Today I present Petra Neumann, aka peti50 on Ravelry. I especially liked interviewing her because she comes from another side of the world and her knitting tastes and preferences vary so much from my own. It's another reminder now much variation a ball of yarn and a stick can achieve! Petra specializes in the Swing Knitting technique. I came across it briefly before and I must say that the sheer mathematical element of it is fascinating. Most of Petra's designs feature this technique, my personal favorite is this one, since it features a gradient which I am, let's admit a sucker for! (all images used with permission)
Jenny: When did you start knitting, and what do you like the most about it?
Petra: I started sometime during my childhood, but don't remember when exactly. What I love most about knitting is that you can totally immerse yourself into it and forget everything else, and also experiencing over and over again how creativity doesn't have any limitations. I love to think up things in my head and then being able to see them come alive on my needles!
Jenny: There is an underlying theme of geometry in your designs. What inspires you the most about this theme?
Petra: The reason is probably my love for the short-row technique, especially Swing-Knitting™. I'm not much of a stitch pattern knitter, but after having learned to work with short rows a few years ago, I've been fascinated ever since, this is such an inexhaustible topic! It's greatly exciting because there's always that suspense of what it will develop into, and through the constant changes in the knitted fabric it'll never get boring. What inspires me the most is nature with its color range, waves and shapes - there's always something new to discover!
Jenny: What is your favorite design? Tell is a bit more about it!
Petra: My all-time favorite is the Tabalino shawl because this is the design that inspired me to dye my own yarn, featuring long color sections without any repeats. With this kind of yarn, short row designs look even better, or at least that's what it seems to me. By now, there are quite a few "Tabalino yarn" enthusiasts. My designs Stein "Steine im Flussbett" ("Rocks in the riverbed") and "Findlinge" ("Fieldstones") were developed especially from and for this yarn. Each one of the rock sections that meander through "Steine im Flussbett", for instance, has it's own distinctive color which never repeats throughout the shawl.
Jenny: How do you balance your everyday life, having a yarn store and a design business?
Petra: I keep it balanced by not trying to create the artificial pressure of having to develop something no matter what. My designs emerge from ideas I see or feel, and my inner peace is most important for me. I find this peace through religion and also in our German forests, where I frequently roam ... always with a mushroom basket, because my other passion is collecting mushrooms. In the woods, my brain can completely relax, and my whole body regenerates.
Jenny: What is your favorite yarn to work with and why?
Petra: There are so many beautiful yarns out there! In any case, a good yarn should be of superior quality, and it should feel soft and pleasant to the touch and next to the skin.
Jenny: What are your plans for next year?
Petra: With this question, I almost smiled to myself, remembering all my UFOs (unfinished objects). Joking aside, you can expect a new shawl design from Tabalino yarn in the near future, and a vest and tunic are currently in testing, too. If all goes well, there will also be a few more designs for children, because I am a proud grandmother. I can count myself lucky that my daughter-in-law loves knitted garments and dresses my granddaughter in everything I knit for her.
During the summer months, from April to the end of August, my store is open only mornings, so I have more time to knit and develop designs. For next summer, I've planned an experiment - I want to develop some kind of home accessory, maybe a wall hanging, in the Swing-Knitting™ technique. Let me emphasize at this point that all my patterns are written as detailed row-by-row descriptions, so everybody can easily knit them without any special knowledge. I've also have them professionally translated into English, and, through valuable customer feedback, was able to incorporate a few features to adapt my writing style to what English speaking knitters are accustomed to, so my patterns are easy to understand and to follow.
There will be another highlight in May, when I'll organize our annual international Swing-Knitting™ get-together in my shop in Helmstedt/Germany. We've already received reservations from knitters as far the US for our planned 2015 season, and expect returning participants from Finland and Switzerland as well. Beginning in January 2015, the program can be accessed from my homepage, and there will be a special thread in the Swing-Knitting™ group on Ravelry, too, for discussing technical details such as traveling and lodging accommodations and introduction to courses and instructors.
As a conclusion, let me add one more thing: I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all who love, buy and knit from my patterns. A special Thank You! to Ravelry for providing this wonderful platform to bring together knitters and designers, and last but no least to all who stand by me every day.