Today’s designer interview is with Robynn Weldon. No matter if you’re looking for cute and practical things for children or for adults – you’ll find something in her Ravelry shop
! Shown below is her Elfbaby Hat.
(c) Lorna Lynch
1. How did you come to knitting / crocheting?
My whole family are into needlecrafts, so it feels inevitable that I joined them. I picked up basic knitting and crochet skills as a small child, but it was in my teens, in boarding school, that I really got hooked. Boarding school was really boring and it took me a while to make friends; I loved being able to sink deep into my own creative projects and ignore everyone else. (Probably didn’t really help on the making friends front. Oops.)
2. How did you come to designing?
In my family, designing (or improvising) was just part of the craft. Nobody ever followed a pattern. So I always designed my own projects; and for a long time I dreamed of sharing patterns for them. But I was scared of submitting to the magazines, and I kept putting things off. Eventually I had my first pattern – the cabled cardigan Twist & Shout – published in Knitty, which was hugely exciting, but right after that I had my first baby. And she turned out to be really demanding. So I didn’t make much headway with my design ambitions for a few years after that. I still struggle to carve out designing time and brain capacity from my childcare responsibilities, but with a 6yo and an almost 3yo, it’s finally getting easier.
3. What inspires your designs?
I have a folder full of “inspired” ideas, prompted by maybe a fashion silhouette, or a textural idea from tree bark, but honestly, the things I actually make are usually motivated, more than inspired. They solve a problem, be it “what can I do with this yarn?” or “how can I keep my toddler’s neck warm?”. I think in my head I’m a very different kind of designer to the one shown in my actual portfolio, because I think of my design sensibilities in terms of all those creative ideas, not the patterns I’ve actually made real so far!
4. What is your design process?
It starts in one of two quite different places. Either I decide to make X item in Y yarn, and I spent some quality time swatching different stitch patterns to determine the look of the thing – this was, for instance, the process behind Am Meer – before plotting the whole thing out and finally knitting it. Or I get tickled by a particular concept: a construction trick, say, or a stitch idea – like Wiggly Warmers’ keyhole cables, or the reversible lace I designed for the Konstanz scarf – and I work the whole thing out in my head before trying it out, and quite possibly finding that it doesn’t work at all the way I want. Then I tinker until it does (or until I hate myself). Either way, I try to write (or at least grade) the full pattern before I knit it up, but I don’t think I’ve quite achieved that yet. At some point the knitting overtakes the writing. But I’m improving. These days there’s a lot more planning, and better notes, than when I started.
(c) Armin Rüede
5. Do you have a favourite fiber?
I’m pretty smitten with alpaca, but I’d have to say wool, overall. It’s so versatile, and so forgiving of imperfect stitches. Loosely woollen-spun Bluefaced Leicester, all lustrous and soft and drapey and bouncy – that’s probably my hot favourite.
6. If you could only knit/crochet one type of item, what would it be?
Sweaters. I haven’t been making nearly enough sweaters, but I think I’m a sweater knitter first and foremost. It was YEARS before it ever occurred to me to knit an accessory. (I obviously didn’t live in a cold climate.)
7. Which of your patterns make for really great gift knitting?
I think my whole portfolio, which is almost entirely accessories, is very giftable! The Elfbaby hat is a perfect gift for new babies – it includes three border options, so a lot of knitters have knit it more than once. The Runaround mitts were pretty popular in last year’s Giftalong; they’re very fast to knit in DK yarn, with a simple but effective (and unisex) stitch pattern. I’m particularly proud, though, of the Wraparound mitts and matching cowl. Same fast-moving stitch pattern as Runaround, but in sock yarn and with a very cute shaping trick. And you can get a matching set out of one skein of sock yarn. All of those patterns are sized from toddler to adult, so you can take care of your whole family!
(c) Armin Rüede
8. Do you have any new patterns coming out during the GAL that you want to talk about?
I’ve been working on another toddler accessory, a combo hat/scarf item. If I can get it out quickly it would be great Christmas knitting, but I’m not sure it’ll be out in time. I’m just recovering from a few weeks of illness, which has obviously set me back on everything, so we’ll see.