Linda Gavaldon grew up on a farm in the Midwest in a very crafty family. All the men were good with wood working, and her four sisters all enjoyed doing some form of needlework. Linda learned to knit in home economics class. She clearly had a knack for it, as the 4-H project shawl she made for her grandmother won a second place ribbon at the Indiana State Fair.
She didn’t immediately follow up on that triumph, however, and only started knitting baby sweaters in her late 20s when her friends started having babies. In her 40’s, when great nieces & nephews started, she began knitting baby blankets. After following someone else’s reverse stockinette pattern, she decided she could create her own themes to match the babies she was knitting for. After all that effort, she decided publishing the patterns was a natural next step. Thus began Linda’s career as a designer of wonderfully inventive baby blankets.
Linda, who now lives in Long Beach, California, first met Appalachian Baby Design founder Diane Browning at a yarn trade show and began designing and testing patterns for ABD in 2016. Her designs are some of ABD’s best sellers, and she is also an invaluable test knitter. Her first ABD design was a blanket with a monogram section, and her favorite is the Stair Step Baby Blanket design.
There is a creative give and take between Diane and Linda. Sometimes she will let Diane know if there is pattern she thinks would be a good fit for ABD, and other times Diane will present her with an idea to develop. “The stuff she has given me has always been challenging. For example, she wanted a hooded poncho. It stretched my ability to figure out how to design it,” Linda says. “Up until then, everything I had designed had just been flat.” Her newest creation for ABD is an owl pattern, which, unlike most of her designs, is not a stitch repeat pattern.
Linda says she gets excited about creating a new design. “I’ll see a stitch and think, “OK, I wonder if that will work?” Her approach is to use familiar stitches that make the design attractive. She also tries not to make them too complicated, as most of her designs are intended for beginning or intermediate knitters. Then it’s just a matter of settling on a gauge and deciding how wide and how long the finished item will be to determine how many lines to repeat across. She started out creating patterns in Excel, but thankfully there are now pattern charting software that make the process a lot more exact and generates written instructions as you design.
In addition to designing for ABD, Linda sells her patterns online through her website, Little Piggy Patterns and on Ravelry. Her Little Piggy repertoire includes not only baby blankets, but bibs and baby wash clothes, adult scarves, spa cloths and wine cozys.
Linda has been retired for 15 years and says that now designing and knitting is mostly a hobby.
"I go in spurts," she says. "I designed and tested two blanket in July, and I may not do another one for several months. I do it when the inspiration hits, and my inspiration is driven by who I am making this blanket for"