Today, we have the talented Ambah O’Brien joining us for our Designer Spotlight. You may have seen her patterns such as Lilli Pilli, Inara Wrap, Lamina Wrap, or many more of her beautiful and elegant patterns.
Loopy: We’re happy to have you with us today! How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Ambah: I have been a knitter since early 2012. Initially I learned some very holey garter stitch as a girl, from my mother. It was really only recently that my son – aged 8 at the time taught me how! He attended a Waldorf/ Steiner school and learned at a young age and was a fantastic teacher; he pointed out my mistakes and would make me unravel and fix them – even now he will inspect my knitting. He taught me how to cast on and bind off and purl – I could still remember how to knit. A friend was setting up a LYS at the time and she introduced me to Ravelry and gorgeous yarns, I was hooked immediately.
Loopy:How special to have your soon teach you! What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Ambah: I do have a bias toward shawls but do enjoy making everything.
Loopy:We love shawls too. They’re so much like a warm hug. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Ambah: Gosh, I find that hard to answer. Most things have a little challenge about them. I think early on lace knitting was a challenge for me until my skills improved and I learned to read my knitting and became more confident and able to fix mistakes rather than rip back.
Loopy:Being able to read your knitting is definitely a helpful skill to be able to fix those mistakes. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Ambah: I released my first pattern in February 2013 and am still surprised by the fact that I decided to do it. I was very happy knitting other designers gorgeous patterns and then I had an idea and couldn’t find the pattern for it so away I went – and haven’t looked back I am about to release my 100th design and have more I am excited about working on.
Loopy:Sometimes a spark of inspiration encourages us to take that next step forward. How cool. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Ambah: I really don’t, I have many favorites that I wear regularly, it really is hard to pick one.
Loopy:We agree! But we always like to ask 🙂 What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Ambah: So much to love; dreaming up designs and creating them and then seeing others knit them up with their own gorgeous colour combinations. I really enjoy collaborating with yarn dyers and using their creations to inspire my own. Not so favourite part…..sometimes the design process can involve a fair amount of frogging – but I never regret doing it and always feel better afterward.
Loopy:Even though frogging can be frustrating, the mental relief of correcting the issue is always nice. Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Ambah: No, I work full time designing and have been for about 2 years now.
Loopy:Awesome! Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Ambah: I work full time at this, it does take a lot of discipline but this suits me and I love it. I feel very blessed to have the support of my knitting community to be able to focus on this full time.
Loopy:It’s always special when you’re able to focus your time on what you love doing the most. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Ambah: My son occasionally makes a hat and my mother, who was always creating with textiles, was a very talented knitter.
Loopy:It’s always fun to be able to share your hobby with the people around you. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Ambah: I love gardening and cooking and have always enjoyed painting, sewing and anything crafty so I like to find time to dabble in these, it can be hard to put the knitting down though!
Loopy:It definitely can be hard! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Ambah: Either pottering about the house and garden or to go on an adventure, usually with my family, anything goes really I just love to get out and see nature or enjoy beautiful food or music or an exhibition.
Loopy:Sounds like a wonderful way to spend a day! Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂
Ambah: Night. Coffee. English (much as I try to be continental!) Solids (and speckles and gradients)
Ambah has given us a 20% off coupon code good from today until November 24! You can use the code theloopyewe for a discount on a single pattern from Ambah’s Designs.
Ambah just released her Astra patterns (Mitts, Hat, and Cowl) this month! As a special promo, if you add the mitts and either the hat or cowl pattern, you’ll be able to get both patterns for the price of one. Additionally, if you’re looking for a KAL, Ambah will be doing an ADVENTurous Wrap KAL soon and you can find out more about it here.
Today, we have the talented Lisa Hannes joining us for our Designer Spotlight! We love her design sense, stunning mosaic patterns, and all her beautiful cozy patterns.
Loopy: Thanks so much for joining us today, Lisa! How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Lisa: I started knitting at the beginning of 2011. When we were visiting my grandma one day I asked her to show me how to knit because I really wanted to make myself a hand-knitted pair of socks. So she taught me the first knit stitches, meaning casting on and then knitting straight garter stitch. All the rest is really self-taught through books and internet tutorials. I was so fascinated by the knitted fabric and all the techniques – I was basically hooked right away. I havenʼt stopped knitting since and itʼs a big part of my life now. It really makes me happy and is the best way for me to relax.
