Ruth Brasch, Indie Design Gift ALong 2019 Interview

Today we’re chatting to knitwear designer Ruth Brasch who is also our Stats Queen and the Indie Gift Along, tell us a little about yourself please Ruth.

Hi Loraine, I wear a lot of hats. I’m a stay at home mom to three little ones,  I design knitting and crochet patterns, just started designing Tunisian Crochet patterns, and also do some yarn dyeing!

Theoretically, I was supposed to be a secondary level English teacher, but my children arrived just as I received my certification! So, here I am – a tad verbose in an interview and playing with string and colors.

Feelin' Foxy by Ruth Brasch
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Feelin’ Foxy by Ruth Brasch

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

When I was about 5-6 my mom taught me the basics of knitting.  I distinctly remember the annoying line you get between stitches with a backwards loop cast on and tension issues – I had that! I didn’t knit much at that point, though – mostly I just learned the skill, made a scarf or two for my stuffed animals, and left it alone.

Then, one day when we were cleaning the house when I was about 10, I found a crochet hook in my mom’s closet. I asked her what it was and she told me she didn’t remember how to crochet, but to ask my grandmother. Long story short, my grandmother lived 10 hours away in North Carolina, so she taught me how to do a chain stitch and sent me home. I chained an entire skein of yarn and had no idea what to do with it.

I’ll date myself by letting you know there was no YouTube at this point, so I got out LOTS of books from the local library and taught myself how to crochet out of them, as well as re-teaching myself to knit. From there I was off to the races. I plagued my family and friends with handmade gifts of an embarrassingly low quality, and eventually some nicer ones as well. I’ve literally been crocheting or knitting since about age 10 and haven’t stopped.

Louisette Socks by Ruth Brasch
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Louisette Socks by Ruth Brasch

What made you want to start designing?

Well, as mentioned above, there was no YouTube or Ravelry when I was getting into knitting and crocheting, and I had no idea that there was such a thing as pattern designing, even through my teen years.
 
I just made whatever made sense to me, or made those super intricate filet crochet afghans out of books (I thought you had to be trained to write patterns in books! It never occurred to me I could learn to do that!)
 
But really, designing came from friends who also knit asking me to write down my pattern for fingerless gloves. I thought to myself hey, maybe others would like it too! So I published my first pattern to Ravelry.
 
I’ve learned a lot since that initial stage, but that’s how it started. So it wasn’t so much that I had a desire to start designing and decided to get into it, as that my brain apparently designs things and I’ve just learned how to do it more efficiently and intentionally over the years.
 

 

 

Kari Slipper Socks by Ruth Brasch
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Kari Slipper Socks by Ruth Brasch

What’s you favourite part of the design process?

The moment when you realize the concept in your head will actually work. I have notebooks full of theoretical design concepts, and little post-it notes all over my kitchen cabinets (much to my husband’s chagrin) with ideas of “what if..” or “it would be really neat if I…”; the more realistic ones go on a whiteboard in my kitchen, and then I choose off that list to see if the idea will work.

The EUREKA! Moment is the one I enjoy the most – the rest is just explaining your epiphany so others can understand and replicate it.

What inspires you?

Honestly? The yarn. I feel like I should have something profound to say here, but I frequently will see a yarn, know what it wants to become, and only once it’s partially or fully completed will I make the connection of what it should be named. That’s not to say my pattern names don’t have a deep significance for me – many of them are named after people I care for, songs or books I love, etc.

Ode to Summer Hat by Ruth Brasch
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Ode to Summer Hat by Ruth Brasch

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

I’m a part-time designer in the sense that I don’t keep a time card, and I’m not trying to use my designing as a second income for my family. This is a recent change, actually (not the time card – just the push for the income), as I’ve realized that I want to prioritize spending time with my children while they’re small. I’ll have plenty of time for “full time” work when they’re older.

Do you have a favourite thing to design and why?

You know, I don’t know that I actually have a favorite thing to design. I tend to go in spurts – for a few years it was almost exclusively hats, cowls, and fingerless gloves. Last year I think I only put out socks. This year I’m into shawls, mostly.

Tunisian Express by Ruth Brasch
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Tunisian Express by Ruth Brasch

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

I usually wear my designs once they’re made and photographed. I’m not the world’s most stellar photographer, so I get my good photos and then just wear the darn thing, or my family does. My middle son (who is only three) has shockingly good taste in shawls and sweaters and wants to wear my designs all the time.

As for gifting, I think that may be my only regret of getting into designing so heavily. I used to be the aunt/friend who made a blanket for each new baby that was born or adopted into the family, but I just can’t keep up anymore since I started having my own kids and wanted to make things for them AND design.

I actually have this crazy plan to make a handmade gift for each of my nieces or nephews for Christmas 2020: There’s 45 (ish) of them, with one more on the way that I know of, so I plan to make one gift item each week and put it in a bucket – so I’ll be ready with their gifts next year!

Minus One Day by Ruth Brasch
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Minus One Day by Ruth Brasch

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

Gloves. I absolutely hate doing full finger gloves, but I love how they feel.

Do you have a favourite yarn and why?

That’s a really hard question. I work with a lot of indie dyed yarns, but I also have some box-store standbys that I love.  I’m currently loving Sugarplum Circus Merino Sport (it’s soo squishy and drapey!) for indie dyed, as well as pretty much anything Adella from Lolabean Yarn Co puts out. Her sport weight is heavenly too!

For box-store yarns I’ve always loved Lion Brand Wool-Ease for worsted weight, and Premier Yarns serenity sock for socks. That last one is getting hard to find, which makes me sad, because I knit socks with it probably close to 10 years ago and I haven’t had to darn them yet, though I’ve machine washed and dried them to death!

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

I love my Feelin’ Foxy shawl (shown above). That shawl was a breakthrough for me. I wore it to my first “event” – Vogue Knitting Live in New York City (I’m not that posh, it’s just where it was!) and when I walked the event with it on I felt confident for the first time to tell people I was a designer. Before that event I was very shy about my design work, and wasn’t comfortable promoting myself, but that shawl had me Feelin’ Foxy and confident!

Seaweed Swirl by Ruth Brasch
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Seaweed Swirl by Ruth Brasch

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

I’ve recently fallen in love with Tunisian Crochet. I think it’s wildly underestimated by both knitters and crocheters, and I’m having so much fun discovering all the neat things you can do with it. I put out a pattern this year called Tunisian Express, which is intended to be an introductory level pattern that doesn’t have you mindlessly swatching squares while you learn a technique.

You’ll also see a new Tunisian Crochet pattern from me December 26th, being published as part of the Yarn Café Creations Cast on Collaborative to benefit suicide awareness, so keep your eyes open for that!

What’s your favourite colour?

Red. I’ve always loved a good red – Bright red, or deep burgundy, but I’ve also been on a gray/yellow kick for a while, as well as some good blues. But red is what I come back to.

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

Yes! I think this is my 5th or 6th year? It’s my second year as Stats Queen, and I believe 4th year as a moderator. I love seeing designers encourage each other and publicize each other. It’s easy for designers to see each other as competition, so to come to an environment where you don’t have to compete because others have your back is so safe and refreshing.

Which Gift Along 2019 designers inspire you and why?

Ooh, it’s hard to choose! I’m loving the work that Nidhi Kansal is putting out – I’m actually knitting her Smriti pattern for the GAL; Natasha Sills has some really stunning pieces, I basically want to knit about 6 of her designs but will have to choose just one; and I’m always inspired by Christelle Nihoul. Her work creating a plus-size collection, her amazingly fast colorwork motifs, and beautiful cable and lace shawls? Gorgeous.

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

 

 

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