Over 10 Years of Knits— Designer Spotlight With Melissa Leapman
Designer Spotlight With Melissa Leapman
When Creative Knitting premiered back in September 2004, Melissa Leapman, already a fully established knitwear designer, graced the debut pages with three popular sweater designs. She continues to be a regular contributor to the magazine 10 years later.
Melissa began crocheting in her childhood, but in high school, she decided to teach herself to knit and learned from pamphlets at the 5-and-10-cent store. It wasn't too long, however, before the need to explore more in the fiber domain took over, causing her to delve headfirst into the world of knitwear design. Her first published pattern was a mother/daughter sweater set in the early 1980s, directly opening the door to a 30-year knit design career. She's even designed knit swatches for the garment industry in New York. Needless to say, the results have been fantastic! Melissa's been featured in quite a few television shows, sold out many workshops, and has a whole host of knitting books in her repertoire, including Knitting the Perfect Fit, Knitted Ripple Afghans and Cardigans & Closures.
Melissa has always been a firm believer that experimentation creates a designer. Altering necklines, changing sleeve lengths, opting for a different border or even choosing alternative color stories allows the mind to enter a new realm of thinking that makes the pattern unique. Indeed, Melissa
As classic as chocolate cake, designer and teacher Melissa Leapman's designs continue to shape the knitting world.
is known to be meticulous and methodically creative in just such ways, with beautifully practical designs that knitters love to make and wear. You could say that her style is classic and contemporary with just enough challenge to interest the crafter. In fact, there is nothing more classic than her current hobby—baking! She is working her way through a chocolate cake cookbook (in order, of course) much in the same way as she drafts a design: testing, experimenting with and savoring each one.
Back in 2004, Melissa had just published a brand-new book, Hot Knits, so having such a popular designer in the Creative Knitting launch was exciting! She took the time to
answer a few questions about her work in the 10 years since that first remarkable issue.
TH: You were one of the designers to grace the pages of the first issue of Creative Knitting magazine—what was that like? TH: Looking back at your first foray into Creative Knitting 10 years ago, did you envision what your life would be like in 2014? Are you where you thought you would be?
ML: I was lucky enough to have worked with the editor of Creative Knitting (Bobbie Matela) in its earlier form, Knitting Digest. It was fun to help launch an entirely new publication. ML: I wrote my first knitting book back in 1999, but I never thought I'd have this many books in me! I'm delighted to be able to write a new one every year—and I learn new things working on each one.
TH: When it comes to design, what excites, motivates or inspires you?
ML: Usually, it is a stitch pattern that interests me. I love knowing that every knitted fabric is composed of just two basic stitches—knit and purl—and that these simple elements can be combined in an infinite number of ways to create cables, lace, colorwork and more!
TH: What is a typical "day at the office" for you?
ML: Most readers might be surprised to know that my work days consist mostly of computer work—with very little knitting. I hire sample makers to make all of my projects for photography. This allows me to have every pattern tested while freeing my time to do other things, like write more patterns! I have the best job in the world!
TH: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
ML: Luckily for us, there's so much to explore in the world of knitting. I hope to still be working in the industry—and still learning new techniques every step of the way.
TH: Do you have anything in the works you can share? Any sneak peeks or secrets?
ML: I'm continuing what I was doing 10 years ago! I have a new book coming out in the fall of 2014 for newbie knitters, and I'm working on another one for knitters of all skill levels that's due to be released fall 2015. There's never a dull moment in my office, and I am incredibly lucky!
Melissa Leapman is a widely published designer, with patterns in every premiere needlecrafts publication in the country. As a freelance designer, Melissa has worked with many leading ready-to-wear manufacturers and design houses in NYC. In addition, most American yarn companies have commissioned her to create designs to promote their new and existing yarns. Melissa has been a featured guest on Lifetime TV's Handmade by Design, HGTV's Sew Much More, PBS's Needle Arts Studio, and the DIY Network's Knitty Gritty.