Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Better Know A Local Designer: Ann McCauley

We are excited to be hosting local knitting designer, Ann McCauley, for a trunk show and classes on January 19th!

Ann and her pup in matching sweaters of her design. Cute!
Ann McCauley 
Saturday, January 19th
Trunk Show and Book Signing: 1:30-2:30pm

Ann teaches nationally and is the author of two knitting books, as well as loads of patterns for publications such as Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People 2, 3 and the upcoming Wool People 5, Knitter's Magazine, Craftsy, and Louet, and was featured on Knitty Gritty. Ann's books, The Pleasures of Knitting: Timeless Feminine Sweaters and Together or Separate: Knitting the New Twinset, will be available for purchase with a special discount at her trunk show.

Ann is not only a professional knitter--she also had a long performing and teaching career in Modern Dance--she taught 20 years at the National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, was Associate Artist in Choreography for the Denver Center Theatre Company for 14 years, and taught Movement at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy for 14 years.

We are so intrigued by Ann's combination of her love of dance and love of knitting and can't wait for her Movement for Knitters class! We've asked Ann to share a little about herself and her knitting history on our blog today.

How did you learn to knit and how long have you been knitting?

I learned to knit in Girl Scouts! My Mom knew how to knit so she could also help me with my knitting. I loved it immediately. First I made headbands, then I made slippers, then I told my Mom I’d like to knit a sweater. She told me I’d never finish a sweater. I understand why she said that because it took her a really long time to knit a sweater being a full time social worker, mother of four and wife. That was it, my knitting was on pause until in my late 20’s when I went to Denmark on tour with a modern dance company. Everywhere I went I saw public knitting. I started buying yarn and needles immediately and started knitting again once I returned home. I’d say I’ve been knitting rather obsessively for thirty years.

Tell us about why you fell in love with knitting.

Honestly, I fell in love with knitting because I am a sweater girl. I love knit wear. I grew up at a time that young girls wore skirts and sweaters to school. I was smitten because there was nothing else that I ever wore that felt as comfortable and comforting as sweaters. I also love that knitting is a meditation, an orderly, repetitive activity that changes our brain waves. I love exploring the creative process.

Why is movement such an important aspect of the knitting process?

Because we live in these bodies that are high maintenance vehicles and how we use them correlates with how we feel. In the process of learning to knit, many start off too tight in the knitting and/or too tense in the body, be it the shoulders, neck, hands, thumbs, back or spine what have you. A little physical awareness goes a long way and can make such a significant difference, so when I teach Movement for Knitters I cover lots of information about alignment, efficiency, self-help hand care, even breath. It’s one of my favorite things to teach because of the immediate difference most people experience. I’ve had many knitters who have taken this class tell me that it should be required for all knitters. Class information is based on over 40 years of studying movement, dance, the body and different forms of body work.

What inspires your design process?

Yarn, color, texture, line, shape, mood, becoming very quiet and still. I believe the design process can be highly variable. At times, I have had that flash when spontaneously I may see every detail of a new design and I’ve also experienced painstakingly swatching to the length of a scarf, but it’s a jumble of stitches that I have to see and allow to inform me. I very much enjoy watching a design evolve.

What designs or project are you most excited about right now?

I’m excited to contribute designs to Brooklyn Tweed. I adore being part of what Jared Flood creates. I find his work incredibly interesting. We met when we were both teaching at Yarnover, a fabulous annual event the Minnesota Knitting Guild puts on in the Minneapolis area. Since then I have had designs in Wool People 2 and 3 Collections and will have a design in the upcoming Wool People 5 Collection.

What is your favorite technique for a professional looking handknit?

I believe a professional looking handknit is the result of many techniques. It is a challenge for me to single out just one, but I’ll try. Small details interest me and cumulatively small details add up to a big difference in achieving a professional result. 

Blocking so enhances our knitting. I prefer steam blocking because it allows more control. I love seams for the stability, definition, structure and fit they give. I prefer designing with flat pieces and feel this is an area where knitters can learn a great deal from sewers. When needed, I do some of the pressing that sewers utilize after a knit garment is steam blocked and seamed. An example would be a reverse stockinette stitch seam. You can bet that I’m going to lie that finished seam on the ironing board with the wrong side facing me, push straight pins into either side of the raw seam to open it outward and give it a little more steam so it lies flat. Otherwise you can count on that seam rolling inward. 

 I’ll cover a number of these types of details in the Enviable Invisible Seams class. By the way, if there’s anyone that can’t tear themselves away from their current project to knit swatches to practice seaming on, I understand, and you can bring any swatches you might have from past gauge checks or a finished garment that is ready to seam. I recognize that many knitters don’t like seaming until they have learned the invisible seaming because I was one of them. Seaming from the right or public side allows such a beautiful result.

Thanks Ann! We look forward to your classes!


Anonymous said...

Hi! I have a question: would it be possible to post the description of the pattern of knitwear to a islandic horse? I´d love to see one of those, and have been searching for the patterns for a VERY long time. And I´m not going to visit Island for a while so I can´t get them by myself =( please send me answer to my mail adress, and I will be very thankful! Best regards Mikaela in Sweden

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this is the one you are looking for.

Anonymous said...

Hi again! Thank you for the link, but unfortunately that´s not the pattern! The knitwear I am thinking about is actually for the horse, a "horseblanket"! Anyone else who has the pattern?! Best regards Mikaela