A Few of My Favorite Things

Who needs Coach when you can carry a bag that was designed to carry yarn?!

Who needs Coach when you can carry a bag that was designed to carry yarn?!

I love it when people give you something that has special meaning, but can be incorporated into your daily living. Apparently, I’ve been knitting and crocheting just long enough to have developed a reputation with my family and friends. Lately, come every birthday or holiday, a new crafty-related item appears somewhere in our house. These are my top three favorites – deserving of their priority because I use them ALL the time.

First is my Namaste Poppins bag. This was meant to be my master project bag, I swear. But it’s turned into the handbag I carry everywhere, all the time, and just happen to throw projects and notions into when I need to transport them with me. I can’t count the number of compliments I’ve received on this bag, and take it from me, raspberry is the new black. Somehow, magically, this bag just goes with everything! For those of you who may not like the fact it’s $89, let me wish you the best of luck in finding a Dooney & Bourke bag for anywhere near that cost!

The first knitting-related item my husband gave me

The first knitting-related item my husband gave me

I will be so heartbroken if anything happens to this mug! It was a very thoughtful gift from my husband a few Christmas’s ago, and the only days I’m not drinking my morning coffee out of it are the days it’s sitting in the sink waiting to be washed. He gave it to me right around the time it became apparent that knitting was not a passing hobby, and our house would be keeping a yarn stash on a permanent basis.

Look closely!

Look closely!

The most recent yarn-y related gift – earrings for my birthday. These earrings have received so many compliments, and I wear them all the time. I like them better than studs, but they’re small and tasteful enough they go with everything, and if I fall asleep in them, they’re not bothering me all night long. My husband said they weren’t expensive, but they are precious to me because I thought it was such a thoughtful gift.

If you have favorite craft-related items you use in your daily life, I would love to see.


The Design Process Part 2

I somehow missed this being published on Business of Fashion, but now that I found it, I wanted to share. If you missed the first installment, feel free to catch up! The whole point of being a designer is getting from the sketchbook to the sales floor to sell the finished piece, and of course, the part in between is the part some of us have always found intimidating. I really appreciate this series and wanted to share it in hope it will be helpful to more than just me! Enjoy.


My Favorite Knitwear Artists

Nothing gives me more excitement than finding a new designer to follow. Or learning about a well-established designer that I hadn’t heard of before! The best designers are the ones who constantly pursue creativity, and their dedication shows. They’re the ones you watch with anticipation to see what they will release next. Here is my personal list of favorites, but I would LOVE it if you share yours with me! I’m always on the lookout for someone else to follow. Enjoy!

IrinaShabayeva

Irina Shabayeva

Irina Shabayeva is a fashion designer whom most people probably know from Project Runway. She is a great fashion designer, but I love it when the fashion world takes a few minutes to appreciate the knitwear world. Knitters may remember her patterns being published in Vogue Knitting – her fabulous welted coat has been on my list to make for a very long time! The photo above is one of my first-ever knitting projects, made as a gift for a dear friend.

I have not yet knitted up a Galina Carroll design, but I think she is also an incredible artist with a good eye for fashion. When her autobiographical book was featured in Vogue Knitting, I ordered it and devoured it from cover to cover. She even wrote a very nice personal note to me when she shipped it.

Stephanie Steinhaus

Stephanie Steinhaus

Yes, this is my boss. However, she is also a designer who has an eye for things that will pop into your wardrobe and go with everything. I’ve knit alot of of her designs, and they always end up being go-to pieces that I end up throwing on at the last minute when I don’t know what else to wear. Plus, I have learned a great deal about writing patterns from her personally, but also just from working through her pattern instructions. I also appreciate her ability to create something practical with yarns that I might not even consider buying otherwise, such as this poncho I’m wearing above.

Lori Versaci

Lori Versaci

She caught my eye when this sweater pattern was published in Knitty. At the time this was published, I was just learning to knit, and this pattern seemed totally out of my league. It sat in my queue for a LONG time, but her design stayed in my head, and after I started feeling more confident, I knitted it. It is a complicated pattern, and I was very proud of myself when I finished it!

