Monday, December 15, 2008

Knitting Contrisstsmas Day 15: Marta McCall from TinkKnit

Here in the midwest we had a bit of ice and sleet and I was worried about Internet connectivity today. That would have hampered my ability to welcome Marta McCall the driving force behind the lovely knittables at TinkkniT. Thank heavens it was not as bad as had been predicted! Marta's work is lovely and makes most every knitter want to get on board the intarsia train, and why not! Marta lives in the lovely Pacific Northwest, Portland Oregon to be more specific, I would bet that it is not 14 blustery degrees there today! That bet might be wrong however as they had seven inches of snow fall yesterday and Marta reports that they are all bundled in after the storm and that it is the perfect weather for knitting!

KC: As the knitterly brains behind TinkkniT, first I want to know how in the world you came up with that name for your business! There are certainly days and projects where I feel as if I am tinking more than knitting.

Well, I asked my very own advertising guru, my daughter, who was 15 at the time, what would be an interesting, young, hip, expressive name. It took her no time at all to come up with TinkkniT. It's the word knit both forwards and backwards, you know a palindrome, and for me that was what we're all about: Knitting coming and going.

I'm currently knitting the Ravenna Satchel, pictured below- (it has taken a bit of a backseat to my holiday knitting but is now number one on the list) and love it! I also have some of your other designs in my queue. Big and Bold and Beautiful would certainly describe your creations. What has been your most popular pattern?

I was known for a long time for the Weekend Getaway Satchel, which, believe it or not, was the first published piece I ever designed (Interweave Knits, Fall 2005 and The Best Of Interweave). Now knitters have made the Ravenna Satchel our number one best seller, followed by the Flower Market Bag and the Silver Leaf Satchel.

Would you say that you do more Intarsia than anything? I know you LOVE intarsia, and it surely shows!

I really like Intarsia because for me it’s like painting with wool. Knitting is my art form and I’ve recently come to the realization that knitters really appreciate my graphic designs, so I’ve got quite a queue of designs coming. And since I live to design splashy, colorful, over-sized graphics, it’s a match made in knitting heaven!

I have learned so much about Intarsia from the Ravenna Satchel! For example I no longer wind my colors up on a zillion little dangly tangly bobbins held to the back, but just let the length of yarn hand and keep them straight as I go. It is still fiddly and more than a bit messy but for me the tip was brilliant.

I read that tip somewhere years ago and I wish I could remember where so I could give the author credit! I tried the yarn hanging technique out, because like you, I too, wound up all my yarn colors on silly little bobbins that got all tangled up as I knit and they drove me CRAZY!! I found the hanging yarn technique worked for me, so I use it and suggest it to knitters when they are struggling with the whole Intarsia thing. Whenever I see or read a new knitting tip, I try it out. If it works for me, I include it in my knitting repertoire. So there’s my tip: Try out tips when you come across them!!

What is coming up next in the world of Marta McCall and TinkkniT?

More patterns, less house remodeling, and lots of books! I’m currently working on two books at the same time in my first series of four books. I’ve come to understand that there are a lot of patterns that I’m dying to get out there that are really not “stand alone” patterns and need to be part of a book. So I’m designing, inventing, and knitting like crazy right now.

How do you find time to knit? You are quite prolific!

Knitting is my full time job! And I quit cooking! Which leaves more time to knit! Besides that, I love, love, love knitting, and lose all track of time when yarn and needles are in my hands. I am so lucky to have found my perfect job!

Tell me a little about your knit designs, what makes you (and your needles) tick?

I am passionate about handbags. I love expensive designer handbags, but I can’t afford them, so I design them instead. I think I might be the first one to actually silver-leaf felt as I did on my Silver Leaf Satchel and Zebra Bag. And I know I’m the first one to spray paint felt on my Barcelona Bag. I like functional knitwear that works for many occasions from jeans to black tie like my Shoji Screen Wrap and I like designs that can be worn over many seasons and layered. I like knitted accessories like my Felted Purls (knitted rings with real pearls adorning them) and unusual takes on cardigans, like my Origami Sweater and Urban Wrapper.

Because you are a crazy knitter as well…..what is your favorite thing to knit?

You’re not going to believe this, but I don’t have a favorite thing! It would be like choosing a favorite child! What I love about this art form of knitting is inventing something new. I like inventing a technique that we haven't seen before in knitting, or designing something new that seems to be missing from the knitting market place.

It has become well known that I am the only “throwing” knitter left on the planet these days. Does speed matter?

If you are driven to accomplish lots of projects, it’s important. For me, it’s about both speed and enjoying the process. So often I’m designing on a short deadline, but within that time frame I imagine how the knitter will process the design and enjoy the experience of knitting it. I ALWAYS counsel knitters to be kind to themselves and enjoy the knitting. What’s the hurry?

Tell me............Are you a process or a product knitter?

Both! I love to produce new product and I love the process of knitting. Sometimes super rush deadlines leave me breathless, though!

Where do you find inspiration for your knit designs?

You’ve probably heard this before, but EVERYWHERE! I look at art, shape, fashion, fabric, rugs, the way certain colors work together, the way foam bubbles up on waves, nature. I tend to work as an inventor and problem solver. I try to come up with the nuttiest idea I can think of and then tame it down so that people don’t think I’m completely cuckoo!

Is there anything in the world of knitting that you have not done and wish to tackle?

I’ve got big dreams. One of them is to help escalate knitting to the art form level. Quilting ascended to an art from “grandma” craft years ago and I think it’s high time that knitting take that same road.

Are you a part of the Ravelry world, and if so, what is your Ravelry name?

I’m Martamccall, no space, on Ravelry. I’ve started two knit along groups that I actively moderate, one for the Ravenna Satchel, and one for the Floral Pillow (in the book Color Style by Pam Allen and Ann Budd). What a great web site for knitters! I also do live chats and knit alongs on another great website,

What else do you do to feed your inner creative muse?

I think I’ve done every craft imaginable, but currently it’s painting, drawing, beading, needlepoint, embroidery, and sewing. I also love designing interiors, collecting antique knitting designs, and buttons, and fabric.

What do you do during the holidays? Anything special?

Breathe!! This year our family has decided to focus on experiences rather than stuff. We’re taking time to go to the theater, enjoy dinners together, decorate the tree, see a few movies, and prepare for our only daughter to fly out of the nest to college next year.

What yarn inspires you? Is there anything in particular that you can’t wait to knit with again?

I love yarn that feels good in my hands. I like those little luxurious yarns. Since I rarely knit for myself, when I do, it’s an event and I choose a yarn that is special and unusual and very, very soft. I have a bit of buffalo yarn waiting for me and some yarn made of the first shearing of baby alpaca, I’ve also got some Qiviuk I can’t wait to get to.

I don’t usually knit things more than once because I’m so anxious to get to the next new thing!

And we will be waiting and watching for the next new thing, sure to be wonderful! Thanks for spending time with us Marta, happy holidays to you and your family!

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