Brandie Bruce, Specialty: Dyeing
BRANDIE lives in Layton, Utah, with a large family and a few pets. By day she dyes yarn, works in a yarn store, watches her grandkids, prods her teenage sons, or thinks longingly of knitting; by night she gets ready for more dyeing, peruses Ravelry, prods her teenage sons, or dozes over her knitting. If she could have a superpower, it would be to pause time so she could sit down and knit.
I grew up as an only child, splitting my time between Ogden, Utah, and Southern California, raised by both sets of grandparents. Creating has always been a part of me. When I wasn’t reading, I was making up worlds, which led me to trying to create the worlds I envisioned. I’d make elaborate castles and houses out of the building materials at hand; make people, creatures, anything I could think of. Drawing, painting, building, sculpting; I did all of it to try to make my visions real.
As an adult, creating keeps me grounded and sane in my day to day life, but also allows me to express myself freely and explore the way I see the world. If I didn’t create, I would be half a person, shriveled on the inside.
Currently, I both create — and create with yarn. My first yarn experience came as a child, when my grandma taught me to crochet. Now I also knit, spin, and dye the yarn! The one that lets me be most creative, though, is the dyeing.
My creative style can be summed up in one word: CHAOTIC. With a new project, I start to look for inspiration everywhere. Nature, people, manmade things; nothing is off limits for me. I try to envision it, then I bring out the dyes — the messy part! I experiment with ways I can put the colors together on the yarn — sometimes ways I think they will look good and they really don’t! Ways I think will look awful often surprise me and they look terrific.
“Always remember: Your focus determines your reality.”
— Qui-Gon Jinn
Like most creative people, my biggest challenge is myself. If something doesn’t look exactly like I envision it, I hate it. There’s no middle road, it’s either perfect or it’s crap. I’ve had a difficult time getting past that. Seeing myself succeed, getting taken seriously by people I consider successful in the field I’ve chosen has gone a long way in helping.
I believe you should focus on what you want, make it your reality, and watch it happen. However, don’t forget to laugh with your friends; my favorite things to look at in my studio are two buddies on a shelf. One is a stuffed chicken made from a sweater, with the most ferocious expression. It sits next to a ceramic head I made in high school that stares back at it, so aloof. Best friends.
Paige Parkin, Specialty: Designing
PAIGE PARKIN of @knitdiaries is a 28-year-old knitwear designer living in Utah with her husband, Morgan, and bullmastiff, Big. If you manage to spot her out and about, she’ll likely have a yarn carrier strapped to her chest and her head buried in one of her latest designs. Paige thrives on creating trendy/unique garments. For her, knitting isn’t just a hobby, it’s a part of who she is; a girl who’s out to show the world that knitters come in all ages.
Growing up, my artistic outlet was music. I never realized I was artistic in other ways until started knitting around 4-5 years ago.
It wasn’t until my Auntie Connie asked me if I’d like her to teach me how to knit that I realized it was something I actually enjoyed doing. Eventually I felt like I wanted to be able to read my knitting and fix my own mistakes. I’ve always been somewhat of an independent person and have never really liked to follow “the rules” when it comes to knitting. The majority of the skills I’ve acquired over the years have come through my own trial and error.
I’m naturally a very impatient and impulsive person. Over the years I’ve learned to put more thought and time into what I’m creating. I’ll normally take around a week just thinking about what I want to create. I’m still learning, and to this day a lot of my designs aren’t perfectly planned out.
I don’t pick favorites, but I do have a soft spot for “Piper,” the first sweater I designed. I would say this sweater holds the most sentimental value for me. Not because the design is perfect, but because it was my very first hand-designed sweater. It was upon finishing this design that I realized I was capable of more than I thought I was. I’m quite proud of what I was able to accomplish by just jumping in and testing myself. It was amazing how much I learned about myself and my potential with that one sweater design.
Creating is my life! I literally take my knitting everywhere with me; to the grocery store, on daily walks with Big, in the car, etc. If there’s a spare moment to knit, I take it. My style is modern and unique, and I find inspiration through several outlets; current trends, movies, TV shows, etc. One of my main goals is to create things that are trendy and different from what the average knitter might see.
Fighting my impatience/impulsivity has and will always be my biggest challenge; I’ve had to learn that good things come with time. I think my biggest accomplishment is the sense of self I have developed over the years. Knitting and designing have become a part of my identity. I think because I began knitting around the age of 23, it coincided with a crucial period of self-discovery and development of who I am, what I want to be, and the potential I have if I believe in myself.
Rebecca Thomas-Maurer, Specialty: Color & Texture
REBECCA THOMAS-MAURER lives in Ogden, Utah, with her husband, two dogs, bees and a whole lot of yarn. She has had a lifelong love affair with fiber that blossomed in her twenties into a passion for creating. She not only knits, but spins, weaves, stitches, and generally tries whatever she can at least once.
I live in Ogden, Utah, just between the mountains and downtown, and a 10-minute walk to either. I’m an only child, and we moved around a lot because my father worked for the military. I grew up mostly in South Korea and because it was so safe, I was free to explore and experience the country. We moved to Utah while I was in high school, where I met my future husband, and through his work we moved around even more before landing back in Utah. We now have two adult children who are starting their own lives, so it’s just us and the dogs.
