For our Bucolic Chic KAL interview, let me introduce you to Theressa Silver, the mind behind the newly released “Knitting Wild” book!
Tell us a bit about yourself as a designer. What’s your ascetic? Where do you find your inspiration?
I like to design things that are unusual or unexpected. Some of my favorites include a knit corset and a pair of mitts that start with casting on at the top of the thumb. I love the steampunk aesthetic and you can see it in a number of my designs. For the patterns in “Knitting Wild” it was all about natural, organic designs. In some cases the interpretation is quite literal, such as “Howl” which features a wolf paw print motif. Other designs are more abstract such as “Muskox” which captures the overall feel of the big wooly beast it’s named for.
A BA & MS in Biology – that’s cool! I’ve meet so many amazing indie designers who have stumbled into design from another career path. What made you pick designing over a life in biology?
Life takes funny twists and turns. I graduated with my MS in June and was pregnant with my son in July. Deciding to be a full time mom was one of the best decisions I’ve made, but it did mean that I never started a career in biology. I’ve always had a creative side (I was designing and sewing my own clothes in high school) and pattern design was both fulfilling and flexible enough to fit around raising my son. “Knitting Wild” gave me the opportunity to get back to the biology. I have truly enjoyed the process of researching and writing about the parks and refuges in the book and I learned some new things along the way!
Your book is full of delightful outdoor designs! What inspired you to write the book?
In 2014 my son and I took a cross-country train trip. We made several stops along the way including a jam-packed two days in Glacier National Park. My travel knitting was a simple crescent shawl made of lovely alpaca yarn. It was an easy, soothing project that fit perfectly with long hours relaxing on the train watching the world go past. When I got home I added a lace edging that looked a bit like water drops and I started thinking of the project as my “Glacier shawl.” I was toying with the idea of doing a collection of nature inspired patterns but it kept getting pushed aside for other projects. Then, in 2016 Trump was elected and I felt like I needed to DO SOMETHING. I gathered up all the design ideas I had kicking around my office and decided I had enough to start a book. There are so many wonderful wild places to draw inspiration from that I was a bit overwhelmed and scattered at first. But I knew I had to include the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (my favorite place on the planet) and, of course Glacier National Park. I finally narrowed the scope down to only national parks and refuges and things started to take on a logical order. After that it was a matter of pairing up existing designs with appropriate places and creating new designs to fill out the breadth of locations I wanted to cover.
Do you have a favorite national park? If so, what makes that one particularly special?
I’m going to quote from the book for this one:
“In addition to its vital importance to migratory birds, and its iconic status with birders all around the world, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has great sentimental meaning for me. My graduate school thesis advisor, Professor Richard Forbes, was an avid birder. Every spring he would gather up his ornithology class and any grad students who wanted to tag along and take us to the southeastern corner of Oregon where the refuge is located. We’d spend a dizzying, jam-packed four days crisscrossing the region, investigating anything and everything we could find; pronghorn, badgers, marmots, assorted small rodents, lizards and snakes (including the baby rattlesnake Prof. Forbes insisted on picking up), and birds, oh the birds! It wasn’t just the animals; the land itself held lessons in ecology and geology. At night, in that remote darkness, the sky bloomed with stars. I’ve visited a number of times since those grad school trips and always find something new to marvel at, something I hadn’t noticed before. It is a place that fills my soul with reckless glee. It is a place of awe and wonder and quiet memories of times and people now past.”
What was the process of writing a knitting book like and do you have plans for more?
My process is probably more haphazard than might be ideal but it seams to work; this is my second book. I don’t have specific plans for a next book right now but it seems likely that the mood will strike again and another book will happen (did I mention my process is a bit haphazard?) In the meanwhile, I’ll keep teaching and self-publishing single patterns on Ravelry.
Do you incorporate any eco principles into your designs (materials, workspace, etc.)?
Does sitting under a quilt while I knit instead of turning up the heat count? My office is in my home and I try to keep my footprint as small as possible in all aspects of my life. I can’t say as that I’ve been doing anything that is directly tied to the design work. I am looking to work more with local indy dyers for yarn support on future projects.
Puddles species to species question – who’s the cutie with you in your Ravatar? What role does he play in your designs?
Puddles, the cutie you’re interested in is Esme. She’s a 95lb German Shepherd/Malamute cross and unabashed couch potato. She keeps me company at home during the day and ensures that everything I produce is properly decorated with dog hair. The other cutie is my son who is now a sophomore in college. Besides modeling for me on occasion, he also takes a turn behind the camera. He has several photo credits in “Knitting Wild” including my author photo which he took while we were in Glacier National Park.
Find Theressa around the web here:
Ravelry shop: https://www.ravelry.com/designers/theressa-silver