This month the Designer of the Month interview is a bit late, due to my long stay in Cuba. But it's still March, isn't it!
This month I'm presenting you a designer whose work I find innovative and fun: Allyson Dykhuizen.
She describes herself as one who can’t look at a sweater without trying to figure out how to knit it, which is especially embarrassing when the sweater is being worn by a stranger. She teaches knitting and crochet, writes a knitting blog, and self publishes patterns at The Sweatshop of Love.
I was lucky enough to win her pattern Two Boyfriends Cardigan a while back - I haven't started it yet, but it's in the queue. I also happen to be an affiliate for her patterns, so if you're planning on getting the Summer Tour pattern ebook, why not support Worsted Knitt too and do it through my affiliate link?
Ok, that's enough promotion for now - let's start the interview!
Worsted Knitt (WK): Hi Allyson, thanks so much for taking part in my interview series! What got you into designing in the first place?
Allyson Dykhuizen (AD): I'm a knitting teacher, so I got to a point where I was rewriting so many patterns to make it easier for my students to read that I just started writing them myself. Teaching has helped me write a pattern in a really clear way.
WK: Your backround as a teacher must really help you with creating really usable patterns! Now, what are your favourite things to design?
AD: Everything! I really haven't found one specific item of clothing or accessory that I like above anything else. I get an idea and roll with it! No matter what it is.
WK: What are your favourite materials to work with?
AD: Accessible materials. Again, coming from a teaching background, I want my patterns to be easy for everyone to knit, so I use yarns and materials that can be found at craft stores or online. I use less expensive yarns, or at least give less expensive yarn options, in all of my patterns.
WK: I love that approach - I mean, who would knit a 100 dollar scarf?! I never would. Ok, how do you usually design – how would you describe your designing process?
AD: I see a sweater or hat that I like and work knitting it out in my head. Or I'll think of a piece I want to knit and make it happen! I don't sit down to design and see what comes out. I wait for something to jump out at me, write down a bunch of notes and sketches, and pull them out when I've got time to work something up.
WK: How do you conceptualize your designs?
AD: I pick up my needles and yarn and start knitting! I can't start writing a pattern until I've got stitches on my needles and I'm working it as I write.
WK: That's straightforward! And it's so interesting how different designers actually design - take Marnie for example, who will design first and then knit! What I'd also like to know is how does your “typical day” when designing look like?
AD: I design and knit whenever I can string together a free 30 seconds, whether that is on the bus, under my desk at work, or sitting on my couch in front of a football game.
WK: Where do you get your inspiration?
AD: Everywhere! I look through fashion magazines and read fashion blogs. I run up to strangers on the street that have interesting knits on. I actively look for knits whenever I have my eyes open because it's what I love!
WK: Where do you do your best design work?
AD: At home. It's where I'm comfortable and can really concentrate on making an interesting piece that makes sense to other knitters.
WK: I can understand that very well! What do you think is your "that one thing" that makes you a great designer?
AD: Hopefully one day I will be a great designer, but I'm still learning. I can't guess what knitters will respond do yet. But I do feel like I'm one of the only designers that really focuses on young knitting designs that are accessible to everyone, as opposed to universal knitting designs that can be adapted by young designers to make them wearable. That is setting me apart.
WK: What advice would you give to aspiring designers?
AD: Do it! There are a ton of us, but we are a warm community and there is always room for more designs. Everyone has a unique perspective that brings something to the knitting community, so just because there are millions of sweater patterns out there doesn't mean there can't be a million and one.
WK: I love that advice! There's a place for everyone! Thanks, Allyson, for the interview!