Interview with Susan B. Anderson
When I was 19 years old I was a lifeguard at my neighborhood pool. Every hour we would be on duty for 45 minutes and then we would get a 15 minute break. That summer I was determined to learn to knit and I didn't know a single soul who knitted. I bought a how-to-knit pamphlet and some horrible white acrylic yarn at a fabric shop. During my 15 minute breaks I taught myself to knit by looking at the pamphlet. I made this awful white tank top that was knit incredibly tight. It was the worst. I was still proud of my first knitted creation. I gave it to my sister, never to be seen again. It's just as well. That summer my love affair with knitting began and I have never been without many projects at my side since.
When did you start designing?
I was a middle school teacher for many years and when I was expecting my third child I decided to give the teaching a rest. This is about the time I started designing. I'd say it was about 12 years ago or so. My designing really began when I started making up my own knitted hat designs to donate to my kids' nursery school's silent auction. I got such a great response to my little hat designs that it spurred me on to keep designing.
A few years later, I started selling my baby hats in a children's boutique in town. The hats sold really well. That led to getting a contract to design baby hats for a local manufacturing company for about a year. This job snowballed into me working in a yarn shop and selling my patterns and knitted hats there. I did this for about a year and a half. When the shop I worked at ended up closing I sent in a knitted hat sample and pattern to Artisan, my publishing company, asking if they wanted to do a book with me. Well, they took me up on it and published my first book, Itty-Bitty Hats. Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
My kids, literature, looking at a beautiful babies, nature, life in general. I also like to take practical items and take a knitted twist on them. I want to say food inspires me, but that sounds a little weird. Oh well, so be it. Food, mainly fruits and vegetables. Flowers, lots of flowers.
I read a ton of books, magazines, knitting books, knitting magazines, online stuff. I really study knitting all of the time. I like to keep up on trends and what is current in the knitting world. There is always inspiration and excitement to be found everywhere you look when you are thinking about knitting. What are a few of your favorite designs from Itty Bitty Nursery?
My favorite design is the Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton Stroller Blanket, Circles Hoodie and the Chubby Bunny. I love that set so much.
I also love the Cupcake Set, hat, mittens and scarf. The pacifier clips are really fun, the flower, frog and elephant. I adore the Manos Cotton Stria Flower Cardigan and Hat. Those are so simple and sweet.
You know the other favorite of mine is the Ruffle Blanket in the layette set. It is a simple white cotton basket weave blanket with a sweet ruffled edge. The yarn is Rowan Handknit Cotton and it has the loveliest, purest feeling when knitted up in that blanket. Love that one. What is on your needles right now?
Oh my, what to say? There are so many things that I shouldn't even admit it. Work-wise, I have a baby sweater and hat set for a yarn company that's due in a few weeks. On the personal side, I have several sweaters, several pairs of socks, a couple of scarves, a pair of mittens, a pair of gloves, a checkerboard.......the list goes on and on. It's a little embarrassing, the number. I do always finish everything eventually. A couple of weeks ago I was desperately trying to finish up several last projects for my latest book project. I have recently designed and knitted over 30 toys for this new book. I have loved every minute of it. It has been a busy knitting season for sure.
What can we expect next from you?
I have a new book, Itty-Bitty Toys, coming out in the fall of 2009. I am frantically trying to get my manuscript done over the next couple of weeks for that. Yikes.
I hope you will see a couple of designs I did for a yarn company pop up soon.
Then, who knows? I think I may need a little vacation.