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Interview series 41 – Makenzie Alvarez

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Photo of Makenzie smiling to 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 – Makenzie Alvarez of Hanks And Needles

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

From the beginning of my knitting adventure it has been a rarity for me to follow a pattern. I enjoy putting different stitches and techniques together, likely due to my art background. I would look through knitting books and stitch dictionaries, completely fascinated by all the ways a couple of stitches could do so much.

The beginning of my design journey started, as many do, with simple things like blankets and fingerless mitts. When I started getting approached for patterns, I just kinda ran with it and haven’t stopped yet. As my skills have grown so have my patterns; they are more detailed and filled with fun stitches that keep you wanting to knit ‘just one more row’!

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

There are so many wonderful things to be inspired by, we just need to take a pause and see it. When perusing my catalog of work, you will find I am constantly inspired by nature, architecture, photography, really any and all forms of fine art! Using these inspirations, my love of lines and color combine together to create wearable, cozy knits.

Close up photo of adult wearing a cowl with V front, and brioche details

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?

My approach to each design depends on the techniques and complexity. For simple designs I have a tendency to dive right in and design as I go, similar to an artist with a paintbrush, and allow the textures and colors come to life as the work progresses.

The more intricate a design, which usually involves cables or brioche, I will chart out the design before I cast on. I love working with charts because I can see how the design will grow and flow across the fabric; charts allow me to see the patten before I have even started.

Then there are times when multiple sizes, or just specific math, is involved. This is when I am a bit more methodical by creating multiple swatches, charts and grading, then knit through what I’ve mapped out, being sure to check my calculations as I go.

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?

As a very visual person, I taught myself to knit cables by using charts but knew many knitters who preferred knitting from written instructions. I was looking to find a program where I could create knitting charts that would also generate that chart into written form. When I stumbled across Stitchmastery it was love at first chart! It is a true time-saver. I enjoy drawing out the charts and watch the program just magically create that chart into a written format to match!!!

If there was one thing I wish it was possible to do, it would be being able to draw unique symbols ourselves or add multiple colors to one stitch, such as cable with two different colors being worked.

Makenzie wearing a large grey knitted shawl with bold cables

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

My needles are constantly working on new designs! I have 4 new patterns coming in October but have recently released two patterns filled with some of my favorite things…cables and brioche!

Biophilia (pictured above) is a pattern inspired by my love of nature and life, combining that love with my passion for cables and knitting, this shawl is truly a work that is close to my heart.

Welkin (pictured near top) is the perfect cozy knit inspired from taking walks along the sandy shores and losing yourself in the salty breeze, as it melts away the stresses of your world and brings you a sense of calm. Mixing brioche and garter in a super-wearable piece that can span the seasons, this is an approachable design for any level knitter that just flies off the needles.

Learn more about Makenzie:

You can find Makenzie’s designs on Ravelry and on Payhip. You can keep up to date with her on Instagram and on her website.

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