Happy Friday, all! Today we have Katherine from SweaterBabe in our Designer Spotlight. But don’t let the name fool you – her designs include more than just sweaters. In fact, I might even dub her the Cable Queen, too! I hope you enjoy getting to know a little more about her.
Loopy: Hi Katherine! Thanks for being in the spotlight today. Tell us, how long have you been a knitter, and who taught you to knit?
Katherine: Hi Loopy! Thanks for letting me share about my business and love of knitting! Knitting is such an integral part of my life, I’m not sure where I’d be if it didn’t exist. 😉 I’ve been a knitter since I was 8 years old. I learned in a daycare center. It was that or shrinky dinks, but I was curious to try knitting. I’ve been a knitter ever since.
Loopy: I love that they were willing to teach knitting there! And you made a good choice. 🙂 What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Katherine: Cardigans are my most favorite thing to knit in general, as that is what I wear the most here in Southern California. But I also love to knit scarves and shawls, as they allow me to play with different combinations of textures, especially lace and cables! They make for great TV knitting because while I do need to pay attention to the stitch patterning, there is very little shaping and I can get into an easy rhythm. And then there are certainly many times I love the quick knit – such as hats, baby items, and stash busters like coffee cozies and fingerless mitts!
Loopy: I always think of Californians as not wearing sweaters too often! But cardigans are probably better than pullover sweaters there. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Katherine: My most challenging project to date was probably my Threaded Cable Throw! I love cable knitting and the intricate cables in this design were a lot of fun, but I was impatient to finish it (and move on to other knitting). It was the largest item I’ve ever knit! When I did finish it though, I was very happy with the results. I had knit it in a lovely grey cashmere blend, so the beautiful throw I had in the end was well worth all those hours of knitting.
Loopy: Well that is just beautiful. I can see why you like it so much (and why it was challenging!). When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Katherine: Even when I knit as a child, I would come up with little projects on my own, or adjust patterns to suit my needs, so I really started my designing at a young age. Flash forward to my adult years and I found myself wanting to reinvent my work life in order to have more creativity, utilize my varied work experiences and skill sets, and to eventually have a more flexible schedule for raising a family. All my years of knitting and dabbling with design here and there inspired me to give pattern design a try. I found that my designs were liked by knitters. Also, I knew how to build and run a website, so I kept at it and SweaterBab.com has been going strong ever since!
Loopy: That sounds like everything came together just right for this designing business. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Katherine: I’ve designed hundreds of patterns over the years, so it’s hard for me to pick a favorite! That being said, if I had more time, I’d definitely knit the #277 Big Leaf Cardigan and #249 Lavender Cardigan again – perhaps in the soft mohair blend yarns that are popular right now and look so cozy. The Big Leaf Cardigan feels very of-the-moment to me with its full sleeves, chunky yarn, and bold leaf lace motif. The Lavender Cardigan is one I reach for a lot in the colder months. So I would love a cashmere or mohair version in a camel or grey color for my wardrobe. It’s a fun knit as the allover lace is not too hard at all and it knits up fairly quickly on the size 10 needles. I also love the #306 Amethyst Shawl that I recently released. The multidimensional aspects of the lace are just so lovely and I see myself grabbing my shawl versions quite often this fall and winter.
Loopy: It’s nice to have those staple patterns in your wardrobe that work with so much. It’s a good idea to make them again in different colors and yarn. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part:
Katherine: I love many aspects of the design process, but I especially enjoy the part right after I finish knitting a sample. It’s such a nice feeling of accomplishment and I get to see and wear the results of all of my weeks or months of design decisions and knitting. It’s only when the last loose end is woven in that I can breath that sigh of relief and sit back and appreciate that all the attention to detail paid off (hopefully!). And I still love the actual knitting. I’ll never tire of that! My least favorite parts of designing are some of the technical parts of grading the patterns. When there are many different sizes in a pattern, sometimes I can overwhelm myself with the math as I make sure the design elements still work without compromising the fit!
Loopy: I can see how the different sizing and design elements could be challenging, for sure. Do you do this business full-time, or on the side, and is that hard?
Katherine: It’s a part time job given my family obligations. I’m a stay-at-home mom with 3 kids! I try to work the hours I can find, but my family life is a big priority and joy. It’s not always easy to juggle my time, but I wouldn’t choose any other option as I love the flexibility and the creativeness of what I get to do! I know it can be a rare thing to turn a long-time hobby into a successful business, so I’m very grateful for it all.
Loopy: It is wonderful to have a job that you can work around your family. Definitely a blessing! Does anyone else in your family knit?
Katherine: I’ve certainly taught my 3 kids how to knit, but so far it’s just me doing all the knitting. 😉 There’s still time for them to develop it as a hobby later, but no pressure, ha ha!
Loopy: You never know when that might click in for them. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Katherine: I love to cook. I eat super clean, so cooking for myself and my family is a must! And I do crochet (I have my own crochet pattern book that was published in 2005), though knitting is more my focus. I recently discovered sewing, which I’be ben doing a lot of in my non-knitting , stuck-at-home hours!
Loopy: I didn’t realize you were a crocheter, too. That’s great! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Katherine: Even on a day “off”, I’d be knitting. I also would play games with my family, go on a bike ride, catch up with a friend by phone. Trying out a new restaurant and exploring an new city would be ideal!
Loopy: I’m so looking forward to the day when we can try new restaurants and explore new cities again! Last question: Morning or night person? Coffee or tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?
Katherine: Somewhere in between! I don’t get up super early, but I can’t sleep in very late either. Coffee for sure, but when coffee doesn’t like me back, a good chai tea or coconut milk matcha tea latte is nice. I learned to knit the English way, so it’s hard to undo that many years of it, but I can also knit Continental. Mostly solids, as I’m very partial to the textures created by various stitch patterns, especially lace and cable.
Loopy: Thanks again for being with us today, Katherine!
Katherine is offering all of you a 20% discount on one of her patterns on Ravelry. The pattern code is: LOOPYEWE and you can find her patterns by clicking here: SweaterBabe Patterns The code is valid from 9/11-18, 2020.
Need yarn for your new pattern? We’re happy to send you some!
Hope you all have a great weekend!