It’s Designer Interview Week! The Spring/Summer Collection debuts in April, and now is your chance to get to know the designers. Next up is designer Jennette Cross! Find her online at doviejayknits.com, on twitter @doviejay, and find all of her work at her ravelry designer page.
1. When did you first fall in love with knitting?
I first asked for knitting lessons when I was six or so – I went a couple of times to a local yarn store and learned one-on-one. The lessons didn’t stick though, and it wasn’t until I was eleven and bought a copy of Evie Rosen’s The All New Teach Yourself to Knit at the local Ben Franklin that knitting really started to make sense to me. I only dabbled until I was about 16, but it was around that time I realized how important knitting was going to be to my future life and happiness.
2. What made you want to start designing?
I read an interview with Lily Chin when I was sixteen. I think it was the first time that I realized that someone actually wrote those patterns in the books and magazines. Here was this young, cool, woman whose job it was to write knitting patterns. It was very much like a bolt of lightning struck my head – right in the family room at my parents’ house. I wandered away from my desire to design after a while – I started college as a Russian major (Здраствуйте!) – but after a January term class in weaving I realized that Fiber Arts was going to be more of a full-time love than a part-time hobby. I changed majors, colleges, and states, and haven’t looked back.
3. What was the best design you’ve ever knit?
Jeez, so many possibilities. I think that of everything I’ve knit, I still get the most thrill out of a shawl I made for my sister years and years ago. It’s the Swedish Heartwarmer Shawl by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts from Handknit Holidays (definitely my single favorite book.)
This is the one that I made.
It was so far out of my league at the time but I wanted desperately to make it and even now, seven years later and as a much better knitter, I still think I did a great job. I’d love to make another one for myself one day. I even bought the yarn for another one while I was working at a yarn store after college and still had a discount. Alas, I suffer badly from Second Sock Syndrome, and in spite of starting several times, I’ve never made it past the suns in the first bit of colorwork. I think next time I try I may alter the shaping somewhat and do the colorwork parts in the round set up for steeking. I am a much faster knitter these days – it shouldn’t take me four months this time.
4. Who is your favorite designer/who are some of your favorite designers?
Such a hard question.
I love everything Brooklyn Tweed (yeah, I know that’s the company name, the guy is Jared Flood) – he’s a genius with photography, obviously, and after spending my formative knitting years in Wisconsin, anyone who loves EZ like I love EZ and still draws so much inspiration from her is going to be my knitting BFF. When I did that January term class we also drove to the factory at Harrisville where his yarn is spun today, so I feel extra connected, even though that was years before he started working with them. It’s about the most idyllic place on earth.
I love Rachel Coopey because she just has the best damn creative colorwork, and she’s one of the only designers still doing socks these days that make me think, “Wow, I never would have thought of that. Damn, I’d like to knit those socks.” Also, I’m wearing Chamomile from Twist Collective in my current profile photo. It helps me like her because I look totally cute in that photo.
I love Ysolda Teague because she really takes different figures into account in her designing (Little Red in the City was brilliant) and feel very much the same about Amy Herzog (hello, Knit to Flatter!)
Norah Gaughan always makes me feel like she’s trying to break my brain – her stuff is so creative and clever – and Kate Gilbert‘s stuff for Twist Collective makes me sigh with longing. When I’m feeling lackadaisical I read patterns by Veronik Avery just for fun.
5. If you weren’t a knitter/knitwear designer, what would you be doing?
I’d love to have the chance to go back and finish Russian one day (I have two years of the language, but I’d love to be able to speak it properly, and of course, be able to live there for a while – St. Petersburg is my Spirit City.)
If I had to completely start over though, I think I’d like to try marine biology. My coursework diverted from the hard sciences early on, since I knew from the beginning I wanted to focus on languages and the arts, so I’d really have to start from scratch, but I love whales. My favorite part of visiting any city is visiting the Aquarium (sadly, Austin, my current city, is Aquariumless) and I basically devour specials about whales and oceans. I cried like a baby for the whole of Big Miracle (I knew that was going to happen, so I waited and watched it while I was home alone; my dogs were very understanding and didn’t tell anyone.)
I can’t imagine ever leaving Fiber Arts, but if I had to? I’d be back in school, working on a way to spend my life talking to whales. Maybe I could find some penguins to knit sweaters for while I was at it.