In memory: Lisa Grossman, The Tsock Tsarina

Lisa. Image courtesy Sandi Wiseheart. 

We were very saddened to hear of the death last week of Lisa Grossman, a.k.a The Tsock Tsarina. Lisa was a knit designer of wonderful and unrivaled imagination. Her particular metier was socks – socks of the craziest and most spectacular types – but she was also gifted in other types of designing, too.

I worked with Lisa twice, editing her beautiful Darrowby cardigan, and the Glomerata sock. Although we were so very very different in working styles, and I am quite certain that Lisa found being edited by me a chore (my insistence on stitch counts and precise instructions is entirely counter to her pattern writing method), she was cheerful throughout the process and we nevertheless bonded. It was Lisa who insist I buy a spindle, at Rhinebeck.

Lisa’s patterns were special. They were sculptural. They were art.

Her work first came to my attention when Stephanie, the Yarnharlot, was making one of her designs.  I laughed at Stephanie’s description of the madness, and laughed when I saw the pictures, but stopped laughing when I realized the work that had gone into the design. Yes, she made with the crazy; yes, she made with the insanely ornate and sculptural; yes, she made with flights of fancy like I had never seen before. But she also made them fit. We had many discussions about sock fit, and I loved the she paid attention to that detail, too.

But she wasn’t just a knitter. She was a spinner, she was a literary historian, she was a cookbook author.

Cancer is cruel. Cancer is heartbreaking. Cancer has robbed the world of a good person and a great imagination. And the knitting world is decided duller without Lisa and her flights of fancy.

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7 thoughts on “In memory: Lisa Grossman, The Tsock Tsarina

  1. Erica Anne Kuntz

    There are times when I’ve gravitated toward a mood-funk induced by the notion of “There’s nothing new in knitting, especially sock knitting” and “Who do I think I am believing I have something of value to contribute?” Then I would think of Lisa and her off-the-hook intellect and the wonderland that is her creative body of work, and my sense of possibility was reaffirmed. She’ll always sparkle in that way for me. What a gift she has given the knitting world. I never met Lisa in person, but I’m grieving at the loss of this beautiful mind, beautiful soul.

  2. kbsalazar

    Very, very sad! A truly fascinating person and a unique talent. I had the good fortune to meet Lisa once, at a sheep and wool show. She was working on her sample for the “Girl of the Golden West” socks. We instantly fell into nattering about socks, opera, beads, obscure knitting techniques and a dozen other things. A delight! Condolences to her friends and family. May her humor and creativity live on.

  3. helen (of troy)

    I met Lisa at that Pivotal moment.. When she had just posted a link on a knitting board stating “I am thinking about designing some socks” Lisa was a fascinating woman, A mistress of many skills. I watched her swatch–I remember clearly one coral swatch with purls… She showed it off and said what do you think? I look for a moment, and said “Shakespeare”–she said Yes?–it took me a moment more to come back with “Sea Change!” –Jill (our hostess) look at us both, slightly stunned–and asked, “WHAT?”

    I loved Lisa’s designs–and had no interest in knitting them! I commented and questioned, and made suggestions–I earned the title of “That Dratted Helen”.

    Lisa and i had very different lives, and very different experiences, we were in many ways as different as chalk and cheese–But somehow, some where, our souls touched. We could say a single word, and connect–.

    Every one who met Lisa had the same experience–she was honest and open–a mensch. and her loss is our loss.. We are all a little bit less with out her. The bell tolls for all of us.

  4. Lynne in Florida

    I thought I knew how to knit when I first ran across Lisa, many years ago. She taught me so much about the art and craft. Similarly to HoT, we seemed to click. We had so many weird connections, starting with our fathers having the same first name, and going on and on and on. She’s still around, though, in our hearts and our heads. Good art is like that.

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