During the Gift-a-long I posted an interview with one of the other participants of the event and had a lot of fun. It got me to thinking that there are so very many interesting people in the knitting community that I should do more interviews. Then I got to thinking about who I should interview. The obvious thing to do would be other designers and dyers and so forth – which I totally plan to do – but it occurred to me that many of the people I would like to know more about are the knitters.
People like you, gentle reader. ;)
And immediately someone popped into my mind. You see, there is a wonderful knitter on Ravelry (who I have never actually met) who has made one of my patterns 10 times. She is the undisputed Queen of Mapes As someone who can barely manage to knit the same pattern twice (hence becoming a designer in the first place) I am completely floored by someone wanting to knit one of my patterns more than once. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.
Here are 9 of the 10 Mapes
So I would like you to meet Judy (perseph43 on Ravelry). She graciously agreed to answer my nosey questions and I am super excited to share them with y’all. I did a bit of snooping on her Ravelry profile to develop some questions and she was kind enough to elaborate even more.
Before we get into the interview, here is a little background on Judy from Judy:
In my prior (to retirement) life I ran my own home based cottage industry business designing and manufacturing clothing for women’s specialty shops. I employed two full time seamstresses, several home based pieceworkers, and a sales rep. Our kids also worked on part of the process when the spirit moved them to do so. We had a big old house and the room to do this but most importantly, I was a stay-at-home-mom.
For fourteen years I had a quilting group of “old ladies” who came to our house every Thursday for the day. The youngest one was 74 when we began. As they became unable to drive a girlfriend and I would go around and pick them up. We made so many quilts – all hand pieced. We always had at least two quilts in the works – one on the table for quilting and one in pieces that the ladies would take home to work on. We took turns being the recipient of the finished quilts.
Everyone brought their own lunch including the two seamstresses upstairs – we all ate together and it was much fun. A side benefit of that quilting club is that my children enjoy and are comfortable with the elderly. Now that I’m in that category myself we are reaping some rewards – ha!
After the kids were grown and gone I designed and maintained websites for organizations and several businesses.
And now, the questions:
Q: Moving from Minnesota to New Mexico is a huge shift in culture and climate. What prompted you to make such a huge move and how much does where you live influence what you choose to knit (and knit with)?
A: What prompted us to move was Minnesota ice and the endless winters. Las Cruces is high desert at the foot of the Organ Mountains about 40 miles north of El Paso. We do have winter but the coldest it gets at night is perhaps 20 degrees. Beautiful bulky knits are not an option here, but mid-weight garments are perfect and those with a rustic flavor always get my attention.
Q: Looking through your projects, knitting something for yourself seems to be the exception among beautiful gifts. What are your favorite gifts to knit?
A: It’s getting harder and harder to part with my treasures but mitts, cowls and scarves are nice to have in my gift drawer. Shawls are good gifts but only if I am certain of color or shape for a particular recipient.
Q: Of course, the thing that brought you to my attention (among my nosey Ravelry snooping) is your apparent affection for my pattern Mapes. Why do you like this particular pattern?
A: Mapes! What can I say? It’s the perfect pattern and project. It is portable, easy enough that I can carry on conversation or follow a TV show and has such a relaxing rhythm to it that I’m always thinking of the next one while I knit. It curves around the shoulders and stays on! But also it’s a blank canvas –
Q: When I wrote Mapes it was with hope that people would find it easy to customize and make their own. You seem to have caught on to that intention. What are the modifications that you have made and which are your most successful? Is there anything you tried that just didn’t work?
Can you believe that ruffle?
A: I have added one extra stitch in the cast-on to give me an odd stitch count rather than even when I wanted to incorporate a centered pattern and this worked well. I tried to incorporate beads into that very pretty line of holes which start at the neck and wrap around over the shoulder and hang down the front. That was a flop but I’m still thinking about that one. It’s simmering on a back burner in my brain. (This is something that I had to make happen too, see Caladan).
Q: What are some of your other favorite patterns? (it is OK if they are from other designers)
A: Amiga by Mags Kandis. Amiga is another blank canvas open to all kinds of interpretation and I love it. Although it was written for flake cotton and summer it works equally well in heavier weight yarn for cooler weather. I love top-down cardigans because it’s so much easier to control the fit. You don’t finish all the knitting only to discover that the fit is horrible and fixing it would require massive frogging. (Except I managed to do just that on one top-down sweater)
Martina Behm’s 22.5 Degrees because the formula for the shaping renders a triangle shawl which is more shallow and longer.
Q: On your Ravelry profile you paint a lovely picture of knitting with your Grandmother and her friends, it sounds like a wonderful memory. Could you tell us about that here? And in this vein, have you taught (or considered teaching) any of your grandchildren to knit?
A: I was my grandma’s first grandchild and she called me Honey. So I, in turn, called HER Honey. The name stuck and all the future grandchildren called her Honey. What was so lovely about being with Honey and her friends was that I felt like a grown-up while I was with them. My verbal contributions to their conversation were accepted and the flow continued. We would have lunch on plates which also held a teacup and hold them in our lap.
I have six grandchildren – five boys and one girl. I taught one grandson to knit when he was about 8 or 9 and now he is a senior in high school. He is very creative and artistic so maybe knitting is something he will come back to later in his life. My granddaughter was not interested as a child but she says she has taken up knitting recently. She is back in Minnesota and maybe when we go back to our cabin next summer we can compare notes
Q: Finally, I am always curious how other Ravelers use Ravelry. What role does Ravelry play in your knitting life? Do you use it mostly for finding patterns, planning projects, keeping records? Do you make use of the social aspects of the site? What is your favorite feature?
A: I could not believe my good fortune when I stumbled upon Ravelry! I’m a ‘puter nerd and actually built several of my own in the nineties. So it took me no time at all to appreciate the complexity of the Ravelry site. What a resource! It’s wonderful to see what other knitters are creating and their interpretations of a pattern or their use of a particular yarn. It’s so stimulating – the brain cells feel like they’re statically charged! :) Keeping track of stash is wonderful – although, I confess to having some not listed. Being able to go back and see what size needle you used on a project or how many yards were used is priceless to me. I’m sometimes disappointed when people leave out some of the critical info on their project pages.
Another invaluable tool for me is the listing of my personal library. My goodness, to be able to get a look at all the cardigan patterns in my library and see what magazine or book they are located in? It boggles the mind
It never would have occurred to me without Ravelry to mix yarns to create unique fabrics. Now I love mixing yarns and kinds of fiber together. I like adding silk to a garment to get that lovely drape. Rayon does the same thing and I like adding that. When I invest in stash now it is with the idea that it will be blended with something else.
Oh – and let’s not forget dyeing! That too has become addictive – all the info you need right on Ravelry.
As suspected a fascinating person was behind all of that knitting. It is possible that knitters are the coolest people ever. I hope that y’all enjoyed this as much as I did, because I plan on more interviews. Is there any one in particular you would like to hear from? Feel free to comment away!