Knitters You Should Know: JayKayKnits

Meet JayKayKnits!  Jennifer Kelley is an awesome knitter from North Carolina.  I love her use of deep, rich colors- in combination with her dreamy photography, JayKayKnits is one you don’t want to miss.  Jennifer also manages to pull off a wonderful feat in her designs- a successful combination of chunky, cozy knits and graceful, delicate, lacy designs- and all of them are beautiful.  Make sure to check out Jennifer’s blog, designer page, and flickr!

How did you get into knitting?

It sounds strange, but I was inspired by a group of kids. About three years ago, I was working at the Boys and Girls Club in Portland, Oregon. A co-worker started a group for the kids called “the yarn group” (creative, right?), and one day she asked me to step in and watch them for a few minutes while she ran out and did something. I was amazed at how these kids could pick up knitting – a lot of them were still in the beginning stages (finger knitting, practicing slipknots, etc), but it was still cool. That evening after work I picked up some crappy needles and some crappy yarn and started googling. The rest is history.

Do you have a ‘real world’ job other than design? If so, what do you do? 

Up until the end of this past school year I was working in Special Education. Unfortunately, due to the lovely budget problems being faced throughout the nation, my position was cut. So I’m on the (semi) job hunt now, with hopes to get a Master’s degree in Speech Therapy in the very near future.

Where are you from? Do you have one or two interesting insider tips or observations about your home or hometown? 

I was born in Amarillo, Texas but spent most of my life in Asheville, North Carolina. After college, I traveled around a bit, and my husband and I have luckily found ourselves back in Asheville. Asheville is an amazing city – there’s so much to do! Within 15 minutes of my house there are 5 yarn stores, so it’s definitely an awesome place to be a knitter!

What is your favorite knitting spot? Do you have an ‘artistic process’ when it comes to knitting and design, or do you tote the needles wherever you go? 

I don’t really have a favorite knitting spot. I’m definitely known to take my knitting with me everywhere I go! The park, baseball games, bars – I’ll knit pretty much anywhere! But I will say it’s hard to beat curling up on the couch at home with tea, kitty snuggles, knitting and something to watch on Netflix.

Describe your average day.

Well most recently, my days consist of waking up, going for a run, knitting while watching The Tour de France, and hanging out with my husband when he gets home from work. I’ve also been trying to re-read the Harry Potter series before the final movie comes out.

Tell me about your favorite project. 

It’s hard to choose a favorite project – they all have a special place in my heart. I really love my Merlot Lace pullover or my Sweet Potato sweater – they are both really great fits, and I love wearing them.

What is your favorite quote? 

Quotes aren’t really something that I tend to remember. I’m not totally sure why? But one of my favorite song lyrics comes from an Avett Brothers song, and it says “If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected”. I try to remember it when I’m feeling down or sad.

If you could have one splurge knitting purchase and project, what would it be? 

One knitting splurge…. this is a hard one! There are so many different yarns I haven’t tried that I want to try! But the main one is probably Madelinetosh. The colors are just to die for. I’d love to have a closet full of sweaters knitted from Madelinetosh!

Who is your favorite knitwear designer and why? 

Also hard to pick just one – there are so many wonderfully talented designers! Right now, I’m really loving almost all of Norah Gaughan’s patterns, as well as Veera Välimäki’s. They’re so chic and stylish.

Do you have any hobbies other than knitting? 

Not particularly. I love to read and discover new music, and my husband and I love hiking and exploring our beautiful surroundings.

What is in your knitting bag right now? 

Oh gosh. Pretty much everything! I have multiple WIPs, pens, pencils, erasers, scissors, notebooks, stitch markers, sewing needles, scrap yarn and my camera, which goes with me everywhere.

Do you have any advice for new knitters trying to refine their craft, or trying to start designing? Any tips about self-publication? 

This is a hard one. When I first started knitting, everyone kept saying “you should sell that!”, so I did. I opened an Etsy shop and made lots of things to go in there, and I thought that was my knitting niche. I was wrong. After a few months of knitting the same things over and over again, I got bored. So I just knitted for myself. Then I slowly got into designing, having designed all the things going into my shop. I still enjoy doing that, and have tons and tons of sketches that need to be knitted, but recently I’ve just enjoyed knitting some for my family and others. The best advice I can give is to just do what makes you happy. Part of the reason I love knitting so much is because it relaxes me, so if I find that I’m doing something that makes it not relaxing, then I shouldn’t be doing it. Another thing that I think newer knitters should keep in mind is that you have nothing to be afraid of. Try the hard stuff. It will only help you learn. And if you mess up? You start over again. No big deal.

What is your favorite item to design? 

I really love hats and cowls. I’m starting to discover that my favorite thing to design is colorwork. I’m working on an awesome colorwork hat that I hope to have released in the fall.

Do you think the internet is changing knitwear design? If so, how? 

Absolutely! I wouldn’t have even learned how to knit if it wasn’t for the Internet. And Ravelry… I just can’t say enough amazing things about Ravelry. It’s such an amazing tool. I really feel like knitting is getting younger – and I think the Internet is helping with that. It’s becoming more mainstream and I love that I can just google anything I want to know about it and there will be a video or a tutorial or something to help me.

 What is the weirdest comment you’ve gotten about knitting? 

I’m not sure if this is weird, really, but the most common comment I get is “Oh it’s so unusual to see someone your age knitting! That’s so great!” But I’ve also found that most people think I’m in high school or early college aged, but in reality I’m almost 28, so that’s probably why I get that comment so often.

What role, if any, do you think knitting will have in your life in ten years? 

I hope a huge one! Hopefully I’ll be living in an awesome old house with a couple of kids, knitting sweaters and socks for everyone. I also have a goal to self publish a book of knitting patterns at some point in my life, so maybe I will have done that.

2 Responses to “Knitters You Should Know: JayKayKnits”
  1. Great interview!! Isn’t her work incredible??

  2. Maya says:

    I love Jen! She’s super talented. What a great interview. :)

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