Tosh Shawl Club 2019! Q&A with Ambah O'Brien!

Behind every yarn and pattern we feature in our clubs there's a dyer and a designer; they are all incredibly creative, hardworking individuals and we want to give you the chance to get to know them a little bit better!

With month three of the 2019 Tosh Shawl Club fast approaching, we wanted to introduce you to the designer of this year's gorgeous shawl: Ambah O'Brien!

Why did you start designing patterns?
It was quite spontaneous, as a fairly new knitter I didn't think that I would ever design, however I was always tweaking and exploring as I knit from patterns, then I had an idea and decided to try it out. With some encouragement from my friend and LYS owner I decided to publish it as a pattern. I was amazed by the response to it and immediately had a new design on my needles - I haven't looked back since then!

What was the first pattern that you designed?
My first pattern was a single skein eyelet shawlette, Kinta. I later added a two skein, larger version and another knit up in a gradient yarn. I had lots of fun with Kinta.

Where do you find your inspiration for your patterns?
Everywhere! Often it will come from the yarn itself, as I collect a group of colours and dream up a design to complement them. Fashion is an inspiration, I may see a shape or pattern or group of colours that spark my imagination, as does the world in general, regional and urban areas. Sometimes I begin with an idea of something I'd really like for myself, a style of garment or an accessory.

Would you describe how you feel when you see someone making/wearing your designs?
It is so exciting, I adore seeing the colours people choose for their projects, and get very inspired by this. My heart fills up when I see folks wearing my designs that they have knit and added their own stamp of creativity to, it's very special.

What are some signature features of your designs?
I do explore ideas and techniques; in general, I'd say modern, geometric inspired designs, colour, and a mixture of textures like lace with garter stripes.

Are there any “rituals” that you might have while designing patterns?
I like to have my yarn sit out for a while, so I can look at it over several days in different light, switch out colours if I am using several and generally let the ideas start to play in my imagination. I'll think about it a lot as I drift off to sleep too.

 If you could partner with any dyer, who would it be and why?
Wow, I feel so lucky to have partnered with many amazing dyers already and would be delighted to work with any of them again. Recently, I discovered a newer Australian Dyer, Terina from Love and Speckles, she created amazing Advent yarn kits and some really unique colours. I'm looking forward to creating a design with her yarn this year.

Are there any hints you can give about upcoming designs?
You can expect lots more shawls and garments from me in 2019. I'm pretty excited about a cute mosaic DK weight jacket I will be releasing in February plus I collaborated with 2 yarnies to create 2 shawls for Vogue Knit Live NYC  and am really excited to wear and share these.

What’s on your needles/crochet hooks now?
I'm currently making a colourwork pullover in a gorgeous merino-silk blend, perfect for our summer here right now in Australia. It has a gorgeous drape. I'll be releasing this in early April.


Have you signed up for 2019's Tosh Shawl Club?? It's not too late! Sign up here and receive everything you need to catch up on this year's shawl! And if you'd like to see more of Ambah's designs, click

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