Today I’m happy to be sharing Alina’s designs with you in our Designer Spotlight. She does such beautiful work, and I know you will have fun learning more about her. (Note: all patterns link to Ravelry.)
Loopy: Hi Alina – thanks for being in our Spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Alina: Hi Loopy – I’ve been a knitter on and off since my childhood. I grew up in Russia. My grandma taught me to crochet when I was around 8 years old. She gave me a small ball of green yarn and an ivory crochet hook. She taught me knitting basics later. I remember that my tension was very tight and every stitch was a struggle. Crochet was easier and I went on making lace doilies. I’ve picked up knitting again in college, made a cabled sweater from mohair yarn which I steam-ironed before seaming, and completely flattened all those cables. But it didn’t stop me from proudly wearing it. After college, I moved to the States and for a decade wasn’t knitting much, one-two small projects a year, simple hats or scarves, nothing serious. A major break happened 10 years ago. My twins turned 1 and I’ve decided to make matching wool sweaters for them. A college friend showed me how to knit a seamless top-down sweater. While looking for the pattern online I’ve discovered Ravelry, other knitters, patterns, yarn, tools. I’ve realized that I’m still a beginner knitter and there were so many new things for me to learn and master, that knitting didn’t get boring over time and didn’t stop knitting ever since.
Loopy: Oh goodness – I’m imagining you steaming that mohair sweater. That is a funny story! So great that making matching sweaters for your twins brought you around to loving knitting again. What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Alina: Engaging knits in finer gauge, like lace shawls and all kinds of top-down sweaters, cables, lace, or colorwork. I like to try new techniques and construction.
Loopy: What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Alina: The most difficult thing to knit for me is a plain stockinette. It is so effortless, no challenge to it and my mind starts to wander, creating new ideas. Sometimes it’s a good thing, many shawl ideas emerged while knitting stockinette. Other times, when I’m on a deadline, I pick a movie or an audiobook to keep my mind entertained while I go through rows and rows of stockinette quickly.
Loopy: I agree that stockinette can be very relaxing and calming. It’s a good plan to use it for letting your mind wander, creatively. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Alina: I’ve started designing not long after I’ve become seriously addicted to knitting. I’ve discovered knitted lace. Growing up in Russia, I mostly saw crochet lace. For me, it was easy to do, I knew all the stitches. Knitted lace looked like sorcery. But then I’ve started, to my surprise it wasn’t difficult at all. There were logic and order. Being stay at home mom with twins under 2, my mathematical brain craved order and logic. Knitted lace became my best friend, between changing diapers, I was creating something magical. I’ve found a book about Estonian lace, which inspired me to try to create my design, with fiddly nupps, no less.
Loopy: I think a lot of people have discovered they appreciate the logic and order that knitting brings, especially in 2020. We have all needed that! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Loopy: Those are all beautiful! We’ve had several customers knit your Gardens of Giverny for Camp Loopy over the years. What is your favorite part of designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Alina: Favorite – beginning of sample knitting, new yarn, new project. Not so favorite – photoshoots, modeling feels awkward to me. I’m waiting for my daughter to grow up, so she can help me with that.
Loopy: That would be a good thing for her to do for you! Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard? Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Alina: After 10 years designing is still my side job. My husband works full-time. We don’t have any relatives living nearby to help out. Taking care of my family, doing chores, planning, helping kids with the homework, driving to after school activities take most of my day. Being a mom has always been a priority to me, but sometimes it’s hard to balance. As my kids grow older and become more independent I’m getting more time for designing. Someday I might even travel and teach classes.
Loopy: It’s hard to do it all, isn’t it? But I’m glad you do find time to work some designing in there. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Alina: Every woman in my family knows how to knit and crochet. Maternal grandmother taught me how to knit and crochet, embroidery, and cross-stitch. Paternal grandmother taught me how to spin, every winter she would knit us socks from handspun wool. My mom knits small items on occasion but prefers sewing. My sister learned knitting from grandma a long time ago but didn’t pick up knitting again till recently. She knits socks, hats, and scarves for her family. Once I dared her to knit a cardigan. It took her 5 years and a lot of my guidance, but it’s off the needles. I taught my daughter how to knit, but it doesn’t interest her at all. Maybe in 20 years, it will?
Loopy: Well, your sister came back to it when she was older, so I’d say there is a good chance that your daughter might, too! You come from a long line of creative women. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Alina: I do quilting, machine knitting, weaving, spinning. I also love to travel, read, and cook.
Loopy: What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Alina: Right now hitting the slopes would be the most fun. As a family, we love to ski. Enjoying the snow and sun with friends and family. Sitting by the fire in the evening, sharing food and wine, chatting, laughing. I miss my friends, traveling, and snow.
Loopy: Being outside in the sunshine and snow sounds wonderful. Ok – last set of questions: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?
Alina: Night owl, who has to wake up early. Strong black tea, it wakes me up, it settles me for the night. Continental. Solids or slightly variegated/speckled yarns.
Loopy: Sounds good. Thank you again for being with us today, Alina!
Alina has set up a discount code for 20% off any patterns in her Ravelry shop. The code is: LOOPYEWE20 and is valid through 12/11/20. After you’ve picked a new pattern for yourself, pop back over to Loopy to find the perfect yarn to go with it!
Have a great weekend, all –