I’m so happy to have Dominique in our Designer Spotlight today. I made her Squish shawl awhile back, and it’s always the one in videos where people say, “What was the name of that teal shawl again??”. So fun to knit. I hope you enjoy reading more about her. (All pattern links lead to Ravelry, all yarn links lead to The Loopy Ewe.)
Loopy: Hi Dominique – thanks for being with us today! How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Dom: Hi Loopy! It has been about 15 years since I taught myself to knit. I had wandered into a crafting shop one day and when I saw all the yarns I was completely captivated and bought a sweater lot of mohair right there and then with the dream of knitting myself a fluffy wear-at-home-sweater (you know, it doesn’t have to be perfect but you get the fluffy goodness 😉 ). So then I had to figure out how to actually knit. I didn’t have internet then and I had a hard time following the “how to knit“ pamphlet I got from the store because it was throwing style which was uncomfortable for my hands and I had it in my head that you could pick the yarn with the needle instead like I’d seen other people do. So after A LOT of experimenting I ended up with what I now know is tbl Continental for knit stitches and a way to make a purl stitch to match it. When my fabric looked like stockinette I was thrilled and never looked back.
Loopy: Oh, interesting! So all of your work is through the back loop? How does that work? And then, what is your favorite type of item to knit?
Dom: Yes. My stitches are mounted on my needles the reverse direction to most people because I come in to pick up my yarn from the right and not the left. My stitches aren’t twisted because my purl stitch corresponds. Any pattern instructions I give are done to conform with most people’s knit style, though, since very few people knit like I do.
Favorite thing to knit – shawls. They are one of the most accessible knits, they can be made by anyone and worn by everyone. They can be worn for warmth as well as self-expression, passed down as heirlooms and made as thoughtful gifts as well as used as everyday comfort items. They are a low-pressure high-reward knit too since you don’t have to know a great many finishing techniques, or have exact tension, sizing is often easy to adjust, and yarn substitution is easy too so whatever your budget, skills, or body type you can make something you love. A lot of people knit shawls when they are traveling, grieving, taking care of someone, and commemorating important moments too, so I also love the idea that a knitter can wear a representation of those feelings and memories out in the world and they can be comforted and empowered by it.
Loopy: That is one of the best descriptions I have ever read, of why shawl knitting is so great. I totally agree. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Dom: Socks! They’re not difficult to figure out but I don’t enjoy knitting in the round so where I can get in the mood every so often to design a cowl or hat, no matter how much I adore wearing handknit socks I can’t quite bring myself to make them for myself. And the one time I tried, second sock syndrome totally defeated me
Loopy: I have an issue with second sock syndrome, too. I started knitting them concurrently, and that helps! When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Dom: It came about organically like for many designers I suspect. Loving knitting and wanting to make it fun for myself led to exploring stitch patterns and writing myself little instructions to follow which resulted in a lot of finished objects that were my own creation. My knitting guild was having an exhibit to promote handcrafts a few years ago and I lent some of my knits for that but when they asked for pattern details I didn’t have any. So I wrote all the instructions and put them on Ravelry to make them “official”. I knew free patterns get downloaded a lot so to try to prevent mine from potentially disappointing people I put a price on them to deter download. But then people started buying them so I figured I had better do a good job of the patterns. When I started seeing finished objects and receiving the feedback from happy knitters it brought me so much joy that I decided to design for others on purpose.
Loopy: And we’re all so glad you decided to be an official designer! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Dom: Honestly I kind of love them all for different reasons, some because they’re really just pretty and lacy like Versailles, Lannister, Amore, Trinket, The Bee Queen, Lovebird, Feride, etc. Others I love because I set out to change an aspect of a traditional shawl for a better knit experience.
– Pirate Dandy was about increasing knitter motivation to finish a project by working bottom-up
– The Siren Scarf was about letting go of the idea that a scarf has to be a rectangle
– Daenerys was about challenging symmetry and working only one shaping instruction per row
– Spring Blossoms was about having a border you could work as you knit to avoid picking up stitches later
– Bromeliad was designed to burst a row of variegated colour to make it pop
– Hematite was a deconstruction of a super lacy stitch to modernise it and make it less intimidating to knit
– Afterparty was about empowering spinners to use their handspun
– Potpourri was about making garter stitch lace delicate
– Spryzen was about dispersing the colour in highly variegated yarn
– Whackalong was about using stash and having the delight of casting off less stitches on the border than you have in the body
– Sunshine and Squish were about combining lace and cables in a knit as well as getting very different looks from the same stitch patterns
– Fiori was about making the increase ridges as pretty as the rest of the shawl
– Blushing was about getting all the yardage advantage and style benefits of a bias rectangle while skipping the bias shaping work
– Coastline was about making an intarsia lace border so easy you don’t realise you’re knitting intarsia
– Smoke and Mirrors was about updating the feather and fan stitch to make it symmetrical
– Fragrant was about rearranging lace to make it a wave instead of a line
– Snoqualmie was about playing with colour and lace without annoying ends to sew in
– the Zooming shawls were a response to the mental strain of Covid and the desire to connect virtually.
I think my current favourite continues to be Squish though because it has cables, lace, garter, stockinette, colour dispersion, as well as a knitted on border, all in small sections that make it an easy and fun knit and the process of creating it live during a Whackalong MKAL, with knitters who trusted me not to lead them astray was so fun.
Loopy: I find the thought processes and goals behind each of these patterns so interesting. It adds a lot to the pattern. You should add all of that info to the pattern descriptions! What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Dom: I love the whole design process from playing with yarn to imagining how I’d like to express a thought or feeling. For me it’s not just about the final aesthetic, the knitting experience is very important so that drives a lot of my creative decisions and that’s really fun to work on. I love the math too so I totally get a kick out of everything adding up, and writing up the patterns to include information for both experienced knitters who may like to make adjustments as well as novices who just want to feel confident knitting their garment is really rewarding. The photography is a challenge for me and my least favourite part is advertising the finished design for sale.
Loopy: It’s great that you include ways for making adjustments – I like that. Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard? Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Dom: Designing is still my side job. As a family we decided for now to live small on my husband’s wage while raising our two young boys. We don’t live close to any family that can help out so my time is pretty limited as the kids keep me very busy. I both dread and look forward to the day they are more independent because I’ll miss these days but will also have a lot more freedom to grow my business, teach classes and maybe even travel.
Loopy: That time goes so fast and will be here before you know it. So enjoy it while you can! Does anyone else in your family knit?
Dom: No, they don’t really understand my passion for it.
Loopy: Maybe they will some day! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Dom: I love spinning and am currently trying to resist the urge to learn to weave because if I enjoy it anything like I do knitting and spinning, I’ll really be in trouble!
Loopy: Juggling multiple hobbies is always hard, I think. Never enough time in the day. What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Dom: I love the quiet life so going on a forest walk, having a good long chat over coffee with a friend, playing cards with my family in the evening and then settling in with my knitting once the kids are in bed is a perfect day for me.
Loopy: That does sound pretty perfect. Ok, last set of questions: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?
Dom: I’m a night owl that gets up early. Both, I drink black coffee during the day and Earl Grey tea at night. Continental-ish. I love all yarn styles but probably favour solids for their versatility.
Loopy: Thanks again for being with us today, Dom!
Dominique is offering you 20% off the patterns in her Ravelry Pattern Store between January 8 and 15, 2021. The code to use is: LOOPYEWE21 Have fun picking out some beautiful new patterns!