Today we will speaking to steven a. from bitches get stitches. Many of you already know him for his great sense of humor, his wit, his sensibility & kindness and let’s not forget his straightforwardness and his way with words. And of course how could you miss him in his hot pants! We love him!
Hi steven, and thanks for joining us today. So I’ve known you for awhile now in the blogosphere. I just want to say first off that I think you’re fantastic. I’m not just saying this because we share a birthday month, or the fact that we are both Pennsylvanians. But simply because you are just that. Your generosity towards others is amazing, and your knitting skills are to die for.
So how has it come to be that you’ve made such a place for yourself in the knit world? Or was it one of those things where you wake up & viola. There you are. Or maybe you don’t see yourself in the same light the rest of us do.
first of all, let’s just get one thing straight. i may currently live in pittsburgh, but i am, and always will be, a michigander. i need to be clear, lest they revoke my citizenship. second of all, thanks for the kind words, and thanks for having me. you’re obviously one of my favorite readers/commenter’s, and i’m more than happy to be here.
to answer your first set of questions, i don’t yet see myself as having made that large of a place for myself in the knitting world. i’m still shocked anytime someone says they read my blog. but i suppose any notoriety i may have comes from two main things: dedication to my blog as a project, and plain old shamelessness. i go to the knitting events i want to go to to meet the knitters i want to meet (even though it’s stupid financially), i email designers that i admire to tell them how cool i think they are, i’ll curse elizabeth zimmerman even though i have experienced her wrath first hand (there are witnesses), and i’ll tell the world they’re wrong about lace, not for the attention, but for the simple fact that i want to. want is the only reason i need to do most of the things i do. and the thing i want most is for my blog to be something i would want to read.
I know you have done some work for Tina Newton knitting a sample. How nervous were you working on that piece? I thought it looked fantastic by the way.
oh dear. i have the biggest crush on tina newton, and knitting that sweater for blue moon was the most stressful knit of my life. i was beyond obsessed with making it perfect. while the sweater did turn out beautifully, and i did get my check, when i think back on it, all i can see are all the things i would’ve done differently. my only hope is that she’ll ask me to knit something for her again.
tina, please. call me!
How old were you when you learned to knit and who taught you?
hmm there are two stories of how i learned to knit. the first time, we’ll call a false start. i was either 19 or 20 years old, going to michigan state (go green!). my roommates and i were shopping around 2am at meijer, which is the norm. somehow, we found ourselves in the craft aisle, joking about learning to knit. out of nowhere, a knitter appeared and said, “i can teach you.” so in 15 mins, with 14” boye knitting needles and green fun fur, she taught me the e wrap cast on, and the knit stitch.
i was hooked.
but trying to learn to purl (i didn’t know about that whole moving the yarn forward) combined with a bad run in with a yarn store owner killed my first go at knitting.
a few years later, i was 22 living in chicago, working at a huge corporation, and my soul was dying in that cubicle. one day, while driving through wicker park, i saw a storefront that made me pull over. it turned out to be the coolest yarn store, nina (http://www.ninachicago.com/), and i decided to give knitting another try. i signed up for a beginning knitting class, and i’ve been knitting ever since.
I know a lot of things have changed for you lately, but do you think you’ll ever get into designing?
i’ve given designing a LOT of thought, and this is what i can say: i just don’t think i have it in me. i have a couple ideas, but the main problem is i don’t think i have enough understanding of garment construction to truly design. sure i could plug a stitch pattern into a plain hat and call it “a design”, but i don’t believe in that. i find it dishonest. i may be the only person on the knitting planet that finds the proliferation of knitting designers to be . . . distasteful. a true designer has a point of view, and designs because they can’t not design. that’s not who i am.
but if i do ever write a pattern, every one should buy it.
The question we all ask…Which would be your preferred choice. English, or Continental?
i begin every interview i do with this very question. english is my preferred method, though i’m very competent knitting continental. if for no other reason that to better yourself as a knitter, i say be comfortable with whichever method you don’t normally do.
i also recommend taking stephanie pearl-mcphee’s class on knitting for speed and efficiency, maybe more than once. the knowledge gained from that class about general knitting methods changed the way i view knitting.
of course i still view all continental knitters as the enemy. it’s just the way things are.
