Quick-fire questions with... Susie Johns

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Don’t miss Susie signing copies of her latest book at the GMC stand F5 at the Knitting & Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace, on Sunday 13 October

On the run up to the start of this year's Knitting and Stitching Show, 10-13 October at Alexandra Palace, London, we chat to author/designer Susie Johns who will be signing copies of her latest book Baby Booties and Slippers, on our stand, F5, in the main hall on Sunday 13 October.

So, introducing... Susie!

When did you learn to knit?

My mum and Nana taught me when I was very young – but I think I learnt to crochet before I could knit.

In the craft world, what are you best known for?

Though I have written books on a wide range of subjects – embroidery, papercrafts, jewellery and papier maché, among others – I think people associate me most with novelty knits.

What are your (knitting!) weapons of choice?

It has to be a pencil: I carry one with me wherever I go, with a sketch book, for jotting down ideas. As for knitting and crochet, I like aluminium hooks and needles; I’m not a great fan of wood and bamboo.

What is the project/design you are most proud?

I am particularly fond of the little characters I created for Knitted Finger Puppets, especially Doctor Destiny from the science crew, and the Sailor with his duffel bag.

Have you ever had a knitting disaster, and if so, what was it?

When you knit professionally, you have disasters all the time: mistakes are part of the creative process. I don’t think of them as disasters, they are part of the learning process.

If you could only use one stitch for the rest of your life what would it be and why

Stocking stitch. It’s quick to do and makes a wonderful fabric. It is also the basis of colourwork, which I love. I’m a huge fan of Fair Isle and intarsia. I would much rather knit something that involves an intricate colourwork pattern than even the tiniest amount of cables.

What would you say to a non-knitter to try to convert them?

Quite honestly, I don’t understand why some people don’t knit! I think everyone should. It’s easy, you can do it while you are watching TV, and you have something to show for it it: a pair of snuggly socks, a unique jumper, or a warm woolly hat, for example.

When I'm not knitting, I'm…

Drawing and painting, or looking at drawings and paintings in art galleries. Or else I’m cooking. Or maybe at the cinema. Or chatting to friends in my local pub. Actually, there are a lot of things I do when I’m not knitting!

Describe your crafty self in three words…

Inventive, enthusiastic, industrious.

Ball of wool and a cup of tea or skein of silk and a glass of wine?

I’ve never had a cup of tea in my life! And I prefer to drink wine with meals, not while knitting. Can I say, ‘ball of pure wool and pint of real ale’?


And now onto Susie's new book, book, Baby Booties and Slippers, out now!


What inspired your latest book, Baby Booties and Slippers?

I’d like to take credit for the idea of a book of baby booties to knit, sew and crochet, but I was commissioned to do it. The ideas for the individual projects, however, were mine. I love making baby clothes!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You don’t just stick to knitting in this book, you also include projects that are crocheted and sewn. What made you include more than one craft medium?

Once again, I can’t take credit for this… The publishers wanted a multi-craft book.

So, do you think there is more of a craft crossover these days, with people dabbling in more than just one?

I’d like to think so. Personally, I love to mix crafts: a knitted garment with a crocheted edge, for example, or a dress with a knitted bodice and fabric skirt.

Once you started designing, was it hard to narrow down to just 30 projects? How do you decide what makes the cut?

Yes, it was very hard to narrow it down. I just picked 30 designs – 10 crocheted, 10 knitted and 10 stitched – and I have more than enough designs for a second book. Publishers please take note!

Who do you like to design for most, women, children, accessories etc and why?

I really love making baby clothes because of their small scale, and I love using soft, fine yarn and thin needles.

What will you be doing on the GMC stand at this year’s Knitting & Stitching Show?

I would love to discuss any of the projects in the book, answer queries and give people lots of tips and advice on how to achieve the best results. I’ll bring along some materials so that I can demonstrate a few of the techniques.

What are you looking forward to the most about the Knitting & Stitching Show this year? 

I always enjoy the show: it’s one of the highlights of the crafting calendar. I particularly like looking at the exhibitions of students’ work [Knitted Textiles Awards] and, of course, the show is a great opportunity to purchase tools and materials all under one roof.

You’ve been very busy with your last couple of books Knitted Finger Puppets and Knitted Pets, and now Baby Booties and Slippers, plus designing for magazines, holding workshops etc. Can you give us any sneak peeks into what we can expect from you next?

I am currently working on another book for GMC, in the same series as Knitted Pets. This one has 15 patterns for Knitted Woodland Creatures: an Owl, Badger, Hedgehog, Chipmunk, Red and Grey Squirrels and a big Snail, among others. It has been tremendous fun designing the projects – and a real challenge, too.

Susie Johns will be signing copies of her GMC books at the GMC/Knitting magazine stand F5, on Sunday 13 October. Come and say hello!

Sunday 13 October

11.30am-12.30pm – Book signing

14.00-15.30pm – Demonstration



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