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Design Process: Interview with Mona Schmidt
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Design Process: Interview with Mona Schmidt

Mona Schmidt is another lucky soul: she designs and crafts for a living. Originally hailing from Deutschland, Mona now lives in Montreal, Quebec, where there is plenty of cold weather to keep her knitting to stay warm.

Embossed Leaves Socks Mona's fabulous pattern Embossed Leaves was featured in the Winter 2005 issue of Interweave Knits, and immediately became a hit in the blogosphere – Embossed Leaves were everywhere. Mona recently published another sock pattern in the Fall 2006 IK, and there is more to come in the Holiday 2006 edition! She has also had designs in Knitscene.

When I asked Mona about a blog interview, she kindly agreed… she is just sweet like that! She has even prepared TWO tutorials, hosted on her blog, that help with the Embossed Leaves pattern.

Mona's Tutorial

Two-Strand Tubular Cast-On (Part One and Part Two)

Adapting the Embossed Leaves pattern for different sizes

Can you tell me more about your design process?

Designing socks is more an intuitive conception – often I just start with the yarn I feel like knitting with and cast on. Sometimes I have a certain stitch pattern in mind, other times I just start knitting and get the idea for the pattern while still working at the cuff. I do design other things than socks, but since this is Socktoberfest let’s concentrate on those.

Where do you find your design inspiration?

Especially for socks it is often a stitch pattern I like and has a stitch repeat that’s good for socks – and if it doesn’t fit right away, I’ll make it fit. Funnily enough I do think of people, too, when designing. It’s rather like: If I would knit a sock for so-and-so, what would it look like?

Your Embossed Leaves socks are so intricate and beautiful – how did this idea come to you?

I had seen the leaf pattern on the cover of a book (I actually bought that book just because of the pattern! It’s called Beautiful Knitting Patterns, by Gisela Klöpper) and knew right away that I wanted to use it for socks. Then Regia Silk came my way and I had just tried the tubular cast-on. It was an easy calculation. The kicker was of course the toe. My Mom had just written the instructions for me. I had never used it before. (Admittedly, I was a one-trick pony when it comes to socks, same heel and toe forever, till I realized that there are so many possibilities to mix it up!) Once the foot had the length I thought would fit me I just started knitting the toes as instructed. It really was a lucky coincidence that the star fit the pattern to portray the whole leaf at the end of the sock. Honestly, I couldn’t have planned it any better. Now it sounds preposterous even to me but I only realized that it looked like a completed leaf once the sock was done. The reason it was knit in Koigu (lovely, lovely yarn!) for the magazine is that at that time Regia Silk was not readily available in the US.

When did you first knit socks?

I only started to knit socks when I was 21. I knit my first pair to match a wool sweater I owned (store bought, from ESPRIT). I still have the socks while the sweater is long gone. After finishing these there was a long break and no sock knitting for me. When I started my second pair I was studying and living away from home. Came the time to turn the heel I couldn’t remember how for the life of me. I never had written any instruction down, because if I had a question I would ask my Mom, who was always available and she was and still is pretty much a walking talking knitting dictionary. She’d say: “now you knit 2 together and knit to the end, next needle knit to the last 2 sts and do ssk…” That’s how I learned from her even when I was little, she’d let me knit a row or round and then tell me how to go from there. And I would find afterwards that I had turned a heel, knit a gusset or, when I was like 11 years old, knit a vest for a doll. Strangely enough it worked. Well, most of the time. She had to explain the heel turning once more.

My most precious possession to date is a pair of socks my then boyfriend Rolf knit for me. One of the socks has hearts knit into it and the other my name. Makes me smile every time I think of or look at them. Oh, and no, he hasn’t knit a thing since.

Do you have any designs in the works now?

Oh, there are always designs in the works. Finished are the “Bells and Whistles Socks” in the Holiday '06 edition – and I do have some socks at home that might get published one time or another. Then there’s my work for JCA where I did and do design garments, published this Fall, next Spring and hopefully a lot more seasons to come.

