Designer Spotlight – Esther Braithwaite

What fun holiday patterns! I asked Esther if she’d like to be in a Designer Spotlight, so I could share all of these beautiful knitted toys with you. I was happy that she said yes! I know you’ll love getting to know a little bit about her and the wonderful things she has done with her talents. (And read to the end for a special offer for all of our blog readers.)

Winter Folk Friends Esther Braithwaite
©Esther Braithwate
Winter Folk Friends Esther Braithwaite
©Esther Braithwate

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

Esther: Hi Loopy! I’ve been knitting for almost thirty years. I was taught by my mom when I was a teenager. My very first project was an aqua coloured baby blanket that I kept on the end of my bed for years.

Izzy Teddy Bear Dolls Esther Braithwaite
©Esther Braithwate

Loopy: I’m glad you used a pretty color for your first project. (My first project was a bright yellow sweater with a lime green stripe. I did not have that for years. Understandably!) What is your favorite type of item to knit?

Esther: It’s no surprise that my favourite things to knit are dolls for charity donations. For the last few years I’ve knit about a hundred dolls a year for different charity organizations. I’ve also been blessed with a niece to knit for, so I’ve been making quite a few baby sweaters over the last few months.

Loopy: A … hundred … dolls … a … year? That is mind boggling! What an awesome thing for you to do. Wow.

What is the most challenging thing you have knit to date?

Esther: I was so taken with a baby romper I saw online, I decided to try to make it for my niece … even though the pattern was written in Norwegian. Working from computer-translated directions was a lot harder than I expected!

Forest Friends Dolls Esther Braithwaite
©Esther Braithwate

Loopy: I’ve never tried that, but I can only imagine the translation didn’t always work just right! When did you start designing and what spurred that interest?

Esther: I started designing my own doll patterns about four years ago. My mom shared a news article about a charity drive for handknit donations to be given to Syrian refugees in Canada. I knit my first doll from that basic charity pattern, but the construction was so ingenious I was sure it could be adapted to new designs. When one of my Instagram photos went viral on Pinterest last year, I decided it was time to start publishing the patterns.

Buffalo Girls Esther Braithwaite
©Esther Braithwate

Loopy: I think that was definitely a good idea. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?

Esther: My favourite seems to be whatever I’m working on in the moment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “This pattern might be my favourite yet!” And I mean it every time.

Pretty Izzy Dolls Esther Braithwaite
©Esther Braithwate

Loopy: What is your favorite part about your designing? And your not so favorite part?

Esther: Being a designer has been so rewarding. Every day I receive messages from all over the world about the ways my dolls are being shared and loved – from NICU’s in Italy to orphanages in Romania to first responders in Spain. More children are being reached with these patterns that I could ever have helped with my own knitting projects. Designing has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. I’d say the only challenge is finding time to create all the ideas I have swirling in my head.

Loopy: I do think that is the most challenging thing for creative people. Too many ideas and not enough time. Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?

Esther: I am a wife, mother of two school-aged boys, and full time high school English teacher. My life is wonderfully full.

Mini Forest Friends Esther Braithwaite
©Esther Braithwate

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

Esther: Knitting is a hobby that has turned into a side business. In some ways, it has made things easier. Knitting was always a way for me to relieve stress. Now that I’m a little more visible as a maker, I also get a lot of positive feedback for my work. It really is a feel-good endeavor.

Kitty Friends Esther Braithwaite
©Esther Braithwate

Loopy: It is such a great stress relief, isn’t it? Are there other hobbies you enjoy?

Esther: If I’m not knitting, I’m reading. Sometimes I’m doing both at the same time, thanks to audiobooks.

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

Esther: On weekends, we love to go hiking in local conservation areas or our national park.

Furry Friends Puppy Dolls Esther Braithwaite
©Esther Braithwate

Loopy: Ok – last question: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental Knitting?

Esther: I’m a morning person by necessity. We have to leave the house by 7:15 am to get everyone to school and work on time. My kids never sleep in; not even on weekends. Coffee is definitely my friend!

I actually knit both ways. I learned English, but was mesmerized when I saw Elizabeth Zimmerman knitting Continental on a PBS special years and years ago. I taught myself Continental by watching and rewatching her on VHS. Now I mostly knit Continental, but when I knit Fairisle patterns, I carry a strand of yarn in each hand, knitting Continental with one and English with the other.

Mermaid Friends Esther Braithwaite
©Esther Braithwate

Loopy: I hope to learn that trick for knitting Fairisle someday! Thanks so much for being with us today, Esther.

Esther: Thanks for hosting me! It has been a lot of fun to reflect on my knitting and designing.

Loopy: Esther is kindly offering a 25% discount on all patterns and ebooks between today and December 13th, for all of our Loopy blog readers. (Discount code: LOOPY ) Pop over and check them all out! And then head over to our Jamieson & Smith selection, because that’s a perfect yarn to use for this adorable patterns.

Sheri

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