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.
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.
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.
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.
Do you have a favourite thing to design and why?
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.
If someone knitted or crocheted a gift item for you, what would you love the most?
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.
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).
Is there anything new you can tell us about or a recent design you’d like to chat about?
What’s your favourite colour?
Red! But really vibrant and jewel colors of all kinds.
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
Ravelry pattern store: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/ranee-mueller
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