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 – Lindsay Lewchuk of Knit Eco Chic
1) When did you start designing? Could you give us a potted history of your knitting and designing background?
Like many in the industry, I had a childhood exposure to knitting from my Baba (dad’s mother) that didn’t take – peach acrylic yarn, plastic needles, and tension so tight it snapped the needles! Flash forward many moons and I found myself in the hospital through months of testing. So many things, like books, weren’t permitted, but they did say yes to a skein of organic cotton and knitting needles. Over the next few months, I knit and frogged that skein to death experimenting and learning the craft. After feeling comfortable with it, I designed a vest for myself with a V neck and waist-shaping. One of the neurologists saw me knitting and said it was one of the best things I could do to help heal my brain – I haven’t stopped since!
A bit later I discovered knitting patterns and dove into knitting all sorts of garments and accessories. I still remember the unencouraging LYS owner who said a particular Berroco tank top with a scarf tie was too advanced for a novice and that I should start with a Garter stitch scarf. I took great satisfaction in finishing the Berroco tank top! That satisfaction became the source of my philosophy that if you love a challenge, are committed and patient and don’t stress the frogging, ahem, learning process, any pattern is conquerable by any level of knitter! Often when I was in treatment and didn’t have access to paper goods, I’d design “on the needles”. Hours, days, and weeks of experimenting lead to what my friend calls a “pattern engineering” style of design.
Back in 2011, when I was introduced to Ravelry I realized that I could publish my own designs. Black Willow Cowl and Scarf was the first pattern I intentionally designed for publication (though not the first published). The Budding Designers Group and a few mentors over the years – Nina Machlin Dayton, Polly Hammond, and Jill Wolcott, were fantastic resources as I learnt about everything that went into a published pattern. Reflection is a bit hazy, but I think just shy of a decade passed between picking up the needles while in the clinic and publishing my first design.
2) Do you have any recurring sources of inspiration or unusual muses for your design work?
God’s creation! Due to my illness, I live isolated from in person society (well before Covid) but am so blessed to occasionally be able to go outside. Gazing out my windows to watch the seasons change, animals play, and birds soar, are all part of the inspiration God displays translating into knits and purls, lace, cables, brioche, and more.
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?
About 5 years into publishing, I made the self-imposed determination to design first, write the pattern, and then check it as I knit. It was an onerous task, to switch up from designing “on the needles,” but one I’m thankful for. Currently I do a mix as health requires more knitting time than writing. It often means I knit some designs more than once, but c’est la vie.
Pictured is my first brioche design… I tend towards the hard end first and then work back towards easier designs, so this one starts with a moebius cast on with 2 colored brioche knitting including shaping stitches.
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?
Recommendations on Ravelry. Originally, I charted in Adobe Illustrator, but then heard there were programs that let you write, which turns it into charts. I personally am a written pattern person. The first one I tried didn’t click. Stitchmastery did! The syntax on the “write it” and “it charts for you” doesn’t flow with my style, but it was so intuitive that I learned how to chart and check the written output to match against what I wanted to see it say (and even now use it to chart for other designers).
A favorite tool that another designer gave me the heads up on is the chart check! I do a lot of shaping and it is SO helpful to know when I’ve balanced out my increases and decreases or have a stitch count change be what I was expecting it to be.
My wishlist for Stitchmastery –
A way to color only certain stitches in a cable.
A cable set of knits and slips.
An progress indicator as to the chart’s output size in inches 😉. More than once I’ve crashed the limits for rows and columns, so a little size aid that changes near the key or something as I add and delete rows/columns would be helpful.
5) Please tell us about your latest publication or next exciting project!
Coming up for Mother’s Day is a rectangular shawl knit on the bias. It features butterfly dip stitches and bobbles floating on a fun bias background. I designed this one especially for camera mom. Throughout this adventure of designing, she and camera dad have been such a blessing helping to make sure the artistic vision God gave me for each design is captured in the images, colors, and design.
The May release will be followed by an eye-catching brioche shawl and some things I hope I’ll be needing in our new home for the first winter (hopefully) in Maine!
Learn more about Lindsay:
You can find Lindsay’s designs on Ravelry, on LoveCrafts and on Payhip, and learn more at www.knitecochic.com and www.habitatforcanaries.org.