Designer Spotlight: A Bee in the Bonnet

Today we have Lauren from A Bee in the Bonnet designs in our Spotlight. Lauren lives in Ventura, California, which is a beach city about an hour outside of Los Angeles. I love the beautiful textures that fill Lauren’s designs, and she has so many that are perfect for gift knitting for others. I hope you enjoy learning more about her today!

Loopy:  Hi Lauren! Thanks for being in our Spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit? 

Lauren: Hi Loopy! I learned to knit in 2007. It was my first semester of law school, and I was feeling pretty stressed out as we got closer to exam time. I jokingly told one of my classmates, “I wish I knew how to knit! Then maybe I wouldn’t be so stressed.” She looked at me and said, “Well, I can teach you.” She took me to my first LYS, just a few blocks from campus, and then we split a pot of tea while she taught me the basics of casting on and the knit stitch. The internet taught me the rest.

Loopy: Knitting really is such a perfect stress relief, isn’t it? And how fortunate that the person you made that comment to, could teach you! What is your favorite type of item to knit? 

Lauren: Anything with a soothing, easily memorized stitch pattern. That’s my sweet spot and what I’m always hoping to achieve with my own designs.

Loopy: That’s one of the things I like about your designs. They look interesting, and they also look relaxing to knit. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date? 

Lauren: To be honest, I’m not really drawn to challenging knits. I use knitting to help myself relax and to quiet my overactive brain so I can sit still during meetings, while watching tv, etc. Challenging knits that require me to look at the pattern every few stitches are a no-go for me!

Gladening Socks A Bee in the Bonnet
Gladening Socks © Lauren Rad (try it in Magpie Swanky Sock)

Loopy: I have gotten to be more that way in the patterns I choose to knit, too. I don’t need the challenge – I just want the relaxation. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest? 

Lauren: I started designing in late 2017, when I was on a conference call and suddenly got an idea for a cabled scarf with latticework inside the cables. I was so obsessed with the idea that I put myself on mute, pulled out a yellow legal notepad, and sketched it out. That design eventually became the Anacapa Scarf.

Loopy: That’s hilarious – and what a productive call that ended up being! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed? 

Lauren: That’s a difficult one! I think so far, I love the Crème Brulee Socks and the Shortbread Shawl. The socks are a great mix of textures (I love a good seed-stitch panel), and the shawl is my favorite shape (crescent shawls stay put so well).

Creme Brulee Socks A Bee in the Bonnet
Creme Brulee Socks © Lauren Rad (try it in Wollmeise Twin)

Loopy: Those socks just went into my Favorites list. They are beautiful and look fun to knit, with interesting things going on. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part? 

Lauren: My favorite part is the bit at the end where somebody else takes the pattern I’ve written and turns it into a creation of their own. It feels magical every time. I get an idea in my head, write it out in a strange language, and send it out into the world, and then other people can follow that strange language to make their own version of the thing that was in my head. It’s amazing.

After spending nearly a decade in a field that was a definite mismatch for me, I have to admit, there isn’t really anything in designing that I don’t like. There are things I like more than others, but all of it is a much better fit for me than lawyering ever was.

Herbary Hat A Bee in the Bonnet
Herbary Hat © Lauren Rad (try it in Cascade Heritage Silk)

Loopy: It’s so wonderful when you find the perfect fit for a vocation. I’m glad designing has been that 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? 

Lauren: This is a part-time thing for me, and I also teach high school part time. I love the balance of work that feeds both my creative and rational needs. When I’m not teaching or knitting, I’m also wrangling my preschooler, who has been home with me since March 2020 because of the pandemic.

Serenity Mitts
Serenity Mitts © Lauren Rad (try it in Wollmeise Pure)

Loopy: That does sound like a good mix for a career. (And a challenge with the preschooler. But also, I’m sure it is fun to have your little one home with you, in a lot of ways, too!) Does anyone else in your family knit?  

Lauren: I’m the only knitter, and they all find it a bit baffling! My mom crochets and sews, and my grandmother was an incredible sewist, so fiber arts aren’t a mystery in our family, but my particular expression was unexpected in a lot of ways. Sometimes I envy other knitters who can trace their stitching genealogy back through generations of ancestors, but the neat thing about knitting is that it gives us a new lineage. The people who taught us and the people we teach become forever linked to us through craft.

Amicus Socks
Amicus Socks © Lauren Rad (try it in Leading Men Show Stopper)

Loopy: Yes, absolutely. You will be connected to a lot of knitters down the road, and perhaps will start a stitching lineage in your own family, moving forward, as well. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy? 

Lauren: Oh yes! I love gardening and have a modest collection of roses and dahlias. It’s a joy to make my way through the seasons with flowers. I also love beach combing with my kid, sewing (badly), and travel (when it’s safe to do so).

Frippery Cowl A Bee in the Bonnet
Frippery Cowl © Lauren Rad (try it in Magpie Swanky DK)

Loopy: I think collecting flowers of any kind would be so fun. And a constant supply of fresh flowers in the house is the bonus! I guess in California you can do that year-round. What would be your favorite way to spend a day off? 

Lauren: Wandering a museum, stitching quietly by the ocean, taking a nice nap, and enjoying a leisurely dinner cooked by somebody else.

Arroyo Verde Mitts
Arroyo Verde MItts © Lauren Rad (try it in Knerd String Sport)

Loopy: It must be wonderful to live near the ocean! Ok, last set of questions: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂 

Lauren: Morning, as much as I hate to admit it! Late morning, if I’m truly honest. I’m at my best from about 8 am to noon. I love coffee and tea both, but can only drink decaf. I’m a continental knitter because that’s how I learned, but I’m thinking about learning English so I can do two-handed colorwork. I prefer solids most of the time.

Gingersnap Hat A Bee in the Bonnet
Gingersnap Hat © Lauren Rad (try it in Uncommon Thread Merino DK)

Loopy: Sounds good. Anything else you’d like to add? 

Lauren: This has been such fun! Knitting, for me, has been a place of community and support over the last decade-plus, and I hope to help others feel that way, too.

Loopy: Thanks again for being in our Designer Spotlight today, Lauren!

Lauren is offering 20% off a pattern of your choice and the code will work both on her Ravelry pattern site and on her Payhip pattern shop. Code: LOOPY20, which is valid 6/25 – July 2, 2021.

Have a great weekend, all!


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