Designer Interview: Jennifer Dassau

You may know today’s designer from her gorgeously intricate MFPP ebook, Sailing to Byzantium, or maybe her creepy-chic Arachno-shawls! Her portfolio abounds in rich color and fascinating textures. Jennifer came to knitwear designing in an interesting way (and I’m sure we see a bit of her experience in her work!):

Knitwear pattern designer is my third incarnation; I started out as an attorney who crafted on the side, then went back to school at Parsons to study fashion and spent a long time in production on Seventh Avenue, although in wovens rather than knits. I liked the production side for the challenge of taking a design to reality; my part was in developing the actual “how-to” of the idea, so it could be sent off to the factory and produced for the stores. Eventually I wanted to focus on my own designs, and while taking time off when my kids were small, I taught myself to knit, which gradually replaced sewing and draping as my main interest. At first I knit other people’s patterns, but I began modifying things almost right away, and of course that led to designing my own. I’m really fascinated by technique; short rows, sideways knitting, seamless construction – interesting ways to knit things to achieve a certain result.


Blue Honey

Hi Jennifer! Thank you so much for letting us interview you! We’ll start at the beginning: what was your first experience with Malabrigo?

As a newish knitter, I had attempted the Clapotis with sock yarn and failed miserably. Trying again, I looked at people’s projects on Ravelry and saw some beautiful ones made with Silky, with notes raving about how amazing the yarn was. I ordered some online, and four skeins of Mint Frappe became my Clapotis – without a single problem or mistake.

Oh it looks so luxurious! So from there, when did you first begin designing with Malabrigo yarn?

My first real designs were a reversible-cable series of a hat, fingerless mitts and a cowl. I just rephotographed and revised those patterns, actually, to bring them into line stylistically with my current pattern look.

Azul Hat and Laura Mitts

Beautiful! What draws you to Malabrigo for so many of your designs?

Malabrigo is my first and best yarn love; I started publishing my designs because of the encouragement in the Ravelry Malabrigo Junkies group, and I think that support has a lot to do with the positive and very enthusiastic community that surrounds Malabrigo. The company is very approachable – I’ve chatted with Antonio and Tobias at Stitches East – and the product is for real yarnophiles. Really, there’s a Mal for everything – the incomparable Worsted; superwash Rios; Lace and Sock and now Arroyo for lighter weight things. No matter what design I see in my head, I keep coming back to it.


Aww, we’re so glad you did decide to publish! Now…what is your personal favorite project that you’ve made with Malabrigo, to date?

Up to now, that would have been a tie between my Arachnophilia crescent shawl, and the Crimpy Mitts. The dk shawl is Silky, which is just the best weight for wraps; the mitts are fingerless with a long cuff and tucks, and they’ve worn really well in Rios, while still being amazingly soft.I have a new favorite, too; the prototype for Plica, a cardigan knit in Blue Graphite Worsted, using the Contiguous method. This construction lets you knit top down in one piece like a raglan, but gives the look of set-in sleeves. This one just needs a little tweaking, then it will be ready for test knitting.


Crimpy Mitts (and matching hat, Crimp)

Prototype for Plica

Oooh, pretty. Now for the last, and hardest question: what’s your favorite colorway and yarn base?

Those are impossible questions, of course. My all time favorite color is probably Polar Morn, so much more than just grey, because it’s lavender and blue and sometimes pink too; I wish it came in every base. I love Abril and Purpuras, too – are you sensing a trend here? But the thing about Mal is that it’s made me try colors I never would have thought I liked before, like Cumparsita and Applewood.

In bases, there’s one for everything, but I really like the superwash options for sweaters. Rios makes a great garment, and I have plans for some Arroyo sweaters next.

Chic Mega Cowl in Polar Morn

Stolitsa in Applewood


Thank you so much, Jennifer!! You can check out Jennifer’s full line of patterns on her Ravelry page or at her website, The Knitting Vortex.  And we’ll be back soon with more fabulous designers to question!


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