Natasha Sills, Indie Design Gift A-Long 2019 Interview

Today we’re chatting to knitwear designer Natasha Sills of Gritty Knits, who is a crochet designer taking part in the Indie Design Gift A-Long.  

Hi there! My name is Natasha and I am a pattern designer, knitter, crocheter, spinner, and I dye yarn & fiber for my business, Gritty Knits. I live with my husband and our dog in Houston, Texas, USA.

I have a ton of hobbies – I’m one of those people who feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the different crafts. Ideas for new patterns come at me faster than my hands can knit them, so I live in a constant deficit. Maybe I’ll catch up one day when I’m 100.

Snapshot by Natasha Sills
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Snapshot by Natasha Sills

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

My great-grandmother was a crocheter when I was young but I never expressed any interest in learning back then, which is something I regret. I learned to knit in my 20’s from a book – Stitch ‘n’ Bitch by Debbie Stoller. And I’m so glad I did. I had no idea at the time how it would completely take over my life.

What made you want to start designing?

Though I had come up with a few small things over the years, I feel I truly became a designer as a result of becoming a dyer. I was very surprised by the number of people who would come to my fiber festival booth, pick up a ball of yarn, and ask “What can you make with this?” I didn’t realize how many knitters and crocheters relied on samples for inspiration, and how much those samples on display would help my sales. Many of my early designs were made for the sole purpose of showcasing the yarn itself. Then over time as I had more ideas, the designs took on a life of their own. Lately, my thinking has switched from “What can I knit to make people buy this yarn?” to “What yarn should I use that will best fit the pattern I want to write?”

My Favorite Weekend hat by Natasha Sills
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My Favorite Weekend hat by Natasha Sills

What’s you favourite part of the design process?

There’s no better feeling than the “a-ha” moment when you solve a difficult design problem. Gauge math, unusual construction, repeats that don’t divide evenly… Sometimes the solution comes after a good night’s sleep. Other times after I put the project down for a year, I pick it up again and suddenly everything that didn’t make sense before makes sense now. I am a problem solver by nature and that is such a satisfying accomplishment each time I work something out.

What inspires you?

Seeing people who have knit my previous designs. It blows my mind to think how this thing that used to exist only in my head has now become a part of someone else’s life. It’s such a great feeling to know that the hard work I’ve put into this has paid off, and if I’m being honest, it’s an ego boost too! I am so thankful and flattered every single time someone chooses to make something I have designed. It makes me want to keep going.
A Proper Pair of Gloves by Natasha Sills
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A Proper Pair of Gloves by Natasha Sills

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

Definitely part time. I would do it more if I could, but I have early-onset arthritis and a couple of other health issues. I never have the stamina to do as much as I want. Being my own boss is a way to have fun doing something I love while still being able to set my own deadlines, take time off when I need to, and try to make at least a little cash on the side.

Do you have a favourite thing to design and why?

I’m an accessories girl – shawls, hats, gloves, slippers. I have lived my whole life in Texas, and it is H-O-T here. I have very few opportunities to wear sweaters. I prefer to knit smaller items because they’re the only things that are useful to me. Plus the quicker I finish a project, the quicker I can publish. Cranking out several small things is more satisfying than one huge project that takes forever.
 
Purrl the Cat by Natasha Sills
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Purrl the Cat by Natasha Sills

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

I knit new designs almost exclusively, with the occasional personal item made for myself. My gift knitting days are over. You want me to knit you something? Ha! No way… but I’ll teach you to knit.

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

SOCKS! I love sock yarn, and I love wearing socks, but for some reason I’ve never been much of a sock knitter.
Sokkusu Socks by Natasha Sills
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Sokkusu Socks by Natasha Sills

Do you have a favourite yarn and why?

I gravitate toward the wild and wacky. I almost always use my own yarn, but occasionally I’ll see something dyed by someone else that I can’t pass up. The last yarn I bought from another dyer was a colorway called The Special from Skein Cocaine. It’s every single color in the world somehow combined into one.

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

Stay Out of the Forest – It hangs on my shoulders just right without slipping off, the color is so wrong but somehow so right, and I’ve gotten compliments every time I’ve worn it.
Stay out of the forest by Natasha Sills
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Stay out of the forest by Natasha Sills

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

I recently caught the brioche bug, and I’m working on a big, squishy brioche shawl right now. I’ve shown a few hints on my instagram, but I think I may keep the overall shape a secret and release it as a mystery knit-along.

What’s your favourite colour?

I love bright, intense colors. Hot pink is probably my #1, followed by all the other fluorescents.

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

This is my second year participating in the gift-along and I love it! Of course it’s nice to get a boost in sales, but my favorite part is definitely the camaraderie. It sounds a little cheesy, but it’s heartwarming to see the welcoming attitude of all the designers and participants in the forums. Everyone is so helpful and positive, and that is a very rare thing to find on the internet these days. Ravelry as a whole and this group in particular are refreshingly friendly.
Blue Morpho by Natasha Sills
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Blue Morpho by Natasha Sills

Which Gift Along 2019 designers inspire you and why?

Nina & the moderators! This event has grown to such a gargantuan size, and I know it must take hundreds of hours behind to scenes to organize. Between the KALs & CALs, the games, the questions and answers… this team has its hands full, and they handle it with grace. And still they manage to find time to do their design work. Amazing.

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

 

 

Christmas Tea Cozies 3 sizes, 4 characters, ebook

 

Aline Modular Cardigan ladies knitting pattern is released

Quick links to our shop

Austermann Yarns, Baby Yarns, Debbie Bliss Yarns, Lanas Stop Yarns, Araucania Yarns, Schoeller & Stahl Yarns, Felting Yarns, Noro Yarns, DK Yarns, 4ply Yarns, Aran Yarns, Fur Yarns, James C Brett Yarns, Lion Brand Yarns

Woolly Madly Deeply Online Yarn Shop Cumbria UK

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