Inspired By: Ann Weaver

This Inspired By actually features the lovely lady that I FIRST got in touch with to see if she'd like to be featured! I didn't intend this whole thing to be so on-going, and it's completely gotten away from me. (That's what happens when you contact a bunch of people expecting only two of them to be interested and then all of them are!) Anyway, she was completely stellar throughout the whole process, and so fun to talk so--her life is crazy interesting! Ready for this? Meet...

Ann Weaver of Weaverknits!

She was first published in the Fall 2007 issue of Knitty, which is where I first discovered her work, and since then has been published in Interweave Knits, Knitscene, and the book Brave New Knits. Ann also self-publishes her own patterns, and I always know when a pattern posted on Ravelry is hers even before seeing her name under it! She's got such a fabulously unique, accessible style, and it's way past time that you all got to read this interview with her!

Faye: I suppose I should start off by saying that you just recently published your first book/e-book, Craft Work Knit. All the designs are gorgeous, and I can definitely see the progression from your previous work. What was it like to take what you do to a whole new level, both in the publishing and the design sense?
Ann: One word: Crazy. It was crazy. I knit the samples and wrote the patterns between March and July 2010, and worked on the layout and photography with my sister, who’s a graphic designer, in August to have the book ready by the end of September. While it was SO EXCITING to do a collection of patterns completely on my own terms, the amount of work required to make something independently from soup to nuts was staggering. And I worked full time, first as a commercial baker and then as an editor/proofreader, the entire time.

F: Now that you’ve finished that project, what’s next on the needles? What yarns, textures, or colors are you particularly craving as the seasons change?
A: I have a few designs I’m doing for magazines and yarn companies right now, including a texture-rich design for the Sanguine Gryphon’s winter collection, which is worked in Free Range, an organic wool yarn that is fabulous for cables. I’m also making a few accessories in bulky textured yarns – I love using these when the weather gets cooler.
Looking into the future, I’m planning a group of designs for my next book, which will use only yarn from independent dyers and farms, so there’s a lot of wooliness coming up, and a lot of blues and greens, too.

F: All of your designs have such a distinctive edge of them, and the androgynous element is so classy and versatile. Have you always loved that sort of style, or is it something that comes out only in your knitwear designs?
A: Oh no, this is absolutely how I dress on a daily basis. Accepting my own body type (thin and androgynous) led me to dress in a way that’s flattering for me. And once I left the world of office work, I’ve been able to embrace my love of first-wave punk style, work clothes, handmade knitwear, unexpected color combinations, and unisex boots. Okay, so I’m working an office job again, but no one cares if I show up in Dickies, thrifted boys’ dress shirts, and hoodies or handknit cardigans. It’s fabulous. I wear all my designs, and would wear them even more if I didn’t have to keep them in decent shape so I can show off the samples!

F: Out of everything you’ve made and designed, what are you most proud of when you look back today?
A: Three things: The Neiman sweater from knitty, which was my first published design and the garment that gave me the confidence to write down and size the garments I’d been designing for years; the Transverse Cardigan, because it was accepted into Interweave Knits, a magazine that is definitely not my usual aesthetic and to which I’ve always submitted with the anticipation of rejection (when it comes to sweaters, at least… I’ve had more success with accessories); and, honestly, my new book… the entire collection… the fact that it’s lovely, on heavy, high-quality paper, the design, the fact that I pulled it off.

F: What keeps you inspired when you’re knitting & designing, especially in the dead of winter? Are there any particular artists, knitters, or musicians you turn to to lift your spirits?
A: The painter Josef Albers was one of the main inspirations for my book, and continues to inspire my designs and color choices (there will be at least two more Albers-based designs coming out in the next year). But my sources of inspiration are like a random laundry list… first-wave punk music and fashion, Bauhaus artwork and style, work clothes and uniforms, whatever my favorite colors are at the time (current: lots of murky blues, bright orange, and, of course, grellow), and, of course, friends and family. A lot of the things I design are made for someone I know, and I know some stylish, interesting people.

F: What, or who, makes you excited about knitting even on the days when everything refuses to cooperate?
A: I get excited about swatching new yarns. When I’m particularly uninspired, I knit plain garter and Stockinette swatches. Sometimes I just keep knitting, and end up with a scarf or a hat. One of my latest designs, Big Top, [this will be published as an individual pdf in the next few weeks] is the result of knitting some lovely yarn (Fly Designs Pashmina) into a big long stripey strip. I was so burnt out after finishing the book that this was all I could think to do, and I just love the result.

