Designer Spotlight: Blue Bee Studio

Happy Friday! Today we have Elizabeth from Blue Bee Studio in our spotlight and I know you will love getting to know her. Her Dillon pattern is on my fall knitting list, as well as several other sweaters that she has designed. I love the style of her designs.

Dillon
Dillon © Elizabeth Doherty

Loopy: Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for being in our spotlight today. Tell us – who taught you to knit?

Elizabeth: Hi Loopy! I started knitting a few years after art school while living in Brooklyn. I had been sewing for a long time, making a lot of my own wardrobe, and knitting seemed like a logical extension of that. One day I walked into a local yarn shop and took a class. I wish I knew the name of that wonderful shop owner who launched me on this path!

Clio Blue Bee Studio
Clio © Blue Bee Studio

Loopy: I bet she would be delighted to hear it! What is your favorite type of item to knit?

Elizabeth: Sweaters, sweaters, sweaters, and hats.

Farallon
Farallon © Elizabeth Doherty

Loopy: I can tell that by your design portfolio! Your sweater designs are such classics. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?

Elizabeth: I love learning new techniques, and I am always willing to take a chance and give something a try. After all, what’s to lose? You can always rip out. So it’s not really the technical aspects of knitting that I find challenging. It’s more the limitations on my understanding of the craft that have tripped me up. Early on in my knitting life I made a stranded colorwork baby sweater out of cotton yarn. And knit it flat. It was an absolute misery, but through the experience I learned that ‘stickier’ wool yarns are better for colorwork, and that I always want to do stranded knitting in the round!

Norden Cowl  Blue Bee Studio
Norden Cowl © Blue Bee Studio

Loopy: Agreed on the stickier wool and stranded in the round. But that was a good learning experience. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?

Elizabeth: When I started knitting, I really never used patterns. Because of my sewing background, I knew the shapes I needed to make to fit myself, so I just made things up. At first, I would print out graph paper that matched my stitch and row gauge and plot out all the stitches. It was a very 2-D way of working – reminiscent of sewing patterns. Later I just made notes to myself about the dimensions I needed, and the stitch counts, and worked fairly organically.

When I became aware of the online knitting world, I found that there was a wealth of interesting patterns out there, and began knitting other people’s designs. Having made garments my own way for so long though, I was not very good at following the designer’s instructions, and invariably deviated from the pattern.

In 2011 I answered a call for submissions from the online knitting magazine Twist Collective, and had a design accepted! Twist published several of my designs, as did Quince and Co, and Brooklyn Tweed. These days, I mostly self-publish, and my training as a graphic designer helps a lot, but working with these publications taught me a lot about structuring and writing patterns.

Copperline Mitts
Copperline Mitts © Elizabeth Doherty

Loopy: You built a lot of great connections and experience in the industry as you grew. That’s a great way to develop and grow. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?

Elizabeth: Whatever I’m currently working on seems to be my favorite. Right now I am over the moon about my new cardigan design, Bowen. It’s a return to the top down set-in sleeve for me, after spending a lot of time exploring modern drop-shoulder construction. Bowen has an asymmetrically shaped armhole that makes for a fantastic fit. That said, I do love Elorie. And Clio. And I’d love to have time to knit myself another Donner … and I could knit Tiny Boats a hundred times and still find it fun!

Bowen
Bowen © Elizabeth Doherty

Loopy: That has to be a hard part of being a designer – designing something you love and would like in all different colors, but the next design is already calling to you. (Note to readers – Elizabeth’s Bowen was released 9/30 and there is a separate discount code for it: HELLOBOWEN, which gives you 30% off through Monday, 10/5.)

What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?

Elizabeth: Swatching for new designs is super fun. It is a process that captures all of the excitement of a cast-on while exploring new shapes, textures, colors, and so on. I really like all parts of the design process, and even find grading a pattern to be very satisfying. I love creating a comprehensive spreadsheet in Excel and seeing how all of the elements are going to work across the full range of sizes.

Tiny Boats
Tiny Boats © Elizabeth Doherty

Loopy: You may be the only designer I have ever interviewed who mentioned they do like grading the pattern! 🙂 Do you do this business full-time or on the side? And is that hard?

Elizabeth: I design full-time … maybe more than full time. Since I work from home it’s hard to find the off switch, but I am trying to get better about life-work balance.

Elorie
Elorie © Elizabeth Doherty

Loopy: That really is hard when you work at home. But being aware of the balance is the first step! Does anyone else in your family knit?

Elizabeth: My great-grandmother was a knitter. She specialized almost exclusively in mittens, and is said to have knit them for everyone in her small town. I never got to meet her, but I do have a pair of her amazing mittens. They are incredibly fine, knit on #000 or #0000 steel needles.

