2014 Gift A Long Designer Interview

Today, on the blog, I am featuring an interview with another Indie Designer participating in the 2014 Indie Designer GAL. I will be doing two of these, today, we meet Arlette of Arlette’s knits.

I think one of the coolest things about the Indie Designer GAL, is that I have been introduced to many talented designers that I had never seen before. Arlette, is one of them. She has beautiful designs.

© 2014 Arlette Thibodeau

© 2014 Arlette Thibodeau

When did you start knitting and how did you learn?

I learned about ten years ago. A friend tried to teach me to knit, and I couldn’t understand it for the life of me. That made me so mad that I bought a copy of Stitch ‘n’ Bitch and pretty much didn’t leave the house for six weeks. I just parked on the couch in front of Adult Swim and threw myself at the whys and hows of knitting until I felt like I could do a half-decent job.

© 2014 Arlette Thibodeau

© 2014 Arlette Thibodeau

How did you begin designing?

I think I always did? I always came up with my own stuff, anyway. A fringe benefit of my “I WILL KNIT UNTIL I HAVE SOLVED KNITTING” approach is that I really, truly understand how knit fabric works. Once I’d made a couple of ribbed scarves and stockinette hats, I kept throwing myself at projects just above my skill level, just so I could sweat and frown my way through a new skill. It was an incredible education, but it also meant that for the first several years of knitting, I thought people who knitted because it was “relaxing” were completely crazy.

From there, my secretly competitive nature led me to design. I used to do layout at a small newspaper, so I already had a pretty decent set of the skills you need for self-publishing. I couldn’t just invent a hat; I also had to throw myself at writing out a pattern, photographing it, laying it out and publishing it, just to see if I could do it.

© 2014 Arlette Thibodeau

© 2014 Arlette Thibodeau

What inspires you to design something?

Shapes from nature, or from my environment. My ADD means I’m often awash in mostly useless extra information, especially visual, so design gives me a way to pin down whatever it is that’s distracting me and properly examine it. If I can’t stop looking at a mountain, for example, I start to wonder what exactly it is about the mountain that keeps drawing my eye. Once I figure that out, it’s a pretty short hop to figuring out how to knit it.

My “Flatirons” pattern came from the Boulder Flatirons: they’re made from the same giant chunk of sandstone sticking up out of the ground at a sharp angle, so when the sandstone eroded away, the peaks that were left were similarly shaped, and the layered sandstone they’re made of is all pointed the same direction. It’s so orderly! It’s like someone took a giant comb to the mountain and tried to brush its hair.

Any quirky knitting habits?
I spit-slice everything I can. It’s the perfect join. If I’ve knit you something and it’s made of something that’ll felt even a little, you should know that it’s got a little spit in it.

What knitting notion seems to go missing for you (for me it’s tape measures and of course, stitch markers)?
Tapestry needles. Every few months I do a roundup and check all the odd little corners they disappear to, and end up with about a dozen of them.

What is your favorite thing to knit?
Hats! They’re so low-stakes, they don’t take a bunch of yarn, and you can try out new techniques really easily on them. Plus they’re easy to give away — a lot of the time, once I’m done weaving in ends on a hat, I’m already bored of it, so it’s nice to give it to someone who’ll appreciate it.

© 2014 Arlette Thibodeau

© 2014 Arlette Thibodeau

Hobbies aside from knitting?
Photography, and … hmm. The occasional sewing, beading and screen printing? I actually got rid of a bunch of hobby supplies not long ago so I could focus on just a few. There isn’t time enough in the world for all the crafts I’d like to try, so I might as well get as good as I can at a handful of them and ignore the rest.

What an awesome interview and I can so relate to the spit splicing thing. It is my favorite, too!

Remember knitters, you can knit the GAL until the end of December. So, please check out Arlette’s patterns, they are gorgeous. I want to knit Double Dutch, the brioche hat!

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