I have a real treat for you today! While looking up a knitting technique recently, I stumbled upon Kephren Pritchett’s website: Kephren Knitting Studio and, well, stayed a while. I loved what I was seeing: beautiful patterns, excellent tutorials, and tech editing savvy. Kephren does it all and does it well. And, as it turns out, she has a pattern (the Diamond Lattice Pullover) in one of the most recent KnitPicks cable collections that I absolutely love. It was simple serendipity! So, I wrote a fan letter to this lovely lady and she agreed to an interview and a GIVEAWAY! Yep, that’s right, you can win a pattern for one of Kephren’s original designs! I have THREE to giveaway here 🙂 ❤
To enter the giveaway, click the link above, check out her patterns, and tell us which pattern would you choose and why? You can post a comment HERE or in the Ravelry THREAD for this giveaway! The giveaway will be open until
Feb 24th Feb 26th!
And read on for some fun insight from Kephren who is a designer AND a technical editor for patterns. She is one of the folks who keeps the knitting world running smoothly and I’m guessing many of us can tell the difference between a tech edited pattern and one that hasn’t been truly tested in this respect. I do think it can make all the difference!
Your path to design–and tech editing–sounds like it began by working with customers and patterns at a knitting store. How did you make the leap to designing your own patterns for shawls, sweaters, and accessories? Were you at all nervous about the shift? Did you keep your day job or just go all in?
I was already designing my own shawls and sweaters when I started working at the yarn shop, in fact, I think it was the reason I was hired. I had only been knitting for about a year or two, but I was self-taught from reading books by Elizabeth Zimmermann and Barbara Walker. Their experimental, design-it-yourself attitude was the way I approached knitting. Imagining a design and figuring out how to create it was part of the fun for me. I liked to read other designers’ patterns, and I got to read a lot of patterns when I was helping customers with knitting questions and problems, but I didn’t really knit from them. Although I took notes, I didn’t write patterns, and even though I loved designing I wasn’t yet interested in pattern writing.
After I left the yarn shop I moved from Wisconsin to Louisiana, and I was able to spend about a year studying knit design, pattern writing, and tech editing before I published my first pattern, the Madeline Shawl. I found that it was easier for me to write the pattern first, then knit the sample, so I changed my whole design process. I also developed a style sheet and pattern templates so my patterns would be consistent. For the first few years I was able to focus on just designing and tech editing, but I do have a day job now, and I’m back in Wisconsin.
Your designs have a delightfully vintage feel to them. Where do you find inspiration for the shawls and sweaters you’ve designed?
That’s an interesting observation! I wouldn’t say that I try for a vintage look, but I’ve always been interested in fashion history, so I’m sure there is some historical influence in my designs. For the first several years that I was knitting I was fascinated by historical knitting traditions, like Fair Isle and Fisher Ganseys. The Keeley Gansey is my interpretation of the traditional Gansey sweater. These sweaters were traditionally made for men, but I thought that some of the elements could be adapted to make a very feminine silhouette, and I think it worked! That sweater was designed in response to a call for submissions from Interweave Knits magazine, and most of my published sweaters have been designed that way, but my shawl designs are a bit more abstract; inspired by nature or my environment. I designed the Red River Wrap when I was living in Louisiana, near the Red River, and the lace patterns in that shawl were chosen to represent the river and the cities on either side of it.
Do you have other favorite designers or mentors that have helped you (literally or figuratively) along the way?
I already mentioned Elizabeth Zimmerman and Barbara Walker, but two of my favorite current designers are Ysolda Teague and Isabell Kraemer. I don’t have a mentor exactly, but Stephannie Tallent and I have been trading tech editing for a few years, so I am very familiar with her work and I’ve learned a lot from her. Tabitha Dukes is another designer/tech editor that has helped me along the way. I belong to a fiber photography group that she moderates, and she always seems to be there with advice and encouragement when I need it.
As a technical editor, you also help other designers. What is your favorite part of the technical editing process?
As well as looking for technical errors, I try to look at patterns from a knitter’s perspective and foresee possible problems or areas that could be confusing. It makes me really happy when a designer says my suggestions were helpful, or that I pointed out something they didn’t think of. I also love seeing new designs pop up on Instagram and Ravelry and thinking, “I helped make that happen”.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin designing?
I think it’s important to understand that designing and pattern writing are two different things. You can have a lot of fun designing your own patterns, custom made just for you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can write a pattern in ten sizes that other knitters will be able to follow. Just as designing takes time and practice, so does pattern writing. I also think it’s worth writing the pattern, or at least the basic outline, first. Thinking through to the end of the design before you start knitting allows you to make design decisions that will make the pattern easier to follow. Sometimes I get impatient and want to cast on before the I’ve worked out all the design details, but I know that having a clear idea of the design before I begin makes the knitting and writing easier.
What’s new on the horizon for you?
I have a few patterns in upcoming Interweave magazines, and I’m planning a collection of shawls inspired by the night sky. I started studying photography a few years ago, and I’m really happy with how much I’ve improved, so I would like to do a lot more pattern photography, and maybe even update some of my old pattern photos. I’m also planning to do some night sky photography to accompany my new shawl collection.
Where can folks follow your work and find out more?
I’m @kephrenknitting all over the internet, and my website is www.kephrenknittingstudio.com You’ll find my patterns for sale on Ravelry https://www.ravelry.com/designers/kephren-pritchett and Love Knitting https://www.loveknitting.com/us/user/Kephren/patterns/efdf55fb-8bc6-4420-a7d9-9c5d0dc4daf2
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Thanks so much, Kephren!
I love meeting new people (and sheep!): if you are an indie dyer, a hand spinner, a shepherdess, a small flock owner, a mill operator, or a wool trader, I would love to feature your work on this site. Please get in touch via email or Ravelry by clicking the “About” tab (above)