Sarah Jo Burch {knitting designer interview}

I love to work with new designers for patterns here at Ewe Ewe. Sarah Jo and I met on Instagram and we hit it off. She has designed a huge range of garments – including the Refuge cowl which I went bonkers over – and I wanted to know more about her story and design philosophy. Read through her inspiring words and see her latest design in our yarn!

Tell us a little about yourself.
Name: Sarah Jo Burch
Ravelry: SarahJoKnits
Blog: www.sarahjoburch.blogspot.com 

How long have you been knitting? 
I learned to knit when I was 15 by taking a class at my local yarn store (shout out to Handheld in Fayetteville Arkansas!), then got a job there when I was 18. I really benefited from being around so many talented and experienced ladies who were so generous with their help and advice.

What was your first design?
My first design was my prom dress, just a few months after I started working at the yarn shop. It was a simple boatneck tank dress. I added some eyelets at the back to weave a ribbon through for waist-shaping and then I used increasing needle sizes to make the skirt flare. From the knee down I worked a leave pattern that became all lace by the floor-length hem. 

I was (and still am) captivated by the way that sticks and string can produce wearable garments. I love creating things with intuitive design that don't require an advanced degree in knitting to figure out. 

How did you turn knitting into a career?
A dream I had from early on was to learn about the design world from the publisher's perspective so that I could be a better designer. Then when I was 21, I had the opportunity to spend a summer in Cleveland interning with designer/publisher Shannon Okey, and the next year I spent about 4 months in New York City as the yarn editor for Soho Publishing (that's Vogue Knitting, Knit Simple, and Sixth&Spring Books) while their yarn editor was on maternity leave. 

Do you have a philosophy for your knitting and designs?
There's never a point at which someone can know it all, so everyone benefits from the collective knowledge of the knitting community, even the non-knitters. That community inspires my designs - it's a shared love of the colors and textures and techniques, combined with a desire to contribute something to those who've given so much to me!

In the twelve years I've been knitting, I've seen so much of knitting's potential for good like the way that learning to knit can empower someone. Whether it's by giving them an income, a creative outlet, or a way to give back, I love what knitting stands for and the community it creates. The generosity of knitters is constantly amazing, from those who donate finished garments to those who give their time to encourage others, and I am happy to be a part of it.

Now I'm blessed with two tiny models and a sweet husband who finds my knitting obsession endearing rather than annoying, and doesn't mind circling the parking lot one more time so I can finish my row.

My latest design is the Stacks children's sweater designed in Ewe Ewe's sport-weight yarn. I got the name "Stacks" from rows of library books. We love going to the library and bringing home piles of brightly illustrated pictures books – simple but something we can all enjoy. That's my hope for this pattern, something a busy mom can make and a busy baby can happily wear.

See the pattern here.

Refuge Cowl {free knitting pattern}

Meet Sarah Jo. Look at this amazing cowl she designed! The Refuge cowl features our Ewe Ewe Wooly Worsted yarn in five colors.

I am totally in love with the zigzag eyelets and funky edging. And don't even get me started on the perfectly funky color combo!

Sarah Jo has an impressive history as a knitting designer and she tries to give away one pattern each fall for the purpose of helping people make Christmas gifts from their stash. We really lucked out that she chose our yarns for this year's pattern! 

She also invites knitters to use this pattern for charity knitting and that's what inspired the name. From her Ravelry page:

Refuge - shelter or protection from danger or distress; something to which one has recourse in difficulty. This cozy striped cowl is a part of my response to those who have no shelter - the homeless, the refugees, those who are literally left out in the cold. I wish that I could knit one for every homeless person in my city as winter approaches - and I hope that as a collective, we knitters will always work together to warm the hearts and bodies of those in need.

I love that Sarah Jo is as inspired to knit for others as we are. The gift of our abilities is immeasurable. Make, give, repeat!

Refuge is a FREE cowl pattern and can be found here >