Sunday, December 21, 2008
Knitting Contrisstmas Day 21: Kate Gilbert
Day 21, the final push towards the holiday season, the first night of Hannukah.....blessings to all! Today an interview from the talented and generous Kate Gilbert. Designer, knitter, and one of the creators and driving forces behind the "Twist Collective". Kate, thanks for taking the time to be part of Knitting Contrisstmas--- we all really appreciate it! You have had an incredibly busy year and of course we can’t wait to hear more!
Thanks for having me!
KC: Twist Collective rolled out in the late summer 2008 to rave reviews and a huge buzz in the knit world. How long have you been working on Twist?
We started working on it in February 2008 which seems like yesterday and like a million years ago at the same time.
KC: How is Twist different than the other online knit magazines and patterns? I love love love it and know that I am not alone. It does seem to be the new craze in the yarn world!
To start with, our format is really different. We have more of a print magazine feel with pages you turn through and patterns grouped into stories. People who don’t enjoy the magazine feel (because I know that though we have fans, there are detractors too) can go straight to the patterns through the shop and they can go straight to the articles. Also, designers are paid a percentage of each pattern sale which I really feel helps us attract really great designs.
KC: Do you think that it will evolve even more from its current format?
Anything is possible. We have lots of ideas. (*Note from KC: oooooooooh I bet you do!)
KC: I knit “Wisteria” from the first Twist Collective, designed by you of course. What an incredibly fun, interesting, and gorgeous knit! I absolutely loved it! Do you do blog searches or check Ravelry queues to see who is knitting designs of yours or from Twist?
I do look at ravelry and at some blogs, though lately, I get to look at them less and less. I don’t usually look at who is knitting my patterns. I just look at the photos and see what yarns and colors I think work particularly well and hope that there are lots of smiley faces rather than crying ones.
KC: You are well known for “Clapotis”--- it was perhaps one of the first real ‘buzz knits’. Do you continue to be surprised by how it was received and the number of knitters who are still inspired to createnthis design?
Definitely. I’m always surprised. I saw lots of them this year at Rhinebeck. A couple months ago I was in a diner and saw a clapotis. It was pretty funny because I think it’s the first time I’ve seen one not at a knitting group or a wool festival.
KC: What has been your “most knitted” design? Besides Clapoutis of course!
Honestly, I’m not sure. Maybe the Peapod Baby Set? Or Arwen ? Sunrise Circle Jacket? Anouk? It’s hard to know.
KC: How do you find time to knit? You are quite prolific!
Oh gosh. I don’t think I’m prolific at all. Lately, I get only about one thing done every 3 months. My personal projects sit around for years. I did recently finish a sweater for my daughter. She knew it was coming and she was really excited about so I snuck in a row here and a row there while she was in the bath or when I desperately needed to step away from my computer and touch some yarn.
KC: Can you tell us a bit about your designs for knitters?
Yikes. That’s a hard question. I just want to knit what I want to wear. I also like a challenge, either in construction or the stitch pattern or something. I don’t like being bored with my designs or with knitting them. And I don’t necessarily want to make something that looks like you bought it in a store.
KC: Because you are a crazy knitter as well…………what is your favorite thing to knit.
I love knitting… well… anything really. I like a bit of everything. I like challenging projects. I like mindless projects. I love stranded colorwork. I love cables. I absolutely adore short rows. I like socks. I love sweaters because it’s such a feeling of accomplishment each time one is done. Lately, my knitting time is so rare that I only want to knit with really beautiful yarn. Silk, cashmere… I want the luxury stuff.
KC: I think we can all understand and appreciate that, for me though I adore the luxury stuff, my pocketbook often insists otherwise!
KC: It has become well known that I am the only “throwing” knitter left on the planet these days and do not knit Continental. Does speed matter?
I’m a throwing knitter too. I didn’t think we were a rare breed! (KC: Maybe it all depends on the knitters you hang out with! It does my heart good to know that you don't find throwers rare!) Speed matters to me when I am knitting on a deadline but I would rather knit well and slower than sloppily and fast. It’s the tortoise and the hare thing. The fastest way for me to knit isn’t continental. I can knit that way too, but I really knit fastest on straight needles throwing with my right hand. People look at me a little funny because I hold a needle under my right arm and have a possibly goofy way of holding the yarn to get the tension I want. Anyway, speed only matters if it you think it does.
KC: Wouldn't you love to put the knitting styles af a zillion knitters on video? Watching them all would indeed be like a ballet of sorts! So tell me Kate, are you a process or a product knitter?
Both. Product for my work knitting. Process for my personal knitting. I like having a finished product, but as a designer, I love the process more than the actual knitting. I love math. I love figuring out how to put a design together.
KC: You are a knit designer of much acclaim, do other designers inspire you? If so, who rings your bells?
Thanks. I’m blushing. There are lots of designers I like. I think Mari Muinonen really has a great eye. I love Ysolda’s work (and she’s great in person too). I like how Norah Gaughan pushes the envelope. Véronik Avery, Pam Allen, Anne Hanson… I could go on and on. I’ve been lucky enough to meet and work with some really incredible designers.
KC: Is there anything in the world of knitting that you have not done and wish to tackle?
I’ve never knit any sort of pants or skirt. Maybe I should do something like that. It’s a whole different set of problems than a sweater. I have a lot of weirder construction ideas that I would like to try to make work if I could. It’s just a question of having the time.
KC: Are you a part of the Ravelry world, and if so, what is your Ravelry name?
Yes. I’m not a very active member, but I do go in a few times a week and look around in my friends’ activity and the forums a bit. I’m needlesonfire. I started cataloguing my stash and gave up half way through and I’m terrible about putting in the projects I am working on but I think ravelry is a pretty incredible place and I’m glad it’s around.
KC: What else do you do to feed your inner creative muse?
I get on bread-baking jags. I do lots of crafts with my 3 year old. I fantasize about totally redecorating our apartment.
KC: What do you do during the holidays? Anything special?
It depends really. This year we’ll be with my husband’s family in France so we’ll just be eating a lot and hanging out with family.
KC: What is coming up not only for your designs but for Twist Collective?
I have lots of designs I would love to work on if I could find the time. Mental note: must teach daughter to knit or find magical elves. For Twist… who knows! You’ll just have to wait and see.
KC: I'm waiting, I'm waiting!!!! I know I'm not the only one Kate! Thank you for your contributions to the knit world, they are all very much appreciated! And thanks as well Kate for the interview here, it was great! Very Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you and yours!