Monday, May 25, 2015

Let me introduce... Asja Janeczek

Hello everyone! It is going to be obvious that I have a weakness for Polish knitters... Let me introduce the third one in my interview serie: Asja Janeczek! (Ravelry, blogAlthough she is a newbie among designers, her patterns have quickly started gaining popularity and with every new one she proves her talent and industriousness: you don´t have to be a math genius to calculate that she is releasing approximately one pattern every month! Oh, ladies and they are not the simple ones! Asja designs mostly woman knitwear, her pullovers and cardigans are simply eye-catching! You can see and buy her designs on Ravelry.

I´ve been always interested in "the things behind". What´s behind those pretty photos on many Raveler´s profile? What´s behind those perfectly knitted garments? What´s behind those smiling faces of my fellow-knitters on Ravelry? What´s behind their passion for knitting? That´s why I started asking and writing the interview serie and I am happy I did so! If you are like me, curious what´s behind, you will definitely enjoy interview with Asja... by the way, she is the expert for revealing what´s behind our faces! ;-)

Cocachin pullover designed by Asjaknits.

1) Why do you knit? Why is knitting important for you?

Knitting has become a very important part of my life. I knit because I like knitting in generally, creating something from a strand of yarn never stops surprising me, but I also love knitting because thanks to this hobby I can wear luxury garments, which are exactly like I want them to be, well fitted, with nice details. But most of all knitting is my endless „me time“, some women like to go to SPA or have their nails done, I love knitting, it calms me down like yoga, it helps me to think, almost like meditation, and finally it helps me to gather the strength to deal with rough reality. I’ve been knitting since I was a little girl, with some breaks along, but I rediscovered knitting few years back, when I had a rough time. That was the time when I noticed knitting can be not only a great hobby but also has a really comforting and therapeutic influence on my wellbeing. How could I stop knitting? :D

Stormy rays cardigan, designed by Asja.
2) What is your profession?

That’s a good question. I have MA in psychology but never had a chance to work as a psychologist, because the day after my graduation I packed my belongings and flew to my husband, who was already living and working in Germany. Then, surprisingly quick, life happened and I found myself on the road between Poland, where I was born and raised, and my second home in Germany. Never had the chance to work in my profession but, as you probably noticed, I try to look at knitting not only as a hobby but also an activity which helps to deal with your everyday struggles, so I like to think that there is still some psychology left in my life, despite or even thanks to my knitting.

3) I have noticed that some of your projects are machine knitted. Could you describe the whole process of machine knitting, please? What type of knitting machine do you have, how it works, how fast is it to make a sweater etc... (I am curious, because I have even never seen any knitting machine! :-) )

Knitting machine is a really divine creation. It has claws or jaws, shines with colorfull lights, beeps, hums and buzzes and can quite intentionally attack your foot with the weight! J Now, let’s be serious. I have two knitting machines, both are Brother knitting machines, which are almost as old as I am. One is an electric - computerized knitting machine (Brother KH 910) and the other is Brother KH 892, which is a punch card knitting machine. Both work pretty much the same way, although I have never exploited their full potential. It took me few days of constant failure to finally knit a project from the beginning to the end I could actually wear. And that was only one sock! 

Working on knitting machine is something else than hand knitting. First of all you can cast on only 200 stitches (that’s the number of needles on one bed knitting machine) and without extras like ribbing attachment, which is basicly a second bed with another 200 needles, you knit your garment flat, in rows. Most of the projects are made in pieces, so you have to deal with tapestry needle or sewing machine at some point, so if you are not a fan of sewing, knitting machine is not for you. You will have to forget about garments in garter stitch as well, because it takes a really long time to move your stitches from one bed to another, what is required if you want to have mixed fabric (purled and knitted stitches) at the same side of the garment. But variety of posibilities, which knitting machines give, makes this worth the effort. With a basic punch card machine and understanding of creating a punch card, the number of patterns you can create, is unlimited. You can knit lace, fair isle patterns with two, three or even more colours, structure patterns with slipped stitches, tuck stitches, or even weave. The only pattern which is doable but consumes too much time, energy and is risky, it’s knitting cables, because this requires manipulating stitches with special tools, and stitches, when moved form one to second needle, can fall down, trust me, when I say you really don’t want them to fall down! It takes few hours to knit the whole sweater, or even less, but it can take twice that time to sew all pieces together. But still, working on knitting machine is much more efficient than hand knitting. But knitting machine can be a bitch sometimes, one small mistake and you have start all over again, because it’s easier and quicker to start the garment from the scratch than to pick up the fallen stitch. I discovered one more thing, when I knit in hand I often improvise, with knitting machine this will not work, you really have to know what you want to knit and how garment should look like even before you cast on. 

