All this month, we’re sharing more about our 2023 Knitter’s Planner designers. The next designer we’d like to share with you is Jessica Brist of Snickerdoodle Knits, who designed the Perfectly Amiable Cowl!
As the knitwear designer behind Snickerdoodle Knits, Jessica Brist enjoys creating simple but engaging patterns that tell the relatable stories of living. She is the founder of both inTANDEM, an upcoming quarterly knit and crochet magazine and the Pattern Design Circle, where she mentors knit and crochet pattern designers.
Whether you’re feeling intimidated by the idea of colorwork or you struggle with stranded colorwork, the mosaic knitting in the Perfectly Amiable Cowl is going to be your new favorite knitting technique. It’s fun, simple, and stunning. Pick two of your favorite contrasting colors to create your own cowl, and if you’re working the smallest size, you can just swap your main color and contrasting color to gift one to a friend!
We took a little time to ask Jessica some questions so we could get to know her better.
What is your design process?
I say that I create designs that “tell the relatable stories of living,” because I am typically inspired by emotions. It might be something I want to embody in my life or something that I struggle with, but it’s almost always something very personal for me. For example, my “Home Series,” including the My Forever Home Collection, A New Home Collection, Next Door Neighbors Collection, and On the Road Again Collection is all inspired by my struggle to find a sense of belonging.
So I start with the emotional feeling or concept and think about how that relates to adjectives that could be used to describe a fabric. Using my Guiding Principles Collection as an example; “Hope” feels bright, open, and weightless; “Endurance” feels repetitive and heavy; “Patience” feels intricate; and “Trust” feels weighty, cozy, and dependable. From there, I move into the stitch types, yarn weights, and yarn colors that represent those adjectives. So, “Hope” is a open lacy design using a single ply fingering weight yarn with bright speckles; “Endurance” is a DK weight garter shawl using darker jewel tone colors; “Patience” is a detailed lace shawl using a lightly speckled fingering weight yarn; and “Trust” is a deep jewel toned DK weight shawl using purled textures.
After that, it’s a bit more technical: swatching to ensure the stitch motifs and yarn works well together, and to see how different stitch motifs look next to each other, and then calculating the math to write the pattern and knit the sample!
What are your designing or knitting goals for 2023?
My designing and knitting goals for 2023 are to make more of what I love to wear. Because so many of my designs have developed from a more creative and artistic concept, I’ve followed what makes sense for the design (and what I enjoy knitting) but I haven’t been particularly intentional about designing with colors that I wear, or creating designs that I wear. My personal clothing aesthetic can best be described as simple and comfy, which means I’m usually wearing a hoodie, and I’ll only put on an accessory for a call or an outing…. and accessories are all that I’ve designed in the past!
Part of this is because designing used to be more about the challenge, and I needed to be entertained by my knitting. But now that I have other parts of my business (like coaching designers, running a publication, and hosting a podcast) that are challenging me and stimulating my brain, my knitting doesn’t need to cover the same requirements anymore. So now I’m working to be more intentional about what I’m creating: that it’s truly authentic to who I am, from the yarn colors to the knitting techniques to the fit and style. It’s been a bit of a rough transition, because I do still have those creative whims, and I’m learning how to navigate all of it so it feels in alignment to who I am.
How do you deal with a creative rut?
I think the key to “dealing with” a creative rut is understanding why it’s happening. For me, it’s usually because of exhaustion or frustration, and a break is a good fix for both of them! Beyond that, I don’t force anything. Instead, I make room for ideas to flow naturally without the expectation for a design idea to present itself. I actually have a blog post and a podcast episode (Episode 10) all about generating new design ideas, and a program, 52 Weeks of Creativity, that uses abstract prompts to inspire creativity year-round.
Who is your knitting hero?
My “knitting hero” is Joji Locatelli. She is one of the first designers I came across on Ravelry, and I fell in love with her design aesthetic. I can be a bit particular about the clothes that I wear, so a lot of knitting patterns don’t resonate with me, but so many of Joji’s designs fit my aesthetic. I used one of her patterns to knit my first shawl, and I fell in love with shawls! And since then, I’ve gotten more familiar with her personality via Instagram and her YouTube “journals.” I often feel like I want to be just like her: she is kind and sweet, and she’s open about life (and designing) not always being smooth sailing. I find it really inspiring to see folks who open up and are transparent about the hard times as well as the good.
Do you work on one project at a time, or several at once?
Well, I always seem to think that I’m a monogamous knitter, but somehow I currently have 7 WIPs (works in progress), so I don’t know if I can claim that title anymore 🙂 It all started in early 2021 when two design ideas just weren’t working… and then I lost interest in my personal just-for-fun project, ran out of time knitting a third sample for my In a Mood Shawl release, only finished one sock from a test knit, and now I have both a design and a personal project on the needles!
Realistically, though, I only make progress on one project at a time. My brain likes to focus, and everything else is set in the corner until it’s done.
Tell us about your other hobbies.
Oh, I love hobbies, especially starting them and accumulating them so I never get very good at them! As a child, I enjoyed sewing, cross stitching, scrapbooking, card making, baking, and latch hooking. Since then, I think I’ve only added traveling, gardening, and acrylic painting to the list. I’ve been very tempted to add spinning and weaving, but given that I only really make time for knitting, I’ve chosen not to. Every year I tell myself I’ll pick up sewing, scrapbooking (digitally), and painting with more consistency… maybe 2023 will be the year?!
Are there any upcoming projects you’ve been working on that you’d like to share with us?
I’m very excited to be designing my first pullover designs. Not only are they my first sweater-type garments, but I can’t wait to wear them because they’re true to my clothing aesthetic, and I absolutely love the colors! They’re both pretty simple designs with just a touch of something to give it interest. The first will be releasing in early 2023 as a collaboration with Campfiber Yarns, and the other will be releasing in fall 2024 in the first issue of inTANDEM.
You can find Jessica’s knitting patterns at www.snickerdoodleknits.com and follow her on Instagram @snickerdoodleknits.