a chat with Jill Wolcott

I thought it would be nice to catch up again with Jill Wolcott. I was surprised to find that my Q&A with her was a year and a half ago! Hopefully things will work out soon so we can catch up in person, we email frequently and have regular calls as I also work on her website. Without further ado, let’s jump into our conversation about teaching, creativity, and the magic of deadlines.

little acorn:
I think of you as a teacher and a designer. Where do you find your focus right now?
jill:
Pullovers are my big focus right now. I’ve been writing about sizing since June on my Tuesday blog, which has gotten me thinking about specific types of garments. Specifically how they fit, and the challenges they present in knitting them. This dovetails with some projects I have been considering in one way or another, and leads to what I’m working on as new work.

I’m always focused on teaching. I can’t help myself! I want every knitter or designer looking at my work to see it as a way to hone their skills, while making a piece they will love owning, or giving. I put multiple learning opportunities into all my work, but I do not think I have been good at making that clear. I think people assume my work is hard to replicate, but it isn’t!

little acorn:
We are working hard at improving your website so all the amazing resources are easier to find!
meath pullover by Jill Wolcott & shadow cat I’m personally knitting myself your Meath Pullover in gorgeous Happy Fuzzy Yarn. I love all the details you’ve included!

Returning to this back-to-school theme, let’s talk for a minute about students.

jill:
I love students who are a bit skeptical, because it makes me work harder to convince them, but I don’t like students who aren’t open. There is a big difference. I am fairly certain that I can persuade anyone who gives me a chance. Those that come in with a surety that I cannot teach them anything make me irritable because it ends up being true, but I don’t think it is because I’m not a skilled teacher. I also ask students to help each other when we are learning new techniques. It gives the one showing an opportunity to cement their own learning, but often also removes a barrier that might exist for some students who might be more relaxed with someone other than the instructor.
little acorn:
You are a very skilled teacher, I recall you won several teaching awards at FIDM! I love it when students work together to answer questions. I find I learn too.

Now that you’re finally unpacked from your move, what do you do if you aren’t making?

jill:
If I am not making, I must be sleeping, eating, or reading. I am always making something: knitting, cooking, patterns, blogs, newsletters, charts, schematics, plans. I read a lot. Usually the New York Times (daily) and I always have a book. I read magazines, and articles online. I also watch TV. That’s usually when I’m knitting. I run a couple times a week and I do Pilates. Since we moved, I walk daily or every couple of days down to the grocery store. I love to eat. Every meal matters to me; I go to the farmer’s market and support other local producers. I also like sleeping, but I’m not as good at it.
jill-books-farmersmarket-art
little acorn:
I love your approach to food & cooking, and supporting others!

It’s a simple question in print, but I know the answer will be complex: what drives your creative process?

jill:
My creative process is driven by a need to creatively express myself. I get crabby and unbearable when I don’t have creative things going on. The packing/unpacking process was a little hard because I didn’t have time to be creative, and my wrists got inflamed and I couldn’t knit. I got through it by doing a little art; I’ve been doing monthly drawing challenges through CreativeBug since February 1.

Jill Wolcott Knits - art & textures

In my own work, I get an idea about something and I start looking at possibilities. I am driven a lot by fashion, but instead of looking at what is trendy or popular, I tend to think about things that will have a longer appeal. I like to look at garments that are not knitted and consider how to make them knitted pieces. Mostly I do what excites me. Those seem to be the things that also have the greatest appeal to others.

Jill Wolcott Knits - pretty textures
I love stitch patterns and texture, so that can get me going. I tend to like more tailored yarns because I am interested in creating textiles with depth and texture. I did a class for Craftsy that was all knits and purls. I’ve been working mostly within that concept, but looking at wearable pieces. I am doing a major project right now using stitch pattern and shape. Looking at a style then using stitch variations to get different looks. A little challenging to do without having to knit a ton of garments.

Jill Wolcott Knits - textures & steeks

The part I hate about the creative process is that it requires a finished product. I am mostly interested in problem solving and once I’ve addressed all of the problems, then I am pretty much over the project. So like everyone, finishing is a burden. I try to add really creative things to the finishing so it brings in new problems to solve. Once I have come to a logical conclusion it is difficult to keep my interest up. I have to work with deadlines or nothing would ever get finished.
Jill Wolcott Knits - exploring cast-ons

little acorn:
I need to work with deadlines too. It’s interesting, I really detest weaving in ends if it’s a project that is for my personal use, such as a pair of socks, but when I sample knit, I take great joy in those details as that becomes part of the project. I’ve really enjoyed your daily drawing.

Final question and I know your answer as you often ask about why I’m not posting more, but I’ll still ask anyway: kitten or puppy snuggles?

jill:
I’m totally a cat person. I have to admit that I like having a non-pet household. But I speak to every kitty I see, and admire people’s cats on Instagram and Facebook.
little acorn:
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me!

Jill Wolcott Knits & teaches

You can find more about Jill at her site, jillwolcottknits.com and many social media sites including instagram.

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