Loopy: How special your grandma taught you! And how fun to have knitting be such a significant part of your life now. What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Lisa: Shawls. I absolutely love knitting and wearing them! Theyʼre such enjoyable knits and design-wise you can play with them in so many different ways. When I have more time I really enjoy knitting sweaters, too. And small items like hats or mitts can be so quick and satisfying.
Loopy: Shawls are so cozy and comfy to wear so I definitely understand! What is the most challenging thing you have knit to date?
Lisa: That would be my Felicitas (The Arrow Sweater) that I have designed just recently. It was more the design part and doing all the calculations for the grading than the actual knitting that was challenging. Expanding to garment design is really exciting for me and now my mind is plotting all kinds of new ideas.
Loopy: I love that sweater. It’s really fun to have the arrow mosaic work at the top. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Lisa: I started changing or adjusting patterns I would knit more and more to my liking. Also I really enjoyed figuring out and looking closely at all the details of a pattern about the how & why it was designed and written in a certain way. Then one day a special stitch pattern caught my eye and I just took the chance and designed a shawl and matching mitts with it. That was really what started it all and it felt like a natural step for me. People told me they really enjoyed my patterns and I came up with more and more ideas. It was like the ideas were just waiting there in my head for the right time to be knitted up and shared.
Now I have so many notebooks full of ideas for new designs waiting to be shared. Iʼm letting them out into the world bit by bit – as fast as my hands manage to knit them up.
Loopy:We can’t wait to see all your new ideas 🙂 Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Lisa: Thatʼs a tough question… itʼs like choosing a favorite child. Emiliana is definitely one I truly love and that holds a special place in my heart. It is one of my most successful designs (itʼs still so amazing for me to see how many people are knitting that pattern!) and captures a lot of elements I like to play with in my designs: Mosaic knitting as one of my favorite colorwork techniques, slipped stitches, having stitch patterns and/or colors interact with each other by reversing or mirroring, etc. Another one thatʼs really special to me is Laurelie, which also uses these elements and is quite popular at the moment.
Loopy:All are beautiful! I don’t know how you could pick just one. What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Lisa: Actually I love every part of it. Itʼs a dream job for me and Iʼm so grateful that Iʼm able to work as a knitwear designer. The moment when a new idea suddenly pops up in my head is always magical. Often that happens late at night right before I go to bed, or even when I have already turned off the lights. Then I get up again, get my notebook and sketch out the first rough elements for this idea. When I go back to bed my mind is racing figuring out all the details for this new design – and when I get up in the morning itʼs almost all figured out! So I often literally design in my sleep, which I think shows thatIʼm really doing this from the bottom of my heart.
Knitting the swatches, doing the math and charts, knitting up the samples, writing the patterns, doing the layout, running the test knits, collaborating with yarn companies/indie dyers: these are all parts of the whole cake and I truly enjoy all of them! A not-so-favourite part would be if I have to frog and re-knit something that just wasn’t working. But I guess thatʼs also just part of it and lets me even more appreciate the projects where everything runs smoothly.
Loopy: How cool! It’s a great idea to have a notebook handy like that so you can sketch what comes to mind. Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Lisa: Yes, I do have another job to ensure a regular monthly income that pays my bills so I can do the pattern design part without any pressure.
Loopy:It’s always nice to have the ability to focus on pattern designing without the pressure. Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Lisa: Iʼm doing the knitwear design part-time besides my other job, which is completely different from my design work. It can be a little stressful sometimes when both require lots of my attention at the same time but knitting balances things out nicely for me. When I have my knitting around me I just relax and feel “at home”.
Loopy: That’s how we feel too! Does anyone else in your family knit?
Lisa: Not at the moment, Iʼm the only active knitter right know. My mom and my grandma both know the basics, but they were never as crazy about knitting as I am, and they donʼt knit anymore. My grandmaʼs sister was a cross-stitch and embroidery designer and my grandma thinks I got that talent from her.
Loopy:It’s nice your grandma was knitting long enough to teach you!Are there other hobbies you enjoy?
Lisa: I love listening to music and reading books (actually that was mostly replaced by listening to audio-books and podcasts lately as I havenʼt been able to figure out how to read and knit at the same time yet). I would like to do more sewing again and weaving would be something Iʼd love to learn. Iʼm also really interested in architecture & interior design and discovering all kinds of handcrafted items. But knitting is really my favorite way to spend my time at the moment.
Loopy:Audiobooks and podcasts are great for knitting! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Lisa: Knitting just has to be part of it. Then good food, a walk through beautiful nature, surrounded by my family would be everything I need to be happy.
