The fifth Winterlude Urban Cozy Project maker profile features widely published and highly sought-after knitting designer superstar Sally Melville who, surprisingly, is Ottawa-based!
Sally teaches workshops at over 20 venues across North America every year, and her work has appeared in magazines from Vogue Knitting to Interweave Knits. She is the author of several books, including the best-selling Knitting Experience series. I was lucky enough to meet her at one of the Carleton Tavern knit meet-ups organized by Laura Twiss (previously featured in the blog). Sally was knitting something for the Project and was wearing some awesome tartan boots.
Here’s what she had to say about her involvement in the WUCP, her creative background and how the city has influenced her work.
S&N: Describe your contribution to the Winterlude Urban Cozy Project.
SM: My contribution to the WUCP is a multi-coloured tree corset. It just kind of evolved from putting 3 yarns together and throwing in some short rows. And I believe it’ll fit some tree out there! (This is kind of how some people knit, isn’t it? . . . Just for the love of knitting, knowing it will fit someone!!!) (S&N: we used it as lamppost because it fit so perfectly!)
S&N: What inspired you to participate in the Project?
SM: How could I NOT contribute to this project—to bring knitting to a public place with creativity, humour, intelligence?!? What a great idea! I am honoured to contribute.
S&N: Describe your design/craft/knit background. How long have you been making things? Are there other ways you get creative e.g. sewing, felting, etc?
I’ve been knitting things since I was 7 years old. It just felt as if I had found what my hands were meant to do. (They do say that if you are struggling with your life’s direction you should look to what consumed you at the age of 7. Knitting was it for me—as well as writing, teaching, and pretending to be a fashion designer.) I’ve done lots of other stuff too (quilting, crocheting, sewing, embroidery, needlepoint), but it is always knitting that calls me home and consumes me.
S&N: What is the next creative project you are working on/would like to work on?
SM: I have just finished a birthday present for my son’s baby’s first birthday, so I can’t speak about it because it’s a surprise! And my next project is my camelot coat (from Mother-Daughter Knits, 30 Designs that Flatter and Fit (POTTER CRAFT, 2009),) to be made for and given to Michelle Obama. (My daughter is making tabbed cuffs to match.)
S&N: How does your city of residence inspire you creatively?
I have learned—and pass the information forward—that finding one’s geography is important to creativity. It’s not that my city inspires me so much as that I live in a place where I am so ‘at home’ that my creativity can flourish. (I was raised in a large city on the water—Toronto—went to high school in a city on the water and huddled against the ‘rocks’–Sault Ste Marie—and Ottawa has all 3—a biggish city, on the water, huddled against the rocks. The rolling, waterless farm land of Waterloo, where I spent 40 years and from whence I came, was NOT my geography.) My work itself is inspired by my closet! I want to design, knit, teach stuff that will help people make stuff they will finish and WEAR. This way, we honour our craft.
Catch Sally’s unique and colourful urban cozy at Parc-Jacques Cartier on the pathway towards Maison Charron. Her latest book, Mother-Daughter Knits, 30 Designs that Flatter and Fit (POTTER CRAFT, 2009), was a collaboration between her and her daughter Caddy Melville Ledbetter. Special thanks to Sally for taking the time to answer our questions.