Meet the Fellows: Jovi Geraci

I’m Jovi from New York! I live in the Hudson Valley with my husband, two teenagers, a very plump cat named Pumpkin, and our rescue dog Rosie. I’m a huge Star Wars fan, I drink a lot of green tea & South Indian filter coffee, and I love murder mysteries as long as they aren’t too suspenseful.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear? My mother-in-law taught me to knit the first time we met, actually.  I was so excited to meet her – not because I was dating her son, but because I’d been wanting to learn to knit for YEARS and hoped that she’d be willing to teach me. She was thrilled to do so (none of her children are the least bit interested in knitting) and I’ve never looked back. Knitting is my absolute favorite art form. I love the freedom, the flexibility, and the challenges the medium provides; and I love that at the end of this gorgeous process, you get to wear your amazing art!

I started designing knitwear because I had a hard time finding designs that were exactly what I wanted to knit – I have a particular aesthetic (more on that below!) and used to spend hours looking for patterns that fit it. Eventually, it occurred to me that I could probably put those hours to better use by (to paraphrase Gandhi) creating the patterns I want to see in the world.

What designers do you admire & why? My favorite designer is Annamaria Otvos, who passed away in 2018. Her designs are always so cleverly constructed, and she was such an unfailingly kind, encouraging person. I also love TinCanKnits for creating so many patterns that are beginner friendly and size inclusive, and Safiyyah Talley and Amy Christoffers for their timeless-yet-totally-hip and wearable designs.

What does your design process look like? I usually start from one of two places: yarn that I have and want to use, or something that I’ve seen/read/experienced and I want to translate into a knitted item. At the moment I have a sweater quantity of gorgeous dandelion yellow yarn sitting on the cedar chest next to my end of the couch in my living room, and I pick it up and look at it several times a day, just to spend a moment with the yarn as the sole focus of my attention. As goofy as it sounds, I’ve found that if I keep doing this, eventually the yarn will tell me what it wants to be. But just as often I’ll be reading a book or watching a movie or staring out my window and an idea for a hat that reminds me of the autumn leaves blanketing my lawn, or a sweater that a character from The Princess Bride might wear, or a cardigan that pays homage to the 90s thrift store look pops into my head. Sometimes those ideas translate easily into knitting and I’ll have a pattern that I love pretty quickly, but other times it takes a while. Luckily I’ve got so many ideas – and so many things that inspire me – that I’m never short of designs to work on.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most? I’m a sweater knitter, all the way. But if I’m cheating on sweaters, I like to knit hats & fingerless gloves. Socks are probably my least favorite knit, which is very sad because I absolutely love wearing handknit socks. No other socks are even half as nice as handknit ones.

What are you best known for as a designer? My designs have a stripped-down aesthetic with bold graphics & textures on clean, contemporary shapes. I like my knits to be both versatile & eye-catching, with straightforward construction that’s accessible to people who haven’t been knitting for very long, but still fun to knit for those with more experience.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community? Food! Food is my hobby outside of the fiber community. I love growing it (I have a big vegetable garden, fruit trees, and am going to try my hand at growing quinoa next year), cooking it, and eating it, particularly with friends & family. I also love vintage cocktails and have been slowly working my way through my grandmother’s bartender’s guide from 1951, making all of the drinks that don’t require super specialized ingredients (who has time for that??). There are probably as many misses as hits among those recipes, but it’s a lot of fun! I’m also working on learning to sew and mend, and someday I’d like to learn to make shoes.

Is there anything else you’d like our knitters to know about you? I’m currently working on a book with my husband on handweaving & handloom textiles in India, and my work in this area is entirely the product of the interest in textiles & garment production that was sparked when I learned to knit. Knitting really has touched almost every corner of my life!

You can find Jovi as Hook Mountain Handmade on Ravelry & Instragram – give her a follow and check out her amazing designs!

