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: Jessie McKitrick


Today’s first interview is with Canadian designer Jessie McKitrick, you can visit her blog here.

Jessie modeling the Starlet Stole

Jessie modeling the Starlet Stole

Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit?
I didn’t happen to know any knitters when I wanted to learn, so I taught myself to knit from books; however, I owe a debt of gratitude to my mom who is always crafting something. As I was growing up, this taught me by example that there’s always a way to sort out how to make something yourself, and that gave me the confidence to give it a try.

How did you get started designing?
I’ve always had a tendency to picture something I want to make in my head before I start looking for patterns or instructions, and so, whenever I have not been able to find quite exactly the right thing to fit that picture, I’ve turned to making it myself. Ravelry was full of amazing people sharing the patterns for the amazing things they had made, and so it was only natural to start sharing, and then eventually selling, a few things. More recently, I have started submitting patterns to third party publications, such as Knit Now Magazine, Knit Picks collections and Interweave Knits, and have been fortunate enough to have patterns published with them.

What inspires your designs?
Whimsy, colour, and shapes. I love the mood boards that are often included with calls for submission, and enjoy trying to see what I can come up with for them; it’s a fun part of the collaboration!

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
I can approach a design from either direction, but on balance, I would say inspiration.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
Wool is definitely high in my priorities; I love working with and wearing it as it has so many great qualities! I have a tendency towards fitted garments in lighter weight yarns, and towards including graphic elements such as colourwork, cables, or texture that I find visually striking.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
Definitely colourwork mittens. For such a small canvas, there are so many possibilities and so many colours to work with!

Tell me about your mitten designs, what was the inspiration for this collection?
My first mitten design “Madison’s Marvellous Mobile Mittens” were the result of a commission for a friend who wanted to text while keeping her hands warm. Popinjays are inspired by a detail from some Italian fabric from the 14th Century that I found in a book while I was looking for neat ideas for a pair of handwarmers. My mother-in-law is very fond of penguins, so I originally had her in mind when charting the Penguin mittens, but in the end, my youngest needed a new pair much sooner, so I re-worked the chart for kid-sized mittens. Floral Heart Mittens“>Floral Heart Mittens and Lily mittens both arose from a few sessions where I played around with traditional Nordic motifs, and re-interpreted them in my own way. When I’m charting mittens, hours can go by without my noticing, as it’s very engrossing watching the motifs evolve while being moved around, changed to different sizes, and combined in different ways.

Do you have an aspirational knit – a complicated/challenging design that you want to knit “some day” when you feel ready?
I think I’d like to design and knit a traditional-style Fair Isle jumper or vest someday.

What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?
At the moment I’m at the waiting stage for hearing back about some third party submissions, but I’m also in the early stages of working on a new pair of colourwork mittens, as well as swatching some sweater ideas.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
Ooo, that’s a tough one… If I pick Jamieson and Smith 2-ply Jumper Weight, can I have all the colours?

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
I’d have to say Irish Cowboy, which is a cowl/neckwarmer that doesn’t seem to have attracted much notice overall. It’s warm and cozy, it has cashmere, it has cables, and it’s a nice little knit. I wear mine all the time in the winter (so, November through May), and find it quite practical when I wear it with my V-neck coat as it doesn’t leave a gap the way scarves tend to do.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Swatches aren’t just for gauge; they’re also for trying new things. If there’s something you really want to make, but it has a new skill involved that you’re not sure of, use swatching as an opportunity to try out the new skill. Swatches are great to test out different sorts of increases, decreases, seaming, steeking, colourwork, cables, lace, or any other thing you want to try or to practice more. Also, do still swatch for gauge!

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
For designing, I think I should pick something from my “I’m not ready for ‘x’ yet” list of business development, and either get myself ready, or just give it a go whether I feel ready or not. Sometimes that is the best way, as I might never actually feel ready! Knitwise, I always make my first knitting of the year something for myself, whether it is to start something new or to finish something that is languishing in hibernation.

If you could have dinner with one knitting designer (living or dead) who would it be and why?
Another tricky one! I had a lot of designers come to mind, but in the end I picked Kate Atherley, partly because of the depth of her technical knowledge and interest in improving the clarity of knitting patterns, partly because she is working on a book of mitten designs, but also because I am sure (based on following her on Twitter) that she would be entertaining company and would probably also bring ice-cream for dessert if I asked nicely!

View all of Jessie’s patterns here. Popinjays photo copyright Beverly Feddema. All other photos copyright Jessie McKitrick. All images used by permission.

You can find Jessie 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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