Sittin’ & Knittin’ with Judy Greer
Actress, author, model, and director Judy Greer has been popping up on screens a lot these days. But when I had a chance to sit down with her at The Little Knittery yarn shop in the Los Feliz Village area of Los Angeles, all she wanted to talk about was knitting! Her Instagram is peppered with posts and stories about what is on her needles. She’s modest and hilarious, and we dove deep into her darkest knitting confessions and how this hobby helps her live a healthier life.
Judy started her knitting journey by reading various articles about how the craft can help people stop smoking. “I wanted to quit smoking cigarettes,” she recalls. “I would say that knitting caused me to cut back a lot, but I really just wanted something to do on set besides going outside and smoking a cigarette.”
At the beginning of her career (when she was an unemployed actress), Judy immersed herself in knitting so thoroughly that her passion for it started to fade. But it wasn’t long before she picked up a lot of roles and her needles more often. Now, she is back to knitting with a vengeance.
“I don’t totally know why I sometimes put it down,” she says. “I started to learn what my attention span can handle, and where I knit is very important.”
Over the past few years, Los Angeles has seen a surge of yarn-shop closures. Judy found one shop where she enjoyed knitting—but it closed. She moved to another, then it closed as well. Judy wanted to learn new skills and techniques, but she found that any intricate projects were difficult to keep up with. “It’s hard for me to knit stuff that is super complicated because of my lifestyle and because I’m always knitting on set,” she says. “I’m always having to put things down and pick them back up.”
At the beginning of her career (when she was an unemployed actress) Judy immersed herself in knitting so thoroughly that her passion for it started to fade. While making her directorial debut with the movie A Happening of Monumental Proportions, her knitting had to take a back seat. “I brought my yarn to set when I was directing, but I didn’t even touch it. There is no time [to knit] when you are directing,” she says.
“I knit all the time on set when I’m acting because there is so much downtime. I used to go back to my trailer, but after directing I realized it is so nice when the actors are around and you don’t have to go and get them all the time. I want to be more available. I love being on set. I’ve been knitting up a storm. I always have something I’m working on. It’s hard for me to read a book on set because it’s distracting. Knitting is something you can do while you talk to people. I’m not on Instagram, I’m not [mindlessly] eating, and I’m not smoking.”
During her knitting hiatus, she realized that knitting didn’t need to be a competition. “I found that if I was taking on too complicated of a project then it was frustrating to me,” she says. “I realized that I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I can just do little projects here and there, so I decided to stop trying to be a hero and just do some basic shit.” Recently, she has been making a lot of baby blankets, but she hopes to soon move on to more sweaters. “That’s all I do is knit baby blankets,” she says. “I need a smaller baby project!”
She has already dipped her toes into the world of sweater knitting. “I made my husband a jacket-type sweater because he doesn’t really wear sweaters,” she says. “Because we spend so much time together, I realized there was no way I was ever going to finish it before Christmas, so I got it all done by Lyfting everywhere.”
“My husband says I seem happier when I am knitting,” she says. I didn’t try to hide my shock (and envy!) when Judy admitted to being a mono-knitter. “I found personally that I wasn’t finishing anything,” she says, “and that was bugging me and making me not knit as much, because I felt like my reward for finishing a project was to start a new project. I am a mono-knitter, but I am not a mono-yarn buyer.”
“Can I make a confession?” Judy asks. “I send things away to get assembled. I’m okay admitting that, because I wonder if people don’t know that is an option. I think with finishing and growing a little older and knowing who I am and what I will actually do, I wouldn’t knit sweaters if I have to actually finish them. When something is finished beautifully, it makes all the difference in the world because I will actually wear it.”
As we wrapped up our conversation (and Judy untangled her yarn), we marveled at the wonderful community around our hobby and confessed our covert plans to take vacations that just happen to be near yarn shops that we want to visit. While filming the movie Buffaloed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, she hit up the area yarn shops and spent her Wednesday evenings in a local knitting group. That is the beauty of this wonderful craft: just about anywhere in the world, you can find a yarn shop and a group of knitters (and crocheters) to spend an evening with. Judy’s love and passion for all things yarn and knitting are obvious, and I expect to see her showing off a lot of new finished pieces as she continues to hone her skills.
Rapid Fire with Judy Greer:
Favorite fiber: Wool.
Technique that makes you curse: Finishing.
Must-have tool/gadget: Colorful, cute stitch markers.
Favorite place to knit: On an airplane.
Number of UFOs in your closet: Zero.
Number of projects you’re actively working on: One, but I have a pair of socks from over 10 years ago, and I just have to do the Kitchener stitch on the second toe.
Favorite stitch pattern: Feather-and-fan lace.
Ideal needle size: 11—goes so fast!
Technique in knitting you want to tackle next: Brioche.
Follow Judy’s career and knitting adventures on Instagram @missjudygreer and watch her on Showtime’s second season of Kidding and FX’s Archer.
Follow Krista Ann on Instagram @knitsyknits and pick up her book Knits That Rock: Volume 1 (self-published, 2019) from www.knitsyknits.com.
Header image caption: The author (left) and Judy Greer (right) at The Little Knittery yarn shop in Los Feliz Village. Photo by Corinne Cobabe-Rushing.