Stitch Exchange: Interview with Grace Anna Farrow

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Our third designer interview for the upcoming year of our Pro-Verbial Club is with Grace Anna Farrow!

You probably know Grace from her strong sense of geometry and the bold lines of her designs. She loves color play and is enamored with stripes and angular construction. She is the author of The Fine Line, as well as Kelbourne Woolen's Allium Collection -- both beautiful collections of shawls.

Grace wearing her design Volt with a moody New Mexico sky

Grace learned to knit in the third grade, and lives in beautiful New Mexico. She was kind enough to answer the following questions about her designing life and knitting!

What’s your favorite thing about designing shawls?

Shawls are inclusive; The same design has the capacity look just as flattering on many different body types, ages and genders.

Shawls are a blank canvas; As long as the fabric drapes it can be any shape, color, or size.

Shawls are flexible; Unlike any other garment a shawl is worn not by placing oneself within it, but by draping it around one's body - there is so much room to personalize. 

Do you have a favorite fiber to work with? 

Wool, wool, 100% wool. Then animal fibers, then plant fibers, then synthetics. We are animals. Animal fiber was designed to cover animals. To my mind we have not yet improved upon that solution. 

What are you looking forward to the most about working with Verb yarn?

The thoughtfulness of the colors you all produce at AVFKW from such humble materials seems alchemical to a non-dyer such as myself. I want that magical, mysterious experience running through my fingers, onto my needles and eventually into my wardrobe. 

Can you give us a quick look at your design process? 

I don't want to misrepresent my process as consistent or repeatable because my life is a state of beautiful chaos that only a poet could describe. But here goes:

I sketch things that look like angular repeating lines on graph paper and then I marinate on if it is actually something that should be knit. I think of a way I could knit it. And then I sketch the new idea and repeat the process. 

I swatch stitch patterns and wonder how they could be worn.

I stare into the bottomless void of the internet (recently Pinterest) and am inspired by what comes from the minds of others. 

I squeeze skeins of yarn and see what they want to be when they grow up.

I make the things I crave.

Part of Grace's designing process

What is your favorite item someone else has knit for you? 

My little sister gave me the first item she ever finished - a ribbed scarf. It is the only non-shawl, non-self designed neckwear that I wear.

What do you do when you make a mistake?

Rip. It. Out. 

Most of my knitting these days becomes samples that travel in one trunk show or another.  Having worked in a few local yarn stores, I can remember that at some point, someone is going to scrutinize that sample, count the stitches, turn in inside out to see how it was made, so it has to match the pattern as written. Because most of my designs have a strong graphic element built into the construction (like a chevron formed by stacking decreases) if the stitch count is off it can really show.

But if I were to be completely honest - I have a horrible tendency to be overly critical of my own work. It's that vicious internal critic that will focus on a mistake until there is no way to move forward until I correct it. That internal critic can be helpful at times too. It makes me return to certain themes and iterate, iterate, iterate until it is ready to make that transition off the page and onto the needles.

Grace learning to weave with her youngest daughter

Thank you for your wonderful answers, Grace! And thank you for being a designer for this year's club!

It's not too late!! Sign-ups for the club are currently open, and we'd love to have you join us. Click here to read more and sign up.

Missed the first two interviews? Click to read Andrea's interview and Susanna's interview.

-- Sarah