Loopy:Sounds like a wonderful day off! Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂
Lisa: Night person, definitely. Coffee – lots of coffee, please. Continental. Thatʼs the way I learned to knit and still my preferred method. I love solids just as much as multicolored yarns. You just have to find the right project for each of them to let them shine.
Loopy: Absolutely. It’s always so fun to see yarns and patterns that complement each other really well. Anything else you’d like to add?
Lisa: One of the most exciting parts of my job as a knitwear designer is when I see people knitting my patterns. Itʼs just amazing and I want to thank everyone who takes the time and posts a photo of their projects – it means the world to me and just makes me incredibly happy. Iʼm so grateful for all the feedback and support Iʼve experienced over the last 3 years and Iʼm excited to see what the future has in store for me on this journey!
If youʼd like to follow me, you can find me on Instagram as @malihadesigns and on Ravelry as maliha. The patterns for my designs are available on Ravelry where I also have an engaging, lovely little group with fun knit-alongs.
I hope to see you there!
Lisa has given us a 20% off coupon code good from today until November 9! You can use the code theloopyewe for a discount on a single pattern from Lisa’s designs.
What pattern from Lisa is your new favorite one? Besides all of them 😉
Today we have Janina Kallio from Woolenberry joining us! We love her patterns as they combine simplicity with beauty and elegance.
Loopy: Thanks for joining us! How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Janina: I was taught to knit at school, like all kids in Finland. And I also knitted with my grandma when I was growing up, mostly socks and scarves.
Loopy: It’s so fun all kids learn to knit in Finland. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Janina: I uploaded my first pattern to Ravelry on 2012, and it grew from there. I never imagined being a “designer”, or making a living playing with yarn and needles, but life can surprise you like that.
Loopy: And we’re grateful for that surprise! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Janina: I hope I don’t have to pick just one! Herald is a gem, as it’s complete adaptability makes it ideal for any yarn weight and yardage. Winter Starlight is also a favourite, I really love the feather and fan lace, especially with heavier weight, cosy yarn. And Antarktis will always have a special place in my heart – it was the enormous popularity of it that encouraged me to make a leap and put designing a priority. After all these years, it’s still a best-seller and many knitter’s favourite.
Loopy: It’s always so hard to pick a favorite. We’ve seen so many Antarktis shawls in the past couple of years – all of which are beautiful! What is your favorite part of your designing?
Janina: Playing with yarn and coming up with new ideas is always so much fun. But most of all, seeing my patterns knitted and loved by knitters around the world, from Alaska to Australia, is by far the best part.
Loopy: It’s always so special to see what people have created with what you’ve designed. Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Janina: Woolenberry is my full-time business, and we have an amazing team of part-time makers, like a photographer, graphic designer, marketing assistant, tech editor, customer support specialist and assisting pattern makers. Sometimes it’s a juggle to run the business, lead our growing team, and still have time to knit and design, too. But I love it all so much, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Loopy: It’s so helpful to have great team members around you helping! Does anyone else in your family knit?
Janina: Since my grandma passed away, I’ve been the only knitter on our family. Others seem to have been bitten by the crocheting bug. I’ve tried turning my mum to a knitter, but it’s still a work in progress…
Loopy: 🙂 Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Janina: Cooking is always so soothing, and I like playing with recipes, especially vegan and raw foods. I also love reading books, listening to music and playing the piano. For moving my body, I especially enjoy yoga and dancing.
Loopy: It’s fun to have those hobbies! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Janina: A relaxing day with morning yoga class, delicious vegan brunch, a walk in the woods followed by a sauna and a fun knit night with friends… Heavenly.
Loopy: We’d love one of those days too! Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂
Janina: I used to be a night person, but lately I’ve found the magic of waking up early. The quietude of the early morning hours is now one of my favourite self-care practices. Continental knitting with solid, muted colours. Coffee in the morning, tea any time of the day.
Loopy: Anything else you’d like to add?
Janina: To stay in the loop of our new pattern releases, sneak peeks and other treats, sign up to our free e-letter on www.woolenberry.com. We also have a friendly and super encouraging Woolenberry Ravelry group. I hope to see you there. Happy knitting!
Janina has given us a 20% off coupon code good from today until October 15! You can use the code woolenberrygoesloopy for a discount on any of Woolenberry’s patterns on Ravelry.
Today we have the Jen Geigley as our featured designer! You probably have seen her GAP-tastic Cowl around Ravelry in the last several years. It’s a beautiful and easy project to keep you warm in the winter.
