Designer Interview: Melissa Schaschwary

This entry was posted on 5th December, 2012 .
Melissa, looking darling in her Road to Gimmerton pattern in Rasta.
Today we're talking to fabulous designer Melissa Schaschwary, who has designed all sorts of wonderful things in Malabrigo yarns, each as gorgeous as the last! Before we dive in, a little bio info:
Melissa Schaschwary lives with her husband, 2 daughters and her rat terrier, Puck in beautiful Wisconsin. She learned to knit when she and her husband relocated from Illinois to follow his career. She drinks way too much coffee, laughs a lot, talks very fast and has a hard time sitting in one place for long, which is why you’re likely to find her running after her kids with her needles in hand and the dog barking at her heels. She's even written a book about a knitting spider! Melissa moderates a group on Ravelry called the Plum Dandi Group with her design partner and great friend Alicia Plummer. Stop by to talk about anything and everything, to get the chance to test knit, or be involved in exciting knit alongs and to see what Malabrigo recipes the girls are frequently cooking up!
Hi Melissa!! Thank you for letting us quiz you! Let's jump on in- what was your first experience with Malabrigo? I am very lucky to have the really wonderful Main St Yarn Shop within walking distance from my house, whose shelves are stocked as often as possible with bounties of various types of Malabrigo. When I first started knitting, my dear friend and shop owner, Ronda Hattori, gave me the invaluable advice that my projects would only be as good as the materials that I used. With that in mind, when I knit my first full length, long sleeved sweater for my daughter, (Children’s Hooded Tunic by Diane Soucy,) I chose Malabrigo.
Melissa's Children's Hooded Tunic (design by Diane Soucy)
While I made a novice error and knit the sweater a few sizes too big, but it ended up working out because 3 years later, the sweater still gets a lot of use and the fabric has held up incredibly well when you consider numerous trips to the shore and lots of hot cocoa spills. Super cute! Those colors just scream "day at the beach." What was your first design in Malabrigo? My very first design using Malabrigo is called The Harbor hat.
The Harbor Hat
It’s a very simple, striped slouch hat for children. I created it because we spend many of our weekends on the shores and walking the harbors of Lake Michigan, where the crisp lake wind can really bring a chill to the bones during the winter months. I chose Malabrigo Worsted for that project because of its warmth, softness and its ability to achieve great fabric drape. I designed the hat for my little girl who at the time was only 4 months old (then made one for her older sister too.) I wanted only the softest yarn for the little noggin that I cherish so much. Aww :-) Besides the softness, why are you drawn to Malabrigo for use in your designs? I simply adore Malabrigo’s colorways. I have always appreciated art, thanks to my parents, who filled our little farm house with artwork to take the place of the television we didn’t have. Many of the Malabrigo colorways remind me of Degas, Van Gogh and one of my personal favorites, Andrew Wyeth. I find it very easy to be inspired by the colors themselves when it comes to designing. Consider Selkie, whose namesake was inspired by the seal-like color of the yarn.
Selkie, in Malabrigo Chunky in Marron Oscuro
The Peruvian inspired color palette I chose when making my hooded coat, Wilde, took me away to exotic, fairytale places in my mind. It was a great “escape” project to knit on it while my little one took her afternoon naps and I procrastinated on chores. Who knew a yarn could be so transporting? If only it could transport the chores…permanently…
Wilde, in Rasta Pagoda, Piedras, and Abril
Both of those are breathtakingly gorgeous! And I can only imagine how luxurious a Rasta coat must be to wear. What is your favorite Malabrigo project that you've made to date? Hmmm, this is a hard one. At the moment I really am completely in love with Wilde. Every time I slip into it I feel like a storybook character. I really wanted to showcase the Rasta’s ability to be used as not only a garment yarn, but as a flattering garment yarn! The colors in the yarn bring so much drama to the coat, that it truly is like wearing a piece of art. And we haven’t even talked about the cozy factor yet.
The only problem might be that when wearing this coat, I’ve learned to be prepared for random people to reach out and touch my sleeve to feel if it’s really as soft as it looks. Yes, it can be awkward, but as the girl who can frequently be seen at yarn shops and fiber events rubbing yarn and fiber all over her face and neck to see if it’s as soft as it looks…well….I get it.
Another version of Wilde, by friend and design partner Alicia Plum. Rasta in Plomo and Azul Profundo.
I also really love Selkie,
which uses Malabrigo Chunky, as well as Hemingway, which uses Rios.
Hemingway in Rios, Teal Feather
Again, the colors are really beautiful, but the durability of the fabric makes them all garments that will be in my closet, or nestled safely in my heirloom chest for years to come. And finally, the toughie: what is your favorite colorway and yarn base? Again, a really difficult question to answer. If I had to pick a colorway off the top of my head, I’d say I have an infatuation with Piedras. I used this colorway in sweater that I designed for my daughter called The Road To Gimmerton.
The Road to Gimmerton in Rasta, Piedras
The design is extremely basic and wonderful for beginner knitters, or those looking to make a first sweater, because the colors in the yarn really do most of the work! Knitting with it is like watching a painting unfold before your eyes. There is so much depth and richness; it’s like someone walked along a fall garden path, plucked all of the best colors and spun them into the softest fiber. After I finished this sweater, I actually had it hanging in my kitchen for a week, just so my eyes could drink it in and savor it for a while. I find that I most enjoy working with bulky and super bulky yarns. I love finding ways to create figure flattering shapes with not so typical yarn weights. I also love instant gratification (yes, I am that person who reads last page of the book, and have been known to shake my Christmas packages on more than one occasion.) With bulky yarn, I can typically have a full garment in just a few days’ time. What’s not to love about that?   Truer words, my friend! (I think she's done a pretty fantastic job turning Rasta into a figure flattering silhouette, don't you?) You can check out all of Melissa's designs on her Ravelry page or keep up with her adventures on her blog, Another Dandi Day! Thanks so much Melissa!   (I think we might have to turn the spotlight onto her pal Alicia next, whatddyathink?)
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