(Possibly the most awkward blog title I've ever written.)
There's been some beyond the norm behind-the-scenes activity here in the Knitscene offices of late. Amidst the drama of our busiest press season, there were some staffing changes at the offices. If you've picked the amazing Interweave Knits Summer issue, you'll know that the incomparable Eunny Jang has left the Interweave family for other pursuits, and long-time Knitscene editor Lisa Shroyer is now running that ship.
And on the Knitscene side, I've been promoted to editor, and we've recently hired a new assistant editor (you'll meet her soon, in this space), and we're full steam ahead into getting Knitscene Fall to the printer in a couple of weeks. Kathleen has asked me to do an introductory post, which felt a little bit weird, as I've been blogging here for the last couple of years—surely a lot of you know some things about me by now, don't you?
So Kathleen gathered up some questions, including some of your questions, and here are my answers! Feel free to leave more questions in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter at @AmyPalmerKnits.
- What are you most excited about in your new role as Knitscene editor?
I'm most excited about the relationships I'm hoping to form, both with our readers new and old as we move to a subscription model and with our incredibly talented designers. In my role as assistant editor, I spent a lot of time emailing designers, but now I'll get to meet some in person at TNNA and work more closely with people who inspire me with their beautiful knitted designs.
- What will be your biggest challenge?
Reining in my excitement and my ideas will probably be the biggest challenge. I want to do everything and I don't want to have to wait for it and those have always been problems for me.
- Is the magazine going to change at all under your leadership?
Short answer: yes. Longer answer: Yes, though not all of these changes are coming from me. For example, our subscription service for Knitscene is beginning with my first issue, the Fall issue. I had nothing to do with that. There are some other things that are changing for a variety of reasons, changes that have been talked about since I started working here almost four years ago and probably before then. And then some parts are changing because I want to create a more connected experience with our readers in this era of nearly immediate, digital-based communication. Which sounds hokey. Just trust me on this.
- What is your favorite thing to knit?
About a year ago my answer probably would have been socks. Then I was bit by the sweater and cardigan knitting bug and now I can't quite decide. But I usually have either a pullover or cardigan and a pair of socks in progress.
- Do you throw or pick?
I throw (or knit English style), but I taught myself to pick to knit stranded colorwork. So I can do both, but I'm more comfortable and a faster knitter with my right-hand.
- Have you designed any patterns?
I've got a few under my belt! I'm most proud of my Wasabi Peas Socks, as I had a lot of fun creating the gusset decreases in pattern (hint: they're not where you'd expect them to be!), and I really like the Mercury Cowl with it's twisted cast on edge.
- If you have a specialty in knitting, what is it?
Uhhh. Hm. I love knitting colorwork, cables, and lace, though I go through mood swings on each of those (one week I will be casting on five colorwork projects, the next I may need some yarnovers and lace in my life). My friends come to me for a lot of sock-knitting advice, so maybe that's my specialty?
- If you could give knitters one piece of advice, what would it be?
There's no such thing as "beyond my skill level," there are just techniques you're not overly familiar with yet. And if you try out a technique and you don't like it, that's fine too.
- Do you belong to a knitting group?
I do! Though I haven't attended as frequently as I'd like over the past few months. I miss my knitting gals!
- How does knitting make you feel? What does it mean to you?
Knitting is one part fulfilling a need to be creative, one part excuse to get together with friends (and meet new friends!), and one part justification for watching so many movies and TV shows—I might be mainlining a season of Sherlock but look how much I got done on this sleeve, etc.
- From Mary W on Facebook: What does she look for in original designs?
Part of this is quantifiable: does the knitter understand the Knitscene aesthetic (it's right on the cover: Simple, Stylish, and Spirited)? Does the swatch provided in a submission show a fairly comprehensive understanding of yarn construction (fiber content, gauge, etc)? But part of this is also very instinctive: Does this design really stand out in my mind? How might our readers will respond to this design? Those elements are a little more difficult to write out, and as I just learned with the Spring 2014 call for submissions, there are a lot of amazing and talented designers out there and I only have so many pages for the magazine, so at a certain point, I have to go with my gut.
- From Gina B M on Facebook: Can she stay on the cutting edge of trends and add that element to the classics we older women love?
I sure hope so! Let me know sometime in the future--the Spring 2014 is my first "full" issue, so you won't really see my spin on designs until early next year.
- From Nicole E on Facebook: Ask about any knitting failures. What were her mishaps? How/when did she decide to move on?
For my own mental health, I have to think about these as knitting learning opportunities. ;) I finished a pullover not too long ago that came out waaaaaay too big, because I got lazy and didn't swatch enough. I know a lot of us detest swatching, but it's a part of knitting that is stressed so much for a reason. (And sometimes I still don't swatch, so I go into the knitting with the mindset that I only have myself to blame if it doesn't turn out the way I want.) In that instance, I didn't move on until after I'd blocked it (and this is why I also stress blocking your swatch). I haven't moved on. It's folded up in a corner awaiting a day when I'm less annoyed by my "learning opportunity" to frog it.
- From Caroline A on Facebook: What type of yarn does she like to use and does she like to knit for babies?
I'm a big fan of wool. Heritage breeds and locally milled yarns speak to my soul in a specific way. I enjoy knitting for babies because the projects are quickly finished and then have the cutest models ever, but I generally have to have a specific baby in mind when I choose those projects.
- From Nancy E E on Facebook: What does she like better, knit or purl?
