As part of the 2014 Gift-A-Long on Ravelry, I am having fun interviewing several other indie designers. Up first is Stephannie Tallent, who lives waaaaay across the country from me in California.
You've probably heard of Stephannie (StephCat on Ravelry), as she has published many, many patterns. You can see them all at this link to her Ravelry page. If not, you're in for a real treat.
Until November 21, she has selected twenty of her patterns at 25% off on her Gift-A-Long page. (I would post a few of them here, but I suggest that instead you should just click on the link and go see them all!)
This year's Gift-A-Long will run Thursday, November 13th at 8 pm (US-EST) through Wednesday December 31st at midnight (US-EST). Those dates are for prize eligibility. The sale period will run until Friday November 21 at 11:59 pm (US-EST). Discount will be 25% off. When you check out after having bought a Gift-A-Long pattern, use to code giftalong2014 to get your discount.You can see all Gift-A-Long patterns and designers and goings-on at the Gift-A-Long group on Ravelry. (If you don't have a Ravelry account, sign up. It's free and easy!)
When gifting time is over, do be sure to look at a few of Stephannie's other patterns that might take you a little longer to make. I must say that I particularly love the book of patterns she edited, Hitch: Patterns Inspired by the Films of Alfred Hitchcock.
Stephannie, I am a total marshmallow, and I admit it. Perhaps someday I'll be brave enough to actually watch a Hitchcock movie or ride the Tower of Terror at Disney--but in the meantime, I will have to queue the Exacta Hat:
And since I love birds so much, I also must fuss over her Ravens in the Snow mittens.
And I will never get over her Peacock Cowl from the stunning book, California Revival Knits.
Inspired by Stephannie? I thought so. Let's have a conversation, shall we?
Let’s start at the beginning. When did you begin knitting—and why? What captivated you about it, and what has kept you going?
I started knitting around junior high (um, a very long time ago!). I’ve always like making things. I also learned to crochet around the same time. I think the more important question is why I knit now. I still love creating things, of course. I don’t think you ever lose that. I do love the tactile and visual aspects of knitting – forming stitches and fabrics, watching the interplay of colors and textures. I love working with natural fibers and reveling in the differences, not only between plant and animal based fibers, but between different species of animals and even different breeds.
As people get better at what they do, they learn more and more with practice. Your designs are wonderfully creative! What have you done over the years to get better at designing?
I’m a big fan of frogging [laughs]. It never hurts to try something new. Short of working with super sticky mohair, you can always frog. I love learning new techniques, different options or ways of doing something, and so on. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of new things to learn.
What kinds of knitters do you envision knitting your designs?
Although I have a few beginner-friendly patterns, most of my designs are for adventuresome advanced beginners or intermediate knitters.
Having said that, I do have patterns that are specifically designed to be good for learning and practicing a technique:
Quatrefoil Mitts for stranding:
Lagniappe for beading:
Achillea for Aran Lace:
and Carex for twisted stitches:
I prefer to list required skills rather than a skill level on my patterns. Just because someone’s a whiz at lace doesn’t mean they know how to strand, for example. I list the skills not to say you have to be able to do a particular skill before doing a particular pattern, but so that you know what you may need to learn if you don’t know how to do that skill already.
I would assume that it’s true for everyone that one’s environment helps one create with their creative vision. You live in California. What is around you, and what kind of influence does that have on your work?
I’m lucky to live near the beach. I’m also lucky in that I’ve been able to travel to some really gorgeous places in California. I live in a little Spanish revival bungalow, and love old (relatively speaking) houses.
Architecture and nature and two huge influences on my work; I’ll create, use or create motifs with ties to architectural details, or aspects of animals, geology, or plants.
I also love going through stitch dictionaries and vintage lace patterns; often I’ll find a stitch pattern that drives the design.
If you could pick one or two favorites from your work, what would they be and why?
Ravens in Snow fingerless mitts & Cactus Wren cami.I love how the stranded motifs (all different for palm, thumb gusset & back of hand) work together and are set off by the lace cuff in Ravens in Snow.
Plus the Corvidae family of birds includes some of my favorite birds: Ravens, Crows, and Jays (Scrub, Blue, & Green).
Cactus Wren is something I actually get to wear here in Southern California.
You can wear it as a vest, but I usually just wear it over a cotton camisole. I love the yarn (Dance rustic silk from Dragonfly Fibers) and the lace. I used some vintage buttons for the front, and that makes me happy, to have that touch of old with the new. I feel it’s comfortable, flattering, and pretty without being too frou frou.\
Thanks, Stephannie, for so much inspiration! (I want to start talking about your gorgeous Tonkinese cats now, but I think I'll stop here since that could go on for too many more pages!)