Friday, November 5, 2010

Meet Knitwear Designer Stephannie Tallent

Gwen Bjarnson, the main character of The Sweater Curse, is a Knitwear Designer.

What is a knitwear designer? What do they do? How do they do it?

Would you like to meet one?

I'm pleased to introduce you to Knitwear Designer Stephannie Tallent. As well as being a talented designer, Stephannie is also the editor of Design Lines --the Association of Knitwear Designers trade newsletter.

I meet Stephannie when I put out a call for knitwear designers to contact.

Thank you so much for your generosity, I wish you much success.

Who taught you to knit?

A neighbor helped initially when I was in junior high, but I'm pretty much self taught. The first class I've taken was actulally a year and a half ago, Janine Bajus' Fair Isle design class. The second was this past summer with Susanna Hansson (Mittens of Rovaniemi).

What knitting method do you use? Continental or English?

English. And not terribly ergonomic. I'm a pusher and I love pointy needles...sometimes I end up having to bandage my left index finger because I've literally poked a hole into it, and, of course, the needle keeps going to that same spot. (It's a habit I keep slipping back into)

What is your favourite stitch pattern?

It's a toss up between cables and twisted stitches. Maybe with a little lace mixed in. Just a little.

Why did you become a knitwear designer?

That's actually a question that can take a long time to answer! How is, I think, easier. Like many people, I started altering patterns, then I morphed into designing my own patterns just for myself, then decided to start developing patterns for public consumption.

Why?

It's a great creative outlet for me. It's fun. I get to work with wonderful yarns, wonderful dyers and small producers.

There's a lot that goes into it that I've been enjoying learning --all that things that don't necessarily directly to designing a pattern, but still need to be done. That includes everything from fine tuning my blog (learning about web design, which I'd played with before) to learning different programs like Indesign and Illustrator. Learning about desktop publishing, fonts, colors, layout, etc etc. I've become more familiar with Excel than I ever thought I would or could for pattern planning, sizing, etc.

Tell me about your first pattern.

My first pattern was Dave Finally Gets His. It's a cuff-down, worsted weight sock that I designed for my husband. He'd watched me make house socks for my dad, my mom, his mom...finally, quite plaintively, he asked when HE was going to get a pair of socks.


Where did it appear? On your web site? In a magazine? Ezine?

I self-published it via Ravelry and submitted it to the Knit Picks IDP. It was my first pattern with the IDP (I now have seven).

Are you a member of the Association of Knitwear Designers? Why did you join? Are you glad you did? Why?

Yes, I've been a member since last spring. I joined because I wanted to learn as much as I could about presenting myself as a designer, developing a professional product, and the ins and outs of the business. I wanted the mentoring opportunity, too (I have a fantastic mentor). I am glad I joined and have tried to involve myself more in the organization (editing the newsletter, helping with indexing articles, etc.)

Do you attend fibre festivals? Why? Why not?

Oh, I'd love to attend one, but there aren't any close enough by for me to go. I'd love to go Rhinebeck. Closer to home I'd like to go to Taos (just love the area), or maybe Black Sheep.

What inspires your designs?

It varies. Often I just want to use certain stitch patterns or techniques. Adamson Mitts came about that way --I wanted to do a mitt that incorporated both stranding and cables in a fun manner. A lot of times, when I do a pattern like that, I'm hoping too that people can use the pattern as a way to learn a new technique.

I love elements of Art Deco, so that occasionally slips in. I really want to do a small collection inspired by Malibu and Catalina tiles. I love the strong shapes and colors.

The ocean. Places I've travelled.

Even if I'm not literal in translating elements of what inspired me, it's still part of the 'story'.

I love mood boards, too! Before I started designing I had no idea of the concept of mood boards, which are a collection of images, colors, etc. that give a 'feel' for what the publisher is looking.

What is the most rewarding aspect about being a knitwear designer? Challenging?

Of course I love seeing other knitters enjoying knitting my designs. But I think what's most rewarding is being able to create something that brings a little happiness into this world.

Please share knitting/design advice.

Don't stop learning. Challenge yourself with new techniques. Keep some "TV knitting" on hand, something that's relaxing and easy to do if you go to a SnB group, what have you, but also have some harder projects. Don't ever say, 'oh, that looks too hard, I could never knit that.'

What are you currently working on?

I'm finishing up a sweater for the Sanguine Gryphon winter line (literature and fairy tale themed). I have a couple fingerless mitts patterns due soon as well, one for Knitcircus and one for Ennea Collective.

I'm also working on reformatting some of my early patterns into my current format. I'm hoping to release some of them together as an ebook --some quick to knit designs that I think are suited for gift-giving.

Beachcomber, published in Knitcircus


Tarte Tatin, Stephannie's newest design
Please visit Stephannie's web site: www.sunsetcat.com




2 comments:

creativepotager said...

Leanne what a wonderful interview with Stephanie! I love the detail about what are favourite patterns and how a design came about. Lovely post.

The Sweater Curse said...

Thank you, Terrill. Much credit is owed to Stephannie.