Maker Spotlight: Standard Knits

Hello everyone! I am finally back with a new Maker Spotlight post – the very first of 2018! In this interview, we get to meet Lindsay Inouye of Standard Knits. She is based in Vancouver, and well known for her timeless, classic designs and West Coast style, including the Pender Cardigan and Gambier Sweater. It never fails to amaze me how some knitwear designers can work a separate full-time job while continuing to design, publish and release beautiful designs in their spare time (and attend super cool events such as Knit City)! Lindsay Inouye is a perfect example of this, and I was thrilled to hear a little bit more about how she manages to fit everything in and still keep her cool (must be those laid back West Coast vibes 😉 ). 

What inspired you to start designing knitwear?

I started designing sweaters for myself, mostly because I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for in existing patterns and also so that I could customize the fit. At some point, I thought it would be fun to learn about the process of grading and publishing patterns, and that’s what I’ve been up to for the past couple of years. It is a mixture of creativity and technical ability, a balance that my brain enjoys. I still approach every design with the same starting point: what would I want to wear? I don’t think I would find enjoyment in trying to come up with designs that I think would be popular, or approaching design by wondering what other people would want.

How long have you been knitting for?

I learned how to knit at age seven at Evergreen Independent School (on Vancouver Island), where every student in grades one – seven practiced knitting each morning during our “reading time.” I hope they still do that. I didn’t keep up knitting through high school, but I moved to Calgary for school in the early 2000s and I took it up there again, probably because it was so cold.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

I like an understated, practical, more timeless style, and that’s where the “standard” in Standard Knits comes from. I really enjoy the idea of having an article of clothing you can wear for years and years… and then mend and wear even longer!

The Field Blanket Scarf by Lindsay Inouye of Standard Knits

Do you design full-time or on the side? If on the side, any advice for balancing a full-time job with designing knitwear?

I have a full-time job as the Managing Director of a commercial art gallery, and knitting design I do basically at all other times. I never tire of knitting, design work, or Instagram (taking glamour photos of yarn might actually be my true calling), so in terms of balance I don’t really think about it — if I’m not at my “regular” job, I’m doing something knitting related. I just wish there were more hours in a day.

Describe your idea of a perfect day.

I would be with Mr. Inouye in Tofino, eating every meal at a restaurant. While knitting socks.

What do you like to do while you knit?

My ideal scenario is to watch hockey while knitting. My Canucks fandom isn’t widely advertised because the jersey colours don’t match my Instagram aesthetic! Generally, I am incapable of doing just one thing at a time, so if I’m watching anything, I’m usually also knitting. If I’m doing more design work rather than actual knitting, I listen to music or a podcast (currently: My Favourite Murder).

What do you like to do when you’re not knitting?

Of all the questions, this has been the most difficult, probably because I have so little spare time! I like yoga, and spending time with my favourite people.

Any recommendations for places to see and things to do for new knitters in Vancouver?

If you can attend Knit City, I would most definitely recommend that. It is such a great event, a real knitting and yarn mecca. There is actually so much to see that some people just spend the entire weekend there, shopping for yarn. That plus all the classes and demos, it’s
easy to stay busy the whole time!

Lindsay wearing her Gambier sweater.

What has been your biggest challenge so far with designing knitwear?

It’s a tie between grading sweaters, and finding time to grade sweaters. On the flip side, the biggest reward has been meeting new friends— so many generous, lovely, and talented knitters!

What’s next for Standard Knits? Any exciting projects or collaborations on the horizon that you care to share with us?

I have eight patterns in some form of development that I am hoping to publish this year. In comparison, I only published two in 2017.  Most are secret but a couple I can tell you about: my first children’s pattern, a cardigan will be published in February/March, and it is extra special because it is a co-design with my three-year-old nephew Oscar.

I am also working on a textured pullover using hand-dyed sock yarn from Black Cat Custom Yarn, a design I have been dreaming about for months and months! I am planning to have that done in the Spring/Summer of this year and can’t wait. I will have new designs in Hinterland yarn ready for Knit City 2018, but I’ll keep the exact details on that under wraps for now! The rest is also secret but I often post hints on my Instagram, because I can’t help photographing beautiful yarn.

All photos are courtesy of Lindsay Inouye of Standard Knits

You can find Lindsay at the following places:

Sneak preview of Lindsay’s latest pattern to be released in the months to come!

Thank you so much Lindsay! I can’t wait to see what gorgeous designs you release next. Also hoping that I finally get to make it to Knit City this September – it’s been on my list for a while! Now that I live in Vancouver, there’s no excuse not to go!