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Indie Giftalong Designer Interview: Laurie Beardsley

LaurieBeardsley_20130225-2971_medium2One of the nicest things about the Indie Giftalong for me is the chance to get to know a bit more about other designers that I didn’t know.  Laurie Beardsley is one of those designers.

Hi Laurie!  Thanks for answering some questions.  How did you start designing? Do you have a design background, or?

I haven’t been designing knitted items very long – only since the Fall of 2011. But I’m an Electrical Engineer by trade, so I’ve been designing digital circuits for over twenty-five years. And surprisingly, the process is not that different. Know what you want to accomplish, understand the capabilities of your materials, swatch/breadboard, keep good notes, iterate until you’ve got what you want.

It seems like a lot of us designers have a science background of some sort!  My husband teaches Physics, and he tells his kids that his goal is to teach them problem solving.  I think that really applies to designing. What else led you to designing?

I’ve always been a technical knitter, mostly interested in process, technique and tools. I think that designing kind of flowed naturally from that. Since I was already taking copious notes about changes and adaptations I was doing to patterns I was knitting up, I figured “why not publish something completely my own?”

What are your goals as a designer? For the next year? for the next 3 years?

In the short term, I want to get more serious and organized about answering calls for publication. The hardest part of that for me is to hold back design ideas that I have instead of self-publishing them immediately. Sometimes I get so excited about an idea that I want it “out there” right away. But I know I need to build up a portfolio of swatches, sketches and ideas so that when I see a call, I can have something ready that matches it.

I also want to get back on track with my “Legends of Rock” series. I released Still Got the Blues this past summer as a tribute to Eric Clapton and Gary Moore. I have a fully formed idea for a shawl inspired by “Europa” by Carlos Santana, but I’ve gotten stalled by other projects. After that, I’ve got great ideas for tributes to Tommy Shaw (from Styx) and Led Zeppelin. I’d love to self-publish at least two of these a year. They are all larger, more complex designs, and will require a lot of focus and attention. Three years? Wow, I haven’t really thought that far ahead! Two years ago, I never would have guessed that I’d have fifteen designs released at this point. I guess I’d like to establish myself so that designing and knitting can be my “second life” when I retire. But that’s waayyy down the road.

Which of your own designs is your favorite? Why?

My favorite is the Flame Keeper Shawl. I had done two smaller designs before it, to learn the process of writing, testing, editing and releasing a pattern. But FK was my first really serious design attempt. I started it at a time when my day job had dried up, and I was feeling very low. I threw myself into it to keep my mind and hands busy. Then I heard Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “A Keeper for Every Flame” and everything just seemed to fall into place after that. Working on it got me through a rough patch, so it will always be close to my heart.

Anything that you’re working on that you can tell us about?

I’m very excited about my newest collaboration with Ashley Wolfe (Dye2Spin on Ravelry). It is a long, skinny triangular scarf with a basketweave pattern in the body and a lightly ruffled edging, worked side to side. But what I love about it most is the yarn. Ashley hand-dyed a 50/50 Merino/Silk base in a fantastic colorway called “Back Pocket Bandana” as a limited edition for the 2013 Dallas-Fort Worth Yarn Crawl. The yarn is scrumptious! She’s used the same base with several other colorways, any of which would look fantastic with this pattern.

I’ve also got an interesting cowl on the needles right now that I plan to offer with two different edgings – one simple and tailored, and the other highly ruffled. I’m tentatively calling it “Art Lesson”, because it is knit with self-striping yarn, but short rows bend the colors around like abstract art.

Thank you Laurie!  Be sure to check out Laurie on Ravelry here; she has a group here.

Would you like to win a copy of Laurie’s favorite pattern, the Flame Keeper Shawl?  Leave a comment on this post by midnight PST Dec 12th with what sort of colorway you’d like to do it in.

Photo of Flame Keeper © Sandy McAnally

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