Today we have Irina from Irmian Design in our Designer Spotlight. Irina designs many different types of projects, but I found myself most drawn to her beautiful sweaters. And with Fall around the corner, now seems like a good time to pick out a new project! (Pattern links go to Raverly, yarn links go to The Loopy Ewe.)
Loopy: Hi Irina! Thanks for being in our Spotlight today. So, how long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Irina: Hi Loopy! I was 6 or 7 years old when my mom showed me how to knit. She was a very accomplished crafter (like all my family) and I wanted to learn everything from her! I remember her teaching me the Long-tail Cast On first and pretty soon I felt like I got really good at all this knitting, right until I tried to work the first row!
Loopy: Ha – so you were good at the cast on and then realized that wasn’t knitting yet? Funny. What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Irina: Well, I am definitely a sweater gal, but nothing gives anybody as much instant gratification as a good cabled beanie!
Loopy: You have some beautiful cabled hat designs in your portfolio. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Irina: Probably my Tombo Wrap. It was a bit of a challenge because of the number of stitches needed to be cast on (over 400) and the attention you need to pay, working on the mosaic pattern. But the sheer amount of happiness with this project was well worth it.
Loopy: The dragonfly design on top of another design in the middle of a third designs is amazing. And a bit mind boggling. I can see why that would be really challenging. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Irina: I started to sew before I really took on knitting, so the concept of pattern and schematics helped me a lot to figure out that I can knit pretty much anything I want, knowing the gauge and measurements. The discovery of Ravelry in 2013 gave me the idea that I can actually make patterns that other people will probably find useful and got my first pattern, Grey Dolman Cardigan, published in 2014.
Loopy: That looks like the perfect sweater to curl up in on a cold winter’s day. Such a cozy wrap-around. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Irina: How could anyone choose? Every one of my designs is special to me, otherwise, they would not make the final cut. Well, if I must choose one, it will probably be the Nelson Pullover, just because I like a good men’s pullover.
Loopy: I like the cable detailing along the shoulders on that one. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Irina: The thrill I feel when all the details (fit, shape, pattern) fall into place and seem to be working well with each other is my favorite feeling. Although I love all the aspects of putting the pattern together. I don’t mind math, I like the process of writing the pattern, making the sample, and working with testers. I do love my job!
Loopy: It sounds like you do! Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Irina: I am a full-time knitwear designer. As a self-employed person, you need to learn a lot, from bookkeeping to web design, but I happen to like it all.
Loopy: You wear a lot of hats when you own your own business. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Irina: I was born in Russia and all women in our family were fond of their own crafts. Sewing, knitting, crochet, embroidery of all kinds – as the first (and the only) granddaughter I had no chance to escape their wisdom.
Loopy: I bet they loved having you to teach! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Irina: Since knitting graduated from hobby to occupation in my life, I had to find a new hobby and took up drawing. Over the course of 2020, I got addicted to online drawing and painting classes and I feel like it helped me to keep my sanity.
Loopy: It was really a blessing during the pandemic that we had the internet and so many ways to continue learning. What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Irina: Meeting with my wonderful friends! We would be having a nice lunch in the park and knitting and chatting for hours!
Loopy: I hope we can all get together more often in the months to come. Your day off sounds perfect. Last questions: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂
Irina: Definitely Morning person; both coffee or tea makes me happy, but recently I feel like gravitating towards coffee a bit more. Usually continental, but love working on my stranded knitting, holding the yarn with both hands. Can I say tonal?
Loopy: You can say tonal! Anything else you’d like to add?
Irina: I strongly believe that there is a knitting designer in any knitter. If you ever chose a different yarn or color than the pattern calls for – you have been designing. If you have ever modified your sweater – that’s the designer’s work. If you took the shape of one garment or accessory but decided to use a different stitch pattern – you are a designer. And there is a lot of inspiration around!
Loopy: I think all knitters have a touch of design creativity inside. Thank you for the inspiration today, Irina!
Irina is offering a 20% off discount on all of her self-published patterns on Ravelry. The code is LOOPY and is valid July 9 – 16, 2021. Click here for her patterns.