When I first started as the IDP Coordinator, the program wasn’t open to submissions quite yet & an early part of my job was inviting interesting designers to submit patterns. cheezombie was one of the first designers I contacted – her designs are so much fun!
So of course I had to interview her…and her answers cracked me so much I couldn’t wait to put it up
How long have you been knitting?
I taught myself to knit about 6 years ago from “Knitting for Dummies” (very apt title I might add, I knit through the back loops for 2 years before I figured out that was what I was doing).
Who taught you to knit?
Duh, should have read all the questions before I started typing! Being a self-taught knitter has been a trip though, when learning in a vacuum you don’t ever exactly know if you’re doing it “right” or not. Onlyafter I started designing did I really start to investigate my technique and found out I’m a “back loop continental Russian/German style knitter” who avoids purling at all costs (knitting backwards is the best thing ever, don’t even have to turn on the short rows!). Anna Zilboorg’s Knitting for Anarchists was an excellent influence as well, that book really helped me to visualize the shapes I wanted and how to execute them. Also her “there is no wrong way to knit” approach really helped me settle into my style & stop trying to knit the “right” way.
What motivated you to learn to knit?
I could already crochet, but I was never quite satisfied with the finished “feel” of the project, so I gave knitting a shot & very quickly became totally addicted. It just felt so right. I turned to toys because I realized I didn’t have a lot of patience with big projects like sweaters etc, and I had already knit enough scarves, hats, & mitties to last a lifetime. It also helped that I had a little person who was totally delighted with everything I made & hounded me for more! I’m a terrible seamstress and got frustrated with all the toy patterns made with dozens of tiny pieces that had to be sewn together, so when I discovered DPNs, I rejoiced and started knitting toys off the cuff. I’m currently trying to figure out the Magic Loop Method, I’m having a little trouble because it’s not very intuitive for me (& somebody is always stealing my circs to use as nunchucks or chewtoys), but it just goes to show that you’re never really finished learning how to knit!
What was your first project?
I don’t exactly remember, probably a scarf. I have dozens from my beginner stage.
What is your favorite fiber to work with?
I love cotton & use it almost exclusively, animal fibers just feel funny to me, & wool makes my fingers sweat. And fun fur. I love fun fur and I’m not afraid to admit it. I CHEEZOMBIE LOVE FUN FUR. I know it’s the red headed stepchild of the yarn world, but I don’t care. It hides all mistakes, comes in wonderful goofy colors, and makes great Telepathic Kittens.(Ravelry link)
Is there anything in particular that inspires your designs?
I watch entirely too much tv, especially cartoons. Wallace & Gromit, the Smurfs, Tiny Toons, anything from Studio Ghibli, old school Warner Bros, PowerPuff Girls etc. (yes I swear I’m a grownup, I’m just magnetically drawn to bright flashy colors & big buggy eyes).
I tend to dye almost all of my toy yarn, so sometimes the yarn just says “I’m a purple mouse” or “I’m a lobster, make me”. I tend to listen when the yarn talks
Who are some of your favorite designers?
I love MochiMochiland (the reindeer kill me!), Alan Dart is a god among toymakers, & Hansi Singh constantly astounds me with her lifelike creations.
How long do your designs take to create from start to finish?
It depends, sometimes they just flow right from the start & it can go from my brain to finished pattern in a couple of days. Spring Tulip was like this, it came out right the first time. It certainly helps that all my projects are small quick knits. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to knit a whole sweater! Other times it takes a few weeks, like right know I’m working on a gorilla that is giving me fits. I’ve got several mutant little monkeys mocking me from the “oh god it’s horrible” pile with no end in sight. The average is probably about 2 weeks. Generally I knit about 3 drafts of each toy, the first one is kind of “knitting out loud” to get the idea out of my head & into the real world, the next one works out the kinks from the first one, & the third is the one I write the pattern off of. Then comes the tedium of trying to translate my cuneiform notes into a recognizable pattern. That’s probably the hardest part.
Anything else you would like to add?
If I wasn’t a knitter I’d probably be knee deep in cats. As it is, the two I have make enough yarn trouble. When I’m old I’ll probably end up “that crazy cat lady” anyway.
They’re great company & never complain about what movies I pick. A person can only hear “geez, not ANOTHER zombie movie!” so many times before thinking “I really wish you were a cat”.