Design by Instructions: Allyson Dykhuizen
Allyson Dykhuizen’s road to becoming a knitwear designer began in her senior year of high school in Allendale, Michigan. She was in a knitting vacuum. The only other knitter she knew was one of her teachers, and Allyson learned the craft from her. Learning and growing a skill in this kind of environment can have its advantages. Allyson aimed high and embraced her enthusiasm without hearing that something was beyond her skill level. There was no one to warn her off of selecting a large, complicated, colorwork shawl as her first full project. As Allyson says, “I just didn’t know that I couldn’t!”
It’s a powerful idea, and one that has certainly panned out for her. She continued knitting through college, and after graduation in 2006, Allyson moved to Chicago. While working at a real estate job that she found unfulfilling, she realized that her passion lay in knitting. She offered her skills as a knitting teacher, advertising via posters and meeting with new knitters in coffee shops. This experience provided fertile ground to develop her design skills. She discovered that it was much simpler to instruct students with a pattern she had complete control over, one that she had designed herself. These designs migrated to her blog and to Ravelry beginning in 2009.
While her designs were originally conceived as instructional tools, they have always exhibited a consistently bold, modern, and stylish aesthetic. She gets her inspiration from what she sees people wear. When she spots a knit on the bus, across the street, or in line for coffee, she deconstructs and then rebuilds it as a handknit in her mind. What people are excited to wear is what excites Allyson. She loves to open up constructions and techniques and work with them in ways that are both innovative and playful.
Allyson’s design aesthetic has been a great fit for knitscene. Her enthusiasm for wearable design with a modern, fun-to-knit bent harmonizes well with this publication. Just a couple of those designs can give you a good idea of how her work is playfully innovative. Her Fire Opal Tee from knitscene Spring 2014 uses the traditional shape of a tee, but its repeated columns of dropped stitches literally open up the work and give the design a contemporary spin.
Her Riga Bonnet from knitscene Accessories 2013 uses Latvian braids to create a focal point, harnessing the power of color through a unique and under-used technique. Her style shines through in her design collection for knitscene Summer 2015. It’s bold, fun, and modern. The pieces are all inspired by summer days at the Great Lakes. Each of the four pieces demonstrates her clever use of construction and technique.
Allyson is a busy lady. Her blog, The Sweatshop of Love, has led to a thriving design career, and she has an inspiring entrepreneurial spirit. She created Holla Knits, identifying a space in the knitwear market for patterns that embrace youthful, fashion-forward yet challenging design. The online magazine is in its fourth year of publication. She has also partnered with Carina Spencer to edit and curate Midwestern Knits, a passion project inspired by the rich history and culture of the American Midwest. All the while, Allyson continues to find time to be inspired to design and knit and to teach others to pick up knitting needles.
Find Allyson’s Designs in Our Store!