Designer Interview: Alicia Plummer

Alicia and her kiddos!

As promised, I’ve got the second half of the Plum Dandi duo here today- Alicia Plummer! Alicia’s chic and wearable designs have just blown me away, I want them all in my wardrobe. Before we dive in, a little background:

Alicia is a stay at home mom in rural Maine. She loves to laugh, she’s hopelessly messy, and she always has at least 3 designs on the needles at any time. Her husband, two daughters, and animals keep her very busy during the day while she ATTEMPTS to balance homeschooling, housework, designing, playing, faith, excercise, and cleaning…and fails miserably. But she sure has fun trying!

Hi Alicia! Thanks for joining us! Can you tell us about your first experience with Malabrigo?

Well, family knows best! When I first started knitting, both my mother and my Aunt were very adamant about the tools I used and the supplies I purchased. When you’re making things, I was told, you never use cheap material. My mother, a quilter, really encouraged my newfound love of fiber and took me on a little yarn spree to a LYS. I’m a toucher, and Malabrigo was the first yarn that spoke to my fingertips. The store had a huge selection of Merino Worsted in every color imaginable. This may sound strange, but my immediate desire was to get a whole bed covered in this yarn and roll in it! Or wear it head to toe. (Maybe I should design a blanket out of it? Maybe I should build a fort next to yours, Alex, and we can be neighbors?)

I bought 2 skeins of Worsted in Bijou Blue, completely intending to knit something for myself. The blue reminded me of a gently clouded sky midsummer. I thought I was buying it to match my eyes…(little did I know!)

Ironically, as often happens in this house, the skeins were hijacked into becoming a cute little vest for Rebekah who was 2 at the time. I won’t leave you guessing who the designer was…that’s right! Thanks to Malabrigo, Melissa Schaschwary and I met when I knitted her Heathcliff Vest out of the Bijou Blue! We got chatting on Rav, and now we have a friendship that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Heathcliff Vest by Melissa Schaschwary. “At least it matches Rebekah’s eyes too, right?”

Aw, what a cool way to make a friend! What was your first design in Malabrigo?

My first design in Malabrigo was Shaw Hill in Malabrigo Chunky. I wanted something classic and timeless, so I used the natural colorway. Also, cabling is my PASSION (love it!). What’s more fun than huge cables? I was also nursing at the time so I used it as a nursing cover as well as a cowl.

Shaw Hill in Malabrigo Chunky, Natural.

Why are you drawn to Malabrigo for use in so many of your designs?

I’m inspired by lots of things. The beautiful rural landscape here in Maine, the ocean, emotions…but mostly memories. I can look at almost every color Malabrigo puts out and have a beautiful memory to associate with it. And designing with it? It’s like telling a story. Sharing your story to the world without words.

Calendula, the little girl’s dress I designed out of sock, is a brilliant yellow. The minute I got it, it sang to me of dandelions, daisies, buttercups, and goldenrod. I can’t really mention the inspiration without sharing it here, as it was very difficult for me to expose this part of my heart publicly: My father used to take me to a field of wildflowers down the road from our house, where we’d get fistfuls of flowers to bring home. We’d decorate the whole house with Mason Jars full of these wildflowers.

“Ellie, our youngest, playing with calendula flowers from my herb garden.” Calendula pattern calls for Sock weight (but this particular sample is done in a test yarn in Frank Ochre)

Another reason I love Malabrigo is because I feel that my personal style is a mixture of Rustic Vintage and Luxury. Here in Maine, we need to be practical and warm during the colder months ( which is most of them!) but we also want to look good doing it! I love pastoral and I love luxe. Some may think those don’t go together, but in many cases it’s a beautiful marriage for knitting! Balmy is a good example of that: it’s a simple, no-nonsense silhouette, but the Arroyo’s superwash merino gives it functionality and feels amazing on bare skin.

Balmy in Arroyo, colorway Aguas

What is your favorite Malabrigo project that you’ve made to date?

That’s difficult- I’d have to say that I love Kindling Season, the little chevron backed unisex cardi I made for Rebekah out of Twist. It’s so soft, vibrant, and in her ever-requested Ravelry Red. It’s holding up surprisingly well to the abuse it’s enduring at her 4 year old hands!

Kindling Season in Twist, Ravelry Red

And now the toughie: what is your favorite colorway and base?
This actually isn’t a tough one at all! My favorite colorway is Azul Profundo—a deep blue that has a hint of warmth to it. Every time I look at it, I’m reminded of my father, a generous and loving redhead who passed in 2007. There are no words to describe what a special man he was. So it’s a big solace to me. I’m working up a sweater in it right now called Ease out of Rios—it’s all about comfort, coziness, relaxation…like being wrapped up in one of my Dad’s big bear hugs. It doesn’t get any better than that.

My favorite base is Arroyo- the versatility you can get from this yarn is mind-blowing. I’m a stay at home mom, and let’s just say almost everything in this house MUST BE MACHINE WASHABLE or I’m in trouble!

Prototype for “Ease”, knit in Rios in Azul Profundo

One last bonus question- You and Melissa have associated yourselves as a design team on Ravelry, which is somewhat unique. What do you think makes this pairing so effective, and how does Malabrigo play into that equation?

I think we both love designing, and we have so much else in common! (Would you believe that we both got pregnant within a week of each other a year into our friendship?) I think that while our likes and styles are similar, we each bring something unique to the table. Melissa has the romance of the Midwest in her designs, while I bring a fresh East Coast prep to the table. There’s a balance in our friendship. She is incredibly talented at making chunky yarns flattering on everyone, while I play with structure and drape in more of the Sport to Aran weight yarns. I don’t think there’s a single design, since we’ve met, that I’ve published that I haven’t discussed with her, and vice versa.

And on that note, I think the better question is how DOESN’T Malabrigo play a huge role in our collaboration? We discuss the colors, the moods they set, the fabrics we can achieve, the structural elements that the yarn is so suited for—it’s much of our conversation.
We have a great group on Ravelry called Plum Dandi where we do fun giveaways, post test knits, talk about anything- it’s a warm group and we’re thankful for every single person in it. We have fun, but we also listen to people and share our concerns. Come join our fun—we have some very exciting things in the works…

Thanks so much, Alicia! I can’t wait to see what lovely things you come up with next (I know you’ve got some awesome stuff in the works, hehe 😉 )

You can check out all of Alicia’s work at her Ravelry page or follow her blog!

7 thoughts on “Designer Interview: Alicia Plummer

  1. Jenn

    I really love your designs, Alicia! My favorite is Calendula. I love both the look, color and story behind it. Oh, and the model is pretty cute too 🙂

  2. Daniel

    On top of being beautiful, this one of the most hardworking people I have ever met.between house kids and me don’t know how she does it! I’m proud and blessed

  3. Jennilee

    Love Alicia and Melissa. Their designs are amazing. I seriously don’t know how they knot so fast and come up with so many great ideas!

  4. Nicki

    I love Alicia’s designs. They fit in so naturally with everything that is New England “style.” Thank you so much for doing an interview with her!

  5. Brooke

    I love Alicias designs. Everything she designs is something I know I will wear again and again! They are mom friendly and I can dress them up, that’s a must for me!!! Keep them coming Alicia 🙂

  6. Deb

    What a wonderful article, I am so proud of Alicia, her knitting is beautiful, she has an eye for design and color, it’s fantastic to find a passion, Alicia has certainly found hers.

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