Interview: Maria of the ‘Subway Knits’ Podcast

Venusfueri fondles yarn at Brooklyn General

Maria (aka VenusFueri) is a fellow New Yorker and the lovely host of the Queens, Astoria-based  Subway Knits Podcast! First, I want to thank her for taking a chance, being the very first KnitNook interviewee and hopefully opening doors for more interviews with other incredibly talented and inspiring knitters! My goal for this (and future interviews) is not only to bring attention to their craft, but to inspire other knitters; whether it has to do with podcasting, spinning, dying or blogging. Also, given the title of this blog, provide more insight on how to make your own “Knit Nook” functional and unique.

OK, before we get into the Q&A, I should also mention Maria is already somewhat of a podcast celebrity! Over the weekend, we met up for a knit once again at Brooklyn General, along with other lovely wooly-minded peeps, (@riaknits, @knittingknoobie, @stitchmistress) For a moment, I managed to slip away  to browse Brooklyn General’s stash, when I couldn’t help overhearing someone from another group of knitters say, “It’s her! … podcast… that’s her voice!
I figured I’d save such gossip for this post. ;-)

And so, without further ado… please take it away, Maria!

For those who have never heard about the Subway Knits Podcast, please tell us a little about it:
Subway Knits is a podcast documenting  my knitting adventures both in and out of the subway in New York City. I share what’s on and off the needles,  knitting trainwrecks (and what I’ve learned from them), knitting travels, and talk about what’s fun, new and interesting in the knitting world. The podcast also has an ongoing Queue-Along, where we work to knit things off the ever expanding queues.

What is one thing that makes your knitting podcast unique?
I think its the location of the podcast, if it can be said in that way.  In the beginning of the show, I would make the focus of the “Knitting Travels” segment my knitting adventures outside of NYC, since my husband and I love to travel. However, when the podcast took off, I realized that it can also include my knitting adventures in NYC that  are considered interesting, especially to those that are not from the area. There was the time when I tried knitting in the dark for the first time at Socrates Sculpture park for example; it gave me the opportunity to not just talk about how hard it was to knit in the dark, but to share something that is also special to NYC which is the outdoor summer movie festivals. Then there are the subway stories which are lately few and far between since I walk to work and my commute to grad school isn’t long enough for quality knitting time, but when the knitting comes out on the subway, there’s usually something fun that happens (like the time I spoke with Portuguese tourists). In addition, there are a lot of amazing designers who are from or come through NYC at some point or another and I have been lucky to meet and speak with them; I love doing the interviews for the show since it gives the listeners the opportunity to learn more about those designers who create amazing patterns and other materials that inspire us.

Who or what inspired you to pick up the microphone?
The who was the amazing group of podcasts that were established and starting shortly before I started my podcast: Knitmore Girls, Hoxton Handmade, Knit Knit Cafe and Yarngasm too! I loved their enthusiasm and passion for the subject of knitting and it showed to me that there was more to it than just sticks and string. The what was I did feel that there weren’t enough podcasts from the East Coast of the US and I thought that giving the perspective of someone who has lived in NYC the majority of her life would give a different take on knitting since NYC does inspire and shape how and what I knit in many different ways.

Briefly describe how and when you learned to knit?
Knitting was always in the back of my mind as my mom is quite crafty herself (needlepoint, drawing, ceramics) and after trying to figure out how to knit via YouTube (which was a disaster), I was able to meet up with a local group in Astoria while I was home for Japan on holiday. They taught me the basic knit, purl and cast on and I was off like a shot. When I got back to Japan for my final stint, I was inspired by the awesome yarn and local temple craft fairs to push myself further and made my first pair of socks and did some cabling within the first month of picking up the needles.

What is your favorite thing about podcasting?
Sharing my enthusiasm for knitting with others in various formats (audio, blog, message board) and as such, being able to take the enthusiasm and knowledge and sense of community to a whole new level that I would have never imagined doing when I first picked up the needles.

VenusFueri’s ‘Fetching’, knit in Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend

What is one goal you have for the show?

To get the Knitting History segment off and running, especially now that I have amassed Knitting on Top of the World by Nicki Epstein, and Knitting Around the World by Lela Nargi as well as other resources about knitting history. That segment is definitely going to be alot of fun because it combines my love for history and knitting but getting the information together and writing up something is the tricky part.

