Designer Spotlight: Joji Locatelli

Make A WishI’m happy to introduce you to Joji Locatelli in the Designer Spotlight today! Joji’s sweater and shawl patterns always catch my eye as I’m poking around Ravelry, looking at projects. I know many of you are big Joji fans, so hopefully you’ll learn something new about her today!

Loopy: Hi Joji! Thanks for being in our Designer Spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?

Joji: Thank you so much for having me! I learnt to knit as a child (my Mum taught me the basics), but only knitted a couple of scarves back then.  When I was in my mid-twenties I suddenly felt an urge to knit again, and since I couldn’t find any patterns or ideas that I liked, I searched on the internet and I got absolutely hooked by knitting and the world of knitting blogs and communities.

SONY DSCLoopy: There is a lot to find on the internet. I’m glad it drew you back to knitting! What is your favorite type of item to knit?

Joji: I like knitting just anything, but sweaters are the projects I enjoy the most. They have so many different parts and pieces… You never get bored.

Bohemian GirlLoopy: I really love so many of your patterns. I need to get better at completing sweaters, and not just starting them. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?

Joji: I never think of a technique or a level of difficulty as challenging… But I remember that I found Boxy challenging because I would need to knit so much, and I wasn’t sure about how it would fit me.  It was a leap of faith, so I knit all those miles of stockinette and I only tried it on when it was finished and blocked.  Luckily, it’s one of my favorite designs now.

Boxy1Loopy: That has been a hugely popular design! (It’s on my list.) When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?

Joji: I think I started “designing” when I was a little girl, even before actually knitting.  When I was young, I would tell my mother what I wanted to wear so that she could knit it for me.  She explained to me how a sweater should be constructed (knitted flat, in pieces and then sewn), and she taught me how to do the calculations according to her gauge and my size. She was a bit lazy with maths, so she would always tell me that if I wanted that sweater done I needed to give her the numbers of stitches to cast on and such. So it was easy for me to design my own knitting projects when I started knitting myself. It was a long, amazing road from that point to publishing my patterns for other people to knit.

Old RomanceLoopy: It sounds like she handled that just right, in terms of setting you up for future designing success! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?

Joji: This changes all the time, usually my latest one is always the favorite, and in this case it’s Old Romance.  I love the beautiful romantic look, the flattering lines and the delicate lace.

 Loopy: That one has a fun detail going down the arms! What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?

Joji: My favorite part is being able to use my creativity!  Anything can happen when you design knitwear.  The stitches can travel just any place. My least favorite part, ironically is precisely doing the maths required for all sizes…

Autumn BlushLoopy: You must have burnt out on pattern math early on! Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?

Joji: Just being a Mum. 🙂

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

Joji: I am at the moment doing it full-time, or at least as much as I can handle, and I don’t think it’s any harder than other job.  In fact, it’s much better because it’s my dream job.  So I feel blessed.  I would never complaint of having to work too much.

MeridienLoopy: It sounds like a perfect way to work around being home with your family. Does anyone else in your family knit? 

Joji: Well, my Mum does!  She lives very close to us, so we spend long afternoons knitting together and chatting about new projects.  I still couldn’t convince my husband to try it out, but my eldest son seems to be interested in it (my youngest is still very busy trying to stay a baby as much as he can).

Loopy: I haven’t convinced my husband to try it, either. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?

Joji: Not as much as knitting!

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

Joji: I’d say the perfect day off would be with my husband and boys around, sightseeing in a big city, with a knitting project in my bag.

Loopy: Finally – Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?

Joji: I am a night owl, I could stay up late until dawn, drinking coffee, of course. 🙂 I knit English style, most of the time with straight needles, one of them under my right armpit (unless knitting in the round)…  and I prefer semisolids.

NeonLoopy: Thanks again for popping in on the blog today!

Joji is offering our blog readers one of her patterns at $1 off, between today and May 2. Check out her patterns on Ravelry and pick a fun one, then pop over to The Loopy Ewe to get some yarn to go with it! The pattern discount code is: theloopyewe

So, who has already knit one of Joji’s patterns, and what did you make?

Sheri lovingtheImagineWhenshawl,butalsowantingtodoaBoxy

Designer Spotlight – Verybusymonkey

VerybusymonkeyThe more I knit, the more I find that I like patterns with texture. A mixture of fun stitches that “pop” on the socks, shawls, sweaters, or hats that I’m working on. (Ok, not on the sweaters, since I don’t make them. Much. But I favorite textured sweaters with high hopes!) Today’s designer has patterns that always catch my eye, when I’m scrolling around on Ravelry. I love what she does! I’m happy for you to get to know a bit more about Stephanie from Verybusymonkey.