Meet the Fellows: Jessica Strough

Hi, my name is Jessica. I’m a full time graphic designer and part-time knitwear designer. I currently live in Tennessee with my husband, twin daughters, and two dogs.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?
My grandma taught me the basics of knitting & crochet when I was young, but it wasn’t until I graduated from college and a friend of mine wanted to learn how to knit that I really got back into the hobby.

As I learned more about knitting, I started modifying patterns to fit the exact vision I had for the yarn. Once I had gained a little confidence from doing that, I branched out into drafting my own patterns from scratch.

What designers do you admire & why?
Tamy Gore is one of my favorite designers. I love the way she incorporates a variety of techniques that not only look great on a finished object but are also really fun to knit.

Andrea Rangel is another one I really admire. Her colorwork patterns are so inventive, and inspired me to want to create my own.

What does your design process look like?
For colorwork, I start with a blank grid on the computer. Then I just fill some squares with color and move things around until I have a pattern that I like. I’ll usually come up with two or three variations then swatch to see which one works best. After I have the stitch pattern figured out, I just have to work out how to fit it into a project (i.e. hat, cowl, etc).

What are you best known for as a designer?
So far, all of my colorwork patterns are designed using slipped stitches, which means you only have to work with one strand of yarn at a time. It’s a little more challenging to design, but a LOT easier to knit that regular stranded colorwork.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?
I mostly knit accessories: hats, shawls, and cowls.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?
I love reading! I’m always listening to audiobooks while I knit. I also like hiking & horseback riding.

Get a more personal look at Jessica’s designs & interests on Instagram as @JessicaStroughDesigns or on her Raverly designer page!

Meet the Fellows: Elizabeth Crisci

I was born and raised in the Connecticut suburbs of New York City to a family full of creatives on both sides. My two grandmothers inspired me greatly and taught me many things as a child from crochet to tarot reading.

After attending the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, I began teaching yoga. Nowadays, I am teaching online from my studio apartment in Brooklyn full of plants and one very cute rescue Frenchie.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear? I first learned crochet around age 4 from my grandmother. After many years of loving crochet as a child, I taught myself to knit in college from internet tutorials which were just beginning back then! For the last 15 years, I have always had many knitting projects going and have learned so many techniques from inspirational designers & patterns. During quarantine in 2020, I finally took a leap into creating and sharing my own patterns.

What designers do you admire & why? Ysolda Teague is one of the designers I’ve admired for a very long time. I think she’s been someone to look up to in the knitting community, on top of the beautiful patterns she creates. Gudrun Johnston is another that I really admire. Her designs are classic and timeless, but with interesting and unique details. Her textural patterns are my favorites. There are many others but I’ll lastly include Cookie A because her garment construction blows my mind & I love it.

What does your design process look like? My design process usually starts with yarn. I do a simple swatch with a yarn I want to use and then start sketching based on the fabric I create. Sometimes that step happens several times to flush out my idea before I cast on. I’m aspiring to do even more of this step. I’ve also been known to cast on early and re-work a sweater several times. I’m aspiring to do that less.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most? I am very much in love with garment knittng like sweaters and dresses. And socks!

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community? Yoga and Art, through and through. I spend a lot of time studying and reading, practicing and taking long walks, and creating in other ways. I love to paint, draw and embroider. I’m also learning to sew. And so that I don’t sound too wholesome, you can often find me playing video games in the evenings, too!

Is there anything else you’d like our knitters to know about you? Knittng to me is about love. Devoting yourself to creating a special garment for yourself or someone you care for is downright magical. The item you knit symbolizes so much time, I’ve found profound healing in giving myself the gift of time as a sweater or cozy pair of socks. That’s what I hope to share through my patterns, a blueprint for love.

Learn more about this fresh designer on her Ravelry designer’s page and on Instagram as @elizabeth.margaret.knits.

Meet the Fellows: Ash Christine

Hi, I’m Ash from the southern end of the East Coast here in the United States. I’m a designer and small business owner by day and a writer by night. I love playing with color palettes and combining stitch patterns in new & interesting ways for each of my designs.

