Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Q&A With MUSINGS FROM MERCURY HALL Designer Jennie Cross!

Exciting news! Hill Country Weavers' third pattern book, Musings from Mercury Hall, is now being distributed nationally by Deep South Books and Unicorn Books & Crafts. This pattern book is as gorgeous as our Shelter Collection and our Prairie Bliss Collection, if we do say so ourselves! You can pick up hard copies at the store or order PDFs online at our virtual shop.

And now, we'd like you to meet Jennie Cross, who designed two patterns for Musings From Mercury Hall, The Mercury Hall Pullover and the Mercury Hall Hat. Jennie's been knitting for seventeen years and you can find out even more about her at her website DovieJayKnits.

Your favorite part of knitting?
I am highly reactive to color and beauty, and something about textiles has always spoken to me, since I was very young. Knowing that with the industry and skill of my own hands and the wit and experience of my mind I can create something beautiful and useful, something that will be loved and bring happiness and comfort, gives me great joy and fills me with pride.

What got you into design?
When I was a teenager I got the Great American Afghan books printed by Knitter's Magazine and poured over their contents. There were designer interviews inside, and one with Lily Chin really struck me - this woman was not much older than I was and her job was knitting - I couldn't believe it. It was the late '90's and I was not at all plugged into knitting culture and there weren't any shops around so this was the first young knitting designer I'd really noticed. I was split between being a designer or working for the government as a Russian analyst and translator. Halfway through my freshman year of college (and first year Russian) I took a weaving class and realized that textiles couldn't be a hobby anymore - I was going to have to do this every day. I transferred to the University of Wisconsin and switched my major to Textile and Apparel Design.

Will you describe your pattern process and or knitting process?
I pretty much have to knit as I write. I work with the computer on my lap and my knitting on the keyboard and switch back and forth between typing and knitting. When I'm writing a graded pattern I typically grade at the same time, thinking things out for each size, and I keep an intense spreadsheet so I can remember what I'm doing. It's not always very efficient, switching back and forth so much, but I feel like I explain things much better when I write down exactly what I'm doing. I think this comes from the fact that at my old LYS in Madison, WI, I used to teach quite a bit, and I did a lot of demonstration and explaining at the same time - it's easier for me to be clear when I have the sample in my hands.

Any funny knitting stories?
I'm quite the opinionated and picky knitter, at least when it comes to my own projects. My knitting group in Madison used to make fun of me because I am almost incapable of cutting yarn - I do everything two-at-a-time - socks, sleeves, mittens, etc, and I work from both ends of the ball so that I only have one ball left at the end, not two. This also contributes to what I call my Low-Frogging-Threshold, which means that if something isn't working out, even if there's just a small problem, I pull it out - the yarn deserved better!!

I suppose the funniest thing that happened to me at work at the old LYS was one day when a nice lady came in and when I looked at her check it turned out to be the favorite author of my childhood - Patricia C. Wrede. I'm a very calm and quiet person, but I went totally monosyllabic and babbled like a monkey at her - she seemed flattered and couldn't have been nicer, but I was beside myself for the rest of the day - and of course a couple of coworkers and regulars witnessed the Fangirl Word Salad and I never heard the end of it. And the very next weekend Ysolda came in.

What do you do by day?
I let my dogs in and out of the house, tell them how beautiful, well-behaved, and spoiled they are, and forget to do the laundry!

What else do you want to tell us?
I'm doviejay on Ravelry and Twitter.

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