Indie Gift-Along Interview 1 of 2: PAKnitWit

Today I'm doing something a little different.  As part of Ravelry's Indie Design Gift-Along, I'm interviewing two knitwear designers. In this first interview, we get to meet Sarah Jordan also known as PAKnitWit on Ravelry!

Mint Chocolate Mitts, Sarah Jordan (photo: © Interweave Knits/Harper Point)

Hi Sarah, and welcome to my blog!  I'm a very curious person, and love to know how others came to this profession... So, I'll start with an easy one.  How did you come to design hand-knits?

I am, admittedly, an obsessed knitter. I learned to knit when I was about 7 years old and was spending a week with my aunt and uncle in Michigan. My aunt had knit for me since I was a baby, and I suppose I expressed enough interest in learning during that week that she put some straight needles and some squeaky orange acrylic in my hands and showed me the basics. I didn't knit much other than simple scarves and the occasional hat until I was in grad school in Philadelphia and lived about a block from Rosie's Yarn Cellar. I was in a pretty intensive grad program, so I started doing a lot of knitting to relieve the stress. I taught myself a lot from the Internet at that point.
After I moved back home and started work, I continued to knit during my evenings and weekends, and that's really when I got good and obsessed, particularly with sock knitting (I'm a self-proclaimed recovering sock addict). During the day, I'm an editor/proofreader for a marketing department, which doesn't have a lot of space for creativity, so I still see knitting as my creative outlet. I also started spinning about six years ago, which has only added to my yarn stash.
I started designing because I got an idea of something I wanted to knit but couldn't find an existing pattern for it. I found that I liked the process so much that I couldn't stop. Most of my designs come about the same way -- I'll get a very specific vision of a item I want to make but am unable to find a pattern out there that looks exactly like the picture in my head. I still wish I had more time to do it (in addition to my full-time job, I have a young daughter, so my time is really limited), but for now, it's something I do to keep my brain working during evenings and weekends.

Newlin Socks, Sarah Jordan

Scullers Socks, Sarah Jordan

And it looks like you've been keeping very busy! 
What inspires your designs?

Inspiration seems to come from everywhere. Sometimes it's from machine-made items that I see on people I pass on the street. Sometimes it's geometric patterns in upholstery or carpeting or wallpaper. Sometimes an image just pops in my head as I'm in that state of half consciousness just before falling asleep (and of course in those instances I have to wake up and jot down some notes so I can remember it the next day). In all cases, I design things that I would want to wear, be they garments or accessories. One technique I can't seem to get away from is stranded colorwork. I love how even with a simple pattern, the knitting looks so much more complex and involved when you add a second color.


Tiled In Cowl, Sarah Jordan
What is your favorite part of designing?

I think my favorite part of designing is starting with an image in my head and then seeing it come to life in yarn. A pretty close second is when someone else knits one of my patterns and loves the finished project.


Who are your design heroes?

I'm really inspired by many other designers, especially those who are so generous with their thoughts and experiences on Ravelry. I feel very lucky to be able to interact with designers like Julia Trice, Nina Machlin Dayton, Marnie MacLean, and Ysolda Teague as easily as I'd interact with a coworker or friend. Honestly, any designer who contributes to the discussions in the Ravelry designer groups is my hero because they're all helping those of us who are (relatively speaking) just getting started.

What do you see yourself doing/exploring in 2014?

As to next year, one of my big goals for myself is to figure out how to use my handspun more often, because frankly it's starting to take over my house! It can be hard to design with handspun because it can be inconsistent and often doesn't fall neatly into the traditional weight categories, so I can see this type of designing resulting in recipe-type projects rather than "normal" patterns. I also want to tackle the long list of patterns that have been on my "to design" list for way too long. I think I may be moving into a cable phase, because some cabled projects are at the top of that list!

Amberson Hat, Sarah Jordan

Sarah, thank you for taking the time and introducing yourself to my blog readers.  Good luck with developing your patterns for your handspun yarns!  Have a Happy Holiday!

Readers, if you'd like to see more of Sarah's work you can find it here on Ravelry, or you can read her blog here: http://paknitwit.blogspot.com/

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Stay tuned because next week we're having a giveaway and meeting Ambah of Ambah|Knitting Design!