New Way pullover, designed by Asja.
Those are only basic informations about knitting machines. Before you get one, it’s good to have planned space in your work place for this beauty, because when you start to work with it you will not want to put it out into the box. It’s also good to make a research about knitting machines in generally, there is only one company which still produces knitting machines, they are not cheap, and hard to get. Most of knitting machines I have seen are used, very often 25-30 years old and depending on country where they are sold, or market and interest, they can be quite expensive too, despite their age.

But be careful! When you start to like working on knitting machines you will probably want to have more than just one. The woman I bought my first machine from, had already 6 of them at that time, and was planning to buy another. So think this through if you really want to have one, because before you notice, you could have a small museum in your apartment J

4) Last year you started designing and since then you have been very prolific knitwear designer! What are your plans in that area? 

Prolific knitwear designer? Really? Oh, thank you! I am a passionate knitter, yes, that’s true, and I knit a lot, that’s also true, but when it comes to writing patterns, I’m not as efficient as I would like to be, but I’m still learning, or at least this is what I tell myself when I gather my strength to write up the pattern. Plans? I really would like to continue the work I started, but the only thing I’m sure about, is that as long as knitting will give me joy, as it was for last year, I will be still knitting and writing patterns. I have small plans for next few months, but I will keep them for me for a little while, if you don’t mind. J 

Arrow cowl, designed by Asja.
5) How do you organize your knitting tools? I am searching for useful tips and unexpected solutions! :-)

That’s the worst question EVER, Tereza! I’m a probably the most disorderly knitter you have ever met. Let’s just say that as long as my Hubby won’t touch my knitting tools, which are (this is the moment I should honestly write „EVERYWHERE“, but let’s focus on one place ;)) on the coffee table, close to the place I mostly knit, and as long as he won’t put them in order I can find everything. ;) So I’m a messy and needy knitter, who believes that no rule is the best one J No tips from me on how to organize your knitting tools, sorry. 

6) What is your favourite and unpopular yarn/fiber?

Unpopular? Nope.. I won't find such. I'm extremely addicted to yarns which are well advertised (since I mostly buy yarns online, good picture of yarn really talkes to me!), and have my beloved colors among available colorways. Color and structure of yarn is pretty much the most important thing, name of producer, not so much, but I find myself looking for popular yarn more often, than those unknown. I have to like it, feel it, yarn has to „speak“ to me. Lately I’m having a wonderful time with talking to Julie Asselin yarns.. they just enchanted me J French is such a beautiful language ;)

Vivacity pullover, designed by Asja.
7) Let´s have a look at your projects and designs. Which one do you wear the most and which one do you hate? 

I hate only WIPs which will never change their status. All my finished projects are loved, although I must admit, some of them I wear more often. Lately I can’t get out of Czarina, which is an open front cardigan with pockets, it became my favourite home cardi to wrap around shoulders when sitting and knitting on a couch, and of course Vivacity – which is my favourite sweater „to-go“. But I’m working on some spring/summer garments I will probably love even more J 

8) As far as I got it, you are a Polish living in Germany. What did you find the most difficult to start a new life in a foreign country? 

Language. Speaking fluently without shame and with confidence in foreign language was and sometimes still is a big difficulty. Beside that there are plenty of things which can be harsh at the beginning, but it gets easier with time. Some things will never change though, for example you will never stop missing your old friends and family even if you find new one in your new home. 

Czarina cardigan, designed by Asja.
9) In previous interviews I mentioned that knitting in Czech has rather low social status and is weighted by prejudices – I would like to compare the situation in different countries. How is the situation in Germany? Is it popular hobby there?

Stereotypes are everywhere, here in Germany too. Once I talked about my knitting hobby in my Germany class, and my teacher, I was really fond of, started making jokes about me and my knitting. It doesn’t matter in which country you live in, this stereotype, that knitting is only for grannies with grandchildren is so deep ingrained in our brains and probably will be for many years long, or at least as long as we, young and open minded knitters will change it. But on the other hand, I’m not the best person to ask about Germany in generally, because most of my friends are Polish. But if you want to know if knitting is a popular hobby in Germany, check how many knitters there are on Ravelry who live here, or how many knitting events happens here, I know at least about 2 of them and it will be only in May! This is what shows how popular knitting in Germany is. J

10) Who would you like to read the next interview with?

Norah Gaughan is one of my true knitting idol, her work never stops to surprise me, I would feel honored to know more about her!

Thank you for this lovely chat, Tereza!

Endearment cardigan, designed by Hanna Maciejewska.

Thank you for your time, Asja!

1 comment:

  1. Although her designs doesn't really fit me, she's one of my favourite designers. So inventive! Thank you for this interview!