Interview with Heather Storta – Knitting Designer

You know, it just makes me smile when I run across a designer that does everything right in writing a pattern. I mean, you all know as well as I do, how frustrating it is to be hummin’ along with your pattern, and you can’t seem to figure out what the designer is trying to tell you. Right?

Definitely, not this case here…

Meet Heather Storta.  She has 10 designs, 6 of which are socks. The “Beginner Socks” is the reason she found herself as my next feature designer. And its FREE! I joined the Sock a Month KAL on Ravelry so I could knit a pair of socks each  month for the year, therefore, giving me 12 by the end. Great gifts, right? This pattern was featured for January. Her directions were spot on for the beginner sock knitter. Precise. Clear instructions. I was amazed.

Let’s talk with her…

Thanks for joining me, Heather! I, and my readers, would love to know how long you have been knitting socks? Or knitting in general, perhaps?

I learned to knit about 9 years ago – shortly after my first child was born. I was a stay at home mom (and still am!) and I was anxious to have a little time to myself outside of the house, so I started taking a weekly knitting class at my LYS. I took to it very quickly (my second project ever was a sweater!) It soon became a passion of mine, and I tackled socks fairly soon – the first pair I knitted was within a year of first learning how to knit. 

Sweater? Impressive. That just tells me a novice knitter, if he/she is ambitious enough, can do anything. I am especially inspired by your socks. What inspired you to design your Beginner Socks? I, of course, have knitted them, and love them!

I designed my Beginner Socks for a beginners’ sock knitting class that I was teaching at Yarnhouse in Charlotte at the time. I wanted my own pattern to teach, so there were no concerns over copyright. I wrote it with the express purpose of creating a very easy to follow pattern for beginning sock knitters. I know how tricky knitting your first socks can be, and what things are most likely to trip knitters up in the process, so I made sure to address those aspects in the best way I could.

What do you enjoy most about designing socks, Heather? I’m an experienced sock knitter, but I was so in love with how you did your pattern – the words were perfect, and very easy to understand. You seem to have several. Can you share what your process is?

Thank you! There are different things I enjoy depending on what pattern I’m designing at the time.  For some designs I start with the yarn, and try to figure out how to make the most of its color or texture. For others, I start with the stitch pattern and work on how to show the particular stitch to best advantage. I look at stitch dictionaries and other patterns to get inspiration, and then I swatch to see what the stitch patterns might look like. I usually play around in charting software and try things out in swatch form until I get something I think will look good. Then, I find a yarn that I think will work well (if I didn’t already start with the yarn) and get to knitting! It usually takes a few tries (sometimes more than a few) to get something I like. Then, I’ll begin the actual writing of the patterns as I knit up my sample. Some designs are born in my head and practically write themselves. 

It’s always great to hear that others enjoy the stitch dictionaries as much as I do. That’s what they are there for, right? So, what’s the most challenging part?

The most challenging part for me is getting my wording very clear and concise. I consider myself a knitter first and a designer second, so I know how frustrating it can be to work from a badly written pattern. I do my absolute best to write my patterns well. I’m sure I don’t always succeed, but I do try! I put the same effort into my free patterns as I do the ones I charge for. 

William’s SocksFree Pattern

You know, that’s what I especially loved about it–well written, concise and clear. Nice job! So, may I ask, what is your favorite sock yarn and colorway?

Hmm, that’s a tough one! When I first got started knitting socks, I was in love with hand-painted variegated skeins, and went a little wild buying yarn with no particular sock project in mind for it. Now, I’m more sedate and like mostly solids to knit socks with, mainly because I now lean toward cables and lace patterns, and solids or semi-solids work best for those types of patterns. I really like MCN (Merino/Cashmere/Nylon) based yarns for socks – it makes the squishiest and softest socks! I really lean toward the blues, since it’s my favorite color but I’ll make myself ‘knit out of the box’ now and then and work with colors I don’t typically lean towards, like oranges and purples.

I was once told, when it came to the yarn budget, sock yarn wasn’t included. I have to agree! Who is your most influential knitwear designer?
Hmm, influential, I’m not sure. Pretty much every pattern I’ve knit from has influenced me, whether it’s liking the writing style or liking a designer’s fashion sense. I really admire Nancy Bush – the historical aspect of so many of her designs and her books really appeal to  me. I love historical fashion and historical knitting. So, anytime a designer has researched and pulled from history, it calls to me. I also adore Elizabeth Freeman’s lace shawl designs. Cookie A. has amazing sock patterns that are fun to knit. And Cat Bordhi is a genius when it comes to different ways to construct a sock – her designs are fun and different!

Agree! Agree! Agree! The question of the day…if you were stranded on a desert island and could only have 5 knitting related items with you, what would they be?

One or more of Barbara Walker’s Treasuries for inspiration, some knitting needles, a crochet hook (for fixing mistakes and applying crocheted edges), my spinning wheel, and a sheep. 🙂

Fascinating what people say! What are pieces of advice you would give to someone getting started in designing socks?

First, knit lots of sock – lots of different socks. Second, jump in and try it. Socks are a great way to get into designing because your template can be a single size (women’s medium, for example), and you don’t have to go out of your way (at first) to try to adapt your patten for several different sizes. (Although, keep in mind, the best patterns are written for more than one size.) Also a good medium for trying out different stitch patterns.

Finished Swallowtail Shawl

What is your personal favorite project to knit?

Right now my favorite projects are lace shawls. I am never without a lace shawl on the needles. My close second is socks – I also always have at least one pair of socks on the needles. Socks are a great “take with you” project – they fit in a small bag and the rows are short so you can get a few rows done in the waiting room, or at little league baseball games. I adore fair Isle, so I usually have one or more Fair Isle projects going too, whether it’s socks or a sweater. I’m working my way through the TKGA Master Knitting program ( I just sent level 2 off for review). So, when I’m in the middle of a level, I really enjoy working on that. 

Rattlesnake Creek socks in progress
Nightingale Socks

TKGA, something I’ve been entertaining myself! What are your current WIP’s?

I currently have two shawls on the needles (shocker, I know!) Celestarium by Audry Nicklin, and Fabrege‘ by Laura Aylor. I’m finishing up a couple pairs of socks –  Rattlesnake Creek by Anne Podlesak, and Nightingale Socks by Vintage Purls. I also have a pair of sock I’m designing on the needles, as well as a shawl I’m designing. I’m definitely not a monogamous knitter!

Those Nightingale Socks Rock! One final question, I noticed you teach classes, what type of classes do you enjoy teaching the most?

I really enjoy teaching socks. They are fun, and it’s wonderful to walk a knitter through the process, and show them how much fun they can be. I also enjoy teaching techniques classes like entreleac and illusion knitting.  I home-school my two boys, and my biggest reward is seeing that A-Ha moment and the excitement they get when things fall into place. I enjoy that when teaching as well. 

This was so much fun, Heather! Thank you for joining me here today.

Dearest readers, I’d be honored, and I’m sure Heather would be too, if you would check out her fabulous designs on Ravelry, her beautiful website and please follow her on twitter.

I have linked so many great things throughout this interview; I do hope you’ll click around. 


Please, tune in again, where you’ll meet (yet) another fabulous designer…

So, as I always say,

Knit On!

Deb









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