Meet the Fellows: Mary W Martin

I am Mary and live in Toronto Canada.  I have 3 kids and, with my youngest starting university this year, I now have more time to try new things with my knitting.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?
I was knitting some things for friends and figured out how to make reversible cabled designs on knitted fabric. I have been exploring this technique, creating more reversible designs, and writing patterns to share what I have learned.

What designers do you admire & why?
I love Lucy Hague’s designs – they are intricate, beautiful and so much fun to knit. She introduced me to slipped stitches and gave me the idea on how to create reversible fabrics.  I also admire Olga Buraya-Kefelian (Olgajazzy). Her designs are creative with innovative applications of well understood techniques.

What does your design process look like?
My design process varies greatly between projects.  I am currently working on a stitch pattern that I call “My Secret Garden”; it is my most complicated design yet.

I have recently figured out how to create fabrics with a different cabled design on each side of a fabric using marled knitted and slipped stitches. The Family Connection Series was released in November 2020 where each piece features accessories with a different cabled motif on each side. 

The motifs on these patterns are geometric; the regularity of geometric shapes greatly simplified the charts and cable stitch definitions.

I then charted the leaves in Stitchmastery and knit from the chart. Every leaf on this swatch is slightly different – I tried different ways of increasing/decreasing, changed the slopes at the sides of the leaf, changed the way the stem and leaf crossed – there were many variations.  I was testing the look of the leaves while testing techniques to make the design less visible on the reverse side. With every change, I would record the stitches in Stitchmastery. I freeform knitted the back, remembering that when I was testing the Fraternal Forever Scarf, the test knitters told me that they were happy that one side started with vertical lines. They could have a relaxing knit on one side as they learnt the technique; so I started the fence side with vertical lines.

After blocking this swatch, it became clear that the leaf motif reduces the horizontal stretch in the fabric. The leaf design only has a stem at the bottom and no leaves at the very top so there are fewer cables to horizontally pull in the fabric. Moving the placement of the diamond in the fence to the beginning and end of the project would help keep the correct horizontal gauge at the bottom and top of the design. 

When I was happy with each individual side of the fabric, I created a chart that represents each side. This process involves defining many new cable stitches in Stitchmastery. Each cable is described in detail because I follow the stitch definitions as a test in my next step.

Stitchmastery generated written instructions from the chart I created. I knit this swatch from the written instructions to test my inputs. I was also testing the surrounding i-cord edging. In the end, I wasn’t happy with the i-cord cast on or bind off so my design process continues!

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?
I mostly design scarves, wraps and cowls – these are items where reversibility can be well displayed.

What are you best known for as a designer?
I expect that I will be known for reversibility. I have several reversible designs published already and I have several more planned. 

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?
My favourite exercise is swimming; lately my swim time (quiet time with no access to my knitting or electronic devices) is my time for thinking through design ideas. I am also involved in Lego Robotics. I support STEM education, a fun way for kids to learn & apply technical skills.

Get to know more about Mary W Martin on Instagram as @MaryWMartinKnits and check out her designer page for more reversible fun!

Meet the Fellows: Leesa Gehman

I’m Leesa (pronounced Lisa, just spelled funny!) of Lucky Rose Knits. I live in Northeastern Pennsylvania with my partner, my son, and a menagerie of animals. I primarily knit, though I dabble in crochet, and recently started designing my own knitwear. My background is in art/art therapy and I work in human services, supporting individuals with developmental disabilities.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?
I honestly don’t recall how I really got into knitting, but I know that I learned through watching YouTube videos. I didn’t know anyone who knit and I didn’t know where to even begin to find someone to teach me… and then I realized there was a place on the internet for that, as there usually is!

As for designing – well, at least one good thing came out of COVID! I’ve knit for well over a decade at this point, but I haven’t really thought about designing my own things until we were in lockdown. I learned how to double knit and everything just sort of clicked. I’ve found that I really love designing. It appeals to my deep-rooted love of puzzles and trying to figure out how to get what’s in my head to paper and then to into an actual feasible pattern.

What does your design process look like?
I usually start with a general idea and jot it down on the notes section of my phone. Sometimes I look at the ideas I have there, but generally they will spur my imagination. It might not be exactly in the realm of what I originally intended, but that’s the fun part of designing.

What are you best known for as a designer?
As a fairly new designer, I think I’m mostly just figuring it out myself! I think I just want to be known has have creative or different designs. Something that makes you pause and go – “well, now that’s different!” (in a good way!).

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?
I design a lot of cowls and I’m working my way into scarves, which is mainly what I enjoy knitting. I also enjoy working on baby blankets and hats.

What designers do you admire & why?
I love cables & creative structural designs. For cables, Susanne Daum, Alice Starmore, and Lucy Hague come to mind. Olga Buraya-Kefelian, Ambah O’Brien, and Melanie Berg are other designers I gravitate towards. My queue in Ravelry is massive – much like my musical tastes, my design taste tends to be very eclectic.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?
Outside of the fiber community, I am a pretty social person, so spending time with my family and friends is very important to me. I have a 19 year old son and for my 40th birthday and his high school graduation, two years ago we did the most fun thing ever and went to Germany during the Christmas season.I can’t wait to be able to travel again. I also love to go to concerts – live music is one of my favorite things in the world.

Is there anything else you’d like our knitters to know about you?
You might think I really love roses, but that’s not how I came up with the name (to be honest, my favorite flower is a Daisy). My dogs are Lucky and Rosie – two Bassett Hound mixes. Lucky is my cranky old man and is a Bassett Weimeraner mix, while Rosie is the newest member of our household and is a Bassett Lab mix.

Also, my very lovely model for all my designs is my son’s girlfriend, Sam. She is kind enough to model all of my handknits for my patterns and put up with me telling her (in the words of Tyra Banks’ and America’s Next Top Model) to “Smize!”

Find Leesa on Instagram as @LuckyRoseKnits and see more of her designs on her designer page on Ravelry.