Interview with Laurie Perry, aka Crazy Aunt Purl

Knitting with Kitties

Laurie Perry, better known on the Internet as Crazy Aunt Purl, is the author of two knitting-related memoirs, and . She talked to me about learning to knit, favorite designers and knitting for animals.

About: For those who haven't read your books, how did you get started knitting?

Laurie Perry: I was going through a messy and expensive and tipsy divorce and I had awful insomnia. One of my friends had just taken up knitting and she invited me to a basic knitting class at a local yarn shop; I think she was just trying to get me out of my house.

I had zero interest in learning to knit, but I went anyway and I was hooked after the first class!

I went home and knitted on that first scarf until I ran out of yarn. I was addicted. I didn’t know how to bind off yet, so I just bought more needles and yarn to make another scarf. I kept doing that until I realized I had to learn to bind off.

About: What are some of your favorite things to knit?

LP: Scarves, scarves and more scarves! I have a deep unabiding love of the rectangle. I also like to make little projects, like hats and hand warmers and mittens. I like portable projects.

Lately everyone I know is having babies so I’ve started making baby sweaters and they’re fun because they’re so tiny. But my favorite project right now is anything in entrelac.

About: Do you have any favorite knitting designers or can't miss blogs you like to read?

LP: When I first started knitting I had a terrible time following patterns and all the shorthand that makes a pattern read like a foreign language.

So I started with very simple things or improvised.

Now I look for patterns that make sense to me or that I think are well-written, Melanie Falick does a great job with this and so does Candy Jensen. I’ll buy any book either of them write.

With blogs it’s a little trickier because I don’t have a lot of time online for surfing and I have to balance out my love of knitting versus my addiction to travel and food websites.

So many blogs! So little time!

About: The new book is all about fulfilling your New Year's resolutions. Any new knitting-related goals for 2010?

LP: In 2010 I want to knit myself a sweater. There. I said it out loud. First I want to lose some weight because then there will be less stockinette to knit. I can’t tell if this is a case of my New Year’s Resolutions working together to get me to a greater goal or of me procrastinating on a higher level.

About: I read the story on your blog about the knit dinosaur dog sweater. Have you ever tried to knit clothes for your cats?

LP: My health insurance is good, but not that good! My cats would stage an insurrection if I tried to dress them. Besides, I’m already single and divorced in Los Angeles with a herd of cats. I don’t need a lot more crazy on my resume.

About: In the new book you talk about knitting your first socks and then not wearing them. Have you broken them out yet? Have you knit more socks since then?

LP: My beautiful handmade socks still sit alone, untouched, unworn in my sock drawer. I haven’t knit more socks but I have made an alarming amount of baby booties to go with the crop of baby sweaters I’ve made for friends.

I didn’t catch sock fever, I guess.

Maybe I have a natural immunity to it since I live in a place where we regularly wear flip-flops.

About: Any other fun knitting projects in the works?

LP: In my closet there are two huge plastic bins full of gorgeous 100 percent wool in all different colors. I bought it when I first started knitting and have yet to use it. I bought about four skeins of each color (it was on sale online somewhere and I was still in the mad frenzy of a first-time knitter stocking the stash hoard) so I didn’t really buy enough for a big project in a single color.

I think I want to turn that wool into a roomy felted shoulder bag, maybe big enough for an overnight bag. We’ll see.

About: Anything else you want to add?

LP: Two of my close friends got into knitting a few months ago and it’s been so much fun trading patterns, talking about yarn and ooohing and aaaahing over each other’s projects.

Last week we were frantically emailing each other about a big sale on Noro yarn.

It’s a shared experience. I stopped a complete stranger in the grocery store to compliment her entrelac scarf recently. That’s what I love about knitting -- it isn’t just a hobby, it’s a whole extension of your creativity shared by anyone who picks up string and sticks. And you can take it with you!