Friday, July 11, 2014

Feature Designer: Lee Meredith of Leethal Knits

7/14 Update: selected comments 8,7 and 9.
                     Winners: Faye, Anonymous and Yarnandpointysticks
Please email me at with your pattern choice and Ravelry name. Lee will gift them through Rav. 
Thanks for participating everyone!

Hey yarn peeps! It's time for another designer spotlight!
I've been excited about this one because Lee's designs always blow me out of the water.  Pics and links as always to my personal favorites!  They are creative to the point of no return.  She has a way of doing things that's so unique, that you can't help but be drawn to it and if you own any of her patterns, you know that she is incredibly thorough!  She is the super rad portland gal that you wish you could sit down with a beer, a good vinyl and bag full of yarn.  I didn't get to do that this time, but I did get her to take the time to answer a few of my questions and she even graciously offered a giveaway for readers.

1. What is your first thought when you awake?  
 No, I want more sleep!  (I am a total night person, no problem staying up till 3am working, but getting up in the morning is THE WORST.)

2. What does the perfect knitting evening look like for you? Needles, yarn, environment, music, tv?  
 A new design idea that I'm super excited about, 100% wool, plied, nice and sheepy, worsted weight, in a couple of different beautiful hand-dyed colors (maybe along with 1 undyed natural sheep color), bamboo needles, on the couch for a many-hour long marathon of a good TV show, with tea during the day, and then into the night with a beer, or a hot toddy if it's cold!

3. What /who inspires you? 
 I don't really look to anything/one specific for inspiration; ideas for designs usually come to me randomly, or I'll start with a seed of an idea and then obsessively think about it, probably soaking in inspiration from my life… My husband is great at inspiring me by letting me bounce ideas off him, and then having new ideas, or helping the core idea evolve into something new, or kind of understanding things differently which leads me to other ideas, etc.  I browse patterns on ravelry often, so I'm sure all the great new designs being released all the time get filed into my brain for inspiration when I need it!

4. What is your favorite part of the design process?  
 The beginning, coming up with the initial idea, sketching and swatching, and knitting up the first prototype, turning my idea into a real item!

5. What is the part you most dread? 
 I don't love figuring out the best ways to explain things, making changes to the pattern based on test knitter feedback, that kind of thing.  I always want the pattern to be the BEST it can be for everyone, but everyone's brains work differently, and the best way to explain something for one person will be confusing for another person, so it's frustrating and stressful to make those choices.

6. What was your first knitting experience and how did it influence you?  
 A specific moment pops into my head, when I first became interested in knitting.  This was 2002 and not many people in my life knit (I didn't grow up with a knitting relative or anything), so I always kind of thought of knitting like, you can basically knit a scarf, or basic rectangles, unless you get really into it and practice for years and years and learn enough to make something more complex, which I wasn't interested in doing.  So, then I had an apartment-mate who I didn't know well, who would wear these hand-knit and hand-crocheted hats, and one day my other roommate was telling me that this girl was into knitting and crochet, and had taught her how to do both and they weren't hard to do, and she told me she made her hat; it clicked, like "What?! I could make a hat? And it's easy and doesn't take years to work up to? I want to do that!!"  So that's when I first decided I wanted to learn, and those roommates taught me both a knit stitch and single crochet stitch, and then I was self-taught after that.

7. Is there anything you've yet to tackle, knitting wise?  
 Oh yeah, tons of things!  I've always wanted to try out double knitting.  I've barely done intarsia and would like to master that.  I recently saw a blog post about twined knitting and would love to explore that.  There are tons of regional techniques that I'll see in a pattern and think, ooooh I want to try that out!  There is just so much to learn in knitting - I've been learning for about 12 years now and there's always so much more!!

8. What's your favorite FO to date?  
 Ooh that's always changing - it's usually the most recent thing I've completed!  So, definitely my Krewe cowl (link to the ravelry project page: is a favorite of the moment, and my bright green and grey Lerro shawl (link:!  If I only think about older things though, hmm, I really love my Flying V's fingerless mitts (link:, mostly because I hardly ever do stranded colorwork, and I also hardly ever work with sock weight yarn, so they are so different from most of my hand-knits.  I also really love my blue Freewheelin' shawl (link:, again probably because it's pretty different from most things I design/make - with a very simple construction and cables covering the whole thing. 

