Today I’m interviewing designer Meiju from Meiju Knits. You may have seen her work on Ravelry, in Laine Magazine or Knitscene, or on Knitty. So many beautiful designs. She lives in Helsinki, the capital of Finland! (pattern links go to Ravelry, yarn links go to The Loopy Ewe).
Loopy: Hi Meiju! Thanks for being with us in the Designer Spotlight today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Meiju: Hi Loopy! A long long time, over 30 years probably. Originally, my grandma taught me to knit when I was probably 8 years old. In Finland, we also have knitting in our elementary school craft studies. At least back in those days we learned to knit either socks or mittens in school before we turned 12 years. My grandma was an avid knitter and she also designed and wrote patterns into Finnish magazines back in 1950-60’s. She got Alzheimer’s before I started to design professionally so we never got to talk about designing.
Loopy: How wonderful that your grandma was also a designer! I hope you still have some of her patterns. What a great legacy. What is your favorite type of item to knit?
Meiju: Either a cardigan or a pullover. Generally I like to knit larger projects more than smaller accessories.
Loopy: Your sweaters are beautiful, but your accessories are also fun. I’m tempted by your Summa Stripes Shawl. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Meiju: Probably my Silversmith Hoodie. Nowadays, when I look at the design it wasn’t really that hard to knit, but the pattern writing was the thing that took me some time. It was my first more complicated cable design that needed really much concentration with the pattern writing. I was hesitating with sending the pattern to test knitters and I was worried what people would think about the pattern but I have received lovely feedback.
Loopy: There are so many interesting things going on in that sweater – cables, ribbing, shaping. I can understand that it would be hard to write into a pattern! When did you start designing, and what spurred that interest?
Meiju: My first designs I actually did when I was a teenager. I wanted to knit stylish (you should see those 90’s sweaters now, they are well… interesting) sweaters and decided to just do that and I had no pattern. But more professionally, I started to design approximately 10 years ago. I had a yarn and I couldn’t find a pattern that I was looking for it, so I decided to design it myself. Those days I also started to write patterns since I knitted more and more and wanted to cover my yarn expenses. And here I am now.
Loopy: You were an industrious teenager, writing your own patterns! Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve designed?
Meiju: Yes I have a couple of them. My all time favorite is probably my Berlin Soft. It is something that I have worn the most and it was quite a challenge to write the a pattern from the topdown. I am about to grade it as larger sizes, too, this year. Also, my favourites are Abellio and lighter cardigans as Abu Dhabi Soft and Koivu Cardigan. I like the cardigans the best since they give opportunities for layered outfits.
Loopy: Berlin Soft does look like the kind of sweater you would wear a lot. I’d probably wear it in place of a coat! What is your favorite part of your designing? And your not-so-favorite part?
Meiju: My favourite part of the designing is to cast on. I will usually cast on when I have figured out the grading that the design will work in other sizes, too. Not-so-favorite part is ripping. I sometimes have to rip back due to my own stupid mistake or mistakes in my calculations. But it is a process and I rip so you wouldn’t have to. Also, I am not fond of being photoshooted. It is something that I have to do to showcase my designs but it is always something that I don’t really love.
Loopy: Thank you for doing the ripping back for us! (Although we all make mistakes and have to rip back, too. All a part of knitting. ) Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard? Do you have other jobs outside of pattern designing?
Meiju: I quit my day job in the beginning of 2021 and now I am being full-time self-employed. Yes, it is hard and I am worried will this work but I wanted to try it out. I have received so many encouraging messages, so at the moment I feel that this was a right decision. I have other job beside this but it is also something that I do as a self-employed, so the income depends on my own activity. It is project management training and it takes my time approximately two days in a month. But designing and knitting is something that I do now almost full-time.
Loopy: Congratulations on making the move to do your knitwear designing more full time! It will be fun to watch all of the new patterns you come up with. Does anyone else in your family knit? Would you like to tell us about your family?
Meiju: I have a husband and three boys aged 13, 11 and 7. My middle son can knit, I taught him two years ago. He almost immediately figured out knit stitches, purling is still a bit difficult. However, he is not that fond of knitting that he would like to do it on a regular basis.
Loopy: Well, maybe one day he will enjoy it more. It’s a good thing to teach your kids when they are that age. Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Meiju: Yes! I have always been a person into sports. I love winter sports like skiing, iceskating (I was a figure skater as a child), downhill skiing and we have enjoyed the perfect winter in Helsinki this year. There has been a lot of snow and the weather has been perfect for winter sports and activities. I love dancing and before pandemic I took salsa lessons. In the summer time we do hiking and bicycling a lot with my husband and family. Last summer we took long cycling routes around Helsinki and Espoo, 70-90 km per day. And I would love to go to gym but because of corona, I haven’t been there since early 2020. I think a fair amount of sports is necessary to keep knitting muscles healthy.
Loopy: I think you’re right, and what a beautiful place to be doing all of those outdoor activities. What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Meiju: Knitting, of course! But also being with my family and hiking, skiing or doing outdoor stuff with them.
Loopy: Ok – last question. Morning or Night person? Coffee or Tea? English or Continental? Solids or Multicolors?
Meiju: Morning person as I was younger turning into Night person. Coffee in the morning, Tea in the night. Continental knitting always. Solids, usually.
Loopy: Anything else you’d like to add?
Meiju: I signed a book deal with Laine Magazine in February so I am now making a knitting book! I am really excited about this project! The exact publishing date has not been yet set but if you want to join my journey of making the book, follow me on Instagram @meijuknits and also see my stories there.
Loopy: That’s exciting news! We’ll look forward to seeing your book come out, and I have just followed you on Instagram so I can keep up with the news. Good luck with the new venture!
Meiju is offering you 20% off her In Between Dreams Cardigan with the code: loopyewe This promotion is valid 2/26-3/5, 2021.
Have a good weekend, all!