Indie Design Gift A-Long 2019 Interview with Brenda Castiel

Today we’re chatting to knitwear designer Brenda Castiel, tell us a little about yourself please Brenda.

Hi, I’m Brenda Castiel, I’m Goodstuff on Ravelry.  I’ve been designing knitwear for close to 10 years. I do shawls, accessories, sweaters, and kids clothing. A little of everything!

I also have an Etsy Shop, GoodStuffCrafts, where I sell handmade project bags, and notions pouches. Link

How did you get into knitting/crochet and who taught you?

I am a self-taught knitter. I taught myself out of an old black-and-white brochure published by Patons. I may have picked up a few odd ways of doing things since I figured lots of techniques out by myself. I still think I don’t pick up stitches in the right way.

I knitted a few items when I was in my teens. They turned out fine.

Then when I was older, I knitted a few baby items when my son was born. But then I dropped it again until 2007. I came across an old abandoned knitting project that had languished for over 20 years, picked it up again and finished the project. Knitting was becoming “cool” again so I joined right in.

What made you want to start designing?

I started designing when Knit Picks announced their independent design program. I thought they might be interested in working with a newcomer, since they were new to this area themselves. They accepted my first design,
and then I was off and running. I submitted ideas to every magazine and publication I could think of, and my design work started to take hold.

What’s you favourite part of the design process?

My favourite part of the design process is the beginning, when your head is full of ideas and you just want to get started and cast on! The less interesting part is actually writing out the pattern; making sure the math works, and that you have covered the different sizing options.

I’m also not great at the photography part! I’ve recently started asking my granddaughter to be my model. She is more photogenic than I am 🙂

What inspires you?

I guess I get inspiration from many different places. I might see an interesting stitch pattern somewhere and try to figure out how it was made. Sometimes a particular yarn inspires me.

I guess I get inspiration from all around me. It’s hard to pin down!

Are you a full-time or part-time designer and how does that fit into your life?

I would have to say I’m a part-time designer I only spend a couple of hours a day on my knitting design work. I also spent two or three hours a day working on my Etsy shop. So I guess both together add up to nearly a full-time job!

Do you have a favourite thing to design and why?

My favourite thing to design is shawls. There is so much scope for creativity in shape, colour, stitch patterns. And luckily it doesn’t have to be sized to fit every body type. Having said that, I often try to make shawls in at least two sizes though, because some people like a shawlette, and some people like a big cozy shawl to wrap around themselves and keep them warm. I also like to adjust patterns so that you can make it bigger if you have more yarn.

Do you have much time to make things for yourself or for gifting?

It’s rare when I knit someone else’s patterns, but I do occasionally — if I want something quick for a gift, or a design is so unique that I couldn’t hope to emulate it myself. The Hitofude sweater comes to mind. I like to knit for my two grandchildren – there’s a girl who is 10, and a boy who is 6, and for now they still seem to appreciate my knitting. I made them both mittens last winter.

If someone knitted or crocheted a gift item for you, what would you love the most?

I would really appreciate anything someone made for me, it would be wonderful!

Do you have a favourite yarn and why?

It’s too hard to pick a favourite yarn. There are so many talented independent dyers, it would be impossible to choose. I have some great yarns in my stash that I haven’t had a chance to get to yet.

What’s your favourite of your own designs and what do you love about it?

It’s so hard to choose but I might say it’s the Pistachio Ice Cream Shawl. It uses two yarns that, at first, look like they don’t go together. It’s a way to use a highly variegated yarn that might be too wild to use on its own, so it’s paired with a solid that helps tone it down. It doesn’t use lace just blocks of garter stitch and stockinette stitch, and there are wedges of colour created by short rows. It’s a very achievable shawl for most knitters, and I think it gives a great result. 

Pistachio Ice Cream Shawl by Brenda Castiel

Pistachio Ice Cream Shawl by Brenda Castiel

Is there anything new you can tell us about or a recent design you’d like to chat about?

One of my recent designs is theFirst Impressions Shawl by Brenda Castiel.It was inspired by a beautiful yarn dyed to represent Monet’s water lilies paintings. I designed the shawl to feature the beauty of the yarn, and also to hint at the ripples of the pond that the water lilies grew in. I think the marriage of pattern and yarn turned out great.

First Impressions Shawl by Brenda Castiel

First Impressions Shawl by Brenda Castiel

What’s your favourite colour?

My favourite colour is the blue family, anything from sky blue to dark blue to teal. I love Reds too!

Have you been a participating designer in the Indie Gift Along before and what do you love most about it?

I have participated in the GAL for several years now, and I love the way it inspires knitters to try new things, and the way it helps to showcase some designers who otherwise do not get much visibility.

Which Gift Along 2019 designers inspire you and why?

Oh gosh, there are so many designers I don’t think I could pick a just few to say that I admire them. I think they’re all so talented!

How do people get in touch with you or see more of your work?


Facebook: Castiel
Ravelry pattern store:
Instagram: @bcastiel



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