F: We all know it: The world is changing. What are the pros and cons of being a knitblogger/designer in the new age of media, and what do you think the greatest advantage to self-publishing is?
A: For me, the greatest advantage is the control I have over EVERYTHING in the design process. I’ve self-published designs that probably wouldn’t be accepted – or weren’t accepted – to major publications. I can knit these designs in the yarns and colors I like, I can style them the way I like (no aprons, fields, farms, or mittens being worn in indoor situations… I like to show my designs in the situations in which people would actually WEAR them), I can use my own models (none of whom are under 30, and I’m going to make an effort to use my mom as a model more often, she’s a superstar)… so yeah, those are the advantages of total control.
However, I don’t want to put down traditional publishing, and will continue to work with books and magazines as long as I’m designing. Every book or magazine in which I’m included exposes more people to my work, audiences that might not ever find me on the Internet. And, as much as I like doing everything on my own terms, I also realize that making some compromises to work with publications broadens my appeal. Plus, it’s SO COOL to be part of a book with an interesting premise and a great mix of designs. I’m particularly fond of Brave New Knits and a recently released book from House of White Birches called Simple Hip Knit Scarves, in which I have two designs [these designs aren’t up on Ravelry yet, but will be by the time you publish this interview]. 

F: When did you first say to yourself, “Okay, this is it--now I am a knitwear designer”?
A: When I was fired from a horrible office job in February 2009, I had a lot of time to knit. I took on three big projects for books (two for the book Circular Knitting Redefined and one for Brave New Knits). I think this was the moment; I took on a lot of work and completed all of it on time and up to my high standards. That was the first realization… the second was when I got the proof copy of my book. Yikes! That cemented it.  

F: You’ve held several very different jobs during different times in your life, and the spectrum really intrigues me. It takes a fair amount of moxie to make those transitions and delve into new things. How does one go from being an Assyriologist to a bread baker to a copy editor, anyway? And for those of us who (unlike me) don’t immediately Google it, what IS an Assyriologist?
A: An Assyriologist is someone who studies ancient Mesopotamia, that is, present-day Iraq, during (approximately) the period from 4000 to 300 BCE. My focus was on the literature of the Neo-Assyrian period, that is, from about 1000 to 600 BCE. Cuneiform language is the cornerstone of Assyriology, Akkadian and Sumerian. These languages are not alphabetic, but are, rather, written with wedged symbols that represented either entire words (which was primarily the case with Sumerian), elements of grammar, or syllables (as was the case with Akkadian). So that is what I studied for nearly 6 years at Harvard. My last job there was as first-year Akkadian instructor, it was fabulous.
In any case, that’s not exactly a field with a lot of job opportunities, so I left without writing a dissertation to become, well, lots of different things. Yes, it takes courage to leave a job for something completely different, but to quote Joe Strummer, I just walk into the future like I own it. And it works. 

F: In addition to being a knitter, I’m also a bit of a foodie, so I have to ask--what’s your favorite cold weather comfort food?
A: Homemade macaroni and cheese, mulled wine, and dark beers. Yummmmm. For me, it’s the simple foods done really well. And hot toddies! Wow, that’s more drinks than food, but there you have it.

F: To wrap it all up, what’s ahead for Weaverknits in the near future?
A: Well, I have a few designs to finish in the very near future (DEADLINES!) and several trips planned to promote Craft Work Knit (I’ve actually been traveling constantly for it since the end of September) but after these are complete I’m going to start work on my second self-published book. I don’t want to give too much away, but it will be a smaller collection, probably five patterns: three sweaters, one hat, and one shawl. Each project will use yarn from a different independent dyer, which is really exciting. I see what I do as a partnership with yarn companies and yarn stores, and I want to support both as much as I can. From this point on I want to use yarns from indie companies exclusively in my self-published work, and future books, just like Craft Work Knit, will not be available through discount Web sites like amazon.com, which takes business away from local yarn stores. 
So the future will bring more of what I’ve been doing, with a greater focus on indie companies and indie stores and publication in some new venues, I hope. For anyone reading this, I’m always up for interesting collaborations, so feel free to contact me!

You can keep up with Ann at her blog, where she talks about knitting, life, and lots of yarny goodness! You can also find her patterns on Ravelry, or grab her book Craft Work Knit here!
Thanks so much for your time and insights, Ann!

Love until next time...


  1. Great interview! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Loved this interview! She is a fabulous designer. Thanks for the ongoing Inspired By series!