project ten: take six

February 8, 2011

someone who inspires me to be greater,
a force of nature, a woman among men among women,
is the magnificent rupaul.
on his amazing show dragrace,
rupaul is looking for four qualities in her queens:


i have taken these words as my mantra,
not only for my own way of being in the world,
but also in what i’m looking for in the people i surround myself with.

of course, any person i interview must have these qualities as well,
and my next guest has them in spades.

“I learned to knit as a young girl from my hilarious Nana. Years later, I used a copy of the venerable Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book to try to recreate Kurt Cobain’s signature cardigan. I never finished it. Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ‘N Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook came out when I was in college and reawakened my dormant knitting skills; the desire to design came soon after.”

and so my lovelies, i present to you,
miss cirilia rose!


did you survive the blizzard?

If by survive you mean “burrow into wool blankets and only emerge for snacks,” then yes, I survived brilliantly!

ready to get started?

SO ready!

alrighty then, let’s spin the wheel!

ten questions for cirilia rose.

1 – ok cirilia. there’s only one right answer to this question. if you get it wrong, we might as well quit right now; english or continental?

HA! Well, this might sound dodgy, but it’s true—I knit both ways! I taught myself to knit Continental about 5 years ago, but I still revert to throwing, especially when I’m doing something fiddly like lace or cables. But I adore picking for long stretches of stockinette.

2 – such a diplomat. the question that i want to ask most is how exactly did you get your job at berocco? i’ve stalked the previous incarnations of your blog (both blogger and wordpress) and there’s just not enough info. i need more details!

Sure! It was a bit crazy, I was modeling at a Webs photo shoot and I got a phone call from Norah [Gaughan]. She invited me to apply for the job and how could I say no? We’d met at Webs and Stitches events and gotten along well, laughing over the Red Sox and various nerdy interests. I think I was really struck by how down to earth she was. At the interview she told me she’d read an interview in Knitscene where I said my dream job was to be a magazine editor. She thought that would be a good match for the job since one of my duties is writing KnitBits, our weekly e-newsletter.

3 – when did you know that this is it? that designing would be your life?

To be honest, that is a decision I have to make everyday. I never planned this for myself, and it has happened quite accidently. It took a few years to even be comfortable with the title, and now I’m feeling like, “okay, I have the interest and some natural talent, all that is missing is the skills set.” I never considered going to school for fashion design or textiles and while I have learned a lot on the fly, a big part of me longs for an academic do-over.

Then again, the things I DID study (consumer culture, cultural studies, aesthetics) certainly play into my designing now. I love to think about material culture and the role of costume in constructing identity.

4 – as a knitter, i find that i am constantly getting jealous of other people’s f.o.’s. do you ever get jealous of other people’s designs?

Oh HECK YES!! It is currently blizzarding in Northeast for what feels like the billionth time this winter, and I was feeling sorry for myself because I have no hand knit gloves, and have been wearing the same sad looking hats for many seasons. It TOTALLY bums me out that I can’t knit more for friends and family and that I can’t drop everything and knit through the massive stash I’ve acquired. I have daydreams where I knit things to sell at Craftland, my local crafty wares emporium.

As for design jealousy, sure, there are times when I think, “I wish I had thought of that!” but for the most part, we’re all making pretty different stuff, so I just “Ooooh, ahhhh, queue!” like everyone else.

5 – you have created so many successful designs; your gallery jacket, shibuya, and paz are three of my favorites.

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but i wonder, have you ever designed something, knitted it up, and then realized it was a dud?

Oh, only all the time!! There are very few designs that I’m actually happy with, to be honest. Which is part Virgonean perfectionism, part newbie designerness. The duds are usually the ones that are forced or rushed. When a project is fighting with me at every stage, I develop a bit of animosity towards it that doesn’t bode well for its future. If I have the time, I will rip and rip and rip. If you’re thinking for a second “maybe I should rip this…” do it. I have never regretted it, and re-knitting those lost inches always seems to go quickly.

6 – of course, you don’t “just” design for berocco, you blog for them as well. can you talk a little bit about what the blogging process is like for you?

…well…I’ll be honest, it is pretty hard for us to blog these days, we’re so busy! I am putting much more effort into our Twitter account, which feels so manageable. I can Tweet from photo shoots, from the mall, from my bed where I’m knitting. Putting together a blog post can feel cumbersome by comparison, so we’re saving it for special occasions.

7 – as a blogger, i am always on the lookout for other knitting blogs that are unique, inspirational, and perhaps most importantly, post on a regular basis. do you have any favorite blogs that you follow, either knitting or non?

In addition to not blogging much, I’m also reading fewer blogs than I used to! But when I do get a minute to check in, I really love reading Wikstenmade’s blog. She is a gorgeous Brooklyn based clothing designer who has this wonderful blend of urban minimalism and rustic Scandinavian style. I’m also a bit smitten with ReadyMade magazine’s team of bloggers. Concise, interesting posts that compel me to DO rather than buy…much appreciated!

8 – you may remember, readers, it was stephanie dosen (a.k.a. tiny owl knits) who nominated miss cirilia rose for this interview. stephanie wanted to ask, “what she feeds the pixie army in her head to create her gorgeous arsenal of fantastic designs?” well, what do you feed them cirilia?

That was definitely one of the best things ever written about me, and it was SO flattering coming from Stephanie because I am a huge, huge fan of hers!! Fantasy Cirilia has knit all of her garments and is wearing a Fawncho right now, with a pair of Meow Mitts!

As for my pixie army, I feed them German sour gummis and microbrews. Also, lots and lots of movies. I am obsessed with cinema. I can indulge my love for history and costume and like a toddler, return to my favorites again and again. A recent favorite is a Japanese film called Wool 100%. I would marry Netflix if I could.

9 – there are so many awesome designs and designers right now that it can be a little overwhelming we mere mortals to sift through them all. ignoring yourself obviously, who do you think is the designer of the moment? that “it” girl or boy that we shouldn’t ignore?

I will choose one of each! Selfishly, I love Amy Christoffers (SavoryKnitting on Ravelry), and even managed to knit her Acer cardigan last year. She is such a great example of how beautiful restraint can be. She doesn’t throw in every technique in her arsenal, and many of her garments are partially seamless, but not TOTALLY seamless, which is a hybrid approach I really love.

My favorite boy is the adorable Stephen West! He travels, he casts amazing models, he isn’t afraid of color and he is a joyful person, which shows in his knitwear. I think he is well positioned to hop over to London and join the ranks of Fassett and Mably.

10 – way to own that question. i adore selfishness! which brings us nicely to your final question; if you could interview one person for project 10, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I just took a class with Josh Bennett, a hot ticket who is currently at FIT studying menswear. I am ecstatic that more men are designing, because it makes the knitting landscape that much more interesting and because personally I love to borrow from the boys when designing and dressing myself. I would love to know how Josh is translating his cut-and-sew curriculum into new knitwear.

well cirilia, thanks so much for being here. you gave some real pageant realness!

It was a pleasure! A curtsy and Vaselined smile for you!

*cirilia rose (28) lives in providence, rhode island, a little city whose idiosyncratic details prove to be the perfect place to inspire a young designer. you can find her working along side norah gaughan at the amazing new england based yarn company, berroco. you can find her designs on ravelry, follow her blog for berroco and on twitter @berrocodesign .