Get to know Jean Clement, one of the knitters behind the designs in the new Lace One-Skein Wonders® book.
At the heart of Storey books are the content-creators — the individuals with expert skills and a passion for imparting their wisdom to others. Some of those people have authored many volumes. And sometimes, they’re…well, you! In a new blog series, we’re getting to know the contributors behind books like those in the One-Skein Wonders series — people who aren’t necessarily authors or full-time designers, but whose creative vision helps make this collection of knit and crochet books favorites among fiber arts enthusiasts. In this exciting installment, we’re happy to introduce Colorado knitter, fainting goat-owner, and Lace One-Skein Wonders contributor, Jean Clement.
Tell us a little bit about you: where you live and how long you’ve been a knitter and designer.
I live near Colorado Springs, Colorado, with my husband, five dogs, and a small herd of fainting goats. We have a small parcel of land, about 4.5 acres.
I’ve been knitting (along with crocheting, sewing, and many other types of needlework) for as long as I can remember. Throughout my life I’ve always created unique designs for family and friends. Then, in 2004, I showed the owner of a local yarn shop a sweater I had knit using yarn bought at her store. She not only displayed the sweater for several months, but encouraged me to design professionally — something my family & friends had been saying I should do all along.I sold my first self-published design through the local yarn store but it wasn’t until 2008, when I had my Frilly Prilly Poncho accepted for It’s in the Bag: Knitting Projects to Take & Make, that I considered myself a professional designer.
How did you learn your craft?
My mother was my main teacher. She was an expert knitter and enjoyed passing along her skills. When I was 7 or 8 years old, I remember knitting slippers while visiting relatives in England. One of my sisters and I had been a bit rambunctious, so our aunts found a “quiet” project for us. We both already knew how to knit at that time.
How would you describe your style? Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I think my style is fairly classic — I like garments that can be worn season after season. Adding special details to classic shapes is where my style emerges and becomes “unique.”
The world and universe is full of inspiration — from color and shape to the naming of a design. My “Menat Scarf,” published in Lace One Skein Wonders, was inspired by the colors in the yarn, the color of sand dunes. The name comes from the Menat Dune Field on Venus.
Does being able to design influence how you approach the craft of knitting?
Definitely. I’m always curious about the details that a unique sweater in a clothing store might have, or checking out an unusual construction. Learning new techniques or new ways of doing something gives designers more options when developing new designs.
The fiber arts community is a vibrant one. How do you connect with fellow fiber arts folks? What does being part of such a community offer?
Living in a rural area can make it hard to connect with other fiber arts people. I try to get to a local “Friday Starbucks” craft group whenever I can, and to be as active as time allows on Ravelry. I have a quiet group there, and I’d like to work on engaging the members more.
Being involved with a fiber community, online or off, is a wonderful opportunity to learn, and hopefully share some of my knowledge, too. I’ve met some wonderful people and being able to share ideas with other designers is a way to expand my world.
What projects are you working on right now that you’re particularly excited about? Any goals for your knitting/designing in the coming year?
I think every project I’m working on is exciting! Right now I have four designs in process for a magazine publisher, along with a couple I plan to self-publish and a couple small projects for holiday gifting.
For 2014, I’d like to expand my self-published line, give some serious thought to teaching locally, and perhaps work on a dog sweater pattern book. (based on my Darling Darby Sweater pattern).
Until this past summer we took care of my disabled sister-in-law at home. Now that she is in assisted living, doing a book focusing on knits for the disabled is something I’ve got in the back of my head. I am also considering teaching.
Apart from knitting and designing, what keeps you busy and fulfilled these days?
I have a regular “day” job doing accounting for non-profit groups, as well as for my husband’s business and my own. I’ve also been doing some web design — I find it fascinating. It seems to me that the best way to exercise one’s brain is to keep learning and experiencing life.
My husband also participates in vintage and modern observed motorcycle trials, so I try to attend as many events with him as I can. Along with cheering my husband on, I get to visit with friends, and get outside for some hiking.
A word of advice for beginners?
Always, always knit a gauge swatch before starting your project. You find out so much about how the yarn behaves and the stitch design. And don’t ever be afraid to frog a project if you discover an error or don’t like how the project is coming out. We can learn as much from our mistakes and “ugghs’” as we can from our successful projects.
Find Jean and her designs online at:
Photos courtesy of Jean Clement.