Sheryl Thies is an accomplished pattern writer. With seven books to her credit, she understands the work schedule behind yarn type and color selection. For all of us who would like to sally forth into the pattern writing realm, it requires a great deal of commitment. Swatch and swatch again (and again, if necessary)! Sheryl says the first idea might not be the best idea but the learning curve will have incredible value. She says her hobby/passion combined with entrepreneurial savvy required a long-term commitment.
This colorful crocheted shawl was made with a Tunisian crochet hook. This type of hook is also called an Afghan hook. Similar to a straight knitting needle, it has a stopper at the end. Tunisian crochet has similarities to both knitting and crochet. The process is similar to knitting because all the working stitches are held on the needle and it’s similar to crochet because only one hook is used at a time (instead of two knitting needles). Each row equals two passes. The first pass is when loops are hooked on the needle. It’s called the forward pass. The reverse pass is where stitches are hooked off the needle. Another similarity with crochet is the right side of the piece is always facing the crocheter. Click here for the pattern!
An Interview with Pattern Designer Sheryl Thies
A little bit of background…
- When did you first become interested in fiber art?
Always seem to be interested in fibers, yarn and fabric. Growing up I sewed most of my own clothes and began knitting more serious projects in high school.
- What about the medium of fiber appeals to you?
The hand of the fabric is very interesting to me. I like to feel the yarn in the ball and worked up. Sometimes the difference is remarkable. Color draws me too, but the feel is much more powerful.
- What type(s) of fiber (medium) do you work with the most?
Definitely prefer natural fibers – cotton, linen, bamboo, wool, alpaca and silk. A combination of wool/alpaca and silk usually is the perfect blend. The wool helps hold the shape of the stitch and the silk soaks up the dye, a lovely blend.
- What theme or ideas are recurring in your work?
Definitely nature. Ocean Breezes was inspired by the sea; Nature’s Wrapture inspired by nature in general and Knitting by Nature was inspired by the Gurneys seed catalog. “Mother Nature” helps me out quite a bit with colors.
Your creative expression:
- What are your creative challenges?
Good question. The challenges usually are different for each project. But the constant is so many ideas and just not enough time to knit them all. Knitting is a labor intensive craft.
- How do you approach your work?
Once I have a theme, I usually look through stitch dictionaries to jump-start my patterns. From there I swatch trying some different yarns. If things are not coming together, I usually move on and return to the problem a few projects later. Often I run into a second problem and can swap out an idea, yarn, or stitch to resolve the issues. And sometimes I just see a yarn that is the inspiration for a project.
- What tool could you not live without?
Hooks and needles – lots of hooks and needles. I generally don’t need the tape measure very often. I learned the dimensions of my hand and can easily use either the width (just short of 4 inches, of the length (just short of 6”) on my hand to gauge my progress. When I nearing a critical measure, I grab the tape measure.
- What is your creative process?
Try and try again would probably be a fitting description. While I do work up a swatch to check gauge, then do the math and type up a pattern, there are always numerous changes and often a “restart”. Sometimes I joke that the second time is always better. I try not to get frustrated with what I’m doing – find that things usually work out better without any extra stress.
- Does your location, physically or as an idea manifest itself in your work?
Probably the nature theme. I live in a wooded area and live near bike paths that are along some scenic areas – marsh and wet lands, woods, prairie,. I enjoy spending time out doors, biking in nice weather, walking year round.
- What are some of the pleasures you get in your work?
A sense of satisfaction. I enjoy getting up early and working in my office, knitting or crocheting. I usually have my work planned the night before so that I can get up and start in without having to think too much about what needs to be done.
The fiber community around you:
- What are some of the big ideas that influence your work?
Feel like this question is way above my head – I just like to create beautiful things, things that aren’t really too complicated, and since I’m willing to write down what I do, I can do patterns for others to make beautiful things that aren’t too complicated.
- How do you view the artists of today?
Very exciting, people who don’t follows the rules and as a result have unexpected results.
- Which fiber artist do you admire the most?
There are a number of knitters and crocheters who I have a lot of admiration for. Not sure I could narrow it down to just a few.
- What is your work motto?
Lets give it a try. Sometimes when I’m just not sure how something will turn out, I give it a try. Even when it doesn’t work out, the process spring boards my mind to another place or another idea. So even the failures are beneficial.
- Where do you exhibit/sell your work?
Since my product(s) are books, they are sold in yarn shops, fabric shops, book stores, amazon and anywhere else that books can be sold.
- What is your contact info so people can contact you? (website/blog, email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+) Sheryl’s Ravelry name is Marketing.
Buy Sheryl’s books here: