Saturday, December 5, 2015

What Do Five Kids, a Working Farm, and Yarn Equal?

It's December 5th, folks. Just twenty days to Giftmas, even less to the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere. We're now into the gray, rainy dog days of winter here in the Pacific Northwest, so for my next designer interview, I went to the southern hemisphere - New Zealand, to be specific. This designer/indie dyer is still relatively new to the design world, and she is feeling the way most new-ish designers feel: like, am I really a designer? Can I actually do this? Of course, Holly has a farm and a menagerie of little children to make the brew oh-so-much-more interesting! So, grab a quick cup of your favorite beverage, and get to know Holly Stevens of Hollyberry Designs/Yarns, with the next installment of:

The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire
with Designer and Indie Dyer Holly Stevens

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background before you started to design knitwear and dye yarn?
Before I started to dye and design I was still super busy being a mother to my 5 little people. We also have a farming business so I do the admin, calf rearing and often help with milking. It’s generally chaos in my house but I don’t think I would have it any other way. I have a bachelor of education in primary teaching and hope to one day get back into it but that won’t be until all of my wee birdies have left the stay at home nest and are at school themselves.

The adorable Chloe Slouch from Holly Stevens
  1. When was the moment you knew you wanted to become a designer?
To be completely honest I never thought I would. I remember not long after I had had my youngest, Grace, I mentioned to a friend who was great at improvising knitted fruit that I just didn’t think I could do it and following patterns instead of writing them was more me. After the years of baby brain started to clear I bought a lovely knitting magazine that included a pull out section about designing your own hat – it kind of spiraled out of control from there! I did get a bit of an “I told you that you could do it” message from my friend a while back!

  1. Please describe your personal knit design and dye philosophy?
I very much design and dye things that I love. I have a set of colourways that I did based on Game of thrones (which I love) - it was very popular and from then on I decided that I would dye based on my preferences - that way I would form my own style that was unique to me. I tend to lean towards darker and muted colourways but sometimes I pop out of my little box and do some brights. I went through a fluro range just recently and that was quite fun! As far as knits go having so many models at home to use makes it easy to check as I go that things are functional and the fit is correct. I design a lot on necessity based on what I or my kids need at the time.

An example of Hollyberry Yarns' gradient dying
  1. What is your greatest design memory?
It probably goes back to when I first started and I was doing my first garments, Toby and Gracie-pie, I did all the numbers first on my trusty excel sheet working out stitch counts and gauge and then started knitting. It felt like such an achievement and almost a light bulb moment to have all the numbers and maths translate into actual knitting that worked and fitted!

  1. If you could have dinner with any three designers, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?
Wow - that is a tricky question! I would love to meet up and pick the brains of Justyna Lorkowska and Georgie Hallam about kids knits. Oh, and definitely Andi Satterlund as I love all things vintage inspired and would love to chat to her about adult garments as one day I would love to try my hand at that - but I just don't feel confident enough quite yet!

  1. Thrower or picker?
A thrower most of the time, but I pick and throw if I am doing colourwork.

  1. It’s your last object to design (or dye). What is it, and what fiber/color do you use?
Oh definitely merino cashmere, it's my absolute favourite. I would love to wear it every day of the week (sometimes I do!) and it would HAVE to be red, a deep dark red, if it wasn’t I would not be very true to myself!

The Bobby Hoodie designed by Holly Stevens

  1. What trait do you most admire in designers?
The ability to be able to write the most complex and innovative design characteristics, some things that people come up with are truly amazing!

  1. What trait do you most detest in designers?
See answer 8! I am actually rather jealous of some of the things that people can design, I don’t feel like I'm quite there yet a lot of the time, but that comes with practice for me – a lot of people are amazing naturally. I have to try extremely hard to be above average haha!

  1. You are recommending a design gift in response to a friend’s inquiry. Other than your own designs (which are quite beautiful!), what would you recommend?
For an adult garment I would fully recommend Chuck by Andi Satterlund, I just made myself one and its such a quick knit and so versatile over skirts and dresses, I love it! I plan to make many for myself in lots of different colours.

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