One 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. Â Laurie Beardsley is one of those designers.
Hi Laurie! Â Thanks for answering some questions. Â How did you start designing? Do you have a design background, or?
I havenâ€™t been designing knitted items very long â€“ only since the Fall of 2011. But Iâ€™m an Electrical Engineer by trade, so Iâ€™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 youâ€™ve got what you want.
It seems like a lot of us designers have a science background of some sort! Â My husband teaches Physics, and he tells his kids that his goal is to teach them problem solving. Â I think that really applies to designing. What else led you to designing?
Iâ€™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 â€œwhy not publish something completely my own?â€
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 â€œout thereâ€ 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 â€œLegends of Rockâ€ 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 â€œEuropaâ€ by Carlos Santana, but Iâ€™ve gotten stalled by other projects. After that, Iâ€™ve got great ideas for tributes to Tommy Shaw (from Styx) and Led Zeppelin. Iâ€™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 havenâ€™t really thought that far ahead! Two years ago, I never would have guessed that Iâ€™d have fifteen designs released at this point. I guess Iâ€™d like to establish myself so that designing and knitting can be my â€œsecond lifeâ€ when I retire. But thatâ€™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 Carpenterâ€™s â€œA Keeper for Every Flameâ€ 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?
Iâ€™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 â€œBack Pocket Bandanaâ€ as a limited edition for the 2013 Dallas-Fort Worth Yarn Crawl. The yarn is scrumptious! Sheâ€™s used the same base with several other colorways, any of which would look fantastic with this pattern.
Iâ€™ve also got an interesting cowl on the needles right now that I plan to offer with two different edgings â€“ one simple and tailored, and the other highly ruffled. Iâ€™m tentatively calling it â€œArt Lessonâ€, because it is knit with self-striping yarn, but short rows bend the colors around like abstract art.
Would you like to win a copy of Laurie’s favorite pattern, theÂ Flame Keeper Shawl? Â 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 KeeperÂ Â© Sandy McAnally