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.