GAL interview with Jessica Anderson

Jessica Anderson, monkeybuttbabies is one of the Indie Designers participating in the GAL this year.

Does your family inspire you when you choose which design to develop?
Most of the time. It is a pretty common occurrence for one of my children to bring me a picture they have made of something they want me to create, just for them. My Penguin coats were created from my middle boy’s love of penguins, the sock monkey jackets because they are all my little monkeys, and my book was inspired by my youngest daughter and the quest for the perfect doll.

What is your design process?
When I am working for a self-published piece, it usually works like this: I see something that reminds me of a magical moment, or a memory that I want to capture (lately it has been fall colors and the way that Autumn looked like in NC when I was growing up!), it can be just about anything- from a button, to a color, to even a conversation I had, at some point, some yarn gets involved, and the color of the yarn sparks that memory, after some swatching and playing around with the yarn, I’ll start to sketch out how the piece is going to come together. If I’m being really good, I’ll swatch, grade, and write out the bare bones of the pattern, then cast on and knit the project, making notes and changes along the way. If I’m just too excited, I’ll swatch and grade and then start knitting while writing the pattern while knitting.

What influences your style?
I like to think of my designs as a blend of Mary Poppins mixed with Amy Farraw Fowler on the Big Bang Theory. I love to have an element of fun and whimsy, but because of life (I have 5 kids!), I need it to be fuss-free, portable and something that doesn’t zap too many of my mommy brain cells left! I like to create things that bring a sense of memory to the knitter and the end recipient.

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?)
Hmmmm….. I think my most adept is putting together a proposal. I have my BA in Communications, and spent a few years working in PR and Journalism so it’s a familiar process for me that just now involves something I love even more than promoting odds and ends. I am most fond of the knitting portion of course! I try to schedule my Friday’s so that I can spend the most of my day sitting and knitting on samples, or swatching for upcoming projects. I also love the Romance copy and have a new found love of naming things, lol. The most challenging for me is probably self-promotion. I love to talk about knitting and yarn, but really don’t like talking about myself! (and a close second most challenging is picking photos to use in patterns, I end up modeling most of my adult knits and I always find something I knit-pick about the picture, usually the silliest things!)

What have you learned from the GAL promotion?
Community! Designing most often feels like a lonely island but the GAL has provided an amazing Community event, for designers and makers alike. It’s wonderful to be a part of something where we lift ALL of us up, and foster a sense of giving and community as a whole.

Have any of your homeschooling experiences helped you in writing patterns?
Writing patterns has saved my homeschooling moments quite often, lol! I have learned when teaching children to read, having some simple stockinette (designing skirts is perfect for this!) to keep me calm, especially during early phonics mastery. It also provided a very timely and useful math lesson, especially following a “when am I ever going to use this” attitude. And my book was an incredible homeschool learning opportunity all around!

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?
About half the time I am inspired by something that I see (usually in a movie or from a TV show, have you seen how many Gilmore Girls themed projects I have created, lol?) or something from my children’s imaginations (like my daughter wondering why I didn’t have anything that looked like Elsa and that was the start of my Coronation Shawl!). Sometimes, it is simply walking by yarn in the store and hearing this tiny whisper. I have an upcoming collection that came together just because 2 skeins of Malabrigo sock whispered FALL to me in the yarn store a few months ago. Since moving to AZ, I am missing and longing for fall colors and fall leaves- those 2 skeins of yarn were perfect for that, and I ended up creating a whole series just from that inspiration.

Does anything intimidate you in knitting or crochet?
My philosophy is typically to try anything at least once! I do tend to move away from setting in sleeves, just because when I finish something, I like it to be finished!

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 tend to head to a book first and then if I don’t find the answer, I’ll look online, but even then tend to find something that is written and with illustrations. I taught myself how to knit about 10 years ago, using a book I picked up at the library and I’ve pretty much continued in the way I started.

Any repetitive motion disorders due to knitting or crochet? How do you deal with them?
I get a tiny bit of wrist pain, especially when on a super tight deadline, or when working with super bulky yarn. And the older I get, the more sore my fingers, thumbs in particular, seem to get sore and fussy, particularly early in the morning. Other than reminding myself to take breaks while knitting, and doing some easy hand stretches, I find that using Copaiba oil on my hands in the morning and evening helps with the soreness, as well as Perfectly Posh’s Hot Pepper Sha-Bang! Both of those have been AMAZING and have helped out so much.

What makes you buy a pattern (lovely photo, the story of the project, it looks do-able, it looks slightly challenging…)
Photos are definitely a huge help in making a pattern buying choice, I love a pattern that tells a story, or getting the “why this pattern was created”, and the unique factor is huge! I love something that is out of the box and just different.

Thank  you Jessica!

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