An Interview with: Hannah Fettig of Knitbot

Hannah Fettig of Knitbot was one of the first people we were SO lucky to meet when we first started the Kelbourne Woolens/Fibre Company process in 2008.  She has always been a huge supporter and lover of the Fibre Company yarns, and we love reading her blog, seeing her in person and finding her name all over the knit-o-sphere.

hannah_fettig

Hannah in her studio (Image courtesy of Hannah Fettig + © Karen Lewis)

Hannah has an impressive number of designs published using the Fibre Company yarns from her book, Closely Knit, her Knitbot pattern store, and her Kindred Knits collection, including but not limited to the beautiful Yoked Cardigan (rav link here), knit out of Terra, the Olive Oil & Pomegranate Vest (rav link here) knit out of the (temporarily) discontinued Khroma, and the Ribbed Pullover Vest (rav link here), knit out of Road to China Worsted!

Hannah just started to sell kits of her two wildly popular patterns, the Featherweight Cardigan and Wispy Cardigan, an update on the Whisper Cardigan from Interweave Knits in her Knitbot store, and starting tomorrow will also be selling the yarn individually.  As a result of this new and exciting adventure, we asked her to answer a few questions for us that we're happy to share with you.

kit

(Image courtesy of + © Hannah Fettig)

Kelbourne Woolens: Let’s get back to basics.  I did a little trolling around and saw your Knit Bot blog began in October of 2006, right around the time you began work on your book "Closely Knit".  When did you start knitting and what led you to start blogging? Which came first, the book proposal/deal, or the blog?

Hannah Fettig: I believe it was the blog.  It's hard to remember that there was once a time without Ravelry, but before it existed my husband and I had a similar idea that we were considering, and we were going to call it knitbot.  So glad Ravelry exists, they have done an amazing job, we couldn't have done it better.  Shortly after that I was approached by an editor from F&W and ended up working on my book instead.

KW: Did you find yourself designing your own original patterns from the start of your knitting experience, or did you evolve into a designer as time went by?

HF: I evolved into a designer.  For years I strictly knit other people's patterns, not making any changes.  When I worked at Knitwit Yarn Shop here in Portland, the shop owner asked me if I ever considered designing any of my own patterns, and I said no.  Over time I did start to play with yarn and make up some simple patterns, my first were actually for The Fibre Company, which was here also here in Portland at the time.

KW: I think it is easy to say you are currently best known for your lightweight women's sweater patterns, but you have a large variety of techniques covered in your knitting patterns, including accessories, babies and children's garments, even some home decor.  Do you have a particular item you like designing best, or technique that you are most drawn to, or are you a more "equal opportunity" designer?

HF: Well, I think I started out as an "equal opportunity" designer, but now that I've developed this niche for myself, I have to say I'm pretty comfortable here.  No matter what I've been designing, I do try to bridge the gap between a handmade item and things you actually see in stores, things that are wearable.

KW: Your history with the Fibre Company goes waaaay back to the beginning (lucky you -- and us!)  What keeps you coming back to the Fibre Company yarns and what about them do you find to be so appealing?

HF: It started with something kind of weird, which is the smell.  Khroma and Pemaquid were my favorite lines, and probably a big part of my love for them was based on how good they smell.  The quality of the fiber used and the way it is spun, the colors it comes in - I love The Fibre Company yarn equally as a skein and knit up.  I also have a fondness for Daphne in Iain, the founders.  Through and through count me a loyal fan of The Fibre Co.

KW: Let's talk about your design process. Your most recent designs, the Wispy Cardigan and Featherweight Cardigan are both beautiful and classic cardigans that have been wildly popular.  Can you talk a little bit about the design process for both of the sweaters and why you think the Fibre Company Canopy fingering is a good fit for both of these designs?

HF: I own a lot of little whispery sweaters like these, they are what I'm drawn to time and time again in my everyday wardrobe.  Whisper was the first one I designed, and as you said was so wildly popular I thought, let's try another.  Give the people what they want!  Now it's almost a game of minimalism - how simple of a sweater can I design, but still have it be beautiful and desirable, the reach for garment.

I think Canopy is such a lovely yarn.  It is fingering instead of lace weight, the added weight will be nice for knitters who don't want their cardi quite so whispery.  The gauge still comes out the same.  In it's beautiful earth tones it could certainly make Featherweight or Wispy your ultimate cardigan, going with everything in your wardrobe.  Also, it's unique blend makes it comfortable year round.

KW: For a lot of patterns in your book, Closely Knit, your self-published collection, Kindred Knits, and other Knit Bot patterns such as the Olive Oil and Pomegranate Vest and the Ribbed Pullover Vest, you used the Fibre Company yarns.  Did you have a project in mind and then choose our yarns, or did you first swatch and then design a project specific to the yarn’s properties? Do you find that your methods change depending on the project or do you have one way you always work?

HF: I always have a hard time answering questions about my design process.  I'm not a person who has systems in place.  I have piles of yarn and fabric everywhere and I just drift from pile to pile as my impulse moves me.  With knitting, I make a swatch first, and then leave this little piece of fabric lying around until it inspires the project.  For Whisper, Featherweight and Wispy, I knew the gossamer type fabric I wanted to achieve, and once I had a successful swatch I was off and running.  I remember when I swatched with Road to China that I felt like it was made to be knit in rib.  That lead to the Ribbed Pullover Vest.  And I loved the fabric created by knitting two rows of Khroma alternated with two rows of Kid Silk Haze, this lead to the Olive Oil and Pomegranate Vest.

vest3

Ribbed Pullover vest in Road to China Worsted (Image courtesy of + © Hannah Fettig)

KW: As a designer, you have published your patterns in a wide variety of formats, including Interweave magazines, your own book, Closely Knit, with Classic Elite's pattern booklets and through your blog and shop, Knit Bot.  Did this just 'happen' as a natural result of your designing or did you make a conscious choice to not limit yourself to one variety of publishing 'media'?

HF: I'm a dabbler, I like to try it all.  I enjoy the control I maintain with knitbot, but am also up for working with publishers.  Working by myself so much, it can be fun to collaborate now and then.

KW: Is there anything else you would like to add?

HF: I love to knit and sew.

* * * * *

Thanks so much for answering our little interview Hannah!

If you are interested in purchasing any of Hannah's patterns, be sure to visit her beautiful blog and website Knitbot, where you can also put together a kit to knit the Featherweight and Wispy cardigans using Canopy Fingering.