Description



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.

May 11, 2010

TODAY'S GUEST: EDIE ECKMAN

Edie Eckman is a well-known name in the fiber world. She is one of those people who can do it all and make it look very easy. She is a teacher, a writer, a knitting and crochet designer, and a technical editor. Edie teaches at Stitches, TNNA, guilds, and shops all over the country. On her website she says: "I love knitting AND crochet; please don't make me choose between them!" If you never took a class from Edie, do yourself a favor - take her class. I did. She is very organized, very logical, and a very knowledgeable teacher. The amount of publications that Edie has is an achievement on its own. Most of her books are reference books that you keep forever on your shelf. There are too many to mention here, so please go to Edie's website or to her Ravelry page to see the list. You will also see her numerous designs there. Here is the Santa Fe Shawl that was on a cover of the Interweave Crochet, summer 2008. Edie Eckman is also a terrific editor. I was fortunate to work with her for my designs for Claudia Hand Painted Yarns and let me tell you - she is great. I would love to work with her again. I can go on and on here, but I need to let you read her interview. So, here is Edie Eckman.

1. When did you start knitting (crocheting) and who taught you?
I was lucky enough to have a grandmother living with me when I was a child, and I learned to knit and to crochet from her. I think I was around 6 years old when I started knitting; I remember the first scarf I knit for my father was a wobbly striped affair that was about 4" wide and 20" long.

2. When did you begin publishing your designs?
My first design was published in about 1996.

3. What is your most favorite knitting (crocheting) technique?
Oh, what a difficult question! I end up having new favorites as I concentrate on different things. Lately I've been doing a lot of playing with 3-D embellished crochet fabric. In knitting, I take great pleasure in learning—or figuring out—tidy little techniques that improve the look of the finished piece.

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 tend to design on the needles/hook, so I never know exactly what's going to happen when I pick up the yarn. However, I love to go to art museums and galleries, and I tend to be inspired by textures in everyday things. Once when I was on a vacation in San Diego with my family, I came out of the public restroom and asked my husband for the camera. I needed to photograph the lovely mosaic tile on the floor of the bathroom. As a matter of fact, I realize that most of my vacation photos are as likely to be closeups of interesting textures and colors as they are of people!

5. What does your studio look like?
I'm extremely lucky to have a studio with windows on three sides for plenty of sunshine and a view of my backyard. I've got filing cabinets and cubbyholes and bookshelves which are reasonably well organized. Here are a few pictures, taken right after I did a major cabin-fever-induced cleanup this winter. (Note the record snowfall!)
I should admit that, although I am extremely organized in my personal and professional life, “organized” does not mean “tidy”. The level of tidiness seen in the photos is not typical of what my studio looks like all the time. At any given moment, I’m likely to have several works-in-progress/magazines/sketches/swatches scattered over any available flat surface, including the floor. In addition, in my basement I have plastic bins full of yarn; I’d tell you how many, but I don’t really want to know myself.

6. What is your most favorite place to knit (crochet)?

I like to sit on the love seat in my studio and look out the window and listen to a good audiobook. Alternately, I have a comfy spot on the couch in the den in front of the TV.

7. Do you spin your own yarn?

No, but I've considered it. I’m afraid to start because I’m afraid I’d like it too much. Then I’d have to find time for spinning and space for fleece. When you give a mouse a cookie…

8. Do you belong to a knitting group?

Not at this time. I have belonged to a group in the past, and from time to time I stop in at a local group.

9. Are you in touch with other designers and how do you communicate with the knitters who knit your designs?
I am in touch with many other designers; we see each other at various events, and I do tech editing, so I meet designers that way (virtually, at least). I always answer emails and queries sent to me at edie@edieeckman.com and through my website and I'm edieeckman on Ravelry.com.

10. Where can we see your published designs?
Lots of places! My newest book is Around the Corner Crochet Borders (Storey Publishing). The book includes 150 crocheted borders appropriate for knitted, crocheted or woven items. The instructions are written in both chart and text form, and each border is engineered to go around a 90-degree corner without a break in the design. I’m so excited to be offerring fiber artists a way to edge afghans and cardigans without having to figure out how to get that corner to lie flat!

Although it doesn’t contain patterns, The Crochet Answer Book is a good resource for answering those questions that you didn’t even know you have, and Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs is another of my recent books, loaded with motifs for afghans, garments, and other projects.

Some of my other designs include the Santa Fe Shawl (see photo above) that graced the cover of Interweave Crochet Summer 2008,
and the Painted Turtle Afghan in Interweave Crochet Winter 2009. Check out the free pattern for a fun spring wreath, cotton tank and tote at universalyarn.com. Thousands of knitters have been introduced to sock knitting through Learn to Knit Socks and How to Knit Socks: Three Methods Made Easy (both from DRG). You can also find my designs in many magazines, yarn company publications, and book collections.

11. Do you teach classes? If yes, where do you teach?
Yes, I teach at some of the national fiber events like Stitches, The Knit & Crochet Show, and The National Needlework Association. I also teach for yarn shops and guilds across the country. You can find my teaching schedule and a list of classes online.

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?
First of all, most of my designs are accessible to the knitter or crocheter with advanced beginner or intermediate skills, so they shouldn’t be too intimidated.

Having said that, I’m a firm believer in encouraging knitters and crocheters to attempt anything they want to stitch. Just because a project or technique may be beyond your current skill level, that’s no reason not to do it! Indeed, that may be just the encouragement you need to gain new skills. The more you know, the more you want to learn. Unless you do some research, you don’t even know what you don’t know! Take a class, go to your local yarn shop, ask a more experienced friend, buy books (or check them out from your library), and of course, search the internet. There are SO many ways to pick up new skills, there’s really no excuse not to be learning new things all the time.

Knitting and crocheting are supposed to be fun. There’s no room for fear!

13. What are your plans in the near future?

I’m going to spend some more time focusing on new designs. I’ll continue to teach and design for magazines and yarn companies, but I’m also starting to delve into self-publishing. And, of course, I’m always thinking about another book!

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

Seems I’ve been on kind of a scarf kick the past few weeks. I’m so completely addicted to the knitting rhythm that occurs with my ZigZag Eyelet Scarf that I can’t stop making them. Another easy-to-wear summer project is the Flower Frills Scarf. The linen content offers excellent drape and makes the scarf totally comfortable for a warm spring day.

15. Would you like to add anything about yourself?
I live in a beautiful part of the country, but I love to travel to new places and see new things and, of course, meet new people! I'm a live theater/music fan.

FG: Edie, thank you very much for such an informative interview. I know that this is just a very small portion of what you do, but it gives us a very good understanding of your work. Thank you for letting us see your great studio with a view of your yard covered in snow. What a cozy feeling it must be when you look out the window. This on its own can be an inspiration for a designer. Best of luck to you. I hope to work with you again in the near future and I will see you at TNNA.