Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wednesday Wonders #5: Wendy D. Johnson

Regular readers of this blog are probably not surprised to see this Wednesday Wonder, because I don’t hide the fact that Wendy Johnson is one of my favorite knitting “personalities.” It’s more than just a case of “I like her sock designs,” though. She’s done a lot of things that have helped me as a knitter and a person, so what the heck, here’s her little tribute.

I first learned about her reading a sock knitting email list a few years ago. It was during the time when my long-term job was going away and I was trying to find something else to do, so I had plenty of time to read Yahoo lists to my heart’s content. I found a lot of the blogs I currently keep up with there, so I am glad I did it, even though now I only get to check in once or twice a week to make sure that, yes, they are still answering the exact same questions over and over again from new knitters who can’t be bothered to read the FAQs (hint: I am impatient with people who don’t read FAQs before posting).

Anyway, a few people mentioned Wendy’s sock patterns as having good techniques in them, so I took a look. I think I was trying to find a reasonable toe-up pattern. When I first read one of her sets of instructions, I felt such relief. Here was someone who actually proofread her work, wrote instructions in language more than one type of learner could understand, and made sense. Her sock patterns weren’t so terse I had to fill steps in from knowledge I already had, but they weren’t so wordy that I couldn’t tell what she was doing at any time. After the first pattern, I kept going and made pretty much every free pattern on her blog. And when she started selling patterns on the Loopy Ewe site, I got some more.

Anyone looking in my Ravelry projects page will see a LOT of socks from her patterns (here is one example), and others that use her patterns as inspirations. I particularly love her toe-up flapped heel. I love it so much that I wrote it on a little card so I can remember how to do it in socks I am making up for myself. It’s always in my sock bag! Wendy thinks like I do, so I understand where she’s going in a pattern and don’t have to think too much once I’ve got it down. And there aren’t too many surprises to mess me up. When I write my own patterns, I try to emulate her style and hit that middle ground. I've really learned a lot about writing knitting patterns by reading hers. Thanks, Wendy!

I always enjoy Wendy’s blog (even though I have admitted in public that the “cat picture a day” technique is not for me, I do see that for her, the Lucy picture a day thing a good publicity technique and something that people will remember to come back for). She shares just enough detail about her life for you to be reassured she’s a regular person, just like you, but she doesn’t bog you down with whining and moaning (unlike me in my personal blog, ha ha). She answers people’s questions with grace and humor, and is invariably positive and enthusiastic, even when she’s sick, hurting or frustrated. It’s a good attitude to emulate. She strikes just the right balance between accessibility and privacy, which has to be harder and harder to do when you are writing books, speaking at conferences, and thus becoming more of a “celebrity.”

I am rambling more than I intended to here. My main point is that Wendy Johnson is a Wednesday Wonder because she has a real knack for explaining sock knitting techniques and has been very generous with sharing her ideas with the greater knitting community. She deserves all the good things she can get—for sure I’ll buy her book when it comes out, and if I had time off, I’d be running to that Sock Knitters Summit she’s working on. If you have never knit any of her socks, I strongly encourage you to give them a try. I’ll give you a link so you can find them!

Links to Wendy Johnson

Wendy Knits Blog: (there are some free patterns in there)

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