Wendy in The Loopy Limelight

WendyToday our limelight shines on Wendy Johnson, of Wendy Knits fame. I was a long time blog reader of Wendy’s before starting The Loopy Ewe and her amazing knitting was always such an inspiration to me. How DOES she get so much knitting done?? Not only does she knit socks, but she also knits lace, mittens and sweaters, and she designs her own patterns. Loopy had a good time interviewing her this week, and I hope you enjoy reading it! (And be sure to check out the free Wendy Knits patterns that are always available here at The Loopy Ewe for free downloading, as well as the other ones that we have available in the shop.)

Loopy: Hi Wendy! So, how did you learn to knit and how many years have you been at it?

Wendy: I learned to knit before I learned to read. When my older brother started school and I was left at home, the potential for getting into trouble through boredom was great. One day I found a screwdriver and took my tricycle apart. When my mother happened upon this scene, she took the screwdriver away from me, cast a few stitches on needles and showed me how to form the knit stitch. I don’t think I’ve put the needles down for more than a few minutes since. So I’ve been knitting for mumblety-mumble years.

I remind my mother from time to time that if it weren’t for her taking that screwdriver away from me, today I’d be an engineer or a mechanic.

Loopy: But we’re glad you got into knitting instead. I’ll bet your mom is, too. Do you have a favorite pattern or item that you have made?

Wendy: Ooh, that’s a tough one, seeing that I’ve knit approximately 40-bajillion items in my life. If I had to choose just one item I’ve made, it would have to be Alice Starmore’s fair isle pullover, Luskentyre. The pattern is in the long out-of-print book The Scottish Collection, and I think it is the most beautiful fair isle I’ve ever seen. (You can see photos of my Luskentyre here: http://wendyjohnson.net/knit/luskentyre.htm.)

When I was knitting it, I discovered what I thought must be an error in the pattern chart (three colors used in one row, something that never occurs in traditional fair isle knitting) and I emailed Ms. Starmore about it. She emailed me back the next day and confirmed that this was, indeed, an error, and in the years since that pattern was published (it was ten years at the time I was knitting it), I was the only one to point it out to her!

Loopy: So obviously you’re very good with patterns! Do you have any “what was I thinking” items that you have knitted?

Another tough question! I asked my knitting buddy L-B if she can remember me ever whining about something that could qualify as a “what was I thinking” item. She said she couldn’t think of a single thing. I always have a pretty clear vision of what I want to knit. I am also extraordinarily picky about choosing patterns to knit, particularly cable knits and lace. I think this up-front pickyness is in a large part responsible for my happiness with my completed work.

Loopy: The Loopy Lady says she saw all of your stash when she visited you and it’s impressive. How do you store it all?

Wendy: Most of my stash lives in gallon-sized ziplock bags in my stash room. I don’t have any problems with m*ths, thankfully, but I like to be on the safe side.

The yarn that doesn’t fit in my stash room lives in my linen closet. The yarn that doesn’t fit in my linen closet is festooned about my living and dining room.

Loopy: Well, we know you like yarn like all of the rest of us. What is your “can’t live without” knitting accessory?

Wendy: Pen and paper! No matter how many times I tell myself that I will remember how many pattern repeats I did on one piece of a sweater or on a sock so that I can repeat it on the other piece or sock, I have finally admitted to myself that I won’t remember. I take copious notes along the way as I knit. I am a happier, saner knitter because of it.

Loopy: You’re one of Loopy’s most favorite pattern designers, but what other jobs have you had?

Wendy: Awwww, thanks!

When I was in high school, college, and graduate school, I worked in the Clerk’s Office at the Circuit Court in Arlington, Virginia. Partway through graduate school I got a job as a paralegal in a law office, and worked part time in a LYS. (I had to quit the yarn shop job – I was spending way more than I was earning.)

After that, I worked as a publications assistant at the American Psychological Association, then editor of an EDP audit, control, and security newsletter, and then as a technical writer at a series of software development companies, followed by a stint as director of business communications for an internet start-up company, and then a series of positions in the federal government: technical writer, public affairs specialist, and labor-management liaison specialist.

