I’m really excited to be welcoming Kyle Kunnecke to the blog today! Kyle is a fibre artist, with a specialism in knitting – and his skills are insane. Living in San Francisco, he leads workshops and is a passionate advocate for public health awareness. And guess what?! Kyle is visiting the UK in a few weeks’ time to lead a series of workshops at the Loch Ness Knit Fest! It’s shaping up to be an amazing event – if you’re in the area, be sure to check it out. Kyle’s workshops in particular sound like they are not to be missed.

Last week, I caught up with Kyle to talk all things knitting, Scotland and Loch Ness Knit Fest…

The Loch Ness Knit Fest, with Kyle Kunnecke (interview)

Photography courtesy of Interweave and Loch Ness Knit Fest

Interview with Kyle Kunnecke, workshop leader at The Loch Ness Knit Fest

Hi Kyle! First up, tell us a little about yourself and your background…

Well, I have always been interested in creating and making… Art class was my favourite in school, and I loved working with different materials. It wasn’t until adulthood that I found knitting (although my mother and grandmother both crocheted and knitted, as well as quilting/sewing/etc).

“I wake up every day so grateful for my fibre-filled life!” -Kyle Kunnecke (Tweet this)

I learned to knit in Hollywood, CA from my housemate at the time. She was making multi-striped garter stitch scarves, and challenged me to give it a shot. I tried knitting and after an afternoon full of failure, examination, and re-attempt, I found the knit stitch. After a few years my interest expanded into designing, and then to writing patterns, and eventually teaching. I still love it, and wake up every day so grateful for my fibre-filled life!

It’s great to come across a fellow male knitter! What are your thoughts on the gender divide in crafts, specifically knitting – is it something that’s ever affected you or held you back?

I am so honoured to be a part of the fibre arts community. In all honesty, I don’t see much of a divide any longer in crafts. The one thing that can hold us back is worrying about what others think. If a person wants to crochet, knit, weave, spin, tatt, quilt, or sew… then they should do it! I’ve found such support and welcoming instruction from those sharing their knowledge with me, and similarly I’ve appreciated the kind, inquisitive students I’ve encountered everywhere I have taught.

You’ve worked extensively on charity fundraising and public health awareness. Why do you think craft is so closely intertwined with the ability to heal?

I believe that the very act of making (or doing) for others is healing. It’s a way to show compassion. The most valuable thing we have to share is our time. Donating our time and abilities to craft a piece that might offer comfort to another does a lot of good.

“The very act of making for others is healing.” -Kyle Kunnecke (Tweet this)

One of my most treasured class experiences was at a cancer clinic. I invited the patients to learn how to knit their own chemo caps. The event was well attended, and the women worked together to learn this new skill. After they became more comfortable with the process, a discussion about the difficulties of dealing with the disease started to evolve. The knitting class became a type of group counselling session where the ladies were able to confront and share fears while making hats. In the end, some ladies finished up their hats and donated them to the centre where other people could receive them as part of their care.

Let’s talk about the Loch Ness Knit Fest! I hear that this is your first time visiting Scotland?

I am really excited to visit the Loch Ness Knit Fest! Yes, it’ll be my first time in Scotland, and I plan on arriving a few days ahead in order to see some sights and take in the country. It will be such a treat to get to sit with those at this event and share knowledge in such a beautiful location. Of course, I’m also excited about checking out antique shops… I want to see a castle or two, and if I’m very lucky I’d love to visit a farm.

“When I think of Scotland, I think of a hearty culture; full of history and beauty.” -Kyle Kunnecke (Tweet this)

Scotland is famous for its rich culture of crafting, especially knitting and yarn crafts. What does Scotland mean to you?

When I think of Scotland, I think of a hearty culture; full of history and beauty. In my travels I have learned not to dwell too much on what a country might be like…. and each time, reality has always exceeded any expectation.

Can you tell us about the workshops you’ll be leading during the Loch Ness Knit Fest?

There are 3 workshops that I’ll be leading. The first one, Introduction to Intarsia (Friday 13th October, 14:00-17:00) is a workshop where I will show students the basics of intarsia. By the end of the class everyone will know how to manage multiple yarns, and they will have no fear when it comes to this versatile technique!

My Banded Hats with Navajo Churro Wool class (Saturday 14th October, 14:00-17:00) is a favourite of mine, and I think it’ll be interesting to lead this in Scotland… I love sharing this rare breed’s wool with people, and it’ll be really wonderful to get to bring it to an international event.

On Sunday, my last class is Knitting with Beads (Sunday 15th October, 9:00-12:00) where I’ll be sharing all kinds of ways to work with beads in knitting. There’s so many ways to incorporate beads. They add such magic to a piece.

Are there any other events or presenters attending the festival that you’re excited to see?

Lots! Among the many, I do hope to meet Hazel Tindall and of course Wolly Wormhead! I have followed both for a long time and can’t wait to meet them. The marketplace will be exciting as well; especially since I’ll be travelling so far. I’m hoping to find some local wool to bring back home to the United States.

What’s your favourite item that you’ve ever knitted?

I’d say the Savoy cardigan from my book is one of my favourite pieces that I have knitted. I love the larger chart and locked floats in this piece!

The Loch Ness Knit Fest, with Kyle Kunnecke (interview)

Photography courtesy of Interweave

The Loch Ness Knit Fest, with Kyle Kunnecke (interview)

Photography courtesy of Interweave

If you could give one piece of advice to any budding knitters out there, what would it be?

Knitting is not difficult. In modern patterns we often list difficulty “level”… Instead of this system, I suggest that a person look at the project and see what skills are required. If you know how to knit, purl, work in the round, read charts… whatever individual skills are necessary to complete a project, then by all means, go for it! Don’t worry if it says “advanced” or “beginner” — Also, if there is a technique that you need to practice before tackling a larger project, allow yourself to practice before casting on.

“Knitting is not difficult… Go for it!” -Kyle Kunnecke (Tweet this)

And finally – let’s end on something fun! Tell us one surprising thing about yourself, or your work!

Before I turned 30, I had moved more than 30 times. My dad was in construction and once a project was finished we would end up moving to another location. Of course there was lots of moving in my college years as well… So because of this I am OK with uprooting and moving to a new place… but also because of this I have a difficult time with directions (this is why I use the maps system on my phone so much!).

Thanks so much to Kyle Kunnecke for taking the time to chat with me! If you’d like to see more of his work, visit his website or Ravelry profile. And don’t forget – Kyle will be teaching three workshops at the Loch Ness Knit Fest in October, so go grab your tickets if you’re going to be nearby! You can learn more about the festival (and buy tickets) over on their website. Happy knitting! – Mike.

(Click here to read more interviews with male makers.)

This post was sponsored by the Loch Ness Knit Fest, although all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands and businesses that keep me blogging!