Designer Q&A: Irina Anikeeva
Irina Anikeeva creates beautiful, intricate designs full of cables and lace. She has designed patterns for all of Interweave’s knitting titles, and continues to come up with fascinating ideas that capture the essence of traditional knitting styles while keeping it fresh. Keep reading to learn more about Irina’s knitting journey, and what she likes to listen to while she knits.
Q: When and why did you start knitting?
A: I am descended from a line of lifelong crafters, and as a first child (and first granddaughter) in my family, I was taught various crafts by all my female relatives—my maternal grandma taught me how to cross-stitch and crochet, my paternal grandma showed me cutwork embroidery, and my mom taught me to sew and knit. So I really had a chance to try them all. And boy, it was helpful! The scarcity of decent clothing in late-Soviet era Russia where I grew up made those skills very handy.
Q: What was the inspiration for the Foglia Top in knitscene Summer 2017?
A: It started with a tree (surprise, surprise!). There is a eucalyptus tree growing right behind my studio window, and I adopted the habit of staring at its branches while working out design ideas. One day, the thought struck me: here is your next design! The branch of leaves popping out from the canvas of reverse stockinette stitch pays homage to this tree.
Q: What is your favorite thing to design? Why?
A: I really love to work on accessories—hats, shawls, mitts—because they are quick and satisfactory projects, but my true love is sweaters. I recently found a new attraction to men’s sweaters and am trying to explore it as much as I can. Some of them found their way to the Interweave Knits pages, like the Belfast cardigan.
Q: Do you watch specific shows when knitting? Listen to podcasts? Music?
A: I enjoy listening to opera when working on my sample knitting. I think La traviata or Don Giovanni would be the first choice for any kind of project. Although when I’m writing the patterns, it should be very quiet around me. Math requires all my focus.
Q: Do you work with yarn and fiber in other ways? Has that changed the way you think about yarn and design?
A: For a long while, I really loved to sew, and understanding how the sewing patterns work helped me a lot when I started to design knitted garments.
Q: What kind of yarn is your favorite to work with?
A: Oh, it’s really hard to choose. Different design ideas call for different fibers. But I do love wool fiber and the way it comes off the sheep. It has all these wonderful insulating, elastic, and felting qualities.
Q: What passions do you have outside of knitwear?
A: I am a foodie, so if you know any interesting new restaurants, let me know!
Q: If you could wish for any skill, what would it be? Why?
A: Sometimes I feel like my organizing qualities need definite improvement.
Q: What would you like to say to your younger self at the beginning of your knitting journey?
A: Don’t be afraid to get out your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid of failure. I know it sounds like a cliché, and so many of us think we basically live outside our comfort zone, but you’ll never know if you are good at something unless you try it.
Q: What book should every knitter have?
A: The Knowledgeable Knitter by Margaret Radcliffe helps any knitter identify what to pay attention to and how to judge for yourself the best course of action to take.
Find More of Irina’s Designs in Our Pages