Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Meet Instructor Extraordinaire: Susan Mills

Susan Mills is the Creative Director and Product Marketing Manager for Nashua Handknits from Westminster Fibers, Inc. She’s also an awesome teacher who leads classes at the Monhegan Island retreat. I checked in with her to quiz her about her knitting life.

Spike: How long have you been knitting?
Susan: I learned to knit in high school but didn't really become a knitter until after college.

Spike: When did it occur to you that this was your big passion?
Susan: After college, while working yarn shop, I realized working in a yarn shop was way more fun than anything I wanted to do with my degree in Mathematics.

Spike: What can students expect from your classes on Monhegan? Do you teach all levels?
Susan: Since knitters of all levels come to Monhegan, I try to be prepared to have something to offer beginners through experienced knitters. This year I'm going to teach about cables and chart reading. I'll structure the class project to have different options so that it applies to all skill levels. For knitters experienced with knitting cables there will be an option of drawing his/her own charts. For someone who has never knit cables before, there will be a more simple, straightforward project. If you know how to knit and purl you can knit cables!

Spike: Can you recall a particularly satisfying teacher/student experience where somebody just suddenly *got* what you were explaining?
Susan: I love to see the light dawn on knitters when they get a new concept that was so mysterious to them - like learning to read charts, turn a heel on a sock, or make a thumb in a mitten.

Spike: What are you working on now?
Susan: I always have dozens of projects going at once. I have a hard time relating to people that finish one project before they start the next. I guess I'm more of a "process" knitter than "project" knitter. Most of my knitting is swatching for designs I do for Nashua Handknits. Right now, besides swatching, I have two easy to knit sweaters almost complete; an allover intarsia sweater (1 1/2 sleeves done - haven't yet decided how I will design the body of the sweater), and some simple socks. And I'm itching to start an all-over cabled pullover - I can see in my mind but haven't designed it yet.

Spike: I fantasize about being a knit designer, though I know in reality I'd be adisaster at it. What can you tell me about designing-- the process, the source of inspiration, favorite thing you ever designed?
Susan: With designing, sometimes the shape of the sweater comes first and sometimes the stitch comes first.I'm inspired by everything I see. I see cables in everything - fences, gardens, the painted lines on a parking lot, graphics elements and logos - I can't turn it off. And anything with an eye catching color combination inspires me to knit colorwork - paintings, nature, fabric.

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