Designer of the month – Vanessa Coscarelli

I first got to know Vanessa when she became one of my very first test knitters and her feedback and enthusiasm about my patterns were an incredible boost to my confidence. Since then I have enjoyed every opportunity to work with her and to see Vanessa’s own designs develop. What I love most about her designs are her choice of natural colours and their modern look. If you love comfy knits with clear lines Vanessa is definitely a designer to watch. You can see more of Vanessa’s work on Ravelry, Etsy, Instagram and her website.
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When did you learn to knit? Did someone teach you or did you teach yourself?

I was initially introduced to fiber art as a 9 year old girl by my maternal grandmother.  She taught me the basics of crochet which yielded lots of straight pieces — scarves and blankets galore!  Later on, in my college years, my mother taught me how to knit.  Again, she knew the basic garter stitch so we made a ton of simple scarves for everyone we knew!  I think I enjoyed fiber art from an early age because I’m the type of person that does not sit still.  I like to create so this was a hobby that allowed me to keep busy and have something to show for my time.

Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by all of the makers in my family, especially my maternal grandfather.  He was a tailor in Italy, then Argentina and finally, the United States.  I am awestruck by the fact that he could take fabric and create tailored, mens suits and make it look easy.  When I really think about my family tree, I see that I have makers in every area — shoe makers, carpenters, seamstresses, crafters — the list goes on and on.  I also think that keeping family traditions alive is very important for the next generation of children.  I want my son to see that there is value in creating something yourself as opposed to buying a mass produced product from a store.  There is a sense of pride and value that comes with such handmade items and it’s important to pass this down to the next generation.
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What is your favourite knitting/designing resource? Books? Magazines? Blogs? Software?
I have a few favorite knitting and crochet resources.  One is ravelry, where I am constantly inspired by fellow fiber artists. I also spend quite a bit of time perusing pattern books in the library as there’s always great inspiration there.  Finally, a visit to my local yarn show always has me leaving with new skeins of yarn and a few ideas in my head to try out.
Can you describe your designing process? What is your favourite part?
For a Type A personality like myself, my design process is nothing like the rest of my habits.  I find that I visualize a pattern in my head first, then simply jot down the schematics of what I think it should look like.  Size, shape and approximate measurements for each sections.  I think raid my yarn stash and start swatching.  I don’t aim for a certain number of patterns per year because for me, it does not work like that.  My patterns appear as ideas at random times and for a variety of different reasons.  For example, I went to a social knitting party in Chicago this past February and on the flight back home, I got the idea for the MAEVE cowl.  I drew the idea on a cocktail napkin on the flight!  I personally think you can’t force creativity — it comes when it comes.
Do you have a favourite stitch pattern?
I’m sure this is the most boring one….but I just love the stockinette stitch. Yes, basic, I know, but the simple V pattern is so clean looking and even those who don’t knit usually see this pattern and can recognize it as a knit stitch.
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English or Continental (or both)? Which way do you knit?
For the most part I knit continental, but funny enough, when working on straight needles, I have to hold the left one under my arm to keep it stable.  This was how my mother taught me to knit and I can’t seem to break the habit.  What’s weird is that when I taught myself how to knit in the round using circular needles, I never had this problem.  Talk about motor memory!
What does knitting mean to you? Why do you do it?
Knitting means a great deal to me.  It means love, quality, time and effort.  It means thoughtfulness, concentration and sometimes, frustration.  I knit or crochet every single day because I enjoy being able to make something with my own two hands and even more than that, I love being able to gift my handmade knits to friends and family as a sign of my appreciation.  Knitting takes a lot of time and because time is so valuable, if you ever receive a handknit or crocheted gift, know that you are so very loved!
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What do you have planned for the future as a designer? Do you want to make it a fulltime job or is it a hobby for you?
I have a textured baby blanket idea I’m working on right now and I’m hoping to get that published in the next month or so.  I am also working on a few collaborations with fellow makers to get knit kits together using my recycled silk sari yarn that is sourced from fair trade co-ops in Northern India.  There’s a lot to keep me busy for the remainder of the year.  The hardest part for me is to keep my focus and not try to do too many things at once!



One thought on “Designer of the month – Vanessa Coscarelli

  1. Very inspiring! I loved hearing about Vanessa’s family of makers, and also that she creates a yarn using recycled silk saris! And I definitely relate to the comments on creativity and how it cannot be forced. At the same time, I think there is also something to be said that creativity does require an ‘intent to create’ – meaning, the more you allow yourself to mull over possible ideas and thoughts, the greater chance you have that an exciting idea for a pattern could pop up! Ah, the mysteries of the subconscious mind :).


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