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.

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