Après-Ski Chic: The Modern Colorwork of Jesie Ostermiller
Jesie Ostermiller has been knitting nonstop since the day in high school she found a family friend to teach her. She tells stories of her many mistakes made in the years since, such as sorting out the yarnovers she accidentally made every other stitch when she knit her first ribbed hat and how gauge finally clicked (after years of just knitting with any yarn at hand) when she wrote out the many sizes for her first published sweater. Such moments are instructive, for they are reminders of how far you can travel in mastering the craft when you take little setbacks as encouragement to improve.
Her first design submission to Interweave Knits was a lightbulb moment. At home with her two young boys, Jesie thought she’d join Twitter to add some interest to her day and immediately followed Lisa Shroyer, then the editor of Interweave Knits. One of Lisa’s subsequent tweets was about the magazine’s submission call. Jesie was surprised to learn that the call was actually an invitation to anyone interested in submitting a design. Having always knit from her imagination but only for herself, she decided to submit an idea. That first proposal was accepted, and she was quickly on her way to being regularly featured at Interweave.
Although she is interested in all the things that knitting can do—brioche, cables, short-row construction, and such—“it’s the colorwork in knitting that intrigues me most,” Jesie says. “Putting colors and patterns together—no other knitting technique does that in quite the same way.” Several of her patterns featured so far in Interweave titles have demonstrated her strength in stranded designs; the Snowfall Sweater from knitscene Winter 2015 and her Remiges Hat and Mitts from knitscene Accessories 2015 are two such patterns.
When offered the opportunity to put together a collection for knitscene, Jesie says she knew immediately it would involve colorwork. “Nordic stars, Scandinavian two-color Norwegian sweaters, snowflakes, graphic motifs, navy and white and gray—I knew right away.” After narrowing her collection down to just a few pieces, Jesie ultimately found herself aiming for a 1970s après-ski look with a Gilmore Girls/Olympic Village feel that taps into trends that are everywhere now.
Her Ski Lodge Cardigan sets a nostalgic tone, combining a folk star motif with bold graphic borders in oatmeal, red, and navy. The large ribbed collar lays across the shoulders but can also be buttoned and cozied up under the chin. Like many of Jesie’s sweater designs, the effect is comfortingly familiar and yet fresh, functional, and stylish. The Snowball Cap also uses a graphic vocabulary that seems both familiar and original. The cap is super toasty, with garter-stitch earflaps and an appealing giant pom-pom. The eyelets featured in the yoke of the Slopes Pullover suggest lace patterning but don’t compromise warmth. Color ribbing at the hem, wrists, and neckline creates a vintage vibe for this indispensible sweater. The collection is rounded out with the Snowflake Cowl, a must-knit for any stranding enthusiast. Delicate snowflake patterns fade in and out in a navy and white continuous loop that begs to be doubled up inside your winter coat.
What comes next, Jesie Ostermiller says, is more designs for publication and perhaps trying her hand at independent publishing. Responding to submission calls comes at a pace that fits well into her life with her young family, allowing Jesie to do satisfying and creative work right at her kitchen table. She says, “I realize I really love the puzzle side of it. It’s exciting to be able to see it in my head first, sketch it out, and then figure out how I get there.”