Note from Sandi: It's not as easy as you think to be a proficient designer in both of the two sister crafts, knitting and crochet. Yes, the two crafts are similar, but each has its own architecture of style that has to be mastered before a design–a successful, beautiful design–can be created.
So when I meet a designer fluent in both knitting and crochet, I'm fascinated by her approach to these similar-but-different crafts. Kristin Omdahl is one such designer, prolific and proficient in producing graceful, beautiful garments with both hook and needles. Today's interview is a look inside Kristin's "bi-craftual," and extremely creative, mind.
Kristin's new book, Wrapped in Crochet, published by Interweave, is available at your local yarn shop, or you can order it here.
Q&A with Kristin Omdahl: Designing in Both Worlds
Sandi: I think many people have seen your beautiful crochet designs in Interweave Crochet (including the cover of Spring 2009!) and may not realize that you're a very talented knitting designer as well. In fact, in the Spring issue of Interweave Knits, we featured a lovely knitted lace shawl that you designed, the Sweet Lily Shawl.
Kristin: Thank you, Sandi! I taught myself to knit 1 month after I taught myself to crochet, 7 years ago. I have been knitting and crocheting interchangeably ever since. I feel very fortunate that I am able to design as much as I do in both crafts.
S: Do you keep a design notebook? At what point do you decide whether it will be knitted or crocheted?
K: I have several volumes of design notebooks with sketches, charts, notes, schematics and lists. I don’t always get the opportunity to knit them when the inspiration strikes. I would like to go back through them one day. Inside, there are many designs I think should be knit and crocheted! Sometimes a design concept that I originally created for knitting ends up being crocheted, and vice versa. Occasionally, I enjoy replicating a design in both knit and crochet.
S: I've noticed that you design a lot of spiral and circular shawls, both in knitting and in crochet. What are the similarities for you in designing for both crafts, and what are some of the differences?
K: Textures in nature heavily inspire my work. The spirals in sea shells are very intriguing to me. Flowers and the various shapes of different flowers are also very fascinating to me. Sometimes I think of a shawl as a canvas, where I can “draw” a geometric design with my stitches. In crochet, it is pretty easy for me to just pick up my hook and some yarn and manipulate the stitches as I wish – no chart, sketch or swatch first. Plus, if there is a mistake, it is incredibly easy to unravel back to the point in question. In knitting, especially lace, you can’t see what your stitches look like until the end, and I really don’t like unraveling knit stitches, so I check my designs with charts and swatches first. And, I usually don’t make lifelines. I prefer to count every row. But, I should make life lines.
S: Is there anything you've learned from crochet that carries over to your knitting? How about the other direction?
K: Absolutely! I learn from both crafts every day. I began creating my own stitch patterns in crochet first, because I was inspired by some of the textures of knitting that I didn’t see in crochet. And, now that I have so many original crochet lace edgings, it encourages me and inspires me to create new knit lace edgings that look more like the crochet floral lace I like so much.
Join us Wednesday for a video where Kristin walks us step-by-step through the pretty–and amazingly easy–star design of her Stella Shawl. We'll also have the Stella crochet pattern as our free download this week!
Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.
What's on Sandi's needles? I did it! I finished a pair of socks! My husband is very happy about this, since they are HIS socks. I also worked a bit on a lace shawl and did some spinning.