We’re happy to have Anne from alfa knits in our Designer Spotlight today! I came across Anne when I was looking at fingerless mitts, and fell in love with her amazing pythagoras’ mitts. I need to work up the courage to jump into those. Hoping they are not over my skill level, because how cute are they? (Pattern links go to Ravelry, yarn links go to The Loopy Ewe.)
Loopy: Hi Anne! Thanks for being in our Spotlight today. Tell us, how long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Anne: Hello Loopy, thank you for the interview. I have been a knitter as long as I can remember. I learned to knit at school at the age of 7 or 8. The first thing I ever knitted was a scarf in garter stitch in a dark blue color for school. I remember it being very difficult and hard on my hands. I inadvertently added a lot of ‘short rows’. My mother was a keen knitter so she helped me to rip back and finish it in time.
Loopy: I wish knitting was taught regularly in the schools here. We need to do a better job of passing on the knitting tradition. What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Anne: Sweaters. I like shawls too, but I don’t wear them very often. Shawls need to be squishy and very large to wrap myself in them.
Loopy: Totally agree on squishy shawls! What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Anne: That is a difficult question. The one I am most proud of is the ’crazy stripes’ collection, ’winter wheat’ or ’slanted’. Knitting was not that hard, but they were a big challenge to grade. I ripped back several times because it didn’t look right. I still can’t believe I did all that math. But then I like a challenge. And I like to learn something new with everything I make. What if ? is my favorite question. I often try to combine knitting techniques that are not so obvious together like entrelac and mosaic knitting in ‘mosaiX scarf’ or entrelac and different textures in the ‘entretemps’ collection. From time to time I also need an easy knit with miles of stockinette stitch or garter stitch while watching TV.
Loopy: Your patterns are so interesting – so many unique details added in. They are really fun. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Anne: I think I always did, in a way. I started making my own clothes as a teen and I never stopped. I didn’t follow knitting patterns because I couldn’t find what I really liked in those days, so I just made things up as I went.I discovered Ravelry in 2010 and wow, so many lovely patterns… I started uploading photos of a cabled hoodie. A Raveler asked if I had a pattern for this. I didn’t, but I told her I would try to write it out. I learned a lot after that first pattern. How to grade, make a layout, draw schematics… I add a lot of illustrations, side information and mini tutorials to my patterns, so that knitters don’t have to search the net to find how to work a stitch or a technique. Having a degree in graphic design is an advantage. I do everything myself, from A to Z. BTW: It is exactly 10 years ago I uploaded that first pattern.
Loopy: Happy Ten Year Designer Anniversary! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Anne: Oh, I’ve got many favorites. I design what I like to wear myself. Currently I like cozy and easy to wear, oversized sweaters, (especially now during this pandemic) like ‘squared’ or ‘traces’. Or ‘FF backward’ with back and front being different colors. It is my favorite mid-season pullover.BTW Do you know where that name comes from ? *
* From ‘full-fashioned’: a shoulder shaping technique often used in commercial knits for men: the front shoulders are straight, folded to the back and the back shoulders are in a slope. In my design it’s the other way around: the back shoulders are straight and folded to the front, it is backward 😀
Loopy: Well, those are all beautiful, but I love FF backward! It would be really fun to pick out colors for that one. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Anne: Favorite part is experimenting and casting on… An image or an idea pops up – I often don’t know where it comes from – and then I try to find a way to translate it into stitches. I use small pieces of paper that I cut and fold to check a shape or construction. ‘spirale’ is a good example. I had this image of a peeled orange, a spiral going down, haha. Not-so favorite part is modeling for the photoshoots… and finalizing a pattern… writing that final text…Usually I get excited about a new idea and feel the immediate urge to cast on a new project before the previous one is finished :-D. I’ve got a pile of half finished patterns … Maybe it is the right time to finish some of them.
Loopy: I do think it’s a good time to finish all of those half-dones. Then we can look forward to a bunch of new patterns from 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?
Anne: Currently I do this full-time. Well more than full-time, in fact: trying out stitches or shapes, writing instructions during the day and knitting in the evening. And yes it is quite hard, but I don’t complain, I love this ‘job’.
Loopy: It’s still a job. It’s just a fun job! Does anyone else in your family knit?
Anne: My Friend doesn’t knit, but he takes the photos for my patterns. My mother is a knitter and my brothers learned to when they were kids but it stopped there.
Loopy: Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Anne: Anything crafty appeals to me and I’ld like to try them all out. I sew and crochet. I took some classes to make pottery and forge silver (with a West African silversmith). I used to play piano and ‘kora’, a West-African musical instrument with chords like on a ‘harp’, but I don’t find much time to practice anymore.
Loopy: I have never heard of a kora, so I had to look it up. Then I found a video to listen to the musics it makes. It’s a really unusual instrument, and the sound is beautiful! I can imagine that it would take a lot of practicing to keep up with it. What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Anne: Wake up in the morning with some coffee, go out for a walk and ponder about what I will be making today. A day without knitting, crocheting or sewing is a bad day, 😀
Loopy: You’re right about that! Last set of questions – are you: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea drinker? English or Continental knitter? Solids or Multicolors stasher? 🙂
Anne: Morning and coffee. I learned to knit English on straight needles. But since I have circular needles I practiced to knit Continental too. For stranded knitting it is just perfect, using both methods with one color in each hand. Solids or Semi solids.
Loopy: Thanks again for being with us today!
Anne has set up a 20% discount on one of her patterns from her Ravelry Pattern shop, using the code: LOOPYEWE This code will be valid from January 15-22, 2021.
Have a great weekend, everyone!