Designer Spotlight: Leah Michelle Designs

KrauseMichelleI always have fun finding new patterns to explore on Ravelry. I keep an eye out for great designs that I can share with you on Mondays and Thursdays (for the Updates) and great designers that I can share with you in the Designer Spotlight. Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Michelle, from Leah Michelle Designs. Be sure to get in on the special offer at the bottom of the post!

Loopy: Hi Michelle! Thanks for sitting down to talk with us today. How long have you been a knitter, and who taught you to knit?

Drawstring MittensMichelle: Hi Loopy! I’ve been a serious knitter for 12 years. I learned form my grandma when I was young and started a scarf with a lightweight yarn and small needles. I eventually gave up, but I still have it! I became serious about knitting when my kids were 2 and 5. I wanted to knit hats, scarves, and mittens for them. I bought a knitting magazine, needles and yarn, and have been adding new knitting techniques to my repertoire ever since.

Cables & TwistsLoopy: What is your favorite type of item to knit now?

Michelle: I like knitting everything! If I had to pick one favorite item, I guess it would be cowls. They are quick and easy to knit, they don’t require much finishing, and because I live in a cold climate, I can wear them a lot.

Loopy: I like making cowls for those very same reasons. One can never have too many, and they’re easy to wear. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?

Royal CowlMichelle: Hmm. I think each new technique I attempt to learn is my biggest challenge at the time. I’m knitting Jane Richmond’s Grace pattern right now. It’s the first top down sweater I have ever done, so I’d say it’s my most challenging project to date. I love to knit patterns that challenge me with new techniques, so whatever new technique I’m learning at the moment is my biggest challenge.

Coco CowlLoopy: That’s a nice way to move to the next project – finding a new technique you’d like to learn. When did you start designing, and what got you interested in that?

Michelle: I started with simple dishcloths about 4 years ago and I designed my own because I wanted dishcloths that didn’t look ‘homemade’. I wanted edges that were straight and square and didn’t curl. I wanted clean and simple lines. That desire has transferred into all of my patterns. I like clean, structure, and linear designs.

Just a Little TwistLoopy: Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?

Michelle: My favorite pattern is probably my first paid pattern – Just a Little Twist. It’s a beautiful little scarf designed in Malabrigo Silky. It’s so soft and luxurious and I’m still wearing it after knitting it two years ago.

Loopy: I like that pattern! And I think I have just the yarn for it. Beautiful in semi-solids, but I also think it would be fun in a variegated. So what are your favorite and not-so-favorite parts of designing?

Heavenly CowlMichelle: My favorite part is the thrill of releasing a new design and watching it (hopefully!) become popular. I really can’t think of a not-so-favorite part. I like it all!

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

Michelle: Yes. My ‘real job’ is in an elementary school. It’s fast-paced and sometimes stressful, so knitting and designing is how I relax and also how I express my creative side.

Loopy: So you do the designing business on the side. Is that hard?

Lacy Lady BeretMichelle: I only self-publish my patterns right now so that I can work at my own pace. I don’t always have time for designing, so I can’t commit to deadlines. I guess the hard part is that I wish I had more time to design.

Loopy: Does anyone else in your family knit?

Michelle: The only person in my immediate family that doesn’t knit is my husband. Even my 16 year old son knits (okay, it was one time, but still). He recently knitted a scarf for his girlfriend for Christmas! My 13 year old daughter knits, and my sister knits, too.

Lacy Lacy ShawletteLoopy: I hope your son’s girlfriend appreciates that handknit scarf! Are there any other hobbies you enjoy besides knitting?

Michelle: When I have time, I love to bake. I also love to read.

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

Michelle: Knitting, of course!

Loopy: Good choice. And one last thing: Coke or Pepsi? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?

Ocean MistMichelle: I’m trying to kick my Diet Pepsi habit right now. I need my daily morning coffee, but I’ve recently discovered David’s Tea. I still don’t know which is English and which is Continental. I hold my yarn in my right hand. Which one is that? I’m learning to embrace all types of color. I was always a neutral and beige kind of girl. Knitting is slowly opening my mind to the possibilities of color.

Boxy CowlLoopy: It sounds like you knit English. Now you know! Anything else you’d like to add?

Michelle: Thanks for interviewing me – this was fun!

Michelle is offering our blog readers 20% off any one of her patterns, with the code “loopyewe”. This offer is good today through next Friday, March 7th. Hop on over to her Ravelry pattern store and pick a fun one, then pop over to The Loopy Ewe to get some yarn to go with it. ๐Ÿ™‚ย Thanks for the offer, Michelle!

Sheri temptedbythecowls,butalsotheLittleTwist

Designer Spotlight: Heartstrings FiberArts

JackieOne of the first pattern lines that we carried at The Loopy Ewe was Heartstrings FiberArts. Jackie has so many different projects and patterns, and they’re all fun to work through! I asked if she’d like to be a part of our Designer Spotlight and she was happy to do so. I hope you enjoy getting to know her. Be sure to read through to the end for a special pattern offer.

