Mary Jane has the gift of making everyone feel like her best friend. And we all want to be her BF because she’s funny, creative, talented, warm and generous. Her sense of style is impeccable and she’s used this talent as a professional photo stylist, photographer, knitware designer and colorist. Her career has been rich and talking with her is like a stroll through the who’s who of knitting…she knows everyone and now they’re all seeking her input for new patterns and new books.
Here at Fiber College you can take two classes with her if you hurry…Thursday’s Introduction to Stranded Knitting and Fair Isle Socks and Photographing Your Handwork (for pleasure and publication) on Saturday.
1. The unauthorized biography of your life is titled: A Colorful Life
2. If forced to choose, would you be an eraser or a permanent magic marker? A black Sharpie, one of my favorite tools.
3. Do you live with any animals? Leelee the little yellow dog, she’s my supercharger.
4. What are you currently reading? The Godfather of Kathmandu, by John Burdett. I confess to enjoying detective novels that take me to exotic locales, if they also include great descriptions of food its an added bonus. I like Qui Xiaolong for China, Andrea Camilleri for Italy, George Simeon for France, Ian Rankin for Edinburgh, Scotland, Arnaldur Indridason for Iceland, Colin Cotteril for Laos, Kurt Wallender and Stig Larsson for Sweden, also Maj Söwall and Per Wahlöö… and the list goes on!
6. How do you know when your work is done? Sometimes when I’ve finished a project I can’t stand to look at it, wondering “what was I thinking?” I let it rest for a week or so, take another look and find I’m so in love with it, that I feel brilliant! Then again, sometimes I love a project from the start and zoom straight through the entire process, eager to finish so I can begin something new. The socks I designed for Fiber College were the latter, I loved every minute of the process, from choosing the Knit Picks yarn, to designing the pattern motifs, and arranging them the way I liked. Best of all, they are really fun to knit, with the cheerful summery colors of the beach at Searsport Shores. I’d like to knit them again!
7. What do you listen to while you create? Birdsong.
8. Why do you (knit, quilt, spin, carve, design…)? What is your purpose? It is really more of a need, I need to make things.
9. What do you know that you don’t know? I don’t know how to change the transmission in my car.
10. How does, or should, the word “passion” relate to an artist? As in passion fruit ice cream, it is delicious and it’s good to have snacks to help keep up the creative momentum!
11. Looking back, knowing what you know now, is there anything that you would do differently? Sometimes I wish I’d focused on one particular skill early on. I learned spinning, natural dying, and weaving in Seattle, my hometown, moved to NYC to study fashion and ended up with a degree in Printmaking. I worked in the fashion industry doing everything you can possibly think of, from sewing on buttons to painting silk caftans for Oscar de la Renta. I was studio manager for rugmaker Elizabeth Eakins, worked painting faux finishes in fancy apartments, was on the team developing the Cover Girl perfume Navy, and was photostylist for Interweave Knits Magazine…But in the long run, I’m glad I’ve learned to do so many different things, it keeps life interesting and lots of fun!
12. A lot of artists want to be famous, and some just want to make a living doing what they love. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? World Domination! Based in my home in rural Maine, I’ll keep expanding my website maryjanemucklestone.com. I’ve got a new yarn coming out, 100% Maine Wool in natural colors. I’ve got one book in the works and another in the planning stage. I’ll continue teaching across the country and around the world. There are videos planned and a million designs swirling in my head…I need more arms and more hours in the day! Still, I take time at the end of each day to relax and enjoy my home and family.
14. When it’s time to “tap” your creativity…where do you go to get the juices flowing? I’ve been lucky to travel this year to two of the most fantastic knitting destinations, the mountains of Peru and the Shetland Islands. I learned to knit Andean-style from master knitters in Peru, circular intarsia, a funny popcorn stitch and a sweet scallopy border. I found the Andean use of color really thrilling, crazy and bright on some occasions and harmonious and subtle on others. Shetland was fantastic – the natural landscape – treeless and windswept with constantly changing colors, provides a new colorway with every glance. I was lucky to visit the archives at the Shetland Museum, to do research for my upcoming book on Fair Isle Patterns and Motifs. That said, I find plenty of inspiration inside my own home.
15. How many projects do you generally have going at one time? One Hundred and Fifty Thousand.