Nancy Marchant is a well known hand knitting designer who lives in Amsterdam since 3 decades and it happens that I got the great luck and opportunity to share some time with such a knowledgeable woman and appreciated every bit of it. I already announced the next Nancy Marchant's book which I was give the opportunity to photograph, It is coming next fall. I wrote tiny about it here.
And I take the chance to show you the most recent portrait of Nancy shot by me in preparation for her coming book Knitting Fresh Brioche.
Tell me a bit about you, Nancy.
I was born in rural Indiana, lots of corn and soybean fields. My mother taught me to knit when I was very young. The first project I remember making was a stocking cap that went to a point at the end. It was very long, below my waist. I also made matching socks. Quite the outfit. My mother subscribed to several women’s magazines so I could get patterns but the yarns were unavailable. This meant that I had to revamp the patterns to suit the yarns I could get, I had to re-write almost every knitting pattern I wanted to knit. I also just started to write my own patterns if I saw something that I liked in a photo.
I studied art education at Indiana University and became a traveling art teaching for the public school system in Bloomington, Indiana. I taught more than 1100 little kids a week, traveling to 8 different schools. It was a hard job and I decided that I needed more education to get better work. I got my Master of Fine Arts degree from Fiberworks, a school that only existed for a few years in Berkeley, California. I wrote my thesis and show about “shibori” (Japanese resist dyeing) and studied with Yoshiko Wada.
I moved to the Netherlands in the late 70’s. Bought a house and had a daughter in the 80’s, had my second daughter in the 90’s and now I live with my two cats and a house full of yarn and books.
What do you do?
I make my living as a graphic designer. I also design knitwear, write articles about knitting and teach brioche knitting. But my main passion is creating stitch patterns, especially in brioche knitting.
Each knitting stitch is like a pixel in a digital photo. Each knitting stitch has its own characteristic. It can be knitted, purled, twisted, deleted, added to, change colors and just slipped and held until it can be worked in the next row. Then when you put stitches together all of these elements multiply and the design possibilities become endless. It never gets boring and I see no end to stitch patterns and projects to create.
What pieces, moods or atmosphere, you like to create with your knitting design?
I make mostly scarves and shawls. They are like large stitch pattern samples.
Which materials/yarns do you use ?
I am a sucker for a silk/mohair blend. I also really like sticky 100% wool. I like yarns that are dyed in long color changes. I don’t use a lot of materials because I make scarves, shawls and cowls but I certainly buy a lot.
How long does it take you to finish a piece ?
It can take me weeks to figure out a certain stitch pattern and then a couple of weeks to knit a scarf or shawl.
Around how many pieces you have created?
I imagine its in the thousands. I have made so many new stitch patterns and since they are small, one can make quite a few in a week.
Where are all those pieces now?
I make tons of samples. A lot of these are used for my books. I have them in notebooks. I also wear a lot of the scarves and shawls. I keep most of them because I use them in my teaching.
How did you became a knitting designer?
In 1974, when I taught school, I entered a national knitting and crochet contest. I won third prize, a whopping $25.-. But one of the judges of the contest was the editor of Ladies Home Journal Needle and Craft Magazine. She really like the jacket that I made and put it in the magazine. I started sending in designs and most were accepted. It was very slow going back then. You sent in a sketch along with a knitted sample. And then you waited to get a letter about whether your design was selected. Then you waited to get the yarn that the magazine wanted you to use and then you had to make it a few weeks time. You submitted a typed or hand-written pattern which the magazine then had to have typeset. And then you waited months to get the magazine to see the final result.
The things you love the most about knitting.
All of the design possibilities involving the stitches, the yarns, the colors and the actual garment/item itself. Endless.
How is a regular day in your life?
As I said earlier, I am a graphic designer. So I get up and go to work. When I come home, I have dinner and then I knit. I do most of my creative knitting work on the weekends or when I have a day off.
What is the best part of your day?
When all of my housework/emails/shopping is done and I can sit down, turn on music or a film and knit.
Any special knitting projects in the process, coming soon plans?
My second book, Knitting Fresh Brioche, is coming out in November 2014 and that’s very exciting. And I am writing an article for Vogue Knitting Magazine, Holiday issue, on Brioche Lace.
Here is a website that will give you a bunch of information about Brioche Stitch and if you want to start practicing those stiches before the book is out Nancy has an incredible well put together Brioche Knitting online class with all details about brioche stich perfect for beginners.
You can also look for Nancy Marchant in Raverly.
Thanks for taking the time to read about Nancy Marchant, stay around for more Brioche knitting.