We are huge Casapinka fans around here (as you know!) and we’re delighted to have Bronwyn (aka Casapinka) in our Designer Spotlight today. So many of you ordered yarn for her Breathe and Hope and Hug Shot shawls during the past few months, and I know a lot of you have done her Goldfish Memory with us. Read about how she came to knitting, how Sharon From Security got a name change, and all about her new Mystery Knit Along!
Loopy: Hi Bronwyn! Thanks so much for being in our Spotlight today. First of all, how long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Casapinka: Hi Loopy! I learned to “actually” knit when I left my home in northern Maine to be an exchange student in New Zealand during high school. I spent a rainy week with my best friend during our school vacation, just watching movies and being sort of bored, while her sister nearly completed a sweater! That was such a changing moment for me because I realized that a little bit of knitting over an extended time really does add up. And I still use that today if something seems to be going slowly. Before that week, my impression was that knitting just took forever. I had learned to crochet in middle school and actually knew how to knit and purl, but I never would have knit because of that “it takes forever” impression!
Loopy: So true. Even spending consistent little pockets of time in knitting really does add up into making something beautiful. What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Casapinka: That is like choosing children! I like constant change so I don’t get bored. If I’ve done a couple of shawl patterns, then I crave a sweater or a small accessory. The fun part for me is always having something different to do . Sometimes, I crave in-the-round knitting, especially if I have a good podcast going or something like that, or if I start to watch Homeland for the 5th time! Shawls definitely take more concentration since the edge numbers are always changing so I have to be in the right mindset.
Loopy: I think that’s what I love so much about many of your patterns – you build in changes often enough that the knitter doesn’t get bored working on it. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Casapinka: The designer Jenny Kee had a book out with a skirt that had all of these intarsia emblems of Australia and I HAD to make it! I got it into my mind that 19 small skeins dangling off of a skirt would be awesome! I made it about a foot in (starting at the bottom) and then after having 19 bobbins continuously dangling from the skirt, I was ready to pack it in. After I finished with the Sydney Opera House – I had gotten my fill!
Loopy: Yes – maybe a scarf or cowl with all of those beautiful emblems might have been better?? When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Casapinka: I started designing during a protracted course with Lyme Disease when I discovered indie dyed yarns and I loved how knitting made me feel productive. Even though I was lying in bed a lot, I was completing something, and since I’m a “doer” by nature, it just worked for me. I had a lot to learn, however, which I did by knitting other peoples’ patterns and trying new techniques, and just experimenting.
Loopy: The only upside of Lyme Disease, I’m sure! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Casapinka: There is something about the shawl pattern Quindici that I really love. The name is Italian for “Fifteen” and it has 15 separate sections and I designed it while visiting Italy with my daughter several years ago. I love how simple and textured it is and how it has all of these amazing memories knit into it. I also love how I can use 3 different colors and I keep switching back and forth between them; it reminds me of so many good train rides, the visit to the DaVinci museum in Florence, and all of our on-foot explorations of Rome, when I would pull it out, order Aperol Spritz, and rest and knit in the heat with my girl.
Loopy: That really is a beautiful pattern, and I love that you have so many wonderful memories attached to it. What is your favorite part of designing (and your not so favorite part)?
Casapinka: I love choosing my yarns! And then figuring out what to do with them. I always try to have some mindless knitting during a design since I have a hectic household and need time to just chill even if I’m working on a new design. I love when a design is on a mindless knitting section because I can relax and just let it knit itself. I really enjoy most of the processes of designing, though, from choosing yarn to sketching, looking for different stitches (I love stitch dictionaries) to doing the knitting (and the frogging!). Writing up the pattern is not my favorite. I always want to just type “Do what I did. You know what I mean. Make it your own.” Luckily, I have a fantastic tech editor who can pretty much read my mind and she makes it very knittable in the places where I don’t!
Loopy: A good tech editor is worth their weight in gold! Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Casapinka: I would say I do this business double time. Definitely not on the side. I’m usually knitting, answering emails, or researching a new pattern, late into the night. It’s flexible, though, and I make it fit into what I enjoy about life: spending time with family and friends, listening to True Crime podcasts, watching Air Crash investigations, or listening to Air Traffic Control in and out of JFK (I’m an aviation nerd). Oh, and managing Sharon From Security, which in itself is a full time job!
Loopy: We are cat people around here and love Sharon From Security! How long have you had her, and what is the best thing about having her as an employee?
Casapinka: Sharon’s birthday is actually July 25! She will be one on Saturday. I was looking for a 3rd cat because Scarlet, our 16 year old had died the year before and the balance was off and we just missed her. But you have to wait for the right cat, or I guess I just thought she would show up. I saw a litter of cats that had been born in CT (the state next to us) and they were at a Dog Pound, of all places. But it said that only CT residents could apply. I sent them an email and an application anyway, and they said that I looked like a responsible citizen and could come and look. So, my son and I went on a car trip to see the litter. The mom was also there and she was being adopted the next week. She had a twin sister (well, they looked like twins) and it was hard to decide, but she finally sort of just curled up in my arms and it seemed right. I had no idea I was adopting a cat with a poor work ethic! She also was just $5 because they gave me the “CT Citizens Special”.
But then, when I got home, I was forbidden to name her Sharon From Security because my family thought it was dumb. Husband named her Trinners (after his alma mater, Trinity College, Dublin – I know, can you get any more lame?). But I kept calling her Security and inventing these stories and then pretty soon I would hear, “Would you come get your security guard who is sleeping on the job?” and “Your cat didn’t do a very good job of busting that fly!” and it started to stick. Then, after her vet appointment when I gave her name as Sharon From Security … and they called us back, and asked if my husband was “Sharon From Security’s dad” … well, he was NOT impressed but she really became SFS on that day, even if he won’t admit it.
Loopy: What a great story! I do think Trinners is a cute name, but SFS is definitely the right one. 🙂 What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Casapinka: Having coffee, a nice hike or walk, some knitting with some jazz on, and time with my family, ending with a family game night and some chili or Indian takeout. I’m pretty simple and I love what I do every day so it bleeds into days off. It’s hard to imagine a day off where I don’t knit because I consider myself very blessed and lucky to do what I love to do every day!
Loopy: That is indeed a very blessed way to live. Ok – last questions: Morning or night person? Coffee or tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?
Casapinka: Coffee in the morning and tea after 2 pm. Irish tea is pretty important in our house and everyone takes tea differently. My husband likes to say that mine is so weak it needs crutches but his is strong and bitter. My daughter’s is in between and my son tries to disguise his contraband Mt. Dew (that he hides in his closet and sometimes tries to sell to his sister and thinks I don’t know) in teacups in the evening.
I can do both Continental and English, but English is what I learned on and what feels good to me. When my elbow starts to hurt (if I don’t support it on a pillow it can get quite achy), I switch to Continental. And when I have runs of stockinette I love to Portuguese Purl. Solids or Multis? Oh boy – is it ok to just say PINK? I love them all!
Loopy: Thank you again for joining us today, Bronwyn!
Bronwyn is offering 25% off one pattern of your choice from her Ravelry Pattern shop with the code PinkLoopyEwe. The offer is good between July 24-31.
Don’t forget the Casapinka MKAL (Mystery Knit Along) is available for signups now (click here) and starts August 7th. (You can use your code for her MKAL pattern, too. Isn’t that nice?)
The pattern for the MKAL is a rectangular shawl with two options – beginner, and advanced beginner. You’ll need four skeins of fingering weight yarn that are 325 + yards each (we have four-skein kits). You’ll receive a clue a week for 6 weeks, starting August 7th. Jump into the fun!
Have a great weekend –