We chatted with the designer of March’s lovely lace cowl pattern, Jessica Anderson, and asked her about
everything from inspiration to her favorite fiber. Read her answers below!
How did you learn to knit, and what drove you to make the jump to designing?
I taught myself how to Knit with a book I got from the Library and some videos that I watched on KnittingHelp.com. I originally picked up the knitting needles because we were a cloth diapering family, but we couldn’t afford the cute $60 soakers to go over the diapers. I found some wool yarn on sale and had a coupon, so I figured I could attempt to make my own. When my youngest daughter was born, I really wanted her to have a dress that I kept picturing in a certain way, but I couldn’t find a pattern that matched my vision, so I worked up my own. That was almost 5 years ago, and most of my patterns still come from a “I can’t find this (fill in the blank) anywhere, so I’ll just make my own!”
How do you develop (or what inspires your) new patterns?
I find inspiration just about anywhere! Some of my ideas came from cute buttons I found on Etsy, or in the fabric shop. A lot of my children’s patterns were inspired by a picture one of my little ones drew of a sweater or jacket that they would like to have in their closet. I love watching texture, and color and putting them together in my knitting.
If money were no object, and you could get a mill to spin any custom blend of yarn you wanted, what would it be? What would you design with it?
Hmmm….probably a cashmere, merino blend. I am currently in love with a yak, silk, merino blend. so possibly that. And I’d most likely design a shawl for it, those seem to be one of my favorite things to design lately.
What is the single most indispensable tool in your notions bag, and why?
My tape measure- for gauge of course! (and since it’s a sock monkey, to make me smile and laugh!)
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far as a designer?
Take risks- you will never know unless you try, and that sometimes frogging is part of the process. It happens and the result is even more magical and beautiful.
What are the most difficult or challenging things about being a designer?
Time management! It’s easy to think that all a designer does is sit and knit- by there is so much more! From writing the pattern, grading it, making changes, and then reworking edits, there is so much more than just knitting. And being distracted by pretty yarn….it’s really hard to finish up something when some new pretty string lands in your mailbox!
…the most rewarding?
I love seeing what other knitters create from my pattern- whether it’s knitting a sweater in a different color, or adding a new decorative element to their piece, I love seeing other knitters knit my designs. That and when my kids immediately have to put on their new knitwear- and the hugs and smiles that they give afterwards.
Most creative professionals have days where they don’t feel like being creative, and yet have a deadline to meet. As a designer, do you experience creative block and if so, what do you do to overcome it?
Definitely! When that happens, I realize that it is usually because I have been working too much. Since I work for myself, and run my own business, it’s hard to remember to take a day off. So I’ve been scheduling that in my planner so that I come to work with fresh eyes, and energized. When I just can’t seem to get the knitting right, it’s usually because I need to get outside and move, so I’ll pack up all the kids and head to the park. If I just can’t seem to come up with an idea for something, I’ll pull out the art supplies and the younger kids will help me color. Their drawings and uninhibited imagination are always inspiring.