Solar Flare ShawlLoopy: Hi Stephanie! Thanks for being in our Designer Spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter, and who taught you to knit?

Stephanie: Hi Loopy! A big thank you for asking me to do this! I learned how to knit when I was pretty young, probably 7-8 years old, but I didn’t like it much at the time. I thought it required way too much counting, I preferred crochet, which I did for many, many years – I’m pretty sure most of my relatives and good friends have afghans as evidence of this! I re-discovered knitting about eight years ago and haven’t looked back since!

Cadence SocksLoopy: Lucky for us that you re-discovered knitting, and pattern-designing in the process. What is your favorite thing to knit?

Stephanie: I really enjoy knitting shawls. I love the loose gauge (easy on the hands), and the magic of blocking them. They create such elegant garments, and you can use luxurious yarns to create them.

Canyonlands ShawlLoopy: And shawls are so wearable. Around the shoulders, around the neck – great for warming up. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?

Stephanie: Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I like a good challenge in most things so I’m not sure anything I’ve knit stands out in that way. Mostly projects become challenging for me when I don’t like knitting them (that is, they are too fiddly, or hurt my hands) or I’m not happy with the yarn/pattern combo. Generally speaking though, I like to knit/design things that look complicated but are not actually so, it is supposed to be relaxing after all! 🙂

Geology ShawlLoopy: Your patterns have a lot going on in them, which is one of the things that I really like about them. When did you start designing and what spurred that interest?

Stephanie: I started designing in Summer 2008 when my baby horse was born. Horses are not a practical hobby as most people are aware, so at the time I thought that perhaps if one of my hobbies could pay for itself that would be great. 🙂 I found that I really enjoyed it! As an academic/teacher in my “real life”, I enjoy pulling together different ideas/elements and being able to explain/show things to people in a way that make them easy to understand Coriolis Effect(hopefully). I find pattern designing similar to teaching in that way. I also like to learn new things and, as mentioned earlier, I like a good challenge, so whether it be designing new courses or new knitting patterns, I like the creative aspects and elements of discovery of both.

Loopy: Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?

Stephanie: Hmmm, another tough one… There are so many that I’m proud off and love to wear all the time. I suppose the one I am most proud of is the Olympic National Park shawl. I was really excited the day I managed to design a shawl to look like a forest! 🙂

Olympic National ParkLoopy: That one is pretty cool. A forest around your shoulders! What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?

Stephanie: I really like the challenge of coming up with something different and yet accessible/appealing to many people. I still haven’t figured out how to anticipate what people will or will not like, but there’s something really exciting about releasing a new pattern and seeing what kind of reception it gets.  As for my not-so-favorite part, I suppose it has to be the unproductive, negative comments I sometimes get. I had one person contact me to tell me she didn’t like the way my pattern is written, will never buy one again, and that she Coriolis Shawlconsidered her purchase of the pattern a “gift” to me. I feel like there’s nothing constructive in doing that. We’ve all tried patterns we don’t like, but there’s nothing to be gained from going out of your way to tell a designer that. It wasn’t as if she was asking for help, she just felt the need to be critical. I know you can never make everyone happy, but it is sometimes frustrating that people feel the need to make hurtful and unproductive comments.

Loopy: I don’t understand that about some people, either. But on the positive side, I know you have a HUGE group of fans out there, and that should more than make up for a few frustrating people! Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?

Helen SocksStephanie: Yes, in my non-knitting life I teach college students about monkeys (amongst other things)! 🙂

Loopy: I’m thinking maybe you should be teaching them about sheep, alpacas and goats. But ok, monkeys! Do you do this business full-time or on the side, and is that hard?

Stephanie: I design part-time, and it is hard. My academic work load varies from semester to semester and I commute to where I teach, so the amount of knitting time I get varies. Lately, I’ve been teaching a lot (which is great) but it has seriously cut down on my knitting/designing time. Luckily, with academia comes summer break so I plan to do LOTS of knitting/designing soon!

Garden Patch SocksLoopy: Good – something to look forward to for the rest of us, too! Does anyone else in your family knit?

Stephanie: Most of my family has been or is creative/artistic in some way, but I’m the only one who is into “fiber crafts”. One of my grandmothers used to knit, but she stopped long before I had any interest in it.

Loopy: Are there any other hobbies you enjoy?

