Scribble Artist Interview with Monica Shupe!
Scribble Town (ST): Monica Shupe won’t be caught without her knitting sticks and soon you’ll find out why.
Monica Shupe (MS): I am a mother of three children (16, 14, and 11 years of age). I live with my husband of 20 years in upstate New York’s Taconic Mountains. Before children consumed my life, I worked in NYC as a Marketing Manager for a major international cosmetics company taking me to all parts of the world.
ST: From the city to the mountains, what are you up to these days?
MS: I currently work a the local Middle/High School of about 550 students. My days are filled with life playing “Soccer Mom” with my children and their various activities. It is fulfilling to me as I meet all types of people through the various activities the kids are involved in.
ST: You are a knitting queen! I’m amazed you find the time with your full schedule. It must be weaved in naturally into your daily life and surely a passion. How did you discover knitting? Was there anybody that encouraged you?
MS: Knitting is a big part of my life no matter where I am. I can remember as early at the age of 12 traveling across the US knitting a vest. The color was green and it was comprised of three rectangle shapes to be hand sewn together. Growing up as a child, my mother and stepmother always had knitting with them. I remember opening Christmas and Birthday gifts to find a sweater or scarf that my mother somehow completed in secret without me knowing she was working on it. I still to this day get hand knit projects from her at holidays.
I always bring knitting everywhere I go. My friends joke about how they had to turn around to get my knitting when I forgot it at home. I host a weekly Knitting Circle at our local library filled with all levels of knitters in the area. Each week everyone brings a bit of their own expertise to share with the group. When a member is having trouble with a pattern, or just needs a second pair of eyes looking at how they are doing, they know there will be someone there to help. I enjoy meeting the group every week. We are all in different stages of our lives, but we have the common love for knitting and that keeps us coming back and creating great friendships.
ST: It’s so wonderful that you turn this talent into a community art gathering. How do you come up with your designs and patterns? You have everything from hats and scarves to ornaments!
MS: My projects vary. I love to show people how knitting is not just sweaters, scarves and socks. They can be seasonal, decorative, or just useful. When I knit, it is usually with a person in mind. Something they like or a color that they love to accent an outfit or their personality. I also sell my work on Etsy.com (store name: Knitsbymonica), a website that is comprised of artisans work for sale. There I offer different things. Sometimes I will bring back a vintage knitted item as well as classic knitted items with more modern materials.
ST: You really do have an array of items showcased for sale on Etsy. So many different styles, colors, and materials! How long do these projects usually take you? Some of them seem very detailed. How does the choice of material effect your designs?
MS: How long a project takes me can vary greatly. Recently I did 4 pairs of Legwarmers for a client where it took me 2 months. It used smaller needles and the stitchwork was quite detailed. It also depends on how everyday life allows for knitting time. I normally knit at night but family life may prevent me from knitting. During the holidays, I may have a few projects going at the same time..
ST: Lucky friends and family get handmade presents from you Where do you find yourself feeling really inspired to create? Is there something you do to get you into the mood to create? Knitting also seems pretty therapeutic.
MS: Inspiration is everywhere with me and knitting. If I attend a local fiber festival I will buy a new wool or angora blend where the color or texture is wonderful. I then will search for the perfect pattern to match. I am also inspired with patterns I find showing off
wonderful designs. They inspire me to try and create my own. I am always looking for new things to try and new techniques to explore.
It could be in what someone wears to work that day making me want to translate it into a project of my own.
Knitting is very therapeutic for me. If I have had a stressful day and need to relieve all the anxiety, I will go to my current project and take 5-10 minutes to realign my day. As I look back at some of the projects I have done, I remember good and bad events that occurred in my life a that time. I feel knitting a gift shows how much someone cares for a person. Each stich that goes into a project and the hours of time spent plus the thought of the receiver means so much more than just going to a store and buying taking 5-10 minutes of thought.
ST: Knitting for you is like a picture or a song for others where all these memories flood in. That’s a very special connection you have. Are there other textiles designs you play around with? Crochet, for example.
MS: I do crochet, but it is not my technique of choice. From time to time a client will show me a picture of a hat or scarf where they think it is knit when in fact it is really crochet. Most people either knit or crochet, but I feel one can compliment the other in any project. I have been known to embellish with scallops or shell like stitches giving it a very nice touch.
Another skill I enjoy doing are Felted items. This is where I use 100% wool to create mittens, bags, vests. Wool to me is such an amazing material. It is waterproof, warm and although knitted the felting process binds so tightly it doesn’t pull or snag.
ST: You’ve got me hooked! Can you give any advice on how to start knitting?
MS: I have taught a few classes on how to knit and feel anyone can do it! I have taught all three of my children where from time to time they will pickup a pair of needles to make something they wish to wear or give as a gift. I recommend as a rule, the size needles for a beginner (such as a child) be determined by the age they are. For example if they are 8 years of age, size 8 needles are big enough to hold and learn to knit.
There are lots of youthful projects directed towards the younger knitter such as many wearable projects. It is important to pick
colors and a project you are really interested in completing. It will help to maintain by committing to complete the project and keep
interest in the project. The sense of pride after completing a project is a great feeling of accomplishment.
ST: Do you have a simple project to get us started?
MS: My girls loved knitting for their dolls. Here is a project where my daughter knit herself a scarf for her 18″ doll.
1 skein of yarn (dk weight yarn)
1 pair of knitting needles size 7
Cast on 8 stitches
Knit every row for 98 Rows (should measure approx. 10 1/2 inches long)
Knit 4 stitches for 8 rows leaving the remaining 4 on the needle
Attach yarn to the second 4 stitches by pulling yarn from other end of yarn
Knit the second set of 4 stitches for 8 rows. (this should even out the two strips of 4)
Knit all 8 stitches together again for 24 rows
Bind off the scarf
Cut 16 strips of yarn 4 inches long
Fold each strand of yarn individually in half
Use crochet hook to loop in each strand of yarn at end of each stitch creating slip knot making a tassle
Do 8 tassles on each end of the scarf
Trim the end of yarns to create an even edge
Cast On: http://www.knittinghelp.com/video/play/knitting-on-English
Knit Stitch: http://www.knittinghelp.com/video/play/the-knit-stitch-english-English
Bind Off: http://www.knittinghelp.com/video/play/basic-knit-bind-off-English
ST: Thank you Monica for not only inspiring us bet helping us get on our feet with knitting!