Thursday, June 2, 2011

Interview with Kirsten Kapur

Today we will speaking to Kirsten Kapur from Through the Loops. She is a wonderful knitter who pays great attention to detail when it comes to designing knitwear.

Some of her famous designs are Andrea’s shawl (I loved knitting this one)

And Pembroke Vest (I really loved knitting this one too!!!).

To be honest I am in love with her designs. If I had twenty or so hands, I would knit everything she’s designed all at once.

Hi Kirsten and thanks for joining us today! I have to say I loved knitting your Andrea’s shawl. It was one of the first shawls I had ever knit, I loved it. The construction is not like most. What gave you inspiration for this? I actually designed Andrea’s Mitts first. I often design on the needles and this design was one that I had no idea what it would become when I started. All I knew was that I wanted to do something using two colors. I started with the garter lace edging, then picked out a stitch pattern that I thought would balance with the edging. They just grew from there. Once the mitts were done I realized that a shawl using the same motifs would work really nicely. I constructed the shawl the way I did because I wanted it knit all in one piece and the lace pattern worked better knit from the bottom up. It wasn’t until I got the shawl on the blocking board that I really fell in love with the design.

Has everything started out in your knitting/design career in the path that you have chosen, or has it been harder than what it really appears to be? My knitting design evolved somewhat organically. I didn’t really start out with a “plan”. I started blogging because I was looking for a knitting community with like-minded people. I’ve knit, sewed and done all manner of handcrafts all my life. Before my children were born I worked as an apparel designer and a textile designer. In those days I sewed most of my own clothes from my own patterns. Once I picked up knitting again it was only a matter of time before I started creating my own knitting patterns. I began to share them on my blog and things just grew from there. Now knitting design is my full time job. I wouldn’t say it’s hard, because I love every minute of it. But it does require long hours.

How old were you both when you learned to knit and who taught you? I don’t actually remember learning to knit, so I must have been quite young. It might have been my mother, my grandmother or one of my aunts. I really have no idea. It is also possible that I taught myself. When I was a kid I was too impatient to sit and have anyone teach me anything. That drove my mother crazy.

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 could never choose just one. It really depends on the design concept. Different yarns and fibers lend themselves to different projects. We are lucky to have so many amazing choices of brands & fibers. For my designs I prefer solid and semi-solid colors. They show design work so much better than multis.

Your children are of course a big part of your life. I have seen that they have helped you by modeling your designs on top of having their own band. Have you taught them how to knit? I have taught them to knit but none of them have really taken to it. My daughter Sofie sews very well. She creates her own designs by draping fabric on a dress form. Sofie’s twin sister Isabella is an amazing artist. Her drawings and paintings are better than the work I did in art school. My son Anders is also very creative. He constantly has an instrument in his hands. So when he is home from college there’s always live music in the house. He and Sofie are in the band - the NowhereNauts - together. The band writes their own original music.

There are a lot of great designers out there like yourself who make such a statement with their work. Who is your favorite & why? I can’t say I have one favorite, there are a lot of designers that I admire for different reasons. In some cases it’s their very wearable designs, in others it’s their innovation. For other designers it might be the way they present their work or their business model. A few favorites who come to mind, in no particular order are; Gudrun Johnson, Norah Gaughan, Anne Hanson, Kathy Zimmerman, Melissa Wherle, Miriam Felton, Rosemary Hill, Ysolda Teague, Jared Flood, Anne Weaver and of course, everyone’s favorite Elizabeth Zimmermann. But the list really doesn’t end here. There are many others I admire as well.

The question I ask everyone, English or Continental? English. I can knit continental but it hurts my hands, so I only knit continental when I do colorwork.

And one last question; Of all the items you have ever knit or crocheted, what was your most favorite by far, whether it be a design of your own or someone else’s, and why? Many years ago I made a vest for my father using Kathy Zimmerman’s pattern from Interweave Knits Spring 2005, the Skye Tweed Vest. My father was so proud of my work that he wore it every day. One Thanksgiving I took a photo of him standing on my deck looking very happy - of course he is wearing the vest. The photo really captured his personality. It’s one of the last photos that we have of him from before he got sick and is a family favorite. For sentimental reasons that Skye Tweed Vest has to be my favorite.

It was my father’s love of his Skye Tweed Vest that inspired me to design a cabled vest to raise money for Alzheimer’s and dementia research. Dr. G’s Memory Vest along with hundreds of generous knitters have helped me raise thousands of dollars to help fight this disease that affects so many families. My best guess is that we have raised over $15,000. Unfortunately I don’t have an exact number.

Thank you Kirsten so much for sharing your thoughts with us today. We look forward to seeing more of your designs in the future.

If you would like to see more of Kirsten Kapur’s work, you can find her on Through the loops and on Ravelry. Go check her out, I think you will be extremely pleased!

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