Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Feature Designer: Courtney Spainhower of Pink Brutus Knits

5/24 update: has chosen comments 1,9 and 10; Christinabpt, Babbett and Milagros please contact me at OR comment below with your choice of pattern and your Ravelry name.
Thank you!

It's that time again! And this time I'm talking to Courtney Spainhower. She's one of my absolute favorites right now. Her designs grab me every time. I feel like they are creative, wearable and timeless. I've knitted a few of her designs and have several more queued. I just love her work! Not to mention she just seems like a very cool lady. One day I will sit and knit with her, one day!
Let's take a look at some of my favorites!

Arrow Capelet: I fell in love with this one instantly! Such eye pleasing details.

Bailiwick Pullover: The detail is so lovely on this sweater. I've made Courtney's Eyelet Yoke sweater and loved it. This one may be next! 

Seed to Sprout Shawl: Again, detail! Just wow!

Chatting with Courtney was so great. She was extremely accommodating and I just loved her answers in the interview.  

1. What is your first thought when you awake?
The first thing I think when I wake is, "Shit, what time is it?"  Then I fumble around for my phone to see I've woken up 15 minutes before the alarm is set for.  Seriously.  This happens nearly every single morning - especially the sunny ones.

2. What does the perfect knitting evening look like for you? Needles, yarn, environment, music, tv?
Oh, to knit in the evenings without children asking for things like dinner, or the dog running around with someone's shoe, or a cat eating my yarn.... !!  However, the most perfect knitting evening would look like this: Chris & Thomas, a glass of Malbec, a sample ready for blocking, and swatches piling up. (Isn't swatching most knitter's nightmare?)

3. What /who inspires you?
I find inspiration everywhere - each season begs for particular garments, fibers, and textures. I see the world in cables, lace, and very often, saddle shoulders.  My family also inspires.  In fact, my husband looses so many hats that I'm inspired to knit him a new one every fall!

4. What is your favorite part of the design process?
My favorite part of the design process would have to be the plotting of it.  I often have a vague idea and have to zone in on it by sketching it into focus, then fretting over the perfect stitches and how they'll work together.  It's all quite exciting.

5. What is the part you most dread?
I dread size grading.  It's MATH, MATH, MATH.  To be honest, I slept through high school algebra and it's a miracle I'm a functioning designer at all.

6. What was your first knitting experience and how did it influence you?
The first time I ever picked up a set of knitting needles was roughly 7 years ago when I was pregnant with my youngest.  I was at mother-in-law's house and she was telling me she had just taken a knitting class at Jo-Ann Fabrics. I forced her right then and there to show me everything she had learned.  I'll never forget it.  She said, "All I know is how to 'cast-on' and 'knit' but you'll have to look at the booklet they gave me to see how to 'purl.'"  I sat on her couch with a giant belly, the booklet next to me, and a handful of wooden needles fumbling some chunky red yarn into a wonky strip. I've always been hands-on and once I get my hooks into something I'm determined to take it to its end. However, the thing with knitting is, there is none.   

7. Is there anything you've yet to tackle, knitting wise?
I've done just about everything I can think of from felting to intarsia, from socks to shawls, but in knitting, tackling is not the same as mastering.  I even went so far as to buy a spinning wheel and dye my own fiber JUST to dig deeper into the craft.  This, as you can imagine, is positively thrilling to my husband (but i did just learn to Navajo ply and it's magical).

8. What's your favorite FO to date?
My favorite FO to date is actually a complete secret until Spring of 2014 (which is really sad because I'd love to spill all the details right here and now).
    *I interviewed Courtney quite a few months ago. The FO she is referring to is the Bailiwick Pullover. It's featured on the Interweave Spring 2014 cover.* 

9. Who is your favorite person to knit for and why?
My youngest is my favorite person in the WORLD to knit for.  She is opinionated and knows what she wants so it can be a little nerve wrecking, but the girl has impeccable taste and when she lays eyes on the finished piece she lights up like no one else.  She also wears the things she asks for (not necessarily the ones I make out of the goodness of my heart).

10. Favorite knitting book, magazine or festival?
Boy oh boy did The Knitter's Almanac by our beloved EZ change my life as a designer.

11. Do you have any Tips or tricks for aspiring designers?
For someone just getting started, I recommend the KnitEvenly App (which I still use today), some sort of chart software, and a very thick sketchbook with grid paper.  I think when you first dip your toe into pattern writing, you don't always know what type of designs you're really going to enjoy putting to paper, so leave your options open and sketch out or write down all the things you'd love to create even if you have no idea how you'd make those pieces a reality (because if you stick with it, someday you may).  
Also, it's good to keep in mind that as you move forward, patience and problem solving are the cornerstones of success in this business.  I reply to numerous emails every day from people with questions or comments about my designs and problem solving for them is one of my main tasks.  Most people look to the designer as the expert who will guide them though any problems the run into.  This is an aspect of designing I wasn't prepared for when I first started out and it was, at times, overwhelming. 

You can check out more of Courtney at

Courtney would love to offer a free pattern to 3 lucky knitters! Just comment below to enter! Winner will be drawn Saturday, May 24th. 


  1. Love your designs, just beautiful!

  2. Oh man! So many new things for my queue!

  3. Love that green shawl!

  4. The shawl is amazing, but the capelet is also pretty awesome. Beautiful work.

  5. You know, the Quills Arrow Shawl is just fascinating to me. I love the fact that the stitches really reflect the concept and name of the shawl. And the Seed to Sprout shawl is just beautiful.

  6. I love that you knit for your youngest! What a muse!

  7. "Oh, to knit in the evenings without children asking for things like dinner, or the dog running around with someone's shoe, or a cat eating my yarn...."

    Oh, do I hear that! I'll add, "...the baby not biting fresh hanks of yarn." ;-)