Today we have Melanie Berg as our featured designer. Melanie and her family live in Bonn, Germany and I know you will recognize many of her beautiful designs. Have fun reading more about her, and be sure to catch the special offer at the end of the post!
Loopy: How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Melanie: Hi Loopy – thanks so much for having me today! My mother taught me how to knit when I was a young teenager. I’ve been very excited about it and enthusiastically made a scarf for a friend of mine – all in stockinette stitch. It curled like crazy and I was pretty disappointed, so I put knitting aside for the next couple of years.
It was only when my first daughter was born that I picked it up again. I felt the desire to create something snug and soft for her, something that would protect her and keep her warm. Ever since then, I’m a knitter with great passion and love for this craft.
Loopy: I think I made that same type of scarf for my first project – the curling scarf. Sad! What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Melanie: I love knitting shawls, sweaters and fingerless mitts. Knitting a shawl is so rewarding and you can really just knit without thinking too much about it, while knitting a sweater usually requires some brainwork, which is also nice. And fingerless mitts just fly off your needles and are a lovely quick and easy project – and a nice way to spice your wardrobe up a bit.
Loopy: I think I was first drawn to your designs because of your Vampolka fingerless mitts. I still haven’t made them, but I will! What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Melanie: Oh that is impossible to say. There were many things I found challenging – especially back when I first started to knit for my daughter. I really struggled with short rows and colorwork. Isn’t that funny? Because I’m currently using both techniques frequently in my patterns.
Loopy: When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Melanie: Designing and knitting has always been the same thing for me. Remember that scarf I knit as a teenie? I didn’t use any pattern for that, just added stripes as I went, and it’s been like that with almost every other project I’ve made. When I picked up knitting for my newborn, I used patterns but always tweaked them according to my ideas – I added straps to a sleep bag, I used fingering instead of worsted weight, and I just tried things out. And at some point, I just stopped using pattern and relied entirely on my own ideas.
Loopy: That sounds like a very natural progression into designing. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Melanie: Oh, this is like asking if I have a favorite child! No, there’s not a single one I love most, but there are some I find myself wearing more often than others. Ropedance has definitely been the piece I enjoyed most last winter. The muted color scheme made it go well together with most any pieces of my wardrobe, and the soft and snugly yarn made me want to wear it all day.
Loopy: I love those blues that you used. I can see how it would be a favorite to wear! What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Melanie: There are so many things I love about designing. First of all – the creative freedom! It is wonderful to have an idea and to be allowed to make it come true, with all the details you have in mind, and with all the changes to your original plan that might happen as you go. Working with yarn is also something I enjoy immensely. There is something about yarn that makes me feel good and happy when seeing, touching, smelling it, and turning a thread of yarn into a garment or accessory is one of the most fulfilling processes I’ve experienced.
Working as an independant knitwear designer in these days means being in contact with many women around the world – other designers, customers, dyers, yarn millers, yarn companies, shop owners, bloggers and podcasters and many more, and this is one more thing I truly love – the international exchange and the inspiration that is shared with one another.
Yes, there are aspects of my job I don’t like so much (like doing the taxes for instance), but all in all this is an amazing job and one that I’m loving more and more each day.
Loopy: I so agree. I think turning a thread into a garment just never gets old. Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Melanie: I’m a mother of three, so that’s another fulltime job I have. 🙂 I’ve also worked as an IT specialist for the last ten years, but early last year things became too stressful for me: Being a mother, being a part-time IT person and then my designing work – one of them had to go. And it was the IT job. Quitting it has not been hard or sad for me – I had the feeling I was done with that part of my life and it was time to move on. Also, this job has made me pretty tech savvy which comes in very handy in knitwear design, too, because a lot of aspects of my work have a technical nature. I’m glad that I had the chance to acquire these skills and now make use of them.
Loopy: Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Melanie: It’s hard to draw a line – where does my business life end and my private life begin? Working from home, it’s all one somehow and you cannot always tell what is what. But I love it that way – I feel this is a very fulfilling and rewarding way to live and work and I wouldn’t want it to be any different.
Loopy: It is definitely a hard line to draw! Does anyone else in your family knit?
Melanie: The women in my family have always been knitting or crocheting. My mother taught me how to knit, and she made sweaters for us when we were still little. My mother-in-law was an avid knitter and made dresses and hats for her granddaughters, our children. I taught my sister how to knit and although she’s not as passionate about it like me, she’s always having something on her needles. She also made a lot of hats and scarves for our kids. And finally my eldest daughter: She’s growing up with yarn and needles all around her, and naturally reached out to try it out, too. I gave her a “Strickliesel” to her fourth birthday – this is a little device that helps you make a four stitch I-Cord, and she’s quickly learned how to do it. When she turned five, I gave her a crochet set and she’s doing small table mats and crochet chains, and she’s currently looking forward to her sixth birthday, when she’ll finally receive her first knitting needles.
Loopy: Oh, how fun that your daughter is getting something new and fun each year. That seems like a great way to keep the knitting tradition going in your family. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Melanie: I’m in love with paper crafts. Sketching has a very soothing and meditative effect on me, although I’m really terrible at it. But I enjoy it anyway. And I could spend ridiculous amounts of money for buying beautiful paper, notebooks and art materials of all kind.
Loopy: What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Melanie: That would be a sunny day in spring, sitting under an apple tree with my knitting and some pastries to enjoy, watching my children play. Later, we’d have a wonderful lunch together and our friends would come and visit us. Friends and family are very important for me and I love having them all around.
Loopy: That sounds like a refreshing day off! Ok – last set of questions: Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?
Melanie: Morning, coffee, continental and solids! 🙂
Loopy: Anything else you’d like to add?
Melanie: Thanks so much for having me! I hope to travel to the States one day and visit you in Colorado!
Melanie is offering our blog readers 20% off of one of her patterns of your choice. Code: theloopyewe valid from March 20-27. You can find her patterns on Ravelry by clicking here.
Have you made any of Melanie’s patterns already? Which do you think you’ll try next?