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Interview: Maureen Foulds


Today’s interview is with Canadian designer Maureen Foulds, best known for her sock designs.

Trellis & Coin

Trellis & Coin

How did you get started designing?
I published my first sock pattern in 2010. I had found a luscious skein of HandMaiden sock yarn in purple and wanted a pattern that would really show the yarn off. Nothing I saw on Ravelry felt right, so I came up with my own design Trellis & Coin.

Then in 2012 I started designing more seriously, struck by sudden inspiration. Knitters responded very enthusiastically to my designs so I was encouraged to continue.

What inspires your 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.

Blue Train Mystery

Blue Train Mystery

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
It really does vary with each design. For my second Agatha Christie collection, the Poirot series, it was definitely the yarn that came first. I visited the SweetGeorgia studio in Vancouver, BC and came away with over half a dozen skeins of their gorgeous sock yarns. So I decided to do a collection using entirely SweetGeorgia.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I try to design something that I would want to knit. Something which challenges my skills but isn’t too complicated. I try to balance new techniques with simplicity. In my collections I try to ensure there is a balance of ‘easier’ patterns and more challenging ones. I like to think of the collections as skill builders for less experienced sock knitters, while for more experienced knitters they’re a mix of lighter fare and really ‘meaty’ knits.

Nemesis Hat

Nemesis Hat

What is your favourite type of item to design?
Socks. Hands down. There are so many possibilities in that 1 skein of fingering weight yarn. So many colours to play with. A sock is basically the same construction no matter the pattern, but still has infinite possibilities. You can customize the cuff, the heel, the toe; knit it toe up or cuff down – all with the same basic design on the body of the sock.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
Ohhh! That’s a tough question. I don’t really have a favourite brand of yarn. I’ve been having so much fun exploring Indie Dyers over the past year or so and have found so many lovely yarns.

But any yarn I chose would have to have a tight twist, be superwash and a merino/nylon blend. And I very much prefer solids and semi-solids. I find that patterns tend to get lost in variegated yarn.

Flying Buttress socks

Flying Buttress socks

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
Socks for sure, usually a plain sock with ribbing, maybe a recurring simple 2×2 or 1×1 cable thrown in for fun.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Perhaps my Flying Buttress socks. These are fairly simple, with clean lines.

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
Well, I’ve made 3 Howlcat cowls by Alex Tinsley and 2 cowls from Andi Smith’s Synchronicity collection. Three of those cowls are gifts. And I really want to knit the Polonaise Cowl by Cristina Ghirlanda – those cables look so luscious!

Interrupted Swirl Hat

Interrupted Swirl Hat

Continental or English?
English. That’s how I was taught.

What’s the best thing about knitting?
You can either lose yourself in knitting and think of nothing at all. Or you can use that knitting time to think through whatever’s on your mind. It’s so relaxing. And at the end of it all, you have something useful!

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Nothing is ‘too difficult’. All knitting is done 1 stitch at a time. It’s just variations of knits and purls. Everyone is clumsy and gets frustrated when learning a new technique. It just takes patience, practice and determination.

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
I want to make time to knit more of other people’s designs. I think I need that downtime and exposure to different ideas to maintain and refresh my creativity.

View all of Maureen’s patterns here. All photos are copyright Maureen Foulds and used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

posted under interview, Knitting

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Audrey II

Angular Path Scarf

Cartouche Stole

Fossetta Cowl

Fossetta Hat

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Whitman Hat

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New Tech Cowl

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Stacks Socks

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Taming of the Fox

Don't Ask Y

Cantilevering Leaves

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