What designers do you admire & why?
Mina Philipp of Knitting Expat Designs – I love the color play that she does in her own designs. I’m a huge fan of color and I love that she brings her own personal touch to each of her designs.

What does your design process look like?
Honestly, my design process changes so often it’s hard to say! Sometimes I’ll find a stitch pattern in a stitch dictionary and immediately know what I want to turn it into. Other times, I find yarn I want to use and try out a few things to see what gets the best stitch definition – and sometimes I just start sketching out ideas before I even really know what I’m planning on designing!

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?
In my personal knitting time, I love making blankets – they’re one of the first things I learned to make and I’m a huge fan of long-term projects. The only downside is when you have TWELVE long-term projects LOL!
As for designing, hats are one of my favorite things to design. There’s something so gratifying about seeing those decreases come together and shape the hat!

What are you best known for as a designer?
Definitely cables! I’m obsessed with the way each cable twists and turns to create an image – hands down one of my favorite things to add to a design.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?
Ooh, definitely writing – I’ve been writing fiction going on fifteen years now and I still absolutely love it! And I gotta give a shout-out to reading – I’m always looking for my next favorite book!

If you have a book recommendation for Ash, give her a shoutout in the comments below or check her out on Instagram as @ashchristinedesigns and on her Ravelry designer’s page! After adding a few things to your queue, head over to Ash’s etsy shop to find a set of handmade stitch markers.

Meet the Fellows: Ranée Mueller

My name is Ranée and I live in Central Washington with my family of 10. I homeschool, have graduated two, and design in the between times.
We live on a small farm property where we keep chickens, turkeys, ducks, honeybees and, occasionally, pigs, and try to grow some of our own food.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear? My mother taught me how to knit when my teachers were on strike during my 5th grade year. She taught me fractions, assigned literature for me to read, and taught me to cast on, knit, and purl. A friend of hers taught me to bind off. Everything else, I learned from magazines, books and, later, the internet. Like many, I came to designing through modifying existing patterns. As my skills grew, I began thinking of ways to create styles I didn’t see and accomplish construction in an interesting way.

What designers do you admire & why? Too many to name, but here are just a few: Jenise Hope, whose designs are fun to make and rather feminine, flattering to many figures and shapes; Linette Grayum, whose designs are inspired by nature and have such amazing & creative construction; Happy Patty Crochet, whose crocheted flowers and plants look so real, you have to look twice to make sure they aren’t.

What does your design process look like? I especially love art, architecture, and geometric design. These are things I like to translate into soft knit fabric. However, sometimes a stitch pattern book will grab my attention, or even the design on a shower curtain. You never know where inspiration will strike. Often, my first step is finding a way to translate a pattern or design from one of these places into knitting, then to apply it in the best way. I try to minimize sewing and really appreciate one piece or modular work, so I try to incorporate these stitches, designs, and objects with that philosophy.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most? Most of what I knit are accessories and projects that can be completed rather quickly. Now that my kids are older, I have been moving to make more garments, just because I really do love knit sweaters, vests, and even PJs!

What are you best known for as a designer? First of all, I want to be known for beauty. A close second is accuracy. Those two make a pattern so much easier to make. Beyond that, I think I am distinctive for my use of texture and color, and for creative construction. 

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community? Cooking, ballroom and Latin dance, reading.

Is there anything else you’d like our knitters to know about you? Designing is problem solving for me. I like to see how I can make something in the simplest or most direct way. I view my job as a designer as making challenging tasks achievable.

Get to know Ranée on Facebook or Instagram as ArabianKnits and give her a favorite on Ravelry so her new designs will show up in your feed.

Meet the Fellows: Sierra Morningstar

I’m Sierra. I was born and raised in Michigan, and I’m a water-loving Michigander at heart.  I love spending time with my family and my pets.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear? Slowly! I knit for a long time before I started designing, and, when I did design, it wasn’t with a specific goal in mind. I just started dabbling with small things for myself, and slowly fell in love with it.

Maverick is constantly stealing half-knit projects & balls of yarn!

