Skip to content

Interview series 18 – Sylvia Watts-Cherry

  • by
Photo of Sylvia Watts-Cherry, smiling directly to the camera.
In 2017 we ran a survey of Stitchmastery users and one response particularly caught our imagination – someone told us they would like to hear from other Stitchmastery users and how they make use of the software. We’re delighted to bring you a series of interviews with designers, tech editors, magazine editors and teachers – we hope you enjoy reading them!

Interviewee – Sylvia Watts-Cherry aka With Cherries On Top Too

1) When did you start designing? Could you give us a potted history of your knitty and designing background?
I’ve been knitting since I was eight and always preferred to modify or adapt the patterns I knit from. This means that I have nearly 50 years (on and off) of knitting experience. I also dabbled in machine knitting in the 1980s before having over 20 years break from knitting after having children and hand knitted garments going out of fashion. In 2018, after selling our family business, I had a eureka moment when I visited an exhibition of African textiles at London’s Southbank, and decided I wanted to try to recreate some of what I saw. Since then I’ve been dreaming up my own designs.

Before beginning my journey into knitting designs, my husband and I owed a company offering after school tuition in Maths, English and Sciences, a useful background for writing and grading patterns.


2) Do you have any recurring sources of inspiration or unusual muses for your design work?
Colour and texture inspire me in my designs; the colours and symbolism in indigenous African textiles and artefacts inspire most of my designs.

My identity is important to me and I like to draw influence from my Nigerian/African heritage and Scottish upbringing in my designs. Through my work, I aim to remember the contributions of people from African heritage to the creative world, while enriching the knitting community.
Photo of a woman wearing Sylvias Nubian Queen Pullover

Nubian Queen Pullover by Sylvia Watts-Cherry

3) When you have an idea, do you always work to a set workflow (eg swatch-knit-chart / chart first then knit) or does your approach change with each design?
Most of my design ideas occur while out walking. To get it off my head is important before I forget so I tend to sketch ideas then chart them before knitting. The knitting then informs the chart as I amend things as I knit until I am happy.

I have been known to knit a whole front or back then reworking a chart or design to reknit everything again – which is why a chart software is really handy.
4) What made you choose to use Stitchmastery? Is there a particular feature you use most regularly or couldn’t do without? And is there anything you wish Stitchmastery could do?
I chose the software from a friend’s recommendation. I am not into tech too much but through trial and error and use of the support from Stitchmastery, I have been able to manoeuvre around the programme. I use the colour options a lot as I do a lot of intarsia work. Also, the cables options are useful.

I would like Japanese stitch patterns to be incorporated. A really useful update would be to able to have an option to view a pattern as a swatch and see on a garment template as a whole garment.
collage of photos showing two women wearing a long cardigan with scenes of African village life

Village Life by Sylvia Watts-Cherry

5) Please tell us about your latest publication or next exciting project!
I recently attended Vogue Knitting Live in New York with my Village Life cardigan. This is a long cardigan design with all over continuous intarsia design. The whole thing would have been very difficult without Stitchmastery as I copied and pasted and changed sections many times.

My latest publications (first self-publishing) are:
Nubian Queen jumper (previously a kit until mid-February 2020)
Caledonia (using yarn support part of support for indie designers by The Fibre Company) – released this week!

I have a few magazine commissions in UK and abroad which also incorporate Stitchmastery charts, but I can’t reveal them yet.


You can find Sylvia on Instagram at @withcherriesontoptoo and her designs on Ravelry at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Select your currency