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HeartStrings FiberArts

Destrehan, LA

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About HeartStrings FiberArts

From tips to tutorials, learning new things makes knitting even more fun. Jackie E-S at HeartStrings FiberArts is dedicated to advancing the art of knitting through innovative designs based on tradition in updated techniques for today's modern knitter. All that is required is an interest and a desire to learn.

Location

Destrehan, LA 70047

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Question and answer

Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.

A. For a number of years, I have been teaching and mentoring through arts organizations, classes, and networking with other fiber artists. Although I no longer do traveling classes to yarn shops and guilds, I continue to do online teaching. I also have tutorials available on my website and occasionally publish articles in commercial magazines and books, e.g. my Lace Primer articles published by Interweave Press.

Also, through the skill-building features of my HeartStrings patterns, less-experienced knitters learn new knitting skills. For more advanced knitters, they can benefit by seeing or being reminded of ways to apply these techniques.

Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?

A. My primary knitting method is "lever action". The basic premise is that motion is minimized. Less wasted motion means quicker knitting. Also, a side benefit is the reduction of risk for repetitive motion stress ailments, like carpal tunnel syndrome.

This is an English style of knitting where the yarn is held in the right hand. However, rather than "throwing" the yarn by moving the entire hand, the index finger works like a lever, extending outward to bring the yarn to the needle point, then flex slightly sideways and inwards to wrap the yarn around the needle point. A fuller explanation with animated sequence of pictures is available at my website. http://www.heartstringsfiberarts.com/leverstyle.shtm

I do occasionally knit using the continental method, e.g. when doing 2-color knitting, or when demonstrating knitting to those who normally crochet or prefer this method.

Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?

A. All HeartStrings patterns incorporate master knitter techniques that minimize extra finishing steps. If you don't consider yourself a master at knitting, don't worry. These techniques are elegantly integrated into Jackie's designs and clearly explained in the pattern instructions.

For less-experienced knitters, this is a way to learn new knitting skills.

For more advanced knitters, you can benefit by seeing new ways to apply these techniques. You will find that HeartStrings patterns are a pleasure to knit, and the completed project will be a source of pride.

Q. What do you like most about your job?

A. I have a background in music and mathematics. I enjoy the process of capturing the melody of light and shadow, and harmonizing it with the style and function of the intended article. The process of design and experimentation evolves, sometimes taking several iterations. But ultimately the design must be a coherent whole before I am satisfied. I occasionally have even named a design after a musical term that has 'spoken' to me during the design process, e.g. #HSW32 Pianissimo Lace Blouse and #HSH69 Terzetto Lace Mitts.

I use the best quality yarns/threads as is appropriate for an heirloom treasure. Sometimes I choose these from select commercial sources, or use threads that I hand spin especially for the project. The threads may be natural or dyed, where colorways are selected to complement the lace structure. Note: For the published pattern, I always provide generic specifications, so the knitter can use their choice of yarn/thread.

I also like to incorporate beads and/or cables into knitted lace fabric; this holds additional opportunities for color and textural interaction.

Q. Do you have a favorite story from your work?

A. My first attempt at knitting was about 5 years old. My Mommy knitted socks for Daddy. I wanted to knit, but Mommy said “no”. One afternoon during the required naptime on Mommy's bed, she left a sock in-progress lying on the bed. Instead of sleeping (I hated naps, anyway), I attempted to knit the sock. Needless to say, I made a mess. Worse yet, tried to fix it, and finally laid it down nothing happened. Yes, I was found out. And Mommy never did teach me.

When I was 8 years old or so, I had the opportunity to learn basic knitting in Brownies (i.e. little people Girl Scouts). I had one ball of donated blue yarn and needles, and knit 2-needle mittens. Never finished though, because there was not enough yarn. But I unraveled that yarn many times and re-knitted while learning new things from a book. Pretty humble beginnings for me. But all that practice must have paid off. (I certainly got lots of practice ripping, lol.)

Q. What are the latest developments in your field? Are there any exciting things coming in the next few years or decade that will change your line of business?

A. In the beginning years before the widespread advent of the internet, my designs were shown and sold only at yarn shops and at fiber retreats. What has followed since then has been an internet explosion – first, expanding to online sales with printed-copy delivery; then even beyond that to online sales with electronic delivery (i.e. downloadable pdf's) and access via mobile devices.

If a fast-forward view 10 years from now will be anything like looking back 10 years, things will be even more different. Especially in the way that knitting instruction is delivered and used.

Q. If you were advising someone who wanted to get into your profession, what would you suggest?

A. There is more to the business of design than just designing. That means that the majority of my day is dealing with business rather than designing. In fact, since the business side uses a different hemisphere of brain than the creative designing side, there can be whole days (and even entire weeks) where I have not done any actual designing/knitting. It usually works best for me to isolate a goodly chunk of time to be able to concentrate on designing separate from the responsibilities of the business side of things.

Q. What are you currently working on improving?

A. I aspire to excel in the design and creation of hand-knitted lace. To educate and preserve for succeeding generations, the appreciation of fine lace knitting as a functional art form. And to mentor in the design and technical skills of knitting, thus encouraging artists in their own individual lace knitting creations.

Q. Write your own question and answer it.

A. What inspires you? What are you passionate about?

Quiet moments are golden for letting inspiration find me. It is in those quiet times that I can slow down enough to listen. I also value exploring other fiber-related disciplines and artistic media. Even music and nature. One never knows when an idea will enter the subconscious self to arise later as an "a-ha" moment.

Although I enjoy all forms of knitting, my passion is lace, especially now that live in a warm climate. I love creating through the interplay of the open areas (where light and the colors of the world beyond peak through), the solid areas, and the texture of the stitch combinations. The fact that these are all present in even the simplest of laces gives me liberty to create interesting patterns that even a novice knitter can successfully make. And the possibilities from there are endless in combinations, complexities, beading and multi-color treatments.

Q. Write your own question and answer it.

A. In what ways do you spend your time that would surprise people?

My fiber arts interests extend beyond knitting to include spinning, weaving, dyeing and all needle arts. I also enjoy tournament contract bridge and music. Some people do not realize that at one time I was on a path to being a concert pianist. It was a fork in the road of my life, and I chose a technical computer career instead. It has served me well, but I still love music for my own enjoyment. I also get inspired to try new musical instruments. For example, I am learning about the Cajun diatonic accordion. In fact, I was so moved by a semi-local concert, that is where the inspiration for #HSS17 Concertina Lace Socks came from.

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