I noticed Heidi’s beautiful designs one day as I was scrolling through Ravelry, looking at colorwork sweaters. I knew you all would want to know about her, and was happy when she agreed to be in our Designer Spotlight! (Note: all pattern links go to Ravelry.)
Loopy: Hi Heidi! Thanks for being in our Designer Spotlight today. Tell us, how long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Heidi: Hi Loopy! I learned to knit and crochet in my childhood when I was about 8 years old. First I learned it from my mother, then later at school. From my mother I learned to knit english style. Some years later at school we were taught by a very strict teacher who insisted that we knit continental.
I nearly stopped knitting in the 80s and 90s. Knitting wasn’t very popular in these years and I spent most of my time in my education and my profession. I learned sewing then and did most of my wardrobe by myself.
When I discovered Ravelry by chance in 2011, I started knitting again. I saw many new things and techniques and learned so much that I always had more projects and ideas in my head than I could realize.
Loopy: It must be good to be able to knit both in the English and the Continental ways. Most of us would like to be able to do both! What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Heidi: Sweaters and cardigans
Loopy: I love your sweater designs. But I also love your fun sock designs as well! What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Heidi: The most challenging thing is always the current design. I love to try out new techniques and constructions and then prepare or adapt them in a way, that will work for a pattern. For me, handicraft perfection is very important – this a heritage of my father, who was a carpenter. With this I always try to add small details and tips to a pattern that helps other knitters to achieve a perfect result. And of course it’s always a challenging thing to get the pattern as clear as possible.
Loopy: So many times it’s the small details that draw me to a pattern. I like the uniqueness of those touches. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Heidi: When I discovered Ravelry in 2011, I soon started as a test knitter for various very talented designers. Lots of tests I did for Jutta Hintermstein. Besides I always worked my own designs without using a pattern. Especially Jutta encouraged me to put my notes in a pattern and to publish my own design. She helped me with my first pattern Havannah, showed me the basics and told me how to grade for the different sizes. I was surprised how much encouragement Havannah received. This was in summer 2016. In the following years, designing knitting items gradually evolved. In summer 2018 I founded my own Ravelry group and I love all of the lovely knitter ladies which are there.
Loopy: It’s so nice to have a knitting designer mentor, who encourages you and helped you to start writing down your own designs. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Heidi: This changes from time to time. But I especially like to combine different colours and I am always curious how they work together. Therefore I like round yoke sweaters with stranded colorwork very much (like Ambra, Djamila, Tinta, Color splash or Eysa).
Loopy: Your color combos and colorwork sweater designs are what caught my eye on your pattern page, but those socks also look really fun. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Heidi: I like the whole process. It is so exciting to see how a rough idea I have in mind slowly develops into a design and a pattern. The most fun is to find the right yarn, the right colors, the texture, the construction for this design and so on.
I also love to write the pattern as clear as possible and I like the grading of a pattern. To set up a spreadsheet with Excel and to see all numbers come out properly is always amazing. Then of course the testknit for a new design: Seeing how the design works in other yarns and colors, how my dear and very talented test knitters get along with the pattern and how the fit shape is for the different sizes is always very exciting for me.
Not-so-favorite are the necessary small corrections that are needed in the end. I am very grateful that a dear friend always takes time to look very closely and finds all the small mistakes.
Loopy: I’m always thankful when designers take the time to really test knit and tech edit their patterns, so they are ready for all of the knitters out there. Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Heidi: I’m designing by the way. In my main job I am deputy head of a major high school and teacher of mathematics and physics. Next summer, I will retire in this profession. Then I’ll have more time for knitting and designing. Until then, I will continue to develop designs mainly during school holidays and on weekends.
Loopy: Think of all you will get done when you retire! More designing is something fun to look forward to. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Heidi: My brother’s girlfriend knits and crochets. My mother hardly knits anymore because her eyes are not so good anymore. But I have some very nice knitting friends around me.
Loopy: Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Heidi: There are many. Sometimes I discover something and I really want to try it out and see if it works for me, like for example the goldsmith I like to do. As a hobby, it is too expensive for me in the long run, as the materials are very expensive.
For the moment I discovered baking our own bread. It´s a long way to get it right I think.
If I no longer work at school, I would like to learn how to spin yarn. But there are also “normal” hobbies such as gardening, sports, being outdoor, cooking and reading.
Loopy: I’ve heard it is good to have a lot of hobbies lined up for when you retire. It sounds like you will not be bored! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Heidi: My favorite way to spend a day off, is being at home on a nice summer day with my husband and our cats. A bit of gardening, a walk in the woods or some sports outdoor and then sitting lazy in the chair with a good glass of wine, enjoying a nice dinner and just doing nothing and watching the cats climbing the trees or exploring something around the pond. And maybe doing some knitting at the end of this day would be perfect for me.
Loopy: I did spy some sweet cats in some of your photos! We are cat lovers around here. Last question: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?
Heidi: Night, coffee, both, solids or slightly variegated / speckled yarns.
Thanks again for being in the Spotlight today, Heidi!
Heidi has set up a special code for 20% off one of her patterns of your choice. The code is: Loopy20 and it is valid October 23-30, 2020. Please note that this code will not work on Elbengold Socks (which is a free pattern until November 1st) and Lilybelle Socks (which are currently 50% off until the end of October, no code needed.) You’ll find Heidi on Instagram (Kaiserstrickdesign) and she also has a Ravelry group (here).