Hi all! You have found my world of knitting and painting, and I’m glad you’re here.
My name is Amanda Schwabe, and I’m an artist, yarnaholic, knitting teacher, and independent knitwear designer. I created aknitica so I could share my obsession and love with other knitters. That includes the patterns that I write, as well as lessons I’ve learned while knitting and great knitting tips I’ve picked up over the years.
I have two knitting goals:
- To make knitting feel easier and more fun for everyone, and
- To create patterns that I would want to wear myself (or dress my kids in), with instructions that will not end up on the Yarn Harlot’s “Dear Designer” list.
And I have two painting goals:
- To take all the tricks for learning that I gained from knitting and use them towards becoming a master painter, and
- To create luminous, playful portraits that will brighten your day and show that every person is stunning and wondrous.
Painting and drawing are something I’ve always loved, and now I’m taking the leap and making them a main part of my life. You can find samples of my art here.
I try to post something new every month or so, and I get so excited every time someone signs up to follow my blog. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Ravelry. I use Instagram most because let’s face it: I love pictures of knitting and art.
If you’re new to aknitica, I’d love it if you tried one of my free patterns. Impunity and Kindle Cover, Sock-Yarn-Blankie Style are my most popular. How to Knit a Hat is also a popular post, and it shows you a little glimpse into designing your own knitwear.
I’ve developed a new-ish mash-up of old knitting techniques that lets you make vertical lines and travelling stitches on BOTH sides of the fabric. It’s cool! You can find them in my Inverse Reverse collection of shawl patterns.
You can find a complete list of all my patterns on one page right here.
I’ve been teaching knitting classes since 2013, and I have some students who’ve been with me every week since the beginning! I specialize in fixing mistakes of all kinds and showing you how to understand your stitches. And I’m still teaching, even during the pandemic! You can sign up for a socially-distant Zoom class here.
I started knitting in 1999. I’ve been learning new techniques constantly since then. My specialty is reading knitting and fixing mistakes. I’m very comfortable with cables, lace, stranded colourwork, short rows, double knitting, entrelac, brioche rib, and ripping out mistakes. I have knit sweaters, shawls, hats, scarves, mittens, gloves, socks, blankets, soakers, longies, amigurumi, and even a full-sized horse — just about everything at least once. I’m fascinated by traditional colourwork techniques.
My educational background is in fine arts and linguistics. I’ve also learned a lot from life, from ADHD and depression, and from recovery. I have probably learned the most from becoming a mom. I have five kids: four boys and one girl. We used to homeschool, and a part of me is still a bit rebellious when it comes to educational techniques. I like reading about neuroscience, how we learn, and how our brains function (and don’t).
I was diagnosed with ADHD (Inattentive subtype) as an adult, and what a relief! After years of struggling with overwhelm and depression, and angst about why I wanted to paint but couldn’t, I finally had an answer that covered every symptom. And I had a treatment that worked. Knitting got me through those years and saved my sanity. I’m not giving it up, but now…. Now, I can paint.
I’m endlessly curious, abhor boredom, love reading and quiet so I can process my own thoughts, and look for meaning and beauty in the mundane (and I usually find it). I love colour and light and geometric patterns and math and physics and neuroscience and psychology and fantasy novels and really good coffee and healthy boundaries and saying no. And I can’t make my brain work without the right music playing.
I paint because it’s fun. It makes my brain light up at new challenges, new ways to observe and enjoy the people and world around me. And I want my kids to have paintings made by their mother, as proof that I love them and find them to be the most fascinating miracles in the world.
Things that we build, like art and sweaters and quilts and books and photo albums and cards and home videos, last long after we’re gone and connect us. I love old sweaters for this reason, and I hope my paintings and knittings will provide a mystery to some future person who wants to feel connected to their past.
I love painting faces and eyes and expressions. People are endlessly interesting, with so many variations in our basic structure. It’s a delight and adventure every time to discover the little details that makes a person look like themselves. And then to capture an impression, a glimpse, of their essential personality and mood at that moment in time, to express the beauty inherent in everyone, is wonderfully interesting and endlessly challenging.
It isn’t enough, to me, to paint a likeness. I also want a painting with colour, liveliness, playfulness. I want each piece to be interesting enough to hang up whether you know the subject or not. Because every person is worthy of becoming and being art.
Actually, I really think that we’re all works of art already, as we are. My biggest wish is that each person would know and embrace their full essence: the weirdness, the delights, the strengths and weaknesses. We’re not meant to be copies of each other. Everyone is necessary as they are. If you’re hiding your true self, there’s a gap in the universe. Step forward and take your place.
I mostly use acrylic paints on gallery-wrapped canvases. Acrylics are fast and spontaneous. They can create complex layers of translucent colours, but they can also easily cover mistakes, and they’re simple to clean up. I like my life to be simple in practical matters so I can ignore practical things as much as possible. 😉
I use Golden Open acrylics because they give me more time for blending skin tones, but mostly because they stay wet on my palette much longer and I throw out less paint this way. I also use acrylic glazing medium and high-flow medium, depending on what I need my paint layer to do. I’m an avid reader of acrylic painting technique books, and I’m approaching mastering acrylics the way I approached mastering knitting: with lots of curiosity and a drive to test and try everything myself. Half the fun is in the adventure of learning.
I’m also a student of human anatomy, and you can often find me scrunching my face to feel how the muscles move or staring at my kids to examine the way their noses attach to their cheeks.
So far in my art career (which is just beginning), I’ve had a knitted textile art piece (that would be the full-sized horse, “Pom-Pom”) on display at the Canadian War Museum, and my painting “Facebook Memories” in the 2020 Open Juried Exhibition with the Ontario Society of Artists from November 1 – December 31st.
If you’d like more information, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you!