Thank you so much, Mona, for being a part of Socktoberfest!

As you can see, your design is quite popular!  These are a random sampling of Socktoberfest participants who have made your Embossed Leaves – so many colors and adaptations!

Embossed Leaves Socktoberfest Gallery

If you see yours, let me know :)   I did a random search and came up with all of these!


Now you have to help me decide which of these lovely yarns I should use for Mona's amazing Embossed Leaves socks, one of my next projects in the queue:

Solid Sock Yarn Choices

Let me know what you chose by leaving a comment! 

I will knit the socks in the yarn with the most votes ;)

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69 Responses

  1. Kelly

    The green is very pretty. Quite leaf like! I’ve really been enjoying all your interviews and book reviews!

  2. maryse

    although i voted for the loden (god that’s a beautiful green — don’t make me go and buy it) i also like the teal very much.

    ok, is it wrong that i haven’t even started a sock this month? even though i joined soctoberfest? please say it’s not wrong.

  3. Ragged Around The Edges

    I know it’s very traditional and an easy choice, but the loden is so very beautiful and so, well, “leafy” to be completely cliche’.

  4. mrsbee

    DEFINITELY the Loden!! I think the texture will look so rich in that color!

  5. Cheryl

    I chose the mint because it would show up the stitch pattern the best but the socks would look great in any of the colors.

  6. Cookie

    I voted loden for the same reasons as everyone else, but I also LOVE the teal.

  7. Jenna

    Nice interview, it seems like Mona is a very intuitive, adventurous knitter. I think leaf socks in green are cliched, so I voted for mint. So there :)

  8. Karin

    I chose the Gems Pearl because it isn’t “leafy”, because it’s really fabulous yarn, and because I’m knitting a pair of “Bayerische” socks with it right now and the stitch definition is excellent!

  9. Wendy

    Loden, of course! Wish I had more time to knit socks but the FIL sweater is now halfway through the back. Trying to finish the back by next Tuesday. But of course I cast on some slippers (hey, I need them! I had to throw my old ones away last spring!).

  10. Madge

    Loden for sure. Such a pretty pattern.

  11. isel

    My socks made it into Socktoberfest, even if I didn’t!! Yipeee!! Mine are the ones at the bottom, left-hand corner. Weeeeeeeeeeeee. :D

  12. Jody

    Joining the masses and saying go for the green!

  13. gray la gran

    i voted for tess, because, i’ve never knitted with tess, and i’m jealous that you have it, and i want to know how it knits up! and, i like mint. and now i see, it wasn’t the most *favored* yarn …. all the more reason to pick the tess!

  14. Sue

    Ooh green yarn definately, and I have to agree with most people, they are leaves. The blue and pink are nice too, maybe you can make some for your sisters too, or your mum as a christmas present. Loved the interview too, it was great.

  15. Moirae

    I didn’t do my embossed leaves socks during Socktoberfest, but here’s a link to a photo anyway.


    I enjoyed the interview – thanks again for doing this Lolly!

  16. Deirdre

    The teal is beautiful, and gets my vote… such a fun decision!

  17. Karla (threadbndr)

    there’s just something about leaf shaped lace in greens that feels “right”, so I voted for the Loden as well.

    second choice would be the teal.

    somehow the coral just speaks to me of some kind of cable for some reason.

    and the mint I would use for a lace scarf if it’s 100% wool or with a darker mint green to navy for color stranded socks.

  18. Not Hip

    I found this post interesting as I am just finishing up some Embossed Leaves Socks myself…and I though I was so clever makes leaf socks with autumn colors. It looks like there are lots of clever Socktoberfesters.

  19. Leslie

    I voted Terra Cotta because Loden seemed such the obvious choice (and thus, rather boring…) I love the Terra Cotta color and think those will really make a statement in Terra Cotta! Of course, I say this because I’m thinking of using my Knitpicks Cranberry Merino/silk for the embossed leaves! Red socks are so cool!

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