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Design Inspiration with AnneLena Mattison

Mar 3, 2011





Greetings, my fellow fiber friends!

My name is Sharon and I am the Yarn Intern here at Interweave.  The reason behind my arrival is something I think that many of us who knit or crochet have in common; visions of what it would be like to quit our daily grind and actually get paid to do this thing we love so much.  I came to Interweave about four months ago to test the waters in taking my love of fiber from a clandestine affair during my every lunch break from my career as a retail manager to my full-time passion.  I knew it was time when reaching into my handbag to retrieve a set of keys or my wallet caused an inevitable wealth of knitting paraphernalia to come spewing forth.  At night, I’d sketch designs and page through countless stitch dictionaries.  I didn’t even mind getting spit on by an alpaca during my first season of shearing; I knew then that I was totally hooked!

That being said, my time here at Interweave has been somewhat dreamlike.  There really are buckets billowing with skeins of the loveliest yarn peppered all around the offices, and the people here are as incredibly nurturing of my experience as each issue’s lessons; gently guiding me through and empowering me to work up my career here in whichever way I choose.

Culminating my stint here in the knits division was the photo shoot for this spring’s issue of Interweave Knits. It was just about the ultimate yarn-y experience for me.  One of my favorite garments during shooting was the sweet and simple Ruched Yoke Tee.  I absolutely L-O-V-E knit tees.  Who can stop knitting garments just because the weather is heating up?  This adorable top is perfectly paired with any spring bottom; shorts, skirts, jeans or crops.  And the more I get to know a finely-made cotton yarn in my knitting life, the more I can see it being whipped into all sorts of great summer basics.  Given all that, it seemed expedient that I get the lowdown on the tee, knitting, and inspiration from the designer herself, the lovely AnneLena Mattison.  Here's what she had to say:

How long have you been knitting and from whom or what did you learn?
I grew up in Denmark, a country with a strong knitting tradition. Both of my grandmothers, my mom and aunts knit. I think I must have learned from them somewhere around age 5, I don't remember exactly, all I know is that when I entered school I knew how to knit and crochet.

 How about designing?  For how long have you been doing that?
As a little girl, before I could read patterns, I made clothes for my dolls. As an adult, for years, I designed and made many clothes and toys for my 6 kids and husband, and in the summer of 2010 I started submitting my designs to Interweave Knits. My first design was in the winter issue. 

From which sources do you get your design inspiration?
When I see a nice stitch pattern or a design detail in any type of textile, it will marinate in my head for a while before I have a new design to put down on paper. I also get design ideas from the storyboards put out by IK. 

How about your inspiration for this particular design?
I really liked the ruching on the "Tea Leaves Cardigan" by Melissa LaBarre and last summer I came up with a design for a little girl's tee for my youngest daughter and she really loved her tee. 

What was most challenging about designing the ruched yoke tee?  What challenges did you encounter in working it up yourself? 
I always find the math the most challenging and also the most satisfying aspect of designing. I don't particularly enjoy knitting with cotton so that was the most challenging part of knitting the tee.

What if any recommendations do you have for modifying this pattern (i.e. plus size, larger bust, etc.)
The pattern already comes in sizes from child's size 2 all the way to size 55 ¼” bust circumference and I don't think it would be hard to make it bigger. I am a pretty curvy girl so I included some bust short rows on my own tee; it would be easy to do some bust short rows about one inch down from the armhole.  

Given your pick of any fiber you could dream of, which would you choose?
I am partial to wool or a silk/wool blend both for knitting, dyeing and spinning.

Who’s your favorite knitter in the history of time?
I very much enjoy Elizabeth Zimmermann's books and think it would have been a real treat to meet her in person. 

Thanks, AnneLena.  I can’t wait to begin my own (we’ll agree to disagree about the merits of cotton)!  Casting on your own version of the Ruched Yoke Tee?  I’d love to see your finished projects and the ways in which you make them your own.  E-mail me your photos and see them in a future post at szientara@interweave.com. 

All the best in your stitching endeavors, 

-Sharon


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