I know it's a little late this time (so sorry!), but I'm still super-excited for this particular edition of Inspired By! Today I get to feature one of the loveliest Ravelry designers I know--Stephanie Dosen of TinyOwlKnits! She's a musician, a blogger, and a designer with a wonderful sense of style. Her distinctive touch is evident in all her lovely creations, and I'm thrilled to share this interview with you all!
Faye: Stephanie, your love of fairies and their world is quite evident in all of your designs--their woodsy, elfish quality is one of my favorite things about your work! Where did that enthusiasm come from? And is there a favorite fairy tale that's really stuck with you through the years?
Stephanie: I just can't help being attracted to the fairies! I grew up with them and they are still a constant inspiration. They always provide magic, always. Just think of them for a minute, and you instantly have a bit more wonder. It's also deeply a Snow White thing. Snow White was my first movie theater experience when it was re-released in the 70's. (Before cable TV and VCR, etc, so it was a really big deal!) I had the book and I wore the record down to a thread. It had such an impact on me and I wanted to be just like her. I really thought we were supposed to grow up to be that. Singing to the animals and running through the forest. Which I'll admit is totally weird! I put a little Snow White into everything I design without even meaning to.
F: Your creativity goes beyond knitting--you're also a singer/songwriter in the UK! Are those two worlds totally separate for you, or do they feed into each other? Did you start knitting as something to do backstage or while traveling on tour?
S: I started working at a yarn shop in Nashville, TN when I was trying to get signed as a recording artist. I didn't know how to knit when I got the job and on my first day I had to help someone put together a sweater! The learning curve was steep but I saw hundreds of knitting questions a day and it quickly became a huge part of my life. We had a massive shop and I loved it, but I still thought that if I got signed, I would leave the needles behind. When I got my record deal and moved to London I gave up knitting for about 2 weeks before my mind was ticking to the patterns again. It is a part of me I couldn't ever really let go of now. I'm happiest when I'm making things. Whether it is music or patterns it's the exact same process. I do look at them like siblings though. When I pay more attention to one, the other starts to get a little crabby.
F: Now, you do go on tour and perform with other musicians when working to promote your music fairly regularly. Have you managed to get any of them hooked on knitting?
S: My violin player Fiona has surprised me the most. She didn't really understand why I was spending so much time knitting at first, and now she knits like a little magician! She is on tour with Placebo now knitting all the way and I'm so proud of her.
F: When did you figure out that being creative through your music was something you wanted to do seriously? How has following that passion affected the rest of your life?
S: I was writing my thesis for my Master's degree in choral music when I actually started writing real songs. I figured it was my last chance before entering the real world to give my own music a chance. I quit my job, sold my stuff, surfed my friends' couches, went into debt and didn't give up, even when I thought I should. It has changed my life in an enormous way. Now I live in London and have been lucky enough to work with amazing musicians like Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack, Midlake, and Simon Raymonde. I've also been able to meet some of my musical heroes like the Indigo Girls, Bjork, Siouxie Sioux, and Paul McCartney.
F: Another thing that really stands out about you are the beautiful, ethereal pictures you take of yourself modelling your designs. Taking consistently good photos is such an important part of being successful in knitwear design, especially since they're the first thing we see on Ravelry! What goes into making your shots look so gorgeous?
S: First of all, thank you so much! Simon takes the pictures and then I add some screaming, some crying, and some clothes being thrown all over the house. Then I usually say, "These are HORRIBLE! I look HORRIBLE! I can't post these!" and then I give up. Then the next day I pick a few out that I think I can deal with and post them. I hope I haven't ruined the mystique! :D The house we live in has the most amazing garden. I think the garden does all the work and I just try not to let my nose look too big.
F: Are there any designers you're always particularly drawn to whenever they publish a new pattern? If so, are they typically feminine, whimsical knits like your own, or something a little different?
S: I marvel at the amazing designs on Ravelry all the time. I love that everyone has a voice. There is a lot of color work going on and I feel myself drawn to it like a magnet. I always struggle putting colors together so I'm fascinated by people who do it with ease.
F: According to your blog, you've recently acquired a lovely spinning wheel! How's that going? Are you planning to add any designs for handspun yarns to your repertoire?
S: I am thoroughly addicted to spinning now. The wheel came with a drum carder and I haven't even begun to work with that yet. I'm trying to hold back on that rabbit hole a little bit yet simply because I really want to get out a few more big patterns that I've got waiting in the wings. Plus, my next record has been crying in the high chair and needs to be fed, taught to walk, and then probably changed.
F: There's so much snowy magic around this time of year--what's your favorite part of it all? Do you feel particularly inspired by winter's wonderland, or do you prefer the brighter seasons?
S: I LOVE snow. I grew up in Wisconsin so I remember winters where we couldn't actually open the door because of the snow in front of it. We had to jump out the upstairs windows to clear the snow away to get out. I miss it so much. Here in London we get some, but not enough for me! I always buy a new album when I see the first snowflake. I'll run to iTunes no matter what I'm doing and get a new song to go along with the first flakes. That way the snowfall is tied to something that can last.
F: And what do you crave when you're not doing something knitting or music related?
S: Video games, campfires, antique hunting, painting, sewing, going deep into the forest, Paris, and English premier league soccer. I support Tottenham Hotspur and I never miss a single game. I'm also desperate to get started on the second draft of my first novel. It's a bit of a mystery and I'm so excited to get it finished for my friends and family to read.
F: You've mentioned on Ravelry that you have new stuff in the works--could you give us some little hints on what to expect?
S: Ooh the animals have stopped by, and we're all going to be nice and cozy in December! Plus I've got a few little goodies coming out in Yarn Forward magazine #35. They did a designer feature on me and are including two of my patterns. I'm really looking forward to my first official appearance in a knitting publication! I also hope to get the design for my knitting book on the way at some point in the New Year.
Thanks so much to Stephanie for stopping by and answering those questions so beautifully! Learning more about you has been such a pleasure!
If you're craving more TinyOwlKnits, please be sure to check out her awesome ravelry group, her Etsy store, and her blog! There's always lots going on in her world that you won't want to miss out on...
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