Pom Pom magazine - Stephanie Dosen interview

We adore designer Stephanie Dosen of Tiny Owl Knits! Her designs are fantastical and brimming with originality, making them a joy to knit. To celebrate the release of Stephanie’s first book, Woodland Knits, we asked Stephanie a few questions about her design process and the mythical world which she inhabits. We’re also giving away 3 copies of Stephanie’s book to UK and Ireland peeps – read on for a chance to win!

We loved chatting with Stephanie – we hope you enjoy Stephanie’s charming answers as much as we did!

1.  Your knits are so full of humour. Tell us a joke.

What did 0 say to 8?  Nice belt.  Wow that was bad. I’m sorry I really am terrible at jokes. I usually can only remember the punch line.  I used to try to be funny on stage to distract the audience when I was tuning my guitar between songs. I do a pretty good impression of a bear at the zoo with an ice cream headache. You can imagine that now if you like.

2.  We love the way you manage to infuse your patterns (and your new book!) with your unique style. You experiment a lot with texture and layering. Who are your style icons?

Thank you!  For a while I think it was Snow White meets Courtney Love in a grandmother’s attic.  They’d sift through the old wooden trunks for doilies and old needlepoint and pin them to each other’s frocks. Maybe then they’d stop for a tea party, but Courtney would get tea stains on everything.  They’d just laugh about it though and run out to the forest to roll around in the leaves.  It’s evolved a bit lately though.  Now I’m stuck in the forest overnight and I’ve started to wear the trees and bushes!

Pom Pom magazine - Stephanie Dosen interview

Midsummer Night’s Dream

3.  Which fairy tale character would you most like to be? Why?

It’s always been Snow White for me. It was the first movie I saw in the theatre. (It came back to theatres in the 70’s.) I had the storybook and record set and my whole world was about her. I dressed up like her for Halloween more times than I can count.  And now I spend most of my time dancing around the house cleaning and singing to my plants and animals. I’ve known quite a few gnomes and dwarves too. But that’s where the similarity ends. I don’t even really like apples so I’d never go down that way.

4.  When designing what is it that most interests/ intrigues you?

Sometimes designs have a mind of their own.  You can start with something and it morphs into something else entirely. That can be fun.  But I really get so excited when I finish a design and go back to look at the original sketch and it’s identical.  That means I was able to use the yarn like a potter uses clay to make the exact thing in my head.  That surprises me, freaks me out and makes me squee like a wild maniac. I’m not saying that’s the only time I can be satisfied. Ok maybe I am saying that.

Pom Pom magazine - Stephanie Dosen interview

Faerie Wings

5.  We would love to spend a day dancing around with a pair of your fairy wings on. Have you ever seen a real fairy?

Ooh let’s do it! You should come over!  I’ve met lots of different types of fairies, elementals and faery. They have such a high vibration it is easy to miss them, it takes time and an open heart to see them.  They may appear as sparks of light or little shimmers in the atmosphere.  You can certainly feel them though.  The larger faery are majestic and have been here to help us for a long time. They will tell you almost anything you need to know, all you need to do is ask. Just acknowledging each other peacefully is all both races need to be in harmony.

6.  When did you start knitting?

My grandmother taught me when I was young but I didn’t retain it. I was more of a crocheter.  In about 2003 I got hired at a local yarn shop as a crochet teacher but I started knitting immediately.  It was a large and busy shop and I worked there for 3 years.  Now I jokingly refer to that time as my time at “Knitting University.” I learned what kind of questions people have when they are knitting a pattern. I keep it all in mind as I write now and try to keep the directions as clear as possible.  My job is to get the knitter from sticks and string to heirloom and I have a few pages to do it in.  I love seeing finished objects on Ravelry.com because that lets me know I’m doing it right!

Pom Pom magazine - Stephanie Dosen interview

Oh My Bear!

7.  A few of your designs involve felting, what advice would you give to those trying this technique for the first time?

Felting is so much fun, about 10% of my brain is always going. “Ooh, could I felt that?”  But felting is really an experiment. It is a lot like working with wet clay. There is always a long while during the process where it just looks absolutely wrong.  Even though I’m fairly experienced with it I always seem to forget that fact and get scared it won’t come out right.  My tip is to not give up! Keep going, shaping and molding the work until it looks exactly right.  I get lots of emails from people saying “My project didn’t felt enough.” My response is always, “Keep on going! You can felt and felt again.” The wool will suddenly just take form. It’s just like magic. It’s real alchemy!

8.  Your knits are inspired by nature; do you prefer country life to the city?

I’m a country girl! I actually grew up on Green Country Road. Recently, I lived in London for 5 years and though I love England dearly, living in the city grew increasingly hard for me to deal with.  Now I’m back in the country in Colorado and loving it. I’m obsessed with the mountains and the prairies. I much prefer to be out in the middle of nowhere.  When we have to drive into the city for something I actually get a little anxious these days. I find the cement and pavement a little creepy.

Pom Pom magazine - Stephanie Dosen interview

Bo Peep Scarf

9.  The Bo Peep Scarf and Midsummer Night’s Dream Hood are our favourite patterns from the book, do you have one?

Ooh thank you! I’m really excited about Midsummer Night’s Dream too.  I designed it about 3 years ago to wear at a Faery Festival in Cornwall. It had the antlers at the time but there wasn’t any flora attached to it. I loved it, but I didn’t think it was really worthy of releasing at the time so it went into the closet.  Then this year I started knitting little moonflowers and didn’t know that to do with them.  Suddenly I remembered the hood and it was a perfect match!  I tacked them on and right around Midsummer and knew I wanted to release it. That is a good example of how some patterns can take several years to be just right.  OOh sorry I got distracted. My favorite pattern is definitely the faerie wings. I’d wanted to knit wings for a long time but just couldn’t come up with a way to make them really really easy. These are so easy and that’s why they please me. Hey, that rhymed!

