Meet the innovative designer with a passion for socks
is perhaps best known for her beautiful sock patterns, but she also loves to design shawls and other accessories. She writes and publishes her own knitting books through her wonderfully named Pantsville Press website. Who taught you to knit? “I confess my early forays into knitting were rather solitary. I didn’t know anyone who knitted, and wasn’t at all aware of the larger knitting community (this was back in the very early 2000s). I bought a book, some horrible yarn and completely inappropriate needles, and jumped in. It didn’t go particularly well, and I swore off knitting twice before I figured out what I was doing. But somehow I kept coming back, and eventually it stuck!”
Do you have a favourite artist, writer, poet or musician who inspires you?
“I have a short attention span and something of a wandering eye. I tend to get obsessed with something for a short time and then move on to the next thing, so I don’t feel like I have any consistent, long-term inspirations. But in the past, I’ve found myself using vintage botanical illustrations, Victorian etiquette guides, and oriental rugs as the basis for books.”
Which designer has most inspired you?
“I adore Amy Herzog’s work. She designs the most beautiful, wearable sweaters, and her CustomFit system (which builds you a pattern that works for your gauge and your measurements, rather than expecting you to conform to a standard size) is genius. In the imaginary version of my life I have a closet full of her marvellous sweaters.”
Tell us about the colours, landscapes or architecture that inspires your designs.
“I have an unreasonable and unrelenting fondness for grey, and it’s always the colour of yarn I reach for first. I eventually gave in to my obsession and did a whole book of patterns in grey yarn. It was a little bit divisive (people either absolutely adored the idea, or they asked if I was feeling all right), but I was delighted with the result.”
What is your favourite knitting book?
“I’m a fan of Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt. Fair warning, it’s basically a text book. There are no artfully styled photographs or nd romantic prose. But if you want to really dig into the details of knitted fabric and how to make it do what you want, it’s an amazing resource.”
What fibres do you love to work with?
“Lately I’ve been loving yak, especially the yak, silk, merino blend that some of my favourite dyers have been playing with. But I suspect that if you ask me again in six months I’ll have a different answer because something else will have caught my eye.”
Which design are you most proud of?
“I think I’d have to go with either ‘Filemot’ (if you want to settle in with a fairly sizeable project and aren’t scared off by the occasional fiddly stitch), or ‘Constellate’ (if you’re looking for something a bit quicker).”
Are there any techniques, traditions or styles of knitting you’d like to explore?
“I have admitted before that proper stranded colourwork looks terribly daunting. But I love some of the looks you can get by combining yarns. So I’ve been playing with what I think of as colourwork without the work (where you use two yarns, but only ever use one per row, and all the fancy bits happen through slipping stitches). I’m having so much fun - I’ve already done three hats with variations on the technique, and expect to spend more time with that idea in the future!”
1 Hunter loves to play with stitch patterns; this is ‘Tacit’ 2 ‘Constellate’ is a reversible hat 3 ‘Nain’ is a brand-new design to appear in the 2nd edition of Silk Road Socks 4 Hunter admires Amy Herzog’s CustomFit system 5 The Principles of Knitting is a must-read
The intricate ‘Filemot’, from Hunter’s Curls book