Designer Spotlight: Josh Ryks

Josh RyksToday we have Designer Josh Ryks in our Loopy Spotlight. We think his designs are fun and we’re partial to him because he always leaves us the nicest order notes on his orders. 🙂 Be sure to read to the bottom for a special offer!

Loopy: Hi Josh! Thanks for being in the spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?

Josh: Hi Loopy! Thanks for having me. I have been a knitter for about 9 years now I think. I actually taught myself from a learn-to-knit kit that my sister got for Christmas one year. It had a booklet, needles, and some random notions that were quite intimidating for a beginner knitter! I taught myself from that little instruction booklet on some truly horrible acrylic yarn (the stuff was splitty and just awful.

My second yarn that I used was a much nicer acrylic Fatal Woundyarn!) and got going. I remember finding the cast on and knit stitch much easier than the purl stitch. I had to grab a different book from our local library for that one!

Loopy: I have always thought that some of the symbols and some of the notions in knitting were intimidating if you were just starting in. Especially so if you’re teaching yourself. I’m glad that you ignored all of that and pushed forward! What is your favorite type of item to knit?

Graphic InfectionJosh: I adore knitting shawls! They are the most interesting and boundary-pushing things in the knitting world and I just love wearing them! Shawls are, for me, the best thing one could knit to learn or try new things on!

Loopy: I like shawls a lot, too. I end up wearing them more like a scarf, but I love them. And they are usually more fun to knit. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?

AeoraJosh: I would say that the most challenging thing that I’ve knitted to date would have to be the Evenstar shawl by Susan Pandorf. The shawl itself wasn’t the challenging part, but rather my personal goal of making it in less than 9 days. That was quite a challenge! But I did succeed and I love the design and the gorgeousness of the lace is breath-taking.

Tortured EyesLoopy: NINE DAYS??  Well you really did set yourself up with a heft challenge. Congratulations on meeting that goal! When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?

Josh: I started designing after knitting some of Stephen West’s shawls and other “modern” designers that introduced me to the world of color and shaping and new techniques that stemmed from the base techniques of knitting and I understood the structure of it all. The combinations of color and shape and line and texture hooked me and I actually started thinking that I could do this too. So I did!

Urban Survival ShawlLoopy: And you seem to have fun with all of that in your designs. With all of the patterns you’ve designed, do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?

Josh: I do! It’s my Urban Survival shawl and it’s my favorite for three reasons:

1) It’s a super unique, fun, and interesting construction/concept for a shawl. It’s a great example of how a shawl can be used to explore and create a new idea/technique in knitting.

2) Urban Survival is by far my most non-knitter approved piece! I get asked constantly where I got it from and who designed it. I love that it’s a piece that passes off as something that is high fashion and not something that someone easily can tell is hand-knitted.

Color Spike3) It’s fun and challenging enough to entice the most experienced knitters to have fun, all the while being something that is completely approachable for most knitters!

Loopy: That is a great looking shawl, and it’s always fun to pick colors for a pattern that requires more than one. It looks like a big project, which is also fun! What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?

Josh: I love the energy and focus that comes with the whole process of selecting yarns, needles, colors, stitches, and designing. I love the maths, the sketching, and Greek Firethe idea being made into an actual physical piece. My least favorite part is the pattern writing! It just takes away from all the fun of knitting and designing! I will fully admit that I have about 10+ things that need to be written, but I’m having WAAAY too much fun knitting new things. But eventually I make myself put down my flaming needles and just write. It’s really not that bad once you get into it, but getting there is the challenge!

FracturedLoopy: You need to put the needles down and get to those next 10+ patterns. The knitters are waiting! Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?

Josh: I do! I work full-time as an assistant manager at a retail store. Thankfully my job is in the fashion realm and I get to see trends and colors of each season that can help inspire me and my design career.

Loopy: Do you do this business full-time, or on the side?  And is that hard?

Bumper CropJosh: It’s on the side, sadly. I would love it to be my full time gig, but at the moment, I create on the side. It is sometimes immensely difficult to balance between both jobs. It can be particularly difficult when one has a bunch of design deadlines and projects and teaching opportunities and your everyday job wants you equally as much.

But the designing and knitting help to make it through all the crazy of work and everyday life, all the while providing a creative outlet for all my pent-up creative energy!

Structured ShadowsLoopy: It’s a great creative outlet, for sure. Does anyone else in your family knit?

Josh: I come from a very large family and with me being the oldest of the bunch, I find that a lot of the younger ones have picked up knitting by osmosis due to seeing me knit all the time. They are also constantly fascinated by the whole process of a new design as it blocks out and are always asking if they can have my sample!

But I would say that they are all intermittent knitters and I’m the most committed one of the bunch. My sister who received the learn-to-knit kit also knits, since she and I unraveled (ha! knitting pun!) the mystery of knitting together, but she knits for leisure and I use knitting as a creative outlet for all my colorful crazy!

Celtic SecretLoopy: That’s great that you are stirring up some interest with them as they watch you work on things. It’s always fun to knit with family! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?

Josh: I enjoy baking gourmet desserts or dishes, reading, board gaming, traveling, painting, and learning new things!

Loopy: And what would be your favorite way to spend a day off?

Steel CityJosh: With a nice pot of tea with my group of knitterly friends, yarn shopping, and knitting on my most recent design. There is nothing I like more on a day off then casting on a new design and pouring my excited energy into it!

Loopy: OK – last question set: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂

TailspinJosh: I am both a morning and night person, but I’m more of a morning person! I ADORE tea! I have a tea stash that can definitely compete with my yarn stash! I am a continental knitter and I DEFINITELY prefer solid/tonals/speckles more than multicolored/variegated yarns!

Loopy: Oh, I should have asked you to send a photo of your tea stash. That sounds wonderful! Anything else you’d like to add?

TyphoonJosh: Have FUN when knitting! Don’t stress about the techniques or any insecurities you may feel about something. Just go for it, have fun, challenge yourself, and even if you end up with a mess, have fun, laugh, and move on! Knitting is supposed to be fun and make us feel better! So don’t bring stress, worry, and obligation into it!

Thanks for a great time today, Loopy, and I just adore your shop!!! Hugs to all of you amazing elves and Sheri!

Loopy: Thanks again, Josh!

Josh is offering all of our Loopy Blog Readers 20% off of one pattern of his, your choice. You can find his patterns at this link. Enter the code: theloopyewe  when you check out. The offer if good from today (December 19) through Christmas Day (December 25)!

Sheri wait-ChristmasDayisjustaweekaway??

4 comments

  1. Marvelous interview! I had the immense pleasure of hosting Josh at my LYS in CT last Aug. He is as fabulous as he is talented. He taught wildly successful classes and nearly five mos later my customers are still knitting his pieces and bringing them in to show off! His patterns are exceptionally well written especially for a guy who doesn’t particularly enjoy the writing part :). A factoid that might intersest readers is that the beautiful photos of Josh modeling his projects are selfies! Talk about multi talented….

  2. Thank you, Josh, for the coupon code and the lovely designs from which to choose. (I chose the Scottish Nightmare.) Great interview.

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