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 30, 2011
On a personal note, this photo of Linda is saying it all. She is very friendly, upbeat and interesting as a person. When you talk to her, you know that she has so many ideas and interests that this is just a beginning of her professional life as a designer. I can't wait to see what she does next. I participated in the blog tour for her new book Little Crochet , so you can see the book review on At First Glance.
I AM DOING A GIVEAWAY FOR THIS BOOK. Thank you to Linda Permann and The Crown Publishing Group for providing a copy of the book for it. Read here about the terms how to win it.
1. When did you start knitting (crocheting) and who taught you?
My very first experience with crochet was as a little girl, when my grandma taught me to make chains. I remember making lots of chains but never going any further with it. I then taught myself to crochet around 2001. I was living in NYC and just amazed at the amount of free time I had since I was done with school, and I was also cold, so I wanted to find a hobby that would solve both of those problems. I went to the Knit Out but decided I would learn to crochet, I guess because I figured I had a head start with the chains!
2. When did you begin publishing your designs?
The first design I had published was in Debbie Stoller's Stitch and Bitch Crochet, which came out in 2006. Shortly after submitting that design, I was hired on at Soho Publishing, and started doing designs here and there for Knit 1, Crochet Today and Adorn magazines. I had to learn to write patterns so that they could use my designs--that was a challenge!
3. What is your most favorite knitting (crocheting) technique?
I really like to play with post stitches and textures, which you can see in some of my designs, like Petal Pouf, Artichoke Hat, and Blazing Cowl
I wish more publishers went for more complicated designs and crochet diagrams (as they are kind of essential to these types of designs), but, I really enjoy employing them when I can!
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?
It really depends, but most of the time it is all about the yarn! It's "what can I do with this yarn that would show it off, create a fun texture, and be fun to make?". If I have (or am given) a basic idea--i.e. design a hat--that makes it much easier for me but generally I swatch and play and let the stitch pattern tell me what it wants to be. I design very organically--I don't do a lot of sketching or planning (although I am trying to be better at that), I have to see what happens when I actually make the stitches. Color is very inspirational to me as well, I love to play with color combinations when I can. People tell me that they have a hard time picking colors that go together--I have the reverse problem, I can never pick just one color! That's what I like about crochet, it is pretty easy to change colors every row, or even every stitch, if you want to.
5. What does your studio look like?
My studio is a bedroom in my house that contains a couch, bookshelves, sewing table, desk and a whole lot of yarn. I end up doing a lot of the actual crocheting in the living room in the evenings, though, but the pattern writing happens in the studio. It's very colorful and bright, I try to keep the space cheery and inspiring.
A lot of times it becomes a gigantic mess (for instance the couch is covered in yarn right now), so thank goodness for cropping and selective photography. I wouldn't want to spoil anyone's glamorous ideas.
6. What is your most favorite place to knit (crochet)?
I keep it simple and knit and crochet in my living room. My WIPs (work in progress projects - FG) are all there, and my boyfriend doesn't complain about all of the messy tangles I leave hanging around. I learned in art school that it's very important for me to be able to leave my projects out if I actually want to finish them. I love how immediate getting started can be with yarn crafts, it's so easy to do it anywhere.
7. Do you spin your own yarn?
I've only spun one skein on a drop spindle, which was a very enjoyable experience. I love that it really involved my whole body, playing the spindle like an instrument. That felt completely different than sitting and crocheting. I could see myself becoming very interested in spinning, so I have to restrain myself! When I lived in Montana I met some ladies who did the whole bit--raised their own sheep and used the wool to spin yarn; grew their own plants to dye it, and made their garments from start to finish. I admire that.
8. Do you belong to a knitting group?
I don't belong to a formal stitching group but I do have an tiny occasional craft night with two friends, which is lovely. I work at a yarn store and sometimes when the planets are aligned, all of my past students will come to sit and crochet on the same day that I work, and the store will be quiet so we can actually chat-- I love that.
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 other designers through twitter (follow me @lindamade) and TNNA-- it has really made a big difference for me to actually meet and be in touch with my peers, it makes it so much nicer to have someone that I can ask questions or complain with.
