Mary is a knitwear designer and she loves knitting with super fine laceweight yarns. I can hear some of you fainting at the thought, I’d be one of you! It does mean that she’s lightning fast and the Queen of lace knitting.
Mary E. Rose, How did you get into knitting and who taught you?
I spent my early years in England, where knitting was still taught in school, and my mother knit. I made my first “gift” knit when I was six or seven, a large garter stitch dish cloth for my grandmother. (As an added bonus, my attention span was shorter than the rows of that cloth so I learned early about short rows and shaping!)
What made you want to start designing knitwear as Mary E. Rose designs?
I think that every knitter, at some point finds that they can’t find a pattern for what they want to make and create their own. I started designing my own things in the dark ages before the internet made it so easy to find such a large variety of patterns. As time went by I designed for my kids then more recently wrote up little patterns for them and my friends…but it was my friends that really pushed me to “publishing” designs.
What’s you favourite part of the design process?
A lot of my designs start with a question…What if? Or How Could? Figuring out the answer is my favourite part of the process…well, that and actually sitting down with needles in hand knitting it!
Do you start with a chart or a swatch or do you have a fully formed item in mind first?
I usually know how the project ends before I know how it begins! I’ll explain…When I am goal setting I ask “What does success look like? Where do I want to end up?” and I do the same thing with a lot of my designs. I know how the piece will end, then work backwards to figure out what the steps are to get to that ending. Then I chart, write and start knitting swatches.
What inspires you?
I would be hard pressed to say what doesn’t inspire me! Everything can inspire an idea…the world outside that I see, the music that plays on the radio, colourways of yarn. I created a series of patterns playing with self striping yarns because I adore the colours, but get very bored knitting plain vanilla socks. (Although those plain socks do showcase a good self striping yarn!)
Are you a full-time or part-time knitwear designer and how does that fit into your life?
Full-time, part-time?…based on hours worked each week…Full Time. I usually am actively working on some part of a design between 35 and 40 hours a week, but I have other jobs too! I think, as with many designers, while I would love for this to be my only job, in today’s economy that is not feasible.
Do you have a favourite thing to design and why?
I design the things I like to knit. Shawls are one of my favorites and I wear them a lot, but I also love socks and cowls, hats and tops. (I adore knitting doilies, and have a box full of them to prove it, but haven’t ventured into actually designing one. I do borrow from the techniques used to make them to create shawls though.)
Do you have much time to knit for yourself or for gifting?
A lot of my samples do end up getting worn or gifted, and I make a point of knitting for pleasure as well as for my designs. There are a couple of ways that I make sure I get pleasure knitting time, one is to play along in the Indie Gift Along, another is to test knit for other designers and I have a pattern buying habit that is nearly a large as my yarn collecting habit!
If someone knitted or crocheted a gift item for you, what would you love the most?
I would adore anything that someone knitted or crocheted for me! One of the crafters I met on Ravelry made me a collection of crocheted bookmarks that I use daily. (Although I often say…I would really like to have a very fine weight, two by two ribbed, turtle neck pullover…but I do not have the patience to actually knit it for myself!)
Do you have a favourite yarn and why?
I am the worst kind of yarn snob. I really believe that for every project, knitter (crocheter) and recipient there is a “right yarn”. Sometimes that is a nice acrylic from a big box store, sometimes it is expensive hand dyed cashmere. Matching the project to the yarn really is key though.
What’s your favourite design and what do you love about it?
Of my own? That’s a little like asking which one of my children is my favorite! My stock answer to that (for designs, not children) is the next one! But of the most recent or newly upcoming…probably Aviarium, in Knotions.com, where I played with mixing and matching shawl shapes to create a top down wedged half circle shawl with some pi- shawl shaping halfway through. I really wasn’t sure, even having swatching a full third of it, how the pi-shaping would work out and the applied border edge (the ending that started the whole project) had to fit “just so”. You can buy Aviarium here
Is there anything new you can tell us about or a recent design you’d like to chat about?
So many new things on the horizon…I have a couple of really small tutorial type projects coming this summer, a Shetland hybrid shawl later this year…and…shhhh…there might even be an eBook waiting in the wings.
What’s your favourite colour?
Do I have to pick just one? That’s hard…I am not fond of orange and my more conservative jobs have me wearing a lot of neutral, so for daily wear I have a lot of beige, navy blue and black but, I love all the shades of blues, greens and teals (for me). That said, my children love red, green and purple, so I knit with a lot of colors!
How do people get in touch with you at Mary E. Rose Designs or see more of your work?
Ravelry pattern store: https://www.ravelry.com/designers/mary-e-rose
Quick links to our shop
Austermann Yarns, Baby Yarns, Debbie Bliss Yarns, Lanas Stop Yarns, Araucania Yarns, Schoeller & Stahl Yarns, Felting Yarns, Noro Yarns, DK Yarns, 4ply Yarns, Aran Yarns, Fur Yarns, James C Brett Yarns, Lion Brand Yarns