1. When did you start knitting (crocheting) and who taught you?
I got a relatively late start (in my 20s) and though my favorite aunt taught me the basics, Lucy Lee at Mind's Eye Yarns in Cambridge, MA is the one who really taught me. I'd been working on the same scarf for about 4 years -- its ball of yarn is still in my stash! -- and was so incredibly bored with it, I can't even tell you. So I walked into Lucy's shop, said, "ok, I've been knitting this same scarf for ages, I hate scarves, I want to knit a cardigan." And she said, "what color?" This is why she's so amazing. She doesn't do the typical "no, you can't even finish a scarf, forget a cardigan" routine. A month later -- pow! cardigan. Lucy also taught me to spin in 5 minutes. She is a miracle worker, and her hand-dyed yarn is amazing, too.
2. When did you begin publishing your designs?
In my first book, Knitgrrl (2005). I gave away a lot of one-off designs before I started to actually write them down!
3. What is your most favorite knitting (crocheting) technique?
Provisional cast ons used for felting -- it's one of my signature "tricks," you can use it in many different ways.
4. When you are thinking about some new design, what inspires you the most? Is it different every time? Could you give us some examples on inspiration for some of your designs?
Color is a big factor -- Maize came about because although I'd bought the yellow yarn to re-knit another design of mine that wasn't working in its current incarnation, I sat down with the needles and just said...ok, wow, this wants to be something corn-like! Whether I'm reading a book, in my studio or driving around, Cleveland (where I live) is an awfully colorful place if you know where to look. For example: this image which I recently published on my site:
The recycled wool scarves I make, and wet felted scarves, owe a lot to the colors I see around me.
I recently did a virtual studio tour -- you can see a Flickr set of images here. But this is the executive summary:
6. What is your most favorite place to knit (crochet)?
Hands down, the couch. I just recovered all its pillows in Amy Butler "Primrose" fabric and plumped them up with extra stuffing. I sit down and am suddenly surrounded by beasts (my 2 cats and dachshund).
7. Do you spin your own yarn?
Yes, I have three wheels and who knows how many spindles at last count -- and as a Louet Yarns dealer, I teach a lot of other people to spin, too!
8. Do you belong to a knitting group?
Technically, yes (SnB Cleveland) but I'm often too busy to go, which is sad.
9. Are you in touch with other designers and how do you communicate with the knitters who knit your designs?
Constantly, and in a variety of mediums -- I'm very active in social media, so Twitter, Ravelry, Facebook and my own website are the major ways I reach people. In addition, Stitch Cooperative, the designer-managed pattern coop I founded, has an active internal mailing list, so I talk to them almost every day!
10. Where can we see your published designs?
On Ravelry, and on my own website.
11. Do you teach classes? If yes, where do you teach?
Yes, at Knitgrrl Studio and all around North America (there, that includes the Canadians, yes?)!
12. What would you like to tell knitters who are timid and do not believe they are skillful enough to knit some of your designs?
Listen, if I can knit it, you can knit it. I'm very much of the opinion that people limit themselves -- you are smart! If you can do knit and purl, trust me, you can knit anything I can. If you're having a difficult time with a technique, you just haven't found the right way to learn it yet. Some people learn very well from photos, some do best with oral instructions, some need to physically have someone help them make the stitch motions in order to understand what's happening. Find a different way to learn whatever is giving you problems. I taught knitting in a booth at Maker Faire in San Francisco a few years ago and had everyone you could think of stopping to try -- I think the men and children had the easiest time because they had no preconceived notions that "knitting is hard." There are enough roadblocks in life, you don't need to make more for yourseld!
13. What are your plans in the near future?
I've revived my publishing company, and have several new titles on the way from both myself and other authors. The first book we put out, in 2007, was by Jonelle Raffino of South West Trading Company. I'm planning a digital reissue of that, too!
14. Can you share with us some of your latest designs?
15. Would you like to add anything about yourself?
Can I have a nap now?
FG: Thank you, Shannon, for taking the time from your very busy schedule (I even feel bad a little bit now that I asked you to do this:) but I do hope you had fun answering these questions.
Yes, you can have your nap now :):):)
I know I am speaking for our readers saying that it was great to get a glimpse of how Shannon works and what inspires her as a designer and an author. I also wanted to add that she publishes her designs in other publications like magazines. Here are the two examples: the left photo is Mosaic from
Thank you for visiting The Designer's Studio. You can leave your questions and comments for Shannon, if you wish. Tell your friends to come over and read the interviews posted here. There are many more coming.