5 minutes with...Sweet Paprika Designs

As part of the Indie Design Giftalong 2015 I am featuring short interviews with a few designers I have come across during the event. Today we have Elizabeth Sullivan aka Sweetpaprika on Ravelry

What is the thing you enjoy most about being a designer?
I love the creative process and trying to transform ideas from my head into actuality. Sometimes more successfully than others, but that’s all part of the process. I also love seeing people make and enjoy my designs.

©Sweet Paprika Designs

Where does your inspiration come from?
Everywhere! Often a yarn or a stitch pattern inspires me, but when I’m actively searching for ideas I start looking at everything around me: colour combinations of my son’s toys, sewer grates while out for a walk, embroidery motifs, vintage clothing shaping, street fashion… It’s kind of like my brain starts buzzing and everything becomes a possible starting point for a new design.

What is the one thing you wish you had known when you started out designing?
I started trying to design stuff for myself as a teenager, long before I ever thought of publishing a pattern. I wish I’d known a bit more about garment construction back then. I think it would have saved me a lot of half-finished sweaters! Socks and hats were my most successful early design attempts.

Which is your favourite design and why?
That’s such a tough question! One of my designs that I’m most proud of is Leif the Lucky because it was kind of an accidental design. I had three colours of yarn leftover that I wanted to make into a hat for my brother as a Christmas present. I wanted it to be really warm so decided to work it in double knitting, threw in some Latvian braid and once I knew I had enough yarn left added earflaps. I love the way it turned out and I probably wouldn’t have chosen the construction method I did if I’d had unlimited yarn of each colour, but it really worked for this design. Plus my brother loved it too and it’s always satisfying to know that a knitted gift is well appreciated!

If you could invite 3 designers to dinner, who would you choose?
I’ve met and worked with so many people online that I’ve never met in real life and it would be so great to sit down and have dinner with them all. Maybe not all at once though – that would be a big dinner!
If I had to choose only 3: Barbara Walker (my knitting hero), Jennifer Wood (who I’ve been working with for several years now), and Julia Trice (I’ve long admired both her designs and her articulate and supportive Ravelry posts).

Instagram ID: sweetpaprikadesigns

5 minutes with Corrine Walcher

As part of my participation in the Indie Designer GAL I have a series of '5 minute interviews' lined up with a few designers whose work caught my eye.

First up we have Corrine Walcher aka Gingy on Ravelry who has a great range of designs including socks and accessories.
Designs by Corrine Walcher

What is the thing you enjoy most about being a designer?
I love that I can make people happy with things that come out of my brain, and that I can work from home while taking care of my family. It’s really a luxury. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I love the math for sizing. And I hate it too, but mostly I love it for keeping my brain active.

Where does your inspiration come from?
Everywhere! I see patterns in nature, I see interesting shapes, and I want to turn that into something tactile. Sometimes it’s a theme or fictional or historical character assigned to me by a dyer for a club, and I’ll let my imagination go from there.

What is the one thing you wish you had known when you started out designing?
I always thought knitting design was magical - think of the first time you turned a heel - until I got a good grasp on the fundamentals. Once I had the knowledge that it isn’t really magic, it sort of fell into place. Or maybe it is magic, and I’ve just learned how to harness it.

Which is your favourite design and why?
My favorite design of my own? I think Key Largo. It’s the first time I really challenged myself and wrote a multi-sized pattern aside from a sock. I’ve knit a lot of sweaters - a lot, seriously - but I wanted something just mine. Serendipitously, Mrs. Crosby Plays needed something in one of their new bases, and contacted me.
Key Largo by Corrine Walcher

If you could invite 3 designers to dinner, who would you choose?
Cat Bordhi - she turned me into a sock knitter. I learned to knit with two circulars for her and now I churn out a pair of socks in a couple of days. Before that, with dpns, I felt like I was wrestling an octopus. And I’ll tell you, nobody else does a knitting video like her. When I do a provisional cast-on, I’m singing “Waaaaaaaaay up high! Waaaaay down low” in my head.

Elizabeth Zimmerman - I suspect we are very much alike. No-nonsense, get-it-done sort of people. Alas I’m too late for her to join me.

Maureen Foulds - she’s one of my dearest friends but we live far apart. She’s been instrumental in my designs from day one: helping with aspects I didn’t quite grasp, proof reading, even test knitting and helping with my advertising.

A big thank you to Corrine for answering my nosy questions. If you would like to follow her on social media she is on Twitter and Instagram as well as on Ravelry.

Indie Designer Giftalong 2015

Aaand..they're off

The 3rd annual Indie Design Giftalong has now started over on Ravelry.

335 designers from 30 countries have combined to offer a fabulous 25% discount on selected patterns. Use code giftalong2015 at checkout from Thursday, November 19th at 8:00 pm US EST - Friday, November 27, 2015 at 11:59 pm US ES.

