As you’ve probably noticed, Chloé designed the Radiative socks in the Fall 2016 issue of Knotions. She perked our curiosity too so here’s a little chat we had with Chloé. Enjoy!
You’re French and live in France but speak fluent English (that’s impressive!). How did you do it?
Long story short: with a loooooot of TV shows or movies. At the end of high school my English was terrible. I had pretty bad English teachers and the French education system is known to be insufficient when it comes to language learning. At some point, I decided to learn it by myself and started to read books and watch movies and TV shows exclusively in English (with subtitles in order to learn some vocabulary). At first I tried to look up every unknown word in a dictionary but at some point I decided that it was okay if I did not get every single word as long as I understood the global meaning and I think that’s when I started really enjoying it (and my spelling and vocabulary improved as a consequence)!
Have you lived anywhere else?
I’ve lived for three months in Ontario, Canada, for an internship in my first master’s degree year. It did not erase my awful cute French accent nor improve my grammar but I did get rid of my accent shame so I don’t care anymore 🙂
I also spent a few months in Liège, Belgium. It rains there every single day of the year (even if only for 5 minutes, but it always rains at some point in the day) but it’s a really beautiful city and the food is worth all the rain you get!
Did it influence your aesthetic at all?
Honestly, not that much, I think. I’m a pretty strong minded kind of girl with an uncommon sense of fashion: if I like it, I decide it’s in (even if it’s a bright yellow oilskin)! And I love bright colors and intricate patterns 😉
When I plan a new design, it almost always starts with a theme. It can come from the yarn, the stitch pattern or my current mood. For Radiative, it all started with the yarn: I saw it, I bought it and knew that this could become a banana sock, with actual bananas featured in the pictures.
What are your degrees in?
I have a PhD in astrophysics. My work was to map our Galaxy and, as a nod to that, I knitted and wore a Celestarium at my defense. I tweaked it a bit, moving some stars to match the constellations as I knew them and used different colored beads to represent the different temperatures of stars (from hot blue to cold red). I’m a total nerd for details like that 😉
What do you do for a living?
I’m currently working from home as a web designer and webmaster and I’m trying to develop my knitting and sewing brand. I’ll have new stitch markers, row counters and project bags this fall and start teaching in the spring so I really really hope this will soon become my main job!
Why the change?
That is a question with a complex answer. I quit the astro world after the defense for a lot of different reasons. One of the main problems in public research nowadays is that permanent positions are really hard to get. You have to spend up to 10 years in postdoc positions, living abroad and moving every other year without knowing if you’ll be able to come back after that.
One other reason is that I was always thinking about knitting, even when I was working on my thesis. If you are much more passionate about a hobby than about your work, it’s worth wondering if you can do something about it.
Your pattern (Radiative) shows you have a lot of knowledge about plants. How did you come about that?
Well, the only TV shows I was allowed to watch as a kid were wildlife documentaries (and I never stopped watching them, *nerd alert, again!*) so I know a fair share of fauna and flora anecdotes/weird species. Spending my summers looking at my grandparents amazing nature books and playing the Dictionary Game with my cousins also kind of helped, I think?
Tell us about your logo (the bird).
A “tisserin” (masculine word) is a small bird from the Ploceidae family who weaves its nest with grass. It’s called a weaver in English and its French name comes from “tisser” a.k.a weave. I did want to have an animal-based name and something which would “sound” thread related.
So, I invented a fake bird specie which I called Ploceus coquetus. Coquet (or coquette if you’re a girl) means pretty/elegant/stylish. My bird is a mix between the common weaver and the satin bower bird: it weaves its nest and flourishes it with feathers, yarn, cotton flowers, etc. Hence the logo 😉
You have sock patterns that are both toe-up and cuff-down. What’s your preference?
I learned to knit socks with the cuff-down method so I guess it’s easier for me but I will use toe-up if the result is better that way. My truly favorite part of sock knitting is the heel. It mesmerizes me how you can shape a 3D object with a thread and two needles and this is basically the same process in both methods.
What’s your preferred way to knit socks? DPN’s, Magic Loop, TAAT?
I’m a magic looper kind of girl. I learned with DPN’s but always had a column of loose and weird stitches which magically disappeared when I tried the magic loop technique. As for TAAT, honestly it depends: when I’m not designing I tend to knit socks TAAT, otherwise I usually knit the first sock, write the pattern and knit the second one according to what I wrote in order to test it.
Editor’s note: I’m magic loop as well!
What’s your favorite type of project to knit?
Brainless ones! Shawls in garter stitches, simple socks or basic hats are a must to me. I’m not a monogamous knitter and it allows me to put a project aside when I get bored with it without losing track of my progress. Once in a while I love to knit really complex ones though. In my former knitting group I was kind of known for that and anytime someone started a new project if they tweaked an existing complex pattern to make it even more complex we called it “à la Chloé”.
Socks. Almost always socks. I saw a quilt design on Instagram the other day and instantly thought how good it would look on socks. Call me crazy 🙂
Do you have anything you really don’t enjoy knitting?
Sleeves. I HATE sleeves. I find it totally boring and I may or may not have fallen asleep when knitting sleeves several times. I have two long-term sweater WIPs in the sleeve stage so if you have a secret on how to finish them instantly, I’m definitely interested!
Do you have a favorite type of yarn? (Solid, Semi-Solid, Speckled, Self-Striping, Single Ply) (sheesh that’s a lot of S’s!)
Single speckled on a semi-solid neutral background fingering yarn or mohair semi-solid without any hesitation 🙂 And if you can pop some yellow and turquoise in it, I may turn (really) crazy!
Do you crochet?
I do. I have a weird way of holding the yarn so I’m a veeeery loose crocheter, which leads to crocheting fingering weight yarn with a 1.5 mm crochet hook but I do! Most of the time, I crochet for home improvements or bags because I’m having a hard time really appreciating clothes or accessories in crochet. I’m kind of always missing the drape of garter or stockinette stitch that’s why I’m dreaming of (and one day, I will design) a shawl with a knitted body and a lace crochet edge.
Editor’s note: Thanks to Chloé for sharing some of her story and her fun pics! I suddenly feel the need to understand our galaxy better (and knit a Celestarium).