“I like to freak out about my knitting. That’s when I know it’s good.”
So said Stephanie Dosen of Tiny Owl Knits when I interviewed her earlier this year.
So who is Stephanie, and why was she the most-requested interview when I polled my readers?
Let me introduce you, but watch out – you may just fall in love.
What is Tiny Owl Knits and how did you get started?
Tiny Owl Knits started with a knitting blog in 2004. At that time I was working in my local yarn shop in Nashville, TN.
Squee! I was living in Nashville in 2004, too! Oh my gosh I probably went into your yarn shop! Ok sorry, continue. How did you become a knitwear designer?
I never really intended to have a knitwear design label. I sort of fell into it by knitting and crocheting things that I wanted to have, but couldn’t find in any of the shops.
At first I was terrified of writing patterns! I got lots of help from the mother owls at the shop (ladies who had been working with patterns for lifetimes.)
I also studied what I liked and didn’t like about certain patterns that I had followed on my own.
Before long I had lots of patterns ready to hand out with yarn purchases at the store. It wasn’t until Ravelry came along that it began to grow into something that I know I don’t ever want to give up.
Inspiration Grows On Trees… As Long As They Are Home To Dryads
Your blog and patterns feel like they’re full of fantasy and magic. Where do you get your inspiration?
I dream of wood-nymphs and water-nymphs and keep them close while I work, though sometimes I play with air-sylphs too.
I’m also just majorly inspired by wool and fibre of all kinds.
Sometimes when I pick up certain yarn, it just unfolds its story right into my hands.
Other times I have to work harder!
Thanks! The pattern I’ve sold the most copies of is the beekeeper’s quilt.
What Kinds Of Patterns Are Easiest For You To Design? Which Are The Hardest?
The easiest patterns are the ones where I don’t over think them. The ones that unfold naturally are the most magical.
I don’t like to give up until the pattern has me very excited though. If it doesn’t really get my blood rushing, then it’s not worth it for me to put the pattern out.
I design and make so many things a month for my personal use that never see the light of day. They might just be simple sweaters, mittens or scarves, but they don’t make the cut because they don’t make me freak out with excitement.
Even Muses Have Heroes and Heroines
Do you have any heroes in the knitting world that you look up to?
Definitely. I think all designers live in a lake fueled by many rivers and streams.
I can easily point to Cat Bordhi as being one of the first designers I fell in love with. Her Magical Knitting totally wowed me and inspired me in so many ways. I loved how she did things in new and interesting ways. She isn’t afraid to be unconventional.
I also love Sasha Kagan and Kaffe Fassett, and there are so many others including many new designers that I consider friends that I love.
Advice To Knitters With Cameras: Find Patient Friends
You are the model in many of your gorgeous pattern photos. Do you photograph yourself? Do you have any tips for knitters who want to photograph themselves modeling their knitting?
I think maybe my only advice is just get good lighting and have fun with it!
I often ask whoever is around or in the room at the time to take the photos. Many of my friends are wary of coming over when they know I’m getting close to finishing a design!
I think I scare them away by saying, “Here just take a few pictures of me with this hat on, I don’t care how it looks.”
Then it turns into “Wait, no, not like that.. try to get more of the top in.. no, not from that angle.. can you zoom in? Wait, no.. back up a little bit… wait, are you cutting off the brim? that really needs to be in the shot. and um… would you mind taking a few hundred more?”
Yeah, I might be a bit of a nightmare when it comes to photo shoots!
How To Divide Your Time When You’re Multi-Talented
You are an artist as well as a designer, right? Your website, pattern pages and layouts are all embellished with cute little illustrations. Do you do them yourself?
Yup. I was doing lots of painting, drawing and illustration before I started knitting. Now I don’t do as much. Thankfully I drew the little owls years and years ago!
A tiny owl told me that you are also a singer/songwriter. Is that your full-time job?
My full time job is 50% knitwear designer and 50% musician/songwriter.
Lots of people seem to want me to choose one or the other, but they work really well together.
Sometimes I’m in the studio or on tour, and sometimes I’m writing patterns in the attic or the blue cavern.
The only person I think I really confuse is my accountant!
Lovely readers, I have to tell you that Stephanie’s music is as wonderful and ethereal as her patterns. I just bought her latest album, A Lily For The Spectre. Listen to it here.
Now: Enter The Tiny Owl Knits Pattern Giveaway!
Not only was Stephanie kind enough to do this interview with me, she’s also going to give away a pattern to one lucky reader.
Here’s what to do to enter the giveaway:
1) Go to the Tiny Owl Knits blog and either read a blog post and leave a comment, or sign up to get a news-owl when she writes a new post (or both).
2) Share this article on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, your blog, or any other online media, then leave a comment below letting me know what you did.
I’ll randomly choose one winner from among the comments on this blog, and I’ll have Stephanie contact you to introduce herself and email you the Tiny Owl Knits pattern of your choice.
A buffet of (strangely-spaced) buttons awaits you above. See you in the comments! The winner will be announced on Wednesday, August 22nd.