Today I'm interviewing Nancy, who is the creative presence behind whitknitsdotcom. Like myself, she learned to knit at the age of eight. She's a crafty individual who's worked with quilting, woodworking and stained glass (gee, can you see influences in her designs?), who also runs her own online shot at whitknits.com. Please welcome her to the blog (and finish reading to the bottom for a surprise)!
All of my color-blocked shawls are made with modular knitting. That means there is nothing to sew together, your knitting can go in any direction at any time, and you only use one color at a time. I really like graphic images and blocks of color surrounded by borders. All these things mesh well with how my brain works so using it as an approach to design makes sense to me.
I totally understand! So kind of jumping off from that, when you approach designing, how do you go about the process? Can you outline some of the questions or problems you are trying to solve?
I am probably the most undisciplined designer on the planet! I tend to have a very broad idea of what I want and the form it will go into – cowl, shawl, hat, etc. For a modular shawl, I will have to decide on the order of construction. After that, most of the designing is on the needle. I don't recommend this method for efficiency, but it does work for me.
|Piet on Point|
If you look at my newer designs, I am really drawn to the look of stained glass as in Eden Prairie. Most recently, I was inspired by the work of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. You can see this in Piet on Point.
|Piet Mondrian Abstract Cubes|
You mentioned that you are a rather undisciplined designer, but that you plot out the order of construction. Do you have a favorite way of sketching out your ideas? Do you use pencils, watercolor or something else?
I use GIMP, which is a shareware image manipulation program. If I have an idea, I will try to draw it there to see if it looks right. I try to knit at or near the computer so I can type up the pattern at the same time. The first time anything is on paper or I use a pencil is to proof the pattern.
What about other tools? Do you have a favorite type of needle?
I always disliked circular needles, preferring double pointed instead. I tried some addi needles and was hooked. No pun intended. I hold my needles pretty far from the points so most circs made my wrists hurt. The addi long lace interchangeable set is long enough for me to use comfortably. I now knit with them exclusively and even started to carry them at Whitknits.com.
Now for some silly questions! If you were a knitting/crochet notion, what would you be?
A row counter! They are really useful and make for even knitting. I like that.
What's one knitting technique that you wish that you could share with every knitter you met?
Three needle bind off. It helps me to avoid sewing or grafting. I even use it to close the toe on all my socks and to join modular pieces.
What's the last book you read that you absolutely loved?
The Book Thief. My 20-year-old son raved about it. I waited to see the movie so I could finish the book first, which I did about a month ago. Coincidentally, the movie was on HBO last week. Now my 14-year-old son is reading it.
Do you have a favorite heel style you like to work?
A traditional top-down hell flap. And I always get a kick out of turning the heel!
Do you have a designer crush? Who is it? Why?
Yes I do. Heidi Kirrmaier. Her knits are classic and effortless, but not boring. There is always a design detail that speaks to me.
How do you define success in your career?
I read a Ravelry post about Bocce. The poster said she saw someone wearing it at Stitches. That to me is success – someone wants to knit one of my patterns and someone else recognizes it. What more could I ask for?
Thank you Nancy for taking the time to talk with me! If you'd like to learn more about Nancy, you can find her on Ravelry or on her website. Check out her Gift-A-Long patterns! I, in particular, like her Gardener's Shawl.
As a fun little reward, Nancy's generously offered up one of her self-published patterns, winner's pick. Nancy will be choosing a winner, and we'll make an announcement on Monday. Make a comment below telling us your favorite one of Nancy's patterns.