The fourth designer interview this year is with Ashwini Jambhekar, check out her gorgeous sweaters on Ravelry!
1. How did you come to knitting / crocheting?
I started knitting at age 4. My mom used to knit, and when I displayed interest, she taught me. My first project was an acrylic worsted-weight scarf in garter stitch for my grandmother, who lived in the heat and humidity of Mumbai, India! By second or third grade, I made a vest for myself using a Leisure Arts pattern (and a lot of help from my mom). I learned to crochet around the same time, and also embroider, sew by hand, and macrame (there were lots of 1970s craft books in our house!). I knit a couple of sweaters in high school, but I really started up again in grad school, when I discovered the LYS Artfibers in San Francisco (now sadly closed), which displayed a lot of knit garments in styles that were attractive to younger customers.
2. How did you come to designing?
I started designing gradually. My first “designs” simply involved substituting one lace panel in a sweater for another one. Around the same time, I was passed along a big box of acrylic yarn (from the 60’s to 80’s) from one of my mom’s coworkers. I decided these yarns wasn’t worthy of pattern investment (and few patterns existed for such yarns), so I practiced my design skills by creating my own garments. The yarns and samples at Artfibers were inspirational, and the store manager was very generous with describing how the FOs were made and helping to customize projects; so I got a lot of my early design education there.
3. What inspires your designs?
I draw a lot of inspiration from sewing patterns/ sewn garments. For example, I had been sewing garments with princess seams in the past year, and I tried to recreate that look in my Demeter Tank using cables to follow the lines of where the seams would fall.
The central panel of “A Little Lace V-neck” is inspired by the central pleat in the Sorbetto tank from Colette patterns.
4.What is your design process?
I usually start off by figuring out what style of garment I want to make– length, sleeve type, neckline. Then I decide which element(s) I want to feature, and how. Finally, I decide on the types of stitch patterns I want to use for each featured element (e.g. large lace, small lace, cables), followed by a lot of swatching!
5. Do you have a favourite fiber?
Definitely anything with a high wool content. I find wool to be reliable– it has great memory, and doesn’t change dramatically after blocking. I hate being surprised by my yarn! There’s also some flexibility with blocking wool, so you have some room for adjustment while blocking if the gauge is not exact.
6. If you could only knit/crochet one type of item, what would it be?
Probably pullover sweaters. First of all, it’s cold here and I need all the sweaters I can get to make it through the winter. Secondly, I find pullovers are great for experimenting with different shapes, styles, and placement of interesting features.
7. Which of your patterns make for really great gift knitting?
My “Fountains and Cables” scarf is a quick and easy knit, and is written with options for different yarn weights and scarf widths. It’s also an easy scarf for the recipient to care for, as it doesn’t require extensive re-blocking after washing to keep its shape. All my other patterns are garments, so they’re much more suited for selfish knitting!
8. Do you have any new patterns coming out during the GAL that you want to talk about?
I decided to enjoy the GAL this year and not scramble to get any additional pattern published. However, I’ll be working on a ballet-inspired collection in the new year, so stay tuned for that!
(c) for all photos: Ashwini Jambhekar