but it’s been in my que forever. I am very interested in the 3 cowls shown and linked. I call them shoulder warmers and they are perfect for FL winters. Thanks Mel

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