Thursday 20 November 2014

Indie Design GAL: Meet a Designer, Melissa Metzbower

Here's the third in my series of interviews with designers in the Indie Design GAL 2014. Today I talk to Melissa Metzbower, who can be found on Ravelry under the name mmetzbower, and her eclectic selection of designs can be seen on her Ravelry designer page. So what does Melissa have to say?

1.       How long have you been knitting? And who taught you to knit?
I've been knitting for about 15 years. My friend had a teen magazine that said that knitting was the "in" thing. I had been wanting to try knitting, so she let me borrow her magazine that had the basics. That magazine, the internet, and a little pamphlet by Coats and Clark taught me how to knit.

2.       How long have you been crocheting? And who taught you to crochet?
I was taught how to crochet by my Nanny (grandmother) on vacation one year. I might have been maybe 12 or 13. I decided to follow a pattern for a Barbie dress using this ridiculously thin cotton thread. I ended up with a half-way decent dress, and my daughter plays with it with her dolls. I still occasionally crochet, but I stick to baby blankets. My skill ends there.

3.       When and why did you start designing?
I started designing when my daughter began having problems with her skin reacting to non-natural fibres. Cotton was great for her, but at at the time the only stores that sold an all cotton sweater for a 3 month old also had very expensive prices. I decided to give a baby sweater a go. At first I knit from other designers patterns, but when I couldn't find what I wanted, I took matters into my own hands. My first attempt at designing my own sweater was for her. It was a Christmas sweater with puff sleeves, smocking type front, and a folded hem.  I've kept designing because, frankly, the money I make pays for the yarn I use, and everything I design has a recipient in mind, and/or a specific function.

4.       What was your first published design?
My first published design was my Hallows Cardigan. I went to the movie and saw Ronald Weasley in his version of this sweater and was in love! Not with Ron, but his sweater! I spent the rest of the movie trying to catch a glimpse of it. I wanted one for my little boy. When I couldn't find a similar pattern, I designed one that was very similar. Many requests for me to publish the pattern for my son's sweater led me to write it down, have it tested, etc... and finally publish it.

Hallows Cardigan, image copyright Melissa Metzbower

5.       Which of your designs are you proudest of?
I am really proud of my Blackberry Brambles. It was the first sweater that I've ever knit for myself using my own measurements and not blindly following a pattern. I tell all of my testers to choose a size based on their back (shoulder) width. Everything else can be adjusted, but if this area doesn't fit well, the results are not something that they will be happy with. I love this design and wear it all the time. It's amazing how a well-fitting sweater can make you feel beautiful!

Blackberry Brambles, image copyright Melissa Metzbower

6.       Do you think you’ll ever release any crochet designs?
Probably not. I'm not sure that would be nice to do to those folk that like to crochet, ha ha!

7.       If money was no object, what would be your dream crafting item?
I'd love to have a set of interchangeable knitting needles/cables that have flexible cables. I'm using a set my hubby gifted me ages and ages ago, and the cables are like weed-whacker cord. But they are still useable, so I work around it.

8.       The gift-a-long is clearly right up your street as you give most of your samples away as gifts (as do I), who is your most knitworthy recipient?
That would have to be immediate family and my sister, Christina. She's still got the first scarf I ever made for her. It's an ugly, poorly knit acrylic rectangle! I'm embarrassed of it now, but she treasures it. She's the recipient of the current design sample I'm knitting now. 

9.       What inspires your designs?
Necessity. Pure and simple. I needed a hat/scarf combo to cover my little girl's face, so she doesn't wheeze, but something pretty to wear out, and the Winter Bonnet was born. I needed an owls sweater for a baby shower for a friend's baby, and Owl Always Love You is the result.

Winter Bonnet, image copyright Melissa Metzbower

10.   Your ‘Owl Always Love You’ baby cardigan is super cute (I love owls); what inspired this design?
My friend's baby registry! She decorated everything for her little girl in owls! At the same time, a friend that had been trying for a second child for years, found out that she was having a little boy, so one version of Owl Always Love You is lacy, and the other version is plain. Both samples were well loved by these babies and their mommas. My favourite feature of this design is that the buttons are knit into the fabric. Baby would have to gnaw apart the sweater to pull them loose!

Owl Always Love You, image copyright Melissa Metzbower

11.   If you’re not working on one of your own designs, do you have a favourite designer whose patterns you turn to?
I really have enjoyed Susan B, Anderson for baby things, Atelier Alfa for sweaters, Lise-Anne Michel for her slippers that my kids LOVE, and Heidi Hirtle for her purses. Once I find a design that I like, I tend to reuse that pattern over and over.

12.   What’s your favourite knitting/crochet technique?   
Grafting. I find it soothing. Bizzare, I know! And seaming things up. Although, most of my sweaters these days are seamless. I don't like weaving in ends. One time I cheated, tied the end into knots, and threw the sweater in the wash. That sweater came out looking moth eaten! I don't do that any more!

13.   Are there any techniques you’re keen to learn?
I want to try brioche and steeking. If there were more hours in the day! I'm slowly adding new techniques as I find I need them.

14.   Are there any techniques you have no interest in learning?
Hmm... I'm pretty much game for anything!

15.   What are your design ambitions?
I'd like to one day have a nice portfolio and perhaps branch out into tech editing. I love crunching numbers and editing for typos and such.

16.   What are you planning on making during the gift-a-long?
I have a cardigan that I've been commissioned to make, so that, and that second sock for my little boy! If I have extra time, I'd like to get some mittens made for gifts.

17.   Anything else you’d like me to include?
It takes a bit of time, resources, and determination to produce a good pattern, but I love my knitters and want to give them the best, so I plow on! If anyone knitting one of my patterns ever has a question or needs clarification, I'm always here to help!

18.   At Bake Day Wednesday we like a nice piece of cake, so what is your favourite type of cake?
I'm not sure what it is called. Maybe your readers will know! My grandfather received a medal from the king of Norway for his service in WW2. The Norwegian consulate came out and had a ceremony and brought a cake with them. It had layers of fruit, custard, and pound cake. It was delicious! Our bakeries over here don't carry that, so I'd love to find a recipe and make my own! I also like Festive Irish Cheesecake. :-)

Thanks for chatting to me, it's been lovely to find out all about your work. And I shall definitely be hunting down that Norwegian cake! If anyone has any ideas, let me know...

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