Interview with Caryl Pierre

Caryl Pierre, modeling her Anansi Shawl

Continuing our designer interview series, we are pleased to introduce to our readers Caryl Pierre (karako17 on Ravelry), of Caryl Style! Caryl learned to knit in college but didn’t take it seriously until after she discovered Ravelry in 2008. After she joined the Malabrigo groups (Swap and Junkies), she found the encouragement to start designing. In summer of 2009 she published her first design and hasn’t stopped. She now designs full time and is happy to be a part of the supportive community that surrounds Malabrigo Yarns. You can follow her on Twitter or on her blog, Caryl Style. Her most recent design is the Bergen Street Tuque, a textured hat with cables and a slouchy, versatile shape.

What was your first experience with Malabrigo?

I was actually living in the UK when I first discovered Malabrigo. It wasn’t readily available in most UK yarn stores at that time (late 2008), but I’d received the book Romantic Hand Knits by Annie Modesitt and one of her patterns recommended using Malabrigo. I hadn’t heard of the yarn before and I was curious, so I did an internet search for it. The colorway ‘Burgundy Dash’ that Annie used in her pattern seemed to have been discontinued, but I was able to find an online shop based in Wales that carried Malabrigo. I ended up ordering two skeins of Worsted, in Burgundy and Emerald. At the same time, a co-worker friend had to undergo surgery for a thyroid problem. After the surgery, she had an ugly scar on her throat and was very self-conscious about it, so I decided I’d knit her a cowl. I brought the two skeins for her to choose from and she fell in love with Burgundy. My first project in Malabrigo was the Crofter’s Cowl by Gudrun Johnston (editor’s note: Gudrun is one of our designers for Book Four!). I absolutely loved knitting the cowl; the yarn was so soft and the color was beautiful. But best of all, my friend loved the gift.

One of Caryl's students modeling the Cable Crush Cowl

What was your first Malabrigo design?

My first Malabrigo design was actually my first design, Cable Crush Cowl. I had to quit my job in the UK and was planning to move back home to New York. However, before making the transition, I decided to spend the summer in Ghana working as a volunteer teacher at a local school in Kumasi. I’d wanted to start designing for awhile but my stressful London job left very little time for design work — often, I was happy just to have enough free time to knit at all. So when going to Ghana, I made sure to pack lots of yarn and a stitch dictionary. I chose many single skeins of Malabrigo Worsted because with the generous yardage I knew they would work for any accessories I wanted to knit or design. Ghana ended up being the opposite of my London life. School was over by 2 pm and then I had very little to do in the evenings. While there are many internet cafes in Ghana, internet in actual homes is rare. So after spending an hour after school in an internet cafe, I’d generally head back to my rooms in a guest house I rented, and knit. With few distractions, I was able to apply myself to designing and soon after released the Cable Crush Cowl. On the pattern page there are pictures of one of my Ghanian students modeling the cowl.

Paluk Snood, a pattern in Silky Merino

Why Malabrigo for so many of your designs?

Once I discovered Malabrigo, I became obsessed with the yarn. I almost exclusively used Malabrigo for quite a while. Therefore, when I started designing it was natural to use it. But more importantly, I use Malabrigo because I love vibrant colors and the brand provides some of the most beautiful colors out there. Also, the yarn is quite reasonably priced and provides generous yardage. Additionally, because I have used Malabrigo so much in the past, I can predict how the different bases will work with my design ideas. Finally, I have to say that the company has been very supportive of me as a designer, providing yarn for charity, giveaways and yarn support.

What is your favorite personal project in Malabrigo to date?

That is a super hard question! Probably the item I use the most often that I knit out of Malabrigo is my Springtime Bandit, which used 2 skeins of Malabrigo Worsted. It’s my favorite scarf in winter. My favorite designs are the Purple Rain Hat and Mitts. Generally I try not to wear too many of my own designs because I want to keep them in good condition for potential trunk shows, but I love these items so much that I wore them throughout the winter.

One of Caryl's favorite pieces - a Springtime Bandit out of Worsted

Do you have a favorite colorway?

My favorite colorway is probably Rhodesian. I love orange. I’ve actually painted one of the walls in my apartment orange, so Rhodesian always makes me happy. I recently worked with Sauterne, which is an amazing yellow, and right now it’s running a close second. Oh, and probably the most fantastic blue out there is Taureg!

We are really honored to have had Caryl on the blog and thank her for the time out of her busy schedule! Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for more exciting designer interviews!

— Hannah

One thought on “Interview with Caryl Pierre

  1. Joanne Thomas

    Caryl is a gifted designer, designing an array of scarves, shawls, hats, cowls, fingerless gloves that are fantastic. Her patterns are easy to read and follow and she is a very good teacher as well, has lots of patience and different ways to explain stitches, breaking down the stitch and showing how it relates to the ones around it. The colorways she chooses are vibrant and bring out the best in her lovely varied designs. I’m glad to know that they are Malabrigo; she’s picked the best.

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