Apparently I’ve started a new series of blog posts. The “I’m In Love” series will be about all of the designers/dyers/products I love. Sometimes with interviews, sometimes not. Miss Ruth Garcia-Alcantud of Rock+Purl was stellar enough to let me interview her. I’ve been dying to ask her questions ever since I saw her amazing designs a few years ago. Ruth is a doll, opinionated, funny, and a darling. Her knits are beautiful and I can’t believe she agreed to let me interview her!
Miss Vicious Knits: To knitters who don’t know your awesome self, how would you introduce them to you?
Ruth: Hi I’m Ruth and I drink a lot of coffee. :) My designs are nothing but wearable art to me, they are engineered to enhance the figure and create an even more beautiful you!!
MVK: We’re halfway though 2013, did you have a knitting goal? Have you achieved it?
Ruth: Ha! Not even close. I thought I’d be two-thirds done with my book by now… but other interesting propositions came around, which I think will raise my profile up and therefore give a bigger boost to the book upon its release, so I chose to pursue those. Curious? Come winter you will find out!!
MVK: What’s currently on your needles?
Ruth: I’m finishing a pair of socks for myself, as well as working on a book garment with the luscious Indigodragonfly Merino Silk Sock. As TNNA is coming up soon I’m also thinking of something easy and mindless to stitch on while I have meals and drinks with my friends!
MVK: How would you describe your design style?
Ruth: In terms of process, I’m a blueprint designer – I am far more inclined to design something when I think there’s a challenge in how to manipulate a simple shape to become more flattering. In terms of fashion style? I like wearable shapes that tend towards being wardrobe staples, I encourage my customers to pick their colours and yarns in order to flatter them, and love seeing those wardrobe staples taking a life of their own – from the people that dress up one of my hoodies (Chambourcin) with a pencil skirt to those that add sass to a school uniform with my sweaters (Agnes Pullover).
MVK: Your designs are pretty and elegant. What was your favorite piece to design?
Ruth: I’ve the softest of spots for Caramel. It was a delight to create, from its conception stage (pencil sketch) to the blueprint (schematics) – I knew the yarn I wanted to use and could envision the finished project clearly, including the buttons and the ribbon on the edging. It’s beautiful and I wish it got more attention!
MVK: Tell us about your book!
Ruth: My publisher is Cooperative Press – I chose to pitch to them because of the freedom of choice in terms of style and feel for the book, as well as the very open and honest conversations we have regarding deadlines and involvement of external people in the project. CP’s Shannon Okey has been incredibly supportive of my career and progress since I very first started, so it only makes this project all the more special.
The book will be full of garments you will want to knit and wear, in a huge variety of sizes, from 30 to 50 inches and more. The yarns have been carefully selected to match the projects and the feel of the garment – some of the yarn dyers involved so far are Indigodragonfly, Skein Queen, Northbound Knitting, Candy Skein, Three Irish Girls…. and there’s a lot more to come!!
I’m hoping this book will introduce the rock+purl style to those who don’t know it yet while also appealing to those who have been knitting my designs for a while…, and hope it paves the way for future books!
MVK: What are your favorite yarns to work with?
Ruth: I’m in a committed, long-term love affair with Rowan Felted Tweed. My first ever garment was made with it and I keep coming back to it. I’ve approx 4 sweater lots of it in my studio, waiting to be knit. For socks, I love Hazel Knits, it’s SO perfect for socks and their colours are delicious! A worsted weight I recently fell in love with is Anzula’s For Better or Worsted. It’s SO cushy and beautiful, with incredible stitch definition – I’m looking forward to playing with it some more! Another independent dyer you all should keep an eye out is Wool Dispensary. Incredibly saturated colours and great bases. I still can’t pick which one I’ll use in my book!!!
MVK: Who is your designer crush?
Ruth: Oh that’s a TOUGH one!!! There are many people I admire and different reasons for it. I admire Eunny Jang because I can’t think of anyone else who could invent the Tangled Yoke pattern. I’m in awe of Kim Hargreaves because she’s so prolific and classy. I have the pleasure of counting Woolly Wormhead as a close friend and I can tell you the spatial abilities and ways to un-vent hats she has just blow me away.
MVK: I, personally, would love to know what inspires you?
Ruth: I love people-watching, and things-watching. Sometimes I’ll gladly sit somewhere and just stare into space, see things in unexpected places, a window frame can tell me to be a sweater. A balcony was the inspiration for my current Mystery Shawl. A hand on someone’s shoulder triggered the design for a garment for my book. I also tend to keep an open mind and stay up to speed with trends. I subscribe to Vogue and read it carefully, I watch what’s out in stores, what people are wearing when I see someone that looks confident and comfortable…
MVK: How did you first start designing knitwear?
Ruth: It was a bit of synergy. I was unemployed and found myself needing to create further than just following a pattern. Increasingly I was counting on books and chats to my father (who has worked in fashion forever) for modifications to existing knits, discussions on what does and doesn’t work… and the last straw was a sweater that fit me like a tent. I chose to start small – I designed shawls and socks at first, while I worked carefully on garment designs. Once those were a bit more seasoned, I switched gears and chose to stay on a part-time office job while boosting production on my garment designs, learning fit, fabric qualities and grading.
Everyone’s paths are different, I guess mine was a combination of factors, but it worked out: I just celebrated my one-year self-employedversary!!
P.S. – All photos courtesy of Ruth! :-)