GAL interview with Cheryl Chow CascadeKnitter on Ravelry

Cheryl Chow CascadeKnitter on Ravelry:

You as a designer questions:

What is your design process? 

I have many stitch dictionaries and I particularly like the Japanese ones with all the intricate stitches. I usually start there and find a stitch pattern(s) that gives the feel I’m looking for in the item I’m designing. Swatching is next and this probably takes the longest as I end up knitting/ripping many times until I get it the way the feels right. I use an excel spreadsheet to work up the numbers for the different sizes, write out the pattern, and finally knit the sample from the written pattern, adjusting things if needed as I knit.

Me too!  I keep meaning to put mine away on the shelf, but they wind up back beside my bed.

What influences your style?
I love the outdoors and grew up hiking, camping, and backpacking with my family. Many of my designs are green/blue and have leaf motifs. My friends give me a hard time … “not another green project”! Another influence is the Japanese culture. Their eye for balance and color is probably the most beautiful of any culture I’ve known.

I love leaves too!

What about designing and producing patterns are you most adept at, what parts are you most fond of, and what parts are challenging? (Pattern Grading, the last week of editing, coming up with a name for a project, self promotion?)
The math is what excites me the most about pattern writing. I just can’t wait to start a new spreadsheet and start all the calculations. I live for the challenge of making the numbers work. I also love the knitting/crocheting too. Being able to touch the yarn and work it into something practical makes my day.  Self promotion is probably the hardest for me. I’m very shy and quiet in real life and don’t like to be the center of attention. I feel very awkward encouraging people to “look at my stuff”.

How do you calculate ease?
Ease, that’s a great questions. I mostly design stuff that I would wear and I don’t like things that are too tight or really loose on my body. I usually recommend 1 or 2 inches of ease in my cardigan and pullover patterns. All the dimensions listed on my patterns are actual garment measurements so I leave it up to the knitter to choose their preferred ease.

This was a selfish question – I have trouble getting sleeves just right 😉

You as a Giftalong designer:
What have you learned from the promotion?
That I love the camaraderie that happens between designers. How we support and encourage each other, even when this can be kind of a cut-throat business. And I love the interactions between customers and designers. Getting to know people who like/make my patterns is such a thrill to me!  I also have learned to set aside some time from designing my own patterns to knit someone else’s. It is so relaxing to knit without thinking about the next step and worrying if the math will work out. The hard part is deciding on a pattern or two to knit/crochet … there are so many extremely talented designers participating in this year’s gift-a-long!

You as someone who likes to make things questions:
What is your usual process on a fiber project, for instance, do you start with a yarn, a cute pattern, a need you’ve noticed, something exciting you saw in a movie you want to copy, or a technique you want to learn – then what do you do next and then what?
All of the above …. it really depends. Many times I start with the yarn/color I’m in love with and choose a stitch pattern and garment type based on what the yarn is “saying to me”. Other times I start with a pinterest idea (usually from a magazine or yarn company), and choose the yarn and stitch pattern based on those. And still other times (like for Loeanneth) I read a book and loved the imagery it invoked so designed that pullover based on the book. Since I’ve been designing, I watch movies, read books, look at the outside world differently … always on the lookout for that next idea or inspiration. I always have way more ideas than time to make everything. I usually make a chart or some notes in a notebook on the idea so I can come back to it at a later date if I don’t have time to work on the concept at the time. Most of the ideas never get worked up into any pattern.

Does anything intimidate you in knitting or crochet?
No, I’m one of those adventurous crafters who is willing to try anything once. One of my first knitting projects (in the 1980s) was a very complicated intarsia cardigan. I had at least 18 bobbins of color per row. Needless to say, I haven’t done much intarsia since!

Me either!

When you want to learn something, do you look it up in a book, on U-tube, or seek a real person to teach you?
I’m a very visual learner so I love U-tube. It’s so great that I can start and stop the video where I need to and go back a forth many, many times until I get the technique down.

Any repetitive motion disorders due to knitting or crochet? How do you deal with them?
Unfortunately, yes. I have to be careful and not do too many hours of knitting over many days or my shoulder/upper arm starts aching. I do try to stretch out my wrists and shoulders every 30 minutes or so and yoga helps a lot too.

What makes you buy a pattern (lovely photo, the story of the project, it looks do-able, it looks slightly challenging…)
Since I enjoy designing complicated/advanced patterns I look for relaxing projects with miles of garter or stockinette in other’s pattern with just a bit of a twist to keep my interest. For the GAL I’m knitting Altostratus by Alla Saenko which is a pretty garter stitch shawl with stripes and a touch of lace. Pretty and enticing photos also get me too.

Thank you Cheryl!

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