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.
June 19, 2010
Below are the answers that Marie Grace provided for the Designer's Studio.
1. When did you start knitting (crocheting) and who taught you?
My great-aunt taught me to crochet when I was about 9 years old. I spent countless hours making little blankets and pillows for my dolls out of any scraps I could get my hands on. I didn’t learn to knit until I had kids of my own. Many people told me it was very difficult to learn to work with 2 needles after becoming so used to working with one hook but a friend showed me how to cast on, knit, and purl, and that was it. I’ve been knitting ever since. I do still crochet occasionally but mostly just small things or borders.
2. When did you begin publishing your designs?
In 2006, I believe.
3. What is your most favorite knitting (crocheting) technique?
I don’t really have a favorite. I like to do everything. Part of my drive to design is that I like to know how to do every technique I can figure out and to be able to choose what I want to do rather than limit myself to what I already know. I am fond of seamless knitting and particularly top-down raglans but I’ll just as easily work pieces that need seamed. I also enjoy color-work, textures and cables, and embroidery on knitting.
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?
Inspiration comes from different things. Sometimes its a yarn I want to use or a shape I doodled in my notebook. I do tend to be heavily influenced by classic and heirloom sewing styles as I’ve been sewing longer than I’ve been knitting and I’m very fond of heirloom sewing. The same shapes and details seen in heirloom sewing often surface in my knit designs.
My “Darling” pattern was inspired by the long wool coats I’ve seen that are to be worn over little girls dresses. I figured a knit wool coat was just a wonderful as a sewn wool coat and I took the opportunity to sneak in some embroidery.The idea for “Sparrow” came from a Japanese sewing book I have. I love that Japanese style sewing is so simple and understated. “Sparrow” is made from 2 simple pieces and seamed together just like the sewn version of a blouse I made for my daughter. I added the texture to the upper portion to help carry a very basic design a little further.5. What does your studio look like?
I don’t actually have a studio. I have book shelves and storage bins in several places throughout the house. I keep my favorite books and my design notebooks and binders on the main shelves in the living room along with yarns I’m working with at the moment. More yarn (and fabric) is stored in cabinets downstairs. My laptop makes it possible for me to move around the house as need be but my usual place is the island in the kitchen.
6. What is your most favorite place to knit (crochet)?
I normally knit on the sofa but when the weather is nice I love to sit out on the deck.
7. Do you spin your own yarn?
Nope. The last thing I need is another craft to be distracted by.
8. Do you belong to a knitting group?
Not on a formal basis. When we lived closer to the city I was a regular at the Knit Night at Colonial Yarn Shop. I do miss going to the group but I’m too much of a home-body to make the hour drive on a Friday night. Sometimes we get a small group together here at the local library and I’d like to see that become more of a regular thing.
9. Are you in touch with other designers and how do you communicate with the knitters who knit your designs?
I am a member of a few online groups of designers both on Ravelry and elsewhere. Knitters who knit my designs can find me on Ravelry and can also contact me directly by email or through my blog.
10. Where can we see your published designs?
My self-published designs can all be found on my blog. My Ravelry page lists all my designs including the ones seen in various publications such as Twist Collective and Living Crafts magazine.
11. Do you teach classes? If yes, where do you teach?
Right now my only students are kids in our local 4H group. We’re getting ready to start a new season as soon as school is out!
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?
Its a great time to be a knitter, even a newer knitter. There is more information available than ever. Books, blogs, online tutorials and message boards are all chock full of information and lessons to be learned. Furthermore, yarn is just yarn. It can be un-done and re-done and fiddled with and experimented with and after all that, its still just yarn. The world will not stop spinning if a knitter does something incorrectly with a strand of yarn. So many knitters are less than fond of swatching but really swatches are awesome learning tools. When trying to learn a new stitch or technique the best way to go about it is to make a sample swatch. It completely takes away all the stress of worrying about messing up a larger project. Once someone has gained a little confidence with a harmless swatch they can go on to tackle something more substantial.
13. What are your plans in the near future?
Right now my plan is to just keep working on the things I have in progress and see what happens. I like to feel like I’m always moving forward so I have a few designs in progress all the time. Though I do set goals for myself I need to stay flexible. There’s a million things I’d like to do but my family takes a lot of time and energy. I’d like to eventually have the opportunity to publish a book and I’m moving toward that goal though there’s nothing definite at this time.
14. Can you share with us some of your latest designs?
So far this year I’ve released 3 new designs.
“Sparrow” as I mentioned earlier was inspired by a Japanese sewing pattern and is available in children’s sizes 2-12.
“Reese” is a top-down round yoke with color-work in sizes 2-12 and is great for boys and girls.
“Wintersweet” is a top-down raglan with a pretty collar and optional embroidery and is sized from 2-12.
You’ll also see some new designs in summer publications but you’ll have to wait for that.
15. Would you like to add anything about yourself?
Really, I just want people to know that I see myself more as a knitter than a designer. I love to communicate with other knitters and sewers especially but often feel intimidated around other designers. I get a knot in my gut every time I release a new pattern or send a submission to a magazine. I like to answer questions and write tutorials and share ideas. I like to see what others are knitting whether its one of my designs or not. I love to see knitters and crafters try new things and succeed.
FG: Thank you, Marie Grace and good luck to you. You have such beautiful kids and we can see that they enjoy modeling for you as much as you enjoy designing for them and other kids.