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Interview with the Designer

Behind the Designs

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I'm going to do something a little different this month, because honestly, I've been a little too focused on my fiction to make much progress on my knitting since last month's newsletter. (Teaser about that below, because I now have a new free fiction gift for newsletter subscribers.)

So, since I haven't got a new design for you, I thought I'd chat with you a bit about my design process. Hopefully this doesn't come across as too precocious, because I'm basically doing an interview with myself. ;-)

If interviews aren't your thing, go ahead and skip this one. I'll hopefully be back to regular programming next month. (But scroll down and check out the new gift, in case you want to take advantage of it.)
The OA
Jill and the Bean Socks
Just Plain Mittens

How I Got Started Designing:

My very first knitwear project was my own design. My Grandma taught me how to knit and purl when I was five, but I had no patience for it and never got more than a few rows done. When I was twenty-three, I re-taught myself the knit stitch using what passed as an Internet tutorial in those days, reverse-engineered the purl stitch based on that and dim memories of my grandmother's instructions, and knit a really long fringed scarf out of bulky yarn in a weekend.

After that, I learned a great deal from printed patterns and knitwear magazines, and eventually (ten years later) discovered that I had taught myself to do the purl stitch "wrong," so everything had a twist. (That style has been legitimized by labelling it "combined knitting," but I corrected it because I wanted my projects to be smooth.)

I'd been designing my own clothes since I was a little girl, so I already understood garment structure very well. I made a preemie bunting bag and a few baby and toddler sweaters as gifts and, after posting them to my blog and Ravelry, got requests to publish the patterns. (I'm sorry, I still haven't.) But that got me thinking that I could publish patterns of what I made for a little extra income, and to support my yarn habit.

And I was right. :-)
Side-to-side striped toddler sweater with buttoned placket at neck. This was a cool project. Maybe I'll write it down someday… and fix that collar. Eep.
Preemie bunting bag with open bottom. I got a lot of requests for this one, but I'm not even sure I took notes while I made it.

Where I Get My Inspiration:

About 50% of the time, it's one of my sons saying, "Mom, I need a new…" Which is why I have so many toques [Canadian for "winter hat"] and mittens in my design catalogue, and have already made the Just Plain Gloves/Just Plain Mittens patterns so many times!

Then the negotiation begins. "Can I make it with multiple colours? Can I use cables? What about liners—do you want it lined?"

The rest of the time, I am inspired by textures, new techniques I want to learn, and literary or big-screen characters. Sometimes, I am directly inspired by designs I see on a show, and translate that into yarns that I have available so I can wear it or gift it to someone I know, or just for the challenge. (My superpower is actually reverse engineering. Like Sylar on Heroes, without the gore. If I'm following you around the grocery store, I'm not stalking you. I'm taking mental notes on your sweater's stitch pattern.)

My favourite design elements are cables and other textures, so I generally use solid-coloured, well-defined yarns to showcase them. I also hate seaming, so my designs tend to be constructed as one piece and have minimal finishing.
Jabin's red mittens
Some of my early mittens (circa 2009). You can see the twisted stitches here.
Jude's Camo gloves
My first attempt at gloves, circa 2012. There were a few things wonky with this pair, but they served my kid for a while before wearing out.

What's In the Works:

Because my primary efforts go into writing fiction, knitwear design is something I do to relax me during my "down time," and progress can be slow—especially as I like my designs to be so versatile, which often means knitting up each variation in a pattern to photograph. I want to make sure a pattern has been well-tested when I publish!

Right now, I am working on two designs inspired by the King Arthur characters (Lady Guinevere Socks—like aran sweaters for your legs—and the Lady of the Lake Shrug) and am percolating ideas for more. I have a Dr. Seuss-inspired glove/mitten/glitten design to finish, and some duplicate-stitch animal face designs (Cute, Cuddly Critters Mittens) for the backs of the Just Plain Mittens to refine and publish. And I want to put together a bundled pattern of basic, classic scarves in a variety of yarn weights.

My Lucy Pevensie Tam is so popular that I have design plans for a whole collection of knits based on the Narnia characters. I also want to venture beyond designing accessories, so I have a couple of sweaters on the docket.

Needless to say, I've got enough to keep me busy for years. If only I could find more time when new ideas pop into my head. (Does anyone know where I can get a time-turner like Hermione Granger's?)
Lady Guinevere Socks
Cute, Cuddly Critter Mittens
Marvin K. Mooney Glittens
I hope you enjoyed this peek into my knitting history and process. I'm working on the Lady Guinevere Socks every chance I get, but it's a lot of sock to knit—especially with three variations and three sizes! So I guess what is also "in the works" is finding ways to streamline my knitwear business that allow me to continue putting out great designs on a more frequent basis.

Unless I hear a "yes" to that time-turner thing?

Free Ebook Download:

The Waterboy by Talena Winters
Where do you hide from yourself?
Zale called lightning from the skies, with disastrous results. Now he is on the run to protect his family … from himself.

The Waterboy is a standalone prequel novella to my new young adult science fantasy trilogy Rise of the Grigori. It is available exclusively to newsletter subscribers. (Book 1 of the series, The Undine's Tear, is due out in May.)

Even if you don't subscribe to my Books & Inspiration newsletter, I thought you might like a little something to read. Enjoy! (You'll need to enter the address you used to sign up for this list to get the download.)
Get Free Book
This month, I'd like to know:

How did you get started knitting?

Hit "Reply" and let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy knitting!


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Talena Winters · P.O. Box 6461 · Peace River, Alberta T8S 1S3 · Canada

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