Designer Spotlight: Jessica McDonald Designs

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.

Wyethia Jessica McDonald Designs
Wyethia © Jessica McDonald (try it in Uncommon Thread Everyday Singles)

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.

Pines
Pines @ Jessica McDonald (try it in Malabrigo Rios)



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.

Desert Spring Jessica McDonald Designs
Desert Spring © Jessica McDonald (try it in Wollmeise Pure)



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.

Cinder
Cinder © Jessica McDonald (try it in Primrose Roan DK)


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.

Wildflower Tunic Jessica McDonald Designs
Wildflower Tunic © Jessica McDonald (try it in Cascade Superwash Sport)



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.

Ruska
Ruska © Jessica McDonald (try it in Stonehedge Shepherd’s Wool)


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!

Ridgeline Jessica McDonald Designs
Ridgeline © Jessica McDonald (try it in Cascade 220 Superwash)



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.

Eirene Cowl
Eirene Cowl © Jessica McDonald (try it in Uncommon Thread Lush Worsted)



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!

Little Treeline Jessica McDonald Designs
Little Treeline © Jessica McDonald (try it in Cascade 220)



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.

Little Isla
Little Isla © Jesica McDonald (try it in Uncommon Thread Merino DK)



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.

Abloom Jessica McDonald Designs
Abloom © Jessica McDonald (try it in Uncommon Thread Posh Fingering)



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.

Fletching Jessica McDonald Designs
Fletching © Jessica McDonald (try it in Knerd String Sport)



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
website. www.jessicamcdonalddesigns.com

The discount code that Jessica has set up is: LOOPYEWE and it will be valid September 24 – October 1, 2021.

Have a great weekend!

Sheri

Fun in December, Coming Your Way!

Did you do the Gnome Adventure with us last December? Wasn’t it fun? It’s time to pre-order your kits for the 2021 Gnome Knitting Event!

Myster Gnome Event
December Gnome Event with Imagined Landscapes and The Loopy Ewe!

Details:

Goodie Bag Set (contains 12 wrapped, numbered notions. Some you will use for your gnome, some just for fun. Arrives in a cute project bag.) Does not contain yarn – just 12 fun notions. (In case you’re using stash and still wanted the fun of unwrapping notions!)
Click here to order your Goodie Set.

Yarn Sets (two choices – Winter Sun and Festive. Dyed by Dream in Color, fingering weight, 100% superwash merino, 75 yards per mini)
Click here to order your yarn.

Mystery Gnome Options The Loopy Ewe
Two yarn options and a Goodie Set option. Treat yourself!

You can order as many sets of things as you like (because we know you made lots of gnome gifts last year), but please check out with ONLY these kits/yarn in your order. We can’t mix pre-orders with other items.

The yarn sets and bags will ship out at the end of the second week in November. (Internationals will ship a bit earlier).

The pattern is sold separately and comes with 24 days of emails, stories, recipes, and fun from Gnome Guru Sarah Schira. You’ll be able to order the pattern November 1st, and your first clue will arrive December 1st. To read more about it, click here.

Pre-orders are open through the evening of September 27th. We will have a few additional yarn sets available in November again, but the Goodie Sets are only being sold right now.

We can’t wait to knit gnomes again this holiday season!

Sheri

Designer Spotlight: Christal LK Designs

Today we have Christelle from Christal LK Designs in our Designer Spotlight. Christelle resides in Belgium and I can tell that she takes inspiration from her beautiful surroundings. I hope you find a new fall pattern that you just have to make! (Pattern links go to Ravelry, yarn links go to The Loopy Ewe.)

Winter Wonderland Christal LK Designs
Winter Wonderland © Christelle Nihoul (try it in Jamieson & Smith 2 Ply Jumper)

Loopy: Hi Christelle! Thanks for being with us today. Tell us, how long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?

Christelle: Hello Loopy! I have been knitting now for over 30 years. My grandmother taught me to knit when I was 11-12 years old.

L'Envolee
L’Envolée © Christelle Nihoul (try it in Malabrigo Sock)

Loopy: I always love hearing that knitting instruction has been passed down from older generations. I hope we all continue to do that, moving forward. What is your favorite type of item to knit?

Christelle: Without any hesitation the shawls.

Margaux Christal LK Designs
Margaux © Christelle Nihoul (try it in Wollmeise Pure)

Loopy: Shawls are so versatile, aren’t they? Worn as a wrap or a scarf, and something beautiful to bundle up in. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?

Christelle: The most complex thing I’ve knitted is what I’m currently knitting: the Woodland Animals Shawl by Jenise Hope, a large stranded colorwork wrap!

