Andi and I are part of several blogging groups on Ravelry. I love the simplicity of her blog’s design as well as the rich colors she uses in her knitting. It seems like she can whip up a full sized cardigan in under a week! Her blog is called Untangling Knots and she can be found on Ravelry as TheAndiPants.
Tell me a little about yourself. What crafts do you typically do? Did anyone teach you?
I am a knitter! Well, if I’m honest, of the three crafts that I do the most (knitting, sewing, and crochet), knitting was the last one that I really got enthusiastic about. My mom sewed all the time when I was a kid and she frequently asked me to help out doing small things here and there when she was sewing for me for me. When I was in middle school, I started to get into more alternative fashion so I got interested in DIY. I did a lot of sewing when I was a preteen and a teenager, but that’s also when I started knitting. I knit a lot of garter stitch scarves during that phase. In High School a friend taught me to crochet and it was so easy that I felt brave enough to tackle crochet patterns. After that, knitting patterns didn’t seem so bad. When I got to University, I was going to school out of state so I couldn’t bring my sewing machine and I started to knit more and more. Knitting has sort of become my obsession.
What are your favorite things to make?
I like to make garments the most. There’s something extra special about clothing that is custom made. I’ve always had a difficult time shopping for clothes because fashion changes so rapidly and rarely hits on what I like. I mentioned that I go to school out of State and that really impacts what I make. I grew up in California and I never had a lot of clothing or accessories for cold weather other than ski gear. College has led me to live in places that are a bit chillier like Washington State and northern England so I knit a lot of woolly winter things like worsted weight cardigans to fill in those gaps in my wardrobe.
What are some of your favorite materials to work with?
Wool is my favorite to work with because it’s comfortable to wear in a variety of climates. I love alpaca for its softness, but it’s way too hot to wear when I go home for Christmas.
Not all of our projects turn out exactly as we intended. Tell me about some of your “ughs!”
I have this one cardigan (it’s called “Veronica” on Ravelry and my blog) and I had to fudge all this stuff to make it wearable. It was completely seamless, but I had to tack down the collar to make it behave. I think that is my weirdest “ugh” because I have no pictures of how it actually looks without my weird repair job so I get a lot of compliments on it and people tell me that I’m being too critical of my work.
This is one of her "ugh"s. I don't see anything "ugh"ly about it.
My worst “ugh” turned out to be oddly loved. My first sweater was a complete disaster. It was way too small for me and had twisted stitches. I thought it was completely unwearable, but I showed it to a friend and she fell in love with it. I sewed on some hilariously tacky mismatched buttons like a dinosaur button and some fish and gave it to her. I guess she still wears it all the time. She lets me know via Facebook every time someone compliments it. I like that it got a second chance at life.
That’s so funny! It’s kind of nice knowing that our handmade items, even the most poorly made can get a new lease on life. On that note, is there any material you refuse to work with?
I don’t like 100% synthetics for garments, but that’s a slightly irrational result of wearing a dress lined with polyester in the summer and getting heat stoke. Despite that, I think they’re good for a million other things. There are some yarns that I sort of fear like angora, but I’d be willing to try them. I can’t think of anything that I’d completely refuse to use if I could find the right project for it. Even fun fur has its place. It makes awesome knit or crocheted stuffed animals.
My personal favorite!
You also design a lot of your knitwear. With that must come tools. What’s in your tool box?
Post It notes and paper clips! I have the usual craft supplies, but I do a lot of craft work at my desk and I find myself using my office supplies a lot. I use paperclips as stitch markers and I chain them together to make row counters. I also use them to hold dropped stitches when I notice them. I use the Post It notes like you’d think. I take notes on them to keep track of things. I also use them to wind short bobbins of yarn if I have to frog color work. I write on the Post It was section the yarn is from and then I make it into a tube to wind the yarn around. It helps me make sure that I have the right length for the section when I knit it again.
That’s a great idea with the Post-Its. You say you work on your desk so I’m sure real estate is a premium in your home. If you won the lotto but could only spend the money on studio space, what would you include and how would it look?
I would get some standing height tables because I absolutely loved those when I volunteered in my University’s costume shop for a semester. They kept me on task and active. I’d also get a really good sound system and a projector screen or a nice TV because I like having something else going on while I craft, even if I can’t pay much attention to it. As for how it’d look… It’d probably be a big white space because I’m terrible about decorating and I like the way light reflects off white. I’d have orange and lime green accents if I made a bit of an effort because I’ve been in that decorating rut since I was 12 and I see no reason to change.