What does your design process look like? My design process includes a little bit of everything. Often, I start with a vague idea, inspired by colors or patterns in nature. Sometimes, I’m looking through a stitch dictionary for an entirely different reason, and get inspired by something I see in there. Other times, I’m looking for a pattern for the perfect skein of yarn, and that’s what leads me places. Some days, I work up ideas based on submission calls and find things I really want to create for myself. I’m also inspired by things I personally need or want to wear– a new pair of mittens or a hat to match a coat, a sweater that just makes me feel comfy.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most? I love a cozy hand-knit sweater, especially with a shawl collar, and they are definitely my favorite finished projects. But my favorite thing to actually knit is probably hats. I love wearing them, I can experiment with fun colors I might not want a whole sweater out of, and most importantly, I can finish them quickly! And anything cozy. I love cozy!

What are you best known for as a designer? As a designer, and even knitter, I don’t have one thing that attracts me. I love it all – color, cables, texture, (though maybe especially cozy texture.) I hope to combine simple versions of these elements in a straightforward style to create classic pieces.

What yarns do you prefer? I like worsted and DK weight yarn. I knit a lot with non-superwash yarn. I just love the woolly, I just came off a sheep, feel of it. But also, I’m absolutely mesmerized by the vibrant, gorgeous colors achieved by dyers on superwash yarn.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community? I love all kinds of crafts, though I don’t have much time to get into them as I would like. I enjoy dogs, outdoors, and wine. And I really like all three together! Also, cuddling dogs. If I have one true talent, its dog cuddling. 

Here’s Mav on the dock at our cabin in northern Michigan. This is my favorite, most productive place to knit. The beds are the dogs, but they let me use them.

Is there anything else you’d like our crafters to know about you? I am a ridiculously slow knitter. I truly embrace the ‘slow’ in slow fashion. (Though not willingly!) This is one of the reasons I gravitate towards the heavier weight yarns.  I’m trying to accept it, but each time I see a testers and people on Instagram fly through projects, I feel an acute pang of jealousy.
Also- I’ve never knit a pair of socks. I feel like that might be sacrilege for a knitter – but I have my eye on a pattern so maybe soon.

Find Sierra’s design profile here and, if you want to see more of Maverick, follow her on Instagram @sierra_morningstar!

Meet the Fellows: Brittany Garber

I’m Brittany, the maker behind KnotBadBritt. I am a self-taught crocheter and I’ve been crocheting for the past 6 years. During that time, I have become a dedicated pattern tester for leaders in the field. My love for testing has led me to begin creating my own designs and establishing KnotBadBritt, while highlighting BIPOC makers at The Makers of Color Collective.
I am a stay at home mother of 2 two brilliant girls with another one due in November and a standard schnauzer named Caprica – they keep me very busy. When I’m not crocheting, I’m cooking large meals for my family and friends.

How did you get into crocheting & designing crochetwear? I started crocheting 6 years ago as an attempt to make a blanket for my soon to be born daughter. I made the most ridiculous blanket for her in blanket yarn. It’s oddly shaped but she loves it and still carries it with her to this day. As my interest in crocheting grew, I became a pattern tester. I learned so much from the designers I worked with and gained quite a few friendships. It was with their encouragement that I begin designing.

What does your design process look like? I like to work on graph paper and my iPad to sketch out ideas. I’m a terrible artist so sometimes I’ll import a sweater shape in and add detailing to what I’m trying to accomplish! My mind often runs at a million miles an hour so when something pops in I have to write it down.
I use stitch dictionaries often and am constantly learning through testing patterns. This way, when I want to create something, I’m able to more quickly construct it in my head before even picking up a hook. I would say my most valuable resource is my group of friends I’ve made in the fiber community. Their honest feedback is invaluable.

What type of project do you like to crochet most? I love to make shawls. There are so many different styles, shapes, and techniques you can use. The options are endless. Especially when you incorporate Tunisian Crochet.

