My interview with Melanie Berg!
If you don’t already know, our staff and many of our customers are in love with Melanie Berg’s knitwear designs. We have used her patterns to lead our KALs, and consistently recommend her patterns to customers looking for intricate shawl patterns. I had the honor of interviewing her (I’ll admit, I was a little starstruck even though it wasn’t in person – she lives in Germany). To find more information about her and her patterns, check here for her ravelry page and here for her website. Below are customers wearing their Melanie Berg designs!
Kylen: How did you become interested in knitwear design?
Melanie Berg: It all really started when our first daughter was born! I knew how to knit before that time already, but never really got into it. But when we had our first baby, I wanted to create something with my own hands, something that would protect her and keep her warm. I quickly discovered Ravelry and started knitting other designers’ patterns, but right from the start I tweaked little things here and there. I remember knitting a kicking bag for my daughter, but I added two straps to it so that it would stay in place – things like that. And from there on, I grew more and more confident until I finally came up with my own patterns. It was a very organic transition, and back then I never would’ve thought that this would become my job one day!
K: What is your favorite knitting technique? Cables, lace, colorwork (fair-isle, mosaic, intarsia), etc?
MB: There is really no favorite technique – I’m open for everything. I do, however, prefer easy patterns over complicated ones. I think that’s because when I first dipped my nose into knitting other designers’ patterns, that was when our first daughter was still very young. I didn’t get a lot of sleep in these times, and also my days were filled with everything that makes the life of a first mother so exhausting. That’s why I needed time to relax, and that’s why I wanted my knitting to be easy.
K: Where do you get inspiration from? For example, your most recent design in knit.wear seemed architecturally influenced.
MB: Honestly, I take most of the inspiration from the yarn itself. I love having yarn here in the house, and no matter what drawer you open, there’ll be a skein in it! I also often place yarn in bowls in the living room so that I can always see it, touch it if I like to. That way, I’m giving myself a lot of time to think about what pattern would make this yarn shine most. Is it fuzzy? Colorful? Shiny? Soft? Will it look good with a textured pattern or should I rather go for color-work here? Maybe a combination of both? I’m always trying to find one of the best possible choices, and from there I begin the actual design process.
K: When designing a new pattern, what is your first step?
MB: Once I’ve decided on the yarn and have an idea about the actual pattern I want to be using, I start swatching. Swatching is so important – it reveals a lot of secrets that a certain yarn hides between its fibers. I don’t only swatch for needle size, but also for color combination, stitch pattern, softness, drape, stitch definition or other reasons. If I don’t like the way the swatch turns out, I’ll discard this idea, or look for a yarn or pattern substitute instead.
K: Do you usually design your own stitch patterns completely or do you often use stitch dictionaries, or perhaps a combination of the two?
MB: Knitting is such an old tradition – it’s hard to come up with something entirely new! That’s why I use existing stitch patterns most of the time, but I always try to combine them in new ways.
K: Who are your three favorite designers right now?
MB: I love Bristol Ivy, Justyna Lorkowska and Joji Locatelli. I know them in person, too, and they’re just as lovely as they are ingenious.
K: If you had to choose a favorite piece you’ve designed, which one would it be?
MB: Oh, this is like asking about your favorite child – it’s impossible to say! But there are a few patterns I’m particularly proud of because they were hard to figure out. Rheinlust is definitely one of them – it took me a couple of days to find out how to place the increases in a way that the pattern has a natural flow to it and that would still result in a very wearable and modern shape.
K: What advice do you have for aspiring knitwear designers?
MB: I think this advice is great no matter what job you’re talking about: Work hard! Knitting is a hobby for most of us, but if you want to make it your job, that’s a whole different story.
You know what the best thing is about KALs? The fact that anyone can start anytime! Join us throughout the month of December for fun knits that are great gifts!
Wanderers: Modern Mukluks by Andrea Mowry
This KAL will be led by Laura on Wednesday evenings in December (December 7th, 14th, 21st, & 28th)! This project requires 350-500 yards total of a worsted weight yarn in two different colors. This is a great fair-isle project, and a great gift! You can find the pattern here.
Mendia Hat by Ambah O’Brien
This KAL will be led by Kylen on Thursday evenings in December (Dec. 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, & 29th)! It’s getting chilly out, and everyone needs some great winter accessories! You’ll need approximately 120-220 yards of a DK weight yarn. You can see more information about this pattern
**We offer these knit-alongs to bring the knitting community together and help knitters to expand their skill set. We highly encourage participatory individuals to purchase materials at Knit One so that we can support our instructors and keep these events free of charge.**
Knitting for Charity!
Cold temperatures means that everyone gets the knitting bug! This year we’ll be donating hats, scarves, and mittens to the Wilkinsburg Community Ministry! You may use any yarn that is washable, and make any size for children and adults. You can drop off your knitted items at the shop any time up until the end of December, and we’ll donate them for you! If you need simple patterns or any help, please contact the shop at 412-421-6666 and we’ll be happy to assist you!
Featured customer projects…
Pictured below is Natalia wearing her Om Shawl! She used Diamond Tradition yarn and altered the pattern a bit to create this masterpiece! Great job, Natalia!
Sam showed up to our movie night on Friday wearing her Om Shawl! She used a lambswool and cotton blend. We LOVE the colors!