In 2017 we ran a survey of Stitchmastery users and one response particularly caught our imagination – someone told us they would like to hear from other Stitchmastery users and how they make use of the software. We’re delighted to bring you a series of interviews with designers, tech editors, magazine editors and teachers – we hope you enjoy reading them!
Interviewee – Joan Forgione aka Paper Moon Knits
1) When did you start designing? Could you give us a potted history of your knitty and designing background?
As a child, I was always very interested in art and making things with my hands. I learned to crochet when I was very little (7 or 8) from a great aunt, but it wasn’t until college that I taught myself to knit from books. I never start small, so my first project was a cabled cardigan. The second one was a geometric intarsia pullover with 8 different yarns. It was way after that when I took a course in knitwear design with Shirley Paden. It ran on 6 consecutive Saturdays for 4 hours each session. The course was supposed to culminate in a finished original knitwear design. Mine was a knitted coat – shawl collar, back pleat, turned cuffs. Shirley encouraged me to submit to Soho Publishing which I did, and 2 of the pieces were chosen for an issue of Knit Simple magazine. From there I continued to submit to magazines and eventually launched Paper Moon Knits for my self-published patterns.
2) Do you have any recurring sources of inspiration or unusual muses for your design work?
I live about 50 miles outside of NYC – I work in the city, but my home is nestled in the woods and surrounded by a lot of water. I like to think that my inspiration comes from both worlds: the fast-paced urban high-fashion environment of the city and the more casual, comfortable rural setting of the suburbs. My goal with every piece is to create a design that is classic with a particular feature that sets it apart, and which is fun and interesting to knit.
3) When you have an idea, do you always work to a set workflow (eg swatch-knit-chart / chart first then knit) or does your approach change with each design?
I do have a workflow for my designs. The idea starts with a sketch that is usually annotated in some way, and of course, the yarn I want to use. Sometimes there is a stitch pattern I have in mind, but usually there’s a stitch pattern category that fits with the silhouette I’ve sketched (lace, cables, colourwork, etc.). I go through stitch pattern books to find ones that I think will work and then I start swatching. Once I’ve decided on one(s) that I think will work, I chart out the design using Stitchmastery. Then I go to my spreadsheet and work out the maths for each size. When that’s done, I write out the pattern, and only then do I start knitting the piece. I like to do it this way, because then I’m my first test-knitter. If anything needs to be tweaked or changed, I can do that as I’m following my written and charted instructions.
4) What made you choose to use Stitchmastery? Is there a particular feature you use most regularly or couldn’t do without? And is there anything you wish Stitchmastery could do?
Stitchmastery was not the first charting program I purchased. At the time, I was doing lots of shawls, and the other program was not able to keep the stitch counts correct when the shape of the chart changed. After doing some research, I thought Stitchmastery was the one for me and I haven’t been disappointed. Having worked with it for the past 6 years, I think one of the things I love the most about it is that I can adjust the charts and written instructions to my own pattern layout using my personal stylesheets. When I insert the charts and stitch pattern directions into my patterns, they work seamlessly, save me a lot of time and look very professional. The other thing I love is the amount of support that’s available when I don’t know how to do something. The Ravelry group is amazing, and Cathy is very quick to jump in and answer/help with specific questions. One thing I wish was easier to use was creating multi-stitch cables. The cable parts are sometimes difficult to discern and involve some experimenting.
5) Please tell us about your latest publication or next exciting project!
Five of my designs will be featured in an upcoming book, Duets, which will be published this year. The book’s concept is to take stitch patterns used in previously published designs and transform them into other designs and use the stitch patterns in new ways. This past January (2020), I also launched my own website. In addition to being able to purchase my self-published patterns on the site, I’m planning on offering kits for some new designs I’ll be doing this year.