Artist Inteview: Maryly Matthewman

We’ve had the pleasure of knowing Maryly for several years now.  If I were allowed only one word to describe this vibrant, engaging woman it would be: generous.  She makes time for anyone who shows inclination for creativity and the desire to learn. Whether quilting or knitting or laughing, Maryly combines colors with wild abandon and inspires her students to do the same…where others might sprinkle, Maryly throws in handfuls at a time.  When she proposed her original “Winona Mitten” pattern to the jury this year, we were all curious because she boldly proclaimed that “it’s the most perfect mitten EVER.”  …so we asked her to bring a sample to SPA in Freeport.  Yup, she created the most perfect mitten…it fits like a dream, is soft, pliable, warm and the colors are fabulous.  Curious about her class?  She’s teaching Winona Mittens on Saturday morning from 9 AM to 1 PM.

Adult size Winona Mittens

Adult size Winona Mittens

We sent her the interview questions and this is what she said:

1.How do you develop your own style? Color is first, must have bright colors. I returned to knitting after retirement from dentistry 4 years ago. Very specifically Latvian Mittens as that is my heritage. I found I could tweak the rules, individualize them with color and symbols, send a message in a mitten. I am also back to quilting. What an exciting time to be a quilter. A whole new genre of quilting has emerged, Modern Quilting with new fabrics and rules are none! Rough around the edges is OK, threads hanging off is fine, a few mistakes here and there, like me.

2. What specific contemporary artists have influenced your work? A contemporary knitting artist who has influenced me the most is Lizbeth Upitis who wrote the book Latvian Mittens. Joy and enthusiasm just pours from her. I took several workshops from her in Boston. Another talented artist whom I chat with on line but have never met is Mary Germain. She has just returned from an extensive tour of Estonia. As for quilting, I am influenced by Jamie Fingal. I have done some small house quilts, sent them to Jamie and they will be forwarded to The House Quilt Project. They will be given to wounded service members. The ones I sent in are in honor of my father in law who died of lymphoma in 1997 as a result of radiation exposure. He was one of the first troops on Nagasaki after the bomb and the Army has finally recognized this. Kelly of Romney Ridge Yarns of Maine must be mentioned here also. Such beautiful yarns and the colorways she has created!!! A joy to work with her.

Hats for Sandy Hook Relief

Hats for Sandy Hook Relief

3.What is your background? My background is of summers spent on Lake Winnipesaukee in NH. My hometown is an old town in Massachusetts, West Newbury. The boy across the cove from us in the summertime was funny and cute so I married him 40 years ago and we had 2 children. College was in Boston and I had a very successful career as a dental hygienist for 36 years. There ya go.

4.How does your early work differ from what you do now? Seriously, I was so busy with family, friends, work it was hard to find time to be very creative and have that free flow. But that time was very important in developing the basic skills of knitting and sewing. So I encourage all younger people, even though you are so busy, still try to do a little bit. You may not have 6-8 hours a day like I do, just do what you can.

Fundraiser Quilt for Boston Children's Hospital

Fundraiser Quilt for Boston Children’s Hospital

5. What project has given you the most satisfaction and why? The projects which give me the most satisfaction are the ones I give away as gifts or for a charity. My time teaching knitting to the girls in jail has given me satisfaction in a way. It has really opened my eyes up to the real issues some of our people face. Overcoming addiction is not as easy as many think it is. So many of these girls face enormous obstacles.

6. Tell us about your studio. My studio is a mess, just the way I like it. When I am in the middle of a project, who has time to pick up. This is a family trait my husband says, on my fathers side. But there is alot of light, music, and dogs under foot.


7. Where do you imagine your work in 5 years will be? Where shall I be in 5 years? Yes, I have thought of that. I would like to know more about the Civil War and sew a Jane Stickle Quilt which is a 150 year old quilt in the Bennington Museum in Vermont done in Vermont in Civil War times. I will use repro Civil War fabric. Grandchildren are on the way so I will be knitting for them. And if I am very lucky my friend will let me sew and knit in her studio in downtown Meredith where I can hold classes of my own. Our jail is the first one in the state to promote more visitation between mothers and children. I hope to expand my volunteer work within the jail to help the moms produce more knitted items for their children.

8. How do I introduce myself at parties? Well, I don’t do parties very well.

9.What is my dream project? My dream project today is this Civil War quilt I was talking about. I would love to knit in Alaska but that is a long way from home for me.


The House Quilt Project for Wounded Service Members

The House Quilt Project for Wounded Service Members


10. What kind of creative patterns do you have? I love to get up early and have that first sip of hot strong coffee. That is what I wouldn’t do without, coffee in the AM but it has to be just so. I might do housework but hopefully not. I would rather put on my music go to my studio and sew for a while. Then hopefully it is winter and I can walk the dogs on the trails. That is where the creativity really flows. Walking in the cold and if you remember from past interviews, I really think I was a sled dog in another life. Enough said.

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