9. Who is your favorite person to knit for and why?  
 I kind of only knit for myself these days!  But mostly design samples, so I can't wear them a lot because they need to stay in good shape (but I still wear them a bit!).  But I guess it's valid to say myself as an answer, because a lot of the design samples I make are not necessarily my favorite color or style choices, but chosen for the design, so sometimes when I make design choices for a sample that are actually MY favorite choices, I love knitting those samples!  Like, for the Lerro shawls, the red+beige sock weight sample was not personally my favorite choices, though I think it's a beautiful sample, but I chose the green+grey DK weight more to fit my own taste, and I really loved knitting that one!

10. Favorite knitting book, magazine or festival?  
 The books I use most are stitch dictionaries, and this is a really boring answer, but I am a huge fan of Barbara Walker's treasuries.  Also a big Elizabeth Zimmermann fan, also boring!  Ooh my favorite knitting books for inspiration are Japanese pattern books!  I am super lucky to have a Kinokuniya bookstore here in Portland, so I've collected about a dozen over the years (they are not cheap, or I'd have many more!) and I flip through them sometimes when I'm brainstorming about a collection idea or something, just to see lots of creative designs, great styling, etc.

11. Do you have any Tips or tricks for aspiring designers?
 Don't expect a big audience right off the bat - design because you love it, for yourself, for practice, etc.  Don't try to design what you think people will want to knit; I think it's better to put out a totally weirdo design that's nothing like what's out there already, and have a niche group of people be really into it, while others hate it, rather than to jump on a trend and just blend together with a bunch of other designs that look the same… There's nothing wrong with jumping on a trend, but put a twist on it!  There aren't any tricks that I can think of - the path to success is working your ass off and not losing steam when things aren't going so well.  (I hope that's true - that's what I keep doing!)  If you love designing, do it, work your ass off, and hire out any parts you can't do yourself (like photography / graphic design / tech editing - try bartering with other newbie designers to save money if you can) - it's a shame when really creative, excellent designs have bad photos so they don't get seen.  Remember that every new pattern adds to your collection and results in the older patterns getting seen more, so just because your first (or second, third, fourth…) pattern doesn't seem to do well when it's new, that doesn't mean it won't sell more into the future, as you release more new patterns.  Take advantage of the ravelry Designers and Budding Designers groups for info and help (but always search before asking a question, as most questions have already been asked and answered) - those are such great resources!

Thank you so much Lee for talking with me and my readers! I always look forward to your design releases and I know my audience does as well! 

Lee has offered a free pattern to 3 lucky readers. Simply comment below with what your favorite Leethal Knits pattern is and why, to be selected at random. Winners will be drawn using on 7/14/14. Good luck! 

Want to learn more about Lee and her fantastic work? She blogs over at and her full website is www.


  1. I love "gentle on my mind" though in all honesty, I've spent many an hour browsing her patterns shop and ogling at all the colorful amazing-ness. Thanks so much for sharing this ladies! I love getting to "know" more about fellow knitters. <3

  2. I just purchased the pre-order for the Adventure KAL, so that one! I like how it will be many patterns in one.

  3. The either or mitts always catch my eye :) one of these days I will make them for me!

  4. I'm definitely a new fan! So fun to "get to know" Lee, and to spend some fun time browsing her patterns. What a brilliant mind for color and design. I probably like Wizzo and Lemmy best of all.

  5. I love both ocean breezes and twisted ankles. I am just drawn to both and even if I don't win I will being adding both to my library. I love that they both look so cozy and comfy

  6. Barry was such a fun knit, I'm dying to make one in fingering weight. :)

  7. Thanks for the giveaway! I've been favoriting up a storm of Lee's patterns recently. I love her interesting constructions. I especially love her Either/Or mitts because they're unique, they have a pop of colour, and they're not intarsia or stranded knitting (both of which I can do but neither of which I love doing). In particular, I favorited the version pictures above in this blog post. ❤️ - Rebecca (knittingwithwords on Ravelry)

  8. I've been a fan of Leethal Knits for years! She has such a creative spark, and I love browsing the projects on Ravelry. My current favorite eye candy is her Adventure Knitting collections -- such a great idea!

  9. Thanks for a great interview. I really like the colour by number series and pigment. I've also just purchased the adventure Kal as it looked like so much fun.