Choose Your Own Adventure Sweater pictured in above image
A quick scroll through the Grey Owl Knits Instagram will have you reaching for your needles. All of Sarah’s designs make me want to cast on something brand new immediately. The colourwork is so creative and so fun, I especially love when she uses a solid as the base and a variegated as the contrast. One of the most wonderful things about her designs is the creativity you as the knitter can bring to each one with your colour choices.
How long have you been knitting?
On and off for about 45 years. Did I just say that?! There have been years when I didn’t knit a thing but each time I’ve picked my needles up again, it’s like catching up with old friends. I knit a lot when I was a kid and teen, nothing when I was a young adult, when my husband and I moved to Ireland I picked it up again, some when my kids were little, but just recently I have been knitting everyday for 7 years.
Do you remember what your first finished object was?
Oh gosh, I don’t remember… having access to my mom’s yarn store I know I started many many things. Finished? I honestly don’t know. Possibly a Lopi sweater.
What are some new patterns you have added to your queue?
I have so many ideas for patterns that I don’t tend to make many items from other designers. I have bought a few beautiful traditional colourwork items from Virginia Sattler-Reimer, a few Jennifer Steingass patterns, one from Zanete Knits, a couple of Nordic knitwear books. SO many talented designers, so little time!
What’s your most recent finished object?
I just finished the long sleeve sample of the Choose Your Own Adventure sweater. I’m really excited about this design because knitters will get to choose which motif(s) they want to knit. As of right now they can choose vintage trailers, tents, rvs, canoe and paddles, trees, campfires and marshmallows, axes, and a hammock and trees. We will see what else I come up with before the pattern is published! I also finished a custom design for my daughter. Her friend is on her third fight with cancer so I created a mitten with … well, a four letter expletive. And flowers!
What is your go to yarn for hats and mitts?
I love sock yarn because it’s easier to get detail in my colourwork on the larger stitch count. There are so many amazing indie dyers that I’m constantly buying more and more beautiful skeins of sock yarn. But I also like DK weight. I am in love with merino wool, BFL, and alpaca yarns. And I just discovered a merino and cashmere blend that is so soft and lovely. But I’m a sucker for anything with squish and pretty colours.
What are your go to projects for gift knitting?
It sounds terrible but I don’t have a go to project because I don’t have many people who want hand knit items. Isn’t that sad! My husband loves them but my kids are a bit indifferent.
How did you get into designing?
I get that from my mom. My mom has always designed her own knitting patterns, she owned a yarn store (where I worked) and published a number of patterns herself. She told me, ‘the moment you change the yarn in a pattern, you are making design choices’. I’ve been making things up for decades but only just realized others might want to make what I make too. The first pattern I published was the Dancing Dragonfly mittens and it was for a custom order but I couldn’t find what I wanted in existing patterns, so I made up my own. I’m excited to share my ideas and there’s nothing so rewarding as seeing others get excited about knitting your patterns.
Your designs are truly incredible. Have you always had a love for colourwork?
That’s really kind of you to say, thank you. I think my eyes are always drawn to colourful things, items with multi colours or variegation of colours. I find them much more pleasing than single colours. I find colourwork more captivating and engaging than plain stocking stitch or textured fabrics. Even when I was young I was always looking to add a stripe or simple repeat in an otherwise straight stockinette pattern.
Do you have any advice for knitters just starting out with colourwork?
Start with something small, like a hat or headband. Find a pattern that has small repeats, this will get you used to switching back and forth between colours and help you get your tension consistent. Don’t be scared. And don’t be intimidated by anyone who tells you you have to do it a certain way. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. As long as your knit stitches are knit and your purls are purled it doesn’t matter which hand you hold your yarn in. Whatever is comfortable is what’s right for you. Check out video tutorials on youtube and try a few different techniques. I knit English style and have both my colours in my right hand or I drop and pick up my colours. I have tried other techniques but my brain and hands are most comfortable this way, so why change?
Of all your designs, which are your top 3 favourites? (I know this may be a near impossible question).
Oh yes, this is a hard one! I think I’ll go with overall motifs and not specific items. I think, in no particular order, my Dancing Dragonflies, Wee Fieldmouse, and Hedgehogs are at the top. But that’s not to say the others are at the bottom, haha.
What is your preferred style of needle, do you knit socks and mittens on a 9” circular or do you like DPNs?
Great question actually. I hate dpns and will avoid them as much as possible. I LOVE my 9” circular for socks, mittens, sleeves, and small circumference work. I’ve tried the magic loop and don’t like it very much. I especially love the Chiagoo Knit Red needles. They can be super sharp but the fabric I get from them, the ease of the stitches across the needle and cables, and the comfort in my hands is superb.
Your inspiration seems endless, what are you working on right now?
Haha thanks, I forever have a stream of ideas roaming through my mind. I have many charts created and ready to be knit up but don’t have enough time in the day. I’m not an organized designer. I don’t have a theme I’m working on, or specific palettes. I work on what’s inspiring me at that moment. My Under the Hedge Sweater is just being tested and will be published in March. I just finished knitting the sample for my Choose Your Own Adventure Sweater and will be adding to the motif choices. I was just working on the charts for Prancing Pony socks and Under The Hedge socks. And I have a few other ideas percolating.
You released so many gorgeous designs last year, what is coming out next?
Thank you, I really appreciate that. I’m not a very good planner, I’m afraid, and tend to go with my moment of inspiration. The Choose Your Own Adventure Sweater will be in testing soon. The Under The Hedge pullover will be out in March. The Adventure Awaits RV mittens will be out Feb 1st. I may revisit existing charts for new items ( a Wee Fieldmouse tee?!) but I’ll see where my creative juices take me!