Eclectic Closet Litblog, Book Reviews & Knitting Designs

A litblog dedicated to book reviews/recommendations, as well as literary and publishing news. Now enhanced with knitting designs.

Interview: Nancy Whitman


Today’s second interview is with Nancy Whitma,n knitting designer and owner of online yarn shop You can find her blog here.

Nancy modeling A New Slant

Nancy modeling A New Slant

Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit?
My paternal grandmother taught me to knit and crochet when I was 7 or 8 years old. I dabbled a bit with both until high school when I became serious about knitting.

How did you get started designing?
I probably spent about three decades doing lots of knitting, but rarely following a pattern. Even when I did use a pattern, I modified it quite a lot. I never thought of myself as a designer, just a knitter. When Ravelry came on the scene and I saw what other indie designers were doing, I realized I could as well.

What inspires your designs?
Everything and anything. It’s hard to know what will be inspirational. I have been inspired by art, architecture, a stitch pattern or a color. Just recently, I was inspired by a fellow Raveller’s avatar.

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
For me it is always the inspiration. Without it, I don’t create anything. No matter how much I love a yarn, the design inspiration must precede it.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
It changes over time. When I first started to publish patterns, I was doing more with lace. Recently I have been working with color blocking using modular garter stitch. I am always willing to try an interesting stitch pattern or fabric manipulating technique like I used in Rushmore Hat and Cowl or Ganz.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
This too changes over time. First it was socks because I was really into them at the time. For a long time I have been taken with shawls and the possibilities that open up with simple shaping.

Eden Prairie

Eden Prairie

Tell me about your designs inspired by stained glass, what is the story behind this inspiration?
Years ago, I studied stained glass. Once I was introduced to modular knitting, it seemed like the perfect construction method for knitted stained glass. I was googling stained glass images and came across this picture which gave birth to Eden Prairie:

Inspiration for Eden Prairie

Inspiration for Eden Prairie

Using some of the design elements of Eden Prairie, I came up with High Street Shawl. Whitman Sampler was an opportunity to use up leftovers while playing with the outlines of color-blocked shapes on a cowl. Piet on Point is inspired by the work of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. So it’s not stained glass inspired, but the look is the same as is the modular construction.

Mind Over Miter evolved out of the stained glass designs. It uses modular construction and borders surrounding different elements, but it uses stripes instead of color blocking and miters to move the stripes in a different way.

Do you have an aspirational knit – a complicated/challenging design that you want to knit “some day” when you feel ready?
Yes, I do. It’s a color-blocked shawl with an art deco feel. The color blocking is unlike anything I have done to date and it is posing a challenge in terms of construction and shaping of the color blocks. I think if it marinates for a while, I will figure out a solutions.

What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?
I have a design that is almost ready to be tested, but apart from that, there is no release queue. I am not a disciplined designer and don’t plan out my releases. I design what I am inspired to knit and so my process, which might not work for others, is pretty haphazard.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Epic Lattice Socks. I really thought it would be a hit. That’s probably because I loved them so much and wore them all the time. It just goes to show how hard it is to predict what will appeal to others. That is one of the reasons I design what I like and hope others like it as well.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Push the envelope in terms of skills. I have come across many knitters who stay within a narrow comfort zone, knitting one thing over and over, assuming they are not ready to move on. I led a sock knit along where the bulk of the knitters had only knitted stockinette socks. They thought the pattern for the knit along, socks with a repeat pattern, was too advanced for them. I promised that I would do whatever it took to get each of them to make the pair. It was really amazing to see their confidence grow and the designs they took on after completing their knit along socks. Nowadays there is so much support to be had just by going online. It seems a shame not to even try something new.

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
Not a one! Remember that I am not a disciplined designer so even if I made a resolution, I probably wouldn’t keep it.

If you could have dinner with one knitting designer (living or dead) who would it be and why?
Herbert Niebling, an amazing lace designer. It’s said that he could transfer say a floral image directly to a chart and have the design done at the same time. This is a pretty amazing skill. I would love the chance to speak with someone whose mind works that way.

View all of Nancy’s patterns here. All photos copyright Nancy Whitman. All images used by permission.

You can find Nancy on the following social media sites:

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!

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My Knitting Patterns

Audrey II

Angular Path Scarf

Cartouche Stole

Fossetta Cowl

Fossetta Hat

Sargaço Shawl

Whitman Hat

Every Which Way Cowl

Every Which Way Hat

Every Which Way Fingerless Mitts

Gothic Forest Scarf

Valencia Scarf

Branching Path Cowl

Flower Bell Stole

Whitman Cowl

New Tech Cowl

Vieux Carré Stole

Stacks Socks

Anna Perenna Shawlette

Taming of the Fox

Don't Ask Y

Cantilevering Leaves

Amplification Stole

Combs Cowl

Mindfulness Cowl

Tipsy Scarf

Gridwork Scarf
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