Interview with Asja Janeczek

Hi Friends!  I'm so excited to share that I'm participating in the Indie Design Gift Along 2015 on Ravelry!

And today, I'm honored to be sharing an interview with one of my favorite knitting designers--Asja Janeczek!  We are both participating in this year's event (click here to go directly to the Ravelry Group for full info).  If you haven't heard of it, it's a collaboration between about 335 indie designers to, first, offer a selection of our designs for 25% off using the coupon code giftalong2015 (Nov 19-27); and second, to encourage each other in our holiday knitting in the KAL and CAL groups as we all work on our beautiful projects together (today til New Year's Eve)!  In addition to all the fun chatting and fellowship with other designers, there are great prizes for sharing pics of your eligible finished objects!  It's going to be a great time!

You may remember me sharing about my TOTO shawl a few weeks ago--Asja is the designer!  I got in touch with her to let her know how much I love her designs, and we've become friends.  I'm so excited to share our little "interview" so you can get to know her a bit better too.  You can view her selection of designs that are on sale today through the 27th!  (I highly recommend TOTO and everything else she designs!).  I hope you'll enjoy our little interview, and I hope you'll check out all of the GAL2015 designs!

Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit? Knitting skills are one of  the best gifts I got from my Mother. She was knitting from time to time small projects, usually in wintertime, and I have always been enchanted seeing how a single thread of yarn can be changed and shaped into unimaginable things, like socks or gloves. Knitting heels in socks or using double-pointed needles – 5 at once, was for me at this time like speaking Mandarin Chinese, something indescribably hard to learn. My Mum had showed me the basics, gave me her needles, and soon afterwards regretted it, because I knitted so tight that I broke the needles shortly after I had got them. But she forgave me and encouraged me to try again, despite my overwhelming failure. I think that was the best lesson she could give me in knitting or in life, that no matter what happened, or how miserable your life seems to look like, if you have your yarn and knitting needles, you can always cast on and start all over again.

How did you get started designing? I could write that I started designing, because there was no pattern available suitable to my needs, but it wouldn’t be true. I am amazed how many knitwear designers there are, and how many wonderful garments have already been created. If I find a garment I want to have immediately, I don’t hesitate - I just buy the yarn, the pattern and knit following instructions. But, occasionally I get this idea, this hunger, this untamed craving for something new, something that was never knitted before, a challenge, a picture in my head, which pops up every time I close my eyes. And this is the beginning of something unsure, risky even, when you feel this thrill of excitement in a moment when you see THIS yarn... Those are the moments to live for! After creating something that gave me such a pleasure it wouldn’t be fair if I put it in a closet and just keep to myself. So I decided to share those ideas with Knitters. And since I am a bit addicted to this rush when I create something new, I try to write as many patterns as I can.

What inspires your designs? Life... Everything... Pictures, music, nature, yarn, colours, magazines, fashion, movies, everything I see, sometimes it’s a lady in a store, sometimes the movie I just spotted on youtube, but most of the time yarn "speaks to me”..... ☺

What is your favorite type of item to design? Sweaters. I never got to this place where small pieces of accessories would grab me, you know. I like wearing socks, I love gloves, and hats, of course, but large projects are mine. I love what I can do with sweaters, so many possibilities in creating new construction, a patterning, structure, playing with colours and all of that has to be consistent, carefully thought through, so all the small details work together as one piece. It’s amazing what can be created when you think about it.. a knit masterpiece – I am still looking for that one ☺

Which one of your designs is your personal favorite (so far) and why? Czarina, because of its flattering shape and casual lines, but I am not objective now, because it’s cold now and I feel the need to have a warm hug ☺ But I am really proud of my last two shawls, Mombasa and Kite Illusion. Both of them were a wonderful journey to the land of mystery and unexpected shapes.

What is coming next? What’s in your release queue? I have few pieces of garments I knitted last few months, which are still waiting to be finally written up, and this is what I am going to do. But what a new year will bring to me, I have no idea, I am only sure I will be knitting.

Which is your most under-appreciated design? TOTO, that’s for sure. When I knitted this garment I thought that its cleverness will charm Knitters as much as it charmed me. Smart construction, bunch of ways to wear it and possibilities this garment gives like a hood/vest/cardigan/poncho or shawl, and all of it in one garment full of colours, it had to be success, right? But it’s not.. I think we all like to get inspired by unusual shapes and new techniques, but when it comes to wearing the garments and knitting them, we usually choose the one we know already.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters? If your garment grows like hell after blocking, or your needle is broken, or the yarn you just bought has knots, and not one or two, but at least three, don’t worry, there is nothing in knitting which should make you sad, it’s all gonna be all right.. Just leave all frustrations at home and go to the nearest yarn store... It will all be gone when you come back home with new skeins – I promise!

What is your most treasured knitted object? (made by you or someone else) Red gloves made by my Grandmother. They have holes in fingers, but I still love them.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?) That’s a tricky question..... :D Only one? Noble from Holst Garn. It has all I love about yarn, softness, luxury of cashmere, warmth, can be used as a single thread in shawls, ponchos, etc, or held double - what works wonderfully in sweaters, hats, or even held triple and still looks great... And the colorways... I could never have enough of this yarn!

If you could have dinner with one knitting designer (living or dead) who would it be and why? I would love to meet Norah Gaughan someday, but I am afraid that despite my best wishes I would go silent through the dinner and instead of getting to know Her, I would behave more like a stalker ;) She is the most inspiring and open minded knitwear designer I know and I feel the deepest respect for all She creates.

Thank you for this lovely chat, Jennie!

Kite Illusion is knit in squashy garter stitch from the center out!  How fun and innovative!

Czarina is an opened, flattering cardigan with rich and cozy collar, sweet pockets in contrasting color, and unusual, oval-shaped sweater construction, which gives just enough touch of warmth and comfort but without exess fabric, so typical for most circular sweaters."--I love everything about this!

TOTO (my personal favorite), which is such a fun and satisfying knit that I've just ordered more yarn to knit a 2nd one!

Vivacity--I just can't get over how gorgeous this sweater is!

See all of Asja's GAL designs here--and use coupon code giftalong2015 at checkout for 25% off until Nov 27!

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