Designer Spotlight: Alexandra Tinsley

Alex TinsleyToday we have another very talented knitting designer in the Designer Spotlight. Alex is from Michigan and I know you will have fun getting to know her!

Loopy: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today! So how long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?

Alex: My mother made several attempts at teaching me to knit as a kid, but it didn’t stick until high school when I finally sat down with a book and taught myself. I’m not sure what finally motivated me – I think I just wanted to join the newly-formed (and short-lived) knitting club at school.

Dull RoarLoopy: I wish more schools had knitting clubs! I think it’s a great thing to teach kids at that age. What is your favorite type of item to knit?

Alex: Haha, it’s probably obvious from looking at my pattern line-up, but hats! You only have to make one and you can usually get it out of one skein. What’s not to like?

Loopy: True. And the other benefit is everyone can always use a new hat. It’s a great thing to knit for gifts. What is the most challenging thing you’ve knit to date?

Zam hatAlex: The most challenging thing I’ve done so far is learn to grade sweaters. It’s not that it involves difficult math, exactly, just a lot of things to keep track of. As far as the actual knitting goes, I think the toughest projects have been some of my early lace and brioche projects – they weren’t actually hard patterns, but both can be very tricky to read when you’re new at it, and it’s easy to make a mistake and not be sure how to fix it.

ChevzamLoopy: When did you start in on designing, and what spurred that interest?

Alex: As soon as I started knitting, I started making up my own “designs” … if you can call them that. You should’ve seen the decreases on my first hats – I’d never made a hat from a pattern before. I just looked up how to decrease and totally winged it! They were a mess. I started actually writing and selling patterns around 2007, about 3 or 4 years after I first learned to knit. Before that I’d had an etsy shop where I sold what I’d made, and while there I realized that people were selling patterns too. I thought, “Huh. I could do that!”

Myrta MittsLoopy: I always like hearing about peoples’ mess-ups when they first start knitting. I had a massive scarf that grew width-wise, and an unfortunate encounter with short rows. Thanks for sharing about your decreasing experience! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?

Alex: Oh man, that’s like asking me to pick a favorite child, haha! I recently put out a hat called “Fave” that is based on one I knit years ago that became my absolute favorite to wear (and still is). It’s a simple design, but seems to go with everything. I’m also very fond of one of my newest patterns – Corone. It’s my first heavily cabled design, and in one of my all time favorite yarns and colorways (Malabrigo Worsted in Frank Ochre).

CoroneLoopy: Oh, I like both of those patterns. The Corone makes me think that everyone needs a bright yellow hat for a cloudy, gray day. What is your favorite part of designing? And your not-so-favorite part?

Alex: My favorite part is the knitting itself. It’s such a soothing action, and so satisfying to see your ideas come to life, and to play with all the gorgeous colors and textures. I’m a really tactile person, as I’m sure a lot of knitters are. My least favorite is probably the dull computer work – the formatting, photo editing, proofreading, yadda yadda. It’s not bad really, but if I ever had an assistant that’s definitely the stuff I’d pawn off.

FaveLoopy: Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?

Alex: I work part time for Malabrigo Yarn as their Project Coordinator, but as far as an out-of-the-industry job or an out-of-the-house job, nope. It’s all yarn, all the time around here!

Loopy: It’s all yarn, all the time around here, too! (Well. Yarn and fabric.) Do you do this business full-time or on the side? And is that hard?

LoveAlex: Full-time! I work from home, which I love because I really prefer and thrive on a super flexible schedule. The hardest part is making sure I get out of the house once in awhile and actually interact with other human beings (besides my husband) in person. I spend a lot more time with dogs than people, these days. (I joke that one of our dogs, Pog, is my VP, since she sits next to me all day long while I work.) The other challenge is remembering to quit working, get off my butt, and step away from the screen once in awhile.

SlickLoopy: I like your story about Pog, the VP. Good that you have company during the day! Does anyone else in your family knit?

Alex: My husband knows how to knit, having given in to my constant peer pressure, but he doesn’t do it very often. As a wedding gift, he bought some beautiful Tosh and promised to knit me a sweater by our first anniversary … we’re coming up on year three and it’s about four inches long, haha! I’m going to confiscate it and do it myself pretty soon. My mother learned as a child, but also only does it rarely. My paternal grandmother is a crochet machine though! In the time it takes me to knit a hat she’ll have you wrapped in a queen-sized afghan.

SproingerLoopy: That sounds like a good kind of grandma to have! And how about other hobbies that you enjoy?

Alex: I enjoy spinning (yarn, not bikes), cross-stitch, drawing, painting, hand-lettering, gluing glitter to things, making jewelry, yoga, photography, playing the ukulele, and pretending I can keep plants alive. Of course, with the exception of the uke, I only ever manage to enjoy these things for about one hour a year, so I’m not sure if they truly count as hobbies. (What’s that they say about jack-of-all-trades, master of none? Yeah, that.) Lately I’ve been wanting to take up quilting – I expect I’ll have my first quilt finished by the time I hit 75.

Stripe Your FancyLoopy: Well we highly recommend quilting and sewing around here. I do think you should add it to your hobbies list. Lastly: Coke or Pepsi, Coffee or Tea, English or Continental, Solids or Multicolors?

Alex: Neither, Tea, Continental and Semi-solids.

Loopy: Thanks for joining us today, Alex!

Alex: Thank you so much for having me!

Alex is offering all of our Loopy blog readers 20% off of one pattern from her pattern shop (patterns from Dull Roar, not including e-books), between today (3/14) and next Friday (3/21). Pop on over and pick something you’d like to try, and put: theloopyewe in as the discount code!

Sheri nowthinkingIneedasunnyyellowhat


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3 comments on “Designer Spotlight: Alexandra Tinsley

  1. Thanks, for the discount Alex! Love the pattern.
    Just thought I’d mention that I joined my first knitting club in 4th grade….The Knutty Knitters! Little did I know what a huge part knitting would play in my life!