I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mary Lou in person, but I’m REALLY looking forward to it…her knitting has energy and precision that appeals to “that half” of my Gemini nature. I love that when she sent this interview along, she wrote “I found it challenging to answer these questions in a way that would ‘live on for years'” I get that…now that the internet is 20+ years old, I’m surprised every time I see a reference to myself from years ago…who’s preparing us for this? But I digress…Mary Lou will be teaching Introduction to Japanese Patterns on Saturday from 9:00AM – 12:00PM and Knitting Short Rows on Saturday from 1:00 PM-4:00 PM
Mary Lou answered our questions:
When I was 16 I thought…that life would only get better. I don’t know if it does get better exactly, it certainly doesn’t let up, but you learn to be less afraid of adversity and to welcome challenges.
My favorite time of the day is…early morning, before I leave for work. I like to have a pot of Assam tea, nice and strong, and sit quietly with my knitting.
Proudest career moment… Perhaps proudest isn’t really accurate, but I was certainly thrilled when I started getting requests from people in other countries to translate Coquille, a shawl pattern that appeared in Knitty. I love the international connections that fiberarts and the internet weave together, and especially enjoy seeing how people have altered the pattern to suit their yarn or mood.
The song/book/movie that changed my life…Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast. I saw this French film on public television one night when I was babysitting. I was about 13. The magical images opened my eyes to a wider world outside of suburban New Jersey. When the narrator says “Open Sesame” I went through that door and never looked back.
Guiltiest pleasure…I hate feeling guilty about pleasure. Bring on the chocolate, guilt free. My most embarrassing pleasure? Knitting through Big Bang Theory marathons.
My favorite item of clothing sweatpants. I love being comfortable. Sweats and a cozy handknit sweater are my idea of comfort.
I still get nervous when…I have to speak to a large crowd. I was the emcee for a Yarn Harlot event with an audience of 600 or so and was really nervous. Then I got up to the podium and looked out at the crowd and laughed. It was all knitters, so I felt right at home and we had a blast.
Daily practice…A little stretching, a little mediation, a little knitting. A lot of tea.
The art tool I couldn’t live without…I don’t think of myself as an artist. I’m more of a creative problem solver that hates to follow directions and likes to share what I’ve learned with others. Perhaps the tool I couldn’t live without are stitch dictionaries for inspiration.
Words I live by…I have no idea where this came from, but it applies to many situations, especially design and knitting: “I have often wondered if a good problem solver simply hangs her many experiences, like chimes, in the breeze of the problem at hand and then listens ever so carefully for a sound…what causes a particular set of chimes to ring remains a mystery to me.”
What makes me happy…Being with friends and family, being outdoors, reading a good book and knitting, of course.
The lesson I keep learning…How important it is to be able to laugh at yourself.
You can never have too many…Knitting needles. I have so many, but I always end up needing just one more. I’m currently working with lace weight linen, and couldn’t get consistent gauge on my favorite needles, so had to go buy some bamboo needles in that size.
Favorite spot on the planet…on the back of my horse.
Whole living means…to have body and mind in balance, and to appreciate all those whose labor allows us to live our day to day lives.
Ms. Egan’s book Wearwithall was recently reviewed in Knitter’s Review: “Designs that work, are easy to customize and complete, in a collection you’ll keep coming back to again and again. Does this book live up to those lofty ambitions? My answer is an emphatic yes.”