Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Interview with Our Own Designer: Elizabeth Green Musselman!

Elizabeth Green Musselman designed the gorgeous Modern Tartan sweater that appeared in last winter’s pattern book Hill Country Weavers SHELTER. Now she’s got another beautiful sweater pattern, Blue Sage Shrug, in the new Hill Country Weavers Prairie Bliss collection, which you can buy by-the-pattern at our online store, or down at the shop. You can find her as elizabethgm on Ravelry and on her blog, Dark Matter Knits. Here, Elizabeth, who has worked at HCW off-and-on for years as a teacher, talks about her knitting life.

HCW: How long have you been knitting?

EGM: Almost 30 years. I asked my mom to teach me when I was a tween.

HCW: Why do you love knitting?

EGM: So many reasons! First and foremost, I love that it makes me feel like a creative person, something that I never thought I was (because I can't draw very well, don't write short stories or poetry, etc.). Like so many people who spend all day working in their head producing nothing tangible, I also appreciate the opportunity to create something with my hands. I also like being able to produce clothing that I and my loved ones actually like to wear, instead of having to wear whatever Old Navy decides would look good on us this year. I love having this strong point of connection to my mom. I could go on and on....

HCW: How did you come to be part of the SHELTER project?

EGM: Knowing that I had started to design knitted garments, especially for boys and men, Suzanne asked me to design a men's sweater for this collection.

HCW: What inspired your design for Modern Tartan?

EGM: Above all, the yarn. I could not pick just one color since the dye work is so lovely in this yarn, so I started thinking about how to create a simple colorwork project that would combine multiple colors. The striping pattern in the neutral colors I borrowed from a baby blanket that my mom knit for my son, and I added the columns of orange purl stitches to slim down the horizontal stripes a bit. I wanted the shape of the garment to mimic those fleece pullovers that so many men like.

HCW: What obstacles did you encounter?

EGM: I had a hard time figuring out how to explain clearly how to do the raglan shaping while doing the colorwork at the same time. This was also one of the first times that I knit a sample garment that didn't fit anyone in my household, so I had to put a lot of trust in my numbers.

HCW: How do you like SHELTER?

EGM: I like this yarn a lot, especially because it's like nothing else on the market (that I know of). I love its wooly feel and smell. But above all, I adore the depth of the color. Many yarns have a single-dimension color, but this yarn's coloring gets more complex the closer you look at it. For this sweater design, I also really liked how light the yarn is. In most worsted-weight yarns, a stranded-knit sweater would be quite heavy, but my finished garment was quite light -- warm, but not cumbersome.

HCW: If you could design any project, and actually have time to knit it, what would it be?

EGM: I have an idea in my head for a dogwood-tree-inspired stole that I can never seem to get to. It would have appliqued dogwood flowers, branches, leaves, the whole gamut.

HCW: How long did it take you to knit the prototype for your design?

EGM: It took me several weeks of very focused knitting -- lots of late nights. But some of that time was ripping back to make the shoulder lie better, etc.

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