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In my previous job life as a bookstore girl (where I lovingly took care of the knitting section), I remember when Toni Carr's book Knockdown Knits was released. I immediately snapped it up - it was so much fun to read & such great projects, even for those who aren't roller girls like Toni. (With my incredible clumsiness, I would be a danger to myself & to others!)

Imagine my delight when I started working on IDP and discovered that Toni was already a part of it! Of course I had to do an interview!

How long have you been knitting?

I started seriously knitting about 9 years ago.

What motivated you to learn to knit?
In all honesty, my Grandmother lived all by herself, way out in the country. I knew she was lonely and could use some company, but the fact that she is deaf caused a communication barrier between us, as my signing is awful and her ability to read lips was slipping. I thought having her teach me how to knit and crochet would be a good excuse to spend time with her and give us something to do together that wouldn't highlight a communication barrier. We would hang out and knit together, and she would just talk and tell me stories about her life.

When I got stuck on something, I would point to the part that I didn't understand, and just watch how she did it. I had no idea that I would fall so in love with knitting!

Toni with buddy Widget

What was your first project?
I was a serial starter at first. Bright red poncho got started, then I realized I would never wear it. Then a wristband got started, but never seamed, half a hat, etc. One day I sat down and forced myself to knit a purse with Trent Reznor's face on the front of it. I refused to touch anything else until it was done! A challenging project, but so rewarding!

What is your favorite fiber to work with?
I am a big fan of wools with nice heather tones, or little flecks of color, ala Shamrock! A nice chunky alpaca will also put a big smile on my face! I am not at all a fiber snob, but I've found that the longer I've been knitting, the more appreciation I have for natural fibers like wool or alpaca.

Is there anything in particular that inspires your designs?
My budget inspires me quite a bit! I tend to see things that I want, but can't afford, so I make my own version up! My current hat designing obsession is due to my growing out a layered hair cut. I own a coffee shop, so I always want my hair out of my face, but I still want it to look cute! Since it's still too short to style up and look good, I tend to wear a lot of comfy knit hats behind the counter. Plus hats are the perfect way to turn my boring jean and tee-shirt outfits into something cute and trendy!

Who are some of your favorite designers?
I don't really have one favorite designer. I love so many different things from so many different people, but I'm always so bad with matching a name to a creation.

How long do your designs take to create from start to finish? It depends. I have one sweater that I've spent the past 4 months working on, and it's not even close to completion. I usually write down my ideas as I get them, pluck one off the list when I'm ready to work on it, then swatch with a lot of different yarns until I find one that will do what I want.Then it's a matter of knitting it up, and writing down what I do as I go.I've created designs in as little as a day or two, but most take at least a couple weeks before I'm satisfied.

Another version of Vintage Swish

Thanks so much Toni! You can see all her IDP patterns here. Also check out our podcast interview with Toni, and see what's new with her knitting, roller derby & foster birds on her blog!

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Comment by Peggy Stuart on April 4, 2010 at 8:13pm
I remember the podcast interview! What a great show that was! Roller derby...I can't imagine! I'd rather snowshoe, but it's really fun reading or hearing about it. Especially the knitting part.
Comment by Tara Addesa on April 4, 2010 at 11:05am
I rarely to never come back and give a second Comment .. But in this case I just had too .. Stacey pat on the back girl You did a Really Terrific job on the Interview for an Obviously Very Deserving Hard Working Talented gal !!! In All honesty if You hadn't Done This Interview I may very well Overlooked Tonis Designs for Who knows How long ... Not because they weren't Deserving but I don't seem to have the Time to delve into Each and Every Individual Designer the way I'd like to ... I will Now surely be on the Lookout for Designs by Toni !!! Love love love the Edgeyness to Some of Her Designs & I'd Love to See What She could Do with a BaG !!
Comment by cherylbwaters on April 3, 2010 at 8:51pm
Stacey, having been a teacher of deaf and hard of hearing students in a former life, I find Toni's story extra touching. I've often thought about how if you are deaf and use sign language, it's hard to have a "stitch 'n bitch" because you can't really knit and talk at the same time. [But, shhh.....I have to admit I have driven and talked before.] What a special way Toni found to learn to communicate with her grandmother. Knitting can make communication across all kinds of barriers. ♥c
Comment by Beth Pritchett on April 2, 2010 at 5:20pm
Such a lovely story of beginnings with Toni's grandmother. Everytime she picks up her needles she can remember those times spent with her grandmother. I love the hat designs. Stacey, thanks for introducing us to Toni.
Comment by NoKnitSherlock on April 2, 2010 at 1:47pm
oh man! A 'Serial Starter' I knew there had to be a name for it!!! I can so relate as my early knitting days were exactly the same. I love discovering all the different ways someone becomes a knitter and Toni's story is especially sweet!
Lovely interview Stacey and I lets hope the two of us never cross paths in a roller rink - the results would be catastrophic! ☺
Happy Easter and have a great weekend!
Comment by Tara Addesa on April 2, 2010 at 1:27pm
What a CutE Story !! Just love love love Pink Pigtails with the Fingerless Mitts : )))) Veryyyy Cute !

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