No list from a color fanatic like me would be complete without Kaffe Fassett! I did not realize until I started reading his biography that he is a local artist! He now lives in England, and it seems everyone thinks of him as English, but he was born and raised in California. He is a very long-established artist, but his knitwear in older books is still very striking and inspirational color-wise, even though many of the sweater silhouettes are now out of fashion. He is truly a master of color, as well as all different media. If there is one person in the universe who could make me want to abandon knitting and take up quilting, it would be him!

I’m very grateful to the friend who introduced me to Kieran Foley. I just finished knitting one of his designs for a friend’s birthday. She is celebrating a milestone birthday, so I wanted to do something extra special for her, and his Camino Bubbles fit the bill. It takes a special skill as a designer to design a pattern that looks way more sophisticated and complicated than it actually is to knit.

Stephen West

Stephen West

What can I say about Stephen West except that I love him! His patterns are some of the best written out there – very clear and easy to follow. I met him and had him sign books for me at an event our shop held a few years ago. He was extremely polite and so nice. And I am always amazed when he releases new patterns how creative he gets with just simple Stockinette and garter stitch. He is a designer who truly understands how to take the basic elements of design and turn them into something innovative! Even though I have a good eye for color and usually pick my own, I think it’s very generous of him to take the time to put together color palettes for other knitters when he releases designs. But then again, if you have the chance to meet him, I think you’ll agree it’s not surprising!

Crocheters, lest you think I’ve ignored you, no worries! I am saving my list of favorite crochet designers for a separate post!


The Design Process

I always enjoy reading how other designers work. Designing truly is a process, and although it’s personal for everyone, it’s always interesting to read about someone else’s process. I hope you enjoy!


Pantone on Fashion…and In General

If you haven’t figured it out already, let me just say, I LOVE color. When I was working as a graphic designer, color was always a major part of my work, and as a knitter/crocheter, it still is. Color is probably the first thing I respond to when picking yarn, and I very often find that even sub-consciously, color is at the core of my design work. Of course, I try to pay attention to line, texture, shape, etc., but color is the design element I always seem to have the most immediate and strong instinct about. It follows then, that I really enjoy Pantone. I enjoy their color forecasts, and my husband very kindly bought me this book for my birthday. Twenty years ago, when I was starting out as a designer, the Pantone books were the gold standard of matching colors in the printing industry and Pantone was strictly business. The swatch books were super expensive, but they practically guaranteed that your design would translate well from computer screen to the final printed item. I love how the company still produces useful things for design professionals, but has developed more products for the general public to celebrate color.


Worth the Time

It always makes my day when someone buys one of my patterns or follows my blog or other social media. Hopefully I’m not the only designer out there whose biggest fear is that no one will like her work. Whenever I release a new design, I always feel like I’m putting a little piece of myself out there, and I am incredibly grateful and relieved when people like it. I am also extremely honored when a fellow artist or designer follows me and deems me worthy of their time and attention. Recently, Sue Wong (among others) followed me on Twitter, and when I watched her intro video, I had to share it! Her beautiful clothes and talent as a designer are on full display, but for me, it was worth the time to watch it because she also shares her joy in being creative and tells her story, from her life as a poor immigrant and how she grew into her success of today. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!


Unfurled

Inspired by an orchid, this shawl unfurls color as you knit it. This baby goat mohair is as close to the softness of flower petals as I could get!

Inspired by an orchid, this shawl unfurls color as you knit it. This baby goat mohair is as close to the softness of flower petals as I could get!

Just want to share my latest pattern, which I am also honored to have on display at Unwind! I hope you will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed designing it. Colinton Australia is a total luxury, and I truly hope my design does it justice! Flowers are so full of color and texture, I can promise with certainty that this will not be the last pattern I design inspired by them!


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