Donner  Blue Bee Studio
Donner © Blue Bee Studio

Loopy: Wow – that’s wonderful! Wouldn’t it have been fun to have been able to sit and knit with her? I’m so glad you have a pair of her mittens. And I bet she would love knowing that her great granddaughter became such a wonderful knitting designer.

Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?

Elizabeth: I love to sew – garments of course!

Bumble Blue Bee Studio
Bumble © Blue Bee Studio

Loopy: Of course garments! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?

Elizabeth: I love road biking, hiking, and kayaking. Each of those activities is meditative in its own way, helping to quiet the constant hum of my mind – but also giving me time for mental knitting, where I am often able to solve design issues.

Coleridge Blue Bee Studio
Coleridge © Blue Bee Studio

Loopy: Mental knitting – I haven’t heard that term but I like it and it makes complete sense. Ok, last question: Morning or night person? Coffee or tea? English or Continental? Solids or multicolors?

Elizabeth: Morning, definitely. Tea, most of the time. Continental, always – unless we are talking about breakfast? Then it’s the full English! Semi-solid hand-dyes and heathered woolen-spun yarns that show off stitches to good advantage.

Fletcher Blue Bee Studio
Fletcher © Blue Bee Studio

Loopy: Well, I was talking about knitting, but now you have put me in the mood for a full English breakfast – maybe this weekend! Thanks for being with us today, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth has set up a special bundle just for us. If you click on this link: Blue Bee Studio you will receive 20% off of your choice of one of the patterns on that page with the code: loopyewe This code will be valid October 2-9, 2020.

Calyx
Calyx © Elizabeth Doherty

Then pop back over to Loopy to pick out beautiful yarn to go with your new pattern!

Have a great weekend all –

Sheri

Designer Spotlight: Andrea Mowry

We’re back with another Designer Spotlight! We’d love to introduce you to Andrea Mowry (known as dreareneeknits on Ravelry). Andrea designs beautiful patterns, all of which are cozy. You may have seen her most popular pattern, Find Your Fade, released this past December. We recommend checking out her other patterns as well!

Loopy: Thanks for joining us today Andrea! How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?

Andrea: I feel so lucky that my grandma taught me to knit as a child! If she hadn’t, I don’t know that I would be doing this today!! She taught me when I was around 9 years old, but I really got obsessed with knitting in my late teens. So I would say that I have been a “knitter” for about 15 years.

Loopy: What a special memory to have your grandma teach you! What is your favorite type of item to knit?

Andrea: I love to knit all the things, and usually have a number of different projects on my needles. But my happy place is definitely shawls! They are the perfect canvas for me to play with color and texture and explore my creativity.

Loopy: Shawls are definitely fun to brainstorm ideas with and plan colors. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?

Andrea: Hmmm, this is a great question! As a designer, challenges come in a different way. Sort of like to trying to put together a puzzle, which can sometimes lead to lots of trial and error. When I was designing Ronan for Brooklyn Tweed, I had never knit a garment like that before and really had to play around to get the details to work out just as I wanted them to! It was challenging to figure out, but super satisfying!

Loopy: It is always nice to figure out a challenging problem! When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?

Andrea: Since I first began seriously knitting in my teens, I would create my own little patterns and projects. It was before Raverly, and patterns weren’t as accessible then. I referenced a lot of Elizabeth Zimmerman books, which are so empowering, and I would just throw caution to the wind and try things out! When I was pregnant with my daughter I left my job as a pastry chef, and I finally had the space in my life to really give designing a serious go. I’ve never looked back!

Loopy: It’s so interesting you were a pastry chef! We’ll be happy to test anything you make 😉  And what a special opportunity, then, being able to spend time focusing on designing. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?

Andrea: I have so many favorites, for different reasons! Right now I am really loving on my Briochealuscious shawl. It is so fun to wear and I am obsessed with its playful brioche border. My Yoga Shawl is also at the top of my list, as I love how versatile it is, with so many different ways to wear it!

Loopy: Briochealuscious looks so fun and your Yoga Shawl just looks so warm. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?

Andrea: My favorite part of designing is definitely the knitting! To be honest, I really love all aspects of designing – even the tedious computer work! But physically knitting the sample would be at the top, and computer work at the bottom 🙂

Loopy: It’s fun to hear you like all the work. I do think it would be most fun to see how the sample works up as you’re knitting. Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?

Andrea: Knitting is my full time job! I do also teach knitting workshops in addition to designing patterns.

Loopy: That’s awesome. Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?

Andrea: Up until just a few weeks ago I was doing it whenever I could find time as I raised my two young children at home. Thanks to my husband now being home with the kids, I am able to work full time. I am so thrilled, as I really love what I do! I work from home, so I still get to be with my children, it’s just a little easier to focus now 😉

Loopy: What a great husband 🙂  Does anyone else in your family knit?

