Today we have Amanda Berry in our Designer Spotlight. She has some of the cutest designs I’ve seen, and has been featured in books and magazines. Amanda lives in the UK, in a town called Reading in Berkshire, about 40 miles west of London. I know you’ll enjoy learning more about her today! (Note – today’s discount code works in Amanda’s Etsy shop only – see the end!) All pattern links go to Etsy, all yarn links go to The Loopy Ewe.
Loopy: Hi Amanda! Thanks for being in our Spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Amanda: Hi Loopy! I started knitting when I was about 6 years old and my Mum taught me the basics. I also had a book called “A Ladybird Book About Knitting” which was a beginner guide aimed at children. I remember using that book as I made a few scarves for my teddy bears. But I didn’t start knitting properly until 20 years later when I was going through a difficult time and my therapist recommended some crafting. I picked up the needles again and it reignited my passion for all things woolly.
Loopy: Knitting really is a wonderful way to destress, isn’t it? What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Amanda: I love making toys, I am just a big kid at heart! I don’t have the patience to make a blanket or anything large scale, and I enjoy the challenge with toys of shaping and bringing the design to life.
Loopy: Your patterns and toys are some of the cutest I have ever seen. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Amanda: I recently made an Old English Sheepdog and it was made by knitting loops, and I really dislike knitting loops! I don’t know why, but knitting loops always makes my fingers sore; I was so happy when that dog was finished.
Loopy: It’s good to challenge yourself, though, so that sounds like it was a good one. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Amanda: I started designing in the late 2000’s. I wanted to knit a toy for a gift but I couldn’t find a pattern I liked, so I designed my own. I was encouraged to share the pattern and published my first designs in 2010.
Loopy: I looked at your patterns and see Fruits and Vegetables as the first design listed. And it’s still as fun as ever! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Amanda: Griff the Dragon is one of my favourite toys, he’s really cheeky. I also love making little knits like my Teeny Animals as they are great for using up odds and ends of yarn, and are super quick to knit for impatient people like me!
Loopy: Those teeny tiny creations are adorabley! What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Amanda: My favourite part is making up the toy seeing it come to life. I prefer to design as I knit so I have the flexibility to change ideas as I knit, so it is great at the end if my ideas actually worked! The downside of working this way is sometimes the shaping doesn’t work so I have to frog and start again.
Loopy: You must have to take really great notes as you design on the go 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?
Amanda: I am now full-time designing which is fantastic. When I started designing my knitting was crammed in during the evenings and I was also part-time working and studying for my degree at London College of Fashion. That was really hard work, so after graduating in 2014 I chose to design full time and it has kept me really busy ever since.
Loopy: I figured with the number of patterns you have, you must be doing it full time! Does anyone else in your family knit?
Amanda: It is just me now. My husband doesn’t knit, but thankfully understands to wait until I reach the end of a row before asking me a question.
Loopy: It sounds like he has learned that lesson well! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Amanda: I enjoy walking. We have some lovely countryside near my home and (especially during these lockdowns) country walks keep me sane. I enjoy being out with nature, even if it is a grey rainy day. It gives me some headspace which is so important in these Covid days. I am not an avid reader, but I occasionally enjoy reading PG Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster books, as they always make me chuckle.
Loopy: Your countryside really is beautiful, rain or shine. What a treat to have such lovely walkways close to your home. What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Amanda: I would have breakfast in bed (cooked by someone else please!) – a large cup of coffee and baked beans with fried egg on toast, yum! Then I would go to London for the day and visit a museum. I especially enjoy going to the British Museum, the V&A and the National Gallery. I would then have some food at the Southbank and browse the vintage book stalls. That would be a great day off.
Loopy: Well I did not know there was such a thing as Vintage Book Stalls. I think I would be lost in there all day! Last set of questions: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂
Amanda: Morning once I have had my first coffee. Coffee, never tea (it gives me a headache). English please, anything vegetarian with an egg is great. Multi-colours, I am a fan of stripes.
Loopy: Anything else you’d like to add?
Amanda: Thank you so much for taking the time to read my little ramblings. I hope you are all keeping safe out there, and happy knitting!
Amanda is offering 20% off one pattern of your choice from her ETSY Pattern Store with the code: LOOPY20
This code is valid 3/19-26, 2021.
I’ve already bought Beeper, but definitely need to make Mr. Snowman, Griff the Dragon, and Pippin. 🙂