Hi there! Today we have knitwear designer Anna Johanna in our spotlight. Anna lives in Finland and designs everything – sweaters, shawls, socks, and accessories. No matter what you love to knit, you’ll find it in her patterns! (Pattern links lead to Ravelry, yarn links lead to The Loopy Ewe.)
Loopy: Hi Anna! Thanks for being in our Spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter, and who taught you to knit?
Anna: Hi Loopy! I’ve been knitting most of my life. Here in Finland, Children are taught to crochet in kindergarten and to knit in 3rd grade but I’m pretty sure my mum taught me even before that.
Loopy: I wish we had regular programs for teaching knitting and crocheting in schools here. I think that’s so wonderful. What is your favorite type of thing to knit?
Anna: I love to work on sweaters and cardigans. For some reason, I feel like accessories are too quick to make and the fun is over too fast, so I like bigger projects.
Loopy: That’s an interesting way to look at it. I feel like I’m always looking forward to finishing one so I can get to the next one. I like the idea of savoring it more. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Anna: Every once in a while I like to take a little holiday from knitwear design and work on someone else’s pattern. The most challenging one I’ve ever done is Celestarium Shawl by Audrey Nicklin. It’s not because the pattern was difficult in itself but I saw that people had been using different kinds of beads for different kinds/size stars and then I came across a version incorporating the Milky Way using see through beads and I just had to copy the idea. It meant that I spent an entire day printing out the charts, joining the constellations with lines, marking out the bigger stars and sketching the Milky Way onto the charts and then randomly choosing places for the see through beads within it. I love a challenge.
Loopy: I am amazed that you put all of that into that beautiful shawl. Wow. What a true masterpiece. A good one to call your “most challenging” – definitely! When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Anna: I actually dreamed of being a fashion designer when I was a child, so that dream came through in a slightly different way. I’ve always improvised patterns for myself but I published my first pattern on Ravelry in 2016 and now, I’ve got over 100!
Loopy: That’s a huge inventory of patterns to have designed in such a short time. That’s wonderful! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Anna: It’s really hard to choose just one, but I love the knitting math behind Juxtaposition, which is an all-over colorwork sweater from my debut book, Strands of Joy.
Loopy: That’s a beautiful sweater! What is your favorite part of designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Anna: Before I started designing full-time, I was a researcher at the university with a PhD in statistics. So, I really, really love all the math that goes into designing and grading. My least favorite thing is waiting for my samples to dry.
Loopy: That’s funny! (Waiting for knits to dry.) It’s such a dry climate here in Colorado, that our knits dry overnight, and 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?
Anna: As I just mentioned, I used to be a researcher. Counting from starting my PhD, I spent 10 years at the university. but I started working on my designs on the side since 2016 and then finally, at the beginning of 2020, I left the university to work on my knitting full-time. It has been the best thing ever.
Loopy: How wonderful to be able to do something you love like this, full time. We all are benefitting from that, as you continue to put out wonderful patterns! Does anyone else in your family knit?
Anna: My sister also loves to knit and it’s wonderful to share all this with her. My mother used to knit when she was younger but she couldn’t take the shoulder ache any more and had to stop. I’m pretty sure my shoulders are a bit sore as well, but I don’t mind because it’s worth it.
Loopy: There are good exercises out there that we should all be doing to stay limber and loose with our knitting muscles! Are there other hobbies you enjoy?
Anna: I’m into all kinds of crafts. Besides knitting, I spin yarn on my two wheels, sew (mostly dresses to go with my knits) and I also love to cook and bake. When I turned 30, I finally also found joy in exercise and nowadays my hobbies include the gym, yoga, and hiking.
Loopy: That sounds really well-rounded. Good things for body and soul! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Anna: I spend most of my time knitting no matter whether I’m working on my own designs or not. But if I’m not at my needles, I prefer to go hiking with Hubby. Nature is great not only for relaxation but also for inspiration.
Loopy: That’s very true. It’s good to get out there and enjoy the creativity in the world! Ok, last questions. Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?
Anna: I’m definitely not a morning person. The best thing about working for myself full-time is not having the alarm clock on. I’ve never drank a cup of coffee in my life, but just a few years ago, I finally learned to love tea – as long as it’s not black tea. I know Continental style so Im not a thrower, except when sometimes I knit left-handed to avoid turning the work. For the life of me, I cannot change the hand that’s holding the yarn so in those instances, I have to throw. Solids or multicolors is a harder one to choose. For bigger garments, I prefer solids or semi-solids. But for shawls and socks, I love speckled yarns.
Loopy: Thank you again for being with us today, Anna!
Anna is offering 20% off a pattern of your choice from her Ravelry Pattern shop. The code to use is: LOOPYEWE and that is valid August 13 – 20, 2021.
Have a wonderful weekend!