I learned to knit 13 years ago, right after I got married. My friend and I started together with a hideous "learn to knit" book featuring big baggy drop shoulder sweaters from the 90s, and a set of small slippery metal dpns and a shared skein of the worst acrylic yarn the world has ever seen. My friend and I split the pack of dpns and sat on my bed determined to knit a sweater. Needless to say... we did NOT complete a sweater that night, but for some reason that experience did not traumatize me in the way one would expect and I continued trying to learn on my own. It was not easy since I did not know anyone that knit at the time and we did not have a local yarn shop in our town, but somehow over many years of trial and error I grew into the knitter that I am today!
At what point did you really start feeling like a knitting designer?
Around the time I self-published Coastal Knits with my friend Hannah was a turning point in my career. The book was so well received and it really made me feel like a legitimate professional in this industry.
I absolutely love to draw inspiration from the natural world around me. Leaves, trees and foliage are my favorite to work into my designs.
Do you have a favorite type of item to design?
I love accessories! They are fun, small and easy to really enjoy exploring new techniques and stitch patterns.
The theme for Botanical Knits 1 & 2 came very naturally to me. The style of the patterns in the books perfectly reflect my own personal aesthetic. I designed what I felt and what I wanted to design rather than trying to fit into a "theme" created for me by a publisher or someone else. The knits in those books are truly "me" and everything that I love about knitting. My goal was to bring the outdoors in and to create interesting knits with fun elements and construction. I feel like I accomplished that.
Which of your designs is your favorite? (if you had to choose...)
I am partial to the following designs: I love the romantic look of "Twigs and Willows", and the fun and unusual construction of "Oak Trail" and "Sprig".
I have been podcasting for a full 7 years and it has allowed me to connect to so many people in our industry! I have made friends in lots of different countries and have enjoyed learning from others experiences.
What's another designer whose work you particularly admire?
That is definitely a tough one because I admire so many! Currently a few of my favorites are Carrie Hoge, Carol Sunday and Norah Gaughan.
Any upcoming projects you can give us a hint about?
I'm in the process of embarking on a whole new adventure in the world of knitting! I can't reveal anything yet... but stay tuned for details soon to come! :)
Alana's designs on Ravelry
Alana's Ravelry group
Alana's Podcast: Never Not Knitting (which I reviewed last week)
Alana's books: Coastal Knits, Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf, and Botanical Knits 1 and 2
I hope you enjoyed this interview! As always, I'd appreciate your thoughts for future blog posts. And you can read last month's interview with Sarah Jordan here.
All photos used in this post copyright Alana Dakos.