By Jake Weber
"I was a casual knitter until high school," recalled Libby Heimler, '12. "Then my family moved from California to Michigan and I really needed knitted stuff, because it was cold."
Since her first frosty winter in Michigan, Heimler has taken knitting much farther than a survival technique. Under the guidance of English professor Jess Roberts, the religious studies and psychology major recently completed a directed study, writing about the craft of knitting. She hopes her collection of 16 short essays, and original design patterns, will find a publisher next year.
President of Brit Knits since her first semester, Heimler notes that her original intent for the directed study was to complete the technical writing of the patterns themselves, under Roberts' supervision. However, Roberts convinced her to expand the work with essays on color theory, technique development, and her creative vision, something Heimler had never considered might, in turn, inspire others.
"Inspiration for me comes from a specific relationship and how I feel about that person. I've written a lot about friends and family, and Albion is a big character in the book," Heimler explained. In considering a relationship, "I picture that person like a paper doll with the different outfits I see them wearing. I think about what might fit into that wardrobe and with the person I see. I try to design a piece I can see them using in their life."
While the eventual wearer is an important concern, Heimler's unique designs also reflect her youthful fashion sense. Bold colors are paired with fitted and shaped designs that enhance and reflect young styles. "I like bulky knit sweaters, but I don't like to wear them that often," Heimler says. "I like to design accessories, because they're more wearable."
Heimler plans to present her work at the 2012 Elkin Isaac Research Symposium. "Albion is unique in that every student is treated like an individual, and professors respect that," she said. "There are many formal disciplines here that prepare us for jobs, but Albion can also cherish and recognize the less academically oriented achievements that students have. I think I found a great way to meld my skills."