Designer interview: Adrienne Ku

This is the third and final interview I’m doing for the GAL2014 event. Adrienne Ku has a nice selection of socks, lace, and colorwork patterns in her catalog. She lives and designs in Illinois, and can be found around the web: Drin on Ravelry (Mushroom Knits designs), her blog, and on Twitter. Please continue to learn a bit about Adrienne. By the way, Adrienne has a nice surprise for you, if you make it all the way to the end of this post. Just saying.

How did you get started designing?

Adrienne: I guess I started designing shortly after learning to knit. I didn’t really look at it as “designing” though, I was simply making it up as I went along. The thought of writing up and publishing my work never even crossed my mind until I joined a local knitting group. A wonderful group of ladies, always supporting each other in any way possible. They encouraged me to put my designs out there and just see what happens. Eventually, I decided to give it a try. I did my research and played around with publishing on Ravelry. I finally published my first real pattern, Simple Skyp Socks and was absolutely blown away by the response. All the positive comments and feedback from people I had never met, complete strangers, it was every encouraging. What really surprised me was how much I enjoyed seeing the projects other people made with my design. That’s still the thing I love most about designing.

What is your usual process on a fiber project, for instance, do you start with a yarn, a cute pattern, a need you’ve noticed, something exciting you saw in a movie you want to copy, or a technique you want to learn—then what do you do next, and then what?

Adrienne: For me it almost always starts with the yarn. First, I think about the characteristics that make that specific yarn special and what type of project the yarn is best suited for. Next, I think about what type of fabric would most highlight that yarn’s special characteristics. At this point, I start to think about the design details. Sometimes the yarn is perfect for a design idea I have in my sketchbook, other times I will flip through my stitch dictionaries looking for something to jump out at me. Next comes the swatching, lots and lots of swatching. Once I am satisfied with the stitch patterns I’ve chosen, I sit down and write the pattern. Finally, it’s time to cast on.

What are some of your favorite materials, including yarns, knitting tools, books…?

Adrienne: Oh my! I have so many favorites, I could go on for days! But the one knitting gadget that I simply would not want to be without would be my darning mushrooms. My love for them borders on obsession! It’s the perfect tool and not just for darning socks, it comes in quite handy when tightening up the stitches after grafting the toe. Over the years my collection has grown considerably and I love each and every one. Some are new but most of them are quite old and show years of use, covered in dings and scratches from darning needles. My favorites are the ones that the handle unscrews from the mushroom cap top to reveal a hidden compartment in the handle to hold your darning needles. Absolutely brilliant! I love my darning mushrooms.

Darning mushrooms

Darning mushrooms

You have some lovely lace designs. Can you tell us what inspires you about working with lace?

Adrienne: That’s so kind of you to say, thank you. I have always been drawn to lace knitting. To be honest, when I was a new knitter I thought stockinette was “hard” and more suited for advanced knitters. The inconsistency in my gauge and every little mistake seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. Lace is so much more forgiving. It allowed me to become more confident in my knitting, I could look at a finished piece and see the beauty in it as a whole rather than only seeing all the little individual mistakes. When I am working on a new lace design I try to make it as accessible as possible to knitters of all skill levels. There are so many simple and lovely lace patterns, lace doesn’t have to be “hard” and more importantly, it doesn’t have to be “hard” to be beautiful. (Ed.: Learning Curve and 20 Days are two of my favorites.)

Learning Curve

Learning Curve

20 Days

20 Days

Will you have any new releases during the GAL 2014
period? If so, please tell us about them.

Adrienne: I will be releasing a new pattern, Alpine Lattice—a matching hat and cowl worked in a simple colorwork pattern (only work with one color per row). This pattern had previously been available exclusively through Signature Needle Arts and will now be available through my Ravelry pattern store as well.

Special offer

Now through December 31, 2014, get 25% off any of Adrienne’s designs in her Ravelry store using the coupon code Mushrooms.