Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Featured designer - Jenna Swanson

It's been a while since my first featured knitter article but this time I bring you an up-and-coming designer from Texas. Jenna's Tadpole socks caught my eye on Ravelry a few months back - I thought they'd be a perfect design for Skein Queen Squash, Exquisite or Encore - so she kindly said that I could print out the pattern and hand it out at forthcoming shows. Alternatively, you can download it for free on Ravelry or directly from her design blog listed below.

Tadpole socks by Jenna Swanson

What’s your favourite way of working with fibre? Knitting, crochet, spinning…?

I am definitely a capital K Knitter. I started out crocheting, but it just didn’t ‘click’. Once I got the needles in my hands, it was like a lightbulb went off. I think my hands were meant to knit. That said, I’d love to learn to spin properly. I have a starter spindle and was able to rent a wheel once. I enjoyed the process a lot, but could definitely benefit from classes and practice.

How many years have you been knitting and when did you start?

I started knitting in January of 2005. The previous December, I sat watching my mother-in-law knit socks. I was entranced with the spiral and it really didn’t look that hard. She taught me the basics, how to cast on, knit, and purl, but by the time I got back home, I’d forgotten. So I got a book from the library and checked out a few websites. After I realized I was knitting through the back loops, my knitting and I were inseparable.

How did you come up with the design for Tadpole socks? What was the inspiration and how did you go about it?

I had a vision in my head of something ‘swirly’, but I didn’t want to mess with cables or a heavy lace pattern. The design evolved from there. I kept the back of the leg in stockinette purely because I wanted to knit them up quickly, as it was Christmastime and I still had most of a sweater and another pair of socks to knit. :-) I prefer a chart, but I know many people hate them, so I offered both. For some reason, top down socks go more quickly for me than toe-up, so I tend to gravitate towards those constructions.

What’s your favourite sock yarn base?

I love a base with a good twist. If I know I’m going to be knitting a heavy-use sock or socks for my husband, I tend to pick something that has a bit of nylon in it. If I want something pretty, that I know will be hand-washed, and worn gently, the sky is the limit.

There seems to be a trend to semi-solid colourways - are you a semi-solid or a colours-as-they-come kind of a gal?

I think that for design purposes, it is definitely easier to use a semi-solid colorway. But the knitter in me loves all sorts of colour combinations.

Which colours do you prefer? Deep and rich or pale and pastel? Any specific colour?

I gravitate towards the feeling I get when I look at a particular colour, if that makes any sense. So colours seem happy, some calming, others exciting. Some just say, “Take me home right now, don’t worry about what you might make with me!” I think of knitting as an adventure, so the yarn has to be able to take me on a journey. Taking a look at my yarn pile, it seems that I pick greens, purples, pinks, and blues if I’m knitting for myself.

What are your aspirations as a designer? Have you any plans for future projects that you could let us in on?

My ultimate goal is to try to provide knitters with nice, error-free, intermediate difficulty patterns. When I was a new sock knitter it seemed like there was a gap between plain socks and heavily patterned socks. At the time I wasn’t sure that I wanted to dive right in to a complicated lace or cable pattern, so I filled my time knitting other things and building up my knitterly skills. So, I’m hoping that my patterns can bridge the gap.

I do have a new sock design I’m working on. Think swirly.

Do you have a blog?

I do, but as a warning, I don’t update it much. It's gidgettm.wordpress.com

I’ve also started a blog for my designs. It can be found at blackswandesigns.wordpress.com

Anything else you’d like to tell us about?

When I’m not knitting, I’m usually running after my one-year-old, spending time with my husband, or cooking/baking. Come July, I’ll be embarking on a cross-country move. So, if you have helpful hints for travelling with a toddler, please pass them on!

1 comment:

valli said...

Hi - Im not much of a sock knitter - i think ive made 3 pairs in total - but those tadpole socks rock and im definitely going to download that pattern and beg my sock knitting friend to make them for me ;)