Modeled after the famous TV program called Inside the Actor's Studio, The Designer's Studio is the place where you will meet a well-known designer and read about her/his designing style, philosophy, most favorite techniques, publications, and many other interesting details of the creative world of knitwear designers. Our guests will be answering a set of 15 questions (the same for every guest) and you will have the opportunity to leave the comment or your question after the interview is posted. We will try to keep up with your questions. This is a very exciting project and I hope you will visit here often and will not miss any of the interviews posted here.
April 04, 2010
as she refers to herself on her website.
1. When did you start knitting (crocheting) and who taught you?
I started knitting when I was probably 8 or 9 years old. My mother taught me.
2. When did you begin publishing your designs?
In my early twenties, I won 3rd place in a national contest (I think Nicki Epstein won 1st place in the same contest). There were 25 3rd place winners and I won a set of crochet hooks because my winning jacket was free-form crochet. One of the judges of the contest was Lola Ehrlich and she liked my jacket so much that she published it in Ladies Home Journal Needle&Craft where she was editor. That was in 1974.
3. What is your most favorite knitting (crocheting) technique?
Without a doubt, the brioche stitch.
4. When you are thinking about some new design, what inspires you the most? Is it different every time? Could you give us some examples on inspiration for some of your designs?
I have a fascination for patterning/pattern repeats, color and ethnic textiles, especially Japanese. At the present time, I have been experimenting with developing new brioche stitches that I translate into a shawl, scarf or garment.
5. What does your studio look like?
It is completely full from top to bottom with yarn. I keep having to create new spaces in my house to work because I keep filling up the space where I have just been. I really do need to de-stash.
6. What is your most favorite place to knit (crochet)?
At home in my “knitting chair”.
7. Do you spin your own yarn?
In college, I worked at a textile arts store and we were required to know how to spin. I tried and tried and just couldn’t get it. I love the different textures and color combinations that you can get when you spin your own yarns but I am someone who will have to rely on others to do that for me. I do like to dye yarns, however. Here I have to say that I do simple dyeing - nothing like the beautiful indie dyed yarns on the market.
8. Do you belong to a knitting group?
Yes, a wonderful Stitch ‘n Bitch group in Amsterdam. We meet every Monday night at Cafe de Jaren.
9. Are you in touch with other designers and how do you communicate with the knitters who knit your designs?
Yes, I have many designer friends. I communicate with most knitters through the internet.
10. Where can we see your published designs?
Knitting Brioche. I am currently working on a brioche lace stitch dictionary and am not sure what form that information will take - maybe another book, maybe pdf download. I have been published in Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits and Knitters Magazine in America. In the Netherlands I have had designs in Ariadne, Handwerk Zonder Grenzen and Margriet.
11. Do you teach classes? If yes, where do you teach?
I have all of the admiration in the world for good teachers. I do teach but I like to teach to advanced knitters. I have a “patience” problem. I would love for someone to take all of the brioche information that I have accumulated and turn it into a great class for beginners. Then let me take over after they have mastered the technique so that I could teach them the fun designing part.
12. What would you like to tell knitters who are timid and do not believe they are skillful enough to knit some of your designs?
Anyone can learn brioche knitting. Here in the Netherlands, knitting used to be taught at school so children learned the brioche stitch. It is a very common stitch that every knitter knows. It isn’t a matter of skill, it is a matter of trying it.
13. What are your plans in the near future?
I would like to publish my lace stitch patterns.
14. Can you share with us some of your latest designs?
Here are a few projects from my book:
15. Would you like to add anything about yourself?
I have developed a new set of abbreviations for brioche knitting. I didn’t create these overnight, I worked on them for years. I would like for other designers to use these same abbreviations when they create something with brioche stitches just so there aren’t 900 different versions of saying the same thing. Since this is still such unexplored territory, now is the time to establish the terminology.
I would also appreciate all the good knitting teachers out there to learn brioche knitting and teach it to others.
FG: Thank you, Nancy for this interview and your wonderful work. Good luck with your book and I hope to meet you in person at TNNA. To comment on your last note- I love to design using brioche and it was very helpful for me to consult with your abbreviations. I also teach classes and offer workshops on this topic, so I am one of those who is carrying the flag of Brioche domain in US:)