I don't know about you, but over the last few weeks it seems my social media feeds have been inundated with posts featuring various knitting prints by Julia Mills - I also shared some on my own page. The depictions of a typical stash and knitter's handbag have been delighting yarn-lovers everywhere, myself included. As knitting and art are two of my own passions, I couldn't resist getting in touch with Julia and finding out more about the
knitter person behind the prints.
Julia, thank you for taking time out to chat. Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I am an artist and illustrator from southern New Jersey. Although I always wanted to do illustration I ended up studying fine art painting. For the past several years I have been painting commissions and teaching painting, drawing and pastels. However, I really wanted to do children’s books. This lead me down the path of exploring combining words with images, and talking about knitting just came naturally!
How long have you been knitting, and how did you learn?
I taught myself in college, so I’ve been knitting for about 15 years. I actually got the book “Stitch ‘n Bitch” and it became my knitting guide. My second project after the obligatory garter scarf was the kitty ear-ed hat from the back cover! I was pretty proud of that hat. Years later my Dad started sporting it, which was hilarious.
It feels like most of the knitters I know have shared your 'stash' and 'handbag' prints on social media. Did you expect this reaction when you published them? Why do you think they have been so popular?
First of all that is so amazing. I thought that knitters would like them but I was surprised how many people said that I must have been hiding in their closet checking out their stash! I feel like knitters have a secret language that kind of unites us. People who don’t craft don’t really get it.
Aside from delighting knitters across the internet, how has knitting influenced your art?
Knitting was a big part of my grad school work. I wrote my thesis about depictions of knitters in painting. I used it as an outlet for my frustration with the art world. When you are studying art theory you can get really bogged down. So I took copious knitting breaks. In fact I knit a cardigan while writing the first draft of my thesis.
After grad school I did a series of silverpoint drawings of yarn. I found the process to be akin to knitting; little tiny marks making a bigger picture. I still delight in drawing balls of yarn, there’s something contemplative about it.
And what do you like to do when you're not painting or knitting?
I have a two year old son and a five year old daughter so playing with them is a big part of my day. Now that the weather is warming up we like to hula hoop and draw with chalk in the driveway. I also really enjoy singing and I sing in both a choir and a band.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I am just recovering from an injury so my first dip back into knitting is a pretty easy triangular shawl. I’m using a gradient yarn so I think I’ll just let the pretty yarn do most of the work.
Artwork projects include more prints about knitting, a children’s book, and hopefully a really cool knitting bag with my art on it!
I can't wait to see more knitting prints and the bag! In the meantime, where can readers find more of your work?