There are a lot of techniques out there, but is there one that you haven’t tried yet that you would like to learn?
shagging. if only for the hilarious blog post i imagine myself writing about it.
If you had to choose any yarn brand & mix of fibers, what would you say is your favorite that you find yourself going to time & time again?
i have a serious crush on madelinetosh sock yarn and pashmina for shalls/lace, but i worry her time is coming. blue moon is a company i go to if i need something extra special, even a skein I’ll never knit, but must have if only for its beauty. i also adore sanguine gryphon bugga!, though i consider that to be a festival only treat.
in terms of go-to yarns, it’s gotta be cascade 220. if i have an emergency hat to knit, or a basic sweater, you can’t beat it.
but more basically, i love wool. i believe in it. i believe in a yarn that lasts, so none of this single ply merino bullshit that will pill if you look at it for more than 5 minutes. i don’t believe in this obsession everyone has with softness to the exclusion of anything else. and don’t get me started on knitting for babies. for thousands of years, babies were clothed in whatever fiber was easy and warm. they will not be flayed by a “scratchy wool.”
i need to stop before things get crazy.
what was the question?
Oh madelinetosh! It’s lovely for sure. In fact, I have a skein from your personal yarn stash and I loved knitting with it. Thank you by the way! So far a lot of people seem to agree on the Cascade 220. It’s also my go to yarn of choice.
What are you currently working on at this moment, and how many projects do you have in total that are ongoing?
oh my. WELL, being in the hospital kinda blocked my knitting mojo. my knitting has slowed down a lot. i’m currently working on my shetland tea shawl (i think it’s two years old by now if not three). i maybe have 5 ufo’s at the most? this is not typical, and i fully intend to whore it up with some cast ons very very soon.
There are a lot of great designers out there who make such a statement with their work. Who would be your favorite & why?
this question is hard. i hate you. if i’m honest, then i have to say that the designers that impress me most are the ones whose names i don’t know. when i see some intricate colorwork on someone, or an epic circular shall, those designers are the ones who impress me most.
but if i have to pick someone, a “name” if you will, i think it’d have to be spillyjane. even though i will most likely never knit any of her designs because i don’t really like knitting socks or mittens, she makes me think twice about my stance. her point of view is clear. she knows what she’s good at and she’s monopolizing on that. her bird is adorable, and she has wicked good taste in music. she’s a seriously cool bitch, and her choices when it comes to color really impress me.
if i think about it longer, my answer might be different, but that’s who comes to mind.
Yes Spillyjane is fantastic, I will agree with you on that one.
What inspires you to knit?
i really have no idea. i think about this a lot. all i've been able to sort out so far is that i love the fact that i can make something beautiful that will last. it’s all about the beauty and my hands, which sounds a little dirty now that i’ve said it.
Of all the items you have ever knit, what was your most favorite by far, and why?
whichever item i knit last is my favorite, so it would have to be the surprise sweater i knit for my friend bill. (http://bitchesgetstitches.net/2011/05/02/super-secret-knitting-revealed/)
it was a total stress bomb to knit in that i didn’t measure him, but it came out perfectly. i almost died before i could finish it. it would be ludicrous to say it kept me alive, but it was definitely something i thought about while i was laid up in l’hôpital.
I loved that sweater! When I had seen your photos of him wearing it I was truly and utterly impressed by you.
Recently we just had the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival. Have you gone this year too and if so what was your prized purchase?
oh i went, and i wore my now traditional hotpants. my prized purchase was a yarn bowl from jennie the potter. i tried to get one last year at maryland and then later at rhinebeck, but was unable to get one either time. honestly, i’m not certain i even wanted one anymore, but i had to have one. it was the principle of it. so her’s was the first booth i went to, waiting there with some friends until they opened, and got my yarn bowl.
I happened to miss it this year, shame. I have seen the yarn bowls. I will have one!
Thank you Steven for sharing your thoughts with us today. We look forward to reading more about you and your adventures. I can never wait to see what you write next.
If you would like to see some of Stevens work you can find him on Ravelry or on his website bitches get stitches. If you haven’t had a look then I suggest you do. You’ll be hooked. And don't forget that tomorrow I will be drawing a winner in the giveaway for one of Heather Zoppetti's designs & some yarn!