I had a thing for Fair Isle in my teens, and particularly the Nordic star motifs. My first design that I can remember was a pouch, perhaps 30×30 cm with a large Nordic star in white on a dark blue background. At the time I was in scouts, and I used pouches like this to pack various items in my gigantic backpack for hikes (shirts in one, socks and underwear in another, etc) so I could easily find what I was looking for.
How did you end up designing lace shawls?
I knit my first lace shawl in 2007, when a friend suggested I join a Mystery KAL (knitalong) hosted by Pink Lemon Twist. This turned out to be the Swan Lake Stole. I had a lot of fun during the KAL, and loved the format. When the KAL ended, I looked around for another one, but couldn’t find anything, so I decided to design my own and offer it as a mystery KAL. I thought I might be able to get 20 knitters or so that would be interested in a KAL by a complete unknown designer. That was Mystic Waters, and before I knew it, 1,400+ knitters worldwide had signed up to knit my lace shawl. The rest is history.
Ha ha. I do confess that I have always loved math. It’s so neat and structured, and there is always a right answer (or perhaps several). I have a BS in Computer Science with a concentration in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University, and I do like the applied math. Knitting, and in particular design work is very much applied math as well, and I really like that.
Well… yes. Or perhaps it’s that I ventured in to programming for the same reasons that I ventured into lace knitting – it’s all very logical, and also applied math. I think it all comes back to the math for me. Both programming and lace knitting also have a creative aspect, so really they have a lot in common.
Is lace knitting only for people who really, really like math?
No. We all think about things differently, and we can arrive at the same place by travelling many different paths. Math is an integral part of my design work, but I don’t expect every knitter to think about the math behind the design. And I don’t suppose that every designer out there structures their designs the same way as I do. To some extent, we do all use math while knitting (counting, calculating gauge, etc), but as soon as you mention “math” some people really shy away from whatever it is that you may be talking about. Math is not something to be afraid of, merely one tool (of many) that can come in handy while knitting and designing.
Can anyone become a lace knitter?
I think that anyone can become a lace knitter, as long as they have the desire to knit lace. Lace knitting is really no harder than anything else, as long as you take it one stitch at a time. There are knits and purls, yarn overs and a few different decreases. Occasionally some other stitches appear, but really, nothing is particularly difficult.
Hard to say. All of my experiences have helped make me the person I am today, and that, in turn, influences my design work. I do tend to draw a lot of design inspiration from nature, and both Sweden and Canada play a big part in that. At the same time, I also love a lot of literature, such as fairy tales, sagas and mythology, and since I’m an avid reader, there’s a wide assortment of stories to draw upon there.
Who is your target knitter (who do you want to buy the book)?
Lace knitters are eager to create something beautiful and unique, and many lace knitters like to customize their shawls – as a step towards designing their own. Taking that step to creating your own design seems to be hampered by a lack of understanding on how to shape the shawls, and the relationship between the lace pattern and the shape of the shawl. Shaping Shawls takes the adventurous knitter through the construction of triangular, rectangular and square lace shawls. It explains how the various shapes are constructed and provide a sample pattern to illustrate each type of construction. It also discusses some ways to expand on the basic construction to create visually interesting shawls that are different from many of the lace shawls available.
Since the book also contains a number of patterns used to illustrate the various constructions, it would also appeal to any lace knitter. But it will be of particular interest to those who wish to use the concepts learned to create their own designs.
I would love to design a couple of large afghans. But I would have to have a lot of knitting help, and of course the cost of yarn for all the samples would be a lot higher than the yarn for the shawls and fingerless mittens I’ve been publishing of late.