Louise Tilbrook Designs: GAL Patterns
As well as the sale and the chance to find some new-to-you designers there are KALs, competitions and general chatter happening over on the Indie Design Giftalong group.

 As you might expect I'll be hanging out in the thread related to sock and other foot/leg patterns but I can never resist checking out all the other amazing patterns - and I do need a new hat for winter....

Socks for men: Part I

Full disclosure here. I have started to write this piece twice now and each time I have deleted it. Why? Simply put, I have been trying to write a piece on knitting socks for men but each time I do it sounds trite and stereotypical. There is no average man any more than there is an average woman, and I would never dream of writing a piece on knitting socks for women.

That being said it does seem as though men are often under-served in the sock pattern department and that is one reason why I strive to ensure that the majority of my patterns are unisex. A quick whizz through the Ravelry search for 'Socks' shows 14,812 patterns (at the time of writing) and 209 pages.
Sock patterns by gender tag, Ravelry, October 2015

Of these only 1,848 (39 pages) have the 'male' tag as compared to the 'female' tag: 6,445 patterns (135 pages) or the 'unisex' tag: 6,519 patterns (136 pages).

Obviously some patterns, like many of mine are tagged with all three but whichever way you look at it is seems to be that men are getting a bit of a raw deal when it comes to choice for sock patterns.

As I started to think about knitting socks specifically for men, a number of common misconceptions started to occur to me:

There is an often perpetuated myth that men will only wear dark grey/black socks. Whilst that may be true in a corporate environment, the pattern pages on ravelry are full of men rocking more colourful socks and I know that my husband, whilst he does wear dark socks with business suits he loves to chill out in his hotel room or on the plane with a fab pair of handknit socks. He has even had cabin crew try to buy them off him before now. For every man who only wears dark, plain socks I'm sure there are several who will happily sport a bright self stripe.

Unisex patterns: Louise Tilbrook Designs 

Cables are generally a winner too as long as though don't add too much bulk when worn in shoes and aren't too "twiddly". This is my husband's technical term for cables which are deemed by him to be over-complicated.

Cables have the added advantage of making you look super clever. After all, not only can you knit amazingly warm and well fitting socks but you can move the stitches about and bend them to your will. You are a veritable sock ninja!

What do you look for in a good mens sock pattern? I'd love to know. Please do leave me a comment here or via social media.


The Expresso socks were inspired by two great loves of my life - coffee and self-striping yarn.

Expresso -Louise Tilbrook Designs

The yarn came first. Dyed by Michelle of Berry Colorful Yarnings, this colourway called Cafe au Lait, really spoke to me and as soon as it arrived I couldn't wait to cast it on.

I do love a good self-striping yarn as you know but this time I felt the urge to vary things a little and move away from my usual plain vanilla, toe-up, magic loop socks. I divided the sock into vertical colums and added a travelling cable. Not so much as to break up those beautiful wide bands of colour, but enough to add interest and a little bit of texture.

And I have to say that I am really pleased with the finished product. I love that they are completely unisex and that even my husband asked if I could do a pair in his size.

They are toe-up - in my quest to convert sock knitters everywhere to the way of the toe-up sock and sized for 7", 8" and 9" foot circumference.

Until 11th September 2015 I am offering a 25% discount if you use the code ILOVECOFFEE at checkout. If you wanted to subscribe to the newsletter - I am offering an exclusive discount for subscribers so now might be a good time to sign up.

And in case you are wondering about the name. My lovely Grandma who taught me to knit would often come out with the funniest things when we were out and about. She would get one word mixed up with another - called malapropisms I believe - often with hilarious consequences. She would often tell people, when she reached the ripe old age of 75 that she still had all her 'facilties' (she meant faculties).
Whenever she was in a coffee shop she never drank anything stronger than a cappuccino but was fascinated by the small, strong, dark Espresso. She always insisted though that it was called an Expresso and it became a bit of a family joke.

Sadly my Grandma is no longer with us but these socks remind me of her, her wit and warmth and her generosity in teaching me somthing which has become so important to me.

Cheers Nana

The July Shrug

If you haven't yet found the lovely people over at Baa Ram Ewe you really ought to give their website a look. Not least because, in a radical move I have designed a shrug pattern for them to showcase their amazing 4ply yarn - Titus.

The July shrug uses 1-2 skeins of yarn (the small size with short sleeves can be knit in just 1 skein) and can be bought either as the pattern only, or as a kit with the yarn you would like.

The July shrug - pictured on the Baa Ram Ewe website
Titus is a wonderful blend of Wenslydale, Alpaca and Blue Faced Leicester and is available in a fab range of solid colours. In addition the talented indie dyer Joy from the Knitting Goddess has created a one-off range of overdyed yarns - Titus Goddess especially to showcase the collection.

Anyway, do pop over and take a look. I'd love to know what you think.