(Photos courtesy of KyleWilliam.com)
Kyle Kunnecke started knitting as an adult and has found that it gives him many creative outlets. Kyle’s love of knitting developed into the company KyleWilliam and also allowed him to help others through charitable works. Find out more about Kyle below, why he doesn’t believe in skill levels and how be believes that creativity has the power to heal.
What got you started knitting? I learned to knit from my roommate. She was knitting one day and I asked her why she was doing it. It looked stressful moving all that yarn. She said that it was really relaxing and calming. I told her that I would never do that and she challenged me to give it a try since I am creative. I said why not, she gave me yarn and needles and taught me the knit stitch and I spent the day going through a big skein of yarn. It was a mess but as I got through it I saw the mechanics of it. After that I got my own needles and yarn and for the next three years all I did was garter stitch and made lots of throws and scarves.
After I moved a few years later I went into a yarn shop where one of the women there introduced me to the concept of patterns. I learned that if you followed the instructions you could make things other than just big throws (laughs).
Your knitting patterns have been included in magazines and you’re currently writing a book on knitting. How did you learn to write a knitting pattern? Being an avid knitter I look at patterns. The internet has brought us sites like Ravlery and there are lots of independent designers and people who don’t necessarily follow a formula. With the digital age there’s less requirement to conform to the size of a pattern. So I learned by seeing what other people were doing and created a formula. I think we learn by observing the work of others. That, balanced with my background in marketing, helps me to understand how to create the formula that I’ve developed.
What inspires you in creating your patterns and designs? Everything! I love that our phones have cameras on them and I can photograph anything on a whim. Anything inspires me – from the pattern in a sidewalk to architectural elements to vintage fabrics to tattoos. I’m always looking for repeatable patterns or geometrics.
How would you describe your style? I would say my style is classic. And I like to think of myself as an enabler. I want people to give things a try, learn new techniques and not be afraid.
I don’t believe in skill levels (beginning, intermediate, advanced). I believe that anyone is able to do any of my patterns as long as they’re able to perform the skills that are involved. In my work I’ll write in the pattern ‘here are the five things you need to be able to do to do this pattern’. Someone might be able to do four out of the five things required and they just need to give the fifth thing a shot before they begin and they’re able to do it. But if you write 'advanced' on the pattern, someone might say ‘well I’m not advanced’ because they decide they’re not good enough and they don’t try it.
In addition to knitting, you’re also into sewing. Which form of needle art do you prefer? I am all for exploring different areas! Lately I’ve been sewing which is really fun. I just got the bug and decided to drag everything out and started making a bunch of things.
I also spin – I have three spinning wheels. I have two looms, I dye fiber and yarn, I paint, do mixed media and I draw. Through exploring different kinds of art I think we discover techniques that can be applied in other areas. So I like them all very much.
You’re involved with several non-profit organizations. How do you think knitting and sewing can aid people who are battling diseases? One of my tag lines is ‘Creativity has the power to heal’. I know that knitting reduces anxiety, depression and feelings of isolation especially if you can get into a knitting group. It can also help take someone’s mind off their disease sometimes.
One thing I did recently was work with a non-profit in Palo Alto. They’re a cancer center and I did a one-day workshop with their clients and taught the women how to make chemo caps. So these women who were going through the journey of cancer learned how to cast on, join in the round, and we knitted. Universal Yarn, Kollage Yarns, Brittany, Skacel, Hiyahiya and Erin Lane Bags all donated materials for a knitting kit for each participant.
A lot of people in the crafting world know there’s a big call for chemo crafts to be donated to cancer centers or hospitals to be given to those who are facing cancer as a comfort to them. In this case these individuals had the opportunity to make hats for themselves or for their friends or to donate to the centers that they work directly with. At the same time they’re able to talk with their peers who are going through this journey more candidly. So as they’re sitting there doing their projects, a bit of a guard gets let down and the group starts discussing some of their challenges of what it’s like to live with cancer. I think a lot more can be communicated and heard while knitting than would be if all there was in the room were the words.
What do you like best about teaching others to knit? I like seeing people who are egger to learn and who are at the point where they want to broaden their horizons. All of my students are brave and determined to grasp the concepts that I’m presenting to them. It’s really fun to watch them ‘get it’. That point where they start to push you away and say ‘no, I understand’ is really, really cool.
If someone wants to start knitting, what suggestions do you have for them? Go to your local yarn shop and talk to them about a class. Getting connected to people who have experience in the craft will make the learning more fun. Often what we end up with isn’t only the new hobby but we often end up developing new friendships and relationships. That connection is really important to help a new crafter grow.
How does OttLite help you with your knitting and sewing? I love them! My studio has two small windows and I get some light but it’s impossible to see color in here. So I have my OttLite clamped to my vintage drafting table that I work on. It’s like night and day; you turn it off and it’s dusk and you turn it on and the colors are clear and vibrant. When I’m working to choose colors for patterns it’s important to be able to see the nuances in colors. It also works for photographs for proposals. I found that with it on the colors are so true. It makes my life easier.
Where is your favorite place to knit? Right now my favorite place is with my men’s knitting group that meets in The Castro (a neighborhood in San Francisco). We meet in a café and there’s anywhere from 10 to 20 of us. Being with my friends, the light is amazing, and we have really great coffee – that is my favorite place right now.
For more information on Kyle Kunnecke, his company KyleWilliam and available patterns visit their website and blog. Kyle also teaches classes around the country. If you're on social media, be sure to follow Kyle on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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