I honestly jumped up and down with excitement when this month’s designer Verena agreed to be interviewed. She is one incredibly talented lady and I admire her a lot, not only for her beautiful designs but also for her business sense and braveness. In addition, to being a designer Verena is also part of the team behind Making Stories, an independent knitwear publisher with a focus on environmentally friendly yarns which Verena was kind enough to answer a few questions about.
When did you learn to knit? Did someone teach you or did you teach yourself?
I’ve been knitting for as long as I can remember. My mom taught me when I was little and my very first knits were miniature doll replicates of what she made for me. I progressed to clothes and accessories that actually fit me eventually and started teaching myself bits and pieces from various books and blogs. To date knitting is still something I enjoy sharing with my mother and I hope to be able to pass on this wonderful craft myself some day. My husband now knits, too, so knitting should be in the genes!
Why did you start designing? What gave you the idea?
Even though I’m a researcher by trade, I’ve always felt the need to create. Growing up, I went back and forth about what I wanted to do and seriously considered learning something creative like dressmaking, but in the end went with a more traditional study choice. At that point, knitting and designing was something I just did on the side. Unfortunately I didn’t write down any of the patterns I designed back then – they would be such a lovely memory now!
While I liked my job, I never loved it as much as I love everything knitting, fibre and design related, and I honestly couldn’t be happier that I eventually took the leap of faith and quit my job. Almost one year ago I published my first design, the Tulsi Socks, and I still can’t quite grasp where this journey has taken me. This self-employed life has been absolutely wonderful so far and I haven’t looked back once.
What is your favourite piece you have designed/knitted?
Almost always the last one I finished! I do have some all-time favourites though of course. Out of my own designs, I’d pick the Powder Snow Cozy, the Amalia Socks and the Fleesensee Hat. And I do love my Siri Sweater! Clara Linnea Öhmann’s Siri Cardigan design is truly gorgeous.
What is your favourite yarn and/or fibre to work with? Why?
My heart beats for sustainably made, natural, non-superwash yarns – no chemical fibres for me please! Socks are the only projects I might make an exception for every now and again as there are just so many colourful options out there. But other than that I like my yarns sheepy. Wool is the queen regnant of my stash and I’m constantly amazed at how the characteristics of wool yarns vary depending on breeds and the spinning process.
What is your favourite knitting/designing resource? Books? Magazines? Blogs? Software?
Just recently I bought a vintage stitch dictionary. It’s from 1984 and absolutely gorgeous! Now the bug has bitten me and I’m on the hunt for more vintage knitting books. I also love Nora Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook and Pinterest never disappoints either.
Can you describe your designing process? What is your favourite part?
The first thing I usually think about when designing a new piece is the feel I’m looking for. Is it going to be cozy and comfy, elegant, timeless? With a couple of ideas spinning around in my head I then start transforming my thoughts into knitting. Deciding on the final stitch pattern(s) and construction might take quite a while with some designs while with others I love the very first swatch. Once a first draft of the pattern is written up, I’ll knit up the sample and edit the pattern in case I change small elements of the design. After the pattern has been tech edited and test knit it’s then ready to be published. Seeing other knitters’ interpretations of the new design still gets me every time – it’s magical! As for favourite stages: I truly love them all, but I’d say the very beginning – the first thoughts of a new idea – and the last step – releasing the pattern into the wild – are what feels most special to me.
English or Continental (or both)? Which way do you knit?
Continental! I’d love to get better at English style for colourwork though.
What do you have planned for the future as a designer? Do you want to make it a full-time job or is it a hobby for you?
Right now I divide my time between my knitwear designs and making stories, the knitwear design publisher Hanna Lisa and I founded. I’m super exited to continue working on both and can’t wait for the release of WOODS, our first book! As a knitwear designer, I look forward to working on more garment designs, to a (still secret) contribution to a beautiful magazine and to lots of collaborations with amazing yarn companies.
How did Woods – Making Stories develop? What was the idea?
WOODS – making stories is a new knitting book that we created to share our passion for local, breed-specific European yarns, beautiful knitwear design and helping people expand their knitting knowledge. The book includes 11 minimalistic modern knitwear designs, profiles and interviews with amazing makers and lots of tutorials. Our goal is to bring people together through our craft and business ethos, and celebrate the creative talent and passion of hard-working fiber folks. Over the course of the last few months, this has shaped up to be a project beyond our wildest beliefs. We successfully crowdfunded our first book WOODS and couldn’t be more exited to continue working on making stories. (Pre-orders for WOODS are now open on our website!)
Do you plan to have more publications?
Yes, we do! We love working on WOODS way to much to stop anytime soon. The next issue, BREEZE, will be available in April 2018, and we just selected the designs and yarns we’ll feature (spoiler alert: they’re amazing!). In addition to this in-house series we’re working on a couple of other exiting projects and we can’t wait to share all about that very soon on our website and Instagram.
What do you like most about making stories?
With making stories, we have the chance to curate a collection of both beautiful knitwear designs and local European yarns while also offering additional content like tutorials and interviews. We basically get to make the knitting books we always dreamed of and everyone’s love for this project of ours has just been incredible. From the moment we first shared about making stories, the knitting community has been nothing but supportive and we’ll forever be thankful for this warm welcome.