We are proud to sponsor Shibaguyz Designz, a company that integrates fashion design, crochet, knitting, photography, and graphic design all under one roof. The design studio is comprised of Shannon and Jason, who live in Seattle, Washington with their three Shiba Inu. Today, we interviewed Shannon to learn more about this duo’s many creative endeavors.
How did you learn to knit? Crochet?
All the members of my family were makers, from knitting and crochet, to woodworking and quilting, it was expected that we all learn some kind of art. Although all of the women in my family crocheted and knitted, my grandmother was the strongest influence in getting me started. The first actual memory I have is of sitting next to her on the couch and her teaching me to make bookmarks and circles that turned into hats. Pretty much anything I could do to hang out with her made it okay with me. The first projects she taught me to make were those little spiral bookmarks and “draft dodgers” that you put at the base of doors and windows. Then there was the year that everyone got a pair of slippers from me because I had learned to crochet, knit, AND sew.
You know how it goes… first it’s an innocent bookmark, and then, suddenly, you’re the only guy in your class who can make thread lace doll dresses. Wait… was that just me?
I have to point out here that I’m an only half of the Shibaguyz. Jason is also very creative and, besides being the talented photography and graphic design genius behind four of our books, he is also a FAB spinner, he sews, cooks and has just started weaving. He is one of only two people who do the finishing on all of our designs… me being the other person. We make a great team… if I do say so myself…
What is the process like for creating a new design or collection of new designs?
I start my process one of two ways: I’ll either sketch the design, something that’s been wandering around in the corners of my brain waiting to be born, then I’ll start looking for the fiber and stitch pattern that will create the fabric I have in mind. The other way happens when I’m swatching for a new design and create a fabric that I LOVE but might not be right for that particular design. I’ll file that fabric swatch away (or keep in on my desk to remind me that I like it) then think about a garment that this fabric will work perfectly for.
It all comes down to the fabric for me… the fabric created by the yarn and stitch pattern must match the vision of the final garment in my head… crochet or knit… it’s all down to the fabric.
What is the best part about being a multicraftual team?
The best part? Nothing is out of reach… whatever pops into my head I can do. Crochet a dress, knit a pullover, piece together a throw quilt, or sew a shirt. There are no limits… and with Jason being able to spin, weave, and cook like a four-star chef we pretty much have it all covered!
What is your all-time favorite Shibaguyz design?
That’s a bit like asking Carol Brady which of her children she loves the most… I just can’t answer it. I love something special about every design I make. I love to look at the texture of the crochet stitches in the T-Top from Crochet Geometry as much as the delicate thread motifs from the Motif Maxi Skirt from Designer Crochet or the simplicity of my knit “Cowl Neck Poncho.” Each is completely different (like Cindy, Jan, and Marcia…) but for different reasons and I derive little pleasures from seeing each detail and each nuance of the designs.
That said… I will admit that the designs from my last two books, Crochet Geometry, and Designer Crochet, are designs that I’d saved for my own publication instead of selling the rights for. Some of the patterns are designs I’d been thinking of making for years but just couldn’t bear to part with them. So I kept them until we met the right publisher and we had a chance to put them into our own books the way we wanted them to me presented.
For our readers who might not know, tell us a little bit more about the Shibaguyz Designz Studio.
Shibguyz Designz is comprised of myself and Jason, my husband. I’m a fashion designer specializing in crochet and hand knit fabrics. Jason is a photographer and graphic designer. Together we fill in the areas to make one cohesive whole…
Jason’s studio is on the 2nd floor of our townhouse. He has a plethora of camera equipment, and graphic design tools strewn about… you’ll also find Atlas, one of our Shiba Inus, sitting on a chair close by as Jason is rarely allowed out of his visual range.
My studio is on the 3rd floor (what once was a spare bedroom). Right now my studio looks like… like a department store the day after a clearance sale. I just finished up with our previous book so everything I needed to have on hand to finish it is close by. I have sketches hanging on the wall pinned with swatches, bins of rejected swatches sitting on my rocking chair (I LOVE rocking chairs!) and couch (where the other two Shibas, Apollo and Dallas, keep me company), inspiration yarn on the shelves next to me along with test yarn, test patterns, my empty coffee mug (that reminds me, I need to make more coffee), and a couple of chocolate bar wrappers that I think are empty now (that reminds me to tell Jason I’m out of chocolate). On my desk you can find paper with calculations, reference books, more swatches (I swatch a LOT) and somewhere in there I have a computer… surrounding me there are dress forms with muslin mock-ups draped on them, stitched projects pinned to blocking mats. All in all, not bad.
There was a joke going around for the longest time about our ‘Yarn Tub.” We have a guest bath outside my studio door that acts as storage for yarn once my inventory gets a tad bit much. Jason occasionally teases that I need to crawl in the tub and take a yarn bath. I’ve considered it more than once (don’t judge me).
Why do you prefer Eucalan to care for your finished designs? Have you discovered any other uses for Eucalan outside of the yarn world?
There are so many reasons I use Eucalan… First, when creating fabric from yarn, which is what we as stitchers do, I have to know what the final product will be like once it is washed. Remember that many fibers can’t take a lot of abuse and the fact that Eucalan, being a gentle wash that does not have to be rinsed and can be left in, is perfect for everything I do from blocking swatches to washing completed garments. The no-rinse factor also makes it perfect because it cuts down on processing time when we have a LOT of swatches to block or garments to finish. Bottom line, the product works… it cleans with a minimum amount of stress on the fibers.
Second, I am scent sensitive and have some contact sensitivity “issues” with my skin. Most commercial fabric washes have artificial fragrances added which cause me to break out or have problems breathing… not a good thing for someone who likes to breathe. When we spoke to the folks at Eucalan about this and found out y’all use natural fragrances derived from essential oils, we were hopeful. When we actually used the products and they didn’t affect my breathing or my skin, we were downright doing a happy dance. The fragrances are mild and leave everything just smelling fresh and clean.
And funny you ask about other uses. We travel around the country a lot teaching at events and fiber festivals. Sometimes packing enough clothes for both of us along with teaching supplies, camera equipment, shoes… gotta have our shoes… can be an issue. On a recent teaching trip to STITCHES West, I had a mishap with a tall flat white and one of his shirts needed washed out. Jason had packed one of the Eucalan Getaway Gang travel kits in my bag so I gave it a try. LOVE LOVE LOVE how easy it was to just rinse out my shirt while I got ready for dinner that night and the shirt was ready to go the next day without a stain. THEN we were on an airplane to Pittsburgh and you know those little half and half containers they give you with your coffee? This particular one was under pressure and spewed half and half all over us in tiny little droplets. Those nifty little Eucalan Wipes took care of the droplets and didn’t stain my favorite traveling jacket (dark blue linen blend… yeah… shoes and suit jackets… it’s a thing with me). We’ve used the wipes on stains on the couch and even just used some on a damp cloth for larger spills on a chair when we didn’t want to get out the big cleaner with that weird hose. No rinse… no stain. Yes… we’re big fans. We travel a lot and we live with three very active Shiba Inu so we have plenty of chances to put Eucalan to the test. Eucalan fits perfectly into our studio and our life.