Today I bring you an interview with Anna Maltz, designer of Kermis!
Could you tell me what a typical day is like for you?
I do a bit of knitting everyday. I usually teach a couple of times a week. I spend far more time on the computer than I would like, even though most of it is doing interesting things – responding to emails, endlessly tweaking patterns, writing my column for PomPom Quarterly and corresponding with the folks who help me get my patterns done: tech editors, graphic designers, photographers and test knitters. Weirdly, I tend to work in silence, as even music breaks my concentration and talk radio or podcastsjust leave me feeling like I’m not concentrating on either writing or listening. I try to go out for a walk or bike ride once a day. That’s when a lot of sweater spotting and yarn and old car matching happens. I spend a couple of hours on Instagram; putting up pictures, writing the accompanying blurb, responding to folks and of course looking at other people’s pictures – it’s an approach to blogging that really suits me.
Cooking is a big part of my creative practice – it’s important for me to make something that is instantly satisfying and well received on a daily basis, because so many of the projects I do take months if not years to reach fruition. I sometimes wonder if having a typical day would suit me and if suddenly I’d manage to get even more done if I had a regular schedule. The reality is I don’t have one.
Any special recommendations for knitters visiting London?
My North East London centric creative supplies circuit involves Wild and Woolly (for a chat and a good range of price points – including unexpected finds in her £2 customer destash baskets), Loop (for a stroke and fondle and any needle size I need), Prick Your Finger (British yarns and the arty side of things – keep an eye out for opening receptions), Ray Stitch (wool felt and pretty sewing stuff) , Delicate Stitches (for ALL the Appleton colours), Lenarow Wools and Crafts (kids class craft supplies and standard basics), Rolls and Rems Nags Head (sewing basics and the odd surprise), The Handweavers Studio (lots of colour and inspiration), Donlon Books (art books), Artwords Bookshop and Wardour News (magazines), Argun Stationers, and Fish & Cook Stationers (googlie eyes, printing and labels). I shop local, offline and independent whenever I can, enjoying the fact that each place has its specialities and staff quirks. The relationships that I build up in each place are really special to me. And I can stop in on my favourite charity shops along the way.
Do you have a knitting tip, project win, or project disaster you'd be willing to share?
For thrifty lovers of playing yarn chicken (like me), it’s good to know that most patterns specify around an extra third/ball/skein of yarn to play it safe. This is because we all knit a little differently and it accommodates some mistakes and personalising a pattern – plus it really is bad news when there isn’t enough! The good news is, those leftovers are super inspiring as we usually feel way less precious about them and therefore get much braver about combining colours and just playing.
Kermis is such a fun and whimsical design! Would you tell me a bit about your design inspiration?
Knitting is no longer a necessity for keeping us clothed and warm, the way it was even 50 years ago. We do it because it’s fun and satisfying – it makes our hearts, hands, eyes and brains sing. I like my designs to reflect that. Colour plays a major part: finding ones that really work together, but in unexpected ways. I like my projects to have different elements in them to keep me entertained along the way and then trust that this will suit others too. I don’t want a pattern I slog through before or after I’ve done the one entertaining bit, but I’m not one for a heap of counting as I go (no big lace shawls where I have to pay attention along every row for me). So this pattern has ribbing, a stripe section and a spot of colourwork. I like adding little elements that let you flex the skills you have as a hardened knitter – like a few short rows and a small section of steeking - while providing a safe learning experience for those who haven’t tackled those technique before. I really strongly believe that when you chose to make something it should be something you can’t buy – why bother?
Since Kermis is a Dutch word, is there a Dutch connection?
My direct family: mum, dad, sister and I consider ourselves Londoners more than anything else. We’ve all spent at least half our lives here. I’m the first person in my family to be born in the UK and my sister is the only other. My mum and dad are imports, as is my husband – the rest of our families are elsewhere in the world. I grew up speaking Dutch. It’s where my mum is from.
What did you think of the hand-spun yarn?
That was the yarn that enticed me to work with you! From being part of setting up Ricefield Collective, I really appreciate the fact that you went and taught new skills to a community who already had a lot of other existing skills. Knowing that the yarn I was using had already passed so actively through someone else’s hands was really nice. The difference in texture between the hand-spun and the mill-spun yarn kept my fingers entertained too. In that way, it’s a yarn that is satisfying to my brain and my fingers.
Any styling suggestions or how-to-wear-it advice?
I’ve been enjoying working out spring and summer outfits to go with my Carousel Kermis. I’ve been looking through my wardrobe to find items that have at least one of the Carousel colours in it and then trying it on. Contrary to what I expected, I’ve had the best luck combining it with other patterns – the floral 60s shift dress I’m wearing in the picture and the skirt my Dutch grandfather (Opa) painted for my grandmother (Oma). In terms of combining it with solids, the blue and grey ensures it goes really well with denim. I have a threadbare denim skirt that is barely blue anymore because it was second hand when I got it and I’ve worn it every summer, since so it will certainly be worn with that. I think it will be my go to for wearing with my Frankie and Ray http://frankieandray.bigcartel.com/ dress that Jo made for me last year. It’s a dress that isn’t really fitted in anyway, so I like the fact that by buttoning up my Kermis I get some of my womanly shape back. Mostly I’m planning to wear it with skirts and dresses. That’s not because I can’t imagine wearing it with trousers, it’s just my high-waisted jeans have to work their way to the top of the mending pile. I have worn it with a long T-shirt over low-waisted jeans.
Thanks so much, Anna!