Larissa Brown 23 January 2008
Mommy, knitter, knit designer, author, artist, runner, friend
I’m a knitter and knit designer, with a style that has grown out of my recent past career as a mixed media visual artist. My work has been featured in Fiberarts and Knit.1 magazines, and on NPR’s Studio 360. Some of my pieces have included a full size quilt made of used day planner pages, a sweater knit of typewriter ribbon typed with a year’s worth of worries, and an installation of 100 knitted hats adorned with numbered cattle ear tags.
My work has moved toward hand knitting over the past several years. Together with my husband Martin (a writer and researcher), I recently wrote a book called Knitalong: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together. The book has 20 stories or essays, each paired with a knitting pattern/project, and it comes out in March 2008 (STC Craft).
What are you up to?
Promoting my new book. I’m getting quickly immersed in the wild world of knitting book publicity. I just got back from a huge industry trade show, where I got taped for a cable show called Knit & Crochet Today. It’s all very exciting and amusing.
What are you into?
I’m into my fiber design work, and also into spending lovely, crazy time with my son Sebastian (2 and a half), husband Martin, and dog Ellie (an Aussie). Those are pretty much the two things I do. I find that no matter which I’m doing, I long for the other one.
My passion with yarn is because of how it looks and feels, before, during, and after knitting. I’m currently into bringing my past mixed media/paper sculpture work into my knitting designs.
What do you like most about Portland?
There are days when it feels like a big family. And I find I need that more than I ever thought I did.
Places that especially give me this feeling are Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks in Sellwood (playgroup Friday mornings at 10:30!) and Tandem Cafe on SE Division.
How has the Internet transformed the experience of knitting together?
People have been knitting together as long as the craft has existed, but in the early 2000s the term “knitalong” emerged out of the knitting blog culture (there are an estimated 40,000 knitting blogs).
The tradition of knitting together has often been about small groups of people in close contact—knitting together by the fireplace to finish the day’s socks to sell, or meeting at a yarn shop and working together around the big table in the back of the store.
The Internet has clearly changed this, because we can knit together even though we are not physically close to one another. We can work on the same project, but not at exactly the same time. The tradition is, more than ever, about the act of knitting and the fact of friendship, rather than about being in the same place at the same time.
I think that’s fascinating, that I am knitting together with people who are so far from me, physically, and yet are so close to me as friends. We have a project in our book – the Barn Raising Quilt – which was made by people all over the US, as well as those from Portugal and Canada. It was so moving to receive the real work of those knitters’ hands. People I am so close to online.
What do you like about being a mom?
The wild, wild love. I will say it’s damn hard work. There are mornings I wake up at 5 and think my day must rival that of any farmhand. But the beauty and love is rampant. And the wonder of watching someone grow up and learn to talk and learn to draw, it’s just amazing.
It’s an amazing responsibility, too, and I hope that I’m doing a decent job of it. I treasure the relationships I’ve built with other moms of young children, and the times we spend together. I have this inkling that if I did it again I’d be so much more mellow about it, so much easier on myself. We’ll see, if that ever happens.