Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Interview and Giveaway - Gabriella Henry

I recently had the opportunity to interview designer Gabriella Henry (sweetp on Ravelry).  She has some lovely designs.  I really like her Wayside hat! You can visit her blog at Mahi and Aroha or her designer page on Ravelry here

Gabriella has graciously offered to award a pattern of the winner's choice to one of my readers.  Leave a comment telling me which of her patterns would make a great Christmas gift.  On Christmas eve, a random commenter will win his/her choice of pattern from Gabriella!

Hi Gabriella! Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you started designing?
My first design was a child’s earflap hat that was inspired by my nephew who had just been diagnosed with leukemia. It was a hat for him while undergoing chemo, but also a design that kept on giving (free on my blog but I asked people to donate to a local children’s hospital). That was almost 6yr ago now! (Happy to add my nephew has been in remission for several years and is a wonderfully healthy 11y old now).

Fast forward a couple of years, and the designing bug bit again. I started selling patterns and taking a more serious approach to designing.

Designing is a creative outlet while being at home with my kids, a great way to stretch my brain while also indulging in my favourite crafty past time!

What inspires you? Where do you get ideas for your designs?
Faultline was my first paid pattern and was inspired by my need to “do something” after the devastating earthquakes in Christchurch in 2011. 25% of sales from this pattern are donated to the Red Cross who provided support direct to families (including mine) during this time. We moved away from Christchurch a few months after the big February earthquake but I left a little piece of my heart there and Faultline was the result!

Sometimes I have a specific yarn I want to work with and a design grows from that - Wayside is my most recent release and was inspired by the colourful single skeins of Aran yarns in my stash. Sometimes a stitch pattern catches my eye (e.g Nightshade cowl). I also have several patterns that were originally designed for yarn clubs and in those cases inspiration has grown from collaborations with indie yarn dyers (Goddess shawlette).

Can you describe your design process? Do you sketch first, knit first or something else?
I’m not a very good sketcher but I do tend to do initial brain storming on paper first. I usually have a good idea in my head what I want it to look like and then usually play around with swatching and maths until I have something I’m happy with, and then go from there. I think it depends a lot on the design itself - sometimes things just ‘click’ and just about knit themselves! Other times things require more detailed planning and thought processes (e.g a cardigan idea I am considering).

Do you have favorite brands or weights of yarn with which you like to work?
I work behind the scenes at Tri’Coterie yarns which is an indie yarn business based in France. We specialize in luxury bases and gradient and selfstriping colourways so often my designs will feature a Tri’Coterie yarn or be inspired by a particular yarn or colourway we have worked on. An example would be the Kaipara shawlette which was designed specifically for gradient yarns.

Since I live in New Zealand I also like to highlight local yarn dyers and bases that my NZ customer base can easily obtain.

Which of your designs are you most proud of?
Isabelle is probably the one I most proud of - it’s not my most popular pattern but I think it has something a little different - that elusive uniqueness that can be hard to achieve when you are publishing patterns to a database with many thousands of patterns.

Can you share anything that’s in the design pipeline?
I have a new hat pattern that is currently being tested and hopefully will be ready for release before the end of the year. It grew from my need to make some man friendly Christmas gifts and is a nice quick knit in worsted weight yarn. Lately I have been exploring diagonal stitch patterns and have released a series of hat patterns that play with this idea in different ways (Sideline, Lineside and Wayside) and this hat continues that trend. (I think it is out of my system now!!!).

I also have a shawl design in the final stages of prototyping and two patterns that will appear in publications next year. 2014 is looking to be a busy and fun year!


  1. I love it that you have a pattern where part of the proceeds go to a cause! Glad to hear that your nephew is in remission too!! I missed seeing your new pattern Kauri when you released it this month. It looks like it has interesting combination of stitches. Aile d'Ange - Angel Wing Scarf is so unique!!! Rav ID tweetee

  2. I think your earflap hat was a brilliant idea and cause.
    I really like your new Kauri pattern as a Christmas gift. It will suit so many sizes and I like that it is a 'manly' pattern too :)
    Keep up the good work.

  3. I think the Kauri hat would be a great Christmas gift; unisex and should be a quick knit too. I also love the Goddess shawl
    Sewsable on Rav

  4. I have a thing for shawls, and I just love the Goddess Shawl. It would be the perfect gift for... myself! ;) For others, I'd also make the Kauri hat. So elegant!
    Elisa (stellacometa on Ravelry)

  5. i realize this comment is late but i just read about it today. i just purchased the faultline shawl.
    i was in nz visiting family in christchurch just after the first earthquake and left just days before the second earthquake devistated christchurch. we have such wonderful memories of our visit and our hearts go out to all the people in christchurch. new zealand was a beautiful place and the people were wonderful and friendly.
    our family is now back in the us but i will never forget our visit--our granddaughter still speak with a new zealand accent.
    i am looking forward to making the nightshade cowl after i make the faultline shawl (a memory of our trip)