Today we have Laura Fahlin in our Designer Spotlight. Laura was born and raised in Colorado, and says she gets her Loopy packages very quickly. 🙂 I know you’ll like learning more about her and her beautiful work today. (Pattern links go to Ravelry, yarn links go to The Loopy Ewe.)
Loopy: Hi Laura! Thanks for being with us today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Laura: Hi Loopy! I started knitting when I was 10. I was inspired to knit by my maternal grandmother, my MorMor. She lived back east, but she’d always have her knitting with her when she came to visit us. I still have a little cardigan she made for me when I was a toddler. She didn’t teach me to knit since she lived so far away. I use Laura Fahlin as my designer name because of her. Fahlin (pronounced fa-leen) is my middle name and was her maiden name.
I asked my mom to take me to a local craft store, and I used my allowance to buy some plastic needles, acrylic yarn, and a How to Knit booklet. I knit a lot of baby sweaters in my 20s for friends and family. I took up sock knitting after reading one of the Yarn Harlot’s books and blog and finding Ravelry. I’ve improved and learned new knitting techniques through retreats like the Loopy Flings and YouTube videos.
Loopy: I love that you are able to honor your grandmother and the influence she had on your knitting. That’s a great idea. What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Laura: Socks mostly, but all accessories – shawls, scarfs, hats, mitts. I like smaller projects – one or two skeins.
Loopy: The nice thing about one/two skein projects is they get done quicker! And they are also nice to make as gifts. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Laura: The most complicated thing I’ve knit was for the Winter Olympics in 2014. I knit a Windward scarf (by Heidi Kirrmaier) which has complex shaping and added 5 different Doctor Who-inspired stitch patterns to the different sections, plus beads! I had so many pieces of graph paper and spread sheets to keep track of what I was doing. But I love how it turned out.
Loopy: That sounds like a good challenge, although maybe hard to track and knit while watching the Olympics! (Or maybe that’s just me and my attention span…) When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Laura: I officially started designing in 2013. I’d been in a sock club for a couple of years and had been knitting socks for the challenges in the Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry. I found myself always wanting to make changes to patterns or to combine parts of patterns into mash up versions. My first pattern was for a SKA challenge.
Loopy: I think that’s how a lot of designers start – itching to make changes to patterns they are knitting. That’s a good sign that maybe you should try your hand at it. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Laura: Of the socks I’ve designed, I’ll always have a soft spot for HMS Laconia Socks since that was the first pattern I designed. They were for my husband (and he still wears them) and were inspired by Captain Wentworth from Persuasion, my favorite Jane Austen. I also really love Study in Slip Socks which was designed for a SKA challenge too and is a fun way to use up leftover sock yarn, of which I have so much!
Of my accessories, I love my Barnstormer Hats because they have fun, short-row earflaps and since they have a family connection. Two of my great-uncles (my MorMor’s brothers) were barnstormer pilots and one designed wooden propellers in the 1930’s. I designed the hats to keep my ears warm when I walked my boys to the bus stop in the morning when they were in elementary school, which makes me a bit nostalgic since they’re now 6 foot tall teenagers.
Loopy: I think ear flaps are a great idea for winter walks. And that is a fun pattern. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Laura: My favorite part of designing is having an idea for a pattern and figuring out the “puzzle” of it – how to make the stitches look the way I picture them in my head. I also like how I get to use both sides of my brain: the creative side and the math and logic side.
My not-so-favorite part is when I have an idea that just won’t come together, no matter how many times I rework it, and I’m still learning to let that go.
Loopy: I think letting it go would be hard. Seems like if you can see it, you can knit it. But I definitely know that’s not necessarily true. Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard? Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Laura: I design part-time since I’m a stay at home parent. It’s been challenging to get much done during the pandemic with my 2 boys at home for distance learning and my husband working from home too. I spent the last school year as tech support, algebra tutor, lab partner, and essay editor.
Loopy: Yes, stay-at-home parenting roles have taken on a whole new meaning during Covid, for sure. Some day things will return to normal. I keep hoping. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Laura: Not at the moment, but I think a couple of my cousins dabble in knit and crochet. I taught my nephew to knit a few years ago. He’s now studying to be a structural engineer. He wanted to know how knitting worked since I’d knit him socks and hats. He hasn’t kept it up, but maybe he’ll take it up again when he’s older and has more time.
Loopy: As a structural engineer, he had that quest to figure out how those socks came together! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Laura: Reading and sewing, mostly project bags for my knitting. I can crochet and have done some quilting too.
Loopy: What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Laura: I don’t really get days off now, but a quiet day is always good for either reading, knitting, tossing my stash or flipping through stitch dictionaries for design inspiration.
Loopy: Ok, last questions: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?
Laura: Night person and coffee, definitely. I learned English first, but learned Continental a few years ago, which once I got the hang of it, is faster for me. I also wanted to be able to knit colorwork with both hands. I love all the multicolor yarns, variegated, speckled, self-striping, and try to use them for my designs as much as I can.
Loopy: It’s always great to find patterns that use all of the multicolor yarns, so we’re all glad to know they work with many of your designs. Anything else you’d like to add?
Laura: For anyone who likes a mystery sock knit along, I designed one for the Solid Sock group on Ravelry starting September 1. It’s free and the clues will come out September 1, 8, 15, and 22.
Loopy: Thanks for being with us today, Laura!
Laura is offering 20% off one of her patterns of your choice via her Ravelry pattern shop. The code is: SPOTLIGHT and is valid August 6-13, 2021.
Have fun picking out a pattern, and then pop over to The Loopy Ewe to pick out some beautiful yarn to go with it!