Knotions: This month, we got the chance to sit down with Lisa Ebert! She’s the designer of the Operetta Mitts in this issue, among many others.
Even if she’s new to you, give this a read and learn more about another smart designer.
Tell us a bit more about yourself. Where do you live? Who do you live with? How did you end up there? Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Minnesota but now live in Madison, WI.
As a knitter, I feel very lucky to be here – there are so many resources for knitters in the area.
The Madison Knitters Guild is one of the largest in the country and host a number of events and knitting activities. There are also many local yarn stores who host KALs, knit-nights, and classes.
Who taught you to knit?
Mostly YouTube. I was browsing a Michaels store the day before a snowstorm and found a “Teach yourself to knit” kit. I thought it would be a good activity to try when I was stuck inside for a day or two. I wasn’t really able to figure things out from the kit’s diagrams, but the instructions did help me figure out what to look for on YouTube. Now, I always check YouTube when I’m trying to figure out an unfamiliar stitch.
Why do you like to design?
I like problem-solving. Need something to carry your water bottle? Design a water bottle carrier! Want to make something with the beautiful yarn you couldn’t resist, but can’t find a good pattern for? Design a cowl! I also just enjoy the process of trying different stitch patterns until I find one that works. Then I try different proportions for number of stitches or stitch patterns to see what works or what doesn’t. I just find it fun and fascinating.
Do you design full-time or part-time?
Part-time. My day job is being a software tester.
Do you do anything else in the knitting space?
I like to do test knitting. Trying new things is always interesting and I like being able to help other designers by offering suggestions or just pointing out when something is confusing. I’ve also done a few lessons for other people at my software company.
What are your favorite things:
Colors – Blues, Greens, purples
Yarn weights – Bulky
Fibers – All of them
Types of objects (e.g., shawls, hats, etc.) – Shawls, cowls and mitts.
Can you tell us about your process when you design? I’m curious about your inspiration and how you bring that to life.
I generally start with the yarn. When I’m deciding what to make next, I look at the yarn I have and spend some time figuring out what I want it to be.
- What would complement the colors?
- What works well with the texture?
- How much yardage do I have available and what kinds of things can be made with that?
Sometimes I’ll hop on Ravelry to see what others have done or what patterns meet that criteria, and I’ll find something that fits, so I’ll just make that. But if I can’t find anything, I’ll make my own.
For my Operetta Mitts, I had two beautiful mini-gradients and I knew I wanted mitts, but I couldn’t find any top-down mitts and I wanted to be able to make the cuffs as long as possible.
Once I realized there wasn’t anything out there, I started using scrap yarn to play with shaping the thumb openings. Once I got that worked out, I decided that I wanted to use a Purl-Twist stitch, which is a vastly under-appreciated stitch-pattern, in my opinion. But it’s a stitch that has to be worked flat, so I came up with the idea of knitting the mitts flat and using buttons to join it into a mitt shape.
But really, the cuff works better in the round, so then I spent some time figuring out how to join them, without losing my button flap. Like I said: problem solving!
Knotions: Thanks, Lisa! It’s so great to learn more about you. And glad to see that blue and purple making a strong appearance 😉