If you haven’t familiarized yourself with author and knitwear designer Melissa Leapman’s work, you’re missing out on a selection of gorgeous, practical and stylish patterns. Not only has Melissa authored numerous best-selling knitting and crochet books over time — including her most recent book, Knitting the Perfect Fit — but her designs have been featured pretty much everywhere: television, books, DVDs — you name it!
Recently, Melissa was kind enough to answer a few reader-submitted questions from us all here at AllFreeKnitting. Check out our exclusive interview with her below. And don’t forget to pick up a copy of her latest book, Knitting the Perfect Fit.
Q&A: AllFreeKnitting Chats With Melissa Leapman
Q. How did you get started knitting? How old were you when you first learned how to knit and who taught you? Although I learned to crochet from my grandmother when I was four years old, I taught myself to knit in high school when I couldn’t find any crocheted sweater patterns available that I’d be caught dead wearing. First up in my queue: a colorful yoke Lopi design and an allover cabled Aran. I was off and running!
Q. What’s the first pattern you ever designed? I started my career designing knit-downs (swatch patterns) for the garment industry in New York City. It was great playing with texture and color. Even better: Each design was in a rectangular shape, with no need for armholes, necklines, different sizes, or written out instructions. Bonus!
Q. Where do you get inspiration from for your designs? I know this sounds cliché, but I get my inspiration EVERYWHERE. Living in New York gives me lots of input, but so does traveling and reading and. . . .
Q. Do you ever get tired of knitting? How do get motivated to start again? I don’t ever get tired of knitting since I limit it to working hours. After hours, I choose other creative outlets. I bake a mean chocolate cake!
Q. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever knit? In my design process, I’ve created some pretty weird stuff (which luckily never made it to press <grin>). After all, part of being creative is not limiting oneself at the outset. Eventually, I edit out the pieces that don’t work.
Q. If any, what was the one knitting tip or technique that changed the way you do your work? Lowly mattress stitch. Really. Rather early on, someone taught me the ins and outs of finishing, allowing me to design sweaters.
Q. What are the steps you go through when making a design? Swatching, swatching, and then more swatching. Once I determine the best fabric for the design I have in mind, I measure my gauge and draft the pattern mathematically.
Q. What has been your most difficult challenge in design? Um, meeting my deadlines? <grin> Just kidding. The most difficult challenge for me is finishing what I start. Often when I’m working on a design, I come up with an interesting variation of the design. Sometimes it is difficult to choose which one to actually do.
Q. When you need reminders for how to do a certain stitch or technique, what resources have you found to be the most helpful? I love the Vogue Knitting Ultimate Guide. I own the original edition and am always referring folks to it. At the time, it was the most comprehensive text available. It’s a staple in my office for those who work for me.
Q. Since you knit and design for a living, how do you relax? Or is knitting still a part of your unwinding process. Yes, while knitting is my day job, I have the very best job in the world. I don’t hang out by the television at night or on the weekends knitting. I enjoy concerts at Carnegie Hall and browsing art galleries and museums to relax. But by Monday morning, I’m itching to start knitting again! As they say, all work and no play. . . . It’s my way of keeping things fresh. So far, so good
Question: If you could be a knitting designer, what type of projects would you make?
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