Most kids had a toy box full of toys. I had a toy box filled with yarn and a Fisher Price loom. I would make tons of terrible scarves. I’m tactile and can rarely stop myself from touching things. Even things I shouldn’t sometimes!
My grandmother was an accomplished knitter, but she passed before I learned to knit. As an adult, I taught myself to knit from books, so I never learned what was “hard” or “easy,” so I would dive into projects with wild abandon. I knit for an entire year, even finishing a whole sweater before I learned that I had been twisting all my stitches. I still never put it down. My favorite item in my studio is a glass head that I stuffed with yarn. It’s like me — I always have yarn on the brain!
“Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”
— Douglas Adams
Color and texture are what lure me into a project. I love all colors. I especially love rich, intense colors and interesting design. Not everyone will knit a giant neon shawl, but I will! My projects have got to set my heart on fire. Simplicity is fine for some things, but I like the challenge of a little something technical in everything I knit.
I worry about being a “good enough” knitter, especially working in a yarn shop with people coming to you all the time looking for help. I eventually created a class called “Becoming a Confident Knitter” that helps people learn to fix mistakes, and generally builds them up. I gain confidence by helping others succeed. Simply the act of knitting makes you a knitter. The only people who aren’t knitters are those who don’t knit!
Sally Petersen, Specialty: Complicated Patterns Socks
SALLY PETERSEN grew up and resides in the beautiful state of Utah. At the age of 6 she learned to knit sitting side by side with her twin sister, Nancy. She carries on her family’s handwork legacy and continues to be inspired by the natural world. When she isn’t knitting, she is working on her ancestral home in Utah and the fourth generation family farm in Southern Idaho.
I am one of four siblings — all girls. Being creative was one of the ways my entire family worked and played together. My father was an artist and my mother was a beautiful seamstress. At home there was always some type of creative project in progress. These projects ranged from baking, gardening, refinishing antique furniture and, of course, anything to do with fabric and yarn. I can’t remember a time when stitching or knitting projects didn’t need to be cleared from the table before we could sit down to dinner.
Being creative was encouraged in my childhood home. Dad let us kids use his art supplies and Mom helped us sew many of our clothes using her old Singer sewing machine. Mom taught my twin and me to knit when we were about 6 years old. Knitting really took off for me while I was attending the University of Utah and had the opportunity to take a knitting class from Nancy Bush.
I always have a few projects in progress. Knitting and stitching are lovely ways to slow down and practice mindfulness. It reconnects me to my parents and grandparents, keeps me connected to my siblings and creates an opportunity to meet new friends. I spend many happy hours flipping through quilting, stitching and knitting books. I think about projects when I work in the yard and garden. I enjoy the changing seasons of Utah and find a walk in nature very inspirational.
I gravitate to traditional knitting with natural fibers. I like the challenge of complicated patterns, especially lace, and enjoy talking to fellow knitters about their current projects. It often sparks an unexpected twist to my own creations. I wish I had the time to work on all the projects floating through my mind. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to teach a new knitter or help someone stuck on their project move forward to dream of their next project. Knitting is my meditation. I try to get in a few stitches every day. With the eclectic collection of books and tools available at the Needlepoint Joint, a crafter can hone an existing skill or branch off into a whole new adventure.
Tracy Phillips, Specialty: Traditional Stranded Colorwork
TRACY PHILLIPS makes her home in Ogden, Utah, where she lives with her husband and three cats. She is an “admitted” knitting addict and knits at least one to two hours every day. Her true passion is Fair Isle knitting, which is a form of colorwork knitting that originated in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. She loves to try new techniques and works hard to learn something new with every project.
I grew up in Montana with my parents and younger sister. We lived on 10 acres and had horses, but our friends did not live nearby, which meant we had to entertain ourselves most of the time. When I was in grade school, our neighbor taught us how to crochet. My mom taught us how to sew; we made candles and baked goodies; and I did a little drawing. After high school, I attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and made a career of the Air Force before retiring after 28 years. Although busy, I always found time to create. I liked to try different things, and over the years I’ve quilted, crocheted, made stained glass and jewelry, needlepointed, and cross-stitched. I discovered my knitting passion soon after I retired. I had always wanted to learn to knit so I bought a knitting kit and taught myself but never pursued it.
That all changed one day with a phone call to the Needlepoint Joint. I signed up for the beginning hat class. From the first stitch I was hooked! I made several projects to practice my skills. A couple of years later I began working at the shop, where I fell in love with Fair Isle knitting, a form of stranded colorwork where you work with only two colors per row and make wonderful patterns. Some use a “formula” for choosing colors for their projects but I find mine turn out better if I use my intuition. I select a pattern I like in combination with the garment, then I select the colors. Sometimes I use the designer’s colors. I always swatch first to make sure the colors work well together. You could say my creativity is “measured,” because I am a perfectionist and want everything to turn out great.
My favorite knitting tool is my heavy duty yarn bowl. It is a beautiful piece of pottery with 1/2-inch-thick sides. My biggest challenge is not thinking my work is good enough. I am surrounded by very experienced, talented people who create amazing things. However, I experienced great joy when my Fair Isle vest won a blue ribbon at the Great Basin Fiber Arts Fair this year! I have found that to be happy, you must find something you love and just do it. So, I knit at least one to two hours every day and have several projects on the needles at a time. It makes me happy.