Designer Spotlight – Elizabeth Elliott

As the Gift-A-Long got underway this year and the stats starting coming in about where the participating designers were located, I had noticed that I was all by myself in Mississippi! Well, it turned out that Elizabeth Elliot in Birmingham, Alabama was also the lone representative of her state! So we banded together immediately to represent the Deep South! And I am so excited to feature her and her beautiful designs today! I am obsessed with her colorwork!

You can find Elizabeth’s patterns here on Ravelry and she has fourteen patterns on sale during the Gift-A-Long Sale (which ends TONIGHT at 11:59 pm EST so go quickly and stock up!)!

I asked Elizabeth about how she got started knitting and designing and about what’s next for her…

A: Tell us a little bit about yourself! How long have you been knitting?

E: My gran taught me to knit when I was quite young. She was an Englishwoman of the WWII generation, and she rarely sat down without knitting in her hands. (I still remember her Rules of Knitting: 1. Wash your hands before touching the yarn. (I was a messy kid.) 2. Always finish the row before putting down your knitting. 3. Never, ever, ever stick your needles in your yarn ball, or you’ll split the yarn. 4. Don’t sweat small mistakes; one or two are good luck, and show that the item was made by a person, not a machine.) My mum also knits (and crochets, and weaves, and spins — she’s a big inspiration), so she helped me figure things out when I ran into problems. I went through phases with knitting over the years, making the odd sweater or scarf but not really improving my knowledge, until I discovered Ravelry (and online yarn shopping). Then knitting became an obsession, and my skill set and ideas about what knitting could be just exploded, thanks in large part to all the amazing Ravelers and their willingness to share their knowledge.

Firenze Cowl | photo © Nusha Elliott

A: How did you get into designing?

E: I’d been tinkering with structure and stitch patterns for a while, and was talking to my mum about an idea for a baby blanket with a hood that was worked with short rows, when she told me I should really consider writing out some of these ideas as patterns. Knit Picks had just started their Independent Designer Program, so I sent them the blanket idea (Sweet Lullaby Seamless Hooded Blanket), and they accepted it (and were great to work with as a total newbie designer). After that, I was hooked.

Gyre | photo © Elizabeth Elliott

A: What is your favourite type of item to design?

E: That changes a lot; I’m sure you can relate. I love doing stranded colourwork, especially working within the constraints of the basic mitten shape. Something about the mathiness and strict geometry in mittens really gets me going. I also like messing around with structure, though — I got into deep moebius hoods for a bit, and am on a bias knitting kick right now — and I’m finally sharpening my sweater designing skills, so those things are my favourite this month.

Jazz Age Mittens | photo © Nusha Elliott

A: Which of your patterns are you most proud of and why?

E: I’m pretty pleased with the last couple of mitten patterns, Jazz Age and Firenze. I feel like the colourwork really clicked on those, and I think that with those patterns I nailed down the mitten structure I want to work with in future. Lulu (an extra-deep, narrow moebius) is another one I’m pretty proud of. I’ve never been a hat person (and really, we don’t get much hat weather down here, do we?), so I like that you can wear it just as a cowl, and if you need to wear it as a hood, the moebius shape keeps it from gapping below the chin. (I really hate having a cold neck, can you tell?)

Firenze Mittens | photo © Nusha Elliott

A: What is your favorite thing about designing? And what is the least favorite?

E: I love seeing other people’s projects from my patterns. When another knitter has taken one of my designs and made it their own, whether through yarn and colour choices or by tweaking the design so it better suits who they are, and they’ve got a finished object that they’re really happy with and excited to share with their friends, it’s such a delightful feeling. Gyre has been especially rewarding that way: so many gorgeous colour combinations that would never have occurred to me.

I think my least favourite thing is when an idea that seemed so perfect in my mind, and even looked pretty good as a sketch, completely fails to work out right on the needles. Often I’ve had to leave ideas like that behind and move on, but now I’m trying to structure the workload so that I have time to go back and tinker, to see if there’s another way to make those ideas work.

A: What is on your needles now?

E: Right now I’m working on a cardigan design for my husband — for a knitter’s spouse, he’s woefully lacking in hand knits — and a prototype for a big, cozy wrap. Well, I say prototype, but really I just want one that I can keep for myself. I’ve become such a wimp about cold in this winterless wonderland, and a giant, woolly wrap seems like just the thing right now.

Backroad Scarf | photo © Nusha Elliott

Elizabeth just released her latest pattern, the Backroad Scarf, yesterday! It’s a great uni-sex scarf that would make a perfect gift for anyone! The pattern includes instructions for a worsted weight, aran weight, and bulky weight scarf in multiple lengths and instructions on how to make it a cowl! (and no matter which “version” you buy, you’ll still get instructions for ALL versions) With all of the different options it’s like getting nine patterns in one! Genius! And she’s offering it for 25% off for the first week using the coupon code backroad (offer ends Nov. 28 at midnight CST).

I want to thank Elizabeth for taking the time to answer my questions! I am so glad to have discovered her work and I hope that you are, too!

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