lace knitting tools & techniques and blocking your finished project, and today we are excited to spotlight a fabulous knitwear designer who is known for stunning lace designs (and more): Susanna IC.
After nine years in Europe, Susanna IC now lives deep in the heart of Texas with her husband, two sons, one guinea pig and countless balls of yarn. Besides a background in fashion design, she has a Master’s degree in art history and a Bachelors’s in studio arts, all of which continue to inspire her knitting. Her designs have appeared in numerous online and print publications, such as Interweave Knits, Jane Austen Knits, Twist Collective, Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People, and Knitty. You can view all of Susanna's designs here on Ravelry and keep up with her latest creations on her blog at artqualia.com.
When did you learn to knit/crochet?
My grandmother was a great knitter; she taught me how to crochet when I was five and she wanted to teach me how to knit as well, but she was left-handed, and I just could not figure out how to mirror her movements and make the stitches with my right hand. Fast forward to when my older son was six months old and I had a little extra time on my hands while he was sleeping. I thought that making adorable baby sweaters would be fun, so I decided to give knitting one more try. I picked up a how-to knit book and instantly fell in love.
How did you get started designing?
My first swatch was the back of my first baby sweater, which in a way was my first knitted design as well. Learning to knit alone from a book, I did not even realize that there were detailed knitting patterns to follow, so I just sort of made it all up as I went along. I have a background in fashion design and I’ve sewn all my life, so the designing part of knitting came naturally. Few years later, after I added some of my original projects to Ravelry, people asked about them and I wrote a few of them up as patterns. Next, I’ve sent out design submissions to several publications and they were accepted and everything just took off from there.
|Pyropa shawl pattern, from Knitty First Fall 2016.|
What are your favorite projects to design?
Looking at the majority of my designs I guess you would say that I live for shawls. Well, that’s true, I absolutely adore creating shawls of all sorts, but I really love all kinds of knitting - lace and cables and texture, accessories and garments, simple and complex. I absolutely love the moment of inspiration, which can come from anywhere - nature, books, movies, yarn color, etc. After that, watching the vision come to life on the needles is exhilarating and blocking lace is always a wonderful surprise. I even like the math of knit design. I guess I really do love the entire process, including ripping and reknitting.
What is your absolute favorite Knitter's Pride product, the one you would HAVE to have if you were stranded on a desert island?
I learned to knit on straight needles and for several years I did not use anything else because I did not realize how limiting the straight needles were. It was only after I decided to try colorwork in the round that I discovered interchangeable circular needles. I purchased the full set of the original nickel plated needles and I’ve never looked back. The needles are durable and very smooth with tapered tips that are perfect for intricate lace as well as cables and texture. I love how versatile and fast they are, and I use them for all types of yarn. Over the years, I’ve added many extra tips to my collection in the sizes I use most often because I usually have several design projects on the needles and I don’t want to wait for the correct needle size to free up.
|Mina shawl, available on Ravelry|
I think that knitting lace is like any other knitting and anyone can do it; it’s really just knit and purl stitches combined with a few decreases and increases, which create interesting patterns depending on how they are placed. That said, any new technique can take some time to master and, as the saying goes, a little practice goes a long way. The first lace shawl I’ve ever made took me a while because I had to concentrate on every stitch; however, that same shawl would be a quick project now.
To get started, you’d want to choose a simple lace pattern with a short repeat, about ten to twelve stitches, so that the stitch sequence can be easily memorized. Look for a pattern with resting rows; this means that the right side patterned rows are separated by purled wrong side rows. If you’d rather not jump directly into a project, a small swatch of a few pattern repeats can help you learn the stitches and the sequence in which they are combined. Also, knitting lace does not necessarily mean lace weight yarn, so if you find lace weight yarns too fiddly to start with, you can use a fingering or sport weight yarn instead.
|Rhodora shawl, from Twist Collective Spring/Summer 2016|
When reading lace charts for the first few times, it can be helpful to color code the stitch symbols so that you can easily identify all those similar-looking symbols. Removable highlighter tape or sticky note placed on the chart can be great help in keeping track of the row you’re currently working on, and placing stitch markers on the needles to separate the pattern repeats will help you keep the stitch count correct. These are just a few ideas that helped me when I started knitting lace. Give it a try and in no time you will be creating masterpieces.
|Belarra shawl, from Twist Collective Spring/Summer 2014|
This month, one lucky blog reader will win a set of Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers! To enter, leave a comment on this blog post sharing the name of your favorite Susanna IC pattern (click here to view them all on Ravelry). Be sure to also include your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win.
We will randomly select the winning comment to announce here on the Knitter's Pride blog on Friday, August 26. Good luck!