Friday, December 8, 2017

It's Gift Making and Light Season

Yes, everyone, it is year five of the Indie Designer Gift-a-long! I am absolutely stunned
that we've hit year five, and that I have participated in the last four gift-making paloozas. 

I made several gifts last season, and this year will be no different; however, I am hoping to get a few of my personal works-in-progress (and so, outside of official GAL submissions) done, as well as perhaps a gift or two for my very self.  Below you'll see the beginnings of several projects, including an epic blanket that is part of a blanket throw down with a fellow designer. I am a lot farther along on the four projects shown below, and I'll update the blog in the next few weeks with my progress and (hopefully!) several finished pieces.

However, because we are celebrating five amazing indie designer gifting seasons, I thought I might go back in the archives and reprint a few of my previous interviews with fellow indie designers. 

So, kicking off this mini trip down interview memory lane, I am reaching back to 2014 (the first year I participated in the GAL), and am reprinting my interview with Mindy Wilkes, human being extraordinaire. 

The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire
With Knit Designer Mindy Wilkes

Mindy (on right) with her sister Tracy
at Rhinebeck in 2014.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background before you started to design knit accessories? 

I was a microbiologist for a consumer product testing company for several years.  I have a degree in Biology and went to graduate school for Microbiology. After my son was born, I went back to work part-time for a few months then made the decision to be a stay at home mom full-time.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to become a knit designer? 

After finishing and releasing my first design (which came about only because I couldn't find an existing pattern for what I wanted to make), I was completely hooked on designing.

Please describe your personal knit design philosophy? 

I don't design things I wouldn't like to knit. It's why I haven't done any sweater designs. I'm just not much of a sweater knitter; I like small projects.

What is your greatest knit (or design) memory? 

I think it would be when I received my first acceptance from a magazine. I'm pretty sure I embarrassed the hell out of my husband when I read that e-mail. We were eating lunch out, and when I saw my acceptance e-mail, I was really excited and I may have done a little dance. Maybe. (insert happy face)

If you could have dinner with any three designers, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?

I'm going to cheat and pick 4 designers. My dinner dates would be Heather Zoppetti, Corrina Ferguson, Katherine Vaughan (who is also my tech editor), and Barbara Benson. We're all friends in real life, and I don't get to see them very often, although I did see Heather and Corrina at Rhinebeck back in October.  I'm guessing our next dinner will be at TNNA this coming summer.

Throw or pick? 


It’s your last object to design (or make). What is it, and what fiber do you use? 

A big, epic, extremely difficult lace shawl in a lace weight wool, cashmere, silk blend.

What trait do you most admire in designers? 

The ability to think outside the box. You know when you see a new design and you think it's the cleverest thing out there because the designer did something totally interesting with the construction or with the stitch pattern but it's not at all difficult? That.

Wilkes' latest shawl design, Brunswick, a sister design
to her popular Holden shawl
What trait do you most detest in designers? 

I don't know if detest is the right word, but I have a pet peeve or two. One of my biggest pet peeves is not using a tech editor for whatever reason. I work at a yarn store and I have seen some patterns that have very clearly not been tech edited, and it's so very, very frustrating to try to convince a customer that not all patterns are as confusing, incorrect, etc. It's hard to hear that a customer will never buy a pattern again because of one bad experience with a pattern. 

You are recommending a design gift in response to a friend’s inquiry. Other than your own designs (which, as everyone knows, are quite beautiful – especially your moon shawls collection!), what would you recommend? 

Right now, I'm really enamored with Hilary Smith Callis' shawl-cowl hybrids: Starshower, Luna Viridis, and Adama. I also really like a lot of Melissa Thomson's patterns. It's so hard to choose. There are so many really awesome patterns out there!


I expect that a lot has happened in Mindy's design career since this interview, so I hope (if she reads it), that it will make her smile with fondness. 

All of Mindy's designs, as well as the designs of 310 other indie designers (including yours truly), are eligible to be made during our gift-a-long. So do join me in the Ravelry group with almost 10,000 other makers and get into the holiday light and gifting season, won't you?