I am sure that most of you are familiar with Rosemary Hill, aka Romi Hill.
She is the talented designer of beautiful lace, such as the Ice Queen Cowl, Brandywine Shawl, Maia Shawlette, and many other incredible designs. She is well known for her stunning shawl pins and knitting-inspired jewelry. She is the author of Elements of Style (fabulous knitted jewelry). Her designs and jewelry have been featured in Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits and more.
Romi is also my friend. I met her through blogging and then in person at Yarnover. She is a sweet, lovely, generous person; talented beyond description and truly creative and original.
Romi lives in the breathtaking wine country of California with a husband and two growing boys. Both Romi and her husband work from home and also home school their kids, so “close knit” really applies to their household. Romi agreed to be subjected to an informal phone interview with me as I attempted to find out what makes her tick as a designer.
S: Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for our blog! Sally and I both admire your work tremendously.
R: My pleasure!
S: When did you really start to feel like your design career was taking off? Was there a moment when you thought, “I have arrived?”
R: Have I arrived? I live in my myopic little world and am unaware of what’s going on out there [in the knitting world]. There are a lot of people who don’t know who I am, but then someone will come up to me and recognize me! I think things started to take off at the end of 2009. I was asked to design for a few magazines and then Brandywine came out. I don’t know if it was the combination of it being a quick, one-skein shawl and the charitable aspect of it [Help for Haiti], but things seemed to take off then.
S: I always thought of Ice Queen as a turning point [Ice Queen appeared in Knitty in Winter 2007 and there are over 1400 projects in Ravelry].
S: And seeing your shawl pins discussed in Vogue! How much time do you spend a day on your jewelry and designing?
R: I spend probably more time per day than people with regular jobs — at least 8-10 hours a day, and also one or both weekend days. I kind of pick away at it all the time.
S: I associate your work with lace. Is that your focal area?
R: I love lace, I really do. I love the negative space. Before I started designing shawls I did a lot of texture and sweaters. I would love to combine cables and lace into something.
S: Sally and I are both making Leyfi (pronounced Lie-Fee, shown above). What inspired that particular design?
R: It started when I saw a lace cowl and thought, “That type of thing would look great as the neck of a sweater.” Then the concept of a doily and a round yoke took shape. I wanted to make an Icelandic-type sweater with lace. Eunny [Yang, Interweave Knits editor] thought something softer would be better and suggested Tinka [Merino Roving by Tahki] mixed with cobweb weight cashmere and silk [Superior by Filatura Di Crosa] would be softer next to the skin.
S: Ya think? It is very pricey yarn!
R: True! But I needed something chunky to achieve the look I wanted.
S: How do you come up with appropriate sizes?
R: I use standard guidelines and reference books. Plus, I check the fit along the way.
S: My Leyfi appears to be fitting perfectly, so something is working!
S: Sally and I are also making your Maia Shawlette (above). It, too, is an extremely clever design! We love the variation you came up with on the garter tab cast on [incorporating a large leaf]. I also love the fact that the border works with any number of repeats.
R: I have started doing that with all my shawls. People have different amounts of yardage and want different sized shawls. This way they can make it the size they want.
S: I love your shawlettes: they make use of one skein of sock yarn.
R: I like that, too. I love sock yarn but do not like to knit socks. This way I can use the sock yarn I have accumulated!
S: I’m with you there! I love sock yarn and don’t like knitting socks either! What inspires you?
R: Taking walks [in the wine country] inspires me. It is beautiful!
S: What’s next for you?
R: I have three secret projects going, the 2011 Pins & Lace Club is coming up, and I am continuing to work on my Seven Shawls to Knit E-Book.
S: I’m going to have to knit faster to keep up!
R: I’ll try to design faster to give you something to knit!
I want to thank Romi for taking the time to talk to me today. My next Romi project will be the stunningly beautiful Fiori di Sole:
Stop, Romi! I’m way behind already!