Abbye Dahl of Abbye Knits is an incredibly talented knitwear designer who combines her passion of photography with her love of knitting in her richly coloured photos. She graciously agreed to this interview with me in part to celebrate the recent release of her latest ebook Olive and Ruby! Olive and Ruby is a springtime collection of six patterns including (my favourite!) the Blushing Olive Socks, and Abbye has agreed to give you a 40% off discount of her ebook using the code ‘makerspotlight‘ when you purchase the ebook on Ravelry!
Tell us the story of how you learned to knit.
My mom taught me to knit when I was about 6. I picked it up again in my early 20’s and haven’t really put it down since.
How did you get started in knitwear design?
This was a combination of a couple of things for me: photography and being away from home.
I worked for 8 years as a professional photographer and had really been enjoying taking photos of my knitting. Something about the colours and textures was such a pleasure to photograph. With all these photos sitting on my computer, I figured they would be so much more fun to share if I had the written patterns to go with them.
When I went back to school I ended up having to do a clinical practicum in a city away from home with a much older population, and I didn’t know anyone. So most of my evenings and weekends were spent writing knitting patterns.
Your knitwear designs are stunning! Do you have any main sources of inspiration that you draw upon to come up with new ideas?
Hehehe thank you! I don’t have any specific sources of inspiration, ideas just pop into my head, so I pick up my needles and get to work… If anything I would say looking at photos of really bright and colourful yarn always gets me thinking of different ways to show it off.
What are some of your favourite pastimes when you’re not knitting?
When I’m not knitting I like to read, go for hikes, and hang out with family and friends.
What are some of the biggest challenges and struggles you’ve had so far with starting up your knitwear design business?
There are strange and unknowable reasons why some patterns sell better then others. You can put your heart and soul into what you feel is the most amazing patter that hardly sells, and then just toss up a quickie you knit one evening and everyone is totally into it. Remains a mystery to me, and can be disheartening at times.
I’m also not a big fan of social media, which makes running a small business difficult. I love some of the amazing people I’ve meet through Instagram and Ravelry, but having to post frequently and come up with captions for every photo that encourages people to engage can be very tiring…
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Excited to share the #quiltshawl with you guys! Pattern is up (link in profile). Do you have some stash yarns hanging around that want to become something awesome? This scarf is perfect for mixing different weights of yarn. #knit #knittersofinstagram #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram #yarnaddict #colourpop #bokeh
How do you balance knitwear design with a full-time job?
I work in Neuro Diagnostics at BC Children’s Hospital. I went back to school to study Electroneurophysiology around the same time I started writing knitting patterns, so the two passions sort of grew together. At this moment we have no kids, and my husband is working on his Masters Degree (which is very time consuming), so my free time is mostly my own to knit. Maybe ask me again in 5 years when we’ve started a family and I’m sure it will be a different story!
If you could knit anywhere in the world, where would you knit?
I love anywhere that has a combination cold/rainy/windy/grey/stormy/ocean style environments. (I often take a little knitting hiatus in the summer). This year I’m heading out to Holland for a few weeks and can’t wait to head out to some lighthouses and knit.
That being said, I knit and designed my whole Cloche Knits book while on a roadtrip through Utah when it was over 100 degrees soooo… I guess it doesn’t really matter for me 😛
Do you have any advice for other knitwear designers that you’d like to share?
I’m slightly biased here, but good photography is everything (provided your pattern is written well and tech edited). Then the photos are the only thing you have to encourage a potential knitter to click and buy your pattern.
What do you enjoy doing the most while you knit (i.e. podcast, knitflixing, music)?
Podcasts! And knitflixing, obviously.
What’s next for Abbye Knits? Any interesting projects, collaborations, designs on the horizon?
I just finished up with my second book the Olive + Ruby Collection with Crafty Jak’s Yarn , which was really fun, but time consuming. I have some fun new patterns coming up with some awesome indie yarn dyers: House of A la Mode, Tusken Knits, Primrose Yarn Co. Malabrigo.
I’ve also been throwing around the idea of creating a short “how to” video series on knitwear photography… Would any of you be interested in that?!
All photos are credited to Abbye Dahl of Abbye Knits.
Thanks so much Abbye! It was lovely getting to know more about you. For those of you who’d like to get in touch with Abbye, you can find her at the links below:
And if you enjoyed this interview, please leave a comment and share! 🙂