Posted by sarah on July 31, 2012 / Leave a Comment
We’re such a fan of Mary Scott Huff‘s colorwork ways that we were thrilled to hear the story behind her craftiness – we’re betting you will be, as well!
Why do you find colorwork ‘so irrestible’? And what got you started with it?
I was always in love with ethnic clothing, and traditional Scandinavian sweaters just made my heart stop. I wasn’t much of a knitter then, but when I found out how much Dale of Norway sweaters cost, I was inspired to learn how to make one myself. The body of information I gathered along that journey is what eventually became The New Stranded Colorwork. My new book, Teach Yourself Visually Color Knitting, is the next step of that exploration.
Lots of people are intimidated by colorwork, so what tips would you suggest to keep them from being scared off?
One of my favorite classes to teach is my introduction to stranded colorwork. It’s called “2 Strings = Not Scary”. There are literally only two concepts to understand and practice in order to make beautiful stranded colorwork: Strand Orientation and Float Tension. Two things! Knitters are WAY smart enough to learn two things. Colorwork fear comes from a lot of misinformation that has been floating around and self-perpetuating for generations. Once we spend time debunking old myths in class, it’s so freeing.
What patterns, from your book, would you recommend a beginning knitter to start with?
My favorites for beginners would be “Leafy Toque”, “Timberline” and “Go For Baroque”. The hat and bag are steek-less and will get knitters comfortable with stranding and charts. The sweater has only armhole steeks and extremely simple shaping. Super fun!
What’s your favorite kind of yarn to work with, for colorwork, and why?
My favorites all fall into one of two categories: Traditional and Modern.
The traditional yarns are 100% untreated wool (non-blended, non-superwash). They are simple, durable, and have qualities I treasure: “Toothiness” (the tendency to stick to themselves), wide color ranges, and a variety of plies from which to choose the right stitch definition for each project. These are my bread and butter yarns.
Modern yarns can have all sorts of different blends and finishes; the main thing I love about them is their colors. Hand-painted, color-changing, magically-dyed yarns made by our favorite artists are such a joy to create with. We are so lucky to be living in a new Golden Age of knitting: You can’t swing a circular needle without hitting a newfound treasure. These are the candy yarns.
On Ravelry you mention your love of motorcycling – what came first for you, motorcycles or knitting? And how did you find your way to both?
I started motorcycling when my second child was around 18 months old. My excuse at the time was that it was much more economical to ride to work than to drive, and that was true. But the real reason was that as a working Mommy and Wife, I desperately needed something that only belonged to me. Think about it: there are no car seats for motorcycles. Nobody will ask you for a ride to the airport. Heck, you can’t even answer the phone if you’re riding. The two hours of my commute to and from the Cube Farm were the only part of my life that felt exclusively like my own. I was still just beginning my knitting journey in those days, making cute little things for the Smallies. I remember thinking that if my skills increased at the same rate the kids were growing, it wouldn’t be hard for me to make bigger and bigger sweaters. Which is pretty much what happened. For some reason, it didn’t occur to me to knit for myself for a long time, but once it did, I never looked back.
What other fun things would you like to share about yourself? For example, are you an outdoorsy lady? Do you draw inspiration from the outdoors?
I hate to admit it, especially as a native of the Pacific Northwest, but I’m more of an Indorsy-girl. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere where the weather was nice too often because I’d miss the sofa/fireplace/reading/knitting dynamic too much. I’ve been known to visit the (Oregon) coast in the dead of winter, specifically because I know it will be too blustery to go out and I can stay by the hearth. That said, I do find that my favorite motifs are always drawn from nature. Birds, bugs and plants are things we can all relate to the beauty and whimsy of; it’s through them that I explore the world outside my window.