Ranee Mueller Arabian Knits, Indie Design Gift A-Long 2019 Interview

Today we’re chatting to a good friend of mine, Ranée Mueller of Arabian Knits.

Hello there! If you don’t know me already, I am Ranée Mueller of Arabian Knits. I’ve been officially designing since 2004. However, I kind of fell into it. First I modified patterns I had, then I thought about how a certain stitch pattern might look on a certain item, and it went from there. My designs are largely aimed at busy people who like interesting texture and construction, who also want to make something beautiful in their spare time. My business name comes both from my Saudi heritage and my sense that designing tells a story and that the knitters who make my designs are adding their own story to the one I share in the pattern. I began knitting over 33 years ago, and love cables, texture and lace especially. My patterns are a kind of east meets west, with Middle Eastern aesthetic and design elements applied to western accessories and garments.

Logos Mittens by Ranée Mueller Arabian Knits
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Logos Mittens by Ranée Mueller Arabian Knits

How did you get into knitting/crochet and who taught you? 

My mother taught me to knit while my teachers were on strike when I was in the 5th grade. In what was my first introduction to homeschooling (we homeschool our children, and have graduated two of our kids already), my mother, a graduate student at the time, taught me fractions, how to cast on, knit and purl, and then set me loose in the juvenile section of the graduate school library while she went to class. She didn’t remember how to bind off, but there was a fellow student who was a knitter who helped me with that. Everything else was trial and error, books from the library, and magazines later. I made a lot of messes and mistakes (Who knew you needed to change yarn position from knit to purl and back in the same row? I didn’t.), didn’t finish anything for about six or seven years, and somewhere is a long tube of ugliness that was a mishmash of people’s discarded and unwanted yarn. Having children is what spurred me to pick up my knitting again, and the internet boom in patterns and knitting technique helped me as well.

Beatitude by Ranee Mueller  Arabian Knits
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Beatitude by Ranee Mueller Arabian Knits

What made you want to start designing?

Curiosity, really, and a desire to make things to fit, or to see how this change would affect the end result. Perhaps there was a simple shape or basic piece that I thought would be interesting with a new stitch pattern or different color progression.

What’s you favourite part of the design process?

Solving problems to make the final shape or concept work, both for the design and for the end user of the pattern. I see my role as finding ways to simplify the complicated parts so that they are easy to execute.

Haboob by Ranée Mueller Arabian Knits
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Haboob by Ranée Mueller Arabian Knits

What inspires you?

Middle Eastern art, architecture and stories, nature, figures and events from my faith, but even things like the design on a shower curtain have spurred a design idea or process.

Are you a full-time or part-time designer and how does that fit into your life?

I am a full time wife and mother and part time designer. Knitting is easy to fit into time waiting or while listening to lessons or trying not to stress out while the kids are learning to drive. I keep my design notebook with me all the time and scribble or sketch an idea, write out what I think I want to do with it, and then come back to it as I can. Most of my serious work, the technical writing and editing, photography and editing, and so on, happens while the kids are otherwise occupied or at night.

Harmattan by Ranée Mueller  Arabian Knits
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Harmattan by Ranée Arabian Knits

Do you have a favourite thing to design and why?

It’s hard to narrow down, but probably accessories. They are quick to make and fun. However, I have designed a couple garments, and I have plans for more in the near future. One of the areas I am interested in is men’s wear and garments. I try to design things for the boys and men in our family, as well as thinking of ways that pieces can work for men or women.

Do you have much time to make things for yourself or for gifting?

I used to do a lot of gift knitting, but now it is largely for my immediate family and my designs. Some samples become gifts for others. My husband and kids appreciate and use my knits the best, but babies, close friends and a few members of our extended family get gifts as well.

Mariam by Ranée Mueller  Arabian Knits
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Mariam by Ranée Mueller Arabian Knits

If someone knitted or crocheted a gift item for you, what would you love the most?

Item or aspect? I think in terms of item, probably a shawl or a scarf. However, the best part of a knit or crocheted item is that I know how much thought and work goes into it.

Do you have a favourite yarn and why?

Whatever I am working with currently! I love sport to DK weight yarn the best, and natural fibers. Except for socks and such, I tend to use fingering weight for shawls, but for other items, especially garments, I like sport and DK because they are not too heavy, but also come together quickly. Cotton and linen are hard on my hands, so I tend to use those in blends.

Tutabaq by Ranée Mueller Arabian Knits
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Tutabaq by Ranée Mueller Arabian Knits

What’s your favourite of your own designs and what do you love about it?

Hmmm. My favorite design is probably Amira because it is flattering to just about any body shape (sized from 28 inches to 54 inches).

Amira by Ranée Mueller Arabian Knits
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Amira by Ranée Mueller Arabian Knits

Is there anything new you can tell us about or a recent design you’d like to chat about?

Khamseen is a large shawl, which I love, and was one of my designs inspired by the Trade Winds and named winds of the Middle East and North Africa. The word means 50 and the wind is named that for the number of days it blows. When designing it, I planned to use a border pattern that would repeat 50 times. However, as I was planning my year of patterns, I realized that it would be coming out around when my 50th pattern on Ravelry was, so I made sure to time it to be my 50th pattern. Unknowingly, though, the number of stripes needed to get to the right stitch count for the border was exactly 50. That delighted me.

What’s your favourite colour?

Red! But really vibrant and jewel colors of all kinds.

Rabi by Ranée Mueller Arabian Knits
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Rabi by Ranée Mueller Arabian Knits

Have you been a participating designer in the Indie Gift Along before and what do you love most about it?

This is my fourth year as a participating designer, and the first thing I found was that I wasn’t doing my work alone. It gave me colleagues in what can often be a solitary and lonely effort. It gave me a sense of camaraderie among both my fellow designers and my customers. Practically speaking, it also gives me a chance to knit on projects that aren’t simply design samples or work. It is a fun time for me to work on other designers’ patterns each year.

Which Gift Along 2019 designers inspire you and why?

There are so many, and I feel like I am slighting people by leaving them off this list, but I will limit it to two.

Jenise Hope, who makes such lovely patterns and is such a smart designer and business woman, especially for her young age. She was homeschooled and went to fashion school and applies her fashion education to knitwear in creative ways, while being quite a business woman, balancing her family and work beautifully. Many of her designs apply fascinating construction as well as keeping in mind differing body shapes.

Linette Grayum, who designs both knit and crochet patterns while also homeschooling her son and traveling around the country with her son and husband in an RV. She essentially sets up and runs a home every place they stop. She is inspired by nature, and you really see it in her work. Her designs are interesting to make, not just beautiful.

How do people get in touch with you or see more of your work?

Blog: My blog has been neglected, but I have plans to resurrect it this year – http://arabianknits.blogspot.com/
Monthly Newsletter, 1,001 Knits: http://eepurl.com/cF0Vbj
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArabianKnitsDesigns/
Ravelry pattern store: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/ranee-mueller
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/arabianknits/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/Arabianknits

Gifts of the Magi by Ranée Mueller Arabian Knits
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Gifts of the Magi by Ranée Mueller Arabian Knits

 

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