Amanda is the hostess of Conquer Cables and the designer behind Daisy Chain Knits. Conquer Cables is a 5-day free eCourse on knitting cables.
Amanda steps you through the details of creating cables and you get a free pattern as well! Great for a beginner or someone just looking to branch out, it covers running a lifeline, cable anatomy, cable stitch abbreviations & chart symbols, creating cables with and without a cable needle, fixing a miscrossed cable, and dealing with loose knit column tension issues. It starts today so don’t miss it. Sign up now.
You may want to know a bit more about Amanda. I know I did. So here you go…
How did you learn to knit?
My mom and grandma are both crafters and I grew up around a variety of crafts including quilting, sewing, crocheting, cross-stitching, painting, floral arranging, and knitting. I had a knitting loom from a kit that was fun to learn, but once I ran out of yarn from the kit, I wanted to try “real” knitting. Because I am left-handed (and was not very ambidextrous when I was younger), I wanted to learn to mirror knit. Thankfully, my grandma is left-hand dominant and although she was forced to be right-handed at a young age, she is ambidextrous and was able to teach me the basics of casting on, knitting, purling, and binding off. A few years later, I realized I was twisting my stitches because I wrapped my purls the wrong way. When I came across a knit through the back loop, I was confused because that’s what I was already doing. After googling it, I realized there’s a whole technical side to knitting that I hadn’t appreciated yet. That’s when my craft became a full-on obsession.
You’re a mirror knitter. How does that work?
Conventional knitters knit from the left needle onto the right needle. Mirror knitters knit from the right needle onto the left, like a conventional knitter would see if they looked in a mirror while they were knitting. Some left-handed knitters are able to learn to knit right-handed and I applaud them, but my right hand did not want to cooperate inserting the knitting needle into the stitches when I was younger. Even now, knitting mirror allows me to knit faster and with better tension than knitting conventional. Some knitters argue that knitting is a ‘two-handed sport’, but it can be extra difficult to learn to knit using your non-dominant hand, especially before fine motor skills are tuned.
Mirror knitting comes with its own set of perks. I became familiar with stitch construction early on in my knitting journey. I remember the first time I knit written instructions for a dishcloth with words knitted into it and my words came out backwards – I started learning to transpose instructions so that I could get the same finished product as a conventional knitter. Directional increase and decrease construction is the opposite for mirror knitters. For example, for a conventional knitter a K2Tog is a right-leaning decrease. When I construct a K2Tog, it is a left-leaning decrease. For cables, to create a 2/2 RC (or C4B), mirror knitters hold the needle to the front of the work instead of the back of the work to achieve the same right-leaning front leg of the cable. If a mirror knitter knits an asymmetrical shawl as written, we will get a finished object that looks like the mirror image of the pattern.
Mirror knitting isn’t just for lefties! If you’ve ever knit flat stockinette for ages and hate purling, you can learn to knit mirror to knit back on those wrong side rows, never having to turn your work. It can also be helpful for lace patterns where there are no rest rows, because you can see exactly what’s happening if you’re knitting back on the right side.
In addition to teaching, you’re a designer too. Give us a glimpse into your process.
I’ve always had an overactive imagination and that carried into my knitting world. My design inspiration comes from memories, experiences, and connections with the world around me.
Because I mirror knit, I am very aware of how a finished product can look based on different knitting styles, and I try to make my designs as reversible from that perspective as possible.
I design patterns with the conventional knitter in mind, and also transpose the instructions for mirror knitters. I use the mirror knit instructions to knit my sample. I consider this a mirror test knit, because I know I’ll have the coverage for conventional knitters when I go through the test knitting process. I end up creating two patterns for the same design (conventional and mirror) and publish both in the hopes that other mirror knitters will find the designs and appreciate them. I know the work involved to transpose a knitting pattern and I wanted to give mirror knitters a transposing-free knitting experience. On the mirror version of the patterns, charts are read from left to right to match knitting direction, the stitch abbreviations have the left-handed instructions, and I use cable abbreviations that work for both conventional and mirror knitters. It’s an experimental standard and it may or may not catch on, but when I was learning to knit, I wished I had patterns that matched my knitting style. I also think it’s educational to be able to compare the differences between a conventional and mirror knit pattern to learn about the differences between knitting styles.
I design my pattern layouts with knitter experience in mind, and try to lay out charts and pages so that there doesn’t have to be a lot of flipping back and forth. I’ve started including video resources for my patterns for tricky parts, so the knitter can essentially have a self-contained knitting experience without having to search for answers. I consider tech editing and test knitting the most important piece in creating a quality final product.
You’ve had quite a varied career! Now you’re working with clients to merge technology and marketing (right up my alley!). Tell us more.
I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with other designers and indie dyers over the past year, and I noticed a common issue that pops up is many don’t really like dealing with technology and systems. Worse yet, they spend a LOT of time setting up their software and systems compared to what they spend creating. It’s really a shame because creatives should be able to spend the time doing what they love and are amazing at rather than spending a week on Google figuring out how to set up an email list.
The idea for Intarsia Solutions was born out of this common struggle and earlier this year I started offering services to empower creative solopreneurs to set up their email lists, sales funnels, and landing pages, and to automate away common customer support headaches. I’m an anomaly in the trend and have a lot of experience with systems and operations, and I want to help creative business owners save time setting up and maintaining their technology so they can spend more time bringing their creative beauty to the world. For those who want to do the technology work themselves, I’m building a variety of online courses on topics like how to establish an email list or how to set up a 5-day challenge. I’m also offering coaching services for those who want to learn in an efficient manner as well as “do-it-for-me” services for those who are in the position to delegate out their technology needs. I’m focusing on three “packages” of systems I’ve evaluated and consider the best in their tier – free for bootstrapping startups, low-cost for those businesses who can afford and need a little extra, and performance for those businesses who are ready to scale up.
It’s so rewarding to work with other creatives who have a vision or want to have a vision of their online strategy, but don’t have the marketing/technical vocabulary or systems knowhow to execute on that vision, and make their vision come to life.
What do you want your students to get out of your class? What do you want them to come away with?
My goal with daisy chain knits is to empower knitters to bravely push the boundaries of their knitting skillset so they can embark on knitventures that were previously outside their comfort zone. The Conquer Cables challenge is meant to give knitters the tools they need to not only learn to create cables, but also to alleviate the fears that if something goes wrong while they’re learning that they won’t know how to fix it. The greatest reward for me is celebrating participants’ success as they learn something that they were afraid to try or thought that they couldn’t achieve. If participants can learn a new technique from Conquer Cables and carry that bravery, confidence, and momentum forward to further their knitting dreams, that’s a win in my book.
Thanks for taking a little time out for us. Mirror knitting sounds both empowering and terrifying!
And guys – don’t forget to sign up for Amanda’s free eCourse on cables.