Monday, June 13, 2011
Portrait of a Free-range Knitter: Amy
Meet Amy Montevaldo from California, whose projects brighten up the pages of Ravelry (Amy's Ravelry name is bunmomamy). Amy has graciously allowed me to interview her and become this week's Freerange Knitting Star. Everything below this is in Amy's own words.
'Other than occasional gifts for family and friends, I really didn’t knit all that much until a few years ago when I started participating in a small craft fair. Having discovered diva yarns, it was a constant effort to try to knit pretty, interesting, and unusual things while keeping them reasonably priced. I don’t know why I struggled for so long to try to make whole projects out of just one or two yarns. For some reason it didn’t occur to me that I could mix and match yarn colors and types with joyous abandon!
I’ve made a couple of simple sweaters but have never really been terribly interested in following a pattern, which is probably why I knit mostly scarves and the occasional wrap. This has the added benefit of being fairly quick gratification so I can get on to the next project. Nor does it use too much of any one yarn, leaving more to be mixed in with the next creation! I confess I find the planning and yarn gathering process the most fun, and knitting the garment is enjoyable but somehow almost secondary.
I was quite nervous about trying free-range knitting, but now find it a very liberating and refreshing approach. I don’t have to worry about gauge or needle size or whether I’ll have enough yarn to finish a project because I can just throw in something else.
Going into a project with an open mind, a willingness to experiment, and not limiting oneself by trying to stick to a rigid, preconceived notion of what the end result ‘should’ look like is key to an enjoyable knitting adventure.
Start with a small project like a scarf knitted long ways; in simple garter stitch to get comfortable with gathering and mixing yarns, or try mixing a few different types of stitches. Jane’s Baked Squash Scarf is a great first venture into free-range knitting.
I found the more set I am in what I want the end result to be, the more headaches and knitting insomnia it tends to cause. The Autumn KAL Shawl was probably the most difficult in that regard, since I had a very specific notion of how I wanted it to look. I take a different approach now, where I have a general idea of how I want something to be, and then let the yarns carry me along to an end result. That’s why some of my projects end up being too big; I get carried away with the joys of combining yarns and just knit, knit, knitting!
I think that’s what free-form and free-range knitting should be – getting carried away, even transported, by your knitting. Haul out your stash and play with it. See what the yarns suggest. Let the ideas percolate. Have a goal in mind but don’t be too worried about how to get there. Have a bit of courage, a bit of faith, knit, and enjoy!
Amy's Knit a River
Like Rose Marie, there are often several projects in mind or on the needles and she was absolutely right when she said ‘so many ideas, so much yarn, so little time’.
Jane: Amy, have you always had the courage to mix and blend your colors in knitting or is this something relatively new for you?
Amy: I’ve always been inclined to mix colors and textures, but only since discovering Jane’s philosophy have I really had the courage to do it. Now I feel somehow free, and much more relaxed in my approach to knitting.
Jane: I love your gorgeous vests made for the African Knitalong in Ravelry are bright, vibrant and explorative. Did the idea to mix those colors and yarns just come to you or did you work with what you had in your stash?
Amy: Thank you! Some ideas spring to mind almost fully formed, as was the case with the Trade Beads vest. I had gathered up a selection of earthy savannah colors, but decided I wanted to work on something more vibrant. Trade beads popped into my head and the idea took root. I don’t usually use many bright colors, so this was an exciting opportunity to branch out and experiment with something new.
I try to work only from my stash, and the Road to Marrakech vest was a much more organic process. I’d had those oranges and blues in mind for a while, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. Since I felt at a bit of a loose end after finishing Trade Beads and this was such an enjoyable garment to make, I decided to make another one with these colors.
Jane: I need to ask a version of this of everyone: Do you wear your pieces out into the world?
Amy: Sort of! Living in Southern California doesn’t lend itself terribly well to vests and wraps and other cold weather wear. And the fact that I don’t really like working with cotton and lean very much towards rich, dark, autumnal, colors makes knitting for this climate a bit of a personal challenge. I do knit and wear a lot of scarves, though, and have ventured out in the Marrakech vest a couple of times.
Jane: What advice can you give to other knitters afraid to take the first step into free-range?
Amy: Anything new can seem daunting or frightening, but just give it a try!
Autumn KAL Wrap
African Trade Bead Vest