Today we talk with Ruth Vorstman, who is teaching Beginners Lace, Untwisting the Mystery of Cables, and How to Knit the Lambert Mitts.
I first met Ruth a few years ago, when she enquired about teaching at the shop – she subsequently did teach ( and was very well received ) and also became a friend. We recently spent the afternoon exploring the Pre-Raphaelite collection at the BMAG (Birmingham Museums and Galleries) and talking about some very exciting plans for 2014!
When and Why did you start designing?
I first started thinking about designing when I was working in a knitting shop and spending more and more time daydreaming about yarns, different textures and different colours. I’d been knitting (and sewing) for a long time, but was always rather afraid that something I’d put a lot of time into just wouldn’t work in three dimensions, but then I wanted an accessory set to go with a scarf I knit (from Victorian Lace Today), and I decided it could always be frogged – the Lambert Mitts and Lambert Beret were born.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
All around me, in all honesty. I’ve been very fortunate to live in very beautiful places – East Lancashire, near Bronte country; Oxford; and now the Malverns, and the landscape and architecture of all those places have certainly provided some inspiration. Other times, I’ll see a jumper someone’s wearing, and fall for a particular feature; or I’ll be browsing stitch dictionaries and find something I have to knit.
What is your favourite thing to design? Why?
At the moment, my favourite thing is lace. I love playing with charts and the challenge of the stitch counts and the sheer magic of the blocking process. I also love teaching new lace knitters – I think lace is often thought of as challenging or difficult, and I love the moment when people ‘get’ charts, or overcome that fear!
When did you start Knitting/Crocheting/Crafting?
I was taught to knit when I was about 8, and knit various mice and blanket type things until I started a masters – I’d just moved to a new city, Cast-On had just started, and I decided that joining a knitting group would be a way to make new friends. I’ve been crafting generally for as long as I can remember, but had lessons from the age of 7 covering all sorts of paper-crafts, clay, etc, and got into cross-stitch and patchwork, just before joining the drama society and spending 4 years making costumes for them – it was great practice, because as long as it lasted for the week of the show, and looked alright on stage under the lights, no one was looking to carefully at my finishing / zip insertion skills / hemming techniques! Now I dabble.
What new skills have you acquired since you started designing?
It’s hard to be sure which skills are because I’ve become increasingly focussed on knitting, and on acquiring knitting techniques, and which are because I’ve started designing per se. I’ve become more confident in trying out new things, and my swatching record has improved, but the skills that are more design-related are a bit less knitterly – I’m much better with DTP and graphics programs on the computer than I was; my maths skills have had to become better to help work out shaping issues, and I’m juggling more projects than ever.
What are your biggest challenges?
I still find working in three dimensions a challenge, but the next big thing I’m working on is to work out sizing for full garments – I’m working on a cardigan pattern, and have several other ‘large’ projects in my mind, but it does take patience and more practice than I’ve had time for – yet – to get the grading right.
Do you have a day job? If so, do you find any inspiration from the people/tasks you encounter?
My day job is in administration; it feels like a pretty typical desk-job, and isn’t particularly inspiring, but it does give me the freedom to leave it behind at the end of the day, and a certain amount of daydreaming space around the spreadsheets!
What are your favourite shapes and colours?
I love all the jewel tones, and greens, and blues, and teals… but then I have a fantastic hot pink shawlette, and I love that too. As to shapes, I enjoy playing with them, but natural curves and sinuous elegant twists have my heart.
If you could take any workshop at Fibre Flurry 2013, (apart from your own!) which would it be and why?
I’m spoilt for choice! I’d love to take Ann Kingstone’s class on colourwork, because I’d like to pick up some tips on improving my tension, but then I’m a lace geek, so there’s lots still to learn, and Anniken is amazing…. as is Amy, and I’m definitely a bit of a control freak, so I’d love to see what I could pick up in her Random Cables class…
What plans do you have for 2014?
More knitting, more designing, more teaching. I’m hoping I’ll live up to my Resolution to get the work / life / knitting balance a bit more right, but I’ve also got a couple of collections (or things that I’m thinking of as collections) that I’m working on, and we’ll see how those progress.
I am a knitter, designer, researcher, administrator and teacher living in the Malverns. I started out training to be a lecturer in literature, researching early modern French women writers, but decided knitting was much more fun, and started to teach that instead. My first free designs were written for the Knitting Parlour in 2010, and I’m currently working on several accessory and lace designs. I’m a regular member of the Great Malvern Knit-n-Natter groups, and a visiting member of the Oxford Bluestockings.
On Ravelry I can be found as ruthcrafts. I also tweet as @Ruthcrafts. I can be reached by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
My patterns are available through Ravelry, or direct from my blog: www.ruthcrafts.blogspot.com