To say that Jessie Ksanznak is multi-talented is an understatement. Jessie is the designer and dyer behind Yarn Over New York. When not creating in her Harlem-based home-studio, Jessie travels the world as a stage manager for dance, circus, events and television. Her designs have been published in various knitting books, magazines and collections including Garter Stitch Revival by Interweave Knits, Rockin’ Sock Club 2015 and 2016 by Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Sweet Georgia Yarn, Knit Now magazine and Knittin’ Little. 

We were not surprised to learn that she is a good writer and conceptual thinker, as well, so we asked her to be this week's Guest Blogger.  We were thrilled  when she accepted.

Inspiration in Knitting Design


Did you go to Vogue Knitting Live in early January? I did and it was fantastic. I’ve been to fiber trade shows before, but this one was special. The knitted and crochet artwork that adorned the halls, stage and booths was amazing. Brilliant artists and designers found inspiration from literature, nature and geometry and, through their skills, transformed these visions into spectacular works of art and fashion.

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Not everyone needs to make a life-size Queen Bee like Gina Rose Gallina or a Miniature Wonderland like Anna Hrachovec of MochiMochiLand. However, you can follow the exact same process and take your creative abilities to the next level in your own crafting. 

Knitters, crocheters, spinners and weavers can discover their own spark of inspiration and connect with the fiber and tools available to create a unique finished object. Let me tell you the story of my Fioritura Shawl and its journey from spark of idea to stunning wearable art.  

Last summer, Pom Pom Quarterly put out a call for submissions for their Spring 2017 issue.  I was blown away by the colors and textures of the floral and anthropoid images in their mood board, and I simply fell in love.


                                                                                                                  Pom Pom’s mood board

                                                                                                                  Pom Pom’s mood board


The idea for my Fioritura Shawl was born!


To transition from idea and images to a concrete knitted shawl, I needed to find the appropriate selection of stitch work, shaping, color and texture. I knew that I wanted to combine a selection of stitches to create a light and airy shawlette that would wrap the wearer in that feeling of spring’s potential for new growth.

I originally selected a skein of RainCityKnits sock yarn in the color Electric Coral.  The glowing peach shade of this yarn screams spring to me.  The fingering weight, plied wool yarn has lovely stitch definition and is light enough to create a lacey shawl.  The color and texture of this yarn can show off the rich textures and lace stitches I wanted to include in the design.

I used a stitch dictionary and the internet to find a mix of textured solid and lacey open stitch patterns to capture the feeling of the mood board.


After sample knitting, test knitting and tech editing, I had a design ready to send to the magazine. 

I was so proud of the  design and was sure the magazine would love it too! Unfortunately, they decided not to select my proposal. Knowing that I could turn disappointment into success, I needed to revisit the chain of inspiration: 


The feedback loop of getting rejected by the magazine presented me with an opportunity to push my creativity to the next level. I was given the chance to make the shawl better and create a bigger pay-off for my hard work. I was very happy with the shaping and patterning, so I reconsidered the yarn. 

Speckles and sparkles are both very trendy right now and are a great way to accentuate a variety of stitches in knitted fabric. I decided to re-knit the shawl in my own Yarn Over New York "Broadway". It is fingering weight, and plied yarn Stellina, with an irresistible glimmer. I dyed up a batch of my rainbow-speckled tonal blue colorway “Care Bear Stare” and got to work.

Create the perfect pairing of yarn and design by following the process of SPARK-CONNECT-CREATE.

Create the perfect pairing of yarn and design by following the process of SPARK-CONNECT-CREATE.


You can use this simple loop of SPARK-CONNECT-CREATE in your crafting and art. Remember that you can find inspiration anywhere. Look to nature and nature, arts and literature and entertainment. Listen to your yarn.  Embrace the community and share your ideas with your fellow crafters. It is amazing how inspiration can spread from person to person and create a whole new level in creativity. Don’t be afraid. And ... remember that there is no failure. There are simply opportunities to follow this inspiration cycle and find a new clearer direction.

I hope to see many of you at my Young Designer workshop at Knitty City on March 2, from 6;00-8:00PM.  I will be exploring Inspiration in Knitting Design. I would LOVE to hear your ideas and questions. Let’s work together to discover our sparks and move forward to connect and create successful designs and amazing finished objects. Please bring photos, sketches, swatches, and questions and be ready to be inspired.