Andrea Rangel is an independent knitwear designer from British Columbia and author of Rugged Knits and, most recently, the Alterknit Stitch Dictionary. She has also designed for some of our favorite companies like Brooklyn Tweed and Tolt Yarn & Wool. From sweaters to socks to shawls and hats this talented woman has expertly designed almost any kind of knitwear you can imagine. She will be joining us this July to teach a Basics of Stranded Colorwork class as well as Brioche 101 and Brioche 102. Let’s get to know Andrea a little better, together.
Tell us about yourself. How did you get where you are and what made you fall in love with textiles?
I’ve known how to knit since I was little, but really started when I went to college at 18. I saw my aunty knitting and, after she gave me some yarn & needles (dark purple mohair is perfect for beginners, right?), I just kept at it. Throughout everything else in my life, knitting was a constant. No matter what else I was into (I had a career as a school teacher and worked as a Peace Corps volunteer), I wanted to knit too and did it as much as I could. I started designing in 2009 and have been doing it full time since 2012. There’s always more to learn, more to make, and more wonderful yarn to explore!
What inspires you to make and create?
I get inspired in lots of different ways - sometimes it’s a yarn that seems perfect for a project, sometimes there’s a hole in my wardrobe I want to fill, and sometimes a particular stitch pattern just needs to be explored. I always have more work than time, and I feel like each project leads into the next. I also love being with other makers - traveling to fibre events is a wonderful way to fill up the creative well.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
My daily schedule is really determined by deadlines and priorities. Occasionally I do knit all day, but it’s pretty rare. Most days I spend on computer work. Communication like email and social media take up a huge amount of time. And most of my design time is spent with Excel, Illustrator, or InDesign, rather than on the needles.
Do you remember the very first project you ever knit?
I’m going to guess it was a doll blanket after my grandma taught me to knit at 8. Maybe it’s still in with my Samantha doll in storage!
Did Alterknit Stitch Dictionary come from a collection of ideas/motifs you created over time or did you sit down with the intention to create 200 motifs for the book?
My husband Sean created all the motifs. He’s got a fine arts background and has helped me with colorwork in the past, but the motifs for AlterKnit were created once we’d signed the contract and knew we needed 200. Our process was that he would design a chart, I would knit it, and then we’d decide if it was good as is, no good at all, or needed work. We discarded a lot of ideas this way, but ended up with 200 we’re really proud of!
What is the one tip/trick would you give for making beautiful colorwork knitting?
My number one tip is to spread your stitches out on your righthand needle as you work, especially just before beginning a new color. This keeps the floats the right length across the back of the fabric and is particularly important when working with yarns that are a bit slippery.
What is the next horizon for you?
Right now I’m enjoying exploring independent work as it comes to me and collaborating with a few companies I love. I’m always expanding, which is what I adore about knitting. It’s infinite!