Mary Jane Mucklestone

Mary Jane Mucklestone celebrated her first visit to the Yarn Thing  podcast with Marly Bird with us today, and made doing a LIVE show look like a no brainer.

MJ_NashIsland - 1
Mary Jane Mucklestone visiting Nash Island.

Mary Jane Mucklestone (grew up in Seattle, now lives in Portland, Maine) when really young, none of her family were knitters (except her great-grandmothers that she didn’t know), so she learned from neighbor. What she learned from her family was clothing and dressmaking, she remembers playing with dolls that had outfits created by family. A visit to Mexico, refreshed her crochet skills learned in childhood, especially with the fine yarns available. She was inspired by Ally McGraw’s character in ‘Love Story’ to make miniature cloche hats.

She had many jobs, went to Parson’s School of Design for a Summer, STUDIED THOROUGHLY the Vogue Magazines that came with her mother’s subscription. She also went to Pratt’s Institute, which led to work in the fashion industry and advertising, with Carol Furtig’s (indie designer) head of handsewing department, Robert Mulnar (stylist), Elizabeth Akins (rug weaver), Oscar DeLaRenta (designer) as a seasonal job hand painting caftans… She moved to Maine and had babies, taking up knitting for her kids, working nights as a waitress. Eventually, and unintentionally, this all led to a career in knitting that’s happened in the last ten years. MJM Fair Isle hat

Mary Jane says people around her thought she was ‘crazy knitting’, not considered a serious pursuit before the internet explosion and Ravelry, but she felt that it would lead her somewhere. She was working in a yarn shop (a job she got because they had posted that they wanted someone ‘flexible’ and so she applied saying she could do a back-bend!) Pam Allen also lived in the area, Mary Jane says she was a complete fan-girl. Pam at the time was writing Knitting for Dummies (her first book, Marly fans know our girl wrote the third edition!) and would stop by for yarn, she asked for Mary Jane’s help with the styling duties. Of course, Mary Jane would wear all of her work and one of the things she wore got published, the Fair Isle Sampler Hat.

MJM Craftsy ClassMarly and Mary Jane at this point shared a mutual love for Philosopher’s Wool. They teach a method of accomplishing Fair Isle Knitting which involves holding a color in each hand…  When Marly first met Mary Jane, she was knitting her sample for her first Craftsy Class, The Fair Isle Vest which gave Marly the same comfortable feeling as the Philosopher’s Wool folks do, which is a huge compliment. Sounds like we need to check it out!

The Stopover Pullover has gained recently VERY popular, was created because Mary Jane does some tours with Gudrun Johnston to Shetland and was told she needed to wear her own work and not the storebought stuff. It was created with the idea that she needs to pack light, and works up fast.

Mary Jane has also written books, is known for some great stitch dictionaries. She was approached to create compilations of Fair Isle. Here is the link to Amazon, to see her titles 200 Fair Isle Motifs: A Knitters Directory150 Scandinavian Motifs: A Knitter’s Directory, and then later a compilation called Fair Isle Style, 20 Fresh Designs for a Classic Technique (Ravelry Link to view patterns) which includes designs from many different and highly sought-after designers. Mary Jane humbly cites others with her books (‘I had a twinge of guilt that they should have talked to those who are Native Fair Isle Knitters’) including Alice Starmore who said ‘if you gave a piece of graph paper to all of us, some of us would probably come up with the same thing’ indicating that many of us would probably design the same things. Mary Jane clearly studied and worked hard to create a lovingly authentic tribute to Fair Isle.

To continue following Mary Jane, she has a pretty website, MaryJaneMucklestone.com, Facebook page, Instagram, Pinterest, but most certainly her Ravelry Designer page or Ravelry Group. She will be teaching later this month at the John C Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, and filming a new Craftsy Class to come out in the near future.


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  1. Audrey says:

    Loved hearing your stories, especially those of traveling to Iceland. It’s on my bucket list. I have been to Norway and Sweden and love the Scandinavian knits.

  2. Lori Biamonte says:

    I was so excited to hear Mary Jane on the podcast today. My friend and I have been eyeing the Stopover pattern on Ravelry and have decided to definitely make it. There is an Icelandic knitting club at our local yarn shop so we will work on it there. Just wish we could then wear it in Iceland.

  3. Kris says:

    What a fun show today – definitely makes me think Iceland would be a great place to visit! In the meantime, I’ll knit some beautiful fair isle!

  4. Theresa says:

    Loved the podcast today. I am new to colorwork but love the patterns and loved hearing about going to Iceland. It’s on my ever growing bucket list of places to visit.

  5. Ramona says:

    I have friends who have visited Iceland and the way they describe it, it just jumped onto my bucket list. Loved this episode!

  6. Anita says:

    I have been mentioning Iceland to my husband for years as a perfect place to vacation. I think eventually we will get there but I hope it is sooner than later.

  7. joyce says:

    I just listened to your episode with Mary Jane and really enjoyed it. It has inspired me to try some fair isle knitting as they do in Iceland.

  8. Louise says:

    The Muckle mitts were my first color work project! I agree they would be a good pattern for a new color work knitter. Maybe one in Iceland.

  9. auntaanne says:

    I just got finished with my walk along with Marly and Mary Jane. I purchased a pattern to try fair isle. I’m excited. I’ve never been to Iceland but it is on my bucket list. Someday.

  10. Julie says:

    I loved hearing Mary Jane’s story, and now I’m inspired to knit one of her patterns; maybe it will be Stopover. Maybe if I knit it it will be the magic needed to get me to Iceland someday.

  11. JulieRKnits says:

    Iceland is where my father was stationed in the Navy so I always think on the sweaters that he and mom had from his time in Iceland. What a wonderful Interview. I am a very very very novice color-work knitter when knitting with more than one color at a time.

  12. Debbie Austin says:

    Loved the show today. I have recently learned to do fair isle and wouldn’t it be awesome to go to Iceland wearing a fair isle sweater!!

  13. Suzanne says:

    Mary Jane is as natural on the podcast as she is with colorwork. Her stopover pattern has me encouraged to fair isle myself. I hope she gets to Iceland soon because I know her designs will reflect what she sees and learns over there.

  14. Susan says:

    While it would be fun to visit Iceland, it would be even more spectacular if I could win the give away . Mary Jane does incredible color work. I’ve added her to my list of must follows.

  15. Rachel Catherine says:

    Great podcast! I have always been very interested in knitting traditions from Iceland and various countries around the world.

  16. Audrey Abbott says:

    Oh My! Color work, Fair Isle, Scotland, Iceland! Travel, knit, learn a new technique – So many inspirations in this episode. Thank you!

  17. amy g says:

    Your fair isle sampler hat has been in my queue for a long time, almost as long as a trip to Iceland has been on my bucket list.

  18. Viviannette says:

    I have never been to Iceland but I think it would be a great place to visit. Really enjoyed listening to the interview with Mary Jane and look forward to try one of her patterns.

  19. Pamela Geist says:

    Loved the episode, would be great to visit Iceland some day and maybe see some genuine Icelandic kitting in the wild!

  20. Cheryl Clemons says:

    Really enjoyed listening to Mary Jane on the podcast. I have never been to Iceland, I have been to Denmark and Sweden and would love one day to be able to travel to Iceland. It is nice to be able to put a voice to a name. Another Great Podcast

Marly Bird

The One and Only, Marly

Marly is a knitwear and crochet designer (and yarn addict) that is here to help you learn how to knit and crochet in a way that's fun and approachable.

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