Thanks to the wonderful Indie Design Gift-A-Long that’s happening on Ravelry right now, I got a chance to interview the wonderful Jenny Wiebe, on Ravelry as JennyVangy (these are Ravelry links – you should go check them out!!)
Let’s start with the basics: How did you learn to knit?
I honestly don’t remember who first taught me. My mom and both of my grandmas knit, and so I’m sure one of them must have first taught me when I was very young. My Grandma Betty, who is 96 years old, is still an avid knitter, and I love knitting partly because it is a serious bond that we share.
What was your inspiration to begin designing?
I started doing test knits for other designers and really enjoyed the process of working through a design. The more I worked with designers the more I began to dream of designs that I could come up with. Then, one day I was sitting behind a girl in church with a rayon shirt with ruffles on the sleeve, and I thought, “I could knit something just like that!” I drew out my plan for Edith on the service sheet that day and went home and knit it. And so it began!
I see you make mostly children’s wear – what is your favorite part of designing a new outfit or accessory for a little one?
I have 5 children of my own, 28 nieces and nephews, and tons of friends with little ones as well. I love coming up with an idea and then seeing the kids I love wearing what I knit up from that idea.
Do you have any other crafting hobbies like spinning, cooking, weaving, etc? If so, what are you working on right now?
I’ve dabbled in a lot over the years: growing up my mom always had a craft room, and I don’t ever remember not being a “crafter.” I sewed my own dresses as a teenager, and made jewelry to match. I love quilting and scrapbooking. Years ago I lived with a saddle maker for a while to learn the trade, and came out with a saddle, breast collar and two pair of chaps that I made all myself. Every once in a while I take over my father-in-law’s wood shop to make something for my kids (doll beds, play kitchens, teething toys….) Last fall I took up spinning, although I have a hard time finding time to really get into it. I think that knitting has prevailed because of it’s flexibility. I can pick up a project, knit a few rows (or stitches, depending on the distractions) and put it away easy as that. With many of the other crafts I enjoy I have to devote a whole lot more time and space to do much of anything, and unfortunately that is not a reality in my life right now.
Do you have a favorite design of yours?
I love Grow Old With Me. It was the most challenging pattern to design, but I just love the finished product. It’s sometimes hard to find unique boy patterns, and I feel Grow Old With Me is one.
Do you have any designs in the works that you can talk about or share right now?
I’m about to release a child’s cabled cardigan called Calaway. Look for it on December 15th.
You have a great promotion for people who make your new designs quickly after they’re released – tell us about it!
As a designer I love to see what finished products other knitters come up with from my designs! If knitters knit up one of my designs in the first 30 days it is published, they can choose a free pattern of mine. Of course, they have to complete a Ravelry project page with a photo of that finished product.
Thank you so much, Jenny, for your time! I’m really excited to see the new pattern, Calaway, that’s being released tomorrow!! I might just have to take advantage of that great promotion!
(All photos are the property of Jenny Wiebe)