Interviewee – Lauren Rad of A Bee In The Bonnet
1) When did you start designing? Could you give us a potted history of your yarny and designing background?
I started designing in mid 2017, when I was on a conference call at work and was so overwhelmed by the idea for a scarf design that I had to put myself on mute so I could sketch it out quickly. Before that, I’d been knitting for a decade. I took up knitting during my first semester of law school to help cope with stress and then never really put down my needles afterward. Knitting carried me through law school, the bar exam, eight years of a busy litigation practice, and my journey into parenthood. In 2018, I decided to leave law practice so I could teach law classes to high schoolers part time, grow my design business, and spend a little more time with my family. I’ve been designing ever since.
2) Do you have any recurring sources of inspiration or unusual muses for your design work?
Oh yes! I love late Victorian and Edwardian fashion, especially the massive lace collars and cuffs, the frothy white tea dresses with lots of intricate details, and the hats full of ribbons and flowers and feathers. I draw a lot of inspiration for my textures and details from old clothing and fashion plates. I also love Rococo interiors, especially plasterwork, and Eastlake furniture. Minimalism is not my thing, to put it mildly. In the natural world, I have a rose garden that gives me a lot of joy, and they end up influencing my design work a lot, too.
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 jokingly describe myself as a chaos muppet, but it’s a pretty apt descriptor when it comes to my design process. There’s no set workflow at all. Sometimes I’ll just start stitching and see what comes of it. Sometimes I need to chart things out first. I almost never get the pattern fully written before I start stitching. Sometimes I finish knitting the entire thing and put it away for a couple months before writing the pattern (and then deciphering my notes can be a bit of a bear). I keep telling myself I should get more organized about this, but it’s just not how my brain prefers to work. I wrote a blog post about it here a few years ago: https://www.abeeinthebonnet.com/blog/design-tips-for-the-disorganized-knitwear-designer/
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 Stitchmastery because it was the most robust design software I could find. I liked its range of features and the professionalism of the interface. I adore how I can input everything into the chart and have it spit out line-by-line instructions. I’m a chart knitter and think/visualize in charts, so the written instructions aren’t my cup of tea, but I know others really rely on them. I’m glad to have a tool that makes this part of the design process so much easier for me.
5) Please tell us about your latest publication or next exciting project!
There are so many fun projects in the works! I just released the Lucida Socks [pictured below] to the general public after a period of their only being available as part of a sock club. This year I have a lot of socks planned because I’ve decided to just embrace the fact that I love them more than almost anything else. I’ve got a mystery pair coming up on a new base from a yarn dyer friend that will be out in June, so keep your eyes out for that.