Meet the Fellows: Anne Claiborne

Pattern Academy Intros-01

I live in Jefferson City, Missouri with my husband, brown dog, and butter-colored kitty. In my day job, I am a high school English and Journalism teacher. I also ride dressage and have several horses. Between teaching, riding, and knitting, I keep pretty busy! 

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?
I have always been arts-and-craftsy, mainly dabbling in painting, and had tried a bit of knitting. After a failed garter stitch scarf project, I declared knitting to be not-for-me. Then my very cool and trendy aunt started knitting some years ago and dove into the world of Ravelry, indie designers, gourmet yarn brands, and local yarn stores. I held strong to my conviction that I was not a knitter, but then she knitted me a really awesome dressage horse hat for Christmas and it convinced me to try knitting again. I started with a swatch, then a cowl with an interesting stitch pattern, and never looked back. I’ve still never knit a plain garter-stitch scarf.

I began designing when I kept envisioning just the perfect thing and not finding patterns that matched my vision. Once I first saw my imagined knits come to life, I was hooked!

Screenshot_2020-02-25 Anne Claiborne ( claiborneknits) _ Instagram photos and videos(1)

What designers do you admire & why?
Lots! I love searching through the depths of Ravelry’s pattern database looking for new constructions, fun yarn combinations, and interesting photography. Some people get lost in funny cat videos, but for me, the Ravelry filters are definitely my internet wormhole.

As for specific designers, I love everything Isabell Kraemer’s designs. Her aesthetic is minimal & comfortable and her sweaters fit incredibly well. TinCanKnits is my go-to recommendation for people learning to knit or trying a new technique. I love their blog and tutorials! The cables of Thea Coleman always catch my fancy, I have so many of her patterns on my to-knit list. Also the colorwork yokes of Jennifer Steingass ( are so captivating, I love seeing what she’s come out with.

Screenshot_2020-02-25 Anne Claiborne ( claiborneknits) _ Instagram photos and videos(4)What does your design process look like?
I start with a germ of an idea, a feeling for a project I need or want to give. Sometimes it’s a matter of practicality (My neck is cold, need cowl). Sometimes it’s a matter of the perfect item for a recipient (Wouldn’t so-and-so love something like…!). Sometimes it’s a need for a type of process (Roadtrip knitting, anyone?).

After I have that initial idea, I dive into my stash and find (or order) the right yarn. Armed with yarn and an idea, I grab a notebook, a pen, and a calculator to work out stitch counts and details before casting on. Usually I refine the design on-the-needles, so to say, and try to keep track of minutiae in a combination of illegible scrawls in a notebook and cryptic messages on google docs.

I also keep a notebook of rough sketches of ideas that are still germinating with notes about how things should fit, stitch patterns that might create the right type of fabric or look, and chart ideas for colorwork motifs.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?
Screenshot_2020-02-25 Anne Claiborne ( claiborneknits) _ Instagram photos and videosI love knitting (and wearing) pullover sweaters. Nothing is cozier than a handknit wool sweater and the possibilities are endless! They do take quite a bit of time, though, so I also really like a good hat. An interesting hat practically knits itself. I’m trying to be better about knitting hats to give away, though, as my own hat collection is becoming a bit obscene.

What are you best known for as a designer?
I see my design style as colorful and eclectic. I design things that inspire me and hope that they inspire others too! I guess what I hope to be known for are projects that are fun but also meaningful. In my patterns, I try to include the story behind the inspiration in order to share a little of my journey with others.

00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20191004183947261_COVERWhat are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?
I may be a knit addict now, but horses are my real life-long obsession! I ride dressage and am human servant to several horses, a couple of which I share with my mother. Leda, my Ravatar, is a Westphalian warmblood mare and my main squeeze at the moment. I also have Mocha, my retired Thoroughbred gelding and my dear old man. Then there’s Ziggy, who is really my mother’s retired Hanoverian but who I have to dole out carrots to, and Sydney, a leased dressage schoolmaster who is stepping down a bit in his workload to teach me a thing or two.

Is there anything else you’d like our knitters to know about you?
I enjoy reading knitting blogs. Some of my favorites are Yarn Harlot, Pumpkin Sunrise, Paper Tiger, and Knit1Make2. If you have a knitting blog or a suggestion for me to try, let me know!

Thanks for following along as we introduced you to our inaugural Pattern Academy class. Keep in touch with Anne on Ravelry or follow @claiborneknits on Instgram.

Meet the Fellows: Mona Zillah

Pattern Academy Intros-01

I am Mona, a handknit pattern designer, owner of bunnymuff designs, and I simply cannot stop! (Except for, perhaps, a cup of tea, slice of pie, or a joke.)

MonaZillah_studio spaceHow did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?
I sort of bumped into knitting one day. Suddenly, knitters and crocheters were all around me, a bit of sleeve here, a mystery shawl there! And who am I, not to heed the call?

Despite having worked with a variety of mediums for most of my life, yarn was relatively new to me. Knitting, in particular, provides me with endless depths of colour and a craft to explore my appreciation of fashion with a medium that is conducive to experimentation. In addition, knitting feeds my need for well-fitting garments. I have found a real home in the fibre arts.

What designers do you admire & why?
Kate Davies, Kieran Foley, Carol Fellar. Kate and Carol have such wonderful backgrounds in fibre and explain techniques clearly. Kate’s colour is beautiful and the attention & appreciation to detail is admirable. Carol works cables beautifully and uses short rows most skillfully. I enjoy the new and clever way Kieran combines lace & colour, using traditional shapes. Plus, he calls it a lab and that is completely what it is!

MonaZillah_sketch & swatchWhat does your design process look like?
I rarely can turn off my design mind and end up sketching and jotting down ideas all the time.

But when I really get in the studio and begin to work, I start with a colour or particular theme. I draw some ideas and use the olde trusty graph paper. Then, when I have something that flows, I move to swatching to consider the feeling of how the colours will interact. I started making Swatch Baubles, which has been a super fun way to investigate combinations. Once I have a few palettes, I pop those into my stitch mastery program and start shaping it to the project.

With shaping in mind, most of my patterns are adjustable, which is important to me. We are all unique and so should our hand-knits be. You can make it fit the way you like – you know you best!

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?
For my own designs, larger complex garments rock my clock. I have a couple dresses on my back-burner mind. For my own pleasure, I fancy making animals from other designers – knit or crochet. The best way to clear my designer palate!

MonaZillah_ A Foxy Frolic 0What are you best known for as a designer?
I began with lace mystery shawls and people really enjoy joining in. I have a very loyal following and a few have been knitting along since I began. And recently, I have been seeing new lace faces in our group.

Now, moving into colour patterns, people are responding with so much support and enthusiasm. I feel like I have finally found my feet and I am honoured to be part of Eat.Sleep.Knit. Pattern Academy!

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?
Music and film. I listen to music (am listening currently) almost all day long. I listen mainly to Henry Rollins and BBC6 radio, they seem to take care of most of my needs.

Film is something I am truly passionate about, from superheroes to Fellini.

Is there anything else you’d like our knitters to know about you?
I am happy and honoured to be part of this community! Being a bit displaced and beginning anew, this community has made it possible for me to make friends, work, and constantly learn.

I support small business and our growing climate conscious/human positive yarn sourcing.

I focus mainly on natural fibres and am inspired by the growing numbers of small family farms and climate beneficial croft practices. The idea that our crafting could rejuvenate our environments is a truly awesome thing!

Learn more about Mona on Ravelry or follow @bunnymuff on Instagram. Stay tuned for our last Pattern Academy introduction!