Snippets Issue 28 : The End Of Time Issue

Knitting Everyday Finery

We chat to Mel Clark about her new knitting book

Knitting Everyday Finery

I loved Knitting Everyday Finery, Mel Clark's second book before I even opened it. The cover features a lovely woman with a beautiful stash of yarn, a cozy shawl and a cup of tea. Yes, please! Every project had me thinking "Ooh, I want to make that!" and even though it's been a while since I've knitted, her patterns were so well laid-out that I wasn't left wondering how my rusty skills would hold up. Each page had me itching to pick up my needles again.

She wrote her first book Knit 2 Together with her friend, actress Tracey Ullman. Both of Mel's books get very high ratings on every website I saw them on and she also has a great website: slipslipknit.com. My favorite patterns in Knitting Everyday Finery were the Croissant Bag, Shiraz Slippers (I want to knit these for everyone I know!) and the Lulu Scarf. There was a nice variety of yarns used and there was something for everyone: men, women, babies, and children. I got the chance to chat with Mel a bit and she was just as lovely as her book would imply! 

Win a signed copy of Knitting Everyday Finery

We've got five copies of the book, signed by Mel Clark to give away to lucky readers. For your chance of winning, simply leave a comment below telling us what you'd like to knit in the new year. Good luck!

Competition closes: February 20th

Congratulations to TinyTessieG, Gemma T, Amy B, MischievousRaven and Joe W.


 

How do you narrow down which patterns to include? It seems that it would be hard to choose, almost like leaving behind one of your babies. Is it a collection of things you knit often or patterns that you thought would appeal to knitters the most?

I like to keep everyone in mind, beginners and experienced knitters, and I try also to keep different tastes in mind. I like variety and have fairly eclectic taste myself, so my choice of patterns will always reflect that

Do you miss owning a knitting shop?

I miss the knitting community, the lovely customers and teachers, and the laughter. It was great fun. 

How does your knitting differ when living in different places? Does the climate affect what kinds of projects you are drawn to?

Well it’s colder here in NZ than it is in Los Angeles, my former home, so I do tend to be thinking gloves and sweaters here more. I don’t think I would’ve made the Tangerine Tights if I’d been living in LA!

What is your favorite thing to knit?

Something that turns out well! Since my book has been published I’ve made four pair of the Shiraz slippers and two pair of the July Gloves so I’d have to say I like making accessories. I also love to make bags, top down sweaters, and things for my house.

I sometimes feel like someone who doesn’t knit can’t fully appreciate the time and love that goes into a project. Do you get a lot of requests from friends to make them things?

Yes I do, mostly from my son and husband. Recently a friend offered to pay me for a pair of slippers. She’s a crafter herself so she knows how much work is involved. I ended up making them for her birthday. I make things only for people who appreciate the time it takes.

Do you believe the old saying that knitting a sweater for a boyfriend is bad luck?

It came true for me when I was 19. I had a boyfriend who practically stood over me while I finished a cabled sweater vest for him, then he left me for someone else! I was at university at the time and had to tolerate seeing him wearing it, hand in hand with his new girlfriend! I don’t think it’s a superstition, just a result of someone who’s not ready for a commitment being scared away by the obvious devotion involved in knitting a sweater.

What is your current favorite yarn?

I’ve just made a baby jacket with Cascade Eco Cloud and I am in love with this yarn. It’s chunky, but very light, and ultra soft. I like it so much, I’m going to make a sweater for myself.

Do you have plans for a third book? 

I’ve just finished work on a book of knitted baby gifts, which will be published in 2013.

I love that you were knitting long before the huge resurgence. Was it a great feeling to finally have your craft recognized and appreciated by a lot of people?

Yes, it was great that it became popular once again. It makes it more exciting and enjoyable for everyone. The more knitters there are, the more variety of yarns and patterns there will be.

It seems that you enjoy hobbies where you can use your hands (gardening, knitting) what other things do you enjoy doing?

I love cooking, reading and sewing. I’d love to do more needlepoint (several unfinished canvases languish in my closet) but I do so much knitting there’s no time.

What size needle do you find you knit with the most? Do you prefer metal or bamboo needles? Straight or circular?

I use a variety of sizes and circulars mostly, although some projects work better on a straight needle. I love short, straight needles for a scarf. I prefer bamboo or wood needles although I occasionally use metal circulars.

I love the idea of fitting small luxuries into your life everyday. In what other ways do you do incorporate that idea into your days?

I like to cook with good quality ingredients and will pay a little more for organic olive oil, for example. Being able to eat vegetables out of my own garden is, to me, a luxury, even though I have to work for it. The little luxury I appreciate more than anything is a lovely bar of soap. My kids know this and give them to me for my birthdays. It’s about being grateful for everything we have. Anything can be a luxury if we have a deep appreciation of how fortunate we are. 

For me, it’s hard to find great projects for men. What is your favorite thing to knit for men?

Socks! The sweater curse doesn’t apply to accessories, so you’re safe there, and they fit everyone. Every man wears socks.

I live in Texas where it is hot with lots of bugs.  The year I moved here from California most of my yarn and roving were eaten by moths. What is the best way to keep your yarn safe from critters? I’m afraid to buy nice yarns in natural fibers now.

