Tuesday, December 2, 2014

GAL2014 Interviews - Petra Neumann

Today I present Petra Neumann, aka peti50 on Ravelry. I especially liked interviewing her because she comes from another side of the world and her knitting tastes and preferences vary so much from my own. It's another reminder now much variation a ball of yarn and a stick can achieve! Petra specializes in the Swing Knitting technique. I came across it briefly before and I must say that the sheer mathematical element of it is fascinating. Most of Petra's designs feature this technique, my personal favorite is this one, since it features a gradient which I am, let's admit a sucker for! (all images used with permission)

Tabi's Snow Time

and this one!

Findlinge

Off to our guest!

Jenny: When did you start knitting, and what do you like the most about it?
Petra: I started sometime during my childhood, but don't remember when exactly. What I love most about knitting is that you can totally immerse yourself into it and forget everything else, and also experiencing over and over again how creativity doesn't have any limitations. I love to think up things in my head and then being able to see them come alive on my needles!

Jenny: There is an underlying theme of geometry in your designs. What inspires you the most about this theme?
Petra: The reason is probably my love for the short-row technique, especially Swing-Knitting™. I'm not much of a stitch pattern knitter, but after having learned to work with short rows a few years ago, I've been fascinated ever since, this is such an inexhaustible topic! It's greatly exciting because there's always that suspense of what it will develop into, and through the constant changes in the knitted fabric it'll never get boring. What inspires me the most is nature with its color range, waves and shapes - there's always something new to discover!

Jenny: What is your favorite design? Tell is a bit more about it!
Petra: My all-time favorite is the Tabalino shawl because this is the design that inspired me to dye my own yarn, featuring long color sections without any repeats. With this kind of yarn, short row designs look even better, or at least that's what it seems to me. By now, there are quite a few "Tabalino yarn" enthusiasts. My designs Stein "Steine im Flussbett" ("Rocks in the riverbed") and "Findlinge" ("Fieldstones") were developed especially from and for this yarn. Each one of the rock sections that meander through "Steine im Flussbett", for instance, has it's own distinctive color which never repeats throughout the shawl.

Tabalino

Jenny: How do you balance your everyday life, having a yarn store and a design business?
Petra: I keep it balanced by not trying to create the artificial pressure of having to develop something no matter what. My designs emerge from ideas I see or feel, and my inner peace is most important for me. I find this peace through religion and also in our German forests, where I frequently roam ... always with a mushroom basket, because my other passion is collecting mushrooms. In the woods, my brain can completely relax, and my whole body regenerates.

Jenny: What is your favorite yarn to work with and why?
Petra: There are so many beautiful yarns out there! In any case, a good yarn should be of superior quality, and it should feel soft and pleasant to the touch and next to the skin.

Jenny: What are your plans for next year?
Petra: With this question, I almost smiled to myself, remembering all my UFOs (unfinished objects). Joking aside, you can expect a new shawl design from Tabalino yarn in the near future, and a vest and tunic are currently in testing, too. If all goes well, there will also be a few more designs for children, because I am a proud grandmother. I can count myself lucky that my daughter-in-law loves knitted garments and dresses my granddaughter in everything I knit for her.

During the summer months, from April to the end of August, my store is open only mornings, so I have more time to knit and develop designs. For next summer, I've planned an experiment - I want to develop some kind of home accessory, maybe a wall hanging, in the Swing-Knitting™ technique. Let me emphasize at this point that all my patterns are written as detailed row-by-row descriptions, so everybody can easily knit them without any special knowledge. I've also have them professionally translated into English, and, through valuable customer feedback, was able to incorporate a few features to adapt my writing style to what English speaking knitters are accustomed to, so my patterns are easy to understand and to follow.

There will be another highlight in May, when I'll organize our annual international Swing-Knitting™ get-together in my shop in Helmstedt/Germany. We've already received reservations from knitters as far the US for our planned 2015 season, and expect returning participants from Finland and Switzerland as well. Beginning in January 2015, the program can be accessed from my homepage, and there will be a special thread in the Swing-Knitting™ group on Ravelry, too, for discussing technical details such as traveling and lodging accommodations and introduction to courses and instructors.

As a conclusion, let me add one more thing: I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all who love, buy and knit from my patterns. A special Thank You! to Ravelry for providing this wonderful platform to bring together knitters and designers, and last but no least to all who stand by me every day.

