Interview with Toni Carr

In my previous job life as a bookstore girl (where I lovingly took care of the knitting section), I remember when Toni Carr‘s book Knockdown Knits was released. I immediately snapped it up – it was so much fun to read & such great projects, even for those who aren’t roller girls like Toni. (With my incredible clumsiness, I would be a danger to myself & to others!)

Imagine my delight when I started working on IDP and discovered that Toni was already a part of it! Of course I had to do an interview!

How long have you been knitting?
I started seriously knitting about 9 years ago.

What motivated you to learn to knit?
In all honesty, my Grandmother lived all by herself, way out in the country. I knew she was lonely and could use some company, but the fact that she is deaf caused a communication barrier between us, as my signing is awful and her ability to read lips was slipping. I thought having her teach me how to knit and crochet would be a good excuse to spend time with her and give us something to do together that wouldn’t highlight a communication barrier. We would hang out and knit together, and she would just talk and tell me stories about her life.

When I got stuck on something, I would point to the part that I didn’t understand, and just watch how she did it. I had no idea that I would fall so in love with knitting!

Toni with buddy Widget

What was your first project?
I was a serial starter at first. Bright red poncho got started, then I realized I would never wear it. Then a wristband got started, but never seamed, half a hat, etc. One day I sat down and forced myself to knit a purse with Trent Reznor’s face on the front of it. I refused to touch anything else until it was done! A challenging project, but so rewarding!

What is your favorite fiber to work with?
I am a big fan of wools with nice heather tones, or little flecks of color, ala Shamrock! A nice chunky alpaca will also put a big smile on my face! I am not at all a fiber snob, but I’ve found that the longer I’ve been knitting, the more appreciation I have for natural fibers like wool or alpaca.

Is there anything in particular that inspires your designs?
My budget inspires me quite a bit! I tend to see things that I want, but can’t afford, so I make my own version up! My current hat designing obsession is due to my growing out a layered hair cut. I own a coffee shop, so I always want my hair out of my face, but I still want it to look cute! Since it’s still too short to style up and look good, I tend to wear a lot of comfy knit hats behind the counter. Plus hats are the perfect way to turn my boring jean and tee-shirt outfits into something cute and trendy!

Who are some of your favorite designers?
I don’t really have one favorite designer. I love so many different things from so many different people, but I’m always so bad with matching a name to a creation.

How long do your designs take to create from start to finish? It depends. I have one sweater that I’ve spent the past 4 months working on, and it’s not even close to completion. I usually write down my ideas as I get them, pluck one off the list when I’m ready to work on it, then swatch with a lot of different yarns until I find one that will do what I want.Then it’s a matter of knitting it up, and writing down what I do as I go.I’ve created designs in as little as a day or two, but most take at least a couple weeks before I’m satisfied.

Another version of Vintage Swish

Thanks so much Toni! You can see all her IDP patterns here. Also check out our podcast interview with Toni, and see what’s new with her knitting, roller derby & foster birds on her blog!