Designer Spotlight: Melissa LaBarre

Today I’m happy to have Melissa in our Designer Spotlight! Melissa has been published in many magazines and books, as well as having done a lot of individual patterns. I made her Baby Tea Leaves Cardigan for a baby gift and it turned out so cute. I need to make the adult version, too!

Melissa LaBarre
© Melissa LaBarre


Loopy: Hi Melissa! I’m so glad you agreed to be in our spotlight today. Tell us, how long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?

Melissa: Hi Loopy! I learned in the mid-90s, so I could run a knitting group at the nursing home I worked at. I really never moved beyond garter and seed stitch, and put the needles down for a few years. When I picked it up again in the early 2000s, I tried to learn how to do everything, by looking things up in books when I got stumped in a pattern. After I expanded my skills, I never really wanted to put my needles down again!

Electric Autumn © Melissa LaBarre
Electric Autumn © Melissa LaBarre


Loopy: That’s so great that you learned just so you could start a knitting group! I bet the residents all loved that. What is your favorite type of item to knit?

Melissa: Hats! I love the opportunity to try new yarns or stitches on a quick, portable project. Plus, I love to wear them, so they get plenty of use.

Baby Tea Leaves © Melissa LaBarre
Baby Tea Leaves © Melissa LaBarre


Loopy: That’s a good point about hats. Especially where there are lots of other patterns and yarn waiting for your needles. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?

Melissa: I think that finding the time to work on “collections” that I’ve done for yarn companies has been more challenging than the actual knits! I have 2 young daughters, so I’m always doing everything in the same space as my kids.

Willard © Melissa LaBarre
Willard © Melissa LaBarre


Loopy: That is, in itself, a challenge for sure! And you really have done a lot of designing for yarn companies and publications. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?

Melissa: 2007? 2008? I had been knitting accessories and garments without patterns for a little while, and my amazing friend (designer Cecily Glowik MacDonald) encouraged me to start writing everything down.

Irving Hat © Melissa LaBarre
Irving Hat © Melissa LaBarre


Loopy: It’s nice to have a mentor/friend already in the business. Also fun that you two collaborated on books together. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?

Melissa: Hmm, that’s a tough one! I love my Lu Leaf Hat pattern because both of my girls wore it a lot and it was so cute on them.

Lu Leaf Hat © Melissa LaBarre
Lu Leaf Hat © Melissa LaBarre


Loopy: That is a cute one! That would make a great little baby gift. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?

Melissa: My favorite part is being able to make a project match my vision. Least favorite part is definitely deadlines!

Eline Cowl © Melissa LaBarre
Eline Cowl © Melissa LaBarre


Loopy: Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?

Melissa: I’ve been working as a paraeducator in an elementary Special Ed classroom, but I’m not sure what that’ll look like next year until school plans are released. I’m trying to channel all my employment anxiety into more knitting designs this summer. 🙂

Sweetest Thing Cardigan © Melissa LaBarre
Sweetest Thing Cardigan © Melissa LaBarre


Loopy: It’s a bit of a stressful time for teachers, for sure. Channeling your anxiety into knittings sounds like a good plan! Do you also do this business full-time, or on the side?  And is that hard? 

Melissa: Knit design has been my main job most of the time, since 2012. The hard part is really finding a way to not be working at all hours of the day. I created more of a schedule for myself a few months ago, and it’s really helped me be more productive, and feel less guilt for cramming work into family time.

Story Walk © Melissa LaBarre
Story Walk © Melissa LaBarre


Loopy: Does anyone else in your family knit? (Would you like to tell us about your family?)

Melissa: My daughters, Stella (8) and Viviane (6), said they would like to knit someday, but they haven’t really been interested in learning the basics yet. My husband, Brendan, loves to wear a good handknit hat, but that’s about it!

September Circle © Melissa LaBarre
September Circle © Melissa LaBarre


Loopy: Well, it sounds like someday you may have to share your yarn stash with Stella and Viviane. And that would be a good thing! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?

Melissa: I started sewing clothes last year, and that’s been fun. I also love reading, canning, cooking, and trying new crafty things.

Willow Hat © Melissa LaBarre
Willow Hat © Melissa LaBarre


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

Melissa: I used to love a good day trip with my family, but we’ve been staying put the last few months, so hanging out and reading and knitting in the backyard is how I spend much of my free time now.

Crooked Paths © Melissa LaBarre
Crooked Paths © Melissa LaBarre


Loopy: Understandable. We’ll all get back to trips one day! Last question: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂

Melissa: Morning. Coffee AND Tea. English. Both solids and multis!

Everett Cowl © Melissa LaBarre
Everett Cowl © Melissa LaBarre


Loopy: Thanks again for being with us today!

Melissa has offered a 25% discount off of one of her patterns via her Ravelry pattern shop (click here). Please use the code: LOOPY. The offer and code will be good August 7-14.

Have a great weekend!

Sheri

2 comments

  1. Oh, SHE’s the one! I knit her “September Circle” as my travel knitting for our 50th anniversary cruise. It seemed appropriate, since the date was September 10, 1966. It was a joy to knit, and I had many conversations with fellow passengers as they stopped to chat about my knitting.

    I’m thinking of knitting the Tea Leaves cardigan with some orange Cascade 220 I added to the stash in 2008 from our visit to the (then) St. Louis Loopy.

  2. I’ve made two of Melissa’s patterns–The Greenfield Cardigan and the Montague Bulky Lace Vest. They were both fun to knit and to wear. I’ve just purchased the Arcadia Poncho pattern on Ravelry because I love ponchos and love the cables on this one. Thanks for the coupon code, Melissa and The Loopy Ewe!

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