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Interview series 27 – Sarah Schira of Imagined Landscapes

Photo of Sarah Schira
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 – Sarah Schira


1) When did you start designing? Could you give us a potted history of your yarny and designing background?

I have been designing almost since I started knitting around 2002, but at first it was only custom knitting for my family. The two Stitch and Bitch books were really instrumental in empowering me. The second book in particular made swapping yarn weights or adding design elements to patterns seem easy and obvious – and that ‘can do’ philosophy gave me licence to understand knitting and make it my own.

It wasn’t until I saw the DesignAlong contest run by Kit at A Playful Day Podcast that I stopped waffling about publishing my ideas. Winning the contest then pushed me over the edge. I love seeing how my ideas are transformed by knitters’ yarn and colour choices.

2) Do you have any recurring sources of inspiration or unusual muses for your design work?

I love seeing landscapes and translating the lines and textures into knitting in my head. I don’t necessarily turn that into a design, but it is definitely something my brain is doing almost all the time. It’s partly from living on the prairies – where there are few lines (design elements) but they’re strong – and partly from having a photographer for a father. I love looking at sweeping landscapes and tiny details.

My Cobblestone Intersection Cowl is a great example of this. I love how in Europe there are so many kinds of paving stones butting up against each other and I made that a cowl. Or then there’s the project I did called the Travelling Landscapes Project in which I challenged myself to design a shawl while we were travelling. I loved being on the lookout for shapes, textures, and lines that I could translate into that shawl! It was fun sharing it with people online as I was working on it.

Photo of Sarah wearing purple and grey striped lace shawl

3) When you have an idea, do you always work to a set workflow (eg swatch-knit-chart or chart first then knit) or does your approach change with each design?

I’m really an “on the needles” designer. I find it hard (impossible!) to go from swatch to paper all in my head. I will swatch and mess about and then chart usually. Then work from my chart as I actually knit the project, making notes and doing the math as I come to each stage. It’s not a tidy linear process at all.

photo of Sarah wearing grey lace cowl and standing under a rainbow coloured umbrella

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 first bought the font you offer, because I didn’t think I deserved to spend so much money on my business to buy the full product. (I’ve since done a lot of work on my limiting beliefs and the weird gate-keeping I do to myself about who or what ‘deserves’ things.) It was the ability to paint a stitch pattern in, rather than laboriously creating it box-by-box that tipped me over into buying the full Stitchmastery.

I love the ability to copy and repeat sections, to build up a swath of the fabric and see how that interacts with the shaping. As I said, I’m an “on the needles” designer, but making big charts and trying things out full size does help me work things out without having to knit hundreds of stitches.

And can we talk about the utter fabulousness of not having to translate a chart into written directions? Oh, the brain that saves. The mistakes it avoids.

5) Please tell us about your latest publication or next exciting project!

No one who knows me will be surprised that I’m working on another gnome! I didn’t set out to be a gnome designer. I had visions of cowls, mittens, hats, and shawls dripping off my needles. But gnomes are ridiculous fun and they bring out a playfulness in people that loans itself easily to community-building. We don’t take ourselves too seriously in the gnome world, and that’s very good for the human soul. The latest Gnome Mystery Knitalong has just launched:

Photo of a knitted gnome

Learn more about Sarah:

You can visit Sarah’s website, follow her on Instagram, and find her designs on Ravelry, on Payhip or on Etsy.

2 thoughts on “Interview series 27 – Sarah Schira of Imagined Landscapes”

  1. I am interested in your latest KAL…having just finished my 3rd Gnome of your design….Gnome PUN INTENDED…!! I have never done a KAL and your presentation of it was found when I was on the instructional You tube for the beard instructions…yes it was magical !!

    I don’t do Facebook or other social media….but am on Ravelery. What do I do to sign up for this latest KAL……

    LOVE YOUR GNOME designs…have the patterns for 2 more !! Eileen Kelly

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