Interviewee – EMILY K WILLIAMS aka FLUTTERBY KNITS
1) When did you start designing? Could you give us a potted history of your knitty and designing background?
I’ve knitted for as long as I can remember, and I made my first jumper when I was about 13. It was in a fluffy, pale blue novelty yarn (no laughing in the back please!) and I didn’t swatch so it was stupidly wide and really short, and it had random garter stripes on it where I forgot to purl on the wrong side rows. But I loved it and was really proud of my achievements. I picked up knitting again in about 2005, after I’d graduated from University and was working as an engineer. I remember Sunday afternoons watching black and white films on BBC2, knitting with a couple of friends, and then discovering knitting blogs and realising that there was a whole world of techniques I’d never heard of. Until then I thought there was only one way to cast on. I got more and more obsessed with knitting over the following few years, following blogs and then joining Ravelry in its very early days. The massive availability of information was so inspiring, and there was so much to experiment with, that it wasn’t long before most of my projects were my own designs or improvised. I didn’t manage to get my act together for a good few years, but eventually published my first design in 2012 and have carried on ever since then.
2) Do you have any recurring sources of inspiration or unusual muses?
I tend to approach my designs in a very problem solving sort of way. There is usually a specific question or problem that I want to answer for each one. My most popular garment pattern yet (Arrina) was my attempt at trying to design an all over fair-isle sweater that would flatter me, because the traditional shape really doesn’t do me any favours. I do a lot of designs using Blackisle Yarns, because Julie lives really close to me so collaborating is great fun. Because her yarn comes in small batches I try to fit the design around the quantity available – for example my Eathie Shawl uses more or less equal quantities of each colour, and Fyrish uses a
whole skein and two contrasting mini-skeins. I really enjoyed Canisp though – which explores what happens if you knit the sleeves and front of a raglan in one piece, without any shaping at the shoulder seam.
I have found working in collaboration with different yarn producers to be very rewarding though. Being able to work with so many amazing yarns, and bounce ideas off different people is enormously inspiring, and I definitely work best when I have someone else to chat with along the way.
3) When you have an idea, do you always work to a set workflow (eg swatch-knit-chart / chart first then knit) or does your approach change with each design?
I definitely spend a fair amount of time in a swatch-chart-swatch-chart loop, until I’m happy that I have all the stitch patterns ironed out. Then if it’s an accessory, I’ll make a first draft of the pattern before knitting the sample. If it’s a garment I tend to grade it, and then write the pattern as I knit the sample altering any numbers as I go along.
4) What made you choose to use Stitchmastery? Is there a particular feature you use most regularly or couldn’t do without? And is there anything you wish Stitchmastery could do?
I first used Stitchmastery because it worked on a Mac, and was pretty much the only option when I first bought it. My favourite feature, without a doubt, is being able to generate written instructions using a custom style sheet. There is definitely a learning curve to getting all those tweaks right, but being able to copy and paste the text into the pattern without having to make loads of changes is brilliant. I think my wish list item would be to be able to select, copy and paste irregular shaped areas of a chart (though I half expect that I could do that and just haven’t figured it out yet!).
5) Please tell us about your latest publication or next exciting project!
Well, there are lots of exciting secret things going on in the background at the moment. I don’t actually have many things in the pipeline that I can talk about openly – but I have patterns coming in a few publications this year, and I’m looking forward more collaborations with some of my favourite yarn people. The next thing on my list is a stranded colourwork vest using Border Mill’s new North Coast Shetland yarn.