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!

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