Mary Rose is a knit designer from Central Ohio who is unbelievably speedy with the needles! Though she might finish her samples in record time, she meticulously checks and double checks her patterns to ensure that they are easy to work from and accurate. Her classic style, which favors lace and texture, means her designs never go out of fashion. Mary recently participated in our Independent Designers Program, creating the lovely Second Saturday Shawl for us out of Katia Lino. She also authored a blog post on successfully working with linen yarn, complete with a free pattern for a spa cloth (which handily enough is a perfect swatch for the shawl!).
Sasha for Skein Shop (SS): Hi Mary! Could you please introduce yourself to the Skein Shop community?
Mary Rose (MR): Hi Sasha. My name is Mary Rose, and I design under my own name: Mary E. Rose Designs. I live in Central Ohio with my three children, who are really all young adults now, and a socially unacceptable number of cats. In the mundane world I have been in management for what feels like forever, but I've recently branched into one-on-one coaching because helping people realize their dreams is my passion (as well as knitting!).
SS: So what kind of advice would you have for someone who dreams of writing patterns but isn't sure where to start?
MR: First, start by designing what you love to make! Second, read and work critically from other people's patterns. Look at the how and the why of the way they laid out everything from where the pictures are to which techniques and stitch patterns they used. Then ask yourself if you would have done anything differently.
Also, you have to know that your first attempts at designing, especially the actual writing out of a pattern will not be perfect, and that is ok! The only way to get better at it is to keep doing it and asking for help from either a mentor or a tech editor. If you don't have a mentor, there is a group on Ravelry, Budding Designers, that is full of very helpful people and resources for folks just starting out.
My words of "wisdom" come with a warning though - designing is addictive! It seems that once you turn that part of your brain on, you can't turn it off again, and before you it you have six or seven design ideas running around in your head just waiting to get out and be turned into patterns.
SS: With all those design ideas do you find yourself casting on lots of projects at once? I know I do!
MR: I am not a monogamous knitter! I usually have several WIPs going at a time. Typically that includes some socks, something complicated that I need to focus on, and some more mindless, movie-watching knitting. At least one project has to be small enough to carry around with me - I refer to that as my "pocket knitting".
SS: Sounds like you keep your hands very busy! How did you learn to knit?
MR: I was about six when I learned how to knit, so I've been knitting a very long time! I will admit to over 30 years of knitting now. I spent my early childhood in England, and knitting was taught in school there. At the time my mom knit, so it was easy to continue those lessons at home. When I was a teenager in the Seattle, Washington area and my friends were getting jobs at fast food places, I got one at the local yarn store. My working environment was much better than theirs!
SS: I've met a lot of Germans who comment that knitting was taught in their elementary school. That's usually followed up by the admission that they had their Oma knit their homework for them! Do you do any other fiber arts besides knitting?
MR: I spin, and I used to do a lot of counted cross-stitch. Spinning has given me a lot more insight into how the amount of twist and plying techniques used to make yarn from fiber really affect how it behaves and how to create designs that play to the strengths of that yarn.
SS: Your knowledge and love of yarn really shows in your designs. What made you want to start designing?
MR: I think that a lot of knitters do a little designing without realizing it - adjusting patterns to make them fit or taking parts of one pattern and adding them to another. It really started for me though with friends who wanted to knit things that they couldn't find patterns for. I would write out instructions for them, sometimes on napkins at coffee shops! For years I said I wasn't going to be a "designer", but after some pressure from my friends, I put my first patterns up on Ravelry in 2015. I also submitted some designs to Knotions and other third party publishers who liked my work enough to publish it. I have been in Knotions with several patterns now, and there are some more publications coming out this year. I am very excited about that!
SS: That's hugely exciting! I know with so many ideas, sometimes finding more inspiration is the last thing you need, but whose work do you admire? To whom do you look as a role model and source of inspiration in designing?
MR: I think that everyone admires the big names like Cat Bordhi for her unique perspective on knitting in general. Ysolda Teague and Jared Flood both do an excellent job of picking just the right stitch patterns be they lace or cables to truly complement the yarns they use.
I also admire some lesser-known designers. Andrea Jurgrau is one whom I admire for her amazing lace patterns. That said, there is a whole group of people that I admire who get forgotten about - the tech editors and editors of online and print magazines that do a lot of "hand holding" during the process of getting a pattern ready for the crafter to buy. I also admire the team at Ravelry for giving us a place to connect, publish, and sell.
SS: Speaking of staying connected, how can our readers follow your future work?