Where did the idea come from for an entire book using Short Row techniques?
I’ve always loved knitting with short rows; when I begin knitting again it was one of the first advanced techniques I learned in order to create bust darts. However I wasn’t really happy with my short rows so I started to investigate and experiment. From there I discovered how many different types of short row techniques there are out there and the variety of things you can do with them. For the next several years I began perfecting my technique and using them in almost all my patterns. This naturally led to teaching short rows in person which in turn became my very popular free short row class on Craftsy.
When I began discussing a new book with Potter Craft I knew I wanted to do a book that was a technique workshop as well as a pattern book. That way knitters will want to reference it for years to come even after they’ve finished the patterns. Short rows seemed like the perfect subject as they are probably one of the most useful knitting techniques out there! At the same time I did a second class on Craftsy (Essential Short Row Techniques) that dovetails with the book.
Your knitwear design career has taken you to some far-flung places! I know the Craftsy classes are filmed in Denver and that you really enjoy visiting there. Did you ever imagine that knitting would open up so many opportunities for you?
If you had told me several years ago that knitting was going to be a passport to travel the world I’d have either laughed at you or thought you were crazy! I’m not a very careful planner at a macro level (micro planning I do thought!) so each new development and opportunity for me happened quite organically with one flowing into the next. At the beginning of my career I wrote an article on Kerry Woollen Mills for Yarnforward magazine. This got me thinking about Irish yarn which prompted me to write my first book; ‘Contemporary Irish Knits’. After this book was launched I began attending the TNNA tradeshow in the US and this book got me my first offer of teaching from Craftsy to do the Celtic Cables class.
I want to continue to create new designs, explore new construction methods and challenge myself as a designer and teacher. In order to do this I’ve got to be fluid in my approach and be open to new possibilities.
Speaking of new possibilities – you always seem to embrace new ways of connecting with the knitters that choose your patterns, for example via the KALs you run on Ravelry. How do you find the time to run these knit-a-longs, with all your other commitments? And what has been your most successful KAL to date?
To manage all of my commitments I do lots of juggling and very little housework, I wish I was joking but I’m not The reality is that there is no way to extend the hours in the day so something will always give. I do the bare minimum of housework so that it still functions, but that’s it. I try to finish every evening with a list of important tasks for the next day and do my best to get at least a few done in the morning.
Work goes in waves, when I’m feeling rested and family demands are low I can power thorough blog posts, patterns and edits without a bother. Other weeks they could take the whole week instead of a day. I try hard to accept that we’re not machines and you can’t work consistently all the time.
Every morning my priority is always knitters; I start by answering all email queries, Ravelry questions (forums and messages) and then visit Craftsy. If I get to them again later that’s great but on a busy day it won’t always happen!
Interaction with knitters is what keeps me energised and focused. Without knitters my patterns would just stay on paper. This is why KALs (knitalongs) have become such a big part of my work. I get to spend a lot of time focusing on one pattern; writing tips, tutorials and clues. Then the fun starts, knitters are swatching, picking sizes, figuring out mods and having a great time together.
I love how much knitters get out of KALs; along the way we’ve had a lot of first time sweater knitters who finished them off and loved them The first KAL I did was for my 100th pattern, Ravi, that’s probably still the most popular of my KALs. This year I wanted to experiment a little and I’m trying something new, a KAL that is run in conjunction with LYSs and the yarn company Fyberspates; Mithral Every year knitters were trying to meet up in person, arranging it on Ravelry. It made sense to me to try and bring in a LYS partnership so that knitters could meet in person as well as online. Mitheral’s first clue is out 1st of October and so far knitters seem to love having LYSs involved, it just feels like extending the knitting family!
So now that Short Row Knits is published, what’s next for Carol Feller?
In the next few months my initial priority is promoting my 2 new books; Dovestone Hills and Short Row Knits. This involves a lot of writing work for blog posts as well as travel to shows and of course the wonderful book launch with you on the 17th of October! At the same time in the background plans are afoot for the Irish Yarn Club 2016. For the last 2 year I’ve done an Irish Yarn Club with TIK and this year we’re planning and scheming for some very exciting new developments. I think knitters are going to just love some of the yarn/colour choices that we’re putting together for the 2016 club and hopefully they’ll like the patterns that go with the amazing yarn