We’re back with Designer Spotlights for you and today I would like you to meet Rich Ensor (also known as thatbaldguyknits on Ravelry). I found his patterns as I was searching for sock patterns, and was impressed with all of them. You’ve seen his patterns in Knitty, as well as in various sock clubs. I hope you enjoy meeting him here on today’s blog!
Loopy: Hi Rich! Thanks for joining us today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Rich: I started knitting in December 2007. I was pet sitting for a friend, and she had left a stitch dictionary on her coffee table. I was flipping through it while her cats were taking turns begging for attention. I thought it was fascinating because the whole thing seemed to be written in code. I had to know what does ssk mean.
I found myself picking up a copy of Knitting for Dummies, a stitch dictionary, a pair of metal straight needles, and a skein of acrylic yarn. I found myself spending every evening working on a swatch of various stitch patterns. I realized that the knitting both relaxed me and gave me a creative outlet that I don’t really get from my day job. Between Knitting for Dummies and a few YouTube videos, I managed to learn enough skills to start my first project.
Loopy: Truly self-taught. That’s great. What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Rich: When I started, I was a sweater knitter. Sweaters will always be my first love, but I’ve become enamored by socks. For me, socks represent a small little canvas that is filled with possibilities.
Loopy: You do have some beautiful projects up on Ravelry. And lots of gorgeous cabled sweaters. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Rich: The Hillhead Slipover by Ann Feitelson is probably the most challenging project I’ve ever knit. Anne’s book, The Art of Fair Isle Knitting: History, Technique, Color & Patterns, was one of my early knitting purchases, and I remember flipping through the patterns thinking that they were both beautiful and intimidating. It took me a few years to muster up the courage to finally cast on.
Loopy: Wow. That vest is beautiful. And definitely looks challenging. I also like your Vaila Slipover by the same designer. So when did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Rich: I started designing in 2012, and it was a complete accident. I had taught myself how to resize sock patterns because I kept finding so many interesting patterns that weren’t written to include a size that would fit me. Anne Hanson was teaching a sock design workshop at my LYS, which sounded like it might be fun, and I thought I might learn a few more tricks to resize other patterns, and maybe play around with some stitch dictionaries. I had no actual intention of becoming a designer.
As part of the class, each student started working on their own sock design. At the end of the workshop, the LYS owner saw my project and offered to buy the pattern for their website. I wrote the pattern, and really enjoyed the experience.
Rich: This is like picking your favorite child. If I have to pick one, I’d say On the Edge of a Maelstrom. I like the idea of having a cabled sock where the cables were interrupted by a band that traveled around the leg. This pattern is a really good example of playing with some stitch patterns to get an interesting result.
Loopy: I like the curly cables that go up the front on that one. It’s a great design. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Rich: I love working out the concept of a new design. It feels like play when I’m figuring out how different stitch patterns might fit together and how to make the idea work for multiple sizes.
My absolute least favorite part of the process is writing a paragraph that describes my inspiration for a design. In most cases, my inspiration is that I was playing around with some stitch patterns and found something that I think looks cool. That statement doesn’t work very well when submitting to publications.
Loopy: I’m glad you include those, though, It’s interesting to read about where the design idea came from. Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Loopy: So you do this design business on the side? Is that hard?
Rich: Designing is a side business for me. Because of that, my biggest challenge is managing time and not overcommitting. I have a lot of ideas, but a limited amount of time to work on them, so I have to be careful to not sign up for deadlines that I can’t meet.
Loopy: Does anyone else in your family knit?
Rich: My family consists of me and four cats. I’m the only one that knits; although, the cats do like to play with stitch markers.
Rich: I really enjoy cooking and reading. I can get lost in a book for days. I like photography, but despite several classes, I’m really bad at it.
Loopy: What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Rich: Going out to my local diner for breakfast while reading, and then catching up with friends at my LYS. I’d probably end the day having pasta for dinner with my best friend, and enjoying a really good bottle of red wine.
Rich: Morning – mid-morning to be precise. Coffee – stronger the better. English – my left hand will not behave. Solids – multicolors eat stitch patterns.
Loopy: Yes, that’s true about the multicolors, especially with the types of patterns you design with a lot of stitches playing in there. Your patterns are great for solids and semi-solids for sure. Anything else you’d like to add?
Rich: Above all else, knitting should be fun. If you’re ever feeling frustrated by a project, remember, it’s only yarn, it can’t hurt you.
Rich has provided us with a coupon code (theloopyewe) that is valid from today through next Friday, for 20% off of one of his patterns of your choosing, via Ravelry. You can find all of his patterns at this link. (Coupon valid Jun 17-24)
Some sock yarns that would work well for his patterns would include: Dream in Color Smooshy, and Smooshy with Cashmere, Magpie Fibers Swanky Sock, Malabrigo Sock, Shalimar Breathless, Spud and Chloe Fine, Uncommon Thread Posh Fingering, Wollmeise Twin, and The Loopy Ewe Solid Series.
Have a great weekend!
Sheri and The Loopy Ewe Crew