Rock and Purl: knitting with Rock & Roll

September 24, 2012

 This week it is super exciting to have Ruth Garcia-Alcantud, aka Rock and Purl, as both our #twitknit special guest and in a guest blog post. Hooray! Add your comment to this post by 5pm Wednesday 26 Sept and we'll draw a couple lucky winners who will receive a free Rock and Purl pattern!

As part of the conversation it was decided that we'd have our first #twiknit KAL - and what better pattern to go for than Ruth's new self-release pattern, Lichen Mists. It's a real beauty of a shawl pattern! We've set up a thread in the Holland Road Yarn Co group over on Ravelry if you fancy joining in.

Ruth has been featured in loads of knitting publications including Twist Collective, Vogue Knitting, Yarn Forward and also releases independent designs.  

Tell us your knitting journey: when did you learn, who from, and how did you decide it was
a craft for you?

I learnt, of course, from my grandmother! I spent all summers at her house and I
remember my first project was a horrible "scarf" with holes in it. I believe she still has it
hidden somewhere! She also taught me how to crochet with a teeny 2mm hook and #5
crochet cotton, do cross-stitch, sew in a straight line (by hand!), repair clothes... I picked
the needles back up in 2006 when I found myself unemployed after moving to the UK for

Do you have a favourite item to knit? Or do you like to dabble in a bit of everything? Is
there a pattern you adore and return to knit time and again?

My favourite thing is designing garments. The first handful were so difficult and organizing
the information in my head was a headache in itself, but now I love the problem-solving. If
I'm knitting for fun (it happens only Friday-Sunday evenings!) it tends to be vanilla socks or
gloves. My favourites would be Ricardo or Flecha, both my designs, both very easy socks
with 4-row repeats that makes them go veeery fast.

What do you love about the knitting community and being a designer? 

The thing I love the most about this is the friendship. It's a lonely job, especially if you
live in a remote area like me. I don't have a knit-night or anything, so the friendships I've
formed over the internet with customers, students, designers and yarn companies are
such a good source of fun and feedback.

As a business owner I join tweet chats and blog comment threads and have started
relationships with writers, marketing people and business coaches that push my
boundaries and allow me into a 4th dimension where what I do for money is not as
important as how I manage and develop my business - which is more abstract and allows
my creative self to be applied to something other than knitting!

Adoro, on Tash's list of 'must knits'

What inspired you to start designing patterns?

It all started as a bit of a challenge during a time in my life where I had time to study
garment making and apply what I had learnt from my family (dad works in fashion and
both grandmothers were fine seamstresses!). I knew I needed a change of path since my
career was making me unhappy. I read all I found online about garment design and bought
some books on flat pattern drafting, then realised until I put my hands to it I wouldn't
be able to apply it. My first garment was a men's cardigan that is now out on the Fresh
Designs for Men book.

I now look everywhere for inspiration and try to knit a swatch every couple of days and
think of ways to apply it to a garment - it's good to have a backlog of designs to look at
when inspiration runs dry!

Do you have a favourite yarn, tool or accessory to that makes you knitting life complete?

My absolute favourite yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed. I could knit with it forever and never
get tired, you can imagine how thrilled I was when they expanded to Aran and Chunky!!
Tools? Circular needles! The best in metal are ChiaoGoo (the ones with the red cable!)
they are made of stainless steel and glide like lightning!

Being a professional in the knitting industry, what’s most interesting thing you’ve learned
through being on ‘the other side’?

This is, regardless of how "cottage" it feels, a business. You have to present yourself to
each project proposal as if you were having a job interview - be it with a yarn company,
a book proposal, a magazine submission... They expect professional results, in a timely
manner, with appropriate communication.

Also, it is not a business free of expenses - hardware, software, needles in all sizes
and lengths, yarn to swatch, travel to events and conventions... Something I advise all
newcomers to do is to evaluate and discuss with their family how much money you can
invest in this business and how much return you expect to see, with a timeline. Essentially,
make a business plan.

These are points rarely discussed when you're blinded by the possibility of "I get to knit
all day" and all your partner sees could be "you are sitting on your behind all day". I put
nearly 10-12h of work into this job every day (including weekends!) and most successful
designers do too, since we tend to be one-person businesses. It's essential to analyze
whether you and your situation (at home and at the bank) can take the risk of making this
your livelihood.

Lastly: tell us something we don’t know! What are your passions outside knitting?

I love cooking and photography - I'm good at the former, trying to be good at the latter! I
also love reading philosophy and political current affairs books and articles. Who woulda



Annette said:

This is an exciting one, I’ve got several of Ruth’s patterns in my favourites and one (the Moore cardigan) I intend to make quite soon!


Kya said:

Love your designs!


@kimode said:

Thank you so much Ruth! (And Tash, of course.) #twitknit is always interesting and fun, and a special guest is a treat. (I wonder if my boss has noticed yet that production on Monday nights has really gone to pot…)


@araeyla said:

Awesome blog! So great to have Ruth along for #twitknit – what a treat and very inspirational! Hurrah!


Kaz said:

Fab interview Ruth, I was so inspired by your designs, and with chat with you, and your encouragement I have now started having my dream fulfilled to be a designer and had 2 designs accepted by magazines already. Thank you for having faith in me and the push you gave me. Designing has changed my life so much, and given me a new lease of life.

Thanks xx

Matt Watson

Matt Watson said:

Loving the #twitknit chat with Rock and Pirl!


OzKnitter said:

Thanks for joining us for #twitknit Ruth! I’ve been checking out your patterns on Rav and have already queued up the Flecha socks!

Alice Wright @sequinnedsheep

Alice Wright @sequinnedsheep said:

What a great interview! Never heard of this designer before today but am dying to start on some of her patterns already! They look beautiful! And she only lives down the road from me too, how fab is that!


Hannah said:

Love the addition of special guest to TwitKnit, really interesting to read the Q&A/bio too.


Beverley said:

Very interesting re being business like , very much agree. Thanks


Melsey said:

Love your designs!


Tezza said:

Another thoroughly enjoyable & inspiring TwitKnit session… loved having Ruth as the guest as have loved her patterns & tweets for ages! Several of her patterns are waiting in my queue, and now I really can’t wait for the KAL. Loved reading the blog post too. :o)


Bridget said:

Lovely designs!


Rachel said:

I’ve really been enjoying TwitKnit – and the guest stars are a great addition! Ruth was so inspiring, and it’s fantastic to be able to chat to real live knitting rock stars!


Lauren said:

Great interview, and I love having another knitty person to chat to on twitter!

I love #twitknit!


Genevieve said:

I so agree about being business like. I’ve seen many cottage businesses treat it as a hobby and wonder why they get nowhere. No matter how big or small, it is so important to appear professional at all times!
Really love that pattern too!


Caren said:

Beautiful stuff!


@wychwoodnz said:

It was so much fun to have Ruth as a guest at #twitknit, and I’m looking forward to our Lichen Mists KAL.


Beverley said:

Wish I could join KAL but better finish my samples for course . Thanks for chance to win .


Kath said:

Knitting and philosophy – now THAT would make for an unmissable knit-along! Especially if you’re making ‘vanilla socks and gloves’…I may have to do some Ravelry stalking to find out more. Thanks for sharing :-)


Sue said:

Very honest advice for people like myself who ate launching into the knitting business. Bit daunting but if knitting/crocheting is your passion, I say have a go! Ruth is a great role model! Her delicate designs are wonderful.


Barbara said:

I enjoyed Ruth’s Flecha socks as a Mystery KAL earlier in the year…and am really excited about this KAL, although it will be rather more of a challenge!

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