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Interview:Åsa Söderman


Today’s second interview is with Swedish designer Åsa Söderman of Åsa Tricosa.

Åsa Söderman

Åsa Söderman

Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit?
I would love to say it was my dad, but that’d be a lie! Like most knitters I know I learned from my very patient and skilled grandmother, Itti. She was a stickler for detail. As am I. Oddly, for I’m messy and chaotic about everything else.

How did you get started designing?
I think I’ve never not designed – I always thought it was a good idea to cast on and wing it. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t. In seventh grade or so, I remember knitting and selling a striped mitten for a schoolmate who liked mine. I think I asked $1 for the pair… Anyway, most knitters I know are designers in that they like me invent and modify and find or come up with solutions to certain problems or non-pretty aspects of something we’re knitting. The main difference for me is that now those inventions and solutions have to be put clearly on paper and worked out for sizes other than my own. I like explaining things well. I dream of charts and how to better get something across.

What inspires your designs?
Me! By that I mean, I almost always knit things I’d like to wear, except for the kiddo stuff –but really, I’d like to wear those designs, too.

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
Tough question. That varies. I think it usually starts with a shape or an idea of a design, then I look for a suitable yarn. However, once I’ve started knitting with a yarn it usually inspires new ideas or variations on a theme I’ve already begun to play with. This is true for all my favourite yarns, come to think of it.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
Clever bits. I mean, unexpected solutions to avoid seaming and ends to weave in. I also care much about finely finished details (buttonbands, pockets, edgings) that are usually worked along the way so that there is no particular finishing left to do when I cast off.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
Gloves. No, wait! Ziggurat sweaters. No, wait! Ziggurat cardigans. Oh, but shawls! No, socks! (I haven’t yet, but I’m sure I will.) I think any knitted item inspires me. Especially if I can invent or come up with a clever way of doing something that creates a bit of extra knitting fun or a shape or detail that pleases.

Tell me about “Sister Syster”, what was the inspiration for this piece?
The yarn, Eden Cottage Yarns Milburn 4ply, and an occasion, the Unwind Brighton yarn festival.
I used to live in Sussex and often walked (rambled, as they say over there) on top of The Seven Sisters; seven domed chalk cliffs that easily rival the cliffs of Dover. In fact Sister Syster doesn’t’ look much like the shawl I had started to sketch and imagined – with different textures for the sea, a shoreline, the pebbly beaches characteristic of Brighton and Eastbourne, the undulating chalky Seven Sisters. That’s often how it goes… Perhaps the shawl is also a small lament over not being very close to my own syster (Swedish for sister) – the cables go in opposite directions and not quite in harmony but are connected by a textured fabric that reaches out and across.

Do you have an aspirational knit – a complicated/challenging design that you want to knit “some day” when you feel ready?
Hm. No, I don’t think I do. Bring it all on! Actually, I’m working on a Ziggurat with all over cables, no plain or textured panels in which to add stitches for the range of sizes. Given the ziggurat zigging and zagging while setting up the shoulders and sleeve caps, this is decidedly a challenge. I may have to succumb to panels. Or just one size (namely, mine)…

What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?
I’m trying to put all my focus into designs and knitting for my Ziggurat Book. But of course I can’t stay completely on track… so I have:

  • Mio, a funky and fun glove. It may already have gone public when you post this. It’s one of the most expensive designs I’ve put out, given how much editing and time has gone into it. And this even though I gave up (for now) on the idea of providing instructions for both top down and bottom up versions. Haha, it’s 18 pages just for the bottom up (anyone knitting from charts will need to print only 4 pages, but still!). Only charted instructions for gloves from here on!
  • This sweater.
  • A shawl in collaboration with Purlescence for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
That seems to change… but if I can choose only one I’d have to choose one that is versatile for all sorts of projects, sweaters, gloves, shawls, hats… and then it has to be Wollmeise Pure. And I’m not saying that only because we have an ongoing collaboration! Wollmeise inspired some of my earliest (and best) designs and still does.

If you had asked me which yarn for my last project ever, you know like a last supper before I died or was killed, the answer would probably be different.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Tanjong Pagar! I always get compliments when wearing it as it wraps and sits so nicely, and I wear it all the time. My mum has her beady eye on mine so I’ll have to knit her one, I think…

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Knit with abandon!

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
Nope, none.

If you could have dinner with one knitting designer (living or dead) who would it be and why?
Nina Machlin Dayton (ninaknits) – for so many reasons. I just would love to hang out with this generous artistic knitter, reader, crafter, artist (and singer!). I’ve only met her online so far, but I know she’s likely to suggest some interesting eatery and food. She is inspiring not least by how much she gives back to the knitting and design community — and as the major domo of the Indie Gift-A-Long she’s the reason you invited me to chat here, too! I’ll raise a glass to her and the GAL this evening! Cheers & thank you, Nina!

Thanks for inviting me to chat (aka talk endlessly about myself…) with you, Janelle!

View all of Åsa’s patterns here. All photos copyright Åsa Söderman. All images used by permission.

You can find Åsa 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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