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Melissa Morgan-Oakes
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Most of us knit or crochet to relax. What do you do? Knit and crochet, of course! I also sew and garden, walk and jog with my dog, kayak, and lose myself in classic literature or a really good old movie.

What’s the most unlikely place you’ve ever knitted or crocheted? Sitting on the floor outside the restroom on a cross-country Amtrak train. It was the only place that had a free outlet for me to charge my phone, and I knit while I waited to get the battery juiced up!

Which knitting and crochet luminaries (living or dead) would you invite to a dream dinner party?
I think I had that dream party at Sock Summit 2009 at the teacher’s dinner! The assembled crowd was very impressive, and I remember feeling as if I’d been invited by mistake. The only person missing was Elizabeth Zimmermann, who I would have dearly loved to know. Present were Cat Bordhi, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, Judith MacKenzie-McCuin, Barbara Walker (!!!), Meg Swansen, Nancy Bush, Anna Zilboorg and many, many more. It was pretty amazing.

Tell us about your most unusual teaching experience.
Most of my knitting teaching experiences have been pretty normal. The most unusual teaching experience ever would probably be as a homeschooling mom trying to balance the very unique learning styles of two completely different children. They managed to create a whole lot of VERY unusual experiences!

What’s your favorite tool in your knitting bag? Why?
Probably my assorted size Chibi needles in their little holder, or the multi-tasking Clover locking ring markers. Although I do have a soft spot for my mother’s old Gingher snips. And then there’s the stitch markers my daughter hand made for me in sterling silver, and my grandmother’s crochet hooks… maybe choosing one favorite isn’t something I do well!

What’s the latest knitting or crochet technique you learned that rocked your world? Sandi Rosner taught me how to do a Russian join in the bar at TNNA a few years ago. It changed my knitting life, and I still don’t know how I hadn’t known about it before then!

When you look at another designer’s work, what makes you say “wow”? Originality of design balanced perfectly and magically with simplicity of execution. Most knitters knit to enjoy, so “knittability” rates high with me. At the same time I love to see unique presentations – as I think we all do. When a designer can combine both, it gets my attention.

Have you ever seen one of your designs on someone “in the wild”? What’s that feeling like? Although I design mostly socks, I have designed full sized garments and now and again I run across one in the wild, and I usually feel a little awed. It’s always a thrill to see something you designed on someone, knowing they willingly chose your pattern from the thousands and thousands to choose from in the knitting world.

As a famous knitting (or crochet) teacher, you must travel a lot. Do you have any secret airport vices you’d like to share? I am a Starbucks addict, and I live about forty minutes from the nearest one. There are lots of them in airports, though. The second I am off the plane, I make a direct run for the nearest Starbucks kiosk. At home I only drink black coffee, but when I travel it’s a treat to sneak a latte. You could call my name, ask me to stop and chat, but until I have that cup in my hand you’re likely not getting my full attention.

One last thing - what are you most looking forward to about STITCHES? The amazing students! Last year was so wonderful, and I look forward to meeting a whole new group of eager learners!

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