Interview: Naomi Parkhurst, Gannet Designs.
I first met Naomi during the 2014 GAL. Since then we’ve become friends, I’ve woven her secret code stitch patterns into many of my own designs, and we’ve collaborated on several projects.
What got you started designing?
My family in general in places a high priority on being able to do traditional crafts, and one piece of that includes a strong emphasis on being able to modify patterns and improvise one’s own. In my childhood this was intensified because none of the sewing patterns for dolls fit my dolls and stuffed animals, so I had to learn to make my own patterns.
Fast forward to when I finally took up knitting in my thirties. I learned some basic recipes for socks and bags and things, and starting just improvising my own patterns. I posted pictures on LiveJournal, and people asked me for patterns. I like sharing, so I quickly dashed off some badly-written patterns and stuck them up. (These are currently unavailable or have been rewritten, depending.) After I joined Ravelry, I found a local knitting group, who also encouraged me to make patterns for the things I made.
Combine that with working part-time, and then quitting my paid job when I started homeschooling my son, and selling patterns seemed like the way to go. Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot from other designers on Ravelry and from a book or two about pattern-writing, and so I’m not embarrassed by my pattern-writing anymore.
What are your favourite parts of the process?
I like thinking of unusual but practical shapes and then trying to make them into shawls. I enjoy solving problems or coming up with something slightly quirky and then figuring out how to turn it into a pattern. Most of all, I like seeing other knitters’ interpretations of my work.
And the challenging parts?
Scheduling the photography is one major problem. Actually sitting down and writing out the pattern for a sample. And figuring out which of the many ideas I have to work on next.
What would you like to explore (or do more of) in the future?
I would very much like to do more work with my hexagon lace ideas, both shawls that are pictures (kind of like Niebling’s work, but in my own style – this feels hubristic, and yet it seems like a worthy goal) and things that involve code work.
Do you have a favourite design?
I suspect this is a pretty common answer, but it’s usually whatever I’ve worked on most recently. At the moment that’s Suffrage, though I am also particularly fond of New Hope Creek, which is a good way to tone down a difficult yarn and which fits nicely over the shoulders.
Have you decided what you’ll knit for this year’s GAL?
I’m starting out with Lisa Chemery’s Boy Sweater (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/boy-sweater), and then plan to knit Elwood, by Jenny Wiebe (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/elwood), and then, who knows? There are thousands of amazing patterns in the GAL.
Thank you so much for the interview!