An Interview with Nina Machlin Dayton….

Behind the scenes of any successful venture are a few folks who are dedicated, hard-working and superb organizers….Nina Machlin Dayton is not only one of the folks behind the scenes for the 2014 Indie Design Gift A-long, she is also a very talented designer.

During the organizing phase of the GAL I had a few conversations with Nina, and got to know her a bit. Since I really admire and look up to Nina, interviewing her was a true pleasure. I think you’ll feel the same way………..

Tell us something about yourself..
I spent the first 34 years of my life in NYC, working mainly as a performer in theater and the music business, and as a theatrical archivist. I have never met a needle craft that I didn’t love, and when knitting and I met each other we fell madly in love, and have had a love affair ever since. I have been knitting and teaching for over 30 years now. I got my first professional knitting job back in the mid-1980’s doing hand knitting for a couturier designer, and never looked back. In 1990 my husband and I relocated to the beautiful Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts, where we live with our grown daughter, 2 cats, and a very silly dog in a big old Victorian house overflowing with yarn and books.

orvieto hat by nina machlin dayton

Orvieto Hat by Nina Machlin Dayton

How did you get started with designing and selling your designs?
In the mid-eighties I got a job doing hand knitting for a designer in NYC. I had always been making up my own designs, ever since learning to knit, and when she saw that I was able to do that she put me on her one of a kind line, which allowed me to tap into the creative side of design and get paid for it, for the first time. I have been designing, and teaching designing, ever since, and when Ravelry first offered a way for designers to sell pdf patterns online I switched over the that way of selling patterns, for the incredible ease that the system Casey set up gives us.

What do you see as your design style?
I am tempted to say that my design style is no specific style, because I am obsessed with not limiting myself in any way when it comes to design. I am inspired by so many things, sometimes very different things, and so my designs tend to be all types of different things. If I had to identify the common thread to the designs it would be classic yet modern. Colors play a big role in my designing too, as does wearablility. While I admire innovative design that can be called modern art I like my designs to be usable by the people making them.

What influences your designs?
It would probably be easier to list what doesn’t influence me that what does. I take inspiration from everything and everywhere. I have notebooks full of ideas and sketches. I do have, and have had for many, many years, a not so minor obsession with vintage fashion and costume, and that finds its way into my designing regularly. I am currently working on a collection of 25 hat patterns inspired by vintage millinery design. Back in 1979 I got a job working part time in an antique clothing and jewelry store, and ever since I have loved and studied historical fashion and costume. I have always loved history, and somehow the study of everyday life – what people wore, what they ate, how they lived – has always been a passion of mine. If I could have one magical ability it would be to time travel! So, history is a big influence to me. I feel that the styles from previous eras stay so flattering and beautiful long after their time has passed.

impari shawl by nina machlin dayton

Impari Shawl by Nina Machlin Dayton

What do you enjoy most about designing?
The creative process has always been appealing to me. My father was an artist, so perhaps that is in my genes. I have so many ideas, and I just love transferring them from my head onto my needles.

Do you have any upcoming projects you can share with us or give us a sneak peek of?
So many! The one I am the most excited about is the vintage inspired hats collection I mentioned above. I have been working on it for a long time, but I keep having more ideas and expanding it. One of these days I will have to draw a line in the sand, and call it done. But I am having a hard time doing that! Too many idea, too little time! 🙂

Do you get to do much knitting/crochet for yourself?
I spend a lot of time knitting, but it is almost always my design prototypes and samples. When I can knit something just for fun it feels like a vacation. That is why I enjoy the Gift-A-Long so much! I am knitting from someone else’s pattern!!

What prompted you to participate in the Indie Designer GAL?
I was one of the 4 designers that volunteered to take the lead last year when the idea was first proposed. We put it together on the fly last year (we did it in two weeks!) and it has been so much fun to implement what we learned last year, and see everything run so much more smoothly this year!

What is your favorite part of the GAL?
The camaraderie with my fellow designers, getting to know them, and see and enjoy their work.

Has the GAL met your expectations?
It always exceeds them! I love the design community and spending this much time immersed in it is exciting and inspiring!

Where can folks see your published designs?
The best place to see them would be at: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/nina-machlin-dayton

While the sale portion of this year’s Gift A-long is over ~ the KAL/CALs will continue through December 31st, 2014. So there is still time to check out Nina’s designs, and join the fun.

Happy Knitting ~ Jean