She's Not a Poe-seur
Deb Breland hails from Louisville, Kentucky, where she creates a striking line of knit accessory patterns as "Goldberry Knits". From fingerless mitts to socks and scarves, Deb's Ravelry store is a delight for knitters of all levels. She recently designed the gorgeous Annabel Lee Shawl for us as part of the Independent Designers Program using Louisa Harding Pittura. I knew we would get along fine when in our first email exchange we discovered a mutual love of Poe's poetry and puns. I hope you enjoy getting to know Deb better through this interview!
Sasha for Skein Shop (SS): Hi Deb! What do you want to make sure the Skein Shop Community know about you?
Deb Breland (DB): I love yarn and spaghetti. I would say I love spaghetti because it looks like yarn, but I loved spaghetti first! I have a fabulous daughter (Charlotte) who models for me and an equally fabulous husband (Michael) who takes pictures of knits for me. They even eat spaghetti with me sometimes! Life is good, right?
SS: It's hard to argue with carbs masquerading as yarn ;) Speaking of yarn, tell us some about your knitting.
DB: I started knitting in 2004 as self-imposed therapy. I took a beginner class at my local yarn store. I remember still learning the cast-on while others were knitting. But, when I got home, Michael said, "Hey, that almost looks like something!" I guess I took that as high praise somehow, and I never looked back. From then on, I read every knitting book I could find and dove into the craft headfirst.
SS: Knitting is excellent therapy. In fact, I find most crafts to be relaxing and fulfilling. Do you do any fiber arts besides knitting?
DB: I crochet a bit. I'm not great. I hear that tension/gauge is a thing in crochet just like in knitting? I do not have that! My great grandmother crocheted amazing things. Really advanced crocheted lace. I admired that skill and I do love lace!
SS: I love crocheted lace! It has the ability to make such interesting shapes. So much skill goes into producing a knit or crocheted object, but let's not forget about the talented designers as well! How did you decide to start designing?
DB: You know, I honestly can't remember specifics. I was never a mathlete. It seems like I started designing for myself around the same time I started teaching knitting. Explaining gauge and sizing to others made it click for me that the same basic knitting algebra I was using there made it possible to create anything I could dream up.
SS: That is so true. Many people who feel they aren't good at math just haven't had enough practice applying it. Do you have any advice for someone thinking of trying their hand at designing?
I was seriously paralyzed by fear, and I sat on some of my finished designs, literally for years, because I was scared of being judged or of making a mistake.
Sure, get it tested. Have it edited. Thank those people for their constructive criticism and for making your design better. Then, put it out there.
It feels so good seeing my designs on other knitters and seeing their take on them. That never gets old for me - can't imagine how it could.
SS: That's such an important thing to remember. Test knitters and tech editors are the unsung heroes of good patterns, and if they find errors or have questions, it does not mean your design is no good! Hopefully your advice will inspire someone to put their design out there. Who do you look to in the fiber arts world for inspiration?
DB: Veronik Avery
and Ysolda Teague
. They are huge names in the industry, but they still hang out on the designer forums and give advice to little fish like me. I seriously called my husband at work one day when Veronik responded to me in a thread. I fangirled so hard! I just think it is nice when designers can show each other love and support.
I also admire my design mentor and friend Mary E. Rose
. She really goes out of her way to coach and encourage other designers. She's truly made of awesomesauce.
Having worked with Mary on the Second Saturday Shawl
, I can confirm that she is indeed made of awesomesauce! So tell us a little about your design process. What is your workflow like?
DB: Oh, I usually have more than one project going. I always have socks on my needles for knitting on the go. Then, at home, I work on whatever I am designing. My process is that I mostly design and knit at the same time, so I am always taking notes as I work on the project. I have the math/stitch pattern figured out before I start, but every pattern is a mystery KAL for me!
SS: Deb, it has been so much fun working with you on this project. Thank you for sharing your time and talent with us! How should our readers keep in touch with you?
I have a little group on Ravelry called, unsurprisingly, "Goldberry Knits
". I'd love folks to join me there and/or message me on Ravelry to say "hi". I like making new knitting friends, and I love to talk about our craft. Also, being on Ravelry helps me put off doing laundry! I also have a website at goldberryknits.com