Designer Interview: Jessica McDonald!

The Woolly Thistle is excited to launch a new series of designer interviews!

In the coming months, we'll be bringing you interviews with designers from all around the world, asking them to share a bit about themselves and their relationship to their work. We hope this series gives you the opportunity to look deeper into the great things they're doing and inspires you to keep pushing ahead on your own creative journey. 

Jessica McDonald is a knitwear designer based in the US. She describes her designs as "straightforward and simple with beautiful design elements and thoughtful details. They are enjoyable to knit as well as being a fantastic addition to your handmade wardrobe."

You'll find a lot of Jessica's designs are centered around beautiful colorwork and woolly wools - something we tend to love here at TWT! You can find her on Ravelry and Instagram as Jessicamknits. 

Without further ado, please enjoy our email conversation with Jessica McDonald

Jessica McDonald Winter Woods


Jessica's gorgeous design Winter Woods is knit in Manchelopis.

When and how did you start knitting?

My mother taught me to knit when I was fresh out of college and newly married. I was living in a big city, and eager for a new, crafty hobby. She started me off with a baby blanket that had a diamond pattern created by knits and purls. It was a perfect first project because it didn’t have any shaping and forced me to learn to read my knitting right away. Knitting quickly became my favorite hobby, and I’ve had something on the needles ever since.


Jessica McDonald Snowy Pines



Will you share something about your knitting process?

As a homeschooling mother of four, my knitting process is a bit more chaotic than most. My knitting sits on the dining table amongst the heaps of school books, and I knit as much as I can between helping various children with their schoolwork. Then once the busyness of the day is done, I love nothing more than to sit somewhere quiet with a hot cup of tea and enjoy knitting away as long as I can.


Jessica McDonald Wildflower Tunic



Can you tell us about how you became a designer?

My foray into designing began in a very natural way. I wanted to knit something special for my first daughter’s first Christmas, and I couldn’t find anything I liked on Ravelry so I decided to make it up myself. Designing took longer than I realized, and she didn’t get her special outfit until the middle of January. That first design is called the Wildflower Tunic. After that, I couldn’t stop thinking up new things to make and designed many sweet little knits for my daughters. A few years later, I decided to try putting some of my designs up on Ravelry to try to make enough money to pay for my yarn, and it has just grown from there!


 Jessica McDonald Snowberry



Will you share a little about how, or where, you find inspiration for your designs?

We live in a rural area, and I am constantly surrounded by the natural world. The inspiration for my designs mostly comes from nature for both the motifs and stitch patterns that I use along with the color palette I generally stick to. Sometimes I take the inspiration very literally such as with the Snowy Pines sweater, which was inspired by snow falling gently on a forest of pine trees. Other times I use the inspiration in a more abstract way like with Ruska, which was inspired by autumnal aspens standing brightly against rain-soaked mountains.





We’d love to shine a light on your current, or upcoming, projects. Please let us know what you’re working on, where we can find it, and how we can get involved!

Right now, I am beginning my work for next fall’s sweater designs. A cabled sweater for my husband is currently on my needles, and I’ll be making matching ones for my sons as well. I have a lot of very exciting collaborations and piles of beautiful yarn to work with! 

Jessica McDonald WIP


If you would like to get to know me a bit better, pop on over to my website where you can sign up for my newsletter, browse my patterns, and read through my blogposts.

Happy knitting!



    • Veda Crewe

      Thanks for the link to her web page. Her blog is full of wonderful advice and comments!

    • Anonymous

      I love Jessica’s designs, and patterns. I just finished Winter Woods, a wonderful pattern, beautiful sweater and a joy to knit.
      Her patterns are accurate, clear and easy to follow. I can’t wait to cast on another. You will love getting to know her patterns and her lovely photography.

    • cyndi

      I love Jessica’s designs and look forward to her relationship with TWT. I will be casting on Winter woods for myself and Snowy pines for my daughter. After that one for my grandson :)

    • Robin Kinder

      Another fabulous add to TWT world! I am fairly new here, and have heard the many references to Jessica’s lovely designs. This interview is timely, and I can’t wait to explore her work, sign up for her newsletter and choose a pattern for the sweater I promised my husband! Thanks Jessica, and thanks to all at TWT!

    • Pia

      I agree with everything Brenda has said. Jessica’s designs are fabulous and so well written. She is one of my favorite designers.

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