Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Meet Fiona

Ever since I decided I wanted to try my hand at a blog, I was hoping to be able to profile people who are making things by hand. I have always found interviews, profiles, and individual blogs of the craft minded inspiring, challenging and sometimes exasperating. I wanted to create a blog where not only could I indulge my passion for the primarily textile and fibre based crafts, but also where I could indulge my interest in finding out what makes other crafters and makers tick. Also, People who love making things and /or appreciating the handmade are interesting folks. There is such a range of personality, philosophy, and passion. Who can't get enough of that?

I am lucky enough to have lured an exceptional first profile, Fiona Donovan; set designer and true knit-maniac. Fiona is my favourite kind of knitter; adventurous, good humoured, able to balance elegance with wit and a good degree of whimsy. She is also a truly passionate knitter who has recently been bit by the spinning bug as well.

She does not back down from a challenge. Recently engaged to a lucky man known as "The Sock Victim", she is knitting her wedding dress. Many people are enthusiastically following her progress (you can check it out on Ravelry-look for missfee). She was also given a gift of the yarn by Australian Country Spinners. Damo, the marketing manager at ACS is not one to give yarn away easily. He says of Fiona's latest adventure "Whilst we are not in business to give away yarn, I felt this was a special request…", and how right he is. Knitters and related fibreholics tend to be a generous and supportive bunch.

Fiona will also have her first published design in the next issue of Yarn magazine. Look for it!

And now to the questions and answers. I must thank her publicly for being such a patient and willing guinea pig for the first Craft Terrible profile. First attempts can often be clunky, and I am grateful to her for hitching her good name to my infant abilities as blogger.

Le Craft Terrible
: You seem to be primarily a knitter. Is that true?

Fiona Donovan: Most definitely, I prefer the texture of knitting. The way it hangs and the variations derived from two simple stitches. Crochet looks great in amagarumi but as I child of the 70's and too many granny square I am not at all fond of crochet. I did design a small coffee cup man purse in amagarumi - and love the playful nature of these small cartoon-ish toys.
And I had just started spinning the last 6 months - but there are only 24 hours in a day and I have a full time job. So knitting is the main obsession in my life at the moment.

Miss Fee's Coffee Cup Man: An Original!

LCT: So, is knitting the sun in which your craft universe revolves?

FD: Most definitely. I knit to live at the moment. It started slowly where I would pick up the needles when the winter winds started to blow. Then somehow I found myself knitting on the Gold Coast mid summer with the air con on - surfacing only to draft on a certain reality TV show. Knitting had well and truly taken over - now I tend to knit smaller projects and cotton in the warmer months and larger items in the cooler months. Unless I am fully obsessed with something then the temperature has no effect on my knitting at all.

LCT: Why do you love knitting?

FD: I can't decide if I am a process or product knitter. I love to lust after a pattern I could wear or a technique I wanted to master. I then will throw myself in finding out as much as I can and learning all I can about what it is.

I saw a friend knit (Kris Web-goddess on Ravelry) a jumper called 'baby norgi'. I had to have me one of those. I enjoyed the process of picking out the colours - a very different mix to what the designer intended. Then I struggled with all aspects of fair isle, reading the pattern - left to right took a few goes, holding the wool- in each hand, getting my tension right. At one point I emailed Kris with the title 'notfairisle' with a list of questions. I unpicked the first pattern band at least 5 times. Each time I inched closer to 'getting' it. This in essence is one major reason why I love knitting. I am interested and constantly learning in and around it . I discover small building blocks every time I tackle a new project. I still have quite a lot to learn and I am truly excited by this.

