• September’s Designer of the Month – Casapinka
  • Post author
    Josh Hutchison

September’s Designer of the Month – Casapinka

September’s Designer of the Month – Casapinka

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 September 15, 2016 we will be releasing the pattern that Casapinka designed using SilverSpun® Sock to our subscribers.  Be sure to sign up here so you don’t miss it.

Casapinka, is our September Designer of the Month.  I first became aware of Casapinka and her beautiful designs when I spotted her Fall is a Color slouchy hat at the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show last year.  She used Backyard Fiberworks yarn for the design and since Alice from BYFW dyes all of our hand dyed yarn for us, I couldn't help but notice.   When I was putting together my list of designers to ask to participate in our Designer of the Month program, of course Casapinka was on the list.  Lucky for us, she agreed to participate and has created a beautiful design which will be revealed next week.  You can find Casapinka on Ravelry  and Instagram.

And with that, I give you Casapinka ….

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?

The first part of my life was spent in a small town in Oregon and I moved to northern Maine when I was twelve. In high school I was an exchange student to a small town in New Zealand on the Tasman Sea. I’ve lived in a lot of small towns! In New Zealand we were stuck inside over spring break due to pouring rain and while we watched movies and played cards, my friend’s sister was knitting a sweater. Every time I saw her it was a bit longer. I thought knitting was impossible but her soothing repetitive movements showed me that consistency would actually yield a beautiful final project and speed wasn’t important. So, I learned to knit when I was 16 and it just stayed with me.

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

My designing is often done at night after the lights are out. I let my mind wander. Sometimes I consider a specific “problem” such as how to tame variegated yarn and sometimes I just think about what I would like to wear or what I’ve seen in a TV show, movie or on Pinterest. Quite often I start with some yarn that I love and try to figure out how to show it off. I love stitch dictionaries and also start with a single stitch. Matchmaking the stitch to the yarn is a lot of fun for me.

I am terrible at drawing and so I feel that I draw via knitting. In many ways not drawing has been a handicap because I can’t submit design renderings (since they are so bad) to magazines or yarn companies. I’ve been turned down for commissions after being asked to design something – because I tried to describe what I wanted to knit rather than draw it. So, I make crude facsimiles of what I want to design that only I can “see” but since I can, indeed, see it in my mind, I can usually knit it.

I have a knitting room but it’s supposed to be our dining room. It has this nice, comfy sectional in it and lots of foliage outside the windows. It’s two shades of soothing pink and every week my designer friends come and hang out and we critique, chat, make suggestions and brainstorm together. I love this room but I’m also very partial to our bedroom. It has tall windows with beautiful light throughout the day and I love knit in it. On the other hand, I also do a lot of knitting at swim practice, in the car and pretty much everywhere I go. I hate being caught waiting for something (subway line, late kiddo bus) without my knitting! People always make a joke of it, like I’m this crazy knitting person but they don’t realize that it’s a career and while they are watching a swim meet I am actually working (and watching my kids swim.) Because I take it everywhere with me, my knitting tends to be simple. If I do lace, it’s lace that I can figure out on the fly without following a chart. I let my tech editor figure out the best way to chart it after I’m done.

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

My inspirations often come from either something I see, a yarn I’m actually holding, or a shape somewhere. I love geometric shapes and bold colors. One time a small towel fell to the floor in a parallelogram and it inspired me to design a shawl in that shape. Sometimes I work by finding a “problem.” As all fictional books have a central “problem” and I like to think of that as a design approach, especially if I’m having “Designer’s Block.” One of my favorite “problems” is variegated yarn which is gorgeous freshly dyed and skeined. But often when it’s knitted up it is a mass of colorful disorder. I love to try and bring order to variegated yarn, or train it. I call loud, variegated yarn my problem child! Designing often begins with the yarn and I play around, usually doing many “takes” of a design before settling on one that I like. Again, this is my way of sketching.

For the Silver Storm Cowl, my “problem” was that it was a single, subtle color and I wanted to give it an edge. This came as an afterthought when I decided to drop every 4th and 5th stitches. Something was niggling in the back of my mind and while it could have ruined the design, I was very happy with the outcome and it now feels complete.

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

I love Japanese designers and those who do geometric designs or bold colors with neutrals. Orla Kiely, Yohi Yamomoto, Junya Watanabe, Isumo Noguchi Marimekko, and Suzy Pilgrim Waters are favorites. As for knitting designers, I greatly admire Kieran Foley of Knitlab and Suvi Simola, among many. I also adore knitting fair isle and garments and would love to do more of both. If only I could convince people that steeking is a lot of fun.

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

Designing makes daily life have infinite possibilities. When something doesn’t work out (and plenty doesn’t!) there is always the next design. The lovely feel of knitting, the portability, the constant conversations it induces, are all things I love about designing and knitting. It seems like there is so much potential in a skein of yarn. It’s always new. And when there is knitting, there is rarely boredom!

What do you have on your needles right now?

On my needles now? I’m only allowed three projects at any one time. This keeps me “honest” and allows me to finish most of the projects that I start. Since I typically knit the design myself (with a whole lot of frogging, it must be said) I can’t just hand it off to someone after doing a swatch. So, my business is limited by the speed of my hands which isn’t always fast. So, currently I have

  1. A cape/blanket/poncho thing that is about 1/3 of the way done. In worsted weight with 3 colors.
  2. A single skein of “problem child” yarn to make a top down single skein shawl.
  3. The cowl I made for this design is off my needles now so I only have two projects. Time to cast on again - which is always fun.

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

When using SilverSpun® I loved the fact that I could knit with cotton and not have it stretch out of shape or feel heavy. Cotton tends to have such poor memory and stretch out, but due to the small amount of Spandex, this yarn keeps its shape impeccably. It was soft and organic feeling and I just LOVE the finished cowl and even better is the fact that I get to keep and wear it and it doesn’t itch at all! The geographic look of the dropped stitches on the neutral background makes it look wonderful with dark colors – and it’s easy to just throw on.

Do you have any other passions besides knitting?

My other obsession/passion/fixation is fairly uncool. I adore civil aviation. I’m obsessed with listening to Air Traffic Control and reading the forums on Airliners.net. I have my favorite air traffic controllers (Kennedy Steve and Logan John) and I listen to interesting recordings that are logged on the ATC website. I know an MD 80 versus an A320 when I see it. I get excited when our family flies into Boston from Ireland and I see the big green plane banking above the bay; the lines of the A330 are so pretty! When speaking to friends or people I don’t know I immediately give myself a 30 second time limit because their eyes will glaze over if I go on any longer. It’s a lonely obsession but when I’m knitting and listening to Kennedy Steve it’s a pretty happy place I find myself in. And “Sully” is coming out this weekend so I’m very excited to see that! Have I completely my 30 seconds? Are your eyes glazing over?


On September 15, 2016 we will be releasing the pattern that Casapinka designed using SilverSpun® Sock to our subscribers.  Be sure to sign up here so you don’t miss it.

  • Post author
    Josh Hutchison