What other podcasts about knitting can you recommend?
I LOVE the UK podcasts: A Playful Day, Hoxton Handmade, Miss Elle Knits, Knit. Spin. Cake., Caithness Craft Collective, iMake, as well as Fluffy Fibres, Stash and Burn, 2 Knit Lit Chicks, The Knitmore Girls (:::runs to check iTunes for the rest of them…:::), Knit Knit Cafe, Knitajourney, Knitting Pipeline, The Manic Purl, Never Not Knitting, Just One More Row, Knitcircus, and soooo many more. And let’s not get started on the NON-knitting podcasts.

What is it about a pattern that inspires you to knit it?
First the design aesthetic – I really have to go “OOOO. LOVE. WANT.” to knit it. Second, I always ask myself, will it fit in my wardrobe and fit my personal style? Third, will I enjoy knitting it, regardless of who I am knitting it for (myself or someone else – which is a bit rare unless it’s my younger sister, who receives many knits and demands more).

VenusFueri’s Hemlock ‘Ring Blanket’ by Jared Flood

Who is your favorite knitwear designer?
Hands down, Brooklyn Tweed. Then we have patterns from the contributors to Quince & Co and St. Denis, Amy Christoffers and Ysolda. It’s a dash of urban flair, a dash of whimsy and a splash of prep which is what my personal style is.
Where is your favorite place to knit? Right now, in the basement of Word in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with the girls from No Sheep Till Brooklyn. It’s fun, its BYO-whatever (usually wine, cheese, pita, hummus and cupcakes) and with awesome people. I love to knit socially.

When at home, where is it that you knit and what is it about the space that makes it yours?
Right now, I really don’t have a space to call my own – I usually knit on the couch or at my desk However, Mel (the husband) just informed me recently that when we get the rest of the pieces for our tv unit, he will move his behemoth of an (evil) PC into the unit (don’t ask me why but he has plans to put it in one of the bookcases and connect it to the tv) but it means that the part of the bedroom which is “our” office space will become my “office/knitting area.”

Please describe your dream knitting nook and / or room.
Right now, I can say I have plans for that piece of wall in the bedroom: there will be plum vertical stripes painted along the wall. A desk with drawers to hold the extra sock yarn stashed amidst lesson plans and my gradebooks. Lot’s of shelves to hold knitting books, decor stuff (think brass bookends, milk glass and etsy finds) and the printer (to print worksheets but more importantly, knitting patterns). I will FINALLY get my Manhattan poster framed and hung with various travel photos and a drawing of the Moulin Rouge my uncle got when he went to Paris. I definitely need a cozy chair, and I’m thinking a Poang chair with a slip cover. There is still going to be a bookcase because I have way too many books (but having the knitting ones on shelves means more space for more knitting books!) Essentially, its IKEA meets Pottery Barn meets etsy meets Pinterest rolled into one. Still working on it, but I’ll make it work.

Venusfueri’s ‘I Carry Ur Heart” Fingerless Mitts, knit in Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted

How do you store your stash?
The summer I got back home from Japan, I worked at MUJI which is a Japanese-based lifestyle store in SoHo. They have these awesome storage drawers, but they are expensive. However, since I worked there, I was able to get some mildly damaged ones for 90% off. I call them the Two Towers because they are tall and skinny, but I have since outgrown them. I have another drawer set which is hidden in the closet. And then we have the PhD basket with more yarn in there, but we won’t talk about that. (^_~).

So tell us, where is the weirdest place you’ve ever knit?

While waiting on line at Studio Square in Astoria waiting for a Greek concert to start. Studio Square is a beer  garden with a VERY big European vibe which makes it a weird place to begin with, but then add a knitter amongst the other Greek Americans with their frappes and cell phones. It can make for a very strange scene.

Thank you so much for sharing! And now, please use the following space to say anything you’d like!

Thanks to Kristin for hosting me and asking me really thoughtful questions, and I hope that if you haven’t heard of the show, that the answers have piqued your interest. Love to hear from listeners!

Subscribe to the Subway Knits Podcast via iTunes, or visit her blog. Check out more of Maria’s FO’s on Ravelry: VenusFueri