A long and varied career, huh?

We’re glad you ended up as a knitting designer and blog writer, even if you still work to pay for your habit. 🙂 What is your idea of a perfect day?

Wendy: A perfect day: Sleep until past 6:00 a.m, then wake to find that I’ve lost 5 pounds without trying. Check my email and discover that I’ve won the lottery so I can quit my job!

I’d like that kind of a day, too. So do you stockpile anything, like chicken br**sts or almonds? 🙂

Loopy, if you asked Sheri, she would be able to tell you that I have no food in my home – only a refrigerator stocked with many, many bottles and cans of diet soda and a few condiments.

I do stockpile yarn, however. I mean – what if sheep suddenly became extinct?

Loopy: Perish the thought. Extinction for all of us sheep? (shudder) Let’s get off of the subject of knitting. Any recipes/book or movie recommendations you’d like to share?

Wendy: Well, since I don’t cook (see my answer to the previous question), I’ll tell you that two of my favorite authors are Iris Murdoch and Barbara Pym, both now sadly deceased. I own every book that these two have written and happily reread them from time to time.

My favorite movie? Brief Encounter, starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, directed by David Lean. In fact, I never met a David Lean movie I didn’t like. I’m fond of old British movies in general. There are a number of great Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger films I would recommend: I Know Where I’m Going!, Black Narcissus, and The Red Shoes, to name a few. And if you’d like to see a movie that’s so howlingly bad it’s enjoyable, try The Astonished Heart, starring Noel Coward and Celia Johnson, directed by Antony Darnborough and Terence Fisher.

L-B says I should get a job on Turner Classic Movies introducing the films. Ted Turner, are you listening?

Loopy: I’m pretty sure that Ted is a knitter and reads this blog. Let us know if you get a job offer. What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I can recite the rock opera Tommy, in its entirety, from start to finish, from memory. I am a woman of . . . ahem . . . many talents.

I’ve never known anyone that could do that. You are indeed a woman of many talents. Anything else you’d like to add?

I love The Loopy Ewe!

Loopy: 🙂
Thanks to Wendy for being in the Limelight today! Did you learn anything new about her?

Sheri stillhopingthatonedayI’llwakeupandbeabletoknitasmuchasWendy.sigh.


  1. I’m still hoping for the day I wake up and have lost 5 pounds without trying!

    Can’t wait to meet Wendy in person at the Fling!

  2. I took the time to find Wendy’s blog………………OMG. I can honestly say I have NEVER seen so many wonderfully knit things in all of my life. Wendy is the knitting guru! From the Fair Isles to the shawls……………amazing. One was more beautiful than the next ! I’m hoping to knit a pair Firestarter socks with some Wollmeise that just arrived. I only wish I was able to go to the Fling! Perhaps another time….Katie

  3. Thank you Loopy for interviewing Wendy. I read her Blog daily. I didn’t realize how long she’s been knitting, but then again it doesn’t surprise me with the quality and speediness of her work. It gives me such inspiration! I can just picture her with the screwdriver:) What a sad place in the knitting world it would be if her mother hadn’t intervened!

  4. Hi Wendy,
    I’m one of the people who couldn’t leave a message on your new blog today.
    I read your blog everyday along with Sheri’s (when she does blog). I am always
    amazed at what you accomplish and how fast you get your knitting done and
    go to work besides. You have a real gift; somehow it must be in your genes.
    My mother put knitting needles in my hands at ten years old and I never could
    turn out the things that you do. Thank you for your beautiful creations.

  5. I didn’t know that Wendy is a movie fan – me too, and Lean is a particular favorite. I *love* Brief Encounter.

    I’m also not at all surprised that Wendy learned to knit as a small child – her substantial experience is evident in the quality and speed of her knitting!

    Thanks for the interview that helps make a very nice person even more real.

  6. No, I can’t think of a single item when Wendy expressed “What was I thinking?”, but she has received a few “What were they thinking?” knitting requests! 😉

    Sheri, please reassure us that Wendy didn’t traumatize poor Loopy with her “extinct sheep” remark! Pay no attention to her, Loopy! That would never happen!

