Day 20, we’re getting so close to the end of Knitting Contrissmas! This means that I have fewer and fewer days to knit those beensy weensy gauge Fair Isle fingerless mitts too, sigh!
WINNER of Natalie Servant’s latest .pdf pattern, “Deco Raindrops” is CAROLYN!
Today we have the privilege of hanging out with Robyn Schrager, knitter, designer, yarn shop partner, magazine contributor and self-professed “pattern savant”. (Which I have tried when describing to her any pattern she always knows the title and designer!!!) You’ll love spending time with Robyn!
She is giving away a Kirkwood Knitery Tote Bag with patterns from the Overtures Collection as well as some yarny surprises! Yay! The random generator will choose a number from the comments at Midnight CST December 26th!
KC: Thanks so much Robyn for taking the time to hang out with us a little bit! You’re one of my favorite accomplished knitters, a generous and thoughtful teacher of knittery and crochetery, a LYS co-owner, a contributor to Creative Knitting Magazine and a designer making your mark in the yarn world! My first question is what is your favorite piece of the pie?
RS: How flattering it is to be included in this talented group! Thanks for thinking of me.
RS: Teaching is probably my favorite from the list above, specifically, I love it when the mantle of wisdom descends upon a student (a phrase from my old geometry teacher, Bill Marsoun), and she not only understands something new, but feels more empowered to unlock her own creativity. Too many women come into the shop believing themselves “too dumb” to calculate gauge, adjust a neckline, follow a chart, do cables or lace, etc. If even one woman feels better about herself when she leaves my class, then my day has been a success.
KC: Then of course, what are your tips to squeeze in more time to be creative? Especially now, we are all pushed to the limits trying to make time out of none—– any thoughts?
RS: I don’t waste time putting away laundry. I don’t play games online or on the phone. I try to only watch TV with a project in my hands.
KC: Your designs are growing in number (so exciting!) What was that path like?
RS: As far back as I can remember, I’ve never worked a pattern exactly as written, but I only recently considered that I was already “designing.” As my adaptations became more extensive I realized that I no longer needed the framework of a published pattern, but could start entirely from scratch by myself. It’s only been the last few years that I’ve been writing the designs so others could make them, too. Winning a design competition from Skacel Yarns (Cross Hatch Wrap) was the first step in considering myself as a professional. I’m fortunate to have Kirkwood Knittery to display my projects, and to stock such fabulous yarns.
KC: Do you have a favorite pattern you’ve created??? Or is that like choosing one child over another?
RS: I made a sweater for my step-mother’s birthday a few years ago (Not So Wicked Stepmother Sweater) which features a knitted bodice and a crocheted lace skirt, which is one of my favorites. It hasn’t been written yet, but I love the way it turned out. Clementine Cloche is my favorite hat, and I have a bolero pattern coming out as part of the spring collection of one of my favorite yarn companies (still a secret) which is my current favorite.
KC: What comes first the yarn or the pattern?
RS: Usually a stitch pattern, or shape or construction technique comes first, then I have the fun of choosing the perfect yarn to allow the pattern to take shape. Sometimes though, the yarn comes first, especially with a highly textured or mathematically dyed yarn.
KC: You are wonderfully creative and seemingly inspired by many things. Tell me, what does your process of inspiration look like?
RS: It begins with a purpose: class project, sample of a new yarn for sale, submission for publication, or purely personal for me. Then it involves a lot of stitchionary page-turning, followed by an incredible amount of swatching and frogging. Then there’s math and graph paper. Finally, there’s the knitting or crocheting, and the writing. In conclusion, there’s the celebratory libations.
KC: There are so many talented people in the world of knit and crochet— who is it that particularly inspires you?
RS: My Great Aunt Sarah (who recently died at age 100) taught me to knit and crochet, and was my greatest inspiration as a child. I still remember her beautiful work. Of course I am always inspired and awed by my talented business partner and design mentor, Brooke Nico. There are many more, too numerous to name without offending someone I inadvertently left out!
KC: Of your many accomplishments in 2011, which one stands out to you?
RS: I first dreamed of owning a yarn shop in the early 1980s, so becoming a partner in Kirkwood Knittery is truly a dream come true. The only thing that would make it better would be to find someone to pay me to watch soap operas and read cozy murder mysteries!
KC: Are you making any handmade gifts this year?
RS: A number of years ago we stopped giving gifts, and instead make charitable contributions, particularly in the arts in St. Louis.
KC: Do you read any blogs in the creative community?
RS: I often read specific blog entries when a friend directs me, and my Google Reader subscribes to about a dozen sites. The reality, however, is that I am not comfortable reading a screen for very long. My pleasure reading is all from actual books and magazines, and only my referential reading is primarily online. My New Year’s Resolution is to update my own blog more often – maybe this year I will really do it!
KC: You’re very active on Ravelry, what is your“name” there and how do you see Ravelry continuing to grow into a role as the place for knitters and crocheters?
RS: I am rms on Ravelry, one of my favorite time-sucking websites. I confess to being a ravelry heart-tart – I used to send thank you notes to everyone who added one of my projects to their faves. Now I simply revel in ravelry’s great gifts to stitchers everywhere. The community is always inspiring, and so generous with their time and expertise and good humor.
KC: You’re an avid knitter and crocheter—- is one more favored than the other?
RS: My time is filled approximately 2/3 knitting and 1/3 crocheting, but I prefer to crochet. Single crochet through the back loop is my calming, meditative activity – it never fails to restore my spirit.
KC: The past year has been a big one for you, what is coming in 2012? Please share with us some of your upcoming news!
RS: I’m afraid a lot of the highlights still are being kept secret. I am looking forward to traveling more, beginning with TNNA in Phoenix, and VK Live in New York City.
KC: What words do you have for your many fans in the world of all things YARN? For those knitters and crocheters who follow you (and are about to)?
RS: Always do a gauge swatch. Always work a selvedge edge. Get a comfortable, supportive chair. Get up out of the comfortable chair every 30 minutes to walk around and stretch. Be your own cheerleader, and don’t point out your stitching mistakes.
KC: You teach a wonderful class for beginning knitters, what advise do you have for knitters (beginning and otherwise) to stay on track and achieve success?
RS: You must practice every day until the muscle memory is fully developed. Then, choose projects you really want to do, in yarn you really want to work – if you don’t, you’ll never finish it. If you do, you’ll manage to acquire the necessary skills for success.
KC: Thanks so much Robyn, we look forward to the many exciting things that are coming your way in the next year!
Remember to comment by Midnight CST on December 26th to win a Kirkwood Knitery Tote Bag with patterns from the Overtures Collection as well as some yarny surprises!