Do you have any future projects planned?
I really want to put out a Living Dead themed pattern collection. I’ve got all of the intarsia charts drawn and I’ve sketched the designs. I’m just not sure if there is interest and I have to find the time to knit and write the patterns. I think my blog readers get that I like retro things, but I’m not sure if they’re aware of my love for B-horror. I’m a little bit worried that I’ll start working on the collection and everyone will be like “What the heck is this?!”
As one of your blog readers, I would love to knit up a Living Dead sweater. That gives me an idea to stitch up a pillow that says “They’re coming to get you Barbara”. Since I’m a new craft blogger, I’m always curious about what got other people in to blogging.
Waaaaaaaaaaay back in the day, my sister had an account on LiveJournal, as did a lot of people on a message board called Sheroes that we both belonged to. I wanted a blog because my sister had one. One of my friends on the message board gave me an invite code to LiveJournal and I made my first blog. It had a lot of posts devoted to internet quiz results and preteen drama, but that got me hooked on blogging. I kept my blog semi-private and around my freshmen year of college, I realized that I was posting mostly crafty content. My friends admired my work, but they weren’t crafters so they didn’t have much to say. I decided that it was time to start a new blog that was more public.
I still have a LiveJournal! I’ve had it now for 10 years. I’ve since made almost all of my high school entries private. They are too silly to let the public view them! Since you have a clearer idea about your blog’s “theme”, where do you see your blog going in the future?
I’m not entirely sure where my blog is going. At the moment, I can’t imagine ever not blogging, but I have no idea what will happen when I graduate from college and get a full time job. I’d like to think that I’ll continue to blog and become wildly popular, but I don’t make enough of an effort the way I blog now for that to happen and I’d be happy for my blog to carry on the way it is.
Since you’re a seasoned knitter, what are some notions no knitter should do with out?
A basic resource book is the most important thing that I can think of. I think a lot of knitters who started in the last 10 years think that they can get by using internet resources, but a good book like The Knitter’s Handbook is invaluable. There’s a lot of information that can get missed when you’re only working with snippets here and there on the internet. When I look something up in my books I don’t just get the information I’m looking for. There are always other details that help me understand what I’m doing and why instead of simply telling me how to do it. Plus, when I’m looking something specific up, I find a glossary to be a lot more concise than Google.
Glosseries and indexes make my inner librarian happy. I love to read and I’m constantly reading. Has your nose been buried in a book, crafting related or otherwise?
I’ve been reading a collection of late Victorian Gothic horror stories. It’s half for school and half for fun. I really enjoy Bram Stoker and Arthur Conan Doyle. I just read “The Case of Lady Sannox” and I love how simple but twisted it is.
I haven’t had a craft book to read in awhile because I’m studying abroad this year and only brought the absolute necessities with me which doesn’t include patterns. I’m really looking forward to this summer when I’ll be able to get my hands on A Stitch in Time Vol. 2. It’s a book of vintage patterns with both the original pattern and the pattern rewritten in modern terms. It has patterns from the 1930s to 1959 which makes me quite excited because it covers the decades in fashion that best suit my body type.
You mentioned you like having the TV on while you craft. Do you listen to music while you create? What’s been on your iPod lately?
I don’t listen to a lot of music when I craft. I tend to go with audio books or movies. When I do listen to music, it’s all over the place, but most of it would fall under the category of rock. I like The Horrorpops, No Doubt, Korn, Blink 182, Dick Dale & The Del Tones, Marylin Manson, Streetlight Manifesto, The Academy Is…, Glenn Miller, OK Go, Morningwood, Placebo, Metric, and Stray Cats. I’m sort of a terrible person to ask about music. Unless you’re specific about what you’re interested in, I always seem to give giant lists of things that don’t really relate.
If there was one piece of advice you could give to a newbie crafter, what would it be?
Try things. If the things you try suck, try something else. That method has never served me wrong. My other advice would be to not take things too seriously and don’t expect perfection from the very beginning.
I think that’s advice that all knitters and crafters can take to heart. Thanks again to Andi for the wonderful interview. If you’d like to be interviewed, email me at vanessa AT mixedmartialartsandcrafts DOT com.