Today I’m talking to Ellen Gill, nuclear engineer and knitwear designer extraordinaire, who blogs at A Pile of Sheep about knitting, construction and technique. Ellen and I thought it would be fun to interview eachother for today’s post, so for my questions, head over to her blog!
Describe yourself in 10 words or less
Sassy lady physicist with unreasonable love of symmetry and knitting.
How did you get so good at knitting?
After I finished university I found myself with a lot more free time and I thought knitting would be just the crafty hobby to add to my repertoire. Admittedly, living right by a Hobbycraft was a big factor in this decision. I liked it, but I don’t think I got really good until I moved to Bristol and starting going to knitting groups on the regular. It enabled me! Eventually I decided I wanted to make my own stuff up and starting learning in earnest. Plus I’ve got all these maths skills and that helps a lot with the designing thing.
What are you designing at the moment?
A really really cute shawl. I have a good feeling about this one.
Who are your knitting idols?
TECHknitter, who is a knitter after my own heart. Such dedication to construction techniques!
Susan Crawford, basically the queen of vintage patterns and recipient of a large percentage of my knitting budget.
Betsy Farquar (elf518 on Ravelry) takes colourwork to a level I can barely handle. One day I hope to match those talents.
Where do you draw your design inspiration from?
Inspiration is one of those things that always comes from multiple places isn’t it? It’s just that my design process involves throwing every half-baked idea at the wall and seeing what sticks afterwards so there’s no telling how much I’ve unconsciously picked up. I pay a fair bit of attention to catwalk trends but I probably get lot more ideas from films and TV if I’m honest. I’m also a shameless people watcher and no interesting knitwear escapes my eye. Once I have a basic design idea I tend to go into super-technical-engineering mode and think a lot about how fun it would be to knit and write. About 90% of my ideas fall down at this point.
Do you have a favourite yarn at the moment?
My all-time favourite, stranded-in-the-Antarctic-without-internet yarn of choice is Excelana, in all its variations. But at the moment Juno Fibre Arts keeps popping into my head. I’ve never used their yarn but I’m really liking their colours right now.
You don’t seem scared to try new things. What is your most spectacular knitting disaster and were you able to overcome it?
Trying new things is easy if you always experiment on a swatch first. Those things are there to be abused! As for knitting disasters, let me think…I don’t think I’ve had any real disasters, just a few things that didn’t quite fit and left me a bit disappointed. I usually react to these things by putting them away for ages until I can face fixing them. The last fix I made involved cutting up a jumper with scissors. It was pretty drastic, but it worked!
If you had a month to yourself, what sort of knitty stuff do you think you’d get up to?
All the same stuff I do now, but faster! I’m in the mood for simplicity at the moment, I think I’d knit lots of seamless things in the round whilst ploughing through box sets.