Ravelry.com (again, my username is lindamade). I strive to help anyone who has a problem with my patterns, and in the store I've walked people through so many different techniques and patterns that it's really a skill-building experience for me, too. So many of my students have told me that they are so happy to finally have someone to ask their questions. I think with knitting, there is a lot of help available in shops because most shop owners knit. But it's just been recently that the higher-end yarn industry has started paying attention to crocheters. There are so many of us! And all it takes is providing the same support that knitters get to woo those who hook. I love working at the shop and seeing all of the lovely creations (both knit and crochet) that people make with yarn.
10. Where can we see your published designs?
You can see my designs in my two books, Crochet Adorned: Reinvent Your Wardrobe with Crocheted Accents, Embellishments and Trims
and Little Crochet: Modern Designs for Babies and Toddlers
I also publish regularly in Crochet Today, Interweave Crochet and Inside Crochet, among others.The best place to find them all is on my Ravelry designer page.
11. Do you teach classes? If yes, where do you teach?
Yes- I teach in my LYS, Yarnivore every Saturday. I teach beginning classes and a lot of private lessons. It really keeps me in touch with what is hard for crocheters, which I try to keep in mind when I design. I like small class sizes and one-on-one teaching, it gives me time to get to know my students, work at their pace, and help them reach their crochet goals. One thing I really love about teaching crochet is that everyone comes in for a different reason, and a lot of times there is a life event going on (a new baby, a wedding, an illness) that inspires the person to crochet. I feel honored to be a part of helping people make gifts for these occasions.
12. What would you like to tell knitters who are timid and do not believe they are skillful enough to knit (crochet) some of your designs?
If you can read and follow directions, you can do almost anything! A lot of the things in my first book, Crochet Adorned, were actually designed with beginners in mind. Make a motif, an applique, a bowl, for your first project--it doesn't have to be a blanket that goes on and on forever. Depending on where the pattern is going, I strive to keep things simple so that crocheters can make classic item they can wear for a long time. To those knitters who are hesitant to add a new skill set to their repertoire, I say, give it a shot! It's so handy to know both crafts as there are definite strengths to each one. I love to knit too!
To those who are afraid to try more advanced designs-- you will never know if you can make them until you try! And you will never gain the skills unless you have the need to use them, so you might as well go out on a limb and see what happens. It's yarn, it's supposed to be fun, and you can always unravel it!
13. What are your plans in the near future?
Right now, just to keep on trucking! I'd love to keep creating beautiful crochet books, there are so many things I want to make! Of all of the ways I publish, I think writing books might be my favorite, because then I really have the freedom to choose my yarn, my design, my tech editor, etc. I also just want to keep pushing crochet to the limelight, I get a thrill from showing crocheters who wander into our shop just what they can do with their hooks--many of them have no idea that crochet has just as much potential for fancy footwork. I am happy to see so many modern crochet designs being published.
14. Can you share with us some of your latest designs?
My newest book, Little Crochet: Modern Designs for Babies and Toddlers (Potter Craft, 2011) is full of designs that are both classic and fun to make, with a colorful crafty twist. I like to throw layers of crafts in when I can, like simple embroidery or sewing techniques. I also recently designed a few of my first adult-size garments, which I am really excited about! One is a lacy motif-based cardigan that I think I will have to make for myself, and another is a summer tank. Both are coming soon to a crochet mag near you.
15. Would you like to add anything about yourself?
People always want to know how I got to where I am, so I'll give you the short version. I got my BA in Studio Art at UT Austin, and have always loved making things and playing with color. After college, I moved to NYC and worked as a temp, and a communications job at a drug company led me to a communications position at Newsweek magazine, which was good enough street cred for Soho Publishing to hire me. I didn't even know that jobs like "Craft and Decorating Editor" existed but when friends sent me the job posting two months in a row, I knew that it was meant for me. I really enjoyed my time working on first Joann magazine and then Adorn, but when I was ready to move on from NYC I knew I needed to keep a way to work in my field. My friend suggested I write a book and I just jumped in feet first--so far, so good! It's not always easy, but it is gratifying work, and I can do it from anywhere!