Anyone who has ever knit with me in person knows that I strongly dislike purling. It feels clunky and unnatural to me and, for me and my style of knitting, goes so much slower than knitting. So I'm a big fan of garter stitch and stockinette in the round. I've tried "knitting backward" to avoid purling but that's even more clunky, so I'll purl when I must.
- From Holly P and Melissa L on Twitter (your questions paralleled each other so I combined my answer): When did you decide that you wanted to be in the knitting industry as a career path?
The exact moment—I saw a listing for an Interweave Knits assistant editor job and decided to go for it. Longer version: I started out in educational publishing, so I had the editing background. I started knitting for realsies more than six years ago, so I had the knitting background. Through a series of events that are becoming the norm in the publishing industry, I'd been laid off and was working at another editorial job that wasn't quite my ideal working environment, so when I saw the listing on the Interweave website, I thought "Well, I have nothing to lose." A few months later I was offered the position of "Yarn Group Assistant Editor," packed up my things and moved 2,000 miles and now here I am!
- From Emma W on Twitter: Imagine a post-apocalyptic world, only one snack food has survived the fall of human society. Which one are you hoping for?
I feel like I should say Twinkies because of Zombieland, but I am truthfully going to say pita chips with the hope that I can figure out how to harvest chickpeas and make hummus. Because I can kill a bag of pita chips and hummus in no time. Plus, it's mildly healthy! I'm going to need protein after the apocalypse, you know.
Absolutely not a well-balanced meal, but so tasty (image from Forbes)
- From Rohn S on Twitter: What sets you (and your magazine) apart from the rest! I'm sure it's the fabulousness of it all but still! ;-)
The easiest answer is our tagline—simple, stylish, and spirited. We strive to have projects that are both interesting enough in the knitting for the most advanced knitter while not so technique-based that they turn off less experienced knitters, and are projects almost anyone can wear, fashionistas or otherwise. Speaking as a knitter, I think we do this better than other similar magazines. Even before I started working for Interweave, Knitscene was one of my must-have magazines as a beginning knitter (I also loved Knit.1, though I found, on average, those patterns were less wearable for me, but you will have to wait until I'm dead to pry those issues from my hands—there's great inspiration in those issues!).
- From Melissa L on Twitter: Do you do any other types of handwork?
I've always loved playing with string and did a lot of cross-stitch when I was younger. I have some still that I'd like to get to, and I know how to crochet, but I find that I'm just drawn to knitting more than those other crafts.
- From Ashley P on Twitter: Who's your favorite superhero? Favorite dwarf? Best knitting project to bring on a plane? Coolest astronomer you know? What yarn would you bring if you were going to be stranded on a desert island? What book?
Sheesh. Favorite superhero: Right now I'm going to say Captain Marvel but I also love Batman, Iron Man, and Captain America a whole lot. Favorite dwarf: I think Gimli still wins, but ask me at the end of the third Hobbit movie. Best knitting project for a plane: For me, socks. But only on circular needles, because I've dropped a few too many DPNs on planes. Coolest astronomer I know is also the only astronomer I know, but she's pretty cool regardless of that fact. ;) Stranded island yarn: Can this be a sub-arctic island? You know I hate the heat. And then I could bring a few sheep and finally accept spinning as a fact of life and constantly make my own yarn so I will never run out. Stranded island book: Maybe The Lord of the Rings because it's long (gotta stretch out that entertainment value) and I can read it over and over again.
- From Bristol on Twitter: Who are your knitting heroes?
Oof. Lisa Shroyer and Eunny Jang, for sure. Debbie Stoller for her Stitch N *** book which helped me, and I think many other women of my generation, learn or re-learn to knit. My grandmother and Betsy Dye, who each kindled the knitting fire in me at different times in my life. I would list out every knitter I admire but then we'd never get another magazine published.
- From Julia F-C on Twitter: What do you wear to work? I'd love to see what the Loveland office style is like typically
Depends on the day and how early I managed to get out of bed/plan my outfit. :D We're pretty relaxed here, jeans and nice shirts tend to prevail, though somedays I get a little crazy and like to create adventurous color palettes (like the day I wore an orange sundress with a mint tank underneath, a purple cardigan and dark magenta tights). I think we're going to need to do another blog post on our different styles.
- From Amy M on Twitter: What has surprised you most in your new position as editor?
So far, I've been most surprised and humbled by the number of people who responded to my first call for submissions. I've honestly never seen that many submissions in one call, and I don't know if the themes I listed just resonated with people or if there's an influx of newer designers out there or what, but it was shocking and humbling and a bit overwhelming.
- From Karen L on Twitter: If you could only knit on 1 pair of needles (not 1 kind, 1 pair!), what would they be — type, size, etc.
Ouch. Uhm. Hm. Definitely circular, to account for all manner of knitting techniques. And a long circular at that. I think maybe a size 3 would be most beneficial, though I'd have to start knitting my socks with heavier yarn. And metal, because I've broken two different wooden needle tips in the last few months (through accidentally sitting on them or applying pressure with my hand). So I'm going to say size 3, 48" metal circular needles. And now have a lie down at the thought of only one pair of needles forever.
- From Amy C on Twitter: What's your least favorite thing to knit?
I generally like knitting in almost every category of project, but I extremely dislike "extratextural" elements, as I like to call them. Bobbles, nupps, popcorn stitch, etc, just, NO THANK YOU. I think they can look really cool on a knitted fabric, I'm just not going to knit them myself.
Thank you for all your questions! As I said, if you have more, leave them in the comments or ask them via Twitter and I'll either update this blog or write another one in a few weeks. Until next time, happy knitting!