Andrea: My grandma still knits afghans and dishcloths! I have taught 2 of my sisters to knit, and the 3rd crochets a bit – but none of them seem to have been bit by the bug! I also taught my nephew who was a real natural, and I am hoping he continues to play around with it!

Loopy: It’s fun to be able to share your hobbies with others in your family and hopefully your nephew will stick with it! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?

Andrea: I used to be a chef, and will always love cooking and playing in the kitchen. I really enjoy embroidery and am really excited to expand my sewing skills.

Loopy: I bet your family appreciates what you make in the kitchen! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?

Andrea: Family time! My husband is a musician and it is really easy for us to just always be working. We really try to schedule in solid time to just be a family! Of course, that still involves lots of music and knitting, just in a less “work-focused” sense. An ideal day off would be making a fun breakie with my daughter, going on a family walk, and then sneaking in some knitting time while sitting next to my hubs as the kids play!

Loopy: Sounds like a great day! Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂

Andrea: Yes! Ha! I love coffee and tea, I knit both English and Continental and I love all the colors! I am definitely more of a morning person than night person though 😉

Loopy: Anything else you’d like to add?

Andrea: Thanks for having me!!! xoxo

Andrea has provided us with a coupon code (theloopyewe) valid from today through next Friday, for 20% off of one of her patterns of your choosing, via Ravelry. You can find all of Andrea’s patterns at this link. (Coupon valid August 4-11).

Yarn Recommendations:

Worsted: Dream in Color Classy, Malabrigo Rios, Cascade 220 Superwash, Fibre Company Canopy Worsted, and Stonehedge Fiber Worsted

Fingering: Knerd String, Uncommon Thread Posh Fingering, Magpie Swanky Sock, and Cascade Heritage Sock

Designer Spotlight: Retro Lemon Studio

Frances the Sock Wearing FoxToday we’re starting a new feature on the blog, where we’ll be profiling a different designer a couple of times a month. Not only that, but it comes with a special offer for you from that designer! I am starting today with Jenna from Retro Lemon Studio, because I saw this adorable Fox in Socks pattern on Pinterest and searched her down on Ravelry. 🙂 Not only is the Fox pattern cute, but you’ll see the other fun things she has designed, sprinkled in photos throughout the post. (photos used with permission). Be sure to take advantage of the special offer for you at the bottom of today’s post, in case you’d like to make one of these cute toys for yourself or a friend.

Jenna Retro Lemon StudioLoopy: Hi Jenna! Thanks for being in our Designer Spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter, and who taught you to knit?

Jenna: I’ve been knitting for almost 5 years, and I’m self taught. I borrowed some learn to knit DVD’s from the library, and watched them over, and over, until I caught on. Luckily, YouTube videos helped every time I got stuck with anything beyond the basics.

Sam the Super Frog Jenna KruparLoopy: It’s nice to have help with a few clicks on your computer! What is your favorite type of item to knit?

Jenna: Toys are my all time favorite things to knit! I love that they don’t have to fit, and if they end up a little wonky it’s ok. But, a close second would be lace shawls.

Loopy: That’s true. No sizing issues, and everyone loves a cute toy, no matter how it turns out. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?

Mario the Artistic Rabbit Jenna KruparJenna: The Advent Calendar Scarf 2012 by Kristin Benecken. I actually was able to keep up and finish on time last year! There will be a new pattern for 2013, and I’m going to attempt to keep up again this year.

Loopy: I like the idea of an advent scarf, but I have too many gifts to finish in December to be able to do that, I think! That’s great that you were able to keep up last year, and plan to do the same this year. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?

Rocco the Rockin Robot Jenna KruparJenna: I started designing in 2010, but didn’t put out my first pattern until Fall 2011. I never thought I’d have the skill to be a sweater or sock knitter, and when I discovered knitted toys it was love at first cast on! I started making toys for my kids, and before I knew it I was trying to make the different things my kids would request. I eventually built up the confidence to put out my own pattern with the encouragement from a friend. This year I have branched out into accessories, which has been really exciting!

George the Giant Squid Jenna KruparLoopy: Your toy patterns are adorable, and it’s fun to see you branching into accessories as well. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed so far?

Jenna: That’s almost like asking if I have a favorite child, lol! But, I have to admit George the Giant Squid has a special place in my heart. Giant Squids are my favorite animal, and it took me a long time to get the pattern just right.

Loopy: George is definitely cute. I think I’m partial to Frances the Sock Wearing Fox. Although Sam the Super Frog is pretty fun, too. They’re ALL fun! What is your favorite part of designing? And your not so favorite part?

