Q4 WestKnits KAL is in full swing! We have seen a few finished projects that are simply stunning and a few who thought participation wasn’t for them were lured-in by Stephen’s incredible designs. The number of participants is growing by the day and we couldn’t be more excited! Here is a little mid-quarter inspiration from the one-and-only Stephen West!
How long have you been knitting and how did you learn? A teacher? Self-taught?
I’ve been knitting nearly 10 years now. Some friends taught me the basics in high school and then I got a book and learned a lot from internet tutorials and by following patterns.
What sparked your desire to become a designer? Did you have a mentor or designer that you particularly admired?
I basically fell into it. I started sharing a few patterns and dozens of knitters immediately started making them. I loved seeing other knitters interpret my patterns with their own colors and style choices so it inspired me to continue writing designs. I have so many ideas of garments that I want to make! These days, the style and mood of a potential photograph or outfit is inspiring me to make colorful designs. I’m choosing color palettes to go with my socks and buying outfits to go with my new shawls. Knitting is taking over more than ever before and I love it!
What is your favorite part of being a knitwear designer?
I loooove picking new yarns and planning the color palette and style of a new design. I enjoy composing different elements together like color, shape, and texture until it strikes a mood I’m feeling. I think I’m very sensitive and moody because I’m always traveling in and out of color preferences and styles.
Which WestKnits pattern is your favorite? That’s like asking which child I love the most, but I definitely favor some over others. I guess I’m not the best pattern parent. My favorite pattern child right now is the Dotted Rays shawl. I love the holey short rows and how it can be solid or stripey. My new favorite patterns are some that will be released later this winter including a big oversized jacket, a chunky sweater with massive kangaroo pockets, and a neon rainbow brioche jacket/pants ensemble that will make you scream with delight or fear. I can’t wait to share them!
All of us ESK ladies are knitting Thighlighters so we simply must know what was your inspiration behind this design?
I found the neon cotton yarn at Maker’s Mercantile in Kent, WA and it immediately screamed shorts. I love to jump rope, but it can get quite sweaty so my beloved wool and alpaca fibers aren’t ideal for such a sporty use. Neon cotton shorts make a perfect jump roping uniform!
When you’re not knitting or designing, where will we find you, Stephen?
At my shop, Stephen & Penelope, a yarn and craft boutique in Amsterdam helping customers pick out yarn. It’s very likely you can find me in Reykjavik too. I go there a lot to admire the cats in the streets and babies swaddled in hand knits. It’s also very cold so I can wear layers and layers of knits!
Do you arrange all of your photoshoots or do you have a team that helps with the styling?
I do the styling and send the looks and colors to my friend, Alexandra Feo. She creates the makeup concepts and executes the makeup, photography, and post production in her home studio. Alexandra is also a knitter and an inspiring artist so she’s amazing to work with. Our styles mesh well together. You can see more of her work photography and craft work at madameportrait.com and madamecraft.com.
Aside from knitting, what are your hobbies/interests? (ie: do you collect anything, are you obsessed with a certain store, do you go all out for a particular holiday, etc)
I love jump roping! I collect rhinestone necklaces from a designer called Cakes & Troubles. I feel she’s one of my soul mates on this planet, but I’ve never met her. I also recently discovered Walter van Beirendonck. He’s an incredible fashion designer from Belgium who has a very colorful playful style. He works a lot with knitwear in his mens collections. I admire his bold personality and divergence from mainstream fashion trends.
Is there anything you’d like to say to our knitters?
Let loose and surprise yourself with a color or style you wouldn’t normally choose! Play play play!
We would like to thank Stephen from the bottom of our kitty hearts for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to answer our questions! It means so much to us to have him add to the fun of this KAL!