Loopy: Hi Jackie! Thanks for being in our Designer Spotlight today. Can you tell us how long you’ve been a knitter and who taught you to knit?

Flames of FallJackie: I am still learning to knit! lol Discovering one thing only opens up avenues of new discovery. I first picked up the needles when about 5 years of age. No, I wasn’t a child prodigy and didn’t learn knitting on the spot, but that was truly when I believe the stone was cast. I loved watching my mommy knit socks for my daddy. One afternoon when I was supposed to be taking a nap, I saw a sock-in-progress on the bed and picked it up and started knitting. Of course I made a mess of it, tried to fix it, and then laid it aside as if nothing had happened! Then when I was 8, they taught us to knit at Brownies (i.e. little people Girl Scouts). I got one ball of blue (donated) yarn and knit 2-needle mittens. There wasn’t enough yarn to finish them, so I unraveled it many times over and just kept re-knitting different things from the same ball, learning something new each time.

Beaded Offset Hand WarmersLoopy: It sounds like you made good use of your first ball of yarn. What is your favorite type of item to knit now?

Jackie: I am inclined to knitting lighter-weight garments and accessories that can be layered. There are so many advantages to extending a basic wardrobe, as well as wearing just the right amount as you move between climates.

Loopy: That’s true. I love knitting accessories and shawls for that very reason. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?

Shetland Lace ShawlJackie: I guess I would consider that to be a wedding ring Shetland shawl I knit several years ago. The knitting was not difficult, but the challenge was just the magnitude (to me at the time) of a large lace shawl in fine yarn.

Loopy: I don’t know about that not being difficult. It looks like there are a lot of different patterns going on in that beautiful shawl! When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?

Jackie: My formal designing for sale began in 1994. I had been getting requests for years to write up some of my designs, but it was finally through prompting from the owner of a local yarn store in New Orleans, Bette Bornside, that I finally made the commitment to proceed.

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

Jackie1Jackie: I designed “Cascading Hearts Faroese Shawl” in 1995 and it is still my premiere signature piece. “Thinking of You” is a modified version for simpler knitting (initially designed in 2006 for Women Heart, to which I contributed sales proceeds in support of friends and family with heart disease).

Loopy: There are pretty hearts in both of those designs. What is your favorite part of designing? And your not so favorite part?

Flared Lace Smoke RingJackie: Favorite … Seeing people knit the pattern and use it for their own creations. Not so favorite … All the business stuff. It takes up at least 90% of my time vs. what I can devote to designing. Who would have thought that there is more to designing than just to design?

Loopy: I think that’s especially hard for creative people like yourself. It’s much more fun to deal with the design side, and a much better use of your talents! Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing? Or do you do this business all the time?

Fairies and Flower ScarfJackie: I took early retirement from my full-time corporate work-a-day world in 2001. I guess you could say, I now do my HeartStrings design business “half-time”. It is not unusual for me to work 12 or more hours in the 24-hour day! That is fine, though, when it is somthing I enjoy. If I ever get to the point of not enjoying, it, I will turn to something else that interests me.

Loopy: That still sounds pretty full time. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?

Jackie: I love all things yarn and fiber. Knitting is just the one that I focused on for post-retirement from my computer-oriented career. I also enjoy spinning, weaving, dyeing, crocheting, and embroidery. Non-yarn-related: I enjoy cooking, hiking, playing cards, and music. Obviously I can’t get these all in on the same day, or even month. But I keep trying, lol!

Down and Up Lace Up SocksLoopy: What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?

Jackie: If it’s in the warmer weather months (when I am in Colorado) – hiking in the Rockies. For the colder weather months (when I am in Louisiana) – going to a music festival.

Loopy: Coke or Pepsi? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?

Jackie: I can’t even remember when I last drank a soda, but when I did I definitely preferred Coke. ย I’ve lived in New Orleans too long not to be a coffee convert, lol! But I don’t pass up a good cup of tea, either. I am primarily an English knitter (although I do not throw; instead I use the “lever action” method to reduce movement). I do use Continental with 2-color knitting, and also for demonstrations in classes where needed to accommodate students using that method (and to prove to them that what I am teaching does work while holding the yarn in either the right or left hand, which is basically what it comes down to). Solids or multicolors? I love them all. Bring ’em on!

Ethereal FichuLoopy: We love all types of yarn here, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anything else you’d like to add?

Jackie: I loved visiting your shop last summer and was really impressed with your lovely, organized presentation of yarns and other delights throughout. You happened to be traveling then, so I hope there will be a next time soon when we will get a chance to meet in person.

Loopy: I hope so, too!

Jackie is offering a 20% discount to our blog readers, on one of her patterns between now and next Friday (2/7 – 2/14). Pop over to her Ravelry pattern pageย (code LOOPYHEARTS) and pick the one that you’d like to make and tell us what you chose!

Sheri thinkingIwillgetoneofthoseprettycowlpatterns

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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? ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ย 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