Oh, that’s too bad! I use cedar blocks and balls, and scatter them in my cupboards and drawers. I also wash my knits regularly with lavender or eucalyptus, because I’ve heard that it helps. 

Out of all the crafts I’ve tried, knitting has been the most obsessive. Do you find this to be true? What are you currently obsessed with?

Yes, it’s very addictive, in a good way. I’m currently obsessed with making myself a sweater with a particular cabled yoke, and also with making a series of fingerless mitts out of all my scraps of yarn. I get obsessed with every project, and with the long list in my head of things I plan to make one of these days. 

Anything else you’d like to say about knitting, your book, your blog or anything else I didn’t cover?

If everyone knitted, the world would be in better shape.


 You can pick up a copy of Mel's book from Anova Books now.

Comments

Basically I would love to re-create the blankets that my loved one had from their grandmother, that now unfortunately is no longer with us (both the grandmother and the blanket) . Just so I can see the look on their faces and be like it close to nearly the same. And for a glimpse of a second they remember her knitting in her glory.
I want to knit a teenage mutant ninja turtle '3D' jumper! coolest thing eveeeer Happy LOL
im only used to making small toys but, Id love to attempt to knit a quilt and in each patch have a different design to do with my favourite things or achievements id made threw the year like music notes, grades, names and dates :')!
This year I really want to knit a full length cable dress. And an amigurumi unicorn. And a corn-cob baby snuggie. And a cinch belt. The projects are never-ending!
I'm trying to stash bust this year so I plan to knit quite a few items for charity but got a couple of jumpers and shawls marked out for myself.
I have been trying to knit but all the stuff that I make have many holes in them. So this year, I hope to make a decent scarf that has no holes nor will it be uneven Happy
I have a full knit dress that I bought off of Ebay that I'd like to replicate. It's decorated with multiple styles of cables and even some stitches that I've never seen before. The challenge will be to get enough yarn for one, and to be able to creatively re-create it on my own.
I would like to knit a bag and some mochimochi- But I am still very new to knitting. The shawl on the book cover looks so cozy I would like to give that a shot too!
I would like to knit some things I could give away to people in need, whether it be socks, hats, scarves, whatever. So then I can feel accomplished in ACTUALLY completing a knitted project in a long time and the satisfaction of giving back because I know I would have liked a gift like that when I was struggling growing up.
I would like to knit a small blanket, knitting a few squares and sewing them together. I am still a beginner, and there's never much time for me to knit, hope I can go for classes during the holidays! •∆•
I'm still learning to knit. so I plan on making a blanket with allot of rags in different pattrens. then I can never tell myself I can't knit, because I have the blanket to remind me that I CAN knit!!
I'm planning on knitting my baby nephew a moustache themed jumper!
I would really like to knit one of those sweater/shawls
My plan is to knit my first ever sweater this year. Fortunately, my sister-in-law loves ugly sweaters so I don't have to worry about being good. Happy
I really want to knit a few baby blankets, i have two new cousins that I'm sure would appreciate them Tongue
I would love to actually knitt a jumper or maybe my own knitted plushie, only problem is i can do only basic knitting. . . . need all the help i can get
I really want to try knitting the mochimochi characters, but that triangle of needles is confounding!
It's really hard to find good bras for my size, and I'd love to knit myself some. Though the only patterns I've found so far are very tricky, I'll give it a try!
I'd like to make lots of hats for my autistic friend. She likes to wear hats every day because they make her feel comforted in situations that would normally make her very anxious.
I'm still learning how to knit, but I would love to knit some long socks. I have a few ideas of projects I want to try with knitting, but I still have lots to learn before I try something so detailed.
I really want a giant knit octopus to sit above my kitchen......that is my goal for 2013 to finish a GIANT octopus and have him sit above the kitchen.
Something for myself. I know I sound selfless but all I knit is for other people and it makes me happy to but once in a blue moon you have to make something for your self right.
I am a new knitter. I first learned some when I was little by my Grandma, but am relearning at 29. Id like to make a scarf as aI gift for Grandma. Happy
My hubby would love a knit hoody and he asked my to knit or crochet him one...so, I guess I'll be knitting a hoody in 2013...and maybe some christmas ornaments for next year.
I would like to knit some accessories. I am fairly new to knitting so I'd like to experiment with circular needles, cable needle, and different textured yarn.
I've been knitting mostly accessories this winter. The book looks fab!
I would like to knit each of my daughters a new sweater. Love this book!
As odd as it sounds I've always wanted to knit a hooded short cape. With some chunky yarn I think it'd be really cool Happy
I would love to knit some cute amigurumi plushies Happy probably a cat!
I love to knit, I learned it as I was a little child.
Next year I would love to knit an underbust corset. I saw some picts on the net and I want one for me.
Even though I've been knitting for a couple of years now, so far I've stuck to making novelty items. 2013 will be the year I'll take the plunge and hopefully knit myself a dress.
i would like to knit a rug to place by my front door saying " i survived decmber 21st 2012 ~ what's next ? " LOL


About Snippets

Snippets is the free online magazine from Cut Out + Keep featuring the best in indie & DIY.

Exploring the worlds of music, fashion, art & craft, our writers cover the things they love and we're always on the hunt for new contributors.

If you'd like to take part or just have an idea for a cool story we should cover, get in touch!