Brise d"automne Cowl
Brise d’Automne Cowl © Christelle Nihoul (try it in Jamieson & Smith 2 Ply Jumper)


Loopy: That’s an amazing pattern – I can see what it is challenging! When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?

Christelle: I really started designing my own patterns in 2011, but I already experienced a while ago by adjusting other designer’s patterns. I also tried several times to create some garments from scratch. At the age of 16 , I designed and knitted myself my very first sweater (without any notes of course). It was an oversized sweater in plain stockinette with long cabled 2*2 ribs.

Loopy: That’s an early age to start designing, especially with cables in it! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?

Christelle: I love all the patterns I’ve created, sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more,  but if I had to name a recent pattern, it would be the Ines Shawl, a shawl with bobbles and mosaic knitting.

Ines Shawl
Inés Shawl © Christelle Nihoul (try it in Cascade Heritage Sock or Silk)

Loopy: Such a beautiful pattern – I love the colorwork. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?

Christelle: My favorite part of my job is drawing and imagining the pattern while on the other hand, I don’t like grading sweaters at all! Excel files are far from being my favorite part.

Simplicity Christal LK Designs
Simplicity © Christelle Nihoul (try it in Sandnes Garn Peer Gynt)

Loopy: I’m with you on that. Excel files, spreadsheets, no fun. But the imaginging part is all good! Do you do this business full-time, or on the side?  And is that hard? Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?

Christelle: Until 2015-2016, I worked as a IBCLC lactation consultant and teacher for healthcare professionals. Since then, I have been creating my patterns full time and recently started my own yarn brand.  It’s not always easy because the financial returns are sometimes random.  Moreover, with the Covid crisis, all the shows were cancelled and I could not give any more classes.

Skogar Mitts
Skogar Mitts © Christelle Nihoul (try it in Uschitita Merino Sock)

Loopy: Covid has really changed so many things, hasn’t it? I hope we can all get back to in person classes and shows by next year. Does anyone else in your family knit? (Would you like to tell us about your family?)

Christelle: I was raised by my grandmother and it was with her that I learned to knit and it was with my mother that I learned to crochet. No one else knitted or crocheted. I have three children and a husband and only my son crochets, mostly amigurumis. He recently learned tunisian crochet. My two daughters have learned to knit a little but they are not really interested. My youngest, on the other hand, really likes punch needle.

Fresnel Christal LK Designs
Fresnel © Christelle Nihoul (try it in Cascade Heritage Sock or Silk)

Loopy: I like that all three of your children are finding their own path in the needlearts – whether with knitting needles, crochet hooks, or punch needles. Having a hobby like that will serve them well in life. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?

Christelle: Before the covid crisis, I was doing a martial art: Iaido. Unfortunately, I haven’t practiced for more than a year. I hope to start again soon. Otherwise I like reading, cooking and especially baking bread and pastry.

Isay
Isay © Christelle Nihoul (try it in Primrose Roan DK)

Loopy: I had to look up Laido. That looks interesting! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?

Christelle: When I take a day off, I always knit but not necessarily my patterns. I also like to walk with my whippet or visit historical monuments, museums, new places in new countries.

Flamel Christal LK Designs
Flamel © Christelle Nihoul (try it in Magpie Swanky Sock)

Loopy: Ok – last set of questions for you – Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂

Christelle: I am both morning and evening person, I don’t sleep a lot so I get up early and go to bed late. I knit English style (sort of) but I use continental style when I knit stranded colorwork (I use my two hands) I drink coffee -a lot- and rarely tea but I still sometimes drink white tea, which is my favorite. Talking about colors, I like everything even the very variegated yarns and neon colors. But still, my favorite color is lilac.

Rosa Bonheur Christal LK Designs
Rosa Bonheur © Christelle Nihoul (try it in Uncommon Thread Merino DK)

Loopy: That’s my goal – sleeping less so that I can stay up late AND get up early. I’m glad to know you can do that! Thank you again for being with us today, Christelle!

Christelle is offering you 20% off of one pattern of your choice from her Ravelry Pattern Shop. The code is: THELOOPYEWE21 and is valid September 10-17, 2021.

Did you find a must-make from Christelle? So many good choices, and we have beautiful yarn to match, for you.

Have a great weekend!

Sheri

Loopy Academy Fall 2021!

How can it be September 1st already? But the fun part of that is that it brings Loopy Academy back in session! And this school year, we have something fun for you and it involves some of our wonderful indie knitwear designers.

Loopy Academy Knitwear Designers

Fall Semester Challenge: Three projects. Each pattern should be from different knitwear designers that we have featured in our Blog’s Designer Spotlight in the past. (So you’ll be doing one pattern each, from three different designers.) If you’re having a hard time choosing, just know this will also be our Spring Semester challenge, too. That way you’ll have a chance to do six different designers, if you do both Fall and Spring Semesters. Spring Semester goes from February 1 through May 31.

