Thursday, 17 January 2013

Cuppa & Cake with Sylvia (Knitting Pattern Designer)

Hello Lovelies!

Nooooow, do I have a treat for you?!  Thats a rhetorical question, of course I do!

Whether it's the simple yet pretty designed shawl, the gorgeous brightly coloured photographs, or that half shaved pink hair that I so desperately wish my massive curly mane would mould itself into, Sylvia managed to carry out a photoshoot which makes me want to keep on clicking through.

I adore Autumn and Winter.  It gives the crispest sunlight, the freshest greens and that smell. That winter smell of cold things.  That smell of autumn when the leaves are almost melting on the ground as the snow soon will do too.  The smell of dusty ground on a warm autumn evening, the same ground which will carry the frost covered remains of leaves once winter arrives.

The Lonely Tree shawl by Sylvia Bo Bilvia

The Lonely Tree shawl by Sylvia Bo Bilvia

Sylvia recently published this 'Lonely Tree Shawl' pattern here on Ravelry, where it has become an extremely popular scarf pattern for beginners and experienced knitters alike.

She works at Baaad Anna's yarn store, and has recently begun a photography course, which we can hopefully follow on her pretty blog!

This week, I had a little chat with Sylvia about her knitting craze!

Hey!  So what are you knitting at the moment?

I am knitting so much stuff it isn't really even funny. I'm not usually a twenty project at a time gal, but that actually sounds about right. I think I have twenty projects on the go right now.

The most interesting of which are a stole pattern and another lace triangle shawl pattern, As well as a lace blanket, and a cowl-y, cape-y thing which doesn't really make a lot of sense yet, but it's on a pair of needles! I'm making a lot of stuff up right now, I'm in a bit of a knitting learning curve and so I'm knitting a bit like mad!

And what's your favourite cake to bake? Are you a tea or coffee gal?

I love food, and I love eating food, but I have to say I'm not especially good at preparing food. That being said, I have a gluten-free chocolate cake recipe which I adore. Once you remove the flour from the mix you get an easy, delicious cake to bake!

I love tea, I love british sweet tea with lots of milk and sugar in it. Love it, but I have to say that despite that, I am through and through a coffee girl. I've got my daily shpeal that I'll say to anyone whose listening about how I'm trying to cut down (at that point I'll take a sip of the coffee I'm holding) I can't really ever successfully cut down. I worry that if I stop drinking coffee I'll turn to something worse... but that's what I say about knitting too. Thank god it's just a coffee and knitting addiction and not an addiction to say, flashing people or something embarrassing like that.

Worst of it is that I just absolutely love iced, blended coffee, and that stuff isn't cheap!

I first came across your patterns when you published the Lonely Tree Shawl on Ravelry and it remains my favourite!  Which piece really captures your heart?

Hmm...  this is hard to say because they've all got interesting stories behind them, it's probably my All About Love shawl. That one was an intense pattern to write because I was just getting out of a three year relationship, and when I started designing it, he was helping me design it, and by the time I had finished it, we were split up and I was living at my mum's place. I was very depressed, having had my life shift so quickly (and unpleasantly), but a friend recommended I read this book by bell hooks (she doesn't capitalize her name) her book was called All About Love. 

And it's about what it sounds like, it's all about love, and her radical re-imagining of it. For someone who was heartbroken, and who was losing faith in love, it was an important read to me. It's critical and cynical in all the right ways, but also it doesn't devalue love too. Written by a feminist! Love it.

The Lonely Tree shawl by Sylvia Bo Bilvia

That being said, the Lonely Tree shawl was an inspired pattern. I came up with it, designed it and knit it full of passion (and maybe some frustration). The idea for the photographs came to me before I had even started knitting it, and I knew what I wanted right away from it. And I think I was able to achieve it pretty perfectly! That's been happening more and more where I envision the photographs before I even start knitting it. I have one in the works that's going to be set in an old, somewhat decrepit house with very white pure lighting. I even have a few locations in mind! Hoping to get the same woman who did my Lonely Tree photos to model. That might be a way down the road though, that pattern has been giving me grief! I've already bought four different types of yarn (an aran, worsted, dk, and sock) trying to get the right gauge! So it goes I guess :)

What's your favourite knitting pattern?

Hmm, I love a lot of patterns. I'll say that the one that I have knit the most is probably the Summer Flies Shawl. I have knit a huge amount of those for friends and family. Like probably ten. I went through a phase where I could knit one in a couple of days. It's a lovely pattern for beginners because it has very little repeating lace in it, so you can just fudge it if you end up with the wrong number of stitches at the end, which the pattern conveniently puts on every row for you. Very well written.

Jared Flood is a huge inspiration for me, his photographs are always so beautiful. I have a mix of awe and motivation when I see them, a good combination. Major inspiration. Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People is like candy to me. When they come up with a new one I will drop whatever it is that I'm doing and browse for ages. Their newest one (Wool People 4) is stunning! I'd love to one day design for them. Lovely.

We spotted pictures of you at a craft fair recently, do you have any more lined up?

I don't actually!  I did the Culture Crawl this fall, but it was exhausting, and I was finding that selling knitting things wasn't really working. People in Vancouver are knitters now, if they aren't a knitter they know a knitter, so I was having a lot of people come up to me and say “I could knit that!” next year I'll be selling my patterns there instead!

I'm looking forward to more lovely shawls from Sylvia :)
Do you have any favourite patterns / designers?

Hope you're not all as freezing as I am here! (Edinburgh is very very very cold right now :/)

Amanda :) x

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