Stephanie: Yes, my first love has always been horses. Ever since I could talk, it’s all I ever wanted. I now have two that I adore greatly.

Saturn's RingsLoopy: What would be your favorite way to spend a day off? (I’m guessing it involves knitting and horses!)

Stephanie: I am naturally a morning person, so waking up early to enjoy my coffee and knit is how I like to start my days. Once the sun is up, I will gladly play with my horses all day until the sun starts to descend and then it’s time for knitting again! I should add that my cat likes to join in (or interrupt rather) the knitting time by sitting on me, he’s rather a large cat… 🙂

Loopy: I’ve got a couple of cats like that! Now – Coke or Pepsi? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?

Malachite ButterflyStephanie: I am not one for sugary drinks, so sparkling water, definitely coffee, although tea sometimes too, English, and semi-solids (of course there are some more subtle multicolors really draw me in).

Loopy: Thanks so much for being with us today!

As a special for our blog readers, Stephanie is giving a $1 discount off of any one of her patterns when you use the code: theloopyewe. The discount will be good from today (4/11) through next Friday (4/18).  Bonus – Stephanie is also running an anniversary sale on her patterns for the month of April, so if you find multiple patterns of hers that you’d like to buy instead of just one, you can take 10% off an entire purchase by using the coupon code: VBManniversary2014. Pop on over to her pattern shop on Ravelry and pick something fun! I’m currently making her Saturn’s Rings pattern and have learned a couple of new stitches in the process. I’ll share that with you soon.

Sheri thenneedingtotrysomeofStephanie’ssocks

Designer Spotlight: Judy Marples

JudyIn today’s Designer Spotlight, we have Judy Marples, designer of the Purl Bumps line of patterns. I have long loved Judy’s patterns (hello Ripple Rock Shawl, I am going to make you one of these days), and we’re happy to give you a chance to get to know her a little better, and to share some of her beautiful creations with you.

ripple rock shawlLoopy: Hi Judy! Thanks for being with us today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?

Judy: Hi Loopy – thanks so much for inviting me to your blog! I hope I won’t be too long winded, I could blather on about knitting all day! Iʼve been knitting my whole life. My mother taught me when I was about 8 years old. Iʼm left handed and my mother was right handed so she decided that if I watched her knit in a mirror, that I could then knit left handed. That didnʼt work out so well and we both became frustrated. So finally she told me I DSC_0001was going to have to learn right handed and Iʼm so glad that happened. Knitting is really two handed anyway so I just compensated by doing all the movement with my left hand. I used to hold the right hand needle under my right armpit and the left needle would be going like crazy, lol. Iʼve gradually over the years changed my style where now I move both hands. I also teach classes and I always tell my beginners that there is no right or wrong way to knit. If my mother had insisted that I knit the “right” way, I probably would not have become a knitter.

Seawall CowlLoopy: Your mom was smart, and I’m glad that you figured out how to make it work for you. What is your favorite type of item to knit?

Judy: My favourite is definitely lace. I just love everything about lace. I find the the charts and the math very satisfying. And I love the puzzle that sometimes needs to be solved within a lace design. I also favor it because the work is light and I can knit lace for hours on end, which I do most days!

East Gable ShawlLoopy: You have designed some amazing lace patterns. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?

Judy: Oh, that would be my Enchanted Forest Cardigan by Donna Karan. It was in Vogue knitting a long time ago, but I found it in the book Vogue Knitting Designer Knits, I think it was about 15 years ago. I was not an experienced sweater knitter at that time, and it had very complex cables and many, many charts. The charts had charts and no repeats! I still have the massive chart I created by photocopying and taping together all the Summer Mooncharts so I could knit the bottom of it in one piece. I became obsessed with it while knitting it. It was like the most fantastic novel in which you couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I was so obsessed that I think I finished it in about 10 days and I had a full time job at the time! I remember calling my husband more than once and asking him to bring home more post it notes. I was using them to mark the rows on the massive chart and I went through pads of them while constructing it, lol. Due Urban Forest Hatto my inexperience, when it was finished, it was way too big for me and hung off my shoulders. I donʼt think I ever wore it. I still have it though, I canʼt bear to part with it. I pull it out every few years and think that I should cut it and make pillows out of it but the thought of actually doing that makes me a little sad, so I fold it and put it back in the drawer.

Loopy: Oh my goodness! After all that, it was too big to wear? That’s sad! But yes, you definitely need to keep it. I’m glad you still have it for inspiration. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?

