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Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
The Wandering Waves Shawl/Wrap.

Fiddle Knits Blog Tour

Erica Jackofsky of Fiddle Knits Designs asked me to join in her blog tour.

I said yes. So, here is my review of her ebook, Mythos, and a quick q-and-a session we had over email.

The seven patterns in the collection are based on Greek and Roman mythology. They all use fingering-weight (sock) yarns, and are designed to work well with hand-painted options. Two of the shawls have more than one possible size.

I like that she opened the collection with a note about gauge, needles, and the supreme importance of blocking when it comes to lace shawls. Overall, the page design is clean and easy to read. A list of abbreviations and a stitch guide at the back of the pdf are helpful additions.

All of the shawls look fun and very knittable. A few are more frilly, while others look more warm. I don't understand why Erica used sl1, k, psso where an ssk would have worked. It's probably a matter of personal preference. If I were to make that particular shawl, I would just substitute ssk where I liked.

Erica uses charts and written instructions, which is nice, for her patterns. I also like that she includes copies of the appropriate keys with each chart, so that you don't have to flip back and forth through the pdf to understand what she means. Also, the pages are all numbered, which is convenient for printing.

Her patterns are very nice. She has a good eye for color and the stitch patterns from each part of a shawl flow well into the next segment.

She won my nerdy, math-girl heart with this shawl/wrap:

"Wandering Waves is a type of sideways knit shawl or wrap. It's knit on the bias from one long side edge to the tip of the wingspan at the opposite edge. Because of the rate at which the stitches decrease in this design it isn't the equilateral or isosceles triangle that you usually see in shawls. Instead, Wandering Waves is a right angle scalene triangle. (In case you don't remember geometry class this means that one corner is a 90 degree angle, making it a right triangle, and none of the sides are of equal length, which qualifies it as scalene.)

The edge along which the decreases are placed becomes the long wingspan edge."

It's geeky AND very pretty.

You can buy the Mythos collection from her website.

Q. When/how did you learn to knit?

A. I learned how to knit after I graduated highschool in 2002, but I didn't keep it up for very long. I never really liked following instructions, so it made learning to knit and then trying to actually make something pretty difficult. So I put away the knitting needles for several years. I guess I really got back into it in 2007 after finishing college. I had so much free time (at least that's what it felt like after having so much school work!) that I needed something to occupy my hands and mind. This time around the knitting bug bit me hard. I quickly became addicted.

I learned to knit completely from books. At the time I had no idea there was a local yarn shop, nobody in my family knit, and at the time I wasn't internet savvy enough to think of website or YouTube to help me out.

Q. How did you start designing?

A. I started designing for myself as soon as I figured out how to knit, purl, yarn over, and k2tog. Like I said above, I never really liked following instructions. (It's a theme that shadows me through my entire life whether it be playing music or cooking.) In the beginning I wasn't writing down what I was doing, not in a way that would make any sense at least. Looking back at my early design attempts makes me laugh. I guess in a few years I might laugh at what I'd doing now, though, too.

Q. Are you a process or a product knitter?

A. I'm definitely mostly a product knitter. It's a good thing too because being a designer I don't really have much of a choice. I have to steadily publish new designs or my work becomes lost in the sauce, so to speak. I push through some stuff that I think are really boring to make just because I think the finished product will be amazing to wear. I don't think I'd be able to do that if I was a process knitter. Then I'd miss the satisfaction of wearing/using my knits!

Q. What inspires you?

A. Everything inspires my designs. I've never been successful in pinpointing any one thing that inspires me, unless I say the yarn itself. I draw on everything in my world from music to family and friends, places, movies, and colors.

If you ask what inspires me to continue I'd say my family. The fact that they believe in me so much makes me believe in myself. And that inspires me to keep going no matter how hard it gets.

Q. Do you have any techniques to keep your creativity flowing?

A. Yeah, don't push it. If I sit down to design and nothing is coming to me I put away my stuff and do something completely unrelated. My best designs come to me in the middle of doing something else. At that point I drop whatever it was I was doing and pull out my design notebook. I've found there's nothing I can do to keep the creative juices flowing except wait for it.

Q. Do you have a "typical day"? If not, what would be your perfect day?

A. Haha. Yeah, my typical day is: wake up and have breakfast in front of my computer while checking messages, do some knitting while breakfast digests, exercise, back to work doing pattern layouts, web updates, or any deadline knitting (I only knit in the middle of the day if there's a fast approaching deadline and I'm behind on its progress. Otherwise absolutely no knitting gets done between exercise and dinner.). There's no such thing as a lunch break for me. It's spent in front of the computer working. I stop when it's time to make dinner and eat. Dinner is the only meal I don't work through. After dinner I sit down and finally get to knit. Unless a pattern is due out and I have to complete the layout. Dyeing yarn is thrown in there throughout the day too.

I do this about 5-6 days a week. There's a lot less actual knitting involved in being a designer than people might think. Even though I get to work from home it's still a full time job with paperwork, contracts, photo editing, and web design. I'd say I get 1-3 hours of knitting done on a good day. Thankfully I knit fast so I can keep the designs coming!

A. Is there anything you haven't mastered that you'd like to know how to do?

Q. There's always something new to learn. I'm not sure what the next skill I want to learn next is, but as soon as I figure it out I'll try it!

Thanks, Erica!