I’m curious to know a bit about your everyday life, for example how you divide your time between knitting, designing and office work. You have written about this before but how is it now?
It’s a little messy at the moment, although my workload is perfectly manageable! I spent a good chunk of the beginning of the year dealing with some health issues, and then I had to move, so after we wound down Stranded Magazine, I never really came up with a new routine for my work days that I follow consistently. I love routine, so I should really make some changes, but here’s the honest version.
I’m home in the mornings, and I’ll read through messages and email, or knit on samples, or take some photos. I try to get photos done during the sweet spot, late in the morning, where the morning haze has lightened up a bit and the light is brightest in my apartment. I’m working on building out a better resource section for this website, which calls for a lot of photos! And, uh, sometimes I just sleep in as late as possible and then surf the internet for a while because I stayed up too late the night before to really do anything practical in the morning.
I head off to my office job around a quarter past 11, and I work there from 12 to 5, doing pension benefit administration stuff. It’s as unexciting as it sounds, but I work with a lot of really great people, including some of my knitting friends, so it’s generally pretty pleasant to be there. I frequently knit on my commute if it’s not too crowded on the bus, and I also do a lot of my social media posts then. If I take pictures for Instagram in the morning, I don’t usually bother posting them until I’m on the bus and have nothing better to do.
I get home around 6 PM, and unless I have plans with friends, I have dinner and get to work. I’ll work on photo editing, blog posts, replying to emails, pattern writing, and/or samples (aka knitting and watching tv). Sometimes I’ll get really sucked into what I’m doing and the next thing I know it’s 2 AM, and sometimes I’ll call it a night at a reasonable 10:30 PM. If I’m on a roll, I stick with it because I know I can sleep in if necessary. It all depends on what I’m doing!
On the weekends, I’ll work on edits if I have them from my tech editor, who often sends them at the end of the week, but other than that, I don’t do very much desk work, which is a delightful change from the last time I wrote about my work life! I still do a lot of knitting on samples on the weekends, but that’s fun and something I choose to do because I could easily hire sample knitters instead of doing most of it myself.
What is your favourite place to knit?
At a cafe or bar with friends! It’s nice to curl up at home and knit, but I love chatting and knitting with other people.
Do you prefer to knit during wintertime or all year round?
I don’t actually know! I enjoy that more people are excited about knitting in the winter, but I’m not sure if I prefer the actual knitting part more in one season or the other. I have to knit all year round because it’s my job, and I certainly don’t dislike it, but before I designed, I didn’t really knit in the summer. Knitting was my Fall/Winter craft, and sewing was what I did in the Spring and Summer. At the time, I lived in California where summers are much warmer than here in Seattle, so it’s hard to say if my taste changed or the temperatures get some credit.
How often do you knit/crochet each week on average and how is that made up? Half an hour here and there or longer stints? Does it vary?
I don’t time myself, but I knit daily, and some days I squeeze in half an hour here and there, and other days I sit and knit for hours in the evening. Knitting is kind of all-encompassing in my life because it’s my job and also how I met most of my local friends. I knit on the bus if it’s comfortable, and then I might knit in the evening as well if I need to hit a deadline or if I’m meeting up with friends. What I do in the evening and on the weekends varies depending on if my priorities are writing or knitting. I prefer to knit my pattern samples myself as much as possible, and that means I’ve got to do a lot of knitting!
I crochet very infrequently, unfortunately. I really enjoy crochet, but it’s strictly a hobby and can be just as hard on the hands and wrists as knitting, so it’s not my first choice when I’ve got some free time. I try to be careful of repetitive movements with my hands, so I’ve picked up more hobbies that are less similar to knitting and don’t crochet as much as I used to.
Do you have connections to Sweden? Just thinking about your last name, your sister’s name and her dog’s name, the Julgran sweater, etc.
Yep! My great grandparents on my dad’s side of the family were from Sweden. One of my aunts who lives near me speaks Swedish well, and I’ve been learning bits here and there. On Sundays I have dinner with my local relatives, and we watch Swedish tv together while my aunt gives us rough translations. We watch a lot of stuff like Allsång på Skansen and Melodifestivalen, which don’t require much translating, but Trädgårdstider is my favorite. My sister Britta, pictured above with her dog Bjorn, joins in too when she’s visiting Seattle.
What is a good beginner first sweater yarn?
There are two schools of thought for first sweaters. One is to get something cheap so it doesn’t matter if it goes wrong, and the other is to get the best materials you can afford so that the higher quality materials will make you feel more invested and look good enough that a few mistakes will go unnoticed. The former was my approach, and my first sweater was knit using reclaimed yarn, and I’d encourage other knitters to do the same if they’re nervous about wasting precious yarn! My first sweater was a total flop, but that wasn’t because of how I acquired my yarn for it.
What I’d recommend is buying an inexpensive wool or wool-blend sweater at a thrift store and unraveling it into hanks. You want a heavy sweater and to avoid ones with serged seams. Tie up the hanks to keep them tidy, and then give them a wash or steam them to get rid of the ripples. When the hanks are dry, ball them up, and knit a swatch on a needle size you like. Measure you gauge, hop on Ravelry, and use the gauge search to find a pattern that matches the gauge you’re knitting with your reclaimed yarn! You’ll get a selection of patterns to choose from that you know you’ll have the right for. Gauge is one of the biggest hurdles for a first sweater, so choosing one based on your own gauge instead of trying to change yours to match a designer’s gauge is a great option.