Wander: Where It All Began

Recently, I’ve been taking stock of my knitting life. Rearranging bins as I get ready for a move (down the road!), I remember where and when I bought particular skeins, who was with me, what was going on in my life at the time. Sometimes I don’t remember any of those facts, just that there was something alluring about those tiny speckles or the fluffy plying twist.

Eventually, I unearthed my beginner swatch made of 100% acrylic pond-green yarn. I was in college when I taught myself on a whim. Who knows if I saw a post on Pinterest or a blurb in a magazine. I sat in my room with a learn to knit book and needles, and practiced each technique until I knew it by heart. My swatch is two feet long, leans this way and that. A record of increasing, then decreasing, garter and stockinette. It was wildly soothing once I got the hang of it, I was in that state of flow.

I drove past a local yarn store and stopped in, not knowing what to expect, or realizing that I had driven past it a billion times before. I left with a skein of Malabrigo Rasta and circular needles. I went back for Blue Sky Alpaca Silk and attempted a lace scarf because I had no idea it was any more difficult than stockinette. (There’s something to be said for bold learning!). I returned for MadelineTosh Merino Light and was hooked. It humbled me, too – I always said fiber arts would be the very last art I’d be interested in, if ever. So glad I was wrong. I still love pond-green, lace, single-ply, learning boldly. And I love sharing it all with you.

I asked around at the shop for stories of how each of us got hooked, here’s what they told me:

Jenny: My best friend, Katie, bought a lesson for my birthday (Even though I never get anything for her). 3 months later I decided to move from St. Louis to Atlanta and found a job posting for an “illustrator with knitting experience”…an extremely weird combo to pop up. And now here I am! All thanks to my best friend of 27 years who I STILL haven’t knit a dang thing for.


Emily: My Mom taught me the basics when I was in 6th grade (1998). We sat together many nights practicing on some basic scarves and pot holders with a few loud colors of worsted acrylic on straights – it was perfect.

Tracey: I learned in the early 2000s during the Stitch ‘n Bitch knitting resurgence. I was in my late 20s and living in Boston. I went to a local yarn store in Jamaica Plain on my lunch break and the owner sat me down on the shop couch with some yarn and a pair of needles and taught me the knit stitch, and I was hooked immediately!

Jess handspunJessica: I loved seeing so many pretty handspun yarns online, and wanted to learn how to make them as well, but thought maybe I should know what to do with said handspun yarn first. I picked up knitting and gave it a try, I had a difficult time of it and put that project away for a while, but a few months later I picked it back up again and things clicked, and I became obsessed!

Erin: I had crocheted previously and scoffed at my friend for knitting because “why are there two needles and neither of them even has a hook and wow that seems slow.” I met my now husband in college, we eventually move in together. It’s Christmastime and I get out my heirloom handknit stocking – the one my mom’s coworker knit for me and every member of my family when I was born, aka, my Number 1 Christmas Tradition – and I realized this boy who is otherwise perfectly great does not come with his own matching stocking, and there was only one way to get him one. So I taught myself how to knit with a bunch of videos from knittinghelp.com, and spent a lot of time cursing and wondering how in the heck anyone ever did this for fun, but within a few months I had a knit myself a tank top out of the worst yarn you could think of for such a project. And he got his stocking, and then eventually so did my kids.

Kinsey: One of my old roommates used to knit. After she moved out I thought “why didn’t I ask her to teach me?” It looked fun and I’m a creative person who really enjoys handmade items. So started watching YouTube videos to learn on my own. I still do that, and if I still don’t get it, I just ask the other ESK kitties!

  • cooking a big batch & freezing this hot and sour soup
  • feeling some single color brioche coming on, maybe this?
  • sitting on the porch in the evenings & loving later sunsets
  • have you seen Stitch Maps?

I’d love to hear your stories, how you learned to create with yarn, who taught you, what made you want to start. Are you teaching anyone? Share in the comments!


Wander: The Magic of Marling


Marling is an engaging way to add texture, depth, and interest to your projects. Some yarns are dyed as marls: 1+ ply is a different color than the other(s). Cascade Ecological twist colors are a good example. The first color is very clearly a marl, but the second is much more subtle.


Cascade Eco Wool in #9016 – Silver Night Twist (left) and Cascade Eco Wool in #9004 – Ecru Beige Twist (right)

You can easily create this effect yourself! Just hold 2 or more strands of different color yarn together. That’s it! Take off, hold anything and everything together. This is great for stash-busting because we tend to gravitate towards a particular color palette. The odds that you have colors that will play well together are high.

