Maker Monday v. IV - Gabrielle Knits

Happy Monday, friends! I hope your are having a fabulous week so far.

Today, I am excited to share another interview with you! Gabrielle Vezina of Gabrielle Knits is a Canadian pattern designer. She creates stress-free patterns of all kinds, from sweaters to hats to shawls and more. So now, without further introduction, here's my interview with sweet Gabrielle!

If we were able to have this conversation in a cute little coffee shop, what would you be drinking? Coffee, tea, or neither?

Definitely tea for me.  I love coffee, but I have a ridiculously speedy heartbeat so I avoid it.  I'm a huge fan of all teas and am always happy to try new ones, but my all time favorite is a good old classical Earl Grey.

Earl Grey is my favorite, too! It seems to fit every day and mood.

When you were younger, what did you enjoy creating and making?

My mom was a sewing teacher so I started sewing at 5.  I loved spending days sewing with her!  We were making most of our clothes, and at about 12, I was able to design, make the pattern, cut the fabric and sew whole garments all by myself.  I can’t say they were all pretty — especially when I was a teen and did lots of experiments! — but I was loving the creation process.  What I didn't enjoy so much was the sewing itself... So I tried pretty much all arts and crafts to find the perfect one for me.  Before discovering knitting, my two favorites were drawing (I used to draw non-stop during all classes), and playing the cello which I studied for 10 years.

It's so cool that you were able to create so many of your own clothes!

Tell us a little bit about what you make/do. What led you to choose that path? How did you first start designing your own patterns?

I started knitting and crocheting when I quit smoking in 2009.  For some obscure reason, I was thinking that the best thing I could do to keep my hands busy was to crochet an army of hamsters.  I only made one hamster but had an aha-moment while making it — after all these years of trying every craft, I had discovered the perfect way to express my creativity.  Once I mastered a decent knitting technique, it was natural to create my own patterns as I already knew a lot about garments, gradation and pattern-making.  And now, I simply can't stop!  I enjoy making pretty much anything, winter accessories, lace shawls, garments, stuffed animals and more.  I love when my patterns are fun to knit and easy to wear.  Shawls are really satisfying projects as they are rather easy to knit while they can be very graceful.  I also love creating cardigans and the maths challenge they represent.  I live in Montreal where winters are harsh, so anything really warm is a winner for my wardrobe!

 I live in Maine, so I completely understand the need to warmth! Knitting is a wonderful way to stay warm, for sure.

What are your dreams for the future of your business?

I've been designing knitting patterns for quite a few years now and I recently realized there is a world out there who actually likes what I do.  I was doing it mostly for my own sanity and all of a sudden I'm not so alone in this journey.  This is awesome!  I love interacting with people, getting to know them and what they like, and I do my best to offer them patterns they will enjoy.  I hope it will continue that way!  Just like most pattern designers, I would love to be able to make a decent living out of it but it's not an easy career and I'm far from being there yet.  Until then, I am thankful for being able to work half-time on my "real" job so my designing activities can get a lot of dedicated time.

Where do you most like to create? What does your creative process/daily routine look like?

I don’t have a specific place where I like to create, but in summer, I love to knit at the dog park while Alie is having fun with her pals.  I think about designing all the time, everywhere, no matter what I'm doing (it can be quite overwhelming sometimes)!  Anything can be a source of inspiration, from people I see on the streets to the peacefulness of the trees when I go walking in the woods.  I very often go to bed thinking about new patterns, and I wake up with concrete ideas.  I find that my creativity is at its best when I'm tired or very relaxed.  I try not to constrain my creativity and let it be the boss of my knitting.  It is so satisfying, in our busy world, to have one thing that is not led by rationality!  

I love the way our brains work. It's amazing that you're able to come up with ideas, even while you're sleeping!

Any tips for someone looking to start their own business or design patterns?

I'm a strong advocate of independence, self-confidence and being forgiving to yourself.  Do what you like to do, and give yourself the right to do it the way you like it.  If you are passionate about your business, genuine and true to yourself, you'll have the drive to go where you want to go.  But also, give yourself the right to fail.  If you don't feel at home, keep looking for your place or change what feels wrong.  Everyone has great talents and qualities, and no one but you can find the perfect way to make them shine.  Give you the right to be where you belong, and you'll shine, inside and out!

This is such inspiring, amazing advice!! Thank you!

Lastly, if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I love visiting cities!  I already visited many inspiring ones, and I hope someday I’ll have the chance to see Helsinki, Amsterdam, Barcelona, London and Chicago (that last one should quickly become a dream come true)!

Gabrielle, thank you so much for your wonderful answers! I so enjoyed reading them, and I am sure everyone else will, too.

You can find Gabrielle on her website (since Gabrielle is bilingual, you can access her site in both English and French),  Ravelry, Instagram, and Facebook. Gabrielle currently has all of her patterns on sale, so be sure to browse and purchase a few. But be quick - the sale ends tomorrow!