Portrait of a knitwear designer: Marie Greene of Olive Knits

I've been getting to know more of my fellow knitwear designers lately, and I am fascinated by the person who exists behind the designs. People have such diverse motivations, personal circumstances, backgrounds, stories, insights! Knitwear designers are definitely an interesting and thoughtful bunch. So I've decided to do a little interview series of my favorite people!

First up: Marie from Olive Knits and her wonderfully sleek, super wearable yet sophisticated designs:

Marie wearing her Southwell Cardigan

Marie wearing her Southwell Cardigan

  • What are 5 random things people might not know about you?

-My kitchen is my zen space. I love to cook - it's a great way to unwind after a long day. 

-I like to binge-watch moody Scandinavian crime shows while I work. 

-I love secondhand and vintage shops. 

-I am an early riser to the extreme (this morning it was 3:30 AM), but it also means that I go to bed ridiculously early most nights. My friends tease me if I'm up past 9:30 PM because they know I'm dying inside. 

-When I was first married I worked as a contract seamstress for the Navy Reserve. 

  • What is your style in a nutshell?

My style continues to evolve. In my early days I was still finding my footing as a designer, still trying to tap into the ideas that resonated with the style story I wanted to tell, but I feel like I'm reaching that place a little more each day. My goal is effortless, beautiful design that is as fun to knit as it is to wear. I hate to use the word 'practical,' but in reality - that really has a huge influence on my work. I want to create pieces that people want in their closets. 

  • What is your favorite technique?

Goodness, it's hard to pick a favorite. I don't know if I can pick just one, but two of my favorites are Japanese Short Rows and the Horizontal Stitch, and you can see both of those demonstrated here

  • What is/are your go-to yarn(s)?

Ooh, another tough one. I love yarns that lean toward the more natural style, and often the "crunchy" yarns really call to me - Sherwood Yarn, The Fibre Company and Rauma Finnulgarn rank high on my list. I also love supporting the work of Sincere Sheep for her commitment to sourcing and her use of natural dyes, and The Farmer's Daughter Fibers because I not only love her gorgeous colorways, but really connect with the way she draws upon her heritage and homeland for inspiration. When I need something with crisp, brilliant color, I go for Knitted Wit; I especially love her rich solids and her personal commitment to supporting meaningful causes through her business. 

  • Do you have a favorite designer? Or any particular design you think is genius.

I have a couple of favorites that span opposite directions, but the one that comes to mind first is Norah Gaughan. She's been one of my design heroes for years. It's funny because my design style is nothing like Norah's, but her designs remind me to think outside the box. I've met her a couple of times and she's genuine and gracious - a true professional. 

  • What is the most important thing you've learned since becoming a designer?

Compassion. Becoming a designer has really opened my eyes to the immense amount of work, love, time and resources that go into the pattern design process. Those insights have translated into a deeper appreciation for the work of my peers, and for the work of small business owners across creative genres; I'm more keenly aware of the person behind the screen/email/storefront who's hustling to make the magic happen.

Behind the scenes!

Behind the scenes!

  • What is your best-selling pattern? Why do you think that is?

Gosh, I had to go look at the numbers. I have two best sellers that are almost tied for first place: Brookings and BeckettI think these pieces are both incredibly versatile and wearable, and flatter a range of body types

  • What is the design you are the most proud of? Why?

Eek, another hard one. I'm really proud of most of them, to be honest, but I think River Light Tee is one I was especially proud of because I challenged my usual construction process, and I think the stitch transition to the lower hem was beautifully strategic. 

River Light Tee by Olive Knits

River Light Tee by Olive Knits

  • What is your favorite quote or saying?
My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night. But, ah, my foes, and oh, my friends, it lends a lovely light.
— Edna St. Vincent Millay

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my very nosy questions with such thoughtful answers Marie! I wish you the very best on your designing journey! You can find Marie's designs on her website (be sure to check out her blog!) as well as Ravelry. She is @oliveknits on Instagram.

Are you curious about what it takes to be a knitwear designer? What the daily routine might look like? Would you like to get to know your favorite designer? Please let me know in the comments if you'd like me to reach out to anybody in particular, and whether you'd like to me to ask any specific questions!