Today’s designer is a pal of mine and a terribly talented Chicagoite: Ms Sarah Burghardt! Sarah blew straight out of the gate with amazing, uniquely constructed shawl patterns (and some darn cute hats as well!) and has been a Mal fan since the beginning.
Hi Sarah! Let’s dive right in: What was your first experience working with Malabrigo yarn?
I made the Diagonal Multidirectional Scarf, the first pattern I had ever used. The color I used, “Hummingbird,” was so exciting at every turn–which color was coming next? Would it be lime green? Royal blue? Purple? I was mesmerized for the whole length of the scarf, never getting bored with simple garter stitch. In fact, that was also what got me into short-rows. To me, Malabrigo and short-rows are a delicious pair.
And what was your first design in Malabrigo?
My first design in Malabrigo was my first for-sale design as well, Wicker Park. I made some very rookie mistakes with this design; I took too few notes, and I gave away the first prototype before writing the pattern, believing I could trust my brain to remember what I did. Fortunately, with the help of a handful of testers, I fixed the pattern so it accurately depicted what one should do to get the product. I suppose that is the point of a pattern!
It’s a very ambitious early pattern, haha! It came out wonderfully though. Movin’ along- what drives you to use Malabrigo in so many of your designs?
First and foremost are the colorways, especially the multi-colored skeins. I like to play with geometry and short-rows, and the multi-colored yarns are the best for showing off the “grain” of the knitting. It’s fun to change directions in a piece and be able to see it in the final product. If Malabrigo had great colors and no softness, I would probably not work with it as much, so I guess it’s the colors that invite me to the party and the softness that gets me to sleep on the couch instead of driving home.
What is your personal favorite Mal project to date?
I’m pretty crazy about my Condurat in the colorways Coco and Piedras. I saw those two skeins at Stitches Midwest and knew that they wanted to have a baby together. That baby grew up to be a brioche, double-moebius cowl. The skeins are very proud.
What a beautiful bouncing baby brioche 😉 And finally…what is your fave colorway and/or base yarn?
I think Playa is one of the most perfect colors out there, but I’m also crazy for Piedras and Candombe. Playa is mysterious, Piedras is festive, and Candombe exudes richness. My favorite base to touch is Twist, though I’d love to give Finito a chance; we just haven’t met yet.
Wait, one more bonus question! Can you tell us about the system you use to name your patterns? I’ve noticed that there is, well, a pattern to it 😉
When I moved back to Chicago after college, I lived a few blocks away from Nina, a beautiful yarn store in Wicker Park, which was the place where I bought my first hank of Malabrigo. I was also singing a lot of shape-note music (an old form of American hymns), and a lot of the songs were named after neighborhoods, towns, and streets. One song, by the composer Judy Hauff, is called Wood Street (the second link is less wild and authentic, but very pretty), which was one block from me. Inspired by the tradition of naming songs after places, I started to name my knitting patterns, almost exclusively, after streets and neighborhoods where I was living or visiting. Some of them were named for how the sounds went with the design (Wicker Park, Paulina), and others were named with purpose; Wolcott is a confusing street that is both discontinuous and changes directions, so I gave its name to a hat that can be worn two ways and also changes direction before the brim, and Sheridan is curvy street along the lakefront, so I gave its name to a swirly shawl.