Designer Q&A: Emily Ringelman
Q: When and why did you start knitting?
A: When I was in middle school and high school, I spent a lot of time at the library, especially in the DIY section. I learned a ton of skills through library books. I found the knitting section when I was probably about 13. I made an acrylic Harry Potter scarf in stockinette, which of course curled terribly, so I tried to iron it to make it lay flat. Pro tip: don’t iron acrylic yarn. I didn’t start knitting again until 2008 when, on a whim, my husband’s grandma Louise re-taught me after Thanksgiving dinner. She was a no-nonsense teacher; we went through knit, purl, buttonholes, decreases, increases, cables, casting on, and binding off all in about 10 minutes.
Q: What was your first knitted project?
A: After learning the basics, I told Louise that I would go home and make something simple, like a scarf. She said, “If you make things that are easy, how will you ever learn?” I think that’s probably the best advice I’ve ever gotten about anything. So, I went to Michael’s and bought a skein of Caron One Pound in a mustard color, figuring it was probably enough yarn for mittens, but that I could always go back for more if needed. Then I knitted one elbow-length Aran-style mitten with complicated twisty cables, making it up as I went. I didn’t know about knitting in the round so I made it flat and seamed it up the side and along the thumb. I only ever made the one because I wrote nothing down and couldn’t figure out how to replicate what I did. I wish I still had it, because I would frame it as a reminder that life is full of wonderful things if you move outside your comfort zone.
Q: Describe your first design.
A: My first published design was the Everett Henley in the 2013 Fall/Winter issue of Holla Knits. It was insane. Despite having never designed a sweater before, I submitted a design proposal for a top-down raglan in an all-over lace pattern with no off rows. I have no idea what I was thinking. The editor accepted it and I remember panicking, because I had no idea how to write a pattern and had never knitted a top-down sweater. (Advice: do not submit design ideas unless you’re confident you can pull them off.) I read so many articles and books about top-down raglans before I started that sweater. It was a huge challenge, and required a ton of back and forth between the editor and me to make it work (which I’m super grateful for because I suspect that a lot of magazines would be like, “Uh, no, this isn’t going to work out. Sorry.”). But in the end I did it. I love that design, even if it is super complex and almost no one can make it without emailing me a few times.
Q: What was the inspiration for your Jammer Shorts in Knitscene Summer 2017?
A: I really love knitted bottoms. Very few patterns exist for knitted shorts or pants for adults. I’ve designed a couple: my Fair Isle Pants! from Holla Knits and my self-published Quarter Mile Shorts. Knitted bottoms are so comfy. I wear mine all the time. I think maybe knitters are scared of knitted shorts, so I wanted to design something that was non-scary to knit, comfy, but still stylish—not just pajama shorts! I think it’s the little details that make these shorts wearable in public—the belt loops, button tabs on the sides, and back pockets. I’m definitely planning to knit some to wear out in public as part of a nautical outfit.
Q: What is your favorite thing to knit? Why?
A: Worsted-weight mittens. They are so fast and satisfying. Sometimes the only cure for what ails me is a girly movie, a ball of Malabrigo, and a set of DPNs. Knitting a mitten in one sitting makes me feel like everything is OK in the world.
Q: What is your least favorite thing to knit? Why?
A: Intarsia! No matter what I do I end up with a tangled mess.
Q: What passions do you have outside of knitwear?
A: In a previous life in California I had a cupcake catering business. I love baking complex, sometimes unusual things. Luckily my husband and I are both scientists with labs full of undergrad students, so no matter how weird something is that I’ve baked, I’ve got ravenous 19-year-olds who will eat it. I also love to sew, and make a lot of my own clothes.
Q: Are there other (current) designers that have caught your eye? Why?
A: I love, love, love Bristol Ivy’s work. I’ve made a couple of her sweaters and had my mind blown by the pattern every time. She does things with knitted fabrics that I didn’t think were possible.
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