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Interview series 43 – Anna Mäkilä

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Photo of Anna Makila sitting on the edge of a table which has lots of pairs of knitted socks on it. She is smiling to camera and holding up a pair of socks.

In 2017 we ran a survey of Stitchmastery users and one response particularly caught our imagination – someone told us they would like to hear from other Stitchmastery users and how they make use of the software. We’re delighted to bring you a series of interviews with designers, tech editors, magazine editors and teachers – we hope you enjoy reading them!

Interviewee – Anna Mäkilä

1) When did you start designing? Could you give us a potted history of your knitting and designing background?

I learned to knit from my mother, maybe at 6-7 years old. At the same time, I started doing cross stitch and other embroidery. In the beginning, I knitted big projects, mostly sweaters, oversized influenced by my rebellious spirit. During my studies, however, handicrafts were left in the background. I returned to knitting for a while when my kids were small. Then again took a break due to working life.

I became acquainted with knitting socks thanks to one of my colleagues. So, I didn’t knit my first socks until 2014. I have narrow feet and a low arch, and I often had to adjust the given instructions, especially the heels, to get well-fitting socks.

It was then a short journey to designing socks. And at the same time, my love for different heel types was born. Knitting the same heel in each sock pair is very boring for me.

 

2) Do you have any recurring sources of inspiration or unusual muses for your design work?

For me, everything can be an inspiration: nature, feeling, travelling, different events. I notice that many of my designs are influenced by music, and some of my socks are designed for a particular yarn. A huge influence is also my desire to try something new.

Some pieces of music which have inspired me (YouTube links): Andante Festivo by Sibelius, Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, Pelléas et Mélisande by Sibelius, and Where The Wild Roses Grow by Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue.

However, the biggest factor is definitely the colours. I love the hand-dyed yarns and the way the colour plays gently with the light. I might keep a certain idea in mind for a long time until I find a yarn of the right colour for it. Although the pattern can be knitted from any colour, I always choose the colours very carefully. Colours are really important to me and there is definitely a connection between colours and my emotions.

3) When you have an idea, do you always work to a set workflow (eg swatch-knit-chart or chart first then knit) or does your approach change with each design?

It varies a lot. Sometimes the pattern appears quickly, sometimes it lingers for a long time. I start with an idea I have in mind. The idea can be a chart (or at least, the first version of a chart). Sometimes I just pick a beautiful yarn and start knitting, trusting that the right chart or design will appear in my mind. However, the final design can be very different from the original idea.

Usually, it is not enough for me that the sock is pretty, e.g. includes a beautiful chart. The sock should also be interesting in some way. However, I don’t use everything new and special as an end in itself; they must serve the idea of ​​the pattern. Not all my patterns are for knitters who want to knit their socks quickly while watching TV. However, if you knit my patterns, you may learn something new 😊

Details are really important to me, and I can spend a lot of time putting them right. For example, I want to make the colorwork continue seamlessly over the beginning of the round. I also try to grade the pattern so that it fits and is proportionate in every size. This all takes time, requires several trials and occasional failures. Fortunately, I’m a process knitter. So, for me, the process of knitting is more important than finished socks. I can frog several times if I am not happy with the outcome. The original idea may be rejected and something will be born that I did not imagine initially.

4) What made you choose to use Stitchmastery? Is there a particular feature you use most regularly or couldn’t do without? And is there anything you wish Stitchmastery could do?

I chose Stitchmastery because of its versatility. When I was making designs for my sock book, I looked quite thoroughly at the options on the market. Of all of them, Stitchmastery met my needs the best, with a wide range of ready-made symbols and the ability to create my own.

Certainly, Stitchmastery has many features that I can’t properly use or don’t even know exist. I still have a lot to learn! I’m not a technically oriented person, so using Stitchmastery (or any other tool) can sometimes be challenging for me, especially after a break. That’s why I really appreciate the help I’ve always received from the ladies at Stitchmastery.

5) Please tell us about your latest publication or next exciting project!

Sock design is my hobby. I have a day job, which currently requires a lot of my time and energy, so I don’t have any big knitting commitments right now that would put pressure on my schedule.

Still, I have a lot of patterns to write down. Some designs have waited almost two years for a pattern to be written. I don’t like this situation. Fortunately, I have a couple of weeks off in a month, so I hope to finish a few patterns.

Learn more about Anna:

You can find Anna’s designs on Ravelry, and you can keep up to date with Anna on Instagram.

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