I’m interviewing sock designers as part of my Level Up Your Socks KAL. This week I’m talking to Dana Gervais about her sock designs and e-courses.
RG: Tell me a little about yourself and your designs.
DG: I’m a knitwear designer who specializes in socks! I like to say that I see a pair of socks in every skein of yarn I see and my mission is to set them free. I also enjoy creating sock knitters through free email courses and online challenges. I live in Ontario, Canada with my husband, two kids and lots of pets!
RG: You now have three beginner sock knitting courses, with different heels and directions. Which did you enjoy writing the most?
DG: I love all methods of sock construction, but cuff down socks are my happy place, so I would have to say that the #SockVirgin challenge was my favourite to create. It’s also the first challenge that I ever created, so that also makes it special.
RG: Has anything surprised you from people taking the courses?
DG: I was surprised how many knitters have taken the challenge. When I created the first challenge, #SockVirgin, my goal was to have between 10 and 50 knitters sign up to do it with me. I was completely amazed when the sign up list reached 1000 before the start date.
RG: Why do you think some people think socks are harder than other types of knitting?
DG: I’m not sure where this notion of socks being an advanced knitting technique comes from. It could be because traditionally socks have been worked on DPNs which looks both complicated and impressive to non-DPN users. In reality, socks are not difficult – in fact my grandmother learned to knit socks at school when she was very young; school children would make them for the armed forces.
RG: How do you make decisions for your designs, on what pattern and which heel etc. to use?
DG: I try to change it up with each design so that knitters and I don’t get bored making the same cuffs, heels, and toes all the time. Most designs start with the stitch pattern and the yarn and the rest of the sock evolves from there, I try to incorporate techniques that will show the yarn and the stitch pattern to their best advantages.
RG: Why do you like designing and making socks more than anything else?
DG: I do knit things other than socks, but socks are my happy place. They are portable, they use 1 skein of yarn (most of the time) they don’t require a huge financial investment, they don’t take very long to finish and where I live it’s sock season for at least 7 months of the year, so they are useful.
RG: What’s the biggest problem you’ve ever had when knitting a sock and how did you fix it?
DG: One of the benefits of being a designer is that I can often incorporate ‘problems’ and ‘mistakes’ into the design and call it a ‘design element’, but that being said, often I have an idea for a sock in my head that doesn’t translate well after I’ve cast on. Sometimes the yarn and stitch pattern don’t play nicely together, or the stitch pattern creates a fabric that is far denser or looser than I’d like and when that happens, I rip it out and start again. I’ve learned to view frogging as part of the process of knitting and not as an indication of failure or wasted time.
RG: What’s your best sock knitting tip?
DG: There are no knitting police. There is no right or wrong in knitting. Knitters need to use whichever method of knitting in the round that they prefer, whichever needles and yarn that they prefer and use whichever technique works for them – all that matters is that you love the process and the end result.
RG: What’s your go-to resource for sock knitting?
DG: My people! I work with a lot of indie dyers and I always find inspiration in the yarn they create, I have a highly engaged Facebook group and Instagram community of knitters who are always ready to offer an opinion or let me know what they need from me (everything from a specific technique to ideas for knitting socks for diabetic feet). I’m very grateful to be part of the fibre community.
Quick Fire Questions
- Toe up/cuff down? Cuff down
- DPNs/magic loop/tiny circular? It’s a tie: DPNs and Magic Loop
- Cables/lace/colourwork? Yes! All of them
- Two at a time/In tandem/One at a time? One at a time (I usually work out any design issues on the second sock)
- Metal/wood/carbon fibre needles? It’s a tie: I use them all equally and I love them all equally
Find Dana Gervais Online
You can find out more about Dana at her website, or sign up for one of her e-courses, including the new one starting on 23rd October. Join the groups on Facebook or Ravelry and follow her on Instagram @DanaGervais.