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: Nidhi Kansal


Today’s second interview is with designer Nidhi Kansal, from Mumbai, India. You can find her blog here.

Nidhi, modeling Daisies in Pearl

Nidhi, modeling Daisies in Pearl

Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit?
My earliest memory of knitting is of a summer vacation when I was very young. My mother used wool from some DIY kit lying around, took off the flags from the ends of two flag sticks, sat me down and taught me to knit and purl.

I only remember making a long and narrow brown rectangular band that vacation. It was many years later, after I took up a job, when I saw someone on a bus knitting a sweater and I suddenly felt the urge to learn again. The internet then played a major role in my knitting lessons, right from patterns to tutorials / online classes and eventually Ravelry.

How did you get started designing?
I live in Mumbai, India where we get about 2 months of ‘cold’ weather and the temperature rarely drops below 15 deg C even then. But I’ve always loved knitwear and carry a cardigan or jacket along with me at the slightest hint of a drop in temperature.

So I think it all started with modifications to existing patterns due to the climate I live in. I found that most of the Ravelry patterns I liked were made in dk / 8 ply or thicker weight yarns which would not work here at all.

My first mod was of a tunic pattern written for dk weight but I used light fingering weight. It involved a lot of math due to change in gauge but I was so proud of the final outcome.

I modded a few more patterns after that, one of them being Wilde by Melissa of the Plum Dandi group, a super bulky weight cardigan that I converted into sport weight.

That’s when I found out that my love of math was rearing its head again and I was open to experimenting with numbers and maybe head out on my own without the comfort of a written pattern.

I started out with smaller projects though, it took me a while to summon the courage to design a sweater and not only write the pattern but also grade it.

What inspires your designs?
Apart from the warm climate, it could be a stitch pattern that I see somewhere, or even parts of a very elaborate stitch pattern. Also, the cuts and styles that traditional Indian clothes, like a kurta might have.

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
Since I don’t have the luxury of walk-in yarn stores, and shipping can be quite steep, it is very rare that I buy yarn without a design in mind. I find I have almost zero stash most times, except for leftovers from previous projects. I find that once I have a basic plan in place, I can make a purchase more easily, hence inspiration first at most times.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I like them simple, I like straight lines and symmetry. I almost always have a stitch pattern or colorwork going on to simply tackle the monotony of endless stockinette. And I love the stockinette stitch because it keeps my fabric lighter than any other textured stitch pattern.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
Sweaters! Cardigans and pullovers and I like them with long sleeves.

As a designer from a warmer climate, do you feel that makes a difference to what/how you design?
Not too much in terms of design elements. But I do try to keep it really light, using fingering weights whenever possible.

Do you have an aspirational knit – a complicated/challenging design that you want to knit “some day” when you feel ready?
There are quite a few patterns that I think are gorgeous but I doubt I’ll ever get around to making it. Like this one: Assol’.

In techniques, I definitely want to try out steeking but I can’t bear the thought of cutting through yarn that I procured with so much difficulty in the first place!

What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?
I have a boxy fit pullover made with Tosh Merino DK that’s currently being tested. A crescent shaped shawlette/ scarf made with alpaca is also blocked and ready to go. I hope to write the pattern soon and put it up for testing.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
I’m at a stage where I still have a lot of yarns to try out but the current favourite is Malabrigo Sock yarn – a dream to work with and I’d love to knit a few more projects with it.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
My shawl Rithu. I enjoyed working with the yarn, I made all these charts on excel and was quite proud of the finished product. It hasn’t done well at all.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Don’t be afraid of frogging, ripping, tinking. It actually makes you a better knitter:)

Getting a whole bunch of ripped out stitches back on your needles successfully will overcome your fear of making mistakes while knitting, and the sheer tediousness of that process will prevent you from making any more mistakes in the future!

We all make mistakes and there are tips and tricks to make amends if you spot an error only after the project is finished. But a lace repeat that has gone off centre or one cable that’s twisted left among all the other right cables, if spotted within a few rows of work, can definitely be reworked.

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
I would like to attempt top-down designs especially with circular yokes. I would also like to enter the beautiful world of fair isle and intarsia.

If you could have dinner with one knitting designer (living or dead) who would it be and why?
A really tough one because each designer has their unique style and techniques and you know even a few moments spent with them would be an amazing learning experience.

But to name one, I’d go with Isabell Kraemer. I love the simplicity of her designs like Ravello which I hope to knit up soon. I have just finished knitting up the gorgeous Monte Rosa for a cousin.

View all of Nidhi’s patterns here. All photos copyright Nidhi Kansal. All images used by permission.

You can find Nidhi 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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