Interview with Cathy Carron

Welcome to Lattes with Dr. Llama, an over-caffeinated podcast about all things knit and crochet. We’re proud to welcome Cathy Carron, author of four bestselling books and the newly released Happy Feet: Unique Knits to Knock Your Socks Off, as a guest onto the show today. Hit the play button below and join us for the interview.

For those of you sneaking this read at work, here are a few highlights!

Cathy Carron is one of knitting’s most prolific and popular designers. Her work regularly appears in such magazines as Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits, Knit Simple, and The Twist Collective. She has written several bestselling pattern books such as Hip Knit Hats, Hattitude, Cowl Girls, and Short Story: Chic Knits for Layering. Cathy is joining us today to discuss her newest masterpiece, Happy Feet, which hit shelves this month. You can find Cathy Carron on her website and on Ravelry.

Every designer I’ve talked to has had a different answer regarding their process. So can you tell us a little bit about yours? When you’re designing, how does it begin?

Well, a couple of ways. Literally, it’s what I want. Another one is if I see a particular yarn, I often get inspired. I’ll know exactly what the yarn should be. It just comes to me — the properties of the yarn, what it’s made of, whether it’s wool, whether it’s a blend, the color of it, the torque of the yarn, the twist of the yarn… I guess you could say the yarn just speaks to me and says, “I want to be this.” It’s hard to say where that comes from.

You can’t get away from functionality when it comes to socks. Unlike hats, where you can be a little more free in what you’re designing, it has to fit. The hat can take on a whole lot of other forms, but a sock has to work on the foot no matter what you do with it.  A lot of times, it’s surface design. You do pattern work that’s either textured or color work. But, that’s when I started thinking, “Well a sock is more than just a sock.” You can layer it, and kind of take the definition of a sock beyond a slipper. And so inspiration, I guess, comes from a number of different places. It’s hard to pinpoint any one design.

One of the socks in the book was inspired by the spiral sock from World War I. Spiral socks were made for soldiers and they didn’t like them because it’s like a tube socks with the spiral actually going down the whole sock. Because it went on to the foot as well, it would torque when men wore it. The men didn’t like that twist. I reinvented it. I did it in such a way that you would have the spiral at the top, so that it would cling to the foot, but then I just added a rib at the bottom, so the ribbing on the foot part wouldn’t twist like it did in World War I for the men. And that sock inspiration is rather appropriate for 2014, because it reflects the 100th year anniversary of World War I. So that was the inspiration behind that particular sock with the World War I spiral sock. 

Well, and speaking of inspiration, you’ve been Kniteratti for a while. You have best-selling books and patterns in every major knitting publication. And you’re a huge inspiration to me, and I think a lot of other new designers as well. Who’s you’re knitting hero?

Oh, no one has ever asked me that question! That’s interesting.

I’m really all about ideas, and I say this as advice too for aspiring designers: I think in order to make a mark on the design world you really have to present new ideas. And when I think of other people who do that consistently, one of them is a Teva Durham. When I see a completely new idea or a completely new neckline or something I’m like, “wow.” It’s the wow factor for me, because it’s something new I learn as well. So I look for people who have something new to say. I love Pam Allen’s work. I like classic where there’s a twist and I also like a minimal look. That’s why Pam’s work appeals to me. Minimalism can be very interesting. To me if it’s done right, it’s not boring. I have a t-shirt right now at Knit Wear Magazine, what I call the Six Point Tee, to me it’s the epitome of minimalism. When you wear it on the body, it just works and looks good on everybody. So, I look for people with ideas.

If you weren’t able to listen to the podcast now, bookmark it for later to learn Cathy’s thoughts on toe-up versus cuff-down, which yarn she’d need with her on a deserted island, and what project she’ll be tackling next. You can also look forward to our full review of “Happy Feet” in May.

Thank you for joining us, Cathy!

~ Megan-Anne and Jac
So many socks to knit, so little time.

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