Designer Interview: Larissa Brown
Today I'm very excited to present to you an interview with Larissa Brown! Larissa was one of the first designers I ever discovered, way back in my knitting noob days. Her Mabel's Scarf was one of the first patterns in Malabrigo I ever saw, and is named after the first real LYS I ever went to (may it rest in peace.) It's safe to say she's been an inspiration to me from the beginning. Before we dive in, a little bio info:
Larissa is a lifelong knitter who learned with aluminum needles and Red Heart yarn on her nanny's chenille couch in suburban New Jersey. She writes about it in her book My Grandmother's Knitting: Family Stories and Inspired Knits by Top Designers. The book includes engaging family tales from 17 of today's foremost knitting designers, and 22 designs inspired by family. As an independent designer, Larissa sells dozens of patterns for accessories and the home that all invite the knitter to create their own works of art.
Hi Larissa!! As usual, we'll start at the beginning- what was your first experience with Malabrigo?
My first experience was buying some Taupe Worsted and just looking at it for inspiration. The colors were subtle and enchanting, luxurious. That skein became the Sacred Yarn. I don't think I ever found anything worthy to make with it. I mailed it to my editor, Melanie Falick, just so she could see it. (I don't know where it is now. It has a life of its own.)
They don't always get a lot of attention, but the neutral colors like Simply Taupe are some of my favorites. Mmmm. Wonder where that wayward skein is now... anyway, moving on, what was your first design in Malabrigo?
My first design was the Doppio Gauntlets in my book Knitalong. Shortly after that, I created one of my most popular designs with Mal Worsted called the Mabel's Scarf. It continues to be widely loved by Malabrigo addicts and I'm still amazed by how different in looks in the huge range of colorways knitters have used. The yarn is perfect for its labyrinth design.
Why are you drawn to Malabrigo for use in your designs?
In technical terms, I like how it squishes. It somehow features cables and texture while still being fuzzy and cuddly. I also like the huge range of colors; lots of unexpected color combinations can be achieved.
What is your favorite Malabrigo project that you've made to date?
I'm really proud of a recent design that's close to my heart--the From the Fields Shawl. This year, I'm writing a novel--a time travel love story that takes place in 10th century Iceland. I'm publishing a collection of shawls and wraps that are inspired by all my Viking research, and this one--the first--is designed in Malabrigo Sock. My amazing sample knitter, Kelley Dew, suggested the yarn in Persia and it's perfect.
Another favorite is the Falconry gauntlets. They were a technical achievement for me at that time in my design career and I still think they are cool. People have used them for steampunk events, and they're quite perfect for any archeress-hunteress-game of thronesish party you might have to attend.
It's so cool that you're writing a novel! And I can't wait to see the rest of the shawls. Everyday it seems like I fall in love with Iceland a little more (and I've never even been there, haha.) And to wrap up...what is your favorite colorway and yarn base?
Definitely the first Malabrigo I ever tried is still my favorite base. The original Worsted. As for colorways, does everyone tell you that's impossible to answer? I can narrow it down. I love Simply Taupe, Pearl Ten, Frost, and Water. Those are followed by the tonal shades, especially in yellows and golds. Despite my early work (circa 1974) in the Red Heart Mexicana colorway, I've moved away from variegated yarns. They're not as beautiful, I think, with textures and lace. They tend to obscure things, and the beauty of the yarn itself gets lost too. That's why I love the huge range of tonal colorways Malabrigo offers. They are complex while the majority of them still work with a textured design. Thanks so much for talking with us Larissa! You can see more of Larissa's fabulous patterns on Ravelry and on Craftsy (and don't forget to keep an eye out for that love story!)