Interview with Polly

by longtallyarn

As an exercise in maintaining this space as a crafting blog, here is an interview of the cute and clever Polly, a creative and innovative knitter and my dear friend.  We each agreed to answer a few questions sometime before the holidays and I finally finished answering mine last week.  You will probably be able to see them on her blog sometime soon.

Polly and I go way back, like  maybe more than ten years, to college where I spent many happy hours in her company.  She excels in puzzles, card games, cooking, and writing prose to name a few of her pursuits.  She is a traveler, an adventurer and a great hostess.  She has studied in France, married well, and has been blessed with a sweet little one.  I am often interested in her do-it-yourself endeavors.

I present to you my questions and her answers .

Your influences:

1)  I know that you are a well-read knitter.  Who is your favorite designer/author and why?

My favourite knitting author is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  She writes in a humourous way, and she is able to break down knitting concepts for me.  If it weren’t for her, I would probably still be knitting one-dimensional pieces.  I keep her book, Knitting Rules, accessible at all times because it has a lot of handy charts.

There are so many talented designers and design teams that it makes choosing just one very difficult. If I am only to pick one, it would have to be Debbie Bliss.  So many of her patterns are timeless.  I only own one of her books, Step-by-Step Knitting Workbook, but I seem to come across her patterns in various collections.

2)  I’ve discovered the world of knitting blogs/podcasts and I’m curious which ones, if any, you follow.
Here are five blogs that I enjoy reading (not counting yours):
1.  Kimbelina – This is the blog of an adoptive mother who knits, sews, and cooks.  She also takes some pretty good photos.  I aspire to be like her someday.
2.  Knit Like You Mean It – Kathleen recently moved to another country and had a baby, yet she still finds time to knit and blog about it.
3.  Northern Lace — Elizabeth chronicles her adventure of spinning and knitting in the Orkney Islands.  She works to preserve the knowledge of knitting guernseys and yarn spinning.  I enjoy this blog because I feel like I’m peaking into the lives of my ancestors who hail from that corner of the globe.
4.  Eunny Jang, the host of Knitting Daily and Interweave Knits editor, is a very busy woman who no longer has time to blog.  However, I still refer to her old blog for helpful knitting tips and inspiration at http://www.eunnyjang.com/knit/.   She also can be found at whitcombstreet.tumblr.com discussing crafting in general, but it doesn’t appear to have been updated lately either.
5.  Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is also a blogger, and she can be found at http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/.  She just finished an incredibly long scarf based off of the Doctor Who character.
 The actual knitting:
3)  Sum up your last/current/next project (any or all of them).
Last:  I recently finished a half-circle baby blanket for a friend who is expecting.  This was designed by Kelly Brooker.  With the leftover yarn, I made a coordinating newborn’s hat following advice from the book Knitting Rules.
Current:  My 10-month old daughter is quickly outgrowing her many hats, and I am making her a new one with earflaps. My mum sent me her colorful collection of Washable Ewe yarn scraps which are perfect for the Almost-Famous Luggy Bonnet by Lucy MacKenzie and Kirseen Mitcalfe.  It is a very fancifal hat, but I am not looking forward to weaving in all of the loose ends.
Next:  I plan on making a bunch of Fingerless Mitts by Ann Budd as gifts.
4)  As a practical (and somewhat opinionated) knitter, rate these knitting techniques by your preference (maybe including ease of execution, ability to hold your interest, visual appeal, usefulness or final wearability in your climate, or other factors):  Lace, Two-color, Entrelac, Cable knitting, any other style with which you have experimented.
Lace > Two-Color> Cable > Entrelac > Lace
I like a good lace pattern that comes with a chart and is easy to memorize.  I also like how a two-color pattern has visual appeal. Cabling is a fun way to add some visual detail to an otherwise simple project.  Entrelac is whimsical.  Now I don’t want to dismiss it because it is good practice for increasing/decreasing, as well as picking up stitches, but I haven’t really made an entrelac pattern that I’m entirely proud of.  I know that I already mentioned how much I like lace, but I also dislike the monotony of lace especially in projects that grow wider each row.
5)  Is there a technique/project you’re planning to try next?
Someday I would like to steek a Fair Isle sweater knit in the round.  There’s just something about the many colors in Fair Isle and its varying patterns that intrigue me.  There is also something very courageous about deliberately cutting a sweater that has taken a long time to knit, and I want to be able to say I have done it.
But more realistically… I would like to knit myself a pair of socks.
6)  Have you ever had a knitting heartbreak or embarrassment? (Any lesson you’d like to share so that a reader may not repeat it…)
I once tried to knit a striped sweater that had the buttonband knit up using intarsia.  I did not do a very good job at twisting the yarn when I changed colors, and the sweater had too many gaping holes that the only solution was to rip it out entirely.  Since then I spend time researching a technique before going to task.
7)  And regarding romance, What have you knit for your man?  And did he like it?  Would you ever knit him a sweater?
I have only knit a hat for my husband.  I think he likes it because he does wear it often and in public even.  I don’t know if I could knit a sweater for him.  I think he would feel obliged to wear it in public whether he liked it or not, and I’m not sure that I could do that to him if the sweater turned out horribly.  I also do not have a good track record of finishing long projects, so I would have to work with extra chunky yarn.  My husband is so skinny, though, that I don’t think a bulky sweater would be unflattering on him.
Misc.:
8)  It has been several years since you took up knitting, why do you continue?  (What do you get from knitting besides finished objects…  do you do it for the math?)
I find the act of knitting to be therapeutic.  There have been a few stressors in my life, and knitting has been a beneficial distraction. It’s at those stressful times I search out a pattern that teaches me a new skill.  I like the calm and order of making repeated loops.  I also like making hand-made gifts, and a knitted object is just so beautiful.
I don’t do it for the math necessarily, but I have been known to do a lot of calculations.
9)  Is spinning a valuable tool to the knitter or is it a distraction from the pursuit of a finished sweater? 
I used to think that spinning was a distraction.  I would say, “Why spend time spinning when you could be knitting?”  However, I now recognize it as a useful side-hobby as it is difficult for me to find yarn made in colors and fibers that I find appealing.  I haven’t found the time to actually do any spinning yet.
10)  “Knitters today are mostly self-taught.”  I find this an interesting thought, particularly with regard to community, or our culture’s lack of community.  Please share your thoughts.
 When I first started to knit, there was not a knitting community (let alone a yarn shop) in my area.  The only two knitters I knew lived hours away and in another state — you and my husband’s grandmother!  The only resource I had were the instructional pages in the back of a small knitting book. I have since learned to find knitting resources online (YouTube, Ravelry, blogs, etc.) and on my library’s shelves.
Despite the many resources at my fingertips, I feel that the best tricks I’ve learned were in the company of other knitters who could see what I was doing and offer their own suggestions.  Also, I’ve been inspired to work on projects that I’ve seen others knitting.  So I suppose that you can teach yourself how to knit, but that knitting with others broadens your knowledge base.
I think that knitting communities in our consumerist society are diminishing, especially since a mass-produced knitted garment can be purchased at a fraction of the cost of the material let alone the many hours it takes to make a garment.  I think that it is likewise getting harder to find a mentor, and a person with the inclination to knit has to go at it alone – at least until he or she gets plugged in.
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