What are you (or hope to be if you’re just starting out!) best known for as a designer? Since I’m just getting started, I’m hoping to be know for approachable designs that elevate one’s already acquired skills. I love how modern crochet has become and I want to help propel that along with clean lines, interesting textures, and creative design elements.

What yarns do you prefer? I love designing with DK yarn. I think it provides an excellent drape to speed ratio! I tend to gravitate towards merino and merino blends. I have also been known to grab some super bulky yarn and make cozy accessories.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community? Outside of crocheting, I enjoy curling (yes, the sport with the brooms), cooking large meals for friends, and craft beer.

Connect with Brittany on Instagram as @knotbadbritt or on her Ravelry designer page!

Meet the Fellows: Victoria Zhong

Artboard 5In the online spheres, I’m Semicolon or SemicolonExpected. I’m currently pursuing a master’s degree in Computer Science in my little hometown of NYC, a home I never intend to leave. My aesthetics is basically: if Dungeons and Dragons took place in a period drama, with a little pinch of Lovecraftian Horror. I believe that the best treasure is the friends we made along the way because the magic of friendship is the most powerful magic of all.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?
I had an on & off relationship with knitting when I was a teenager; my grandmother taught me how to cast on and make knit stitches, and I used them to make weird scarves, or tiny square panels for Minecraft animals. I soon grew bored of little garter pieces and then began the off portions of my relationship with knitting. I didn’t get serious until college, where I discovered a knitting subreddit: r/knitting, and I saw all the wonderful things I could knit, all the wonderful stitches, and finished objects I could make. I was hooked – is there a more knitting appropriate pun I could use instead?

For a while, I loved knitting other people’s designs, but there was this hunger inside of me; I wanted to create my own! I want to share what I find to look pretty or cool! So, I just tried. I found that my Computer Science/programming background meshed perfectly with knitwear designing, as pattern writing is comparable to programming and there was a fair bit of logic & math behind shaping the fabric. It all just fell perfectly into place.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most? This is really dependent on the time of year. Sometimes I love sweaters, other times shawls, sometimes socks (usually that’s out of my system by the end of Sock Madness). I’m a fickle knitter, I don’t really have a type of project I love the most. I think the best estimate is one that has one or two difficult areas, but it’s mostly a mindless knit with an easy to remember repeating pattern.

What yarns do you prefer? I don’t have a real preference weight-wise so long as it’s between fingering and worsted. If every fiber could work for every project, I think I’d have to say I like working with silk and cashmere the most. Second to that would be something with Stellina or Lurex in it because I like sparkles. I think a sparkly Cashmere would be my favorite.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community? What aren’t my hobbies? I love video games, Dungeons and Dragons, collecting fountain pens and stationery. Magic the Gathering, I dabbled in embedded systems like Arduinos and Raspberry Pis — it was a bit of an expensive hobby to maintain.

Connect with Victoria on Instagram as @semiknitting or on Ravelry!

Meet the Fellows: Tiffany Pendleton

Hi there! I’m Tiffany and my Ravelry favorites list is nothing short of extensive.  I spend most of my free time plotting color options for many things and sending color ideas to friends. I am a social worker by trade and work with veterans with traumatic brain injuries at the VA in Atlanta. When I’m not at work, you can most often find me somewhere with yarn in my hand. Once upon a time, I’d knit on patios with friends, and now I zoom with them instead. I love cookies & cream ice cream and things that are just a little bit ridiculous, like Barnaby, my navy-blue acrylic bison head on the wall in my bedroom. 

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear? I am pretty sure that I became a designer by accident. Due to my proportions, I was often modifying patterns to work for my shape. I did this more and more once I had a better understanding of construction, why certain techniques are used, and when. My very first piece was my Rhinebeck ‘sweater’ last year, a one-piece jumpsuit. It was also my first swatch, but that’s another story.

What does your design process look like? My design process, for the most part, consists of me obsessing over an idea, tearing it apart and putting it back together. And don’t get me started on choosing colors. Gah! I can stay wrapped up in color options all day.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most? I have found that I am almost entirely a sweater knitter. To be honest, I learned to knit to make clothes and I rarely pick up the needles to make anything else. Though, I have made a few hats…maybe 3?