  • hold different weights together, I love a lace with nearly any weight
  • hold similar colors together for subtle interest
  • hold opposite colors for intensity
  • hold a speckle or variegated with a solid
  • hold 1 color constant, changing the other as you go to fade
  • hold a mohair/silk or any silk lace with a wool, cotton, or linen to add loads of depth and texture

 I tried a bunch of marling with the swatches below. US size 7 for both.

Photos 1

As far as what needle size to use, I recommend swatching. Swatching also lets you know if that yellow sock really goes with that fuzzy opal mohair. Don’t forget that the intensity of your marl will vary in stockinette and garter.

Photos 3

IMG_7861Emily’s Ships & Seaside Cowl is a great example of what a single strand of mohair lace can do – check out the yellow in the white section. Here, she used Cascade Eco Wool and a single strand of Tweed Silk Cloud from Shibui, an especially sweet laceweight with the added texture of tweed!

My favorite for marling right now is Hedgehog Lace. It’s a boatload of yardage, clocking in at 1312 yards. The speckles and intensely saturated semi-solids make for easy impact. I’d pair the speckles with a neutral background to get a nice pop each time the specks show up. Remember when you first started knitting with hand dyed and would stop to stare at the perfect blip of pink on the left leg of that stitch? This will bring the feeling back.

Making Marls by Ceceilia Campochiaro, is a beautiful reference book. Loads of swatch by swatch samples and patterns. A Ravelry search will reveal plenty of patterns written as marls. Don’t forget that you can marl almost anything! Start looking at plain stockinette or garter patterns and imagine applying this technique. Our Q2 KAL is the perfect place to try it – silk or linen held with anything else – airy garter on big needles, lace with pops of color, tops with extra depth. Marling adds magic to any project! 


Let me know what you’re thinking of marling, or have marled!

Wander: Q2 KAL

Our Q2 knit-along has finally arrived! We want your spring/summer months to be as relaxed as possible, so this KAL fits right in:

  • any pattern
  • any ESK yarn with 20% silk and/or linen

That’s it! Make one or make tons, it’s up to you. Cast on begins April 1 and, if you want that bonus star, ends June 30. Specifics found here. Specializing in hand-dyed yarn means we have mountains of merino, alpaca, and other animal fibers. The silk and plant based fibers can get overlooked so let’s wander…

Silk and linen, by themselves or blended, can be crisp, drapey, silky, and cool. Block the heck out of the linen, throw it in the dryer – it only gets softer. Silk can take a firm blocking too, those lace patterns will open right up.

Malabrigo: Mora in Aguas, Merino Silk in Blackberry, Silkpaca in Pearl, Susurro in Sunset

Mora is a 100% silk fingering weight. Crisp with intense shine.

Susurro, a 50/25/25% silk/linen/merino blend. It’s a single-ply with loads of drape and glimmer. It works up beautifully in lace, and I can’t wait to see it in garter.

Silky Merino, a DK weight single that makes a nearly weightless shawl.

Silkpaca, a slinky laceweight made of alpaca/silk.



SweetGeorgia Flaxen Silk DK: Saffron, Lollipop, Birch, Deep Cove

SweetGeorgia recently sent us Flaxen Silk DK. Deep, rich color and shimmer. Perfect for a tee or open drapey vest.

Juniper Moon Zooey DK is a new shop favorite. 60/40% cotton/linen, looks great on a US 3 all the way to a US 9. It almost has the slightest marl look, I can’t get enough. I’m working on a simple vest in Greyhound to throw over tanks.

Emily and Jess are twinning with a marl of Zooey DK and Malabrigo Lace for Age of Brass and Steam. Jessica chose Amarula & Arco Iris for a ghostly rainbow while Emily went bright with Mint & Zarzamora!

Tracey is working a beautiful cowl in Sweet Georgia CashSilk Lace in Wisteria.

There are many more qualifying yarns for Q2, don’t forget you can sort the website by fiber type. Feel free to send us an email or call if you’d like some help picking something out, we love to help.


  • food52 science-y food posts, best way to fry an egg anyone?
  • playing with marls (stay tuned!) and stitch dictionaries
  • new episodes of Ozark and The Office reruns
  • reading: Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg and Seven Spoons cookbook from Tara O’Brady
  • planning a porch garden with my grey-ish black thumb
  • starting a crochet granny stripe blanket, so relaxing

What are your Q2 plans, knit, crochet, and otherwise?

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 (knit.love.wool) 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!

Meet the Fellows: Emily Wood


I live in Maryland with my family and our deeply-suspicious-of-anything-new dog. I began designing patterns about 10 years ago and have had patterns published most recently by Interweave Knits, Knitty, and SweetGeorgia Yarns.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?
It started with a pair of socks. Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravelry held a monthly challenge to design your own sock pattern. I labored over those socks, and by the time they were finished, I had caught the designing bug.

