An Interview with Nancy Marchant

It’s been so great to see the enthusiasm for tuck stitches and the Bramen Cowl, the first pattern from Boost Your Knitting! It’s only been a week since the pattern’s release, and already, over 100 of you have cast on — and a fair few have even finished! We’re so glad you love the effect of all those little textured stitches as much as we do. Today, we’re having a little chat with Nancy Marchant, who designed the Bramen Cowl and introduced the hand knitting world to the joy of the tuck!

KR: Your delightfully squishy Bramen Cowl features tuck stitches, a technique that I’d be willing to guess many knitters have never heard of! How would you describe them, what got you interested in them, and why do you love them?

NM: Many years ago, I made intarsia sweaters on a knitting machine. You get a stitch pattern manual with your machine and a large section of my manual showed these (ugly) tuck stitch patterns. They were one color tucked stitches arranged in a square or a diamond on a plain knitted background. Nothing exceptional so I ignored them. It was when I was experimenting with what I thought was a new brioche technique; slipping stitches a second and/or third time and giving them a second and/or third yarn over. Then it dawned on me that I was making tuck stitches. I had added a second color and that made all the difference.

Aimee, by Nancy Marchant, from her book  Tuck Stitches . Photo Credit: Alexandra Feo.

Aimee, by Nancy Marchant, from her book Tuck Stitches. Photo Credit: Alexandra Feo.

KR: I was going to ask you about tuck stitches’ associations with machine knitting. Do you still do any machine knitting yourself?

NM: Like I said, I used to. I now find it too tedious to sit behind a machine to knit. I feel sort of the same about sewing. I really like to sew by hand.

KR: You’ve written a whole gorgeous book, Tuck Stitches, which I would encourage readers who enjoy the Bramen Cowl to check out.  I notice the patterns in it are for cowls, shawls, and blankets.  Can tuck stitches be used for knitted items that require more shaping – hats, for instance, or say a sweater?

NM: I’ve made a tuck stitch Chanel jacket. It is quite beautiful and knitters always ask for the pattern when I wear it. But I am elderly, I get confused when I have to calculate sizes and make many mistakes so I just stick to shawls and cowls which are basically big swatches.

Nancy in her stunning Chanel-style tuck stitch jacket. Photo credit: Alexandra Feo.

Nancy in her stunning Chanel-style tuck stitch jacket. Photo credit: Alexandra Feo.

KR: You are, of course, known as the Queen of Brioche and now also a foremost expert on tuck stitches – what type of project do you reach for when you’re not knitting brioche or tuck stitches?

NM: I’ve made a number of sweaters this year. I knit myself a Humulus by Isabell Kraemer and a Nurtured by Andrea Mowry for my daughter.

KR: When did you learn to knit? Did someone teach you or were you self-taught?

NM: My mother taught me when I was very young.

KR: Any knitting techniques on your list to learn for 2019?

NM: I am finishing up a book about brioche lace stitches. I’m also writing a book about beginning brioche for Leisure Arts Books. Then I imagine I will write a book about brioche crossed stitches and cables. 

KR: A few weeks ago, we were talking about being marooned on sleeve island on the blog and Ravelry. Jim, inspired by Desert Island discs, had the idea to have knitters pick three things – a yarn, a knitting book, and a piece of music – that they’d take with them if they were stuck on sleeve island.  What would your picks be?

NM: Yarn: mohair/silk

Knitting Book: probably my own Knitting Fresh Brioche

Music: anything by Bruno Mars

Aix, by Nancy Marchant, from her book,  Tuck Stitches.  Photo Credit: Alexandra Feo.

Aix, by Nancy Marchant, from her book, Tuck Stitches. Photo Credit: Alexandra Feo.

KR: Lastly, care to share what’s on your needles at the moment?

NM: At the moment, I’m designing a 2-color shawl using a pretty brioche pattern at the edge, then some garter stitch and a big tuck stitch panel in the middle with the new West Wool. It’s really a fun knit.

The Bramen Cowl, designed by Nancy Marchant for Boost Your Knitting. Photo credit: Jesse Wild.

The Bramen Cowl, designed by Nancy Marchant for Boost Your Knitting. Photo credit: Jesse Wild.

Thank you so much Nancy for taking the time to chat with us! You can see more of Nancy’s inspiring designs on her Ravelry page, find out how to get your hands on her books over on her website, and pick up Tuck Stitches in our very own webshop! And if you’ve been considering joining in Boot Your Knitting, there’s still plenty of time to cast on this month’s pattern and join the fun! You’ll get twelve patterns from twelve talented designers, with twelve sets of photo and video tutorials, as well as a virtual living room of knitting friends to cheer you on! You can purchase Boost Your Knitting for £30, which includes worldwide shipping of the print book in September 2019, over in the shop!