The other major factor in my love of knitting is the process of making a garment - picking out the wool and deciding on a project. Sometimes these are intertwined or separate. I may have some wool I want to use or a garment I want to wear or make. Then it is the process of making the garment. The casting on , the first flush of excitement of the new project - sometime this carries me speedily towards the finish line. Other times it is the process of knitting - and the love hate relationship that develops with the item. Just a bit more then becomes frustrating and this is the only bit I truly dislike. At this point of the process I love turning my frustration into my meditation. I knit for knitting. This is my ultimate moment in knitting - just my love of picking up the sticks the wool and knitting. I love it, I miss it so much at the moment. Due to my hand injury - index finger and hand joint - possible fluid leak or beginning of trigger finger, I have had to cut right back on my knitting. I realised how much knitting calmed me - soothed me and was my daily meditation. I have had endless discussions on how knitting is a moving mediation. It quietens my busy mind and I am able to focus on the single stitch in each moment. This is my pure joy. The Wedding Dress. Keep up with Fiona's progress on the Australian Country Knitters group on Ravelry

LCT: What are your favourite things to knit?

FD: At the moment it would be socks!!!! Then any variation on a cardigan for me. Lace and cables also excite me.

LCT: Do you develop your own designs?

FD: I have started to - and as any knitter I modify and tweak most things I knit. Whether it is changing a garment to be knit in the round to save me from the dreaded sewing up - or making it fit perfectly.

I did fall in love with a lace pattern last year and had to make a top out of it. But there is so much to knit out there, where would I start?

LCT: Do you like to experiment with new fibres and techniques? What are your current favourites right now?

FD: Currently I am enjoying my journey in the world of socks. Toe up, top down, different heels, different patterns. I am also planning and knitting my level 2 certificate for the N.S.W. Knitters Guild.

LCT: What are your thoughts on the “Knitting Revolution” of the past ten years or so? Did you ever think a craft like knitting would ever become so popular?

FD: I think that as technology has sped up there is a desire to slow down, the slow movement comes to mind. As with the nuts and berries movement in the 1970's and William Morris in the lat 1800's we are currently obsessed with the hand made and crafted, as a reaction to a move forward in technology. The Internet has lead to an explosion in blogs and access to ideas a variety of subjects and especially crafts. Who would of thought even two years ago that there would be a social networking device just for knitters!!!!

LCT: Do you utilise the Internet a lot in the pursuit of your craft? How?

FD: One word Ravelry!!! and blogs - that is what got me really back into the craft and inspired. And then into writing my own blog.

LCT: What are the positive things to come out of this knitting movement? Do feel there are any negatives in this great rush of popularity?

FD: I can't see anything bad - although there will always be people who think feathers is the best thing since sliced bread. Other knitters may think some colour or texture combination is the bees knees and aesthetically I may disagree. But if they are as passionate for their craft as I am, I am only to happy to see their joy expressed in a combination that I may think is mad.

I am famously known for my dislike of acrylic and especially feathers. But anyone doing/ making /processing and most of all knitting has to be a good thing.

LCT: Why do you think people are so attracted to “handmade” right now, both as purchasers and makers?

FD: I think it is part of the slow movement - and the time-poor aspect that is overtaking our lives. The value placed on an object that takes many hours to make that you could buy at the shops for a fraction of the price seems on face value to be mad. But the love and energy has value in hand made -along with there only being one of those items and it was made for me.

LCT: Final question: If you could spend a couple of hours with any knitter, living or dead, who would it be?

FD: Elizabeth Zimmerman - love love love love her. And I have watched some of her videos so in a way I have spent some time with her. I love her no nonsense approach and dry humour. In the Knitter's almanac there is a line in I think "December" where she says "starting a project this late smacks of madness" to me sums up her humour and my love of the craft. In itself knitting is a bit mad but the joy it brings to me as a knitter in the creation and eventually to the wearer of my knitted treats is worth every stitch.

Thank You Fiona!


mel said...

Hey there lady... great interview with a great person. I work at an LYS that is opening in Melb. soon and would love to invite you along to an opening ceremony of sorts. I have no fixed dates yet but watch this space and I'll let you know. Very innovative blog and I enjoyed reading the interview. Cheers, Mel.

missfee said...


Amanda said...

What a great idea. I'm looking forward to your next interview.