Meet the Designer: Ruth Garcia-Alcantud of Rock + Purl

If you haven't heard yet, we are so excited about the booklets coming out from Stitch Sprouts that feature 3 of our most popular yarns - For Better or Worsted, Cricket, and Squishy! Over the next few weeks we will be introducing you to some of the designers who contributed to the booklets. Today's spotlight is on Ruth Garcia-Alcantud of Rock + Purl

 Ruth wearing Clementine, knit in Squishy, shown in Seaside and Poppy.

Ruth wearing Clementine, knit in Squishy, shown in Seaside and Poppy.

What drew you to designing?

A very misshapen sweater following a pattern that I didn't write! I had just taken up knitting again in my early 20s and I realized I could apply my math and dressmaking knowledge to my advantage - from there on, modifications to existing patterns happened first, then designing my own once I had created a “vision” of sorts for my brand.

How do you encourage a novice to take up knitting?

Don’t be afraid! Everyone learns differently - whether it’s from a book, looking at someone else’s hands (maybe YouTube?) or even just hearing what your hands are supposed to do. Find out your learning method and follow through. I believe all teachers should be encouraging and nurturing, not scaremongers that tell you what you’re doing wrong; so if you find yourself not entirely loving whoever is teaching you, move on to someone better!

 Ruth wearing Mediterranean, in Mermaid, shown in Cornflower. (As Mermaid is discontinued, try it in Meridian or Milky Way!) 

Ruth wearing Mediterranean, in Mermaid, shown in Cornflower. (As Mermaid is discontinued, try it in Meridian or Milky Way!) 

What's your favorite LYS?

I make a point of doing a bit of yarn tourism when I travel. Since I’m from Spain and visit family there occasionally, and my husband is from England, we have become regulars at some shops in those places! I am somewhat new to the Bay Area, and have found Knitterly in Petaluma, CA, to be an exquisite shop. 

My heart will also have a soft spot for Churchmouse in Bainbridge Island, WA - I had just started designing and the staff were very encouraging and sweet!

Favorite Anzula colorway? Line?

That’s just like asking which one of these cakes you want to try first! ALL OF THEM! I guess my fave fave line is Squishy, or maybe FBOW? Colorway? The brighter the better! Gimme all of them!

 Maighdean Mhara, knit in Mermaid, shown in Seaside. (Again, if you don't have any Mermaid squirreled away, try it in Meridian or Milky Way!) 

Maighdean Mhara, knit in Mermaid, shown in Seaside. (Again, if you don't have any Mermaid squirreled away, try it in Meridian or Milky Way!) 

Do you have other patterns available in our yarns?

Clementine, Mediterranean, Maighdean Mhara, and Rockpool. And there’ll be more to come since I’ve 3 sweater lots waiting to be worked up!

Tell us about your projects in the booklets!

 Alexa, knit in Cricket, shown in Poppy.

Alexa, knit in Cricket, shown in Poppy.

Alexa is an idea that had been floating on my head for a while - a slight positive ease garment with an A-line body, turned-up hems for stability and beauty, and a diagonal lace panel. It’s worked top-down (which is a true departure from my usual seamed pieces!) in one piece to the armholes, and the lace can be expanded as far as you wish!

 Limetta, knit in For Better or Worsted, shown in Seaside and Avocado.

Limetta, knit in For Better or Worsted, shown in Seaside and Avocado.

Limetta is a hooded vest with a twist. It features Stockinette and Cables for texture, while relying on dressmaking techniques for the pocket placements and the zipper insertion. The I-cords on the body edges reflect the intarsia stripe edging on the hood… and with pompoms on the hood cords, there’s not a lot you can’t like about this!

Favorite TV show to watch or music to listen to while knitting?

I binge watch shows - I recently revisited The Killing, and am now going through The Good Wife. Music… I tend to listen to music when I’m doing desk work mostly! Right now, Spotify is playing the “Peace” playlist (you can find it under the Mood section). It’s a lot of instrumental, easy listening, calm music!

 Rockpool, knit in Milky Way, shown in Slate.

Rockpool, knit in Milky Way, shown in Slate.

What's the most overlooked aspect of designing or knitting a finished piece?

The finishing. 

I understand knitters want to WEAR THIS NOW. But when you think you’ve spent hours and hours knitting a piece, why would you diss the finishing aspect so much? In a couple of hours you can seam up a sweater with sleeves - they offer better stability, the piece won’t roll around your body and the seams create a better figure. 

And weaving in ends! Change skeins at the edges of a piece to weave them in after seaming, along the seam line - instant invisibility! If you’re working in the round, don’t always change on the same spot! Alternate where your skeins end and use duplicate stitching to make those ends seamlessly disappear.

Do you teach classes? Where?

Right now I’m teaching drop-in 2 hour help sessions at K2tog in Albany, CA. I am lined up to teach throughout the 3 days of Vogue Knitting Live in Pasadena in April 2015! If you’re going, I’d love to see you in my classes/lectures, or even catch up for a selfie along the halls!


You can keep up with Ruth online on her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and in her Ravelry group!  

Thank you to Ruth for the interview! You can get your booklets right now on Ravelry, or soon at your LYS. Watch for more interviews coming soon with some of the other Stitch Sprouts designers who created pieces for the booklets!