Designer Interview – Joyce Fassbender

Designer Interview - Joyce FassbenderJoyce is a long time collaborator with Knit Picks. You can find her patterns all over, from her participation in our IDP program, to her frequent contributions to our collections, and even the occasional dishcloth or free pattern.

Most recently, Joyce was the sole contributor to our new Shawls For All collection, meant especially to introduce knitters to lace by letting them build their own lace shawl, step-by-step.

Designer Interview - Joyce Fassbender, Shawls for All pattern collectionDesigner Interview - Joyce Fassbender, Shawls for All sample photo

Shawls for All, by Joyce, for Knit Picks

Joyce Fassbender has PhD in Biology and is a CYCA certified knitting instructor.  While she works as biology lecturer, her thoughts are consumed with knitting.  Her students regularly see her mumbling to herself and drawing circles on graph paper.  These circles eventually become the lace shawls, dishcloths, hats, and cowls that she designs.

English or Continental? – English

Cardigan or Pullover? – Cardigan

Cables or Lace? – Lace!!!!!!

DPNs or Magic Loop? – Magic loop

Yarn: Solid or Variegated? – Solid, shows off the lace better!

Socks: Toe Up or Top Down? – Toe up

Needles: Wood or Metal? – Metal

Wool, Cotton, Acrylic, Alpaca, Cashmere, or Silk? – Wool, all the wool, so much wool, wool please.

What was your first design, and how do you feel about it now?

My first design was a shawl named Sassafras. I love it because it reminds me of the excitement of the early days of designing, plus it’s pretty!

What is your favorite design of yours with Knit Picks, either with IDP or in a collection?

My favorite design with Knit Picks is the rectangular wrap, El Dorado. I adore it because I learned a lot from designing it.  Designing it taught me how to describe knit-on edgings, how to combine cables and lace, and how beautiful well-placed double yarn overs can be.

Designer Interview - Joyce Fassbender, El Dorado Wrap

El Dorado Wrap, by Joyce

What is your favorite current Knit Picks yarn?

My current favorite Knit Picks yarn is the Stroll Fingering line. I love it because it’s soft and comes in so many colors and varieties.  The gradients especially make my heart go pitter-pat!  But I also love it because everything you make with it, be it shawls, socks, hats, sweaters, etc, comes out snuggly and beautiful.

When/how/why did you first learn to knit/crochet?

I started my yarn crafting life as a crocheter. My step-mom taught me how when I was about 6 years old.  I tried knitting a couple of times and always stopped because I just found it too hard.  Then I crocheted a king sized afghan in 3 inch granny squares.  After that, I couldn’t bring myself to touch a crochet hook, but I still had so much yarn in the house.  Just when I thought all hope was lost, I made a friend that was a knitter and she showed me that knitting wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was.  So I found a website that described how to knit, sat down, and taught myself how to knit… with Tunisian crochet hooks.  I eventually switched to actual knitting needles and haven’t stopped knitting since.

Designer Interview - Joyce Fassbender, Linen Dream Rug and Table Runner Designer Interview - Joyce Fassbender, Ostreo Shawlette

Joyce created the Linen Dream Table Runner for the Briar Rose collection,
and showed off her lace chops with the Ostreo Shawlette in Little Luxuries.

When/how/why did you first start designing?

I started designing when I got bored with a stockinette shawl I was knitting. I had just finished reading an article about adding lace to a project, so I thought that I would add a new border to the shawl.  I picked out a pretty border, wrote up a chart, and then a pattern.  After I finished that one, I found myself designing another, then another, and the next thing I knew I had a bunch of shawl designs.

What does your stash look like?

Huge! And orange! Huge because I’ve never been one to yarn diet. I love yarn and fiber almost as much as I love knitting.  Quite a few skeins of yarn in my stash are souvenirs from events with friends  or gifts from loved ones, but some of it is just beautiful sweater yarn that will probably never be a sweater.  (Sleeves are my nemesis.) Orange because it’s my favorite color! There’s also red, pink, and yellow (plus I’ve recently developed a deep love for teal), but that might only be because they go so well with orange!

What is your favorite thing to knit?

My favorite things to knit are lace shawls. I knit my first shawl about six months after I first learned how to knit. It was a very simple triangular shawl with an occasional row of eyelets.  I knit that pattern four times in four different yarns.  Then I knit my first lace shawl and fell in love. I love lace because it is beautiful, keeps me engaged, and seems more complicated that it usually is. In the years since, I’ve knit dozens of lace shawls and my love for them is still going strong.

Designer Interview - Joyce Fassbender, Kaietur Shawl Designer Interview - Joyce Fassbender, Boysen Dishcloth

The Kaietur Shawl and Boysen Dishcloth are both Knit Picks free patterns,
and display Joyce’s versatility as a designer.

Your biggest knitting/crochet-related pet peeve?

My biggest knitting/crochet pet peeve is the perception that others often have of those who knit or crochet. The stereotype is that we are boring old ladies; however, we all know that knitters and crocheters are nothing of the sort!  Many of the most interesting people I’ve met were knitters and crocheters, and that includes the old ladies.  We are an intelligent, hardworking, generous group and I am super proud that I get to be part of it.

What do you wish you had known when you first started knitting?

I wish I had known how important is to learn to read your knitting. By reading your knitting, I mean being able to look at your project and know what each stitch looks like so that you can compare the work you’ve done to the pattern.  I consider this an important skill in knitting.  If you can look at your knitting and tell what the stitches are, it will help in the event of a mistake, including the dreaded too many or too few stitches.  You can look at the current row and see that you’ve maybe missed a yarn over or a decrease, or even look at the row below and see if anything is missing.  It’s an important skill that will save a knitter a lot of frustration and possibly hours of tinking or worse! This is especially true when knitting lace with slippery, fine yarns.

What do you hope to design in the future or where do you want to go with your designs?

In my designing, I’ve recently started to branch out from lace. I’ve been trying to design with more color work, cables, and texture.  I hope to continue to add other techniques to my designs and perhaps find ways to incorporate lace into those techniques.  However, when I daydream about designing, I daydream about sweaters.  In my head, they are lace sweaters, of course.  Perhaps one day I can overcome my sleeve issues and make my daydreams a reality.