Knit in Public Week: Day 3
Talking About Knitting with Designer Toby Roxane
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Stitch & Unwind: How did you start knitting? How did you get into designing?
Toby Roxane: I started knitting comparatively late in life—I learned right after I graduated from college. I was working at this café where I lived and the owner was a knitter and there was a little knitting group that met there on Saturday mornings. Since my mom is also a knitter, I told her about it and she would go too. Eventually I started admiring all their projects and they taught me how to knit. It turned out I was good at it (and I didn’t really have anything else going on, so I had a lot of time to spend on it) and then I got a job at a local yarn shop. I realized I loved knitting so much that I wanted to find a way to make a career out of it, and designing seemed logical. Once I started, I found that I had tons and tons of ideas.
SU: What’s your design process?
TR: That depends on what I’m designing. With shawls, for example, it often starts with the yarn. I get really excited about colors, and many shawls have started with what I like to call a “yarn picnic,” which is where I dump a bunch of yarn on my floor and play with it, sorting it by weight, picking colors that I like together, and so on. Once I find something I want to use, I look at it for a while, peruse some stitch dictionaries, play with graph paper, and usually the design comes out of that.
Sweaters, on the other hand, tend to have a longer pre-production phase. I usually start with a sketch, and then think about what yarn would be best for it. This involves lots of swatching, and then a lot of math. I make a schematic on graph paper, and then use an excel chart to grade the sizes and figure out the numbers. Then I use those numbers to knit the sample, making sure everything works out, and then I translate the numbers into a written pattern. It sounds sort of complicated and I guess it sort of is, but it’s exciting to see a column of numbers turn into a garment.
SU: What’s your favorite type of project to knit?
TR: That changes pretty often. I’m really into sweaters right now, but I always seem to keep coming back to shawls. Every time I think I’m out of shawl ideas I come up with another one. Plus, shawls are nice and portable—perfect for knitting in public!
SU: What inspires you to keep knitting?
TR: My extremely full sketchbook of design ideas. I have way more ideas for sweaters and accessories than I can keep up with. Plus, I go nuts if I don’t have anything to do with my hands. I’m a picker. If I couldn’t knit, I’d peel the paint off the walls.
SU: What do you love most about knitting?
TR: I love the fact that by knitting, you can create something both beautiful and useful. I was into counted cross-stitch for a while because it kept my hands busy (that’s important, like I mentioned before), but I never knew what to do with the things I made. I love that knitting is a creative outlet that produces things people can actually use. Plus, I’m always cold, so I wear my designs a LOT.
SU: What’s the biggest influence on your knitting?
TR: Probably yarn. I’m really inspired by all the indie dyers out there, especially—they all seem to keep getting better and better. The yarn they make definitely influences the design ideas I have. I also like to follow runway fashion. Always have.
SU: Will you be knitting in public this week? 😉
TR: Of course! Although to be honest, every day is Knit in Public day for me. I knit on the train, in restaurants, in parks…pretty much everywhere. But I’ll definitely make a point of it this week.
Today we’re giving away 3 Skeins of Feza Yarn (black), 1 package of Size 8 Kanaderu Circular Needles, the popular knitting pattern book Knitting Architecture, and some of Toby Roxanne’s own books, London Underground and The Tarot Collection.
Answer the question at the bottom of the post for your chance to win this amazing prize! The winner will be notified in tomorrow’s blog post.
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- Winner will be selected at random from the comments on this blog post below.
- Winner will be announced here on the blog tomorrow as well as contacted by the email address provided.
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