Eccentric CowlJudy: I started designing about 4 years ago. I had gotten into knitting lace a few years before and I had made several lace shawls and I was really ready for a new challenge. I designed Calais Shawl just to see if I could do it. Once I began working with the charts and the design process on that pattern I was totally hooked!

Dover CastleLoopy: That was a good next step for you to take, then. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?

Judy: If I had to choose, it would probably be Dover Castle Shawl. It was my first “for sale” pattern and it was so well received that I was beyond thrilled. The stitch pattern is an original that I created and I have great memories within that pattern.

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

Judy: My favourite part of designing is the beginning, when all the possibilities are in front of you. I love to swatch and play with charts and coax a design to come forward. I also love it when the design is complete, the pattern is written and I sit for a few days and knit a sample. I watch movies and knit and it feels so peaceful and satisfying once the design work is finished. My not so favourite parts? Proofing the patterns and the charts. And writing the written instruction to the charts, thatʼs always a challenge to get every last detail correct.

Elowen ShawlLoopy: It’s nice to hear that the actual knitting is still one of your favorite parts! Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?

Judy: I teach classes and really enjoy that. But most of my time goes into pattern designing and everything that goes along with that. I do my own photography, graphics, layout, advertising, etc and I really love the variety of the work.

Knit Night HatLoopy: A master of many trades! Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?

Judy: When I first started designing, I had a part time job in my LYS as well as a full schedule of classes that I taught. I found it was always a struggle to find time for designing. I feel very fortunate that I am able to design full time now and still teach some classes.

Little Sparrow CowlLoopy: We’re happy that you can design full time, too. It means more patterns that you get to share with us. Does anyone else in your family knit?

Judy: My older sister began knitting about 15 years ago. Since then one of our favorite things for the two of us to do is visit yarn shops. We have done weekends away when all we have done is visit new shops and then knit. Always fun!

Poetry GlovesLoopy: Weekend knitting trips are always fun! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?

Judy: I have a loom and a spinning wheel but never seem to find the time to use them. I also love reading and listen to audiobooks while knitting. I like to listen to podcasts while I am out walking. I walk every day and recently took up Nordic walking, which I love. I also enjoy photography, quilting and sewing, and cooking. I have a serious Pinterest habit hunting for new recipes to try, DSC_0061lol. Iʼve been experimenting with vegetarian and vegan recipes and Iʼve always had a real interest in nutrition.

Loopy: Ok, now I have to go look up Nordic walking. (Ok – walking with special poles to burn more calories. Got it.) What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?

Judy: Hmm, a leisurely breakfast. Then a long walk, maybe a visit to a yarn shop and a book store Magpie Cowlfor a good browse (my two favorite types of stores). Then several hours to sit and knit with good company and a glass of wine.

Loopy: That sounds like a relaxing day. Lastly – Coke or Pepsi? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂

Judy: Neither, I donʼt drink soda. Coffee, definitely. English (and in my dreams, continental). Solids (and semi solids).

Vigneto ShawlJudy has offered all of our blog readers 20% off of one pattern in her pattern shop. The code is: theloopyewe and it will be valid from today, through next Friday (April 4th). Pop over and pick something you love! She is also running a deal where if you buy 3 regularly priced patterns, the fourth one is free (no code necessary). If you’re like me, you might find a lot more than one that you need. Have you knit any of Judy’s patterns yet?

Sheri whoisgoingtofindawaytogetthatRippleRockontheneedles

Designer Spotlight: Alexandra Tinsley

Alex TinsleyToday we have another very talented knitting designer in the Designer Spotlight. Alex is from Michigan and I know you will have fun getting to know her!

Loopy: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today! So how long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?

Alex: My mother made several attempts at teaching me to knit as a kid, but it didn’t stick until high school when I finally sat down with a book and taught myself. I’m not sure what finally motivated me – I think I just wanted to join the newly-formed (and short-lived) knitting club at school.

Dull RoarLoopy: I wish more schools had knitting clubs! I think it’s a great thing to teach kids at that age. What is your favorite type of item to knit?

Alex: Haha, it’s probably obvious from looking at my pattern line-up, but hats! You only have to make one and you can usually get it out of one skein. What’s not to like?

Loopy: True. And the other benefit is everyone can always use a new hat. It’s a great thing to knit for gifts. What is the most challenging thing you’ve knit to date?

Zam hatAlex: The most challenging thing I’ve done so far is learn to grade sweaters. It’s not that it involves difficult math, exactly, just a lot of things to keep track of. As far as the actual knitting goes, I think the toughest projects have been some of my early lace and brioche projects – they weren’t actually hard patterns, but both can be very tricky to read when you’re new at it, and it’s easy to make a mistake and not be sure how to fix it.