Chelsea the Chatterbox Monster Jenna KruparJenna: My favorite part of designing is seeing my ideas come to life! My least favorite part of designing is not being able to get something to turn out right, and having to rip it out and then having to knit it over and over.

Loopy: Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?

Jenna: My designing has become a full time job for me. It has ended up being harder than I expected, because you just never know what people are going to like. Also, sales fluctuate a lot, and you can’t always count on a set amount of money coming in.

Nicole the Notorious Octopus Jenna KruparLoopy: It’s awesome to be able to do something you love, full time. Tell us about your family, and does anyone else in your family knit?

Jenna: I have a super supportive husband, and am a mom to my 3 awesome kiddos. I have taught my daughter to knit, but she didn’t really take to it. My twin boys have expressed interest in learning, but I haven’t gotten the chance for them to sit still long enough to give it a real try. So at the moment I’m the lone knitter in my family, but I’m hoping to be able to pass it on to at least one of my kids sometime down the road.

Theodore the Storytelling Monster Jenna KruparLoopy: You never know – they may take it up in adulthood, if not before. Are there other hobbies you enjoy?

Jenna: I spin (on a spinning wheel), sew, scrapbook, read, and ocassionally bake. I love anything crafty, and love trying new things.

Loopy: What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?

Jenna: I love to shop my favorite thrift stores looking for treasures, and then relax with some knitting in the big comfy chair at my favorite coffee shop.

Orbit the Outgoing Alien Jenna KruparLoopy: Mmmm. Coffee shops. So tell me – Coffee or Tea? Coke or Pepsi? English or Continental? Solids or Muliti-colors? 🙂

Jenna: Tea. Water (I don’t drink soda). Continental. Multicolors!

Loopy: Thanks for being part of our Designer Spotlight today!

To celebrate being in the spotlight, Jenna would like to offer our blog readers 20% off of one toy pattern, valid between 11/22 and 11/29. Code: loopyewe  Boy Bytes Jenna KruparYou can find Jenna’s toy patterns on Ravelry, but good luck in picking just one. I have several on my favorites list already! Most all of Jenna’s toys are done in worsted weight. Cascade 220 and 220 Superwash are perfect for the solids, and Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted would be great for the multi-colored ones. Most of them don’t take too much yarn and they look fairly quick to knit up. The other nice thing about toys? They’re perfect for all ages. Don’t you need a little Bot Byte at your desk? (Shown in this last photo.) That one’s free! Pop over and check them all out.

Sheri debating…foxorfrogfirst?…mustmakeboth

Nuvem and a CONTEST!

Nuvem-Wollmeise-Lace-Spice-MarketIf you read last week’s blog post, you know I’m in Germany this week, visiting Claudia (the Wollmeise). Last fall, Claudia and her friend Maria came to visit me, and we had a great time knitting, shopping, and hanging out. Usually, Claudia comes for the Spring Fling each year and we are so busy that we don’t get enough time to just sit and knit and chat. So it was fun to have her here during a non-Spring Fling time. (And it’s fun being with her here in Germany this week!) One thing that happened last fall when Claudia and Maria were here? I was bitten by the Nuvem bug. They both got off the plane wearing these beautiful scarf/wrap creations and I was immediately interested. Even MORE so when I tried it on. The Nuvem is knit with about 1700 yards of lace, making it really lightweight, but at the same time, really warm. I wanted to start one immediately.

Nuvem-Wollmeise-Lace-Spice-MarketSo, I jumped right in using a skein of Spice Market. (It had been caked up to be a sweater, but you know my history with sweaters, up to this point.) The Nuvem pattern requires a lot (a LOT) of knitting around and around. But I really don’t mind that kind of knitting. You don’t have to think about it. One row is knit around. The second row is knit around, plus making about 12 increases along the way. That’s it! See how the ends flare out a little? That’s where you do the increases. (The true color is shown in the second photo.) And I liked working on it so much, that I started a second one while the first one was soaking in the wash, getting ready for a blocking. I thought it would be great knitting on the plane and in Germany. I did make some changes when I knit it. I made it longer (I cast on 230 stitches to begin with), I made it a little narrower (I think about 22 inches across), and I did 9 rows on the ruffle instead of 6.

So here’s the thing. I had caked up two skeins of Spice Market Lace when I thought I was making a sweater out of them (knitting it holding two strands together.) Since I changed my mind, I used one cake for my Nuvem and I have another Spice Market all caked up, ready to give to someone else. Would you like it? Leave a comment below telling me about your adventures in knitting lace (Have you knit a lace scarf or wrap before? Would you do it again? Have you made a Nuvem? Or would this be your first time on a lace project?). I’ll draw a number next week and will let you know who wins the big, beautiful cake of Spice Market Lace.

Sheri wholikesthisNuvembetterthanasweateranyway