Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day: Interview with Designer Kathy Bateman

Welcome to the first in our series of interviews with the designers who came up with all the groovy patterns for the SHELTER pattern book that HCW released last Christmas. Today I’d like to introduce you to Kathy Batemen. Many of you know Kathy—she’s a staff member and teacher at the shop. Kathy designed the Cypress Scarf and the Nightshade Hat—both magnificent creations. Here, she talks about her knitting and the projects.

SG: How long have you been knitting and what got you hooked?

KB: Since 1997 (14 years now) Knitting involves all of my favorite activities and is flexible based on my mood. I especially like the creative side of knitting: everything from creating a new design to picking out yarn and a pattern. Depending on what you need at a given point in time you can pick a very relaxing & simple project or you can go all out and be as intense & complicated as you like. Plus, I'm a very tactile person so playing with yarn has a wonderful pleasure about it.

SG: How did you come to be part of this project?

KB: I've designed patterns for HCW before like the Lindsay Hat and some patterns for the Yarn Crawl giveaways. So when Suzanne asked me to participate in this collection I jumped on it!

SG: What inspired your design?

KB: Nightshade: I like hurting my brain. I mean that in best possible sense. When I wanted to make an unusual cabled hat Elizabeth Green Musselman (the designer of the Modern Tartan pattern) suggested knitting from one earflap to the other. I just could not leave the idea alone. It haunted me from the shadows. It followed me down the dark alleys of my dreams. I’ve wrestled it from the shadows for you--a snugly fitting cabled hat knit flat but with no seams. Knit all in one piece from the bottom of one tie over the top of the head and back down to the bottom of the other tie.

Cypress: A tribute to asymmetry and equilibrium. Imitating my own life recently, a new element (baby!) created an asymmetrical pattern that needed rebalancing. The crochet border accentuates & harmonizes the dramatic undulation of the knit cable. And a special thank you to Suzanne for suggesting I make an asymmetrical scarf.

SG: What obstacles did you encounter?

KB: Nightshade: I haven't ever seen a hat constructed this way so I had no basic blueprint to work from. The hat went through many many iterations before it fit like a hat is supposed to. I had to work completely from scratch in terms of where to put all the shaping to keep a close fit.

Cypress: My main obstacle with this one was time itself. It's hard to juggle being a new-ish mom and trying to find the time and energy needed for the process of creation plus the time it takes to actually make the scarf. In fact, I kind of cheated a bit on this one. After I made my swatch and designed the cable part I handed the yarn & pattern off to Kennedy Berry to knit. I am very grateful she made the time to help me! She did a beautiful job. All I had to do when I got the scarf back was add the crochet edging.

SG: How long did it take you to knit the prototype for your design?

KB: Which iteration? Like I said I re-knit Nightshade repeatedly. I'm guessing if I sat down and knit it again right now from the pattern it would take me maybe 4 hours. But through in the design process and very quickly it takes much longer. If I had to guess I'd say at least 20 hours maybe as much as 40 hours. You'd have to as Kennedy how long it took her to knit the cable part of Cypress for me. It probably took me 3 or 4 hours to add the crochet border, but I crochet pretty slowly still.

SG: How do you like SHELTER?

KB: Before I started working with Shelter I wasn't too sure how I'd like it. But after having made both these projects I have a new found love & respect for Shetland style wool. The yarn handled my repeated re-knitting very well. And believe me I re-knit that same skein over & over again trying to get Nightshade right. It looked a bit scraggly when I finally finished but as soon as I wet blocked the hat it became beautiful again! The yarn really fluffs & filled in nicely when it's wet blocked. And I love how lightweight the finished projects feel.

SG: If you could design any project, and actually have time to knit it, what would it be?

KB: What wouldn't I design!?! I have so many more ideas than I could ever knit. I think that's part of why I enjoy working at HCW. Every day people come in to the store to start a new project. Often they ask for advice on pattern choice, yarn, needles, etc. I love the inspiration involved in that process. I get to imagine every single project everyone starts in its finished state. And I think it's wonderful when people bring in their finished projects so I can see where the design process led. I get to knit vicariously everyday.

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