Meet the Fellows: Adrienne Larsen

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I live with my husband in Fargo, ND, where I miss the lakes of my native Minnesota. I work at the local yarn shop. I have a master’s degree in Textile Engineering from a school that has since changed its name. In my free time, I enjoy eating ice cream and playing with my 3 ferrets.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?
I’ve knit since my Grandma and stepfather taught me as a little kid. I was working at a theatre in upstate New York as a costume stitcher when I realized that making knitting patterns was just algebra, and therefore accessible. When I was looking at grad schools for costume construction, all anyone wanted to talk about was the sweaters I had designed. So, I figured that,if I was going to chase something impractical, it may as well be my favorite impractical thing. While in grad school, I attended the first Vogue Knitting Live event, and the talk was about submitting your design work, and I thought “Why not?” So, I submitted to a Interweave Knits call, and 4 months later, it was accepted. It’s still my most popular pattern!

What designers do you admire & why?
I admire anyone who can make something simple look elegant and innovative. I have real trouble designing anything simple.

Cedar Chest of SwatchesWhat does your design process look like?
I either start with a mood board provided by an outside source, or from something I see on TV. A color or a shape that I like. Sometimes, it comes from wondering whether a specific technique is possible. Then I usually hit the stitch dictionaries. I mark several I like, and them whittle them down. Or, if I’m pressed for time, I look through my current swatches to see if there’s a stitch I like that will fit a call.

After that, I chart the stitch pattern out in excel. I usually alter it somewhat. Then I knit a swatch, which can take a day or two of revisions if it’s a new complicated lace or cable pattern.

After I have a swatch I like, I take a picture of it, put it into repeat in Photoshop, and skin it on to either an existing sweater template or a silhouette I’ve traced on my light board & scanned in. Then I skin the silhouette with the swatch in repeat. This gives me a chance to play around with placement without having to knit anything. Then I shade the skinned fabric using the Burn tool, and sometimes use filters to make the whole thing look cohesive. I used to do watercolor renderings like I was taught in costume design class, but I find with my computer rendering is faster and achieves a better result.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?
Sweaters, a weird amount without sleeves, especially since I live in such a cold climate.

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What are you best known for as a designer?
Fitted sweaters with tricky cables and lace motifs. And I hope fastidious attention to finishing details, like making the ribbing relate to the overall motif.

Photostudio and photography assistantsWhat are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?
The aforementioned ferrets. Fitting into my theatrical roots, I take singing lessons, and am hoping to find a way to use them. Cooking ridiculously complicated meals with my husband that are far above our skill level (there was a whole series of standing meat pies The Great British Bake Off inspired).


Learn more about Adrienne on her Ravelry profile or follow @the_yarnslayer on Instagram. Stay tuned for more designers!

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