Back in March 2015, I took a trip to the Pacific Northwest and visited a bunch of designers and yarnies throughout Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. It was amazzzzing! I posted all the interviews shortly after they happened – all but one – the fantastic and extremely talented Andi Satterlund. We met in a coffee/chocolate shop in Seattle for our interview, where I opted to use a USB stick recording device (it looks like spy equipment) that was suspiciously cheap on Amazon considering how cool it seemed to be. Well, I got what I paid for, because after our lovely afternoon of chatting, I went to transcribe the interview, and nope nada nothing. It had not recorded and never worked again. C’est la vie. Andi was very kind and understanding and answered my questions all over again via email way back in April, but I’m a jerk and only just found time to post this!
What is the first thing you knit and do you remember the yarn and color?
The first thing I knit and the first thing I finished are two different projects! My first project was a disgusting fun-fur, garter stitch scarf in bright blue and bubblegum pink stripes. Unsurprisingly, I never finished that scarf. The first project I finished was also a garter stitch scarf, but it was knit in Lion Brand Thick and Quick in a variegated colorway that I thought of as Lord of the Rings colors. It turned out pretty good for my first finished project, and I still have that scarf around.
If you could pick the Pantone color of the year, what would it be?
My pick already was the color of the year! I loved when Tangerine was the color of the year because orange is one of my favorite colors. I remember buying everything from lipstick to notebooks in that color before it trickled away.
How did you get into designing?
I originally started designing for myself at the height of the A-line sweater pattern’s popularity. It’s just a terrible silhouette on me, and I was having a hard time finding patterns that fit my style. I ended up designing the prototype for Miette to go with a dress I had bought since I couldn’t find an existing pattern, and I got a really good response to that project on my blog, so I decided to give pattern writing a try.
What is the best part of being a designer? What’s the hardest part?
I really love seeing other people wearing something I designed when they’re really happy with it. When I was in high school, I had thought about going to college for fashion design, but I’m not a very competitive person, and I worried about picking such a narrow educational path, and then there was the ethical side of apparel production… I ended up talking myself out of it, and I don’t regret it. I’m incredibly pleased to have found a career path where I get to share my style and perspective without having to deal with a lot of the uglier side of fashion.
Which of your designs could you wear every day?
When it’s on the chillier side, Chuck definitely gets worn the most. The original pattern sample is in terrible shape because I wear it so much. My cardigan designs get rotated through much more evenly. Chuck just manages to encompass everything I love about my personal style so it gets pulled out of my wardrobe more than any of my other sweaters, weather permitting.
Do you have a design “holy grail?” (something massive or super complicated that you’d love to do someday if you had the time)
I have a sweater dress pattern that I’d love to do someday with a stranded colorwork yoke based on a hat pattern I designed. Year after year, I keep saying I’m going to do it next year because it’s going to take up a lot of time and probably won’t sell well, but I really want to make it happen!
Where do you find inspiration?
Old movies and period TV shows are big sources of inspiration for me. Although I wear almost no real vintage clothing, it’s something I love looking at. There are so many fun details hiding in vintage pieces. You hear people say that there’s been a lot of innovation in knitting in the last ten years, but when you look at 30s and 40s knitting patterns, they’re mind blowing. Most of them would be hard to fit into a modern wardrobe, but there’s so much good stuff to draw on when designing new knitting patterns.
If a knitter came to visit you, where would you take them?
I’d take them yarn shopping! Seattle has so many great yarn stores that a girl can get a bit spoiled. My favorite is The Fiber Gallery. It has a great selection for sweater knitters, which means it has won my love, although it’s not technically my closest local yarn store.
In my neighborhood there’s Bad Woman Yarns, which just moved to a great, new, bigger space in the same building where they’ve been for years. It’s so convenient to have a yarn store in walking distance.
If someone came to visit and had enough time, I’d take them to Tolt Yarn and Wool. It’s outside of Seattle in Carnation, WA, and it’s a bit of a drive, but my friends and I like to make a daytrip out of it. We drive the long, scenic way around the top of Lake Washington, and we get brunch at The Grange in Duvall. After we get properly stuffed on french toast and coffee, we mosey on down to Tolt where we do a bit of yarn shopping. That’s always a good day.
If they were visiting on a weekend, I’d drag them to my local cafe where I hang out with my knitting friends on Friday nights. The cafe serves beer and cider, and instead of showing sports, they show old movies on Fridays. We’re there every week with our knitting projects, and they reserve a table for us. It’s nice to live in a city where knitting is so common and embraced.
What is your best piece of knitting advice?
Try stuff and don’t worry too much if it doesn’t work. Unless you’re working with delicate yarn or cutting steeks, almost everything can be taken apart and done over again. There’s no real risk in trying something. If it’s not right, you just rip back and have a bit more knitting time. It’s really not that scary, and it’s one of the best ways to learn new things.
It was so great to meet Andi and spend time talking about design and inspiration. Andi has been busy since we met and has published 10 designs since last March, including a 5 pattern collection through Knit Picks called Quiet Days. She’s is also starting a new online knitting magazine called Stranded Magazine – how cool is that?!