Monday, July 25, 2011

Are you a Fickle Knitter?

Nancy with Fickle Knitter designer, Michelle Miller
I was very fortunate to meet Fickle Knitter, Michelle Miller, at TNNA. Her booth was filled with beautiful knitting projects; lots of scarves and shawl that were intricate yet surprisingly simple to knit - many reminded me of spiderwebs woven in mesmerizing patterns. I guess that is what you get when the creator is a scientist-turned-knitting-designer. Michelle loves fine yarns, and stitch patterns that challenge her physics background. I had a chance to find out what makes Michelle tick and I love her unique mathematical approach to knitting. 


Enjoy getting to know Fickle Knitter, Michelle Miller:


How long have you been knitting?
Knitting took my life by storm the summer of 2004, about a year after I moved to Southern California to attend graduate school. I was already married so my husband had to learn to accept the ever growing yarn collection and burgeoning knitting needle supply as it slowly overtook our home.


When did you become a knitwear designer?
I started writing designs professionally in July of 2008. I was staying home with my infant daughter and there was nothing like becoming a new business owner to help me procrastinate finishing my Masters degree in applied physics (I did eventually complete my degree in the spring of 2010). I lovingly call that time of my life the ProcrastiKnitting era.


What got you started?
Staying at home meant that I didn’t have a whole lot of adult interaction and some days I felt as if my brain were leaking out of my ears. In many ways I found that being a stay at home parent was more difficult than all those years of physics training. So writing knitting patterns allowed me to stay sharp mentally and use the knowledge I accumulated while earning my degrees in physics. It’s not what my professors had in mind or what I ever expected to do but it’s fulfilling and enriching.


What is your inspiration?
I am inspired by nature and I love a challenge. I enjoy every aspect of knitting, writing and designing and am particularly attracted to designing because it’s like solving a puzzle.


Do you draw out your design first..or does the yarn lead the way?
I do a bit of both. I sketch and let the yarn speak to me. Usually I draw a general outline of the item and fill in the stitch pattern details once I have the yarn in my hands. I like to keep things flexible so I can change midstream if something isn’t right. I rip back frequently, and I follow my instincts. If something isn’t the way I think it should go I change it.


Do you have a favorite yarn for your projects?
I love a fine weight yarn. Sock and lace weights are my favorite and almost any yarn with a bit of silk. I have a special love for writing shawl and shawlette patterns using one skein of luxury sock yarns. The beauty of it is you can substitute lace or a larger yarn by changing your needles.




Who are some of your favorite knitting designers?
Elizabeth Zimmerman and Meg Swansen are a given. I read EZ when I was new to knitting and her philosophy really appealed to me and shaped who I was to become as a knitter. Meg is a powerhouse and the knitting community wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for her contribution and creation of School House Press. Meg is the original Self Publisher as well as a talented designer and knitter. Mary Thomas’ Book of Knitting Patterns is a book that should appear on every designer’s shelf. My favorite all time knitting book is Vibeke Lind’s Knitting in the Nordic Tradition. Vibeke shows how fluid knitting can be and how to make a large variety of different projects.


What are your favorite type of knitting needles? 
Lightweight Circular Knitting Needles with a smooth join are my favorite. I have quite the circular needle collection that is threatening to burst forth and overtake the house. I’m always searching out new brands and love wooden, metal and plastic needles equally. I use the lightest needle possible to baby my wrist because I knit too much.


Do you have any new patterns coming for fall?
I have my first book coming out later this month! Leaves, Fickle Knitter Design Volume 1 is a collection of 8 new patterns that I’m really proud of. I have an amazing group of professional test knitters, tech editor, and graphic designer who have contributed to the book and made it possible for me to produce my first book at the quality my customers have come to expect.


When you're not knitting, what else do you like to do?
I love to read, daydream, and watch British television.


When it comes to sock knitting what kind of gal are you - top-down or toe-up?
Top down all the way! Turning that heel is magical and I’d recommend trying it at least once.




Shop all Fickle Knitter Patterns


Check out a few of our favorite Fickle Knitter Patterns!
(In order from top of photo from left to right)

  1. Fickle Knitter Flambe Shawl Knitting Pattern
  2. Fickle Knitter Cabled Cowl Knitting Pattern
  3. Fickle Knitter Mama Janes Slippers Knitting Pattern
  4. Fickle Knitter Tree and Arbor Wrap Knitting Pattern
  5. Fickle Knitter Limestone Shawl Knitting Pattern
  6. Fickle Knitter Asymmetrical Shawl Knitting Pattern
  7. Fickle Knitter Gauntlet and Scarf Knitting Patterns
  8. Fickle Knitter Jade Shawl Knitting Pattern
  9. Fickle Knitter Hollywood and Vine Sweater Knitting Pattern

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