ChevzamLoopy: When did you start in on designing, and what spurred that interest?

Alex: As soon as I started knitting, I started making up my own “designs” … if you can call them that. You should’ve seen the decreases on my first hats – I’d never made a hat from a pattern before. I just looked up how to decrease and totally winged it! They were a mess. I started actually writing and selling patterns around 2007, about 3 or 4 years after I first learned to knit. Before that I’d had an etsy shop where I sold what I’d made, and while there I realized that people were selling patterns too. I thought, “Huh. I could do that!”

Myrta MittsLoopy: I always like hearing about peoples’ mess-ups when they first start knitting. I had a massive scarf that grew width-wise, and an unfortunate encounter with short rows. Thanks for sharing about your decreasing experience! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?

Alex: Oh man, that’s like asking me to pick a favorite child, haha! I recently put out a hat called “Fave” that is based on one I knit years ago that became my absolute favorite to wear (and still is). It’s a simple design, but seems to go with everything. I’m also very fond of one of my newest patterns – Corone. It’s my first heavily cabled design, and in one of my all time favorite yarns and colorways (Malabrigo Worsted in Frank Ochre).

CoroneLoopy: Oh, I like both of those patterns. The Corone makes me think that everyone needs a bright yellow hat for a cloudy, gray day. What is your favorite part of designing? And your not-so-favorite part?

Alex: My favorite part is the knitting itself. It’s such a soothing action, and so satisfying to see your ideas come to life, and to play with all the gorgeous colors and textures. I’m a really tactile person, as I’m sure a lot of knitters are. My least favorite is probably the dull computer work – the formatting, photo editing, proofreading, yadda yadda. It’s not bad really, but if I ever had an assistant that’s definitely the stuff I’d pawn off.

FaveLoopy: Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?

Alex: I work part time for Malabrigo Yarn as their Project Coordinator, but as far as an out-of-the-industry job or an out-of-the-house job, nope. It’s all yarn, all the time around here!

Loopy: It’s all yarn, all the time around here, too! (Well. Yarn and fabric.) Do you do this business full-time or on the side? And is that hard?

LoveAlex: Full-time! I work from home, which I love because I really prefer and thrive on a super flexible schedule. The hardest part is making sure I get out of the house once in awhile and actually interact with other human beings (besides my husband) in person. I spend a lot more time with dogs than people, these days. (I joke that one of our dogs, Pog, is my VP, since she sits next to me all day long while I work.) The other challenge is remembering to quit working, get off my butt, and step away from the screen once in awhile.

SlickLoopy: I like your story about Pog, the VP. Good that you have company during the day! Does anyone else in your family knit?

Alex: My husband knows how to knit, having given in to my constant peer pressure, but he doesn’t do it very often. As a wedding gift, he bought some beautiful Tosh and promised to knit me a sweater by our first anniversary … we’re coming up on year three and it’s about four inches long, haha! I’m going to confiscate it and do it myself pretty soon. My mother learned as a child, but also only does it rarely. My paternal grandmother is a crochet machine though! In the time it takes me to knit a hat she’ll have you wrapped in a queen-sized afghan.

SproingerLoopy: That sounds like a good kind of grandma to have! And how about other hobbies that you enjoy?

Alex: I enjoy spinning (yarn, not bikes), cross-stitch, drawing, painting, hand-lettering, gluing glitter to things, making jewelry, yoga, photography, playing the ukulele, and pretending I can keep plants alive. Of course, with the exception of the uke, I only ever manage to enjoy these things for about one hour a year, so I’m not sure if they truly count as hobbies. (What’s that they say about jack-of-all-trades, master of none? Yeah, that.) Lately I’ve been wanting to take up quilting – I expect I’ll have my first quilt finished by the time I hit 75.

Stripe Your FancyLoopy: Well we highly recommend quilting and sewing around here. I do think you should add it to your hobbies list. Lastly: Coke or Pepsi, Coffee or Tea, English or Continental, Solids or Multicolors?

Alex: Neither, Tea, Continental and Semi-solids.

Loopy: Thanks for joining us today, Alex!

Alex: Thank you so much for having me!

Alex is offering all of our Loopy blog readers 20% off of one pattern from her pattern shop (patterns from Dull Roar, not including e-books), between today (3/14) and next Friday (3/21). Pop on over and pick something you’d like to try, and put: theloopyewe in as the discount code!

Sheri nowthinkingIneedasunnyyellowhat