Today we have Jessica from Jessica McDonald Designs in our Designer Spotlight! Jennifer lives in Idaho, and she says it’s a small town in the mountains. Sounds like the perfect spot for designing and knitting.
Loopy: Hi Jessica! And Happy Birthday to you! Thanks for being with us today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Jessica: Hi Loopy! My mom taught me how to knit twelve years ago when I was newly-married. She got me set up
with a baby blanket knit out of yellow acrylic-blend yarn. It was a simple rectangle with only knits and purls, but I managed to completely mess up the patterning and it took me about three years to finish. But I had been bitten by the knitting bug and have been knitting ever since.
Loopy: Well you deserve congratulations for sticking with it and finishing it – that’s great. What is your favorite type of item to knit
Jessica: Without a doubt, my favorite thing to knit is sweaters. I knit them so exclusively that I (a knitter!) had to purchase a knit beanie this last winter. Yes, it is a shocking admission. I will try to knit myself a hat this year, but my list of sweaters to knit simply will not stop growing.
Loopy: That’s funny! You need a knitting friend who can make beanies for you. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Jessica: So far, my most challenging knit has been Cinder. It is a striking colorwork yoke that requires many rounds of three color colorwork knitting. Before I knit Cinder, I had only knit with three colors a few times so my skills were not yet well-practiced. There were some days when I could only manage to knit a single round on the yoke because I was so slow. However, by the end of the yoke, I was moving pretty quickly and even went on to design a children’s version, Little Cinder.
Loopy: That’s a beautiful pattern. And I would imagine that it gave you a lot of practice in three color knitting. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Jessica: Eight years ago, my first daughter’s first Christmas was rapidly approaching. I was determined to knit her a special outfit for the occasion, and had some lovely green stashed MadelineTosh I wanted to use. After spending hours scrolling through Ravelry and not finding anything that I liked, I decided to just make up my own. I had a stitch dictionary and understood the basics of how knit garments were made so I decided to just go for it. That first design was the Wildflower Tunic. It was not completed in time for Christmas, but it gave me a love for designing and I just
could not stop after that.
Loopy: That was a Christmas gift that really keeps on giving, right? What a lovely start to your design business. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Jessica: Ruska is one of my favorites. From original inspiration to final sweater took about three years, but only about three weeks of that time was the actual knitting. It is my most-fun pattern to knit; I found it to be highly addicting and could not put it down. My Ruska is only a year old, and already one of my most worn sweaters. I just love how I feel when I wear it.
Loopy: It sounds like you need to make a second one! I love sweaters that are so wearable that you reach for them all of the time. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Jessica: My favorite part of designing is coming up with a new idea and bringing it to life. The mental challenge of coming up with a way to effectively communicate my design to other knitters never fails to give me a thrill. The sense of satisfaction I feel publishing a clearly written, beautiful pattern helps me persevere when things get difficult. My least favorite part is the admin. Please don’t ask how long it’s been since I did any bookkeeping!
Loopy: Yes, totally understand about the bookkeeping. I don’t know many people who love that part! Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard? Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Jessica: I run this business on the side. My main occupation is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to four little kids. It can get incredibly difficult at times to do both, but I am passionate about both and have decided to do both giving myself no room for excuses. That being said, managing both roles requires an incredible amount of organization and self-discipline and is often exhausting.
Loopy: That is a lot of irons in the fire. But I imagine that it does help you to stay organized (because you have to – no choice with so much going on!) Does anyone else in your family knit?
Jessica: My maternal line back as far as we know all knitted. I have some heirloom pieces that were knitted by my great-grandmother and grandmother, and they are some of my most precious treasures. I love to look at the stitches and think about all the love knitted into them. My mom and my sisters knit. My mom is currently knitting one of my soon-to-be-released sweater designs. There are some advantages to being related to a knitting pattern designer!
Loopy: That is so wonderful that you have handknit pieces from your great grandmother and grandmother. What a treasure! It sounds like you come from a long and dedicated line of knitters. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Jessica: All of my other hobbies revolve around spending time outdoors. I have an enormous garden, and as a family, we love to go the mountains to camp and hike.
Loopy: What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Jessica: I would love to go to the mountains, sit somewhere quiet and peaceful with no cell service, and knit while my children run around and play.
Loopy: I think the “with no cell service” part is a good call! Last questions: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂
Jessica: Neither – I am at my best between 8 am and 8 pm, tea, continental, solids.
Loopy: Thanks for being with us today, and I hope you have a fun birthday day today! Anything else you’d like to add?
Jessica: For those who do not use Ravelry, the discount code will also work in my pattern store on my
The discount code that Jessica has set up is: LOOPYEWE and it will be valid September 24 – October 1, 2021.
Have a great weekend!