I'm Ethan, the designer behind Refracted Light Knits. Ever since I was young I have carried with me an intense desire to create. Whether I was making pressed flower bookmarks or intricately beaded bracelets, my growing up years were filled with hours of crafting while listening to my mom read aloud to my sisters and me. Since my first year of grad school in 2017-2018, I have delved into the world of knitting and knitwear design more deeply, being captivated by the endless creative possibilities. I published my first pattern in the summer of 2018, and now I design knitting patterns that help you create beautiful knitted pieces you can cherish for years to come.
What's in a name?
Perhaps you're wondering where my business name comes from? The name is taken from a line in a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien, my favorite author whose works have inspired many of my designs. This poem, "Mythopoeia," treats of the creative impulse in the heart of every human—an impulsed placed there by the Creator.
Here's the stanza my name is taken from:
The heart of man is not compound of lies,
but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,
man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Disgraced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact,
man, sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with elves and goblins, though we dared to build
gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sow the seed of dragons, 'twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we're made.
You really should go read the whole thing, because it's wonderful. I'll even give you a link: Mythopoeia.
My knitting journey started long before I learned to knit, because knitting for me is about more than just the soft, beautiful yarn or the cozy finished projects; it's about living into my calling to be creative.
My deep and abiding love for the Beautiful was nurtured from the beginning by my creative mother, my aesthetically sensitive father, and my upbringing in the heart of the picturesque hills and forests of rural Wisconsin. This love for beauty made me want to create beautiful things, like the quilts my mother made or the flowers I found in the fields and forests. For as long as I can remember, I have loved to create things, but my understanding of the place creativity has in our lives blossomed when I discovered the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and his idea of sub-creation. If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a bit of a Tolkien fanatic. I won't give you my spiel here, but if you haven't already, go read the portion of "Mythopoeia" above to get the gist of what I'm talking about.
Knitting entered the picture when I was in middle school, shortly after I had learned to crochet, and while I enjoyed both crafts, my frustrated first attempts at intarsia and the relative ease of crochet led me towards making with a hook instead of two needles, and I stuck mostly to crochet until after college.
When I moved to Maryland for grad school, I found a knitting pattern for a vest that I absolutely loved, so I decided just to go for it and make my first knitted garment. While that vest was not perfect, I learned a great deal about knitting and gained a lot of confidence. That was the beginning of the end—my entry into the vast and varied world of knitting. After completing my first few projects, I started seeing ideas for knitwear items that I couldn't find patterns to match. Sometimes, these ideas came to me almost as revelations, and my wife will joke about the way I talk about hearing the yarn speak to me, telling me what it wants to become. I dove into the design process, and published my first pattern in the summer of 2018.
Since then, I have knitted a great many things, some my own designs, some the designs of others, and I have gained a great deal of experience while learning more and more techniques. I love the endless creative possibilities of knitting and the vast world of methods, constructions, and techniques to explore. Now, I find great joy, not only in the process of dreaming up and knitting a new design, but also in writing a pattern that guides other knitters clearly through the process of creating their own beautiful works of art, helping them find and follow their own creative calling.