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Ragga Eiriksdottir
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Most of us knit or crochet to relax. What do you do? Sometimes my knitting or crochet is very relaxing and I truly enjoy every stitch. But other times, for example if I’m knitting to make a deadline or if I’m trying to figure out a way to execute something that’s only in my mind I can feel very excited or stressed when knitting. My other ways to relax include lounging at one of Reykjavík’s many geothermal pools, reading a good book, watching a crappy TV show or listening to a really good podcast.

What’s the most unlikely place you’ve ever knitted or crocheted? Hmm, I’d probably have to say while walking in a remote beautiful valley in the West fjords with a wonderful group of knitters on one of my knitting tours.
Which knitting and crochet luminaries (living or dead) would you invite to a dream dinner party? Wow! This would be so much fun but my list would be pretty long if I were to include all the people I like to hang out with plus the masters I respect. So let’s say I have room for seven people around the table. I would love to invite my late great grandmother Rúna, who was an amazing knitter and her husband, my great grandfather Friðrik, who also used to knit with his wife whenever the weather was too bad for fishing out on his boat. Of course I have to name my all-time guru and in my view the Yoda of knitting, Elizabeth Zimmermann, and I’d also love to have Meg Swansen (i.e. Obi Wan Kenobi of knitting) come along because she’s awesome. Then I’d ask Franklin Habit to come and bring his awesome Dolores along (she doesn’t count because only Franklin sees her) because I love them both to pieces, and Stephen West because I can’t get enough of him and my dear super-inspirational friend Cirilia Rose because she oozes happiness and joy of life. But as I said, this is just a small fraction of my laminated list of awesome knitting people.

Tell us about your most unusual teaching experience. Sitting with my student on my lap, facing away from me, me knitting and my student’s hands on top of mine feeling the movement. I did this a lot with my daughter when she was little and now my two year old granddaughter is starting to enjoy my “lessons”.

What’s your favorite tool in your knitting bag? Why? It’s my 32” US7 needles because I use them for almost everything I knit. I use them for working back and forth and I use them for working both small and large diameters in the round. I mostly use Lopi in my garments and this is most often the best size for my working gauge.

What’s the latest knitting or crochet technique you learned that rocked your world? Yarnovers at the beginning of a row that I learned from the lovely Gudrun Johnston. She came as a guest teacher on one of my tours this summer and did an amazing class on Shetland lace. This technique creates the perfect edge for picking up stitches for a border.

When you look at another designer’s work, what makes you say “wow”? Often it’s the beauty in simple but clever constructions, as examples I can name Cookie A’s new garment collection Shapes + Form, Stephen West’s architectural shawl designs and let’s not forget the knitting engineering masterpiece Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Baby Surprise Jacket (I’ve probably knit fifteen of those).

Have you ever seen one of your designs on someone “in the wild”? What’s that feeling like? Yes I see my sweaters a lot in Iceland and it always feels amazing. I’ve also seen my sweaters several times at knitting events in USA and each time I almost fainted. It’s exhilarating!

As a famous knitting (or crochet) teacher, you must travel a lot. Do you have any secret airport vices you’d like to share? No coffee and no alcohol 24 hours before the flights and none on the flight. Lot’s of water and a really, really, really, good podcast or criminal novel on the MP3 player.

One last thing - what are you most looking forward to about STITCHES? The people and the atmosphere. It’s so wonderful to get to spend a few days among knitters that totally immerse themselves in their craft for the duration of the event. It’s almost impossible to describe that kind of vibrant creativity, you just have to show up!

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