What designers do you admire & why?
I prefer not to name names because there’s too many amazing designers! I’m sure that I would leave out crucial people. I gravitate toward designers who make projects with clean lines, interesting constructions, or a strategic use of color. I am constantly finding new patterns to admire and add to my queue.

DSC06747-adjWhat does your design process look like?
There are three main ways that I begin to develop a design. I’m frequently inspired by the mood boards that magazines & yarn companies send out when they are putting together a collection. I’ll see an image of something in nature or of another garment, and then I’ll dive into my stitch dictionaries to match up my ideas with actual stitches.

Other times, I want to knit with a particular yarn. You know – those special skeins that you just have to buy, but then you don’t know what you’re going to do with them?  I try to think about what stitch patterns would show off the yarn best.

The third way I come up with designs is the most spontaneous and least reliable. Occasionally, I’ll be about to fall asleep and an absolutely brilliant idea for a pattern will pop into my head. Unfortunately, what seemed amazing in the foggy middle of the night sometimes won’t turn out to be workable in the light of day.

DSC06746What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?
I keep coming back to shawls, though I like to mix things up with all different types of projects. Shawls are easy because gauge is not as important and they provide a wide-open canvas for experimentation.

What are you best known for as a designer?
I’m not sure – I’d like to be known for clear instructions and an interesting use of color and texture. Those are my goals!

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?
When I’m not knitting, I’m taking care of my kids, working as a freelance editor, baking cookies, reading novels, and writing stories. There’s always too much to do and not enough hours in the day.

Is there anything else you’d like our knitters to know about you?
I’m so excited to be collaborating with Eat.Sleep.Knit. in the Pattern Academy! Thanks so much!

Want to see more of Emily? Check our her profile on Ravelry!

Meet the Fellows: Fiona Munro

Pattern Academy Intros header-01

I’m Fiona from Aberdeen, Scotland and I grew up on Salt Spring Island in Canada.

P1030336How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?
I have been an avid knitter since my grandmother taught me to knit when I was six years old. It was only a few years ago when I was studying as a graduate student that I realized I could design my own patterns and that I could share these new designs with others. Since then, I have continued to design these patterns on the side of my day job with the help of my two sisters.

What designers do you admire & why?
I very much admire designers that draw from traditional techniques and styles to create modern designs like Alice Starmore.

IMG_20190612_090503__01What does your design process look like?
A lot of my inspiration comes from nature and that is why I love living near the ocean and rolling hills in Scotland. I often will have an idea come to me when out for a run or as I am falling asleep at night. I then make sure to sketch it out on a scrap piece of paper or in my sketch book, whatever is closer to hand! Then, I work out a chart if there is lace, texture, or fair isle detail. I will knit a swatch or multiple swatches depending on how they turn out. I then put together a design proposal to submit to a third-party publication or write up the pattern for self-publishing.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?
I love working on lace projects in the warmer summer parts of the year and larger heavier projects like sweaters and wraps in the autumn and winter. I love how a large knitting project can act like a lap blanket in the winter when it is dark and rainy!

IMG_20181121_093349__01What are you best known for as a designer?
Easy to more complex knits that draw from traditional techniques and styles such as fair isle and Shetland lace knitting.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?
Besides knitting & designing my main other hobbies are fiddling, long distance running, and rowing.

Learn more about Fiona on Ravelry or follow @MunroSisters3 on Instagram. Stay tuned for more designers!

Meet the Fellows: Adrienne Larsen

Pattern Academy Intros-01 small-01

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.

Photoshoot fun
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!

Meet the Fellows: Jen Maynulet

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I’m Jen and I spend entirely too much time every day thinking about yarn. I live in the greater Los Angeles area with my partner and a lot of air plants. We are indie game developers for a VR title featuring six-foot-tall sentient hot dogs with guns. (No, really.) When I’m not drawing hot dogs, I’m knitting, stitching, or playing games not involving processed meat products. Occasionally, housework rears its ugly head, but I try to ignore that.
I have a degree in Fine Art and 2/3 of a degree in Biochemistry. I love dinosaurs, donuts, things with tentacles, and naps.

IMG_20200102_112930How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?

Knitting: I learned how to knit about 15 years ago while I was living in Spain. I asked my mom to teach me because one of my friends online was an avid knitter and crocheter. I started off with garter stitch scarves, then quickly moved on to colorwork hats, mainly because no one told me colorwork was supposed to be hard. Then YouTube was a thing, so I learned everything else I know about knitting from that.

Designing: Because I work with pixel art in my day job, it was a pretty natural transition into making my own colorwork charts. There was a bit of a void when it came to finding cool, quirky colorwork motifs, or at least there was to me. I wanted to do something with stranded knitting that wasn’t just more snowflake or floral motifs. I wanted to do something that was strictly me.

