Thursday, December 2, 2010

Designer of the Month: Anne Carroll Gilmour

Anne Carroll Gilmour

In addition to her famous witch hat, Anne's knit designs have a Celtic, mystical, starry-eyed feel. As a gifted and accomplished spinner and weaver, her understanding of fiber, color, and garment structure give her patterns the mark of quality that few knit designers can come close to. From Celtic knot cables to celestial motifs to lace, her work is always a joy to behold!

Here are some of my favorite patterns by Anne:

Enchanting and Magical Witch Hat

Entrelac Envelope Bag

Tempall Breachain Hat

Dancing Stars Hat

Here are Anne's answers to the Designer of the Month interview questions:

How did you get started designing patterns?
As soon as I learned to knit and crochet (I was 8) I started designing my own patterns--for me it was easier just to invent what I envisaged than to try to follow someone else’s path. The real trick for me was not learning to design, but learning to write directions for the things I designed that others could follow!

What is your design preference: knit or crochet?
I have to say knit--I learned to crochet first and I love both, but it was the more flexible nature of knit fabric for wear-ables that appealed to me and caused me to develop more in that direction. I also come from a folk knitting background, and classic textured fisherman-type knits and colourwork have always been a part of my mental and physical landscape from early on.

What is your weapon of choice?
I love wood and bamboo double-points (very traditional that way for tight circles), but I think other techniques like magic loop, et al. are great--anything that gets folks knitting! I use Addi turbo and lace circulars for everything else, whether I’m knitting flat or round, I love the tip shape of this particular brand and it’s easier on the wrists than having something hanging off the ends of straight needles (they also don’t bump your husband when he’s brave enough to sit next to you while you’re knitting!).

Are there types of stitches that you use a lot, and why?
Texture (cables, twisted sts, etc), classic colour stranding, and Entrelac are the three that jump to mind, but I love lace and other types of colourwork too--there are so many possibilities with these techniques that I seem to return to them again and again, they are old friends that always take me new places!

What is your favorite color / pattern combination?
It changes all the time. Right now I’m loving the combination of pumpkin-y goldish-orange next to beet red, but that’s probably because it’s Autumn--and spirals and knots of some form or another are always floating around in my head--I’d say it’s my Celtic background but I think it’s pretty universal... just look at prehistoric rock art and cave paintings.

What’s your favorite fiber to work with when designing?
WOOL--no surprise there, eh?

Do you have a type of project that you lean towards for pattern design, like socks, hats, sweaters, etc.?
Love ‘em all!

How do you conceptualize your designs?
They usually materialize whole-cloth in my mind as complete and detailed finished items--mostly triggered by something I see that inspires me. For instance, my ‘Fenceline’ series was born while I was gazing at a vintage barbed wire collection in a dusty little cowboy museum in Kemmerer, Wyoming--hey I bet you could make little ‘peerie’ type patterns like this, why not?-- everything I see is grist for my idea mill, it never sleeps!

Where do you do your best design work?
Wherever I am. Ideas come to me all the time. I take a little graph paper notebook with me everywhere I go.

Who or what was your earliest inspiration that started you on your way to being the designer you are today?
My Mother and my Aunt and the sweet little German lady (Nanna Tuerschen) who used to babysit all the kids in my neighbourhood, they were always making something (sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc.)--I wanted to be just like them!

Do you have any advice for knitters or crocheters who are new to designing patterns?
Do not dismiss any of your design ideas without at least giving them a shot, and build your technical skills. The best designers are always the ones who understand the techniques they are using and writing about inside and out. Believe in yourself!

You can keep up with Anne by visiting her website,


  1. I adore that dancing stars hat! How inspired!

  2. Me too, me too! She's so good at those picture thingies.