  7. Sheri
    I love your new blog interviews. It is really wonderful to learn more things about your friends and Loopy Groupies.

    I’ve been a reader of Wendy’s blog and it is nice to learn more about her.

    She is a fabulous knitter.

    thank you

  8. Loopy–thanks for interviewing Wendy! Yep, I learned something new, and I read Wendyknits every day. Engineering’s loss is knitting’s gain, I say. Thanks, Wendy’s mom!

    Oh, boy, I really should keep paper and a pen handy while knitting, too. I believe I’ll remember. I never do. Writing down exactly what I did on that first sock would save time in the long run. Not to mention saving what’s left of my sanity. Oh, and making the socks match would be good, too.

    Oooh, I love Brief Encounter. Celia Johnson is also wonderful in This Happy Breed, one of my personal faves, another David Lean production. So very British.

  9. Thank you, Loopy, for another great interview! I read Wendy’s blog religiously and am in awe of her knitting speed and talent, not to mention her dry sense of humor. I didn’t know she’d done technical writing, but her patterns (and book) are so clearly written that it’s no surprise. And I agree, engineering’s loss is knitting’s gain.

    But the fact that she can recite Tommy from memory is what really impresses me.

  10. Hi Wendy! I enjoy reading your blog. I so very wish that I could knit as fast as you. I would drawers full of warm comfy socks!

    Thank you for the recommendations of movies. I love British movies and television. I’m going to see what I can put on my Netflix queue.

    My Mr. Bailey and Young Mr. Chester purr “Hi” to the beautiful Ms. Lucy.

  11. I read Wendy’s book and loved it. I had some personal dealings with Wendy and I can only say she is top notch. I didn’t know she could recite the whole Tommy rock opera. I for one would love to hear her do it. Think there is any chance of that at the Spring Fling?

  12. In response to Hariamrit and Karen’s request for me recite “Tommy” at the Spring Fling . . .

    . . . No.

    And count yourself lucky I didn’t agree to do it. 😉

  13. What fun to learn more about my favorite sock designer – Thanks Loopy! Wish I could make it to Spring Fling this year…it ought to be an inspiring weekend!

  14. Thanks Loopy! That was really great.
    I learned interesting things about Wendy!
    And I had a little flashback – my French teacher in high school used to tell us all to take “copious notes, people, copious notes!” He was fun.

  15. TY for the interview Loopy. Dont worry sheep arent going instinct they are part of the sustainable revolution. Wendy just wanted to get a rise out of you, I bet she thought that might make your wool stand up or grow more.lol.

    Wendy’s site is fantastic. No wonder she is one of SHeris favorite and our too, designers, did you notice how her site is full of Loopy Ewe referrals? GOt to love the loyalty. I think i have just added Wendy site to my reads.

    Hey Tiger Lily sends a cat’s meow-wow to Ms. Lucy. Tiger Lily is a tiger striped cat that is a male. We had no idea he was one until 4 mo. ago. He wont accept a name change. My daughter tried and he snubbed her.

    I hope you get your dream SHeri. O by the way has the winter storm reached you yet SHeri. THey actually closed all schools down today. My daughters school is the last to close down. I swear they think the children are cold protected because they go to their school. TIger Lily doesnot like this storm one bit.

    Everyone take alot of notes and pics at the SPring fling so us others can enjoy it too.


  16. That was such an interesting interview. I shall add Wendy’s blog to my list 🙂 Loopy did a great job with the interview.

  17. I always read Wendy’s blog too, and am truly amazed by the gorgeous items. And how fast they continue to appear, even while having a real-world job too! Must be because you’re not in the kitchen cooking, right? (Just kidding…).

