Artist at Work: Allegra Wermuth

February 26, 2009

This week we are lucky enough to have knitting desinger Allegra Wermuth join us for our Artist at Work series. Allegra is a knitwear designer, classical violinst with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and a mother of an 18 month old little girl. Allegra designed the first piece for the 2009 Taste of Shivaya, and we are so pleased to have her sit down to chat with us.

Enjoy!

What made you decide to begin designing knitting patterns?

I have always been interested in fashion and knitwear (you’d never know from my own wardrobe!) but what really got me interested in designing was the birth of my daughter, Satya. Once she was born, I wanted to cover her in beautiful handknits that were designed by Mama.

You are also a classical violinist, can you tell us a little bit about what that part of your work looks like?

I have been playing the violin for 30 years now and have been the Assistant Principal Second Violin of the Colorado Symphony for the past six. With my orchestra job, I play probably close to 100 concerts a year. I also have a large teaching studio with students that range from ages 12-18. I also teach a very intensive, top notch summer music camp for highly talented teenage violinists at Ithaca College (Ithaca, NY) every July. Music is definitely a creative outlet for me, especially the teaching and any chamber music that I do. Playing in an orchestra is very satisfying, but I don’t always (ok, rarely) feel “creative” doing it, because I am just one in a sea of 80 musicians, so I turn to my designing to fill that void.

Your father taught you how to knit. How did that begin? Do the two of you knit together? How does knitting connect the two of you?

My father originally taught me how to knit when I was young, but I didn’t take to it. You don’t know how many times I’ve kicked myself for not sticking with it! The summer before I got married, I was living at my dad’s house (I was finishing up some work projects in Chicago before officially moving to Colorado) and he came home with a beautiful scarf that he had knit me out of Eros yarn. Right then and there I told him he had to teach me to knit because I wanted to knit all the women involved in my wedding an Eros scarf as thanks. So typical of me to take on a “first knitting project” of 12 scarves in three months. The yarn was very forgiving, thank goodness! All of the recipients loved them.
My dad has always knit, but once I became completely obsessed with it, I think he became obsessed too. I take him on LYS yarn crawls, have gotten him on Ravelry, and he’s the best test knitter I could ask for! He’ll reprimand me for my poor math skills, but is so supportive!
My dad is also a violinist and we teach together at Ithaca College during the summer. Lots of knitting takes place. A couple of summers ago I taught him how to knit socks! His first pair of socks were Cookie A’s Monkey socks.

Tell us a little bit about how you came up with the design for the Taste of Shivaya Club.

This was the first design that I’ve encountered so far where I had the yarn first and then had to come up with the design. Usually I get an idea in my head for the design and then try to find the yarn that I think will work best. I must admit, it was a bit of a challenge! So many options, how to narrow my ideas down. When I first saw the yarn, I thought, how amazing would a sweater be out of this Winter Wool? I envisioned a fitted cowl neck sweater. That’s why the cowl is a bit on the snug side. I also really love how the ribbing opens up to the teardrop design. I feel pretty good about the design, I hope everyone likes knitting it! I do see a matching pair of fingerless mitts in the future and would like to offer the Taste of Shivaya members a discount on the pattern once it’s available.

You have named 2009 the year of the cowl. Tell us a little bit about your upcoming projects.

Have I told you that my middle name is Ambitious? Yeah, a little too much usually! I designed a cowl back in the fall and for some reason I became obsessed with the accessory. As much as I love scarves, they can be bulky. With a cowl, there’s no extra bulk under a coat. There are so many options too. I decided to take on this project where I would offer a cowl design on my blog and on Ravelry each month for the entire year. I have tons of ideas and now I just need to find the time to make this happen. I considered the Teardrop Cowl my January cowl, and hopefully the one I am working on now will cooperate and be ready by the end of February. I am looking at this project as a great way to improve both my knitting and design skills. Being a newbie designer, I still have so much to learn. I plan to have women’s cowls as well as a couple man-cowls (mowls?) and children’s ones as well. I hope to use a variety of yarns (hopefully a number of indie dyers) as well as trying my hand in some lace maybe (eek!).


Where do you see your designs going in the future?

I need to focus on my Cowl project for now, but I do hope to create some designs to submit to online and print magazines. My other huge project is PetitePurls.com.This is a website that I am putting together with PixiePurls (www.pixiepurls.com). I cannot tell you more than that right now as it is still in the works, but I can tell you that it’s going to be a great addition to the online knitting world. Intrigued? Check out our website www.petitepurls.com this summer (June).

Heather, I want to thank you and Stacy Z for giving me the opportunity to create this design and help me get some more exposure. I loved using your yarn and hope to create more with it in the future!

We would love to have you any time! Thank you for all of you hard work, and your incredible focus with getting the cowl pattern created for all of our club members!.
We wish you so much luck in your 2009 Year of the Cowl!.

To learn more about Allegra’s work, please visit her blog

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