Leah B. Thibault: Modern Vintage Knitting


Leah B. Thibault's designs merge the classic with the modern in a wonderfully wearable way. Each piece in her recent collection for Knitscene magazine features a unique, signature element.

Whether it's the intricate cable design on the front edge and cuffs of the Willamette Coat, the lovely lace panel on the Marketa Mitts, or the jaunty tied collar on the Toulouse Pullover, these designs have that certain something extra that sets them apart.

Get to know Leah a little bit in this profile:

Ms. Cleaver Knits it New

Leah Thibault wants to have her cake and eat it, too.  "I really like the traditional Susie Homemaker kind of things, but I also consider myself a very modern person," she admits. Finance by day, baking by night. The self-appointed "Ms. Cleaver" is just as likely to be building a complex spreadsheet as she is to be spinning wool or sewing an apron. And she wouldn't have it any other way.


Growing up in Northern California in a family full of home-economics teachers, crafting was literally in Leah's blood. She learned to sew at a very young age and spent high school making her own clothes well before the DIY movement was "cool" again. When she went to Willamette College in Oregon to study theater, she was left with little time to sew, and her crafting pursuits fell by the wayside.

Despite a love for crafts, Leah hadn't tried her hand at knitting until after college. She had moved to Maine for a theater internship, and Leah remembers, "There were about nine interns, and by December all of them except for me had been knitting."

Leah had no interest in learning, but as a gag gift her fellow thespians got her a "learn to knit kit" from Michael's Crafts. "It was a teddy bear, and I knit it and thought, 'oh, this is kinda fun!' So I just kept going and now everybody else doesn't do it anymore!" It didn't take long for Leah to jump from reading patterns to designing her own. She immediately began experimenting with her own toy patterns, making baby gifts for family and friends.

The first sweater Leah knit was the "Anthropologie-inspired capelet" by Julia Allen. However, Leah wanted to use some DK-weight yarn from her stash instead of the pattern-specified bulky. "So I just redid the math and realized, 'Oh, this is not that hard.' The math made sense to me. So that opened the door to me to be able to say, 'This is something that's doable.'" Leah shared her version of the pattern online, and it continues to be one of her most popular designs on Ravelry to this day.


In late 2007, Leah began documenting her crafting exploits on her blog Ms. Cleaver Chronicles, which she's subtitled My Midcentury Life in the 21st Century. It's a nod to her dual personality, a modern-day June Cleaver who has a full-time job and certainly never bothers to wear pearls while vacuuming.

—Laura Birek, from Knitscene Winter 2012

The Toulouse Pullover is my favorite. I'd knit it in a rich teal, or a dark garnet; something about this design makes me want to branch out from my usual grays and charcoals!

To learn more about Leah and to knit her designs, get yourself a copy of Knitscene Winter 2012!


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