Even if you don't know the name Stephanie Dosen, if you read a crafty blog or even browse on Pinterest, my bet would be that you know her work - she is the designer of the iconic Beekeepers Quilt, the adorable Mr Fox Stole My Heart, and the Deer Hat with Little Antlers, amongst others. Even Kevin is a fan, insisting we watch the videos that accompany many of her pattern releases together.
Stephanie's new book Woodland Knits is EXACTLY as you would expect a book by Stephanie to be: delightful. Full of whimsy and magic- each pattern looks to be the most fun you can possibly have with yarn and two sticks. Having knit her patterns before, she brings equal measures of fun and delight into beautifully thoughtful and well written patterns. It is like opening a storybook and plunging yourself into a familiar yet unpredictable adventure, with bears, dragons and faeries as guides. The patterns are a mix of old and new - with some of Stephanie's most beloved patterns along side some killer new designs . The beautiful and ethereal photography combined with woodland illumination and helpful owlet guides help to draw you into your inner child for each project, some pure fantasy and others with more subtle referencing.
Stephanie kindly agreed to come along and answer a few questions about her book and process.
Your career is one that is nothing short of amazing - singer, songwriter, knitwear designer - releasing viral knitting patterns by day and singing with the likes of Radiohead and Massive Attack (and your own awesome albums) by night. What exactly do you write in the “Occupation” box on forms?
Thank you! It really varies depending on my mood. Sometimes I write “musician” and sometimes “designer”. Whenever I’m at one of those boring functions where you have to talk to a bunch of people about what you do for a living, I alternate. It has gotten me in trouble before when I’ve been overheard by someone I’d already talked to. “I thought you said you were a designer?” Um, yeah, it’s confusing to my accountant too.
People always are interested to know how books came to being - are you someone who has always wanted to write a book or did it happen out of the blue?
I always said I would put my designs in a book, but I never believed myself! I wasn’t really sure how to go about it. Plus as soon as I designed something I would get impatient and put out the pattern online. I was never able to assemble an entire collection and keep it a secret. Then a little over 2 years ago while I was living in England I got invited to a faery festival in Cornwall. I quickly got to work designing all sorts of outfits to wear to the festival. I wanted a fringy coat and faery wings and a crown and a magical hood etc etc! When all the projects were finished I realized I had a little collection that was asking to be in a themed book. I started making full plans to go into the forest in Wales with my faery friends and do some photo shoots. Unfortunately, just before the photo shoot was to happen, I suddenly found out I had to move back to America! I was disheartened. I put the whole idea to sleep and filed the faery bits gently into my wardrobe. Almost a whole year later I was approached by a publisher asking if I had a collection ready. I did! It had been hibernating all year and so I just went to wake it up. I ended up meeting with my friends in the woods in Cornwall exactly one year later to the date of the originally scheduled shoots. It was a dream come true!
You are known for infusing your work with a lot of life, personality, whimsy and quirk. Knowing that your designs aren’t the usual fare, do you get pre-release jitters before a new design goes live? Has the reception of your designs ever surprised you?
I definitely get jitters. I’m still practicing the art of not being attached to the outcome of my work. It’s such a hard thing to do! In my philosophy, the only time it should matter what I think of my design is when I’m designing it. I have to love it. It has to make me squeal and freak out and get giddy and butterflies in my stomach and rainbows shooting out my eyes. It has to totally obsess me. If a design ever gets me to feel that way, I release it no question. At that point I usually know that I love it, but I’ve stopped being able to see if I’m crazy or not. I sort of assume it might be nuts, so I just try to let it all go. Let go all of my expectations or attachment to outcomes. However, come tell that to me when I get a bad review though and you can usually find me eating my words, (and an ice cream sandwich or two.)
Talk me through your design process. Are you a sketcher and swatcher? A spreadsheeter (this may not be a word)? Do you design on your needles?
I have a little magic idea book that I covered with pictures of Kira from the dark crystal. I fill it with sketches and ideas. I think “What would Kira do?” I put in phrases and poetry and draw little owls all over it. Then when I find the yarn, I get to work. I normally start a project, then rip it. Then start it, then rip it. Then start it, then rip it (This goes on but it’s beginning to sound like a bad knock knock joke.) Sometimes at the end it’s just not good enough and it goes in the scrap pile. Sometimes exceeds my expectations and I think there must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found.
Now that you have a knitting book out - what comes next in your design life?
I just finished knitting 45 tiny charms for a charm bracelet called “care of magical creatures.” Each charm has a task associated with it, so when you do the task, you get to make the charm! It is sort of like the merit badges we used to get in girl scouts. (Though I never got many because I was a bit of a lazy kid.) The tasks involve helping to take care of you and your world. They are separated up into 3 charm packs, and I want to get charm pack 3 out there before Christmas. And also woodsy association 2 is due to be completed! Then I might take a little break and finish my novel which has been sitting patiently waiting for me.
You NEED this book in your life! I for one, hope to join in the Crafty Magazine Deer with Little Antlers Hat Knit a Long. Fancy joining in? Leave a comment to win a copy of Stephanie's awesome book!
You can read the other Crafty reviews here:
Wednesday 18th September - Emma Lamb
Thursday 19th September - Louise Walker
Friday 20th September - Lauren Guthrie
(Thanks to Stephanie for coming by and to Crafty Magazine and Quadrille for inviting me to take part in the blog tour!)
Giveaway Terms and Conditions:
- Open Worldwide.
- Entries will close at 9pm on Friday the 27th of September.
- Winner chosen at random.