Sweater Girl Makes Good...Jewelry That Is




Meet Kim O'Brien,
 one of Classic Elite Yarns' favorite sweater models!

You may know Kim from the exuberance she brings to all of our photo shoots. Kim can't come to a shoot without her extensive collections of boots, skirts and Vans which usually adds a sense of the stylish unknown to our pre-planned wardrobe choices. You'd think we would have learned to expect the extra shoes and clothing by now, but one of the great things about Kim is that she exceeds expectations. 


When Kim's not modeling for us, she is out in the real world designing and creating jewelry at her new studio space in historic Lowell, MA. She's taken up residence at Classic Elite's former home, the new Western Avenue Studios.

We're thrilled to invite all of our local readers to a studio party to celebrate Kim's new creative space and her growing business. 

Open Studio Party
Saturday, October 21
2:00 - 10:00 p.m.
122 Western Avenue #105
Lowell, MA


Kim says,

My jewelry line emerged slowly. I graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor's Degree in Jewelry and Metals from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. I had about seven years, which I refer to as 'before craft', where I worked an office job and almost never touched my beloved tools or sheets of silver. Slowly, I found time to get my studio in order, designs started to flow in my head, my hands gravitated towards my tools and a small jewelry line came to being. From there I started to play with my enamels, introducing color to my otherwise grey palette. Other design elements soon came into play, I had vintage jewelry parts cast in silver to incorporate into my designs, giving these pieces a new life and meaning.


We love how Kim's understated pieces feel natural and fluid. Plus we think they look great with CEY sweater patterns!



Part 2: Hip to Be Square - A Giveaway with Schacht Spindle Co.

Hi Makers,

Thanks for checking back in with us so soon. I'm delighted to introduce you to Lois Weaver and share with you her thoughts about her experiences and inspiration.

Read on, and at the end of this post you'll have a chance to enter our giveaway for a Schacht Zoom Loom and Liberty Wool yarn -- enough to make Lois' Hip to