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!