Sara Gresbach is one of the designers participating in the Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2014. She blogs over at frontporchknitting.com. She does not only design little treasures to make life a tad more colorful and interesting, she also is a dyer and creates beautiful colourways. To have a look at the portfolio of Sara Gresbach’s designs just follow this link to ravelry.
Hi, Sara. Welcome to herrlichkeiten. I love the pictures on your blog Front Porch Knitting! They compliment your lovely knitting so well. So let me start with a first rather selfish question: Do you have any advice for good taking project pictures that represent a piece of knitting well?
Thanks so much for your compliment on my photos. Really, all the credit goes to my husband, who is a talented photographer and knows about all things techie. Sometimes we clash a little when we work on photo shoots, because he is used to taking portraits and focusing on people’s faces, which is not what the focus is in knitwear photography. He’s come around though. The most important thing is good natural light and a non-distracting background, with the knitwear as the focus of the photo. We actually end up using our front porch for a lot of my knitwear because it gets great light at certain times of the day. It has even become somewhat of a signature for my designs. For example, my Flambeau Cowl was shot on our porch on a really cold day, so we were able to pop inside to warm up as needed, but the photos are still relaxed and simple, and really show off the cowl.
When and why did you start designing and publishing your patterns?
My mom taught me to knit (again-I learned as a child but didn’t keep up with it) when my daughter was about 10 months old, and she is 7 now. I took to it very quickly this time around and once I started, not a day went by that I didn’t pick up my needles. I started playing around with changing patterns and elements of a design after I had the basics down, and my natural sense of creativity lead me down the path to start designing my own pieces. In the beginning, things were very basic and simple, and I was very “green” about the whole thing. Over time, I did lots of reading and research and gained experience as a knitter, and really feel I’ve grown to have my own style.
What do you think is your signature as a designer. What makes a design „you“?
I love anything classic, but somehow fresh. Simple, yet with unique and interesting details. I spend a lot of time outdoors, which also influences my designs. I hope that my designs appeal to a variety of knitters, both those learning new skills with each project, as well as the seasoned knitter. I aim for this with designs that have simple lines and characteristics, but still with details that keep the knitter interested. These are the types of things I enjoy knitting most. One example is my Clary Cowl and Clary Mitts, which are simple pieces with fun little details that make them unique.
You also sell lovely hand-dyed yarn. Are those two creative things dyeing yarn and designing knitting patterns sometimes influencing each other and if so, how?
Most of my hand dyed yarns are inspired by nature and the outdoors, like a lot of my designs are, but so far, I haven’t taken too many steps towards designing with my own yarns. I’m not sure why. I guess I am hesitant to do so, because my yarn business has stayed very small and usually features one of a kind, or very small batches, of yarns. Having small kids at home has limited the regularity of time I can spend on dying, but I’m hopeful that once my youngest is in school all day next year, this may change. And I DO have a pattern featuring Front Porch Knitting hand dyed yarn that will be included in a book that is scheduled to be published next August. So, I’m taking baby steps in that direction, since designing is really my bigger passion.
What are your plans for 2015?
Like I mentioned above, I have a pattern in an exciting collection, Midwestern Knits, featuring designers and yarns from the Midwestern United States that is being curated and published by Carina Spencer and Allyson Dykhuizen. I am very excited about this collection, and can’t wait to see what all of the other talented designers contribute. My heart belongs to the Midwest, so it is such a great project to be a part of. As far as other design plans, I have a few already slotted for self publishing later this Winter, as well as some Spring designs, and am about to cast on for a child’s sweater design I hope to publish next Fall.
The Gift-A-Long and this season are all about gifting so let’s change the subject a little in this direction:
What do you suggest are questions any knitter (or crafter) should be asking themselves before deciding on a hand-made gift? The blogpost about the lovely wedding-gift you made for your sister makes me think, you’ll have some good advice to share.
Oh, thank you so much, that sure was a labor of love, that blanket! I’m so glad I committed to it and followed it through though, their reaction and love for it was truly genuine and priceless.
When I try to decide on a gift for someone, I start with what I like as a jumping off point, and then try to decide how much my taste matches theirs. If we seem to have similar styles, it’s fairly easy. If not, I try to think about what makes their style unique and try to choose something that aligns with that. The other important thing to consider is materials. Just because I love wool that needs to be hand washed and cared for gently doesn’t mean the gift recipient will love it. I try to consider that, and realize that I sometimes have to work with a yarn that wouldn’t be my first choice, but will be better, in the long run, for whoever will be receiving it. I also consider how I will feel while knitting the project. If it’s a design or stitch pattern I’m not crazy about, I try to shy away from it, because I want to really enjoy the process of making the gift, and after all, it’s the thought and love behind a hand made gift that makes it so special.
At last, please tell me about a hand-crafted present that you particularly liked – and why so?
My good friend, and neighbor, who is also a knitter, made me a pair of sweater mittens last year for Christmas. It was the perfect gift, because I don’t sew, at least not very well, so they are something I wouldn’t have made for myself. They are a lovely color scheme, that I know she chose with me in mind, and very cozy and warm. I was very touched to receive them.
Thank you for this insightful interview, Sara!