Monday, December 1, 2014

GAL2014 Interviews - KnitwiseDesign

For those of you who did not know - this year, I am participating in the Indie Designer Gift-along event, hosted by the awesome bunch of fellow designers and volunteers at ravelry.com. Basically, it's a giant knit along that where participating designers offer 25% off for selected patterns. The event ends on Dec 2014, so don't delay and go here to find out more about it and join!

Part of the fun is to interview other participating designers and learn more about them in the process. Today, I am interviewing Linda from KnitwiseDesign. Her designs are these timeless classic pieces that every knitter living in a cold climate should make for themselves or as gifts. Her designs can be found here.


Flora and Stella
Sock Lover's Socks

And my personal favourite is Tidal Cove Scarf

Without further ado, here is the interview:

Jenny: You knit since childhood, who taught you how to knit and did you like it right away?
Linda: When I was six years old my grandmother taught me to knit. Bright red acrylic yarn and plastic needles, but I took to it right away. That particular work in progress remained a WIP for many years though, and I never did finish it. But when I was eleven years old I wanted to knit a sweater for a special friend, so I jumped right into sweater knitting. From that point on I always had a project going - sweaters, hats, even a shawl back before they were fashionable! The yarns then were not what I would use now, and bless my tolerant family for always acting thrilled when I gifted them with another acrylic creation! The real turning point came for me when I picked up a copy of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s "Knitting Without Tears" in 1981. That book changed not only my knitting, but literally my whole outlook on life - you don’t have to follow a pattern - for knitting or for life!

Jenny: What made you to decide to design?
Linda: Once I became an EZ devotee I designed for myself and my family all the time, but I have to say that Ravelry made designing as a career possible for me. Without the computer and internet I don’t think I could have developed a business doing this. It is so perfect for me because it combines two very opposite sides of my nature - the creative, imaginative side and the mathematical, analytic, perfectionist side. I think it is amazing how much I have had to learn about computers, spreadsheets, graphic design, even photography and marketing. I never get bored!

Jenny: After looking at your designs I see that you have a very classic taste with a bit of comfort thrown in. What inspires you?
Linda: Firstly, thank you so much for the kind comment! I wish I knew exactly what inspires me. It seems to come from thin air sometimes! Often I will be eating dinner, or very commonly, just falling asleep, and I need to jump up and sketch an idea for a design! I have a couple sketch books full of ideas! One thing that is often a motivator is a desire for a special gift for someone. Sometimes I feel like just sitting down with a well-worn stitch dictionary and browsing. That often stimulates lots of ideas for the sketch book!

Jenny: What is your favorite thing to design and why?
Linda: I seem to have the most ideas for garment designs. Yet if you look at my designs you will see only one cardigan and two vests so far! The garments take so long to do and I am getting new ideas all the time, so sometimes find it hard to commit to one! The accessories are more fun to actually work with since they are must faster from start to finish. I like to release a pattern now on a regular basis, and that has had me concentrating on my accessory ideas for now.

Jenny: What is your most popular pattern? tell us a bit more about its creation and what inspired you to make it.
Linda: My most popular pattern to date has been Sock Lover’s Socks, which just goes to show that you can never predict the success of a design! That design was developed specifically as a thank you present for a friend who loves to knit socks for others. I thought that these socks would be a very personal gift for her, and that as a design no one would really be interested. Not only did the pattern sell very well, I continue to get personal messages and comments from people about how much they love the design!

Jenny: By absolute chance, few days ago I stumbled on someone mentioning in the Briggs & Little group that you visited their mill with them! I belong to the group also and often when people talk about their likes for rustic yarns, I feel a bit of a kinship:) What is your favorite wool to knit with and why?
Linda: Wow - that is a hard one! There are so many beautiful yarns these days! I do still have a real fondness for the more rustic yarns like Briggs & Little. It used to be that rusticity was the mark of a real wool hand knit sweater. Now of course there are so many soft, merino wools on the market, and they definitely have their place! I used String Theory’s Caper Sock - merino wool and cashmere - for my Simply Sweet Shawl pattern and found it absolutely heavenly! And I am finishing up a project with Malabrigo Worsted which I am smitten with now as well.

Jenny: What’s next for you?
Linda: I would love to get a little faster at my process and put out more designs next year. I am also experimenting with the idea of some in-print options for some of my patterns. My Hunting Season Hat is available now in hard copy at the Briggs and Little Mill in New Brunswick. I think I need to focus some more in the coming year on marketing and getting the word out about my designs. And I would like to take one of my many garment design ideas and get it to completion.

