Get Your Knit on with Ryan DeBonville
A 101 to dive on in.
Ryan DeBonville, who makes exceedingly cozy scarves and hats, wasn’t a knitting natural—despite his grandmother’s best efforts. “I took an official class about 10 years ago, but I am basically self-taught,” he says. And as a result, his methods are a little, er, unconventional. Here, he shows us how to cast on—knitting-speak for “get the party started.” —jessie pascoe
Step 1: Watch These YouTube Videos.
“What I didn’t have growing up that would have saved me a few years of trial and error are these YouTube videos. These are two clips [Ed: here and here!] I’ve been sending to people for years.”
Step 2: Make a Chain.
“Casting on was always the hardest part about learning how to knit for me, and I would have to wait until I saw my Grandma again for her to start another scarf. I decided to try myself and the quick, easy solution I came up with was to first make a chain out of the yarn either using my fingers or a crochet hook.”
Step 3: Thread the Needle.
“The second step is to thread the knitting needle through the chain.
Step 4: Get Knitting.
“The final step in casting on is to begin knitting! Anytime I get stuck on a stitch or can’t get a piece quite right, I check back to YouTube.”
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It’s hardly rare for designers to hold down odd jobs to pursue their fashion goals, but Ryan DeBonville’s current gig takes the cake. “In 2009, I quit my men’s personal shopper job at J.Crew so I could work at my friend’s tanning salon and knit more,” chuckles the San Francisco native. “I was so embarrassed to tell J.Crew.”
But the time had come to focus more on his work—Ryan had been perfecting his craft for 25 years. “My Grandma used to pick me up from pre-school, and there wasn’t anything to play with other than my mom’s old dolls,” Ryan explains. “She tried to teach me to knit a few times. But that didn’t work out too well, so I made up a way.” This eventually led to his first apparel creation: an oversized sweater inspired by one of his mother’s Neiman Marcus pieces from the eighties.
Ryan’s current collection of infinity scarves and beanies is more timeless but just as thoughtful. “It is an amazing amount of work. About 100 to 200 hours goes into the design and development of each piece,” he notes. “I’d love to start doing sweaters and bags…and to start using knitting machines!” —jessie pascoe
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Ryan DeBonville’s Guide to Stuffing Your Face in SF’s Mission District
Ten meals worth making room for.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Ryan DeBonville has got the whole Bay Area on lock. But living in the Mission now means he rarely has to leave his ‘hood for a meal. “The main street, Valencia, has gotten about 12 new restaurants in the last few years. All of my favorites are a block from my house, so I have to go to the gym a lot,” he explains. If you want to break bread with the discerning knitter, here are the 10 places you are most likely to find him. —jessie pascoe
“I love the dark atmosphere in this place—and the kitchen is open past 1 A.M., a rarity in SF. Order their beet salad followed by house-made vanilla ice cream drizzled with olive oil and sea salt.”
“I pretend to go here for the sushi, but, really, all I ever want is the deep-fried, tempura-battered green tea ice cream.”
“This is one of the older Spanish tapas restaurants in the city. It gets loud and crowded, but their spicy potatoes are so worth it. And it’s cheap—most plates are under $10.”
“Vegetarian Japanese food! This place has all kinds of really great veggie dishes, but my go-to is the veg-tofu curry with soba noodles.”
Thorough Bread and Pastry
“A few short blocks from the Mission, this place has a tiny Frenchwoman behind the counter who reminds me of the soup guy from Seinfeld. They have some of the best sandwiches and pastries around—I buy their chocolate-dipped cream puffs by the dozen.”
Caffeination nation—a.k.a., Four Barrel.
“Amazing cappuccinos—my favorite in the city. They carry pastries like bacon-maple donuts that are basically why I have a gym membership and do yoga in the first place.”
“This is a quick-and-dirty burrito place that’s open late. I love getting extra to-go containers of their salsa and putting it on eggs in the morning.”
Sunflower Vietnamese Restaurant
“They have amazing, hearty pho and incredible beef dishes—it’s also fairly inexpensive. The goal of the servers is to get people in and out—and they have no problem telling you to move it sometimes—but that’s somehow part of the charm.”
“This place is fairly new and is practically in my living room—I live next door. They have a special, 5,000-pound oven that cooks their stellar pizzas, but some of my favorites are the fresh salads and small plates they do. The restaurant is run by a mostly deaf staff, so be prepared to be greeted with pieces of paper with questions written on them.”
“Also right next door to my apartment. They have really great rolls here, and I always try to go on Tuesdays when they get their shipments of fish in from Japan for the week.”