Spotlight: Amy Herzog, Knitter
Amy Herzog is on a mission to make knitting a creative adventure that results in wearable garments that fit. She has literally written the book on the subject, and is eager to share her passion. Make what you love from yarn that you love. And keep checking back with Amy because she has more design ideas to share in the future!
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your books, especially your new title, Amy Herzog’s Ultimate Sweater Book: the Ultimate Guide for Adventurous Knitters? And how do you define an “adventurous knitter”?
More than anything else, I’d like to empower knitters to create garments they love to wear. Lots of things can stand in the way of us getting a wardrobe staple when we pick up our needles, and I’m out to demystify them. To me, an adventurous knitter is one who’s interested in being thoughtful about her projects and wants to learn new things.
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What should a knitter do before starting a project to ensure a good fit?
The single most essential part of getting a great fit is to start with an accurate set of body measurements, and an accurate read of one’s own gauge. Whoops, that’s two, isn’t it?
Is there an adjustment that is trickier than others?
Generally I think adjusting the shoulders of a garment pattern is the most complicated adjustment you can make, and so my modification advice tends to focus around working from a pattern size that fits your shoulders well, and making adjustments from there.
So many possibilities from a few basic silhouettes! Do you have even more designs spinning around in your head for future projects?
Absolutely! I’m always thinking of new sweaters. Right now I’m playing around with looser silhouettes, which is fun.
What advice do you have for a first-time sweater-knitter?
Mostly, to work on a sweater project that truly excites you. Sometimes I think we advise new sweater knitters to use yarn that’s less precious, or a style they may not wear because it’s simpler, or otherwise give them signals that sweater knitting is intimidating. Instead, I want a new sweater knitter to be passionate about the project – a style they love, out of yarn they love. The rest will work itself out.
What are your earliest memories involving your own creative expression?
Gosh. I’ve been knitting since I was a small child, so I’m not sure I have any particular specific memories. I’ve always made things, with fiber and fabric of various kinds.
Why fiber? Why knitting? How did you get started?
I’m told that I was taught to knit as a way of helping me sit still!
Did you start knitting by following patterns? What prompted the leap into creating your own patterns for original designs?
My grandmothers and mother taught me both how to follow a pattern and how to make basic things without a pattern, so I guess I’ve always done a bit of both. As an adult, I started designing patterns at the prompting of a friend. And once I’d started, I haven’t stopped – I love the feeling of creating something that’s exactly what I want to wear.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
I do have a studio; our home has a refinished attic space, and my knitting work space is there. I’ve got a couple of large work tables and a computer space, shelves for my books and yarn, and a small sofa to sit and knit. It’s airy and bright, with pops of color.
What is your favorite storage tip for your creative supplies?
I don’t actually keep much yarn around, so I’ve got it in a few cube bins in my bookshelves; I do have a nice wooden bowl on my main desk that I use for inspiration. I’ll put a couple of hanks of the yarn I’m going to work with next in it, so that I can look at it while I work and think about what I’ll make with it.
Are there indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
Just the usual ones, I think! Needles, yarn, my computer. I don’t use much else.
How many projects do you have going at once? Or are you one of those kind of people who only works on one creative project at a time?
I work on one main project at a time – I’m typically knitting to a deadline so don’t have the time to spare on other projects. I do tend to overlap them at the end, taking a few hours out to swatch my next project while I’m blocking the pieces of my current project before finishing. That way my needles can always be working.
What sets you apart from other creative people in your genre?
Hm, that’s a tough question. I think probably my facility with software. I wrote a custom sweater pattern generator, CustomFit, which creates patterns specifically to the knitter’s gauge (laceweight to bulky), measurements, and fit choices. And I think it’s pretty unique! It also forces an unusual way of designing garments; when I’m designing for the site, I need to make sure that the design will work well not only for all knitters’ bodies, but also for any yarn they might choose, in any gauge. It’s definitely caused me to think about design differently.
How do you balance your personal life and your creative endeavors?
It’s a challenge, for sure. I work in the corporate world full time in addition to running my knitting business, so finding time for everything is tough. It helps that I’m happy to knit anywhere and everywhere. 🙂
Interview posted January, 2019.
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