    I’m also looking forward to meeting you at the Fling…and even though you have so graciously declined (modestly, I’m sure), I would also cast my vote for a late night rendition of Tommy. You are truly an amazing woman Wendy…

  18. Thanks for this interview with Wendy (and what a lovely picture!). Yes it would be glorious to wake up one day and be able to knit like Wendy, but I will try to remind myself that since I have only been knitting for a few years instead of mumblety-mumble years that there may be hope for me yet!
    On the topic of the designer Wendy pointed out the error to, and whose name she so fearlessly typed out in full, perhaps someone can answer why it is that most often when I see her name in blogs it gets the chicken br**st treatment? Is her name taboo? Is this whole subject taboo? If so just ignore these bold questions!

  19. Thank you, Loopy, for interviewing Wendy. I have made her patterns and really love them. I can’t wait to meet her at the Fling. Wendy, I, too, take notes the whole time I knit-I do them on post-it notes, ’cause I’m addicted to those stickie li’l devils!. I’m currently knitting the double eyelet rib sock, and it is so fun, and beautiful to boot.

  20. I love the new interview series and getting to know more about these amazing people. Thank you for the interview with Wendy. Her blog is one of my favorites and her book is just great. Wendy, I can’t wait to meet you and Sheri at the Spring Fling. 🙂 ~Kristi

  21. Great interview! I kinda missed any mention of Lucy since she is such an integral part of Wendy’s blog, but then we can always check there for an update on Lucy’s latest antics (or naps…somethin’ like that!).

    Sheri, this is a great new blog feature – I hope we get to meet all the Loopy elves this year too 🙂

  22. I am amazed at all the jobs she has had..they sound interesting. I love reading her blog. Still wonder how she gets all that knitting done!! and the perfect day is a hoot

  23. Oh, Loopy, thanks for interviewing Wendy! Her blog and Sheri’s blog are my two favorites. It was interesting to learn more about her. Maybe you could interview Lucy at some point?

  24. I am so surprised Loopy didn’t inquire about Lucy.
    I too would like to wake up one day five pounds lighter without trying, I would love to have several of those days in a row : )

  25. Love seeing Wendy’s pretty face (on her blog she is usually holding a camera in front while taking a picture of a gorgeous knitted creation), love the shawl and interview, and love Barbara Pym! Thank you for a Wendy/Sheri moment.

  26. Love seeing Wendy’s pretty face (on her blog she is usually holding a camera in front while taking a picture of a gorgeous knitted creation), love the shawl and interview, and love Barbara Pym! Thank you for a Wendy/Loopy moment.

  27. Loopy your interview with Wendy was very interesting. I can still remember when I found Wendy’s blog. I was amazed & impressed that she took time to answer people’s knitting questions. I quickly became a regular reader. Actually, Wendy is how I found out about The Loopy Ewe.

    I agree with Monica’s comment “I can’t believe that Loopy didn’t inquire about Lucy.” The only possible reason for this is that Loopy must be planning to interview Lucy in the future.

  28. I think I found out about The Loopy Ewe through Wendy, too. What did I learn? Since I’ve been reading her blog for quite awhile, I think I knew most except maybe the books and movies. Did she mention that she knits on her commute to work, which is the reason for small projects like socks and gloves. I learned about toes-up socks from her…started out with the way she begins them in her book. Sooooo glad she switched to two circulars and Judy’s Magic Cast-On, which I’ve also adopted. She’s a wonder!


  29. I’d also love the know what Wendy’s degrees are in – I’ll leave her a blog comment and she what she says! It was very “enlightening” to learn what jobs Wendy has had. Knowing more about her or anyone’s background is facsinating – learning what path we each take to get to today seems to explain alot about people.

    Enough philosophy! Thanks for interivewing Wendy. She is indeed one of my favorite bloggers and designers!!


  30. Sheri,
    Thanks so much for the interview with Wendy, my knitting idol. She is the source of constant knitting inspiration.

    Plus that Lucy is pretty darn cute.

  31. Wonderful interview! Wendy is one of my daily “reads.” I apologize if that sounds as though I’m comparing her to a one-a-day vitamin, but, reading her blog always makes me feel better. I must admit, she has helped me think “outside the box” on more than one occasion when I’ve had a knitting problem — and I love her sense of humor. She makes me smile.

    Thanks Loopy.

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