Friday, December 6, 2013

"If Just One" interview with Elizabeth Green Musselman

It is so exciting to pretend you are in an imaginary world, to look deep inside yourself, to search through your preferences and desires, and to pick only those dearest to your heart. 
Today Elizabeth Green Musselman (elizabethgm on Ravelry) shares her picks with us.

- If you were to design items from one category only, which one would it be? (E.g. hats, shawls, pullovers, or pullovers only for boys :), etc)
Ooh, tough one—but if I had to pick, I would probably design sweaters for men. I love designing sweaters. There's something so satisfying about being able to conjure yarn into a shape that flatters a three-dimensional human body. Sometimes grading (re-figuring all the numbers to fit multiple sizes) is so challenging that it makes me pull my hair out, but I cannot resist the siren call of sweater design.

And I'd choose men partly because they are still such an under-served market. I also really like how designing for men forces me to edit myself. When I first sit down to start a new pattern, I have a tendency to want to over-design, but men typically don't like a lot of fussiness—and if you're a woman knitting for a man, you may not have a lot of patience for 1,800+ yards of fiddly knitting. So it's a fascinating challenge for me to try to create a garment that most men would find wearable, while still making the knitting interesting.

- If you had a possibility to share your experience and teach only one knitting/crochet technique/class, which one you think about first?
Another hard one! I teach a lot of different classes at Hill Country Weavers (one of my city's lovely LYSes— and occasionally at fiber events. Honestly, though, what I most enjoy is teaching beginning knitting. I've taught hundreds of people to knit for the first time, aged 4 to 90. Some people don't take to it, but for the most part, I feel like I am giving someone an amazing gift when I teach them to knit.

- If you were to use only one theme for naming your designs, which one would it be? 
"Unusual Construction / Simple Knitting." I design what I like to knit: I like stretches of mindless knitting, but I also like a pattern that has a bit of the origami-wow factor to it. The first time I knit Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket, I thought, "oh, this is FABULOUS. This is the kind of thing I want to make all the time."

- If you were to use only one type of yarn, which one (any type is welcome: merino, or long-color repeats, or worsted, etc)?
I could knit with kettle-dyed, DK-weight yarn for the rest of my life. I live in a rather warm climate, so DK turns out to be the yarn weight I reach for most. I like a little color variation, but variegated can be hard to manage, so that's why I'd choose the kettle dyes.

- If you were to use only one needle size, which one?
US 5s. They're what I typically use with DK-weight yarns, and they're always the size I can't find because they're already being used in other projects.

- And what about only one color (shades of color)? 
 I would choose orange, since it's my favorite color, but it would limit which yarns I could knit with. (Not everybody likes orange.) So I'll choose my second-favorite color family: greens. I love them all, especially the ones that lean toward the yellow side of the color wheel. In fact, I could just knit with limes and celadons for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy.

- Name your design you are proud of most of all!
I'm probably most proud of my Bailey Island Cardigan. It's not even close to being the design that other people love the most, and I think that has something to do with the fact that the photos unfortunately don't show off the diagonal, asymmetrical zippered opening as well as they should. What I'm most proud of with this garment, though, is that I worked out my own method for doing a one-piece, top-down, saddle-shoulder sweater. It's a total mind-blower. I just gave myself another little pat on the back for figuring that one out.

- And which one does your son like most of all? :)
My nine-year-old son loves the collection that I just finished for my forthcoming book Kung Fu Knits. The book contains six patterns for full-blown martial-arts adventure: jacket, pants, belt, backpack, nunchuks, and shurikens (throwing stars). The book will also have a comic-book storyline drawn by my son's kung-fu teacher, who's a very talented artist. You can see a preview image on my Facebook page:

- Which one pattern among all GAL-participating patterns of other designers you would dive into making right now?
I really love Laura Aylor's color-block designs. I enjoy knitting and wearing shawls, but my tastes run more modern rather than lacey/femme, so her designs are right up my tree. If I didn't have eighty bazillion things to finish for others right now, I'd cast on a Jordan Point shawl in a heartbeat.
GAL - Indie Design Gift-A-Long, a multi-designer promotion (read more and join in!)   
Find more designs by
Elizabeth Green Musselman here

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