Publisher’s Notes: Our Featured Artist of the day is not only a fellow knitter and hand spinner, but also a fellow blogger. Ariane LaCoste of Falling Stitches is a terrifically talented artist and pattern designer and her work is lighting up her home city of Montreal. We were so thrilled to get to know her and her work a little better.
Spin Artiste (SA): Hello Ariane and thanks for talking with us today. As a blogger I’m always interested in what inspires other people to write their own blog. Could you tell us a little about yours? Why did you start it? How long have you been writing it? What is your focus?
Ariane LaCoste (AL): First, I love my blog. I love the autumnal feel it has. It reminds me of the perfect weather to wear your knits. It makes me feel cozy. One of my close friends did the design and I love what she did.
I mainly started it to show off. Yes! Honestly, I want to show off what I work so hard on! We spend so many hours knitting, spinning, crafting, that I think it would be a shame not to show it. It makes us proud of ourselves and it’s a wonderful feeling.
I started blogging in 2008, but the blog had some name changes. The first two blogs were only in French since it’s my mother tongue. I switched to English to reach a wider crowd and I have subsquently made it bilingual.
SA: Wow! I applaud the work and talent that goes int0 that. Speaking of talent, where do you start when you are designing a new project? Do you have a form/shape in mind or do you start with the yarn you want to use? How improvisational is your process?
AL: All my designs are obsessions. I can have a design in my head for about a year or more before I even think about buying the yarn and making a swatch. I also always have a clear picture of the design, but as I am knitting, the design evolves into its own form. Those designs are always my favorites.
SA: Discuss one of your designs that’s near and dear to your heart — Take us through the design process you followed for that particular piece. Did you end up where you thought you would? What surprises did you encounter along the way or are you able to conceive of your end point pretty well?
AL: One design that I am truly proud of is Émilien (men hooded cardigan). I wanted to knit something for my boyfriend, despite his indifference for knitwear. After browsing through Ravelry and coming back empty handed, I started sketching. I had the picture of a simple yet effective, wearable and masculine design. I got inspired by hoodies my boyfriend wears and by the color of his eyes (yes, his eyes are that blue!). I worked the pattern with him, waiting for his approval at each step. He chose the width of the stripes, the ease, the length… it was a real custom made sweater! And it’s the only design that is exactly as my sketches!
SA: The hooded cardigan sounds like an amazing gift. So I hear your friends and family aren’t the only ones impressed with your art. Tell us about your experience with “Coastal Knits”.
AL: Last year, I was approached by Hannah Fettig (Knitbot) to knit her samples. After working on a few projects with her, she asked me if I was available to knit one sample for her (at the time) upcoming book. Of course I said yes! What a great honor to have been part of this book!
SA: When you are not knitting, what else do you do? (Did you graduate in the spring? What’s next for you after graduation?)
AL: When I am not knitting, spinning or taking pictures, I work as a localization tester in the gaming industry. A localization tester is somebody who proofreads video games and all the related documents.
SA: I always love hearing that the people in our knitting community are so versatile and multi-talented. Now on to spinning, I read on your blog that at Rhinebeck this last fall, you had your “aha” moment with a drop spindle. Tell us about that.
AL: I had a love/hate relationship with my drop spindle. The first time I tried to spin, even with the help of Youtube videos, nothing was working. It was so frustrating! I wanted to spin yarn and I ended up with big, chunky, thick-and-thin yarn, not at all what I wanted.
That is before actually seeing somebody draft… that was the “ah-ha!” moment. I was at Rhinebeck and I was talking with a spinner at a Ravelry meet-up. I was telling her my misfortune with my spindle, and she kindly showed me how. Everything was just right in my head, I knew I was able to spin! I got home, undusted my drop spindle and started to spin. Since then, I’ve been bitten by the spinning bug.
SA: Well I guess if your going to be bitten, the spinning bug is the best bite to have! Where would you like to go with spinning your own yarns?
AL: One of my goals is to spin enough yarn for an adult size sweater. And never have to buy yarn again, and spin, spin, spin for all my projects. Well, except designs…
SA: Which of your designs would translate well to using hand spun yarns? Any for “art”, heavily textured yarns? If you haven’t written any yet, would you consider doing so?
AL: That answer is the continuation of the previous one: I don’t have any designs that would suit handspun yarns. I tend to think more about fiber in itself rather than handspun.
For example, I know that a structured jacket will required some merino, and a lace shawl would be perfect in alpaca. I am thinking about including handspun in my sketches, but I prefer to think about the fiber and then spin it.
SA: I really appreciate you giving us a peak into your creative process. So, I heard something about your boyfriend being a knitter? What is it like being in relationship with another knitter?
AL: My boyfriend doesn’t really knit. Well, yes he does, he is even good at it, but… he doesn’t really want to! Let me explain. My boyfriend makes lighting using LEDs and other components that I don’t know of. About six months ago, a major and costly component burned. He needed money to buy new one, so I kindly proposed him to pay with my knitting pattern money. His way of paying me back? Knitting some samples… I was able to make him knit three samples. No more. So he knits, but not really…
SA: Probably for the best! What are your fiber arts goals for 2012?
AL: My fiber goals are 1) Spin enough yarn to knit a sweater 2) Knit through all my leftovers 3) Get rid of the yarn I don’t want 4) Reduce my WIPs list to only the active projects.
SA: I’ve been to Montreal once — beautiful city! What is your favorite aspect of living there?
AL: I love Montréal. I’ve been living there for about 10 years now, and I have my habits, my friends in the neighborhood, my community garden, my coffee shops, my bakeries. It’s a city with two (good) faces: there is always something to do, a festival, a show, there is always somewhere to go, a park, a coffee shop, a restaurant, a theater. It’s full of life but yet relax and welcoming.
SA: Hearing you describe Montreal makes me want to go back. Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us today. Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
AL: Sometimes, I have a hard time falling asleep because I think too much about knitting or spinning or yarn or fiber. And I am not allowed to knit in bed
SA: Thanks so much, Ariane! Your designs and yarns are superb. I think I want a pair of those lace legwarmers for myself. Readers, you can subscribe to Ariane’s blog updates here to see more of her fabulous work and also how to purchase her patterns.
Hey, if you haven’t entered yet for the beautiful skein of hand spun by Joy Hayworth, here’s the link to the post — all you have to do is a leave a comment! Winner to be picked at random this coming Sunday at 5 pm. Until then, I wish you much fibery goodness…Arlene