Yarn Alchemist Spotlight Series: Stephen West

Interview with Stephen West

The Yarn Alchemist Spotlight series on the Aroha Knits blog was started up by Ash Christine. She wanted to use the Aroha Knits platform as a way to shine a light on the hidden gems in the community and give them the opportunity to share their story.

Stephen West Iceland Day 1 (Marled Magic Sweater)

Stephen West Iceland Day 1 (Marled Magic Sweater)

- Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in knitting.

I'm originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I moved to Amsterdam when I was 21 to study choreography at an arts school and I've been based out of Amsterdam since then. I travel the world teaching workshops and presenting my designs at shops and festivals. My friends in high school taught me to knit and I've been knitting non-stop for 13 years.

2 - What type of Fibre Muse are you? ( https://thefibremuse.com/discovery-quiz/ )

Dreamer Fibre Muse (note from Frenchie: I KNEW IT).

3 - How did you decide to jump from knitting other designer’s patterns to designing your own?

I began by modifying patterns and then gradually started designing my own. I tried to learn new skills with each new pattern I knit. Once I became comfortable with constructing shapes and working with different fibers, I couldn't stop designing. Ravelry has been an enormous help by presenting designs in a clear way, connecting it to all the yarns and projects that people upload onto the site. Now, I only knit my own designs, because I have so many ideas for new sweaters and accessories.

4  - What’s your biggest source of inspiration?

I'm obsessed with yarns and color, so most of my designs start with an inspiring color palette. I have dozens of proportions and silhouettes in my head that are always changing, so when I start a new design, I latch onto a shape or texture fascination and just start knitting. Most of my designs are worked on the needle. I improvise and make decisions, while I knit, so I usually have to make a second or third sample of each design to finally write the pattern. Working this way brings many surprises like unusual shapes that I could never imagine from the beginning. I love to improvise and be in the moment while I knit.

5 - How was Stephen and Penelope born?

Stephen & Penelope was started by Malia Joseph in Amsterdam as Penelope Craft. I joined the business a few years ago, and we offer all of my exclusive kits and KAL events and clubs through the shop. We are situated in the heart of Amsterdam at Nieuwe Hoogstraat 29 and specialize in hand dyed yarns from talented artists all over the world, as well as rustic wools for traditional techniques like stranded colorwork. Malia and I represent a broad range of styles, so our shop represents an eclectic mix of colors from subtle and neutral to wild and splashy. We have knit nights each Thursday evening, so if you're planning an Amsterdam trip, make sure to come to knit night!

6 - How do you see your work making an impact in the knitting and fibre community?

I've seen a tremendous change in knitting throughout the past 10 years. I notice more people embracing their own style and color choices. It used to be wild to mix two or three colors together, or make a shawl that wasn't a triangle shape. back when I started designing. Now, I see knitters confidently combining interesting color combinations using four, five, or more colors into a project. I hope my work inspires knitters to make knitting their own, by using more specific color choices and feeling free to modify a pattern to make it their own. I like to bring joy and inspiration to people's lives through vibrant colors and unique style. 

7 - What’s your favorite thing to do while knitting? (example: watching television/movies, listening to podcasts, playing certain music albums, etc.) 

I love to knit in cafes, because I'm always traveling. I occasionally watch tv and movies while knitting, but mostly I prefer to knit in public or knit quietly at home, because my head is always buzzing with ideas.

8 - What’s in store for the next year of West Knits?

We are offering my annual Westknits Yarn-a-Long through Stephen & Penelope this spring. It's a yarn and pattern club with exclusive colors dyed by the most talented hand dyers. I design a custom shawl/scarf pattern for each month's colors. I will also host my annual Westknits Mystery Shawl KAL later this year. Follow Westknits on Instagram and Facebook and www.stephenandpenelope.com for all the latest news and announcements.

Where can we find you and your work?

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/westknits/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Westknits
website - http://westknits.com/

Speckle and Pop Shawl.jpg


To celebrate the fun of knitting, I'll gift a copy of one of Stephen West's patterns to one lucky reader! To enter you just need to leave a comment on our Patreon post with which of Stephen's designs you would love to knit (and perhaps what yarn you'll do it in!) along with your Rav ID and give Stephen a follow on Instagram or Facebook (which I'm sure you guys already do!).

You have until May 11, 2018, 11:59pm CST to enter! I'll pick and announce the winner on Patreon.