Hunting Season Hat

It was a pleasure to interview Linda and learn more about her designs and inspirations! Stay tuned for another interesting interview:)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How did we start?

I rarely write a personal story about my designs, but this one is really special to me. You see, I learned to knit back in 1985, when I was 7 years old and liked it right away. No "knitting didn't take on until 20 years later" stories for me, no sir. Not that there is anything wrong with that - I just took on right away. But as you know, life happens, college, partying, career, dating, you know ..life. I knitted briefly in highschool back in the 90's when baggy sweaters were all the rage, but that was pretty much it, until....one day, I had an idea in my head of a sweater that I wanted so badly I could taste it. I don't remember where or when (or if) I saw it, but I had to have it. So on that October Saturday morning in 2006, I took a bus to my local yarn store and the rest was history.

The first sweater I made though was not the one I had in mind, it was a kimono sweater that I still have and wear. The obsession sweater was made 2 months later with the yarn purchased (my first purchase from them!) at elann.com. The sweater was a milestone for more reasons that one, it's also when I learned to knit sleeves top down in the round after a tutorial found online. Through that tutorial, I also found ravelry, then in a dreaded beta stage and promptly signed up. New era has began!

But back to the sweater. Here it is, made flat, bottom up, with sleeves top down in the round. I was quite proud of myself!

Sadly, it got ruined 2 years later. Why am I telling you all this boring stuff? Well, I remade the sweater this summer with new elann.com wool, DK05, and new construction that I learned while making it (another milestone!). Here it is:
I added modern features such as twist rib cuffs and trim, and princess shaping in the back. It's knit top down seamlessly starting at the collar all the way down to the hem! The pattern can be purchased here.

But before you do that, come and post a story in my group how you started knitting! I would love to hear it, and in the end of the week I will pick two lucky people to win this pattern for free. Good luck!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

fitting the loopdigan

Over the last few months few people have knit this and I have stumbled across a common issue that I wanted to address because I want you guys to love your loopdigans and wear them! That's why we knit, right?

The design is knit sideways, so your back width is actually determined by the number of rows you knit. The back fit is the most important part of the design and I emphasized it in the pattern by saying that one has to measure the back at the armpit level but not mid armpit to mid armpit, just the back. Many people didn't understand what I meant and the answer is that I meant just that! As the diagram below shows:

See the red line? that's your measurement! The easiest way to take it would be to ask someone do it for you - because you really can't take it yourself properly. The crucial point here is to make sure your measuring tape does not go under your amrpit, because this will add inch or two to your back measurement and your loopdigan won't fit as intended, so....just measure the back. It's easier than it sounds.

biased transitions

Without further a due and much talk here it is - my newest design, using Kauni 8/2 Effektgarn wool. Love its sheepy smell and gorgeous colors! Any self striping yarn with long color repeats will work equally well here. Another wonderful wooly choice is much loved Zauberball. Their colorways are to die for!

I find that these yarns come alive when knit at bias - here I alternated rev. stockinette and st. stitch for total reversibility. You can either block the scarf or not, either way you have a wonderfully textured accessory.!

The pattern can be purchased here!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bubble giveway!

As promised the post from few days back, I am running a giveway for life in a bubble

7 lucky winners here are your codes:

7JM6XXRX
TEJ6R36D
M8C4JTQB
4YSBJMYD
WBDF6XMC
DW9Y7JH9
AC393P8T

Each of these will net you a free copy of this wrap. Enjoy and share your projects!

The promo is now over, all the codes have been claimed! thank you for participation!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bubble Story

I just released life in a bubble few days ago and wanted to tell a bit more about the design.

Back in the winter, Colourmart yarns group on ravelry announced their very first call for designs for the e-book that will showcase their yarns. For anyone who is not familiar, ColourmartUK sells oiled high quality yarns, primarily cashmere at very very good prices (don't get too addicted now). They have other yarns too, but they are mostly known for their cashmeres which are designer remnants from brands like Botto Poala, Chanel, Burberry etc.... I had several ideas circulating in my head but this inspiration stood out - the bubble stitch mesmerized me the minute I saw it!

Off swatching and searching I went and got this

Ok, it's not an exact replica but the bubbly vibe is there! I love how this simple pattern showcases any yarn, solid, color repeat or variegated - they all look smashing in this delicate drop stitch mesh. And as always, it's reversible.

In the next few days I will be running a giveway of this pattern - 7 lucky winners will get it for free! Details will be posted here. Stay tuned!

Have fun knitting!