Publisher’s Note: Today we are honored to have a true master of the fiber-art world. Susan B. Anderson is an expert knitter, blogger, curator, best-selling author, and now a fellow spinner. With such talent and originality, we can’t help but be inspired by her work. With so much on her plate, we appreciate Susan taking the time to chat with us.
Spin Artiste (SA): What a pleasure it is to have you on our blog today. You have had a profound impact on me as a knitter and I’m sure others can say the same. Of course, we are anxious to know what your “fiber journey” has been like.
Susan Anderson (SAnd): I started spinning about two years ago. It was something I had always wanted to try but just hadn’t gotten around to yet. I fell in love quickly with making my own yarns from beautiful dyed and natural fibers and then knitting with my handspun yarns.
SA: It’s clear that your work is truly a labor of love. Was fiber the first stop on your artistic path or were you involved with other mediums?
SAnd: I grew up a crafty kid in an artistic and musical home so I have tried many, many different artistic mediums along the way. I have been involved with sewing, drawing, mosaic, stitchery, and furniture restoration to name a few. I didn’t start knitting until I was 19-years-old and I taught myself. After that it was all about the yarn, knitting and now spinning fiber, too.
SAnd: Never in a million years could I have imagined all of the opportunities that have come my way through knitting. I wrote a letter to a publishing company, Artisan Books, in 2004 as a complete unknown who had never been published. Two weeks later I heard back from them and they wanted to do a book with me. It has been a whirlwind ever since!
SA: You have created such perfectly sweet knitting patterns for children. What inspires you to make pieces for little ones?
SAnd: I started designing for babies when my own kids were babies. I was a teacher for some years and have always had a fondness for babies and children and their things. I love little things and making little things. It was a natural progression for me to start designing baby wear and toys because it was such a part of my life already.
SA: I’m sure, with all of your talent, your children never lack for wonderful clothes and accessories! On your blog, Susan B. Anderson, you frequently share about your new ventures into spinning yarn, and it sounds like you are really enjoying it. I love what you wrote recently about spinning, saying, “The process of spinning yarn has become a real passion of mine. I love every step along the way.” So, what personal steps in your life led you to start spinning?
SAnd: I just started really noticing and admiring handspun yarn on blogs and podcasts. Every time I saw someone’s beautiful handspun yarn I was drawn in. I started wondering if I should take the leap and try spinning myself. I took one lesson at a local yarn shop to learn the very basics and parts of the wheel. I was terrible at it to start and it took a long, long time before I got the hang of any of it. With much determination and practice and after two years, I finally feel like I have made big improvements in the yarn I can produce.
SA: It’s great to hear that with a little determination and a good imagination, you were able to come so far in a relatively short time. How would you describe your spinning experience so far? What aspect of your creative nature does it fulfill?
SAnd: I love every part of the spinning process from pre-drafting to spinning to plying to washing and drying. It is all fun to me. I don’t have to be precise. I am not scientific or preplanned on anything I spin. I just sit down and start. That is fun for me since in my knitting world I have to write everything down and be precise and accurate. Spinning is play-time for me.
SA: I’m sure there’s something about the whimsical side of spinning that we can all relate to. Do you see yourself moving into dying and/or carding in the future?
SAnd: Oh, yes, it is most likely I will do both of these things in the future. In fact, I just bought some natural white roving at our local farmers’ market a couple of weeks ago and I really want to try dyeing it.
SA: How exciting! We can’t wait to see your finished result. What are you currently spinning?
SAnd: I just started some Moonshine Fiber Co. roving a couple of days ago. I just finished some Cloudlover and Sunshine Yarns rovings. I also recently spun up a Loop Bullseye Bump. I have lots of favorites.
SA: Sounds like you’ve really got your hands full. I’m sure you’re spending a lot of time in your studio these days. Can you tell us a little about your work space?
SAnd: Well, right now my studio is a bit of a mess. The more I work, the messier it gets and I have been working long hours lately. I have a small room in my house dedicated as my studio. I have shelves and shelves of yarn and books, a big comfy chair surrounded by good lighting, my wheel sits in there, too. It is a cute, bright and airy but small space and I accomplish a lot in there. I am just thankful I have a place to call my own in my house.
SA: What wheel are you working with?
SA: You have truly been an inspiration for so many. Who would you say inspires you both personally and artistically?
SAnd: My kids have been a huge inspiration to me as I have watched them grow. My mother was and continues to be an enormous inspiration to me with her creativity, her many talents but especially her generosity and kindness to others. My husband inspires me with his ability to appreciate and support others. The list goes on and on, really. I am inspired by other crafters, knitters, bloggers, writers, children’s literature, nature, ceramics, artwork, etc.
SA: It’s so wonderful that you have so many avenues of inspiration. I’m really looking forward to your up-coming book, “Topsy-Turvy Inside Out”. Can you give us a little preview of what to expect?
SAnd: Yes, I am so excited about this new collection. I have designed a dozen knit toys that are interactive meaning you can flip, twist, turn inside out, reverse….. it is really fun and adorable and different! The new book will be out this coming spring 2013.
SA: Sounds like you’ve got another best-seller on your hands! I loved the story of Rumpelstiltskin as a child and often wonder what it would be like to spin straw into gold, if you could truly spin straw into gold what would you make with your golden yarn?
SA: Thanks so much, Susan, for taking the time with us today! It has been a real pleasure getting to know you better and thank you for all the great work you do with your books and on your blog, Susan B. Anderson .
Dear Readers, it’s taken me the longest time, but I’ve finally gotten the Spin Artiste Ravelry Group up and really running. Click here to join!
That’s all for now, dear readers. See you back here in a few days! All my best, Arlene