What are you best known for as a designer? I am hoping to be known for garments that are a little bit unexpected but very wearable. I want my pieces to incorporate well into daily life. I want the pieces that are made from my designs to be something you just toss on and go about your day in. I don’t want them to be ‘knitwear,’ I want them to be just ‘the pretty dress I decided to put on today.’

What yarns do you prefer? So far, I find that I prefer a wool/nylon blend. For me the addition of the nylon minimizes the sag around the, ehrm, bum to be sure that the garment keeps its proper shape. Because no one wants a saggy bum, amiright?!

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community? In general, I am a pretty crafty person. I always have been. I get it from my mom, though she’d rather die than knit or crochet. Since I just bought a house, I think I am mostly preoccupied with decorating. I love it! Time I would have spent obsessing over yarn colors, most recently has been spent picking paint colors and furniture choices. My downstairs is mostly done, and I have been saving the craft room for last. Chartreuse anyone? Because what is a craft room without chartreuse?

Is there anything else you’d like our crafters to know about you? I am a collector of things. Probably much more than I need to be. At the moment, my collection of owls and elephants can almost compete with my stash, almost.

You can find Tiffany on Instagram @theobsessiveknitter or on Ravelry as theobk!

Meet the Fellows: Shana Cohen

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My name is Shana, I live outside of Denver, CO with my husband and son. I am an architect by training with an extensive background in college design education.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?
I started knitting while studying for my architecture licensing exams in 2008. At the time, I was spending all of my free time preparing for the multi part exam, and decided I needed a study activity break that was portable. I took a 2-week class at a local yarn store and made my first scarf. I joined Ravelry a few months later, and I have enjoyed knitting ever since.
My first design was a collaboration with my son in 2018: a superhero cape! We talked together about the design, and I created a version he loves. I worked through several iterations, experimenting with color and construction technique. The design comes with a blank coloring page, something that many of my subsequent patterns also include. Over the next year, I created a few simple hat designs. In early 2019, the spark of an idea to create a multi-fit poncho came to me, and through several iterations, I created Moduloncho. I reconnected to a creative problem-solving part of my brain. The design was met with open arms and lots of excitement when I released it at the Zombie Knitpocalypse retreat in 2019, and through that experience, I gained some confidence to try to execute other designs that up until that point were just ideas and quick sketches in my notebooks.

IMG_0937What does your design process look like?
My process is heavily analog, involving pencil sketches and words, then experimenting with scaled models and later full-sized mock up pieces. My years of architecture teaching and practice experience guide my process, which often gets messier before it gets neater. I find inspiration in shapes and colors.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?
I love knitting shawls and lately ponchos with interesting styling. I also enjoy knitting hats and cowls for quick palette cleansers!

Shana CohenWhat are you best known for as a designer?
Within my work, I strive to create designs that are easy to follow and allow for multiple styling options. I create designs that fit many body sizes without needing lots of extra yarn. I bring an architectural sensibility to my designs, paying careful attention to the amount of yardage in a skein, for example, just as one would pay attention to amounts of building materials. I work diligently to maximize yardage without needing to add extra. I love being able to showcase the work of my test knitters and others that create their own versions of my designs. I always enjoy working with others to help them create the best creative versions of themselves.

What yarns do you prefer?
Lately I’ve been using a lot of DK weight yarn. I enjoy working with superwash merino DK, and I also really enjoy combining 2 strands of leftover fingering weight yarn to achieve a DK gauge.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?
I love hiking and socializing with friends over a cup of coffee or a craft beer.

Is there anything else you’d like our crafters to know about you?
I am a textbook extrovert, I laugh at my own jokes, I have no poker face, I love iced coffee and most snacks from Trader Joe’s, I like hiking, Zumba, and knitting garter stitch, and I have difficulty saying no to helping friends.

Shana is super active on Instagram so follow her there and check out her designer page here!