Monday, December 24, 2007

Day 25: Norah Gaughan

To those of you who celebrate Christmas, --- Merry Christmas! I send wishes for a joyous and wondrous day full of blessings, love and laughter.


The final installment of Knitting Contrisstmas, (before we go back to the more ordinary Knitting Contessa) is an interview with Norah Gaughan. Author of “Knitting Nature”, Norah Gaughan Volume I and the just published Norah Gaughan Volume II as well as many other patterns for knitters that are interesting, unexpected, and extraordinary, Norah is also the driving force behind the Berroco Design Studio and hosts a wonderful blog as well. It would be hard to find a knitter who had not seen something that originally sprung from the creative mind of Norah!

(NG) I blush..... I am so ridiculously just me.

(KC) Never “just you” I don’t think Norah! Thanks so much for spending a bit of Christmas Day with your many fans via the last installment of Knitting Contrisstmas! My first question will be quite easy---- how DO you pronounce your last name? This seems to be quite the fact for argument among knitters!

(NG) Gone - like Vaughan with a "g".

(KC) Just as I thought------ thanks!

(KC) When Norah and I were working on her interview I told her that I’d close Knitting Contrisstmas with her. I might have said something like there was nothing that said HO HO HO like Norah Gaughan! J

(NG) Or as Pogo would sing (think of the Christmas carol line .... now we don our gay apparel ) "Norah's freezing on the trolley, swaller, dollar , cauliflower ala ga roo... or something like that.

(KC) And who said that knitters weren’t funny???? Maybe that is the crux of it, we’re all just a little bit touched?

(KC) People today have a mixed bag of thoughts about this time of year, how do you feel about the holidays?

(NG) I like the Holidays now that I have someone in the house to share them with. I spent many years living and, often, working alone. I fared well, was basically happy even, but the holidays could be rocky and could result in my yelling at my perfectly sweet, and very cool, mother. Having John around is MUCH better for me.

(KC) Without a doubt, having a significant other around is pretty great all the way around. And lucky John to have you to share the holidays as well!

(KC) What has been your greatest gift in 2007? I know, that is a hard question that tends to make you run a bit sappy, sorry about that!

(NG) This is where is seems imperative to put a sentimental phrase about family or love, but I've just done that. Maybe my greatest gift this year was keeping sane (and having so many loving friends). See I just couldn't help it.

(KC) Are you a holiday gift knitter?

(NG) Some years I am.

(KC) This year? Like----- what are you gifting and who in the world are the lucky recipients?

(NG) This year I am "gifting" many of the original items from "Knitting Nature". They are very precious to me, but I don't want them molding in a box in the basement. I want my friends and family to enjoy them. No more hoarding.

(KC) You DO have my address----- right? :)

(KC) As a very prolific knitter do you have any tips for maximizing knitting time during the holidays?

(NG) Don't do housework :) Of course, that's pretty much my year-round strategy.

(KC) Amen. Although I talk a good talk, when the house gets too nasty I really lose all creativity.

(KC) What things do you do just for yourself in this crazy busy time of

the year?

(NG) I watch a lot of TV and Netflix movies while I am knitting - oh and chocolate, chocolate is important.

(KC) Mmmmmmmmmm, knit one, purl two, chocolate three. Got it.

(KC) Anything special on your needles that you're knitting just for yourself?

(NG) Anything not for a gift is for work. It's pleasant work though.

(KC) Time for my favorite question, and I’ll kind of be sad not to hear the answers for awhile! If you were to consider a very special knitting friend what might the perfect gift be this year? If cost were no object, what would you choose? How about if you were budget minded?

(NG) Hmm, I'm not good at thinking of things with no limits. I like parameters, but I'll give it a shot. I would like my best knitting friends to all have full sets of some lovely wooden needles and a full sweater's worth of 100% cashmere in a dk weight in black or prune with an i-pod touch thrown in for good measure. On a more realistic budget I would give those lovely hand hammered silver stitch markers on a silver pin (sorry, I don't know who makes them) or a coat's worth of Ultra Alpaca (yum). On a small budget I would give a hat kit with pattern, yarn and needles.

