GAL interview with Heather Anderson, learnsomethingnew on Ravelry
What is your design process?
When I’m designing a new shawl, I take the inspiration idea and choose a shape first. After that, I think about what pattern(s) might highlight my idea best (there’s a significant amount of sticky-noting going on in my pattern dictionaries). I don’t usually have everything planned out in advance, but I often have a rough sketch on an index card hanging above my desk to remind me where I’d like to end up!
What influences your style?
I wouldn’t say I have one specific style in my designs. My tendency to want to explore new techniques and try new things keeps things changing. My clothes are a different story. If I could wear jeans, a black shirt, clogs, and a shawl/scarf every day, I’d be perfectly happy!
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?)
I think one of my strengths is writing clear patterns. Although I have no formal training in design, I have been fortunate to have wonderful testers who have helped train me over the past few years. I also teach almost 60 knitters a week in knitting classes. I have the opportunity to read all of the patterns for their projects. I can see what works well and what confuses people, and that has greatly influenced how I write my patterns.
Naming projects is not my most favorite part of designing. 🙂
What do you find most important in photography?
I think it’s important to have different views of the pattern. The photos you put together tell a little story about the shawl. I recently made a shift with my photography. Instead of asking my husband to do the job, I am lucky enough to have a neighbor who is interested in practicing portrait work! We have a good time thinking about how to showcase the shawls, though we could still use an additional person for hair and wardrobe!
You as a Giftalong designer: What have you learned from the promotion?
I’m amazed by the enthusiasm and support for the GAL, as well as the tremendous amount of work that the volunteers do to pull it all together! It’s been great to be exposed to a whole new corner of Ravelry.
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?
The pattern is usually the first thing that grabs me. Although I have a bit of a stash, I find it much more energizing to match yarn to a pattern I like rather than try to find a pattern for yarn.
I like to have lots of projects going at once (double digits wouldn’t be unheard of). There are usually some easy ones (car knitting), a new technique, a new design, a gift, and a pair of socks.
Does anything intimidate you in knitting or crochet?
I find crochet intimidating for sure! I’m fascinated by the way it is easy to shape crochet objects, but the directions seem completely foreign. I’m sure I’ll take that challenge on in the future, but life is a little full right now!
I think it was Poetryinyarn, but I saw a note about how crochet instructions are a list of what stitches (as nouns) to put in what location, but knitting uses the name of a stitch as a verb. I hated grammar until I had to teach it in homeschool to my kids, I never expected it to help me out in writing patterns!
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 would say I use a combination of those. Two of my favorite reference books are Cast On, Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods; Find the perfect start and finish for every knitting project and Increase, Decrease: 99 Step-by-Step Methods; Find the Perfect Technique for Shaping Every Knitting Project.
I got to see that book on display in the book area at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, it was on displat on the swatch used for the cover shot. Such a helpful book. I haven’t bought it yet, but I can get it from my library system in less than an week on interlibrary loan.
Any repetitive motion disorders due to knitting or crochet? How do you deal with them?
None so far!
What makes you buy a pattern (lovely photo, the story of the project, it looks do-able, it looks slightly challenging…)
Good photos are always a hook for me. I love learning new things, so the chance to try a new technique is a draw too. Knitting fills so many needs…relaxing, challenging, engaging…the patterns I pick tend to vary widely to fit those needs.
Thank you Heather!