Details:
– If you complete all three Fall Semester Projects following the parameters, we’ll add 225 points to your Loopy Reward Totals. (Points will be added by mid-January, when we have confirmed all of the projects.)
– Yarn for Fall Semester needs to be purchased from The Loopy Ewe starting September 1, 2021 or later.
– Photos of each of your completed projects need to be emailed to us by 12/31/21 (support@theloopyewe.com) You can email them as you finish them. Sarah keeps an amazing master spreadsheet!
– When you send in your photo, please include date of yarn purchase, name of pattern, name of yarn, name of designer and yardage used.
– Each project needs to be a minimum of 400 yards, singly knit.

Here is a link to all of the Designer Spotlights on our blog: The Loopy Ewe Designer Spotlight

Here is a list of past designers and a link to their Ravelry pattern shop (unless otherwise noted):

Liz Abinante
Adventure du Jour
Paola Albergamo
Alfa Knits
Alina Appasova
Heidi Alander
Susan B Anderson
Laura Aylor
Rose Beck
A Bee in the Bonnet
Martina Behm
Melanie Berg
Amanda Berry
Blue Bee Studio
Kelly McClure
Butterflylove1
Hilary Smith Callis
Casapinka
Amy Christoffers
Thea Coleman
Alan Dart (on his own website)
Jennifer Dassau
Katie Degroff
Elizabeth Elliot
Elizabeth Smith Knits
Rich Ensor
Laura Fahlin
Jen Geigley
Hunter Hammersen
Handmade by Kunbi (on her own website)
Lisa Hannes
Sivia Harding (on her own website)
Heartstrings Fiber Arts
Taiga Hilliard Designs
Romi Hill
Caitlin Hunter
Susanna IC (on her own website)
Inspiration Knits
Irish Girlie Knits
Irmian Design
Darling J’Adore (on her own website)
Emilie Luis
Libby Jonson
JimiKnits
JulieKnitsinParis
Anna Johanna
Heidemarie Kaiser
Janina Kallio
Heidi Kirrmaier
Isabell Kraemer
Melissa LaBarre
Jennifer Lassonde
Joji Locatelli (on her own website)
Stephanie Lotven
Annie Lupton
Nancy Marchant
Judy Marples
Linda Marveng
5410 Studio
Meiju Knits
Leah Michelle Designs
Andrea Mowry (on her own website)
Cassie Munksgard
Natasja Hornby
Noma Ndlovu
Nicola Susen
Megan Nodecker
Ambah O’Brien
OGE Knitwear Designs
Linnea Ornstein
Alicia Plummer
Alasdair Post-Quinn
Retro Lemon Studio
Josh Ryks-Robinsky
Lucia Ruiz de Aguirre
Virginia Sattler-Reimer
Sarah Schira
Amy Christoffers
Jennifer Steingass
Susanne Sommer
SweaterBabe
SweaterFreak (on her own website)
Tellybeanknits
Alexandra Tinsley (on LoveCrafts)
Tiny Owl Knits
Dominique Trad
Julia Trice
Asa Tricosa
Truly Myrtle
Very Busy Monkey
Stephen West
Yamagara

I’m already having a hard time picking my own patterns and designers for Academy this semester. There are so many I want to do! But …. I’ll start with three and go from there.

Here is what I’m thinking so far:

Dillon Blue Bee Studio Knitwear Designers
Dillon © Blue Bee Studio (thinking about knitting it in stripes with Blue Sky Skyland)
Sunshine Coast HeidiKDesigns Knitwear Designers
Sunshine Coast © Heidikdesigns (thinking about knitting it in Uncommon Thread Merino DK)
Grate Stephanie Lotven Tellybean Knits
Grate © Stephanie Lotven/Tellybean Knits (thinking about knitting it in Malabrigo Rios)

Why yes, I do intend to start knitting myself a whole new sweater wardrobe. 🙂 And yes, I know I’m going over the 400 yard requirement each time. But right now, all I’m thinking about is getting new sweaters in colors I love!

What are you thinking about doing this semester? Can’t wait to see what you pick from all of these wonderful knitwear designers. Come talk with us on the Loopy Groupie Board on Ravelry and/or The Loopy Ewe Knitting Circle on Facebook, and tell us what you’re thinking for the semester.

Have a great rest of your week!

Sheri

P.S. If you prefer working on Undergrad Loopy Academy, you’ll find the list of assignments on our Ravelry Undergrad Thread or on our Loopy Academy blog post.