Loopy: Thanks for joining us, Jen! How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Jen: I have been knitting since 2008, and I was taught by my two good friends Amy and Sarah. We are all moms and over the years we have built a solid knitting group that meets pretty regularly.
Loopy: So fun. Being a part of a knitting group is special. What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Jen: I love to knit sweaters … for myself and my kids. I love letting my kids choose their own colors of yarn and then making them a sweater that might be a size or two too big so they can wear it a little longer than one season.
Loopy: Smart! I’m sure they love picking their own colors too. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Jen: This may sound weird but I don’t choose challenging knits on purpose for the sake of a challenge … I choose things that I will really want to wear. Lots of those knits are simple and modern. But my biggest knitting challenge overall would be knitting and re-knitting an entire collection for a book that I’m writing. It can be a grueling process but I love it.
Loopy: Oh I’m sure it can be grueling. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Jen: In 2010, I started self publishing a few patterns on Ravelry. My first pattern was the Gaptastic cowl, which was an accidental success. From there, I started keeping a notebook of pattern ideas. Some of them were super weird, and I’d knit a lot of little swatches. I submitted a few designs to Vogue Knitting, Knit Simple and Noro Magazine and ended up getting published which was really unexpected and exciting. That’s when I really started to think of myself as a potential knitwear designer. I had done it, now it was real and I could try new things without feeling nervous about it. I started slowly playing with ideas for my own collection. And I mean very slowly. I think it took an entire year to brainstorm ideas for my first book. I played around with swatches and knitting pieces of things but to be honest, I was talking myself into really going for it. I was scared and didn’t know if writing a book was even possible. One day, I decided to just go for it. I made myself a firm deadline (fall of that year) and that was it. I wasn’t going to let another knitting season pass me by. I had to have that deadline. I wrote a note to myself on a post-it and kept it on the inside cover of my sketch book and it just said ‘Don’t stop.’
Loopy: That’s so interesting. We’re so glad you went for it! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Jen: I would have to say that my favorite is the Gap-tastic on Ravelry. It’s just a simple seed stitch cowl but it became popular almost overnight … without me knowing it. It wasn’t until I went into my local yarn store and they told me that it had reached number one on Ravelry that I realized what had happened. I checked recently and there have been 18,465 people who have made a Gaptastic and it’s in 14,138 Ravelry queues. That blows my mind!
Loopy: Oh that’s so fun! What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Jen: My favorite part is the excitement you feel as a design starts to come together! I love sketching and swatching … and then turning that into something real that matches my vision. My not-so-favorite part is when something doesn’t turn out as expected … I always compare it to Project Runway. Can you make it work? Sometimes there is a piece that just doesn’t fit with my collection and I have to edit. That can be hard when you spend a lot of time and energy knitting a garment.
Loopy: Definitely. Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Jen: I do – I am a freelance graphic designer and a stay at home mom to two kids. I also teach knitting classes to adults and children at schools in my city.
Loopy: It’s fun you have other creative outlets as well. Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Jen: I write knitting books/teach classes on the side, and it can definitely be a challenge to integrate all the work that requires with the daily craziness in our house. But I love it. Designing and writing are flexible and I can do it on my own time. I’m also a night owl, which really helps. I mostly work when my kids are asleep at night.
Loopy: Being a night owl does have its perks like that. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Jen: My 10 year old daughter knits! I taught her when she was 5 and she loves it. We frequently go to coffee shops or parks and knit together. I hope to teach my son too when he gets a bit older.
Loopy: How special! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Jen: I love all kinds of crafting! I have been experimenting with painting and dyeing and bleaching knits and fabrics lately … more of that to come in my third book which will be released this fall.
Loopy: We’ll be anxiously waiting for your new book 🙂 What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Jen: I love going to art museums or checking out live music. I am a bit of a metal head but love all kinds of music. Music is a huge source of inspiration for me. I also love wandering around downtown in my lovely city of Des Moines. There’s always a lot to see and do.
Loopy: It sounds like a great day! Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?
Jen: I am definitely a night person! I drink coffee every day … but I love tea too. I absolutely love admiring the multi-colored, speckled, hand-dyed yarns out there and I own a ton of them … but my true love is neutral solids. That’s what I wear the most and gravitate towards.
Jen has provided us with a coupon code (loopyewe) valid from today through next Friday for 20% off one of her patterns or ebooks of your choosing, via Ravelry. You can find all of Jen’s patterns at this link. (Coupon valid from September 15 – 22).