Welcome to Knitting Scholar! I’m so excited to have you. Hope the place isn’t too messy…
So, first, congratulations on your book, Knitted Mitts & Mittens. What made you decide to choose mitts?
Well, Pam Hoenig, craft editor at Stackpole contacted me out of the blue to talk about this book. She had seen a couple of my fingerless glove patterns on my Ravelry page and wanted to know if I’d be interested in doing an entire book of them. I tend to be mostly garment driven in designs, so doing entirely mitts is something I don’t think I would have come up with on my own. This was all Pam’s idea!
What’s your favorite thing about knitting them?
In comparison with knitting sweaters, especially, my favorite thing is how quickly they go! Also, for a knitter wanting to try out an unfamiliar technique, a smaller project is such a great way to practice without committing to a sweater or afghan or something.
The patterns in the book have a nice variety of techniques—colors, textures, and so on. Do you have a favorite? (Technique that is. Asking you to name a favorite pattern is like asking a mother to name her favorite child, so I’m not going there.)
I like colorwork most, for sure. I’ve done more fair isle than intarsia, but I like both a lot. I do 2-fisted fair isle (one color in each hand) and it reminds me of playing the piano. If I’m doing a lot of stranded knitting it can get a little tiresome and I might need to take a break. But overall I find it much more entertaining and satisfying to my hands than single color knitting.
How about a least favorite technique? Is there any specific technique you try to avoid because it’s just not your cup of tea?
Honestly, I like everything. I get bored easily!
How long have you been knitting? What made you start in the first place?
I learned to crochet when I was about 20 (I’m 36 now), but started knitting only about 5-6 years ago. My husband and I owned a little pizza place called King Louie’s Pizza in Iowa City, Iowa. In the last 5 years of the business we downsized our staff and ran the place entirely as a mom and pop deal; I cooked the pizzas and my husband delivered them. Because a single cook can bury one driver in pizzas, I ended up having a fair amount of free time on my hands. I had tried learning to knit a couple of times over the years but it never really clicked. After seeing an internet video on continental knitting I finally got it!
You’ve got a great variety of patterns listed on your website, getoffmylawndesigns.com. What’s your favorite thing to design? And is that different than your favorite kind of thing to knit?
It’s really so hard to choose. I like designing sweaters and tops because I love clothes! I try to find the balance between things that are very wearable but also entertaining to knit. My day job is doing design for Universal Yarn, which I feel incredibly lucky to be doing. Although our audience ranges over a broad spectrum of knitters, I try very hard to maintain that delicate balance of enjoyment of the knit, and the end practicality of the item.
I see on your blog that you sew clothing and quilt, as well as crochet and knit. I’ve got some very basic skills with a sewing machine, but nothing spectacular. Any tips? What draws you to one craft as opposed to another? Your mood? Wardrobe necessity? Season?
Eh, again, I get bored. When I was a kid, I can remember going to the fabric department of Walmart, picking out about 20 bolts of fabric, and asking the clerk to cut me off an inch of fabric from each to dress my little worry dolls that I was making. An inch. And she totally did it!
It’s hard to know where inspiration comes from some times. All I know is that I’ve always been driven to make stuff. I went through a mosaic tile phase in my 20’s, and then quilting, and then clothes sewing, knitting, weaving, and back to sewing, and back to everything. My tastes change yet stay the same, if that makes sense. I love how learning new techniques in one medium might inspire something completely un-thought of in another medium.
But yes, I suppose the most driving factor in any of my craftiness is wardrobe. Did I mention I love clothes?
What hobbies/crafts would you like to do that you haven’t tried yet? Or any that you tried and hated?
Woodworking. I’d love to make beautiful furniture. And welding. I’ve always wanted to weld and make crazy sculptures.
So, you went to Germany last year, which is making me jealous. What other places have you travelled to? Best vacation ever?
I was actually lucky enough to go back to Germany this year to attend the annual Handarbeit show. It’s kind of like TNNA for Europe. In addition to yarny stuff, there is also fabric and other needlework. Before Germany, I was able to go to Bursa, Turkey and visit our yarn mill. I was only in Turkey for a couple of days, but what I saw was lovely. I hope to be able to go back and spend time sightseeing one day.
My two best vacations were definitely to Hawaii with my husband, Kirk. Two years in a row, back when we had the pizza place, we closed shop for a week in the middle of the winter and headed to the good weather. Winter in Iowa is a good thing to miss if possible. We went to Kauai first, which is the smallest and least inhabited of the islands. The people, the food, the landscape – everything was just awesome. The year after Kauai we visited Maui. Maui is really cool because you can find a huge variety of climates on that single island; rainforest, freezing mountain top, tropical, desert-like. Our plan one of these days is to call it quits here on the mainland and move to the Big Island.
Back to the book—what’s your favorite thing about this book?
I’m really happy with the variety of projects. My primary goal was to not have any “cop-out” projects, and I didn’t! I feel really good about every single design.
Anything you would have changed if you’d had more time?
Any other books in the works?
The crochet version of this book is currently underway. Look for it next year about this time! When Pam asked me if I’d be interested in doing the crochet version, my first instinct was No Way! I had been immersed in fingerless gloves for months and needed a break. But after thinking it over for a few days, I remembered all the things I love about crochet, and how the same idea of mitts could be done completely differently in crochet. I agreed to do it and am having lots of fun! In the process, I’ve been refining my crochet charting skills which has been a great experience. I’m so happy with using Inkscape for crochet charting that I pitched a class for Stitches East teaching this, and had the class accepted!
My dog Chappy heard a rumor that you have a dog. Is that true? (Doesn’t everyone love to talk about their pets?)
I’m not much of a talker, but if I could talk about anything all day it would definitely be Suzy. Kirk and I adopted Suzy about 8 months ago. She’s a 3 year old yellow lab and is full of energy. We just bought our first house about a month ago. A big part of why we wanted this location is because it’s extremely close to the dog park. Suzy gets along great with other dogs and needs the exercise! But at some point after we were under contract on the house, Kirk was at the park with Suzy and there was a fatal pit-bull attack that he witnessed (and tried to break up), so we haven’t been back. So now I’ve decided we just need to fence the backyard and get dog #2 so she has an in-house buddy. In the meantime, maybe Chappy can come over to play?
What’s your favorite breakfast food?
If you had an extra two hours in the day, what would you do with them?
Knitting and Netflix!
Name one yarn you’ve never tried but would love to knit with.
What is the one thing you would want to say to a new knitter?
Don’t pay any attention to skill levels listed on patterns; you can do anything you set your mind to!
If you could have a superpower (knitting or otherwise), what would it be?
Smart Social Woman. I’m not very good at BS and chitchat, which can be a real hindrance. I wish I had the ability to schmooze and get along better.
Any questions that you WISH someone would ask you? If so, what’s the question–and what’s the answer?
Hmm…I think it would have to be a question from my husband: “What would you like me to cook for dinner tonight?”
Answer: “Steak, broccoli, and tiramisu. And don’t forget to pour the wine!”
Thanks so much!
Books (so far):
Other posts for this author:
Now, I promised you a chance to win a copy of this book–and here’s all you need to do: Leave a comment on this post saying which pattern you would most like to knit. (Click here for the look-book.) Comments will be open until the 27th.
ETA: Congratulations DizzyDaphne on winning the free copy of the book!