Today we’re talking with Monica Jines, pattern designer behind all of our “Monica Knits” patterns. (She was also the designer for our March Sock Club, which you all loved.) Monica lives in Indiana, and I know you’ll enjoy learning more about her. (Here’s a photo of her most recently finished design – a baby dress and socks.)
Loopy: We love your patterns here at The Loopy Ewe! What was the first thing that you designed, and what gave you the courage to try it?
Monica: I really don’t remember the first thing I designed. I have always tweaked patterns and added something extra to them. After awhile I decided if I could change necklines and add or take away from a written pattern, I could make something from start to finish on my own. Once you get the technical stuff figured out, anyone can do it. And I had a great teacher, which helps.
Loopy: Do you think up designs in your head and knit them, or doodle on paper first, or just start knitting? What is your process?
Monica: I see the stitch patterns in my head. I have been accused of being obsessed with knitting by my family, and it may be true. I dream about yarn and designs all the time. Once I get a pretty good idea of what I want, I usually will write out the stitches and see if the pattern will work in a sock. Sometimes I just start knitting, just depends on how bad I have an urge to start something new. And I suffer terribly from start(itis).
Loopy: I think a lot of knitters can relate to being a bit obsessed with knitting! Have you been a knitter for a long time? Who taught you to knit?
Monica: I don’t remember not knowing how to knit. My mother, whom I think was the best knitter around, taught me. Since I don’t remember actually learning I must have been fairly young. I thought she was a magician; she knit so fast and could fix mistakes in no time flat. I was in awe of how fast she could knit up Aran sweaters, and I think that is where I get my love of all things cable.
Loopy: I hope you inherited her fast knitting skills! Does anyone else in your family knit?
Monica: We are a family of knitters. I think as children we all learned. With some of us it “took” and others it was a while before the knitting fever hit. I have 2 other sisters who are avid knitters, Karen and Marjorie. I have taught all three of my children to knit. My eldest is my knitting daughter. Together we knit fingerless mitts for all of her friends for this past Christmas. They were all different and all original designs. She enjoys knitting with BIG needles and BIG yarn though, she likes the instant gratification. The boy child knows how to knit, but would much rather play the X Box, although he did help one of his teachers with a knitting project this year. And the youngest has been working on the same Madeline bag for the last 2 years. She is a high energy child and just can’t sit longer than a round or two. And the Husband just doesn’t “get it.
Loopy: That’s so fun that you share this with your whole family! (Well, except for the Husband.) What is your favorite thing to knit, and do you have a favorite yarn that you like to knit or design with?
Monica: My favorite thing is by far, socks. I love the portability of them; I love small needles and skinny yarn. And I want to have a different pair for each day of the year, even though I can only wear them for 4 or 5 months out the year. I am so spoiled; I hate to wear commercially made socks. I also like to make children’s clothing. My kids are all getting older now, so it is not as fast to knit for them … and they expect everything yesterday. The older two are adult sized now, so when I get the urge to make something baby or toddler size I will make it for charity or keep it for a baby shower gift. Favorite yarn, Oh my goodness there are too many too choose from. The list of the ones that “aren’t” my favorite is much shorter, but I don’t want to mention names. As far as favorite to design with, I like yarns that don’t have drastic color changes, like the nearly solid yarns. But I do love to knit with the brightly colored ones too. It really just depends on the design.
Loopy: We don’t tell favorites around here, either. 🙂 How do you find time to knit each week? Any hints for the rest of us?
Monica: I have been accused of knitting in my sleep. Once I knit a set of sleeves together while I was “dozing.”(I knit my sleeves at the same time). As far as finding time, I take knitting with me everywhere I go. I have a pair of socks that live in the van for knitting emergencies, waiting in traffic, waiting for the kids at after school functions, the endless wait in the Allergist office while all three of them are getting there allergy shots. But most of my knitting is done in the evening after the kids have gone to bed. Only working part –time helps too.
Loopy: A knitter should always be prepared with knitting to do. It sounds like you have that down pat. (And we loved the story of you knitting your sleeves together in your dozing…) So – Stash – do you believe in it? 🙂 If so, do you find you have more sock yarns, lace yarns, sweater yarns? And do you have a good place to store it all?
Monica: Stash ??? Some people worry about retirement funds, I worry about not being able to afford yarn on my pension when the time comes, so I need to be a “Collector” of yarn now, that way I won’t run out in my lifetime. I start to get a bit twitchy if I use up too much yarn from the collection, and don’t have more yarn coming into it. I can never join those “Knit from Your Stash KALS”, they are just not for me. As for the largest amount by type of yarn, by far, sock yarn. I have yarn for several sweaters and a few shawls, but I need 365 pair of socks you know, so the majority is sock yarn. And storage, ahem, that is a sore subject in this house. According to Hubby my storage area is the “entire” house. I don’t see too much wrong with that, but he has other ideas. It is something I plan to work on in the near future.
Loopy: You’re right – not being able to afford yarn in retirement would not be good. Another great reason to collect now. Would you like to tell us about your family? And what do they think of your knitting?
Monica: My husband Tony and I have been married for 19 years this coming June. He tolerates the knitting obsession because he knows it makes me happy. He unfortunately learned years ago, that knitting does not save us any money; I remind him it keeps me sane and that is more important. I think he agrees esp. since the tools of the trade are very sharp, pointy sticks. My children don’t know any different and they think the other moms are different, you know, the ones that don’t knit. We call them “muggles”. Anyway, we have 3 children; 2 girls ages 16 (driving … yikes) and 10 and the boy child is 14 and they are the most wonderful kids around.
Loopy: You have some fun new patterns in a book that just came out on Cables. How did you get patterns in that book?
Monica: Yes, that was very exciting for me. I kept toying with the idea of submitting some designs to magazines and online magazines, but for some reason was just dragging my heels. My #1 cheerleader is my sister Karen, and she encouraged me to send in the designs. I had asked for submission guidelines and editorial calendars from several places, and the one from Vogue just really caught my attention. They were asking for cable patterns for a new “Knitting on the Go” book. I think it was at the end of December 2006 that I submitted them, and then waited and waited and waited and then finally in April I heard back from them. I had submitted 2 designs and they accepted both of them. I was so excited; I think I was smiling for days. It was a wonderful experience that I hope to repeat. The book was released earlier this Spring and is “Cables, Mittens, Hats & Scarves on the go”.
Loopy: We had to buy that book because you were in there! (Well, and we like cables.) Do you have any good movie or book recommendations for us to knit to?
Monica: The last movie I went to see was The Bucket List and I loved it. It is one I will definitely purchase and watch again. As far as books, I really haven’t had much time to read, what with all this knitting I have been doing. I will have to fix that as reading has always been a relaxing thing for me. Can you recommend any good books for me to look into?
Loopy: Oh, I’m sure people will leave some comments with some good book suggestions for you. Anything else you’d like to add?
Monica: I have a story to tell you Loopy. I think I have shared this with the Loopy Lady, but I want to share it with you too. I was taking a box of patterns to the Post Office to mail The Loopy Ewe. Waiting in line, knitting my socks, minding my own business, and a gentlemen behind me asked, “Aren’t ewe’s female sheep?” And I replied “yes they are”, thinking he must have been referring to the mailing label on the box. He didn’t say anything for a few minutes, and then he asked, “Well what exactly is a Loopy Ewe, is that some kind of farm for sheep that have gone crazy or something?” My youngest was with me and she started giggling, she looks at me with tears running down her face from trying not to laugh as I explain about the yarn shop. She whispers to me, “Can you believe he hasn’t heard about The Loopy Ewe, where has he been?” Kids are the greatest. Many thanks to the Loopy Lady for a great yarn shop and for giving me the opportunity to share my patterns with knitters around the world.
Loopy: I think I have to be offended that he called me a female. FPS.
Today is Web Guy’s Birthday! May 12th has been one of my favorite days of the year for the past 21 years, just because of him. 🙂 Happy Birthday, Favorite Son!