(KC) Wonderful---- and again, you have my address, right??? Hmmmm?

(KC) Santa might have time for a last minute delivery---- can I talk him into bringing you anything special?

(NG) I just don't know, but I do love boots (size 6, large calf).

(KC) You have knitters from all over the world who consider themselves fans of yours, do you have any holiday greetings you'd like me to pass along for you?

(NG) I would like to thank every one who likes what I do and wish that their hand knit gifts are well received and that they have time to relax and indulge in a project for themselves (one of those projects where you really learn something new) some time soon.

(KC) I echo that sentiment Norah! We’ll hope that around the Internet and on Ravelry we are blessed to see many great projects that will be cast on after the holidays wrap up.

(KC) After the last bit of the holidays have been celebrated, as you are relaxing with great tv or movies----- what will you be doing?

(NG) Designing for Fall 08-09!

(KC) And of course we can’t wait. Speaking of great Norah Gaughan designs, can I ask you how you came up with the creative names for your patterns?

(NG) Patterns from Knitting nature were named for their inspirations, of course. At Berroco, we had a tradition of naming items with woman's names. As you can imagine it's getting difficult to think of new names so Margery and I search on the internet. For Norah Gaughan Vol. 1, I used Finnish baby names for one story and French baby names for the other. Some items in NG vol. 2 (just now being shipped to stores) are named after actions needed to make them - like flow, loop, ruffle & pleat. Some of these words are nouns too, and so have a bit of a double meaning.

(KC) Ah! Thanks! And I have to tell you that I can’t wait to see Norah Gaughan Volume 2! (Note to Rachel at my LYS, hold a copy for me and let me know when it comes in, okay?)

(KC) As I’ve told knitters over the past weeks that Norah Gaughan is going to be part of the holiday blog this year, the comment I get each and every time is "THE Norah Gaughan????" That has to make you smile! So, what is the secret behind becoming THE Norah Gaughan? How did it happen that you are the quintessential knitter?

(NG) Geez, I do so like being THE Norah Gaughan, but the quintessential knitter part is going over the top! I can't stand the thought of not getting better at what I do. So I keep trying to get better - if there's a secret, that's it. (It helped to have the quintessential big brother who told me I'd never be as smart as he is. Thank you, Brian! XXX)

(KC) In my mind that is the mark of a really great knitter, the desire to keep getting better. Very well put.

(KC) I’ve heard a lot of knitters love the star from the Berroco website and your blog. Rachel asks if there is a trick to making it sit up on the top of the tree??

(NG) About the star - we manipulated our artificial tree to hold the star. I was thinking of under-stuffing the center, and pushing the last point it into the center forming an indentation. I think I'd want to stuff it fully after Christmas though.

(KC) You’re right it would look great around the house……. Very sculptural.

(KC) Thanks so much Norah----- I sure do hope you get those boots!

I have enjoyed so much bringing you Knitting Contrisstmas this year! It’s been a pleasure. I hope you stay around to see what else might happen, it would be a pleasure and an honor to see you back.

Many Holiday Blessings, and wishes for a healthy, happy, knitterly 2008!

Hana and Prince (above) are singing a last Christmas Carol for you----- you can tell, they really enjoy it!


Rachel said...

Yeah! Thanks for putting together this great series. I have really enjoyed reading it. And double thanks for asking Norah about the star. :)

Jenni said...

I am knitting a Norah sweater right now! Thank you for the wonderful interviews!

Lolly said...

Lovely interview! and a perfect way to finish up this fun advent! Norah's work has provided me with some great inspiration - and I am knitting an afghan now from Berroco that has a heavy NG influence - hexagons!

I hope you had a lovely Christmas, Tina!!

Virtuous said...

You did some great work putting together "Knitting Contrisstmas 2007"! I can't wait for it again next year! Thanks so much!

YarnThing said...

Great little blog post :-) Cool stuff!

Marly aka Yarn Thing

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the correct pronounciation of Gaughan, however I still prefer to pronouce it like the famous painter; much more fitting!