What designers do you admire & why?

Andrea Rangel– her AlterKnit Stitch Dictionary really helped me reimagine what a colorwork pattern could be. Also, her pattern writing is incredibly clear and (from what I’ve seen) size-inclusive.
Tin Can Knits– where do I even begin in describing how awesome they are? Their patterns are so clearly written that they’re basically the first ones I recommend to anyone who wants to knit their first sock, sweater, hat, etc. Whatever you want to knit, they have a pattern for it, and they make it so easy to follow.

What does your design process look like?

I begin by coming up with an idea, then sourcing inspirational images online. Once I find some images that speak to me, I make a rough sketch with pencil and paper. Assuming the sketch isn’t terrible, I import it into Photoshop and create a “linocut” version of it, refining lines, breaking the illustration down into two colors.
Once I’m happy with the results, I move on to the next step, which is importing it into my pixel art program. I make sure the design fits the stitch count which depends on what item I’m making & what weight I’m using.
After I have my pixel breakdown saved, I import it into the design program I use to create a gridded/numbered chart. From there, I usually knit my sample(s), figuring out shaping as I get to it. Hopefully I remember to take good notes.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?

I’m definitely a sweater knitter. Not surprisingly, I like colorwork a lot, too.

IMG_20200120_120610What are you (or hope to be) best known for as a designer?
Loud, non-traditional, modern colorwork.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?
I do embroidery, cross-stitch, painting, printmaking, gaming (both tabletop and PC). I enjoy reading, though I don’t do it as much as I should. I’m a weirdo who doesn’t watch movies or TV.

Is there anything else you’d like our knitters to know about you?

– I’m a first generation American.
– My favorite animals are cephalopods.
– My pronouns are she/her or they/them.
– My favorite colors are green, orange, and about 15 different shades of almost-black.
– I am totally not 3 cuttlefish in a trenchcoat.

Learn more about Jen on Ravelry or follow @tentacularly on Instagram. Stay tuned for more designers!

Meet the Fellows: Shelby Hamden


I’m Shelby, I live in Houston, TX with my husband, three kids, a cat that acts like a dog and a dog that’s a scaredy cat. I work part time in a cosmetics store and I sketch far more designs that I could possibly ever knit. My favorite things to knit are hats, with shawls as a close second.

86970078_3054907674561289_850878285997932544_nHow did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?
I started knitting in middle school when I read hundreds of books in one year and won my choice of a gift from a selection donated by the local community. I chose a Learn to Knit kit and taught myself with only the instructions from the book. My first design was years later when I wanted to knit a baby hat for a friend. I couldn’t find a basic pattern at my local yarn shop and I didn’t know anything about Ravelry at the time.

What designers do you admire & why?
I love Veera Välimäki for her unique designs and mixed textures, and Stephen West for the same, but slightly more eccentric reasons. I also adore Jessie Mae Martinson for her clean and simple, but beautiful aesthetic and size inclusive designs. And not last, or least, but last for this list, Jen Maynulet, because their designs are unique and well written. I am excited to see more from them!

20200219_073518What does your design process look like?
It looks like insomnia most of the time. I tend to have trouble sleeping and I learned several years ago that coming up with the next thing I want to make helped me work through it.
Once I have a somewhat formed idea, I open up a photo app on my phone, use the drawing tool to sketch out a very rough image, and text it to myself with a short description to help me interpret it in the morning.
After that, it goes into my sketchbook and in line for a future cast on. Every once in awhile, a design will be born by casting on for a specific object and just letting it become something along the way, but that’s not often.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?
I will always love hats the most! They are simple and quick to knit, but I really love knitting shawls as well.

What are you (or hope to be) best known for as a designer?
I think my goal has always been to publish designs that look beautiful and detailed but are relatively simple for the beginner or advanced beginner, designs that do not intimidate but leave the knitter feeling like they have accomplished something fantastic when they are finished.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?
I love many aspects of the fiber arts, including spinning, dyeing, and some crochet. Outside of that I try to make time for my vegetable garden, I love to read, especially historical fiction, and I also enjoy cooking. I am currently searching for the perfect buffalo cauliflower recipe, know any?

Is there anything else you would like our knitters to know about you?
Although I am a city girl in SE Texas now, and have been living in large cities since I turned 18, I grew up in a very rural area in the coldest parts of Northern Minnesota. I moved around a lot since then and have met so many people and enjoyed so many different cultural experiences. As a result, I know and can recall a lot of random & weird historical facts and have the ability to speak in quite a few regional accents – often times accidentally!

Shelby is the first of 7 Pattern Academy Fellows we will be featuring. Learn more about Shelby on Ravelry or follow @yesthatshelby on Instagram. Stay tuned for more designers!