10. You are also a singer. What things are you listening to at the moment?

I actually don’t listen to too much music these days. I have lots of fountains in my house and I put on soundtracks of birdsong and campfire and crickets. I like it because it doesn’t interfere with my mood too much. But I’m really excited right now, as I’ve just received the mixes for my new record earlier this week! I’ve been listening to that and I’m really happy with the way it came out.  The band is called Snowbird and it’s a project I started with Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins/Bella Union Records) several years ago.  The recordings were basically shelved for a while but its finally been mixed and mastered and will be released in Spring 2014.  For years I’ve been telling my family and friends “No really, I have a book and a record coming out soon!” They’ve finally given up on asking me when it’s actually going to happen.  That must have been the trick because both projects are finally set for release!

And we’re so glad they are! Thanks Stephanie! We loved getting to know the lovely lady behind Tiny Owl Knits.


Woodland Knits by Stephanie Dosen and photographs by Tiffany Mumford is published by Quadrille and is available for £14.99.  Check out Stephanie’s blog for more of her hilarious musings!

Now onto the giveaway fun! We will be giving away 3 copies of Woodland Knits to UK and Ireland readers, courtesy of Quadrille. To be eligible, all you need to do is comment on this post telling us your favourite fairy tale character before the end of October 3rd and we’ll choose three winners on Friday the 4th! Happy commenting! [This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Tilly, Edya and Naomi!]


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  1. vicki September 26, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    I love Stephanie Dosen, what a wonderful interview! My favourite fairy tale characters have to be the Three Spinners from Grimms tale about the girl who would not spin.

  2. Clare Gould September 26, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Can’t wait to get my mitts on this book – it looks wonderful!

  3. Louise September 26, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Little Red Riding Hood! A classic :)

  4. Penelope September 26, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    I’d be Rapunzel – when I was a child I longed for luscious, long locks but my mum made me have a 1980s ‘bowlhead’ hair cut!

  5. Ella September 26, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Great interview! Growing up I loved Cinderella but looking back now I think she’s a bit bland really. I always preferred the version where the sisters cut parts of their feet off to fit the shoe on. I quite liked the Little Mermaid too -especially in books where the illustrations were dark and eerie.

  6. Edye Rosenbaum September 26, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    I love Ozma of Oz from the land of Oz! I still would love to visit the land of Oz but only if I can bring my whole family with me like Dorothy did!

  7. [email protected] September 26, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    My favourite fairytale character would be Mulan (if that counts), because for one I still remeber seeing the movie for the first time in the cinema but also because I like how she takes control of her destiny and is active in comparison to other more passive female fairytale characters.

    (Also my Pompom Mag just arrived and the packaging really made me smile! Thanks!)

  8. Emily Teague September 26, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    I love baby bear from goldilocks and the three bears, she is just right!

  9. Anushka September 27, 2013 at 1:11 am #

    Love her work – she has such a distinctive style and look which is great.
    It’s hard to pick a favourite!! I think I would go for someone like Allerleirauh / Donkeyskin, or the heroine in Bluebeard’s Castle…a heroine who has some kind of quest or unlikely prophecy to fulfil.

  10. lounatine September 27, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    Great interview! I love the fantastic world that Stephanie Dosen offer us with her work!
    Sorry that I can’t play to this giveaway due to my country.

  11. Deb Hickman September 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    What a wonderful book!!! My favourite fairytale character is Tinkerbelle because she’s a little minx but still got a kind heart. Deb. X

  12. Fiona Hackland September 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    I love idiosyncratic knitting designs like these.

    My favourite fairy-tale characters are Selkies from Scottish fairy and folk tales. They are seals who take on human form. There are lots of variations of stories of fishermen being enchanted by selkie women with large, soulful brown eyes who then mysteriously disappear to return to the seal-folk.

  13. Naomi September 28, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    I would love to win this for my sister in law in the UK. My favourite fairy tail character was Cinderella. I think she gave me my fetish for beautiful shoes.

  14. Mary in TN September 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Snow White is my fave. Thanks for the giveaway.

  15. Alison September 30, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    Snow White is my favourite because she talks to the animals. I wish woodland creatures would help me clean my house. Stephanie lets us know we can still dream can’t wait to cast on a project.

  16. Amy October 1, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    Ahh, I love Tiny Owl Knits! I’ve just finished knitting her Oh My Bear jumper – my current favourite garment to date! I’d be… Little Red Riding Hood for sure!

  17. Tilly October 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    My favourite fairy tale character is Thumberlina, she’s kind of fiesty and knows how to look after herself. Stephanie’s patterns are wonderful; at the end of the tale Thumberlina is given some fairy wings, I would make the faerie wings to give to my god daughter.

  18. Julie October 3, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    Cinderella is my fav character! The whole rags to riches story is a classic!

  19. Ellen October 3, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    I’m going for rumplestiltskin! I’m desperately trying to spin fluff into gold! …. But gorgeous yarn will just have to do!

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