The Needle Bee



Meet knit designer Andrea Hilton.

Knitting, Knitting Patterns, DesignersBrenda Reynoso PenaComment

Hello Friends,

Today I bring you a great interview with knitwear designer Andrea Hilton. I met Andrea in the fiber muse sanctuary FB group hosted by Aroha Knits. Right away I checked her Ravelry page and her blog. Her designs and personality made my heart sing! I thought OMG I could laugh and talk to her all day. I am sure you will enjoy reading about Andrea's life and  her designs.

Tell me about yourself. How long have you been knitting?

I am a knitting addict. I truly wish knitting burned more calories so I didn’t have to perpetually fret and subsequently ignore the fact that this obsession of mine does NOT count as exercise. (Although I have taken up knitting socks while walking and so far haven’t stabbed my eye out with a teeny tiny needle. So there’s that.) Even my four-year-old knows how important knitting is to me. He always reminds me to pack my knitting whenever we take a trip. Not that I would ever forget.

I live in a super duper small town in (far) northern California near the Trinity River. It’s a quiet way of life without stop lights or traffic. Squirrels outnumber people. When I am not knitting, I manage a ridiculously oversized vegetable garden and orchard (you’d think we were trying to feed an army…), take long walks with my son, and spend the warm summer months floating in crystal clear bodies of water. I also work part time at a “normal” job to help pay the bills. I am fairly certain that I do an astronomical amount of dishes and picking up of ridiculously small Lego parts. (Remind me why toy manufactures haven’t invented a Lego vacuum yet…?)

As a working mother, I honestly do not have that much time to devote to knitting and designing. I carve out what I can and do my best. I have a to-do list that will always be longer than I am tall (although to my defense, I am quite short). I am proud of the work that I do and generally believe in myself. I know someday when my son is older and I have more time to devote to my craft, I just might make some progress on that list of mine.



What made you take the next step and start designing knitting patterns?

I started designing knitting patterns because I failed to do market research and actually thought it was a viable business plan.

(I will pause while you stop laughing and catch your breath.)

You can read all about my Big Start here, but basically I thought I could design a pattern once, sell it, and make money. This was nearly four years ago. I quickly learned it’s incredibly hard to be financially successful as a designer and actually sell patterns in a very oversaturated market. It takes a lot of hustle, perhaps more so than actual designing.

Pure determination and willpower has kept me going. Oprah said successful people do what they love. Well, I love knitting, so I’m hoping Oprah was right. (In the meantime, I drink wine to mitigate my lack of financial success and otherwise bolster my pride.)


What is your design process? Do you look at the yarn first and then think about the pattern? How do you find inspiration?

I like simple patterns and modern (but not too weird) designs. Less is more. I tend to select stitches with texture but not busyness. I typically stay away from intricate cables. They’ve never appealed to me.

Like all designers, I probably spend way too much time flipping through stitch dictionaries, swatching and generally trying new things. I keep a Knitting Journal where I jot down my ideas and stitch patterns that I want to incorporate into future designs. Then I throw all my Nice, Neat Organization out the window when I impulsively buy yarn that I frantically whip into something generally unplanned.

What do you like to knit when you are not designing? Do you have a needle preference?

My personal knitting queue is painfully long. I knit two “for fun” knitting projects this past year: Rosemont by Hannah Fettig (a cardigan) and Sheltered by Andrea Mowry (a poncho). I loved both! Designing sweaters is well beyond my skill level at this point, but I love knitting them.

I finally broke down and bought a ChiaoGoo Twist needle set this past spring for my birthday. The skies have parted and the sun is beaming down on me! These things rock. I love knitting on sharp, metal needles and will likely never go back to wood or bamboo. They take too much time. I also like Addi Turbo Lace needles!


Where can people find you? Ravelry? Instagram? Blog?

Folks can find me all over the place! I have a Ravelry Group and am on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. My blog, Life, is This Knitted here. Always stop by if you need a good laugh. I will do my best not to disappoint.

I hope you enjoyed Andrea's interview as much as I did. I love meeting new people in the knitting community.

Happy Knitting!

An interview with Knitwear designer Jacinta Amutsa

Knitting, DesignersBrenda Reynoso Pena1 Comment

I have exciting news to share with you this week. I want you to meet Jacinta Amutsa, another member of the #initiateknitdesign challenge hosted by Francoise Danoy from Aroha Knits.

Jacinta’s story is very interesting and after her participation in this challenge, we can see her talent with her first design the Urembo cowl . Let me tell you, this cowl  is incredible well thought of with details that are rarely found in new designers.

As you can see below, the cowl has cables - and you know how much I love cables- and a very cute stitch design. Let's find out more about this beautiful pattern and Jacinta.

1. Jacinta, could you please tell  me a bit about you? How long have you been knitting?

My name is Jacinta Amutsa. I was born and raised in Kenya. I am a self-taught knitter.I started knitting last year after a heartbreak. Being a college student, I had too much time on my hands. It was all I could do to keep my mind off the thoughts of blaming myself and draining in sorrow. I realised that I was more of a creative person and sought Youtube to learn something new. Knitting came easy for me because I love stuff to do with the hands.I think of knitting every minute of the day even when am knitting. It is part of who I am. I have always loved creating stuff and when I started knitting, I realised I could incorporate my creativity in it. At that time, I wasn't an experienced knitter since I was starting out. But I never gave up. I used to look at knitwear and wonder how that designer came up with the beautiful design. I wanted to create something so bad but I didn't know how or where to begin. I  would read blogs, admire knit designers while I sat in my aspiring corner wishing I was like them. I would knit a more challenging project than the last until I gained more confidence in reading patterns and charts. A few months ago, I came across the Initiate Knit Design challenge by Francoise Danoy. I took the challenge and learnt how to come up with a design and eventually creating a pattern. That was how Urembo Cowl Pattern was born.2. What made you decide to take that next step and start designing  knitting patterns?

I have always admired knitwear designers since I fell in love with knitting. At that particular time, I was not confident enough to start the process of designing. I was new in it and decided to knit more until I learnt the ins and outs of knitting. The challenges I faced included reading patterns abbreviations and charts. The knitting patterns eventually became easier to read but it took some time before I could read charts. I was still shy of trying to create something. I was never going to be ready if I kept hiding behind the "am not confident yet" statement.

So I made up my mind and took a leap with the initiate knit challenge. I realised that this opportunity knocked at the right time and if I let it pass, I would regret it for the rest of my life. This is the description for my first pattern. My pattern involves picking up stitches. I have always wanted to combine cable and lace in one item and that is what inspired me to design this cowl.It is a very interesting knit and the knitter will enjoy the pattern as well as the beautiful finished item because of its simplicity and design.

I have always wanted to design something and when this idea popped, I took a leap and designed it. I love both cables and lace and thought why not make something out of it. That was the big inspiration behind Urembo cowl.The name Urembo is a swahili word for beauty. After I finished knitting the cowl, I couldn't believe how cute it had turned out. I was so proud, excited and nervous that I couldn't help but say "what a beauty you are!".I was literally talking to it. That is when a bulb lit in my head and the word beauty fitted so well. But I didn't want to give it the common word so I translated it to Swahili and Urembo Cowl pattern was born.


3. What is your design process?

My design process: Inspiration and sketching- I find inspiration and sketch the shape of what I want my pattern to look like. I write all the details I want for my pattern including the color of the yarn, stitches, and how to incorporate the stitch to my design.

 Swatching- I knit a swatch based on my sketch and all the details I wrote down. This swatch gives me an idea of how the final piece will look like .

Calculation- After swatching, I calculate the the length and height of my design.

Knitting- Once I determine the measurements of my design, I knit it up based on my draft pattern. This helps in ensuring accuracy of the pattern and then writing up the pattern.4. Do you look at the yarn first and then think about the pattern? How do you find inspiration?

 I look at the pattern first before I can decide on colour. When it comes to me designing, I am more inspired by fashion, stitches, nature and photographs. I don't limit my imagination when I want to come up with a pattern.  5. Do you have a needle preference? How about Crochet? Do you also design crochet patterns?-

No, I don't have a preference when it comes to needles. What I focus on is the magic the needles, yarn and creativity give birth to.

6. Where can people find you?

Ravelry: JacintaAmutsa Instagram:  Jamutsaknits Facebook  Jamutsa Knits and Pinterest Jamutsa Knits

I hope you enjoy learning about Jacinta as much as I did. Please share with your friends and make this pattern your next project.

Happy Knitting!