As part of the Indie Design Gift-a-Long, there’s a massive blog-hop going on, with many of the nearly-300 participating designers interviewing each other. It’s a really fun way for us to get to know each other and learn from one another, AND to introduce our readers to other talented independent designers!
In my last post, I introduced Kate Poe; today, I’m delighted to introduce Tania Richter, also known as AetherFang. You can find Tania on Facebook or on Tumblr in addition to on Ravelry. (All images in this post are copyright to Tania.)
Anne: Your designs are incredibly intricate, mostly involving large-scale motifs done in double knitting. Double knitting is a great technique for those giant dragons and other images, which would otherwise have to be intarsia or duplicate stitch, but it’s relatively uncommon. How did you learn it, and how did it come to be so central in your work?
Tania: I learned double knitting back in college when I came across a Knitty pattern for a double knit hat. The idea caught and I decided that I needed to try making one, I used to walk to the university right next to a river and crossed the infamous UWEC bridge almost daily. After I made my first hat, I didn’t use the technique for a while until I attempted another hat and went back to using double knitting instead of other colorwork because I felt more comfortable with the technique. I also enjoy the uniqueness of knitting something that’s reversible.
Anne: If someone is new to double knitting, what’s your best advice?
Tania: Take it slow. Expect to make mistakes, but don’t be afraid to try it out! Just remember that all it is is knitting, purling, and reading a chart.
Anne: I’m especially fascinated by your Rise From The Ashes phoenix shawl — I’ve seen double knitting used for scarves and cowls, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shaped shawl done that way! Were there any particular challenges with that design?
Tania: Thank you! That design did have a few challenges hidden in it, mainly in the shaping. I went through half a dozen different variations of increases trying to make it so that the edge of the shawl followed the shape of the wings.
I do have two more unique patterns slated for release in January, fully reversible kimono-style sweaters done in double knitting. I added a small sneak peek of one of them below~
The pictured sweater is the Drachen Jaeger pattern which has a European style dragon motif, not pictured is Sekiryu, the Chinese style dragon motif.
Anne: You’ve done a number of Mystery Knit-a-longs with your designs. How has that experience been?
Tania: I really enjoy doing Mystery Knit-a-longs, it’s a great way to introduce a new pattern to Ravelry and meet people through it. I’m trying to do a new MKAL each season and break the mold a bit. My favorite MKAL I’ve run so far has been the Four Elements Dragon MKAL, there’s over 64 different possible scarf combinations. It was really fun to see which element people picked with each new clue!
Anne: What does your design process look like? I’m picturing massive sheets of graph paper and coloured pencils — or do you do your designs from scratch on the computer?
Tania: I usually start out with a sketch either from my sketchbook or on Photoshop, typically as simple as I can make it. From there I’ll import the sketch into Adobe Illustrator, place a grid over the sketch and do any changes I might need to make the pattern fit the grid size. Then begins the fun part of filling in the chart over the sketch and making any final adjustments so the pattern pops.
Anne: When you do your charting on the computer, what software do you use? (I’m always on the lookout for tips and tricks!)
Tania: I make most of my charts from scratch in Adobe Illustrator, but I’ve also used Photoshop (after redoing the Phoenix Shawl 3 times in Photoshop, I mostly stick to Illustrator these days, haha!). I really like using vector based charts, they’re much easier to change if you make a mistake or change your mind when compared to bitmap.
Anne: Are you enjoying being part of the Indie Design Gift-a-long? What’s the best part, for you? Did you take part last year? Are you taking part in the knit-a-long aspect, following any other designers’ patterns?
Tania: I am! The best part has been seeing a lot of designs that I wouldn’t have otherwise found. This is my first year participating, and I’m just about to cast on for Kate Hepell’s Through the Woods hat with a lovely skein of handspun.
Thanks again to Tania for taking the time to be interviewed — and for the sneak peeks at her new design and her behind-the-scenes process!