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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.


Faina Goberstein.

May 24, 2010

TODAY'S GUEST: RICK MONDRAGON

We all know Rick as the editor of the Knitter's Magazine as well as the creative director of their Design Team. For many years now we associate Knitter's Magazine with his work as a designer. Looking at Rick's signature pieces in colorwork I always admired the construction of his projects. It is so clever and innovative that you remember his designs for a long time.
What is even better, Rick does not mind to share his secrets and experience with anyone who wants to learn from him. If you are at Stitches, TNNA, or some other place where Rick is teaching do not miss the opportunity to take a class from him. His enthusiasm in the classroom has been known for many years. Rick's creative life started very early and he says that he cannot help himself when the materials are available. He has to create something out of them. The example of innovative nature of Rick's techniques can be illustrated by his Sliding Loop Vest pattern in Knitters magazine. In one article I have read that Rick said: "Knitting...became a way to soothe my heart and soul." I think it sums it up, don't you think? So, below are the answers Rick gave to DS.

1. When did you start knitting (crocheting) and who taught you?
I started to crochet at age 4. I remember this as my older brother started first grade and my poor mother needed to find something to keep me busy. I made granny squares and loved it…. I always made them “backward” because I am a lefty. My maternal grandmother and great Grandmother’s were very supportive in keeping me supplied as my skills progressed.

Knitting came about age 13-14, I taught myself with a 4-H book that I stole from my sister. I really became a knitter during my college years, sewing most of my wardrobe including sweaters.

2. When did you begin publishing your designs?
My first published work was an article Knit In Blocks of Color - Without Bobbins with the subtitle Adding color, one block at a time, takes the headache out of intarsia knitting
in Threads #57 (March 1995) on the sliding loop. I was fortunate to get the cover photo and from there I started submitting designs to Knitter’s and teaching for Stitches.

3. What is your most favorite knitting (crocheting) technique?
I love intarsia. I love color. I find that playing with the color keeps my interest throughout a project, as I am eager to work trough the next color change. And for crochet I swear by the double crochet stitch.

4. When you are thinking about some new design, what inspires you the most?

I am ever conscious that each design has to have its own integrity—what it will be and how it will be used. I usually work best if I set parameters for myself.
Is it different every time?
It is different many times. I am inspired by everything and anything—it depends on what my goal is— magazine, personal, or gift.

A lot of the ideas come in dreams; my subconscious seems to have a way of solving dilemmas when all my senses have been quieted. I keep a sketchpad and crayons at my bedside to record those ideas. It isn’t unusual for me to be doodling in a meeting, at lunch, while watching television. If needles aren’t available a pen or pencil better be, and often those are the beginnings of the next design.

Could you give us some examples on inspiration for some of your designs?
The cover sweater of Threads #57 was based on a painting by Helen Hardin, I saw it for just a few seconds as I was delivering a package to a client’s home. The next morning I was sketching like a fool, the front was completed a couple days later. Photo by Yvonne Taylor.








The cover of Knitter’s #63 features designs using my Sliding Loop technique, and was inspired by Noro Kureon yarn and knew it would work with the sliding loop techniques.



A lot of the last few garments have been inspired by yarn.

5. What does your studio look like?
It is a bit of a shambles, with all the different things I do with fiber, there are on going projects setting around in wait. I am an avid collector of yarns, books, fabrics, and tools... need I say more?

6. What is your most favorite place to knit (crochet)?
I don’t really have a favorite place to knit. I knit everywhere, and whenever.

7. Do you spin your own yarn?
Yes, spinning is a true passion; I love making yarns that I cannot get from a commercial spinning company.

8. Do you belong to a knitting group?
I do not at the moment, but I am a board member for a Local Fiber Association that sponsors a gathering each year in South Dakota—North Country Fiber Fair.

9. Are you in touch with other designers and how do you communicate with the knitters who knit your designs?
Through the magazine, Stitches, and TNNA, I have regular contact with knitting teachers, designers, and students, readers and knitters throughout the whole knitting spectrum.

10. Where can we see your published designs?
My work has been seen in Knitter’s Magazine for the last 10 years. Before that I had a few designs in other publications and designed for a few yarn companies.
























11. Do you teach classes? If yes, where do you teach?
I teach a bit for TNNA (trade), at Stitches ETC, and I also teach for the Local Fiber Association

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?
Most of my designs have a twist that makes them a little different, but the detail is explained and pretty much accessible to most knitters. All it takes is a bit of trust and adventure.
13. What are your plans in the near future?
There is a lot going on in our offices, but nothing I care to share at the moment.

14. Can you share with us some of your latest designs?

Watch for the summer issue of Knitter’s, there are a couple of fun projects that are developed from the same stitch pattern, you would never know it as the two silhouettes and final fabrics are so different.

15. Would you like to add anything about yourself?
I don’t think so…did I leave something unanswered?

Photos are courtesy of Knitter's Magazine, photographed by Alexis Xenakis.

FG: Rick, thank you very much for letting us see your designer's point of view and what is behind your beautiful creations. It is very clear that each of these pieces are labor of love and it took a lot of talent, taste, planning, sketching, choosing the right color, using the right technique and many hours of knitting and writing. I am looking forward to many more of your designs. They inspire others and show the possibilities that one can see and from which we all learn. Thank you.

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