In today’s Designer Spotlight, we have Judy Marples, designer of the Purl Bumps line of patterns. I have long loved Judy’s patterns (hello Ripple Rock Shawl, I am going to make you one of these days), and we’re happy to give you a chance to get to know her a little better, and to share some of her beautiful creations with you.
Loopy: Hi Judy! Thanks for being with us today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Judy: Hi Loopy – thanks so much for inviting me to your blog! I hope I won’t be too long winded, I could blather on about knitting all day! Iʼve been knitting my whole life. My mother taught me when I was about 8 years old. Iʼm left handed and my mother was right handed so she decided that if I watched her knit in a mirror, that I could then knit left handed. That didnʼt work out so well and we both became frustrated. So finally she told me I was going to have to learn right handed and Iʼm so glad that happened. Knitting is really two handed anyway so I just compensated by doing all the movement with my left hand. I used to hold the right hand needle under my right armpit and the left needle would be going like crazy, lol. Iʼve gradually over the years changed my style where now I move both hands. I also teach classes and I always tell my beginners that there is no right or wrong way to knit. If my mother had insisted that I knit the “right” way, I probably would not have become a knitter.
Loopy: Your mom was smart, and I’m glad that you figured out how to make it work for you. What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Judy: My favourite is definitely lace. I just love everything about lace. I find the the charts and the math very satisfying. And I love the puzzle that sometimes needs to be solved within a lace design. I also favor it because the work is light and I can knit lace for hours on end, which I do most days!
Loopy: You have designed some amazing lace patterns. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Judy: Oh, that would be my Enchanted Forest Cardigan by Donna Karan. It was in Vogue knitting a long time ago, but I found it in the book Vogue Knitting Designer Knits, I think it was about 15 years ago. I was not an experienced sweater knitter at that time, and it had very complex cables and many, many charts. The charts had charts and no repeats! I still have the massive chart I created by photocopying and taping together all the charts so I could knit the bottom of it in one piece. I became obsessed with it while knitting it. It was like the most fantastic novel in which you couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I was so obsessed that I think I finished it in about 10 days and I had a full time job at the time! I remember calling my husband more than once and asking him to bring home more post it notes. I was using them to mark the rows on the massive chart and I went through pads of them while constructing it, lol. Due to my inexperience, when it was finished, it was way too big for me and hung off my shoulders. I donʼt think I ever wore it. I still have it though, I canʼt bear to part with it. I pull it out every few years and think that I should cut it and make pillows out of it but the thought of actually doing that makes me a little sad, so I fold it and put it back in the drawer.
Loopy: Oh my goodness! After all that, it was too big to wear? That’s sad! But yes, you definitely need to keep it. I’m glad you still have it for inspiration. When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Judy: I started designing about 4 years ago. I had gotten into knitting lace a few years before and I had made several lace shawls and I was really ready for a new challenge. I designed Calais Shawl just to see if I could do it. Once I began working with the charts and the design process on that pattern I was totally hooked!
Loopy: That was a good next step for you to take, then. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Judy: If I had to choose, it would probably be Dover Castle Shawl. It was my first “for sale” pattern and it was so well received that I was beyond thrilled. The stitch pattern is an original that I created and I have great memories within that pattern.
Loopy: What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Judy: My favourite part of designing is the beginning, when all the possibilities are in front of you. I love to swatch and play with charts and coax a design to come forward. I also love it when the design is complete, the pattern is written and I sit for a few days and knit a sample. I watch movies and knit and it feels so peaceful and satisfying once the design work is finished. My not so favourite parts? Proofing the patterns and the charts. And writing the written instruction to the charts, thatʼs always a challenge to get every last detail correct.
Loopy: It’s nice to hear that the actual knitting is still one of your favorite parts! Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Judy: I teach classes and really enjoy that. But most of my time goes into pattern designing and everything that goes along with that. I do my own photography, graphics, layout, advertising, etc and I really love the variety of the work.
Loopy: A master of many trades! Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Judy: When I first started designing, I had a part time job in my LYS as well as a full schedule of classes that I taught. I found it was always a struggle to find time for designing. I feel very fortunate that I am able to design full time now and still teach some classes.
Loopy: We’re happy that you can design full time, too. It means more patterns that you get to share with us. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Judy: My older sister began knitting about 15 years ago. Since then one of our favorite things for the two of us to do is visit yarn shops. We have done weekends away when all we have done is visit new shops and then knit. Always fun!
Loopy: Weekend knitting trips are always fun! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Judy: I have a loom and a spinning wheel but never seem to find the time to use them. I also love reading and listen to audiobooks while knitting. I like to listen to podcasts while I am out walking. I walk every day and recently took up Nordic walking, which I love. I also enjoy photography, quilting and sewing, and cooking. I have a serious Pinterest habit hunting for new recipes to try, lol. Iʼve been experimenting with vegetarian and vegan recipes and Iʼve always had a real interest in nutrition.
Loopy: Ok, now I have to go look up Nordic walking. (Ok – walking with special poles to burn more calories. Got it.) What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Judy: Hmm, a leisurely breakfast. Then a long walk, maybe a visit to a yarn shop and a book store for a good browse (my two favorite types of stores). Then several hours to sit and knit with good company and a glass of wine.
Loopy: That sounds like a relaxing day. Lastly – Coke or Pepsi? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors? 🙂
Judy: Neither, I donʼt drink soda. Coffee, definitely. English (and in my dreams, continental). Solids (and semi solids).
Judy has offered all of our blog readers 20% off of one pattern in her pattern shop. The code is: theloopyewe and it will be valid from today, through next Friday (April 4th). Pop over and pick something you love! She is also running a deal where if you buy 3 regularly priced patterns, the fourth one is free (no code necessary). If you’re like me, you might find a lot more than one that you need. Have you knit any of Judy’s patterns yet?
Judy is one of my very favorite designers! I’ve knit three of her patterns so far and have three more in my favorites to get to eventually! Thanks for the great interview and the coupon!
Judy has many lovely designs that I have never seen. Thank you for this spot light on designers. It is a great chance to meet designers and see their work.
I made Judy’s Knit Night Hat for my daughter a few months ago. She loves it and always gets many compliments when she wears it. This is a great way to check out designers! Off to use the coupon code now.
I love Judy’s patterns! I’ve made many, some of them twice! I’m working on a Vigneto right now!
Thanks for the coupon! I have some of Judy’s patterns but had no problem using both coupons – the 20% off from this blog and the buy 3, get one free!
Very nice interview!
Great blog! I blasted right over to Purl Bumps to purchase four patterns! Thanks for sharing designers with us.
I really am enjoying these Q&As with designers. How nice of them to offer us a discount on a pattern too. This week I found so many terrific ideas that I just went for the buy 3, get 1 free. I’ve now got great things to use my wondrous yarn on. I hate ‘wasting’ a stunner skein. So thank you Sheri!
I think I love her – yarn shops and bookstores – my favorites!
Dovetail is calling my name, I think….