Getting to Know You #5: Alex Tinsley

This week, I've invited over a gal I have a total girl crush on. Not only is she hilariously funny, adorable, and stylish, she's also a great knitwear designer, too! It's Alexandra Tinsley! I first got to know Alex in 2008 by test knitting her hat design, The Delicious. (Here's my version.) Since then, I've kept a keen eye out for Alex's designs, and they've only been getting better!

Here's Alex, modeling her Meriwether Hat & Emrigail Scarf. Isn't she gorgeous?

TSK: So, you seem to design mostly hats, and I am stupid in love with them. I'm not even a hat person really, but there's something about your hats that makes me want to knit them all! Why mostly hats? Is there something about them you particularly like designing? Do you wear a lot of hats yourself?

AT: I do wear a lot of hats, but I honestly couldn't tell you whether that started before or after the knitting. When you've amassed a hat collection like mine (I think about 50 at last count), you've really got to wear them, haha...  I love hats because they usually take only a skein or two of yarn (and I'm very much the type of person to go "Ooooh, pretty yarn!" and buy one skein of it) and you don't have to make two of them. I like scarves and shawls for the same reason, though usually those take a little longer. Plus, at this point I've spent so much time with hats that I can start doing weird creative stuff with them since I know their basic constructions so well.

She really does love hats! Here, Alex's Darla, Wabbit Season, and Phoncible.

TSK: Oh my word, 50 hats? Girl, you really do like hats! I guess that's about the same as my shoe collection, though...(ahem) Soooooo, how long have you been knitting? Was there a moment at which you thought to yourself, "You know, I could design professionally", or did it just kind of happen for you?

AT: I learned in high school, so like...8 or 9 years ago. Yikes! Has it really been that long? I started knitting a lot in college, mostly to help entertain and keep me awake during lectures. I initially started selling the knits themselves, back when Etsy was new and shiny. Eventually, I decided it made more sense to write up the patterns and sell those, because it's very, very hard to make enough to cover materials + time for handknits. Turns out, I like writing patterns a lot better than any of my other career plans!

TSK: What's your background? Are you still in school? Working? Designing full time?

AT: I have a BA in Psychology and what basically amounts to a minor in Visual Arts (my school didn't do minors, but if it had, I would've). I'm not so much using the Psychology degree, hehehe...

As of last October, I'm designing full time, though I'm still building to the point where it can sort of legitimately count as a job. Luckily we live cheaply!

Alex has also published 2 ebooks, Go Go Malabrigo, Volumes 1 and 2.

TSK: Uh-oh, now the next time I see you I'm going to worry you're psycho-analyzing me, haha! Glad the arts won out, for real. So what's up next for you? Are we going to be seeing more hats?

AT: I'm working on a super-slightly-secret book project with my friend/fellow yarnieface/photographer Vivian Aubrey. It's been a bit stalled out (it's really hard to not get sidelined when you're working on long-term things), but I'm starting to put my nose back to the grindstone and crank that sucker out. It will have both garments and accessories, and will be centered around a particular fashion subculture that I think is pretty snazzy, aesthetically. If Vivian has anything to say about it, it'll look awesome. We're hoping to get a print publisher to pick it up, but it may just be digital. We'll see.

TSK: Well good luck with that, Alex! I'll definitely be looking forward to seeing the new collection!

Alex is excited to offer a complimentary copy of one of her ebooks to one lucky reader; to enter to win, simply leave a comment stating whether you'd win Collection 1 or Collection 2! I'll announce the winner on Wednesday, October 5th. In the meantime, Alex is offering 20% off her patterns until October 7th; enter the code "sexyinterview" during checkout! What are you waiting for? Go stock up on some goodies!

You can keep tabs on Alex's design career by finding her on Ravelry, her blog, Facebook fan page, Ravelry group, or Twitter.

Oh, and are you wondering who won the giveaways from Laura's interview? Well, sosoclever won the subscription to Adorn, and Moreen won the kit! Congrats, ladies! If you can drop me a line at thesexyknitter AT gmail DOT com, I'll get you in touch with Laura!


ACK! Blogger!

Hey guys,

I know I was supposed to post the winner from Laura's interview today, but I'm having some trouble with Blogger today. Will post tomorrow! :)


Deliciousness: Carrot Raisin Macadamia Whoopie Pies!

Oh my word, you guys, these have so many yummy things in them! Not only do they have all the traditional goodness that you expect a carrot cake to have, but they also have macadamia nuts, raisins, oats, and the most creamy, delicious cream cheese frosting you've ever had on a cookie.

These are all mine, baby. Where's yours?

Granted, there are  kind of a lot of steps here because of the massive number of ingredients. You'll be chopping nuts, grating carrots, creaming sugar, and digging through your spice cabinet (or in my case, making a special trip to the market) for things like ground cloves, nutmeg and ginger. If your go-to cookie recipes usually just have butter, sugar, flour, vanilla, and a couple of eggs, this will be a change for you, but take it from me: these gems are worth the effort. For your trouble, you'll be rewarded with moist, chewy cookies slathered in tangy frosting that you'll have a hard time not eating by the spoonful right out of the bowl. 

Lookit all the goodies!

I made these cookies by following this recipe, and I followed it to a T, down to the size of the cookie scoop, reduced oven temperature, and cooking time. The only thing I'd say needs to be changed is the amount of cream cheese frosting, because only one batch isn't nearly enough to cover all these cookies! If you like frosting as much as I do, you'll want to double up.

This recipe makes a ton of cookies, so they're great for taking to a party, or, you know, just eating all by yourself. Either way! No judgments here - promise.


Deliciousness: Banana Coconut Pecan Bread

I'm a huge bread fan. And when I say huge, I really mean huge. Give me bread in almost any form and I am a very, very happy girl. In fact, carbs in general are one of the main staples of my diet and half the time, I have to remind myself I need to eat other things, too.

Enter this loaf of banana bread. Not only is it the best banana bread I've ever had in my life, it's also one of my favorite bread recipes ever at this point; and that's saying something, since sweet breads aren't at the top of my crazy-bread-eating list of favorites.

Yum, even if it is a bit dark!

It's overcooked in these photos, unfortunately. I was housesitting for some friends of ours and you know how it is when you're working in an oven that's not your own, right? Well, let's just say I was happy this loaf didn't set the house on fire. Side note: I'd already managed to wreck these people's car avoiding what definitely would have been a fatal collision, so, you know - not burning down their house was basically priority #1 at that point. Long story short, use the biggest loaf pan you have and don't fill it too full, or you'll wind up scraping burnt gobs of bread batter off the bottom of your (or, *ahem*, someone else's) oven. But enough about my misadventures in Florida! On to the good stuff.

Plenty of good stuff to be had! Toasted coconut & pecans, anyone?

This recipe originally appeared over on the ModCloth blog, and it called for bacon. I love bacon, too, but I find it gets soggy if you cook it inside of something else, and as far as I'm concerned soggy bacon is almost as bad as burnt popcorn. I did cook a small loaf of this with bacon in it once, and it was well received, but I was too chicken to try it so now I just omit the bacon and use a cup of toasted pecans, instead. I also toast the coconut (which, by the way, can be sweetened OR unsweetened), but those are the only two things I've changed from the original recipe.

You can have this recipe in the oven in under 10 minutes, and that includes hauling out all your baking goods and mixing up the recipe. The result should be moist, nutty, just-sweet-enough bread that you'll have a hard time not gobbling up the moment you take it out of the oven. It'll stay moist and delicious for almost a week before it starts to go stale, but really - it's not going to last that long.

Find the original recipe (with non-burnt photos!) here.

When I make this, I use a 9-inch metal loaf pan and have enough batter left over to make a mini-loaf, too. Perfect for sharing with the neighbors or stashing in your office drawer for snack time!


Getting to Know You #4: Laura Nelkin

Welcome back to Getting to Know You! Today I'm interviewing the lovely and gracious Laura Nelkin, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at TNNA. Laura's portfolio includes a stunning 70 designs that have been featured in magazines like Interweave Knits, Knitty.com, Creative Knitting, many books from DRG Publications and Storey Publishing, and her own latest collection, Adorn.

Laura modeling her shawl design, Clarus. See? Lovely!

TSK: With designs that include children's toys, intricate lace shawls, tailored garments, socks, and scarves (just to name a few!), you seem to be extremely talented at all areas of knitwear design. Your latest collection of knitted jewelry patterns, Adorn, has been a runaway hit. Should we expect to see you start focusing solely on jewelry design, or will you continue to offer a full range of items? Are there any items you particularly enjoy designing?
Ten patterns are planned for this collection; six have already been released!

LN: Wow, I love this question! I do love jewelry design, and one of the things that I love about it is that although the design aspect takes me about as much time as any of my other pieces the actual knitting so SO much quicker… that way I can always have some jewelry pieces ready to publish WHILE I am focusing on some longer term more time consuming projects. I do enjoy being challenged by my designs so I am almost always taking something new on… this is how I learn new techniques! Right now, in fact, besides the final designs for Adorn, I have another passion on my needles… colorwork gloves! (Sneaky side note for my readers: The latest from Laura, the Iota Collection, is in the works! The new collection will feature four garment patterns centered around a focal stitch motif. Stay tuned to her blog for more info!)

Beautiful colorwork mittens designed by Laura for a mitten swap. Read more about them here.

TSK: One thing I'm always curious about is how other knitters learned how to knit. What's your story?

LN: I’m actually a bit new to knitting, I went to school for apparel design and did a TON of weaving and textile design while in school. I tried knitting in college, but believe it or not, it was too hard (says the girl who mastered a 32 harness compu-dobby loom) and I gave up. Fast forward almost 10 years, my daughter was 4, I was at a play date and one of the moms taught me how to knit. Suffice it to say, we had A LOT of play dates over the next year while I knitted and learned as the kids raised hell all around us… fun times!

The latest design from Adorn, the Beignet Necklace, and Laura's gorgeous Beaded Cuffs.

TSK: So what's the latest for you? What exciting new ventures are you undertaking these days? I know your class on Craftsy, Mastering Lace Shawls, is doing extremely well! How did you find the experience of working with the Craftsy team?

LN:   Frankly, I had a small idea of what I was getting into, but WOW, I am so impressed by the class and the platform! I designed two top down shawls, Clarus and Skywalker, that teach many lace techniques, such as provisional cast ons, chart reading, shawl shaping, fixing mistakes, lifelines, and more. The class and its discussions and videos are available 24 hours a day for students to follow along with at their own pace.  The class has been live for about a month and already has over 1000 students.  I’ve had a fabulous time interacting with them! If anyone wants to check out the class further there is a link on my blog for 50% off the class… just click on the link on
the image at the top. 

This Craftsy class will equip you with all the skills you need to knit lace like a Jedi Master!

TSK: Just had to point this out - Laura's Craftsy class includes over 5 and a half hours of video instruction time! If you sign up via the link on Laura's blog and receive 50% off the class, that makes it just $20.00. Where else are you going to be able to take a class from such an experienced instructor that A) is that inexpensive, B) you can retake any time you want, for FREE, and C) has a teacher that's available to answer questions any time you have one? Just sayin'...

Okay Laura, one last question just for fun. If you had to choose one yarn to knit with for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

LN: Really? Can I not answer this? How about yarns I am currently obsessed/can’t live without by weight?

Lace: Tie between JuniperMoon - Findley and Sweet Georgia Yarn - Cash Silk
Fingering: String Theory Caper
Worsted: Stonehedge Fiber Mill - Shepherd’s Wool
Bulky: Schaefer Yarn Company - Esperanza (Sadly discontinued!)

As a special thank you to my readers, Laura is offering a subscription to her jewelry collection, Adorn, to one reader, and a kit from her Etsy shop to another! To enter the giveaway, sign up for Laura's newsletter (Bonus! Laura randomly selects 5 newsletter members to receive a free pattern each time she releases a new one!), then come back here and leave a comment telling me what your favorite piece from Adorn is. We'll announce the winner on Wednesday, September 28.

My favorite's Ribband!

Thanks so much to Laura for stopping by! Follow Laura's career through her blog, Twitter, Facebook fan page, or find her and her group on Ravelry. Her Etsy shop, featuring gorgeous kits to knit the pieces from her Adorn collection, can be found here.

ALSO, through the October 26th, you can get 15% off anything in Laura's Etsy shop or Ravelry shop by using the code, "FALL4KNITTING" during checkout.