Over 10 Years of Knits— De­signer Spot­light With Melissa Leap­man

De­signer Spot­light With Melissa Leap­man

Creative Knitting - - CONTENTS - By Ta­betha Hedrick

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.

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