Designer Q&A: Carolyn Noyes
Carolyn Noyes is a knitwear designer living in Maine. She has designs published in Interweave knitting titles dating back to 2012 that have garnered thousands of favorites on Ravelry. Read on to find out how Carolyn got into designing and what she likes to listen to as she knits.
Q: When and why did you start knitting?
A: My aunt, whom none of my cousins nor I remember ever seeing without knitting in her hands, started teaching me when I was 5. Not long after that, she also let me help her with some sewing projects, so I was raised bi-craftual. Knitting really became my thing, though, after I had my daughter 12 years ago. We lived in Manhattan then, and sewing projects and supplies really couldn’t be left on the table to come back to at naptime. So at first, knitting was a matter of convenience and portability, which I now know was the gateway to ongoing obsession.
Q: Describe your first design.
A: It was a drawstring-waist dress made with Noro Kureyon and a solid red contrast, and it was also the first time I had ever knitted with shade-shifting yarn. I’m not afraid of it anymore!
Q: What is your favorite thing to knit? Why?
A: I’ve always lived in the Northeast, and that made me appreciate the warmth of a sweater early on. As I—and my knitting skills—grew, I realized that I could create garments that specifically fit my body, but even better, I thought, was that knitting a sweater myself gave me a garment and style that no one else had.
Q: What is your least favorite thing to knit? Why?
A: I know this is heresy, but I am not a sock knitter—I can’t bring myself to risk losing a gorgeous yarn (and the knitting time) to a hole upon first wearing.
Q: Do you watch specific shows when knitting? Podcasts? Music?
A: If the stitch pattern is rather easy, I’ll sit down in front of a show like Fixer Upper or Project Runway because those shows are all about the visuals and I can look at the TV without stopping. But when the knitting needs more attention, I tend to listen to a knitting podcast—Stockinette Zombies, The Yarn Hoarder, and The Fat Squirrel Speaks are the first three bookmarks in my browser.
Q: What passions do you have outside of knitwear?
A: Writing, sewing, drawing, and yoga.
Q: What are your knitwear aspirations?
A: I worked in magazines in Manhattan for 20 years—the last position I held was for Oprah’s magazine, O. There was a column called Women Who Make Beautiful Things, and I always hoped that someday I would have the chance not only to knit my version of beautiful things but to do so in my own book. Now that I am living in Maine again, I am finally getting to do that; all the design sketches are done, and even some of the writing, but I do have to move faster on knitting up the samples.
Q: What is your craziest design idea that you have yet to knit?
A: Let’s just say the inspiration was orange circus peanuts . . .
Q: What book should every knitter have?
A: The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt and The Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliffe. The first is as big as the second is small, and both of them explain techniques in a clear, memorable way. I may have actually been able to do Kitchener stitch all by myself after reading how in Radcliffe’s book.
Q: What is the most crucial class or festival to attend this year, and why?
A: The best knitting event to go to is the one nearest to you. Not only are you surrounded by people who love knitting and yarn as much as you do, but when you meet someone, chances are that you live close enough to see each other again. I love to go to Maine’s Fiber Frolic in June and New Hampshire Sheep and Wool in May. I always bump into old friends, and a couple of times I’ve met a vendor or another designer that I ended up collaborating with. Full disclosure: Even though I just went on about keeping it local, I did meet my knitting BFF, designer Cathy Carron, at a Vogue Live event in New York just months after I had moved out of the city. Thank goodness for Skype! In 2015, Cathy and I created knitcliks, which is now on Instagram, where we post knitting-related news, fashion, and fun items throughout the day.
Find Carolyn on Ravelry as CarolynNoyes, and on Instagram as carolynnoyesknits.