Designer Interview – Stephen West

Lakedale Shawl, as shown in Book 3, by Stephen West

Westward Hat, in Malabrigo Twist, by Stephen West

We are so excited to have a chance to host an interview with one of the designers from Book Four — Stephen West! Stephen has been on the design scene for only a short time, but really rocketed into the spotlight in the last few years because of his interesting, easy to knit and fun to wear design sensibilities! Stephen has released nearly sixty unique garments, many of them with well over a hundred projects on Ravelry, and some with over a thousand. His most popular design to date is the Daybreak shawl, a two-color shawl originally worked up in Malabrigo Sock. Always on the cutting edge of a garment or color trend, Stephen is certainly a designer to watch. It was exciting to grab a bit of his time and ask him some questions!

What was your first experience with Malabrigo?

I walked into my LYS, Klose Knit, in Urbana, Illinois, and discovered their shelves full of Malabrigo. I

a super-cool Skid prototype, knit in Malabrigo Chunky by Stephen West

admired the buttery soft merino wool and chose Stonechat as my first colorway. I knit a pair of fingerless mitts, but the second mitt ended up much tighter than the first. I must have been more tense while knitting that second mitt or accidentally knit with a smaller needle size! However, this rookie mistake didn’t deter me from knitting with a lot more Malabrigo for future projects and designs.

What was your first Malabrigo design?

The Botanic Hat was my first design using Malabrigo Yarn. It’s a two-colored beanie and I chose beautifully natural shades of Malabrigo Worsted for the final version. The striped hat is quite addicting, so I knit at least 6 Botanic Hats with various color combinations.

Why Malabrigo for so many of your designs?

I love the color choices and the yarns are a pure pleasure to knit with. I often start with a yarn when designing new patterns, rather than sketching the design and finding a yarn to match. I’m very inspired by fiber content, texture, and color. Malabrigo is also available in many local yarn stores and I try to support the local shops whenever I can by using yarns they carry.

Daybreak shawl, in Malabrigo Sock, by Stephen West

What is your favorite personal project in Malabrigo to date?

My first final version of Daybreak in Boticelli Red and Chocolate Amargo. I love red and brown together, especially in those colorways. The shawl now belongs to one of my best friends, Christine, in London. She wears it all the time and I’ve even repaired a small hole in the scarf — the sign of a truly loved piece of knitwear.

Do you have a favorite colorway?

Mmm, we’re playing the favorites game, eh? Twist and Sock are my most favorite Malabrigo yarns. Azul Profundo and Manzanilla Olive are my two favorites in Malabrigo Twist. Eggplant and Persia in Malabrigo Sock, and Frank Ochre in Malabrigo Worsted.

Stephen has self-published two excellent collections — West Knits Book One and West Knits Book Two. In addition to several single published patterns, he has also done work in Malabrigo Book Three and the upcoming Malabrigo Book Four (in production). We are honored and excited to have so much work in our yarns in Stephen’s extensive catalog.

— Hannah

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