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Interview series 35 – Lilia Vanini of LiliaCraftParty

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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 – Lilia Vanini of Lilia Craft Party


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

I grew up watching my grandmother and aunt knit. I always liked crafts, embroidery, knitting, sewing and drawing too. I learned to knit from them and from school. In my 20s I started knitting for me, cardigans and sweaters. My life has not been easy at all, I can say that I have immigrated 2 times, once to USA and the second time to Italy where I currently live. For many years I did not touch needles or yarn and I forget completely about knitting. Now I realize that I should have started before!

When I came to live in Italy, I started an online business selling handmade handbags, after a while it became a women’s accessories boutique and among the products I had a knitted hat. One day a customer sent me an email and asked me a question, do you have the knitting pattern for that cute newsboy style hat? That was my first written knitting pattern and one of the most popular, the Claire Newsboy Hat, a lovely newsboy brim hat for girls and women. I started knitting again and my passion was reborn but this time to stay with me, keeping me company all the time and making my full time job too.

adult wearing mint-coloured handknit scarf with all-over lace design

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

I have this formula – inspiration plus colour plus surface. By surface, I mean whether I choose to work a texture or lace, brioche, cables, etc. The next step is to choose which garment I am going to knit or crochet. The other factor of inspiration for me is to create garments that are good for all types of body. Not all of us have a perfect figure, we are short, tall, chubby, thin, medium, short or tall neck and so on, to infinity! So I try to create garments that favour the silhouette of women, and for that I have little secrets that I apply to my designs and patterns. We all want to feel beautiful, comfortable, chic and sexy, why not?

Adult wearing magenta handknit cardigan with criss-cross lace design on front

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?

When I have and start an idea, the most important of all is: swatch, swatch, swatch! I have had bad experiences by not swatching before starting work. It is better to swatch not only to observe the gauge, but also to see how the yarn and colour will work with the design – this is necessary. After that, what I prefer to do is knit or crochet the garment and write the pattern at the same time. For me it is the best and safest way to get a good result. Usually I work my charts on a piece of paper first, then I knit the piece, and after that, using the fabulous Stitchmastery software, I complete the pattern.

Turqouise blue knitted drawstring bag with a white band around the middle, decorated with red flowers.

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?

Stitchmastery really saved my life! I was looking for a while, until I decided to try it, and soon I found that is easy to learn how this software works and how to make professional charts that all designers want to have in our patterns. What I love most is all the options on offer and we are free to edit or modify the same chart many times. Also I can save my charts in multiple file formats. One of the other features I use most frequently is the ability to convert the chart and written instructions, as I try to include both in my patterns where possible.

Also I love the fact that we can have our own personal stitch library, that is a huge timesaver for me, because I don’t have to look all over the stitches to make my patterns. It’s also great to create mosaic charts – I have used mosaic in a few of my patterns like Autumn Fades Shawl which was a Pattern of the Month on LoveCrafts in November 2021, love it! Right now this shawl is in a local yarn store in Manhattan, New York – I am so proud!

cream coloured baby knit cardigan with sloping cables on front. It is laid around a red dress on a coathanger.

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

I have a few things to share! I just published my new shawl – Madame Butterfly Shawl (pictured below), using lace and of course using my Stitchmastery software. I created this shawl for my godmother, so she will be super happy to use it! There is a 25% discount using the code BUTTERFLY until 31st May 2022 – find the Madame Butterfly Shawl on Ravelry.

Another thing I would like to start soon, and hope I have time to do it, is my embroidery journey, I love embroidery and I want to apply it on my designs, so soon you will see some adorable embroidery designs on my baby garments and maybe in other items too. Other projects? Yes! I don’t want to say too much, as it is really an idea that I’m making in collaboration with my husband. All I can tell you is that you and your family and friends, knitters and non-knitters, will have lots of fun and will be entertained for hours! Please stay tuned on this coming idea, the best way is to follow me on Instagram!

Finally I have to say thank you to the Stitchmastery team for this interview and for this opportunity. And to all of you, I wish you all the best all the time, if you have any questions about my patterns do not hesitate to contact me, I love to help the knitting and crafts community!

coral orange shawl draped around a mannequin. It has a deep lace edging.

Learn more about Lilia:

You can find out more about Lilia on her website, and her patterns are available there, on Ravelry and on Etsy . She can be found as @LiliaCraftParty on Instagram.

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