Miscellaneous Monday by Lacey
Over the next few months, I will introduce you to a few of my most favorite designers. Some are totally famous, and you have probably already met them or know their designs, but some of them may be under the radar for you right now.
I’m going to start with the beautiful and talented Caitlin ffrench. I first found her through her cute shawl designs (many are free!), but I’ve kept watching her to see where she goes next. I love watching designers “grow” into themselves. And through my interview below, I found out she’s writing a book! You know I’ll have to keep my eyes open for that one (she hopes to be done writing by the fall). :D
Before I sent off my questions, I checked around the web to find out if there were any other interviews with her and found these: Princess Animal and Judith Mueller both have interviewed her previously (click the links to read their interviews!). I tried to keep my questions to new lines of inquest partly because I’ve never seen Once Upon a Time (she designed and knit a baby blanket for the show) and partly to hear the answers to my own curious questions.
Check her out on the web at her blog, on Ravelry, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and at her Etsy shop. Y’all be sure to watch her as I’ve been seeing her pop up in magazine features and now there’s a book; this girl’s about to take off!
How did you get into knitting and natural dyes?
I went to Fibre school in the Kootenays (The Kootenay School of the Arts), and they have an AMAZING!! program. Also, the most fabulous instructors. That is where I first learned to naturally dye.
And the knitting came when I was driving to a punk concert a few towns over with friends, and one of the ladies in the car taught me! (With Malabrigo Worsted, and BEAUTIFUL needles) I got hooked!
I’ve been a fibre person my whole life (sewing, etc.), but the fibre world took over my whole life when a really close friend opened a yarn shop and asked me to work with her! (Baaad Anna’s Yarn Store)
What is your design process like for a new pattern? Do you start with a yarn, a stitch pattern, or just an idea?
I really just fly with ideas. My head is full of things to make all of the time. Sometimes they come out as knitting patterns, other times it may be something out of wood… or welding a bicycle! I get a lot of design inspiration from art history books too.
Do you swatch when you aren’t designing(truthfully?)?
Hahahahaha. Not always…. which is why I’ve had to re-knit a ton of sweaters. But I have no regrets ripping something back.
I swatch now for fitted things… but not so much for shawls/scarves
What is the worst finished object you’ve ever made? What was the fate of this FO fail?
OHHHH man! I’m in the midst of one right now!
I spun some amazing Sweet Georgia fibre for a sweater… knit the sweater…. and it didn’t fit quite right…. so I steeked it.
…and now it is waiting in my sewing/loom room to be finished. GUH! I started it over 6 months ago. I should get on it!! I promise I will… maybe tomorrow.
What are the big trends you see in the knitting/fiber arts community right now? Are you trying to ride the wave or swim away from it?
The trends seem to be a lot of clean lines (in the knitting work that I follow).
People are becoming much more aware of their affect on their world, and that using locally or sustainably sourced products are better. I LOVE this. I hope it is not a trend, but instead a new way of being.
I’m not sure I’m trendy in life though. I make most all of my clothes, and right now the clothing in ‘cool’ shops doesn’t appeal to me. So for the fibres I wear, I may be swimming away. Or maybe just upstream! (I also make most of my own clothes because i’m 6 feet tall, and its hard to find tall lady things!)
What’s your favorite fiber/type of yarn to dye?
Pollika DK weight single Ply Superwash Merino and Silk
Of other dyer’s yarns… Sweet Georgia Superwash Worsted
Of my Naturally Dyed Yarn… Organic Aran Merino
100% Silk. !!! I LOVE silk!!! I go to the Silk Weaving Studio on Granville Island here in Vancouver to get my weaving silks.
What is one thing you wished regular, everyday knitters understood about natural dying?
It is a long and mindful process… and dye lots will NEVER be the same!
Designing is a brilliantly rewarding thing. I love hearing feedback/seeing notes on my work. I also love when I get to see people knitting what I design. (If I see it in person, I usually turn into a big dork and get super excited!)
What are you currently working on (and can talk about)?
I’m finishing up on some designs for my new book! There are 5-7 things in it… and on my needles right now is a hat for it. It is dyed with walnut husks from a tree at the house I grew up in!
What’s next for you (that you can talk about)?
The book is the big one. When I started working on this, I had no idea how much work goes into it!! (Oops!)
But I’m so happy to be working on something so exciting!
What type of project do you think you’ll be knitting if you live to be 100 years old, blind, and a little dotty? Why?
Large ephemeral works in the forest. Weaving with roots and vines, while admiring the work I’ve made by feeling it with my hands and heart. I am happiest when I’m in the forest, and I am thankful for my landbase.