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Interview: Triona Murphy

November24

Interview # 8 of the design interviews is with Triona Murphy, of Triona Murphy patterns for handknitting.

Triona Murphy

Triona modeling Land Under Wave Hat

Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit?
When I was about 20, a friend of mine stayed at my house for a while and left a “How to Knit” kit behind. It included a video (on VHS—yikes!), a skein of squeaky acrylic yarn, and a set of horrible, incredibly blunt metal needles. Out of curiosity and boredom, I popped in the video one day and was immediately hooked by the challenge of learning the stitches. I found knittinghelp.com and the old Knittyboards pretty quickly, and everything beyond simple knitting and purling I learned from those websites or from library books.

How did you get started designing?
I purchased a sweater on a trip to Paris and wore it to death after I got home. While I loved it, there were all these things I wanted to change. It was boxy with no waist shaping, had an unflattering neckline, and the cables were all out of proportion. So I decided to design my own version with all of those details fixed. When I posted it to my Ravelry project page, a whole bunch of people said they would purchase a pattern for that sweater, which surprised the heck out of me! But I had just left my job and had some time on my hands, so I studied every pattern I could get my hands on and then gave it a shot. That sweater (Chandail) is still my most popular pattern to date!

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
Before I started designing, I had a hard time finding garment patterns that flattered my large chest and smaller waist. All of my garment patterns are designed to be flattering to this body type (without needing custom solutions like short-row bust darts). I also try to size my patterns as far up and down as is feasible because I hate excluding anyone.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
While I love designing woolly sweaters, I haven’t had as much time recently due to having my first child last year. So my current favorite is hats! They’re really quick and a great canvas for fun colorwork or intricate cables. I love wearing the finished objects when the temperature drops outside.

Tell me about “Babe in the Woods”, what is the story behind this collection?
This collection was designed in collaboration with the Malabrigo Freelance Pattern Project. Their superwash yarns are some of my absolute favorites, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity. Because my design time is limited with the little one, I knew I needed to keep my collection to small items—and with my ready-made model, a baby/child collection of mostly accessories in mostly bulky yarn made sense!

My son, who was only about 8 months old when we did the photo shoot, was such a trooper! He has now modeled about a dozen of my designs and is getting really good at it. :-)

What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?
I just finished up an extensive test knit for a nautical-themed baby/child pullover, and next on deck for pattern writing is a cabled vest for the same age group. On my needles, I currently have an Aran-style, dolman-sleeved adult pullover.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
Oh boy, this is a tough one. My favorite yarns are hand-dyed in semi-solid colorways, smoothly spun, and bouncy. Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage and Malabrigo Yarn Rios are both definitely up there. I just released a hat design in Frabjous Fibers March Hare, a new yarn to me that I really enjoyed working with—hopefully I can do more with that yarn in the future!

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
The Aureate Scarf from the Babe in the Woods collection didn’t get a whole lot of love on its own, but my son wore it constantly last winter! It fastens with snaps into a sort of cravat shape, which fits perfectly into the top gap of a bulky winter coat and doesn’t leave any long ends that would be a strangulation hazard. Plus it’s mega-cute—my son got tons of compliments every time he wore it out somewhere.

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
This is pre-New Year, but I’d really like to try steeking during the Gift-A-Long this year. I’ve never tried the technique, but I love colorwork, so it seems like something I should have in my designer toolbox!

View all of Triona’s patterns here. All photos copyright Gavin Cahill except for the baby photos which are copyright Triona Murphy. All images used by permission.

You can find Triona 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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