Today we have the Jen Geigley as our featured designer! You probably have seen her GAP-tastic Cowl around Ravelry in the last several years. It’s a beautiful and easy project to keep you warm in the winter.
Loopy: Thanks for joining us, Jen! How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Jen: I have been knitting since 2008, and I was taught by my two good friends Amy and Sarah. We are all moms and over the years we have built a solid knitting group that meets pretty regularly.
Jen: I love to knit sweaters … for myself and my kids. I love letting my kids choose their own colors of yarn and then making them a sweater that might be a size or two too big so they can wear it a little longer than one season.
Loopy: Smart! I’m sure they love picking their own colors too. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Jen: This may sound weird but I don’t choose challenging knits on purpose for the sake of a challenge … I choose things that I will really want to wear. Lots of those knits are simple and modern. But my biggest knitting challenge overall would be knitting and re-knitting an entire collection for a book that I’m writing. It can be a grueling process but I love it.
Loopy: Oh I’m sure it can be grueling. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Jen: In 2010, I started self publishing a few patterns on Ravelry. My first pattern was the Gaptastic cowl, which was an accidental success. From there, I started keeping a notebook of pattern ideas. Some of them were super weird, and I’d knit a lot of little swatches. I submitted a few designs to Vogue Knitting, Knit Simple and Noro Magazine and ended up getting published which was really unexpected and exciting. That’s when I really started to think of myself as a potential knitwear designer. I had done it, now it was real and I could try new things without feeling nervous about it. I started slowly playing with ideas for my own collection. And I mean very slowly. I think it took an entire year to brainstorm ideas for my first book. I played around with swatches and knitting pieces of things but to be honest, I was talking myself into really going for it. I was scared and didn’t know if writing a book was even possible. One day, I decided to just go for it. I made myself a firm deadline (fall of that year) and that was it. I wasn’t going to let another knitting season pass me by. I had to have that deadline. I wrote a note to myself on a post-it and kept it on the inside cover of my sketch book and it just said ‘Don’t stop.’
Jen: I would have to say that my favorite is the Gap-tastic on Ravelry. It’s just a simple seed stitch cowl but it became popular almost overnight … without me knowing it. It wasn’t until I went into my local yarn store and they told me that it had reached number one on Ravelry that I realized what had happened. I checked recently and there have been 18,465 people who have made a Gaptastic and it’s in 14,138 Ravelry queues. That blows my mind!
Jen: My favorite part is the excitement you feel as a design starts to come together! I love sketching and swatching … and then turning that into something real that matches my vision. My not-so-favorite part is when something doesn’t turn out as expected … I always compare it to Project Runway. Can you make it work? Sometimes there is a piece that just doesn’t fit with my collection and I have to edit. That can be hard when you spend a lot of time and energy knitting a garment.
Loopy: Definitely. Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Jen: I do – I am a freelance graphic designer and a stay at home mom to two kids. I also teach knitting classes to adults and children at schools in my city.
Jen: I write knitting books/teach classes on the side, and it can definitely be a challenge to integrate all the work that requires with the daily craziness in our house. But I love it. Designing and writing are flexible and I can do it on my own time. I’m also a night owl, which really helps. I mostly work when my kids are asleep at night.
Loopy: Being a night owl does have its perks like that. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Jen: My 10 year old daughter knits! I taught her when she was 5 and she loves it. We frequently go to coffee shops or parks and knit together. I hope to teach my son too when he gets a bit older.
Loopy: How special! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Jen: I love all kinds of crafting! I have been experimenting with painting and dyeing and bleaching knits and fabrics lately … more of that to come in my third book which will be released this fall.
Jen: I love going to art museums or checking out live music. I am a bit of a metal head but love all kinds of music. Music is a huge source of inspiration for me. I also love wandering around downtown in my lovely city of Des Moines. There’s always a lot to see and do.
Loopy: It sounds like a great day! Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?
Jen: I am definitely a night person! I drink coffee every day … but I love tea too. I absolutely love admiring the multi-colored, speckled, hand-dyed yarns out there and I own a ton of them … but my true love is neutral solids. That’s what I wear the most and gravitate towards.
Jen has provided us with a coupon code (loopyewe) valid from today through next Friday for 20% off one of her patterns or ebooks of your choosing, via Ravelry. You can find all of Jen’s patterns at this link. (Coupon valid from September 15 – 22).