It depends on whether I start with an idea like ‘a sock with cables that wrap around the foot’ or if I’m starting with a theme like my Agatha Christie series of designs. But stitch dictionaries are key. I browse through them looking for something that jumps out at me. Then I sketch things out, do some math based on what sizes I’ll need to include. Then it’s time for a prototype. That’s where I work out any sizing/shaping issues. For socks I’ve often done one toe up and one cuff down to make sure the design works both ways.
I love that moment when an idea comes to life in knitting the sample. I studied English Lit in university so for me, it’s often about the story or the symbolism behind the design.
My least favorite part is actually revising the pattern. I’m a big picture kind of person, so going over the pattern multiple times myself, with test knitters and with my technical editor gets tedious. But it’s necessary because I want the finished product to be as enjoyable for knitters as it is for me.
Where do you find inspiration for new designs?
Inspiration can come from anywhere. I’ve been inspired by nature, architecture, the pattern on a hotel bedspread, and a pair of gloves knit by my great-grandmother. Or, I start with a skein of yarn and start imagining what pattern would suit it best: something organic (leaves, curves) or structured (cables, angles). When I design for yarn clubs, the club theme is the stepping off point for inspiration.
I see many of your designs use cable stitch patterns, is that your favorite type of technique?
Absolutely. I love cables and twisted stitches. They just look so luxurious to me.
Do you have any tips for knitters that are just starting to venture into cable patterns?
Just the same tip as for any new technique: Don’t be afraid. It’s only 1 stitch at a time. And practice. It might feel awkward at first, but if you keep practicing you’ll build up the muscle memory and you’ll start seeing how the stitches relate to each other and turn into the finished pattern. And once you get comfortable with the technique you’ll be able to spot mistakes and be able to fix them.
Learning to cable without a needle has been such a big help too. For that, pointy needles are the key!
What is your favorite type of project to knit?
I’d have to say socks. Mostly because they only require 1 skein and they’re portable. I tend to be monochromatic in my clothing color choices, so sock yarn lets me play with color.
What has been your most popular GAL pattern?
This year I have more hat and mitt patterns, which tend to be more popular during the GAL since they’re faster knits than socks. But really, it’s difficult to pin down which one is most popular. They’re all getting an equal share of the love.
Will you be publishing any new designs during the GAL?
No. I made a conscious decision to leave November and December free for me to participate in the GAL both as a moderator and as a knitter. Seeing all those designs knit up in different yarns is so inspiring that I wanted to give myself time to support other designers and knit their designs.
Do you have any designing or knitting goals for 2015?
I do have an idea I’m prototyping for something that would be more of an e-book. It’s not a single design, but a cohesive group of designs. It’s stretching my skill set, so I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to release it. I’m very excited about the idea, which I haven’t really seen done before. We’ll see if it works out!
Many thanks to Maureen for sharing some of her thoughts on designing. I hope everyone is enjoying the Gift-A-Long!!