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.
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.
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.
Marly 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 Directory, 150 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.
If you missed getting to hear this live it is still available as an archived episode in that same place online: https://www.blogtalkradio.com/yarnthing/2016/03/03/mary-jane-mucklestone or with your favorite podcast catcher like iTunes and Stitcher Radio.