We’ve got a special post for you at the Yarn Spot today. One of our employees, Lee Wittenstein has a new pattern, Walk the Dog, out this week. In honor of its release we have an interview in two parts to celebrate. One part is here, the other part is at Tinking Turtle.
First a bit about Lee: Lee is a long-time member of the fiber community. Her grandmother taught her to knit when she was eight and she has been working in local yarn stores since 1987. Lee knits, teaches, designs and lives in Bethesda, MD with her husband, dog and two cats. You can find more designs and read her blog at www.harperandfigg.com
Lee, you mention in the introduction to the pattern that “Walk the Dog” was inspired by your dog walker friend’s big head, and the fact that she was outside all winter and needed to be warm. Were there other considerations you took when you were working the design?
My friend the dog walker’s head is largish. I knew that 2×2 rib (K2, P2) is the stretchiest so I started with that. I also knew that I would go crazy knitting a whole hat in nothing but 2×2. I have a very short attention span and like to feel a sense of accomplishment early and often. So I threw in a purl round on a regular basis.
What difficulties did you encounter in the design process?
This is not a complicated pattern to design or knit but I knew I wanted those purl circles to continue all the way up the hat. So I had to plan the decreases in a way that would allow for that.
How did you choose the yarn?
[The dog walker] wanted [the hat] to match her coat and be machine washable. One of my go-to-yarns for machine-washable is Spud and Chloe Sweater. There was a great match for her coat and so the first version was born. For the second one I wanted something more luxurious. Cascade’s Venezia Worsted fit that bill and is available at my LYS, The Yarn Spot.
How would you describe your designs?
I know it is something of a cliché but I really want my designs to be fun to knit and things people will wear. I like to play with color and texture and I want to encourage other people to do that with my patterns. I design things I want to knit–unfussy, interesting, eclectic.
I love how every knitter or crocheter has a “learning story.” It’s the narrative to how you became the crafter you are today. What’s your learning story? Who taught you to knit? When was it?
My grandmother taught me to knit when I was 8. I like to say I come from a crafty family. My mother sewed all my clothes when I was young, she embroidered, needlepointed, quilted and, of course, knitted. And, she and a friend opened a yarn store which is still in business today (Yarns International-online only). So, if fiber isn’t in my genes it is at least a major part of my inheritance.
What are some of the projects we can look forward to from you in the future?
I have three projects that are just a wee bit away from being ready to publish. One is a cowl with easy lace and fun colors. Another is a mitered squares cowl which would be a good first pattern for this technique. I’m working up a class with that one. Finally, a scarf-ette in lace and garter stitch which would be a great holiday gift. Other things I am playing with are a cabled hat, traveling stitches mitts and a child’s cardigan.