Today’s post is the last in our four-part Designer Spotlight series and features Catrina Frost, the designer behind the Survey Pullover. Read on to learn more about Survey, Catrina’s design process, and her love of and appreciation for breed-specific wool.
What is your favorite design element(s) in the Survey Pullover? Why?
I personally love approachable knits that are simple but also have an interesting detail or two. I kept these qualities in mind while designing the Survey Pullover. The result is a combination of meditative stockinette and simple texture on the chest. My favorite design elements are the stockinette sections. There are quite a few knitters out there who find row after row of stockinette to be tedious. In a world of constant overstimulation, I find that stockinette offers a nice refuge. I enjoy the gentle rhythm as my hands move round and round steadily climbing row upon row—simple and easy.
Describe your design process. How do you get from idea to finished object?
Generally, my initial inspiration for a design starts with a mood board or concept. I like to immerse myself in this stage for a while until ideas start flowing. I select one of the ideas to begin with and sketch out several variations with general construction techniques, stitch patterns, and yarns in mind until I feel I have a solid starting point. Next, I’ll work up a nice large swatch with any stitch patterns or special shaping used in the design. Swatching is extremely important. Not only does it provide gauge and let me experience the type of fabric the yarn produces, but it also provides a test run on construction methods and may help reveal the weak points in these areas. The fabric can also show me how well the intended yarn works with the initial stitch pattern. Once I’ve adjusted any trouble areas, I’ll start knitting the entire piece and taking notes, being sure to check gauge and calculations as I go.
I also enjoy the challenge of starting with a yarn. When I take this approach, I’ll swatch with it and experiment with different needle sizes and stitch patterns. These swatched fabrics spark ideas which I’ll then sketch and work on from there. I’ve learned (and am still learning) through trial and error that creating is a fluid process. Never be afraid to rip back and re-do a section if it is not working. Do this as many times as needed to get it right. The quality finished item is incredibly satisfying.
Based on your Instagram, you’re a huge supporter of small producers of breed-specific yarn. The Survey Pullover is knit out of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. Are there any favorite yarns you would recommend for the pullover or in general?
I’m definitely a big fan of breed-specific yarn and those who produce it! I especially love experimenting with the lesser known and hard-wearing wools such as Texel or California Red. It is a passion and fun challenge to find suitable projects that show off what these fibers can do really well. It breaks my heart when perfectly usable wool is burned or composted because there isn’t a profitable venue to market it. As hand knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, and fiber artists, we can change this. Our community holds a very important role in supporting breed diversity and small farms. When we buy yarn or fleece from small farms or companies who support them, we help make all types of wool a value-added product for shepherds and shepherdesses.
A couple of my favorite single farm yarns that I think would work well for this pullover are Farm Girl Products Blue Faced Leicester/Alpaca blend and Great Bay Wool Works 100% Romney wool. Farm Girl Products’ yarn is the best wool/alpaca blend I’ve used so far. The staple lengths of the Blue Faced Leicester and alpaca fibers are very similar and play well together. The advantage here is that you won’t experience the shedding that often occurs with wool/alpaca blends, and it has a wonderful hand. Great Bay Wool Works 100% Romney is a sturdy yarn with a bit of a soft halo to it. It feels great to knit with.
What big plans do you have in store for the rest of 2017?
In addition to producing some new patterns I’ve had in my line-up for a while, I plan to continue exploring breed-specific fibers and blends by designing and field testing durable and comfortable wool wear. I want to show how well these wools translate to adventure wear and even attractive everyday fashion items.
Thank you to Catrina for taking time to answer our questions. You can find Catrina online in the following places: