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  • April’s Designer of the Month – Annie Rowden
  • Post author
    Josh Hutchison

April’s Designer of the Month – Annie Rowden

2016 is the “Year of the Designer” for Feel Good Yarn Company.  The first Thursday of every month we will feature an interview with one of our favorite knitwear designers and the following week we will release a pattern designed exclusively for our SilverSpun® yarn by that designer.

On April 14, 2016 we will be releasing the pattern collection that Annie designed using SilverSpun® yarns to our subscribers.  Be sure to sign up here so you don’t miss it.

Annie Rowden, from by Annie Claire, is our April Designer of the Month and I couldn't be more thrilled!  I have been waiting for this month's release since we first discussed it way back in January.  Originally from England, Annie & her husband now reside in the very northern coastline of California, raising dairy goats.  In her spare time she designs patterns for "grown-ups" available on her website, as well as sweet patterns for children at Little Woolens, created with her dear friend, Ashley Yousling, of Woolful.com fame.

And with that, I give you Annie ….

Can you give us a little background intel on yourself? Where were you born? Do you still live there? How long have you been knitting? Who taught you to knit?

I come from England, a small village a little ways from Cambridge. However, my knitting life hasn’t spent time there all too much. I taught myself to knit whilst living in Finland. I was a nanny for two little children and while they were napping I taught myself to knit from a book I found at the library, one of Susan B. Anderson’s books in fact! I had always been curious about knitting. My Mum is extremely crafty and throughout my childhood we tried everything from sewing to stamping, quilling to glass painting - not a lot was left unexplored. Non the less my Mum’s preferred fiber art is crochet, and it is her Mum who is the knitter. I vaguely remember being taught to knit when I was little but knew even then that I was making up my own stitches! And so it wasn’t until living in the coldest winter I’ve ever experienced that I finally got the hang of those needles and haven’t stopped since.

My husband and I live in Northern California with our daughter and a whole bunch of goats! We lead quite the demanding life of dairy farming and I feel so lucky to have found a passion in knitting that can fit into the stolen moments of a day!! We are coming to the end of a kidding season when the needles don’t get all that much attention, but when the farm work is quieter, then the knitting gets busy. Ebbs and flows!

Where do you do your designing? Do you have a special room in your house, a studio, a favorite chair?

My little nook in the house is a desk crammed in to the corner of our guest room. It’s here that most of my computer work and number crunching is done, as well as where I store the majority of my yarn, notions and other tools. I’m not the most tidy person, but this space serves me well. Actually the most useful part of this room is the bed which is the most perfect blocking area! My actual knitting happens anywhere in the house; couch, bed, out on the deck, anywhere that I get a moment. Being a farmer and living where we work, we don’t spend too much time off the farm so I’m not all that accustomed to knitting out and about. In fact we live in an area where all we need is just down the road, so even car time knitting is saved for serious road trip business!

Where do your design inspirations come from? Nature, architecture, fine art, what?

This is always a hard questions to answer as I find each project or design can have various sources of inspiration. I might have found a stitch pattern I want to explore, a new technique to incorporate, or an interesting way of construction to try out. For the majority of the time the yarn itself brings most of the influence to my creativity, and second to that, a raw need for a particular item in my closet. Those two factors head up the initial spark of inspiration, but being out in the elements channel further ideas. Finding patterns and rhythm in the way a plant grows, the way a flower blooms, or in the grain of a piece of wood, they often sneak a way into my knitting. Working with my hands outside also gives me time and the headspace to solve problems within a design, or break down how I might even begin a new garment. I actually rarely sketch ideas and carry most of it in my head - how I want something to look and feel on the body, as well as how I might construct it from the ground up.

Who are your favorite designers (and it doesn’t have to be knitwear designers)?

Some of my favourite designers have become great friends - Andrea Mowry and Ashley Yousling. It’s so refreshing to have such good friends in life who also play big roles in this industry. I also strongly admire Bristol Ivy, Joji Locatelli, Thea Coleman and Carrie Bostick Hoge’s work, for their unique and grounded use of texture and interesting construction - designs which are more than often timeless pieces which will carry you through life.

What is it about designing that gets you to jump out of bed every morning and grab the needles?

Creating something that is practical and useful! The fact that not only can I make something out of ‘string’, but that I can design and create an idea that is in my head is still, and hopefully will always be, amazing to me! For me its a piece in the puzzle of being self sustainable; to be able to provide for yourself and your friends and family. Whats more, to be able to select from an array of yarns from local fibers, 100% produced within America! It’s such an exciting time within the industry, and definitely a huge part of what keeps me motivated.

What do you have on your needles right now?

I’m very excited to have be working on a mini version of Morning Mist! It’s one of my most popular patterns and one that lends itself so easily to a pint-sized version. It’s actually been a really nice break from designing something completely new, as most of the work is already done! And children knits always go so fast.

While designing your piece for FGYCo, what qualities of SilverSpun® did you find most appealing?

There are so many things about SilverSpun® that makes it so perfect for newborn items! (Editor's note: Big hint for this month's pattern release). The non-toxic silver spun into the natural cotton brings amazing thermal properties which alone is of great comfort to mother and baby. Silver also carries properties which inhibit bacteria growth allowing for fresh knits and garments and keeping your baby protected. The cotton is extremely soft - not too dissimilar to wool! - making for ideal next-to-the-skin garments for sensitive newborn skin, yet it is also strong, hard-wearing and washable! You can place the final knit in the wash on gentle (and air dry) - what new Mum doesn’t like that?! Another great aspect of this yarn for growing babies is the elasticity. SilverSpun® has a lot of give in it, making for perfect grow-with-me-knits.

Do you have any other passions besides knitting?

Haha, yes! Although I often wish I just had one! I’m currently head deep in herbal studies, a fairly recent journey I’ve began. The coming of Spring has me in the garden getting the veggies started but now also exploring new-to-me herbs, on top of the dye plants I like to grow! I barely touched my dye pots last year but I hope to get back to that more in the coming months. And I love to cook and sew. Although sewing comes in waves. I’ll line up a handful of projects and spend a fortnight or so with the sewing machine rather than my knitting needles. Like I said, projects and passions aren’t a-miss! Life is full!

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On April 14, 2016 we will be releasing the pattern collection that Annie designed using SilverSpun® yarns to our subscribers.  Be sure to sign up here so you don’t miss it.

  • Post author
    Josh Hutchison