Designer Q&A: Shannon and Jason Mullett-Bowlsby, Part I
In the crochet world, the name Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby has become synonymous with fabulous designs that take crochet to the next level. But even crocheters who are familiar with Shannon’s work may not realize that he is part of a brilliant team known as the Shibaguyz. I’ve worked with Shannon and Jason—the Shibaguyz—for several years, and I recently took the opportunity to ask them some questions about crochet, crafting, and life in general. This is Part I of a two-part Q&A. Part II can be read here.
Project Editor, Interweave Crochet and Love of Crochet
Q: Can you explain the Shibaguyz concept?
A: We founded the Shibaguyz as a one-stop shop for our clients in the fiber world. We wanted to provide more than just patterns (although we do provide that, obviously). There is so much more to this world than written patterns alone. We had to think about samples to be made, layout of the patterns for printing, photography, schematics, stitch charts. Since, to our knowledge, there was no one place to get all of that, and we had the talents to make such a venture a success, we decided to create it. Everything fell into place from there.
Shannon handles the designing, patterning, and stitching; Jason takes care of photography, the website, and graphic design. We assist each other as inspiration and design partners. You can see our collaborations in all of our books, including our two latest: Designer Crochet and Crochet Geometry. We did all of the designs, photography, graphics, and layout for those books, so they are the perfect example of the Shibaguyz concept.
Q: Do you both crochet?
A: Shannon is the expert in that arena. We each have our strengths: Shannon is the knit and crochet guru, and Jason spins, weaves, and does photography . . . but yes, we both crochet.
Q: What crafting technique/s did you find hardest to master?
A: Decoupage. All that glue and glitter . . . just kidding! We’re always learning new and honing existing skills. To say we’ve mastered one would mean there is nothing left for us to learn.
Q: When and why did you decide to get into the crafting business?
A: Shannon – It was around Christmas in 2007. I was sitting around making a pair of socks and Jason’s mother, Kay, said something to the tune of, “Boy, I’d buy that!” Her words triggered an avalanche of “what-if” thoughts, and I started looking into what it would take to really make it as a full-time crochet and knitwear designer. I studied every design school book I could get my hands on and researched pattern making and pattern writing.
It took a few years of study and practice, but then my first published design landed on the cover of a magazine and I was hooked. (Get it? Crochet . . . hooked?? *Ahem*). In 2009, I left my day job and took the opportunity to run with this “be a designer” dream. Jason was very supportive and told me that I shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to see where this could take me. Of course, neither of us knew at that time that in a few years he’d be joining me in working full time from home.
Q: What is the most challenging part of working together?
A: Jason – Just that, working together. We have to act as a team, not a single entity; that means we have to keep our egos in check and listen to the other’s opinions or critiques. That can be a little scary, even for a close couple, but it’s necessary. I’ll sometimes listen to Shannon talk about an idea for a design and say, “That stitch pattern is nice, but is it right for that jacket?” I’m not criticizing his design, but throwing out my thoughts. Similarly, Shannon will on occasion look over my shoulder while I’m finishing up on a photo and ask, “You’re going to fix that thing in the corner, right?” And it’s something I totally missed. We rely on the other for that. It’s what makes us a good team.
Q: What is the craziest design idea you’ve ever had? Were you able to make it work? Why or why not?
A: Jason – Shannon has a vision in his head of a dress constructed entirely of chain stitches. Very sexy, slightly risqué, totally glam—picture Cher circa 1987. He’s just looking for the right vehicle to create this one.
Cher, call us!
If you found Shannon and Jason’s answers as fascinating as I did, check back next week for Part II of this interview! In the meantime, check out the Shibaguyz using the following links, or search for them on Interweave.com.
Shibaguyz on the Internet
Shibaguyz Book Links
Header Image Photo Credits of Designs by Shibaguyz: Left, Harper Point Photography; Center, Caleb Young; Right, Harper Point Photography
More Designs by Shibaguyz!