Today we have Ambah O’Brien in our Designer Spotlight. We are in love with her gorgeous shawl patterns! But you will find other fun patterns from her design studio as well. Read on to find out more about her!
Loopy: Hi Ambah! Thanks for being with us today. Tell us how long have you been a knitter, and who taught you to knit?
Ambah: Hi Loopy! My first memory of knitting was around age 7. My mother would cast on and I knit garter stitch squares and small blankets for my toys, plus a scarf attempt. She would also cast off for me. Purl seemed so mystical, something I didn’t attempt until much later. I have always been crafty but it was only in more recent years that I took up knitting properly. my son taught me how to cast on and off and to purl around 4 years ago and I quickly became obsessed. He learnt at school at the age of 7, and is quite accomplished himself. He was attentive and pointed out my mistakes, instructing me to go back and fix them. To this day he likes to check my knitting for errors!
Loopy: Ha – it’s always nice to have someone else keeping you accountable, isn’t it? 🙂 Do you have a favorite item that you like to knit?
Ambah: I couldn’t choose, every project is satisfying in one way or another, either the anticipation of gifting it or wearing it myself, or learning a new skill or the simple meditation of a rhythmic project as I am with others or enjoying a program. I feel antsy if I haven’t knit anything during the day, so it seems to be a necessity! At around the same time a friend of mine opened a LYS with beautiful yarns, in fact I bought some skeins from her before I could knit as they were so beautiful. She introduced me to Ravelry and I quickly became obsessed with all things knitting!
Loopy: I like that you bought beautiful yarn before you even learned to knit because you appreciated the color and beauty. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit? Or that you find with knitting?
Ambah: I am continually feeling challenged by knitting, from when I finally learnt to purl to each new technique I explore. There have been plenty of learning curves and “aha” moments and I am sure there will be many more to come.
Loopy: When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Ambah: About a year after I began knitting I surprised myself by deciding to design my first pattern. Prior to that I certainly enjoyed modifying other patterns and adding my own flavor to my projects. I really didn’t think that I would actually create patterns until I was overcome by an urge to create something I kept thinking about making. I had found myself with an idea of what I wanted to make and searching patterns to find it More often than not I couldn’t find a pattern for what I was seeing in my mind so I began to create them myself. The more I design, the more ideas I have so I seem to be in a self perpetuating cycle of design now.
Loopy: That’s a good cycle to be in! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Ambah: Oh gosh! I really love them all, I find myself moving through phases with them too, when the design is fresh I tend to wear it a lot, then a new one comes along and I’m suddenly obsessed with that one, then I may find myself reviving an older sample and begin wearing that again. Often I am inspired by what I would like to wear, so I am aiming to design patterns that appeal to me. I particularly enjoy seeing others knit up my multiple coloured patterns, it’s always so exciting to see the different colour combinations other people select.
Ambah: I enjoy all aspects of designing, my very favourite part is when I see others enjoy the pattern too and create a beautiful finished object that reflects them, with their colour choices. My least favourite part would be never being able to keep up with myself! All the ideas I have whirling around, when I can only physically knit one thing at a time.
Loopy: I feel that way, too. Never enough time to do all of the things you want to do! Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Ambah: I am a mum – my greatest creation! I also work as an artist, running my own business as a Face and Body Artist, an Industry that has enabled me to travel throughout Australia and Internationally as a teacher and as an Artist. This I have been doing for around 15 years, since Knitting has taken over my life I have found myself pulling back on the amount of work I do in this area, these days I have reduced my hours to part time.
Loopy: A Face and Body Artist? That sounds interesting! Tell us more about that.
Ambah: In my early 20’s I discovered painting on people and was quickly hooked! I do children and adult face painting for festivals and events and body painting for corporate clients. I have traveled across Australia and internationally to teach and also on assignments!
Loopy: Well that is a fascinating line of work! And all about color and design, like your knitting! (Check out her painting work on her Ambah website!) For your knitting design work – do you do that full time then, or part time?
Ambah: I concentrate full time on knitting design, and there are still never enough hours in the day to do all that I want. I work long days and I really enjoy it.
Loopy: Does anyone else in your family knit?
Ambah: My Mother and Grandmother knit, particularly a lot when I was young, they created beautiful colourwork jumpers for my sister and I. My Mum was a fashion designer and has a large amount of creative flair and style that has always been an inspiration for me. I have an Aunt who creates amazing Irish Crochet pieces, I find myself in awe of her skills.
Ambah: I love to garden, cook feasts for family and friends and dabble in crafts in general – sewing, jewelry making.
Loopy: So what would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Ambah: I love to have adventures with my family and /or friends. Anything goes – trip to the beach, walking in the bush, a festival, seeing a show, participating in my community.
Ambah: Definitely a night owl. Coffee please. English and dabbling in continental. Hand dyed solids.
Loopy: Great! Anything else you’d like to add?
Ambah: Thank you for this opportunity to chat. I’d love to offer your readers a 20% discount off a pattern of their choice from my Ravelry store with the coupon code loopyambah
Have fun picking out a new pattern for yourself, and then pop over to The Loopy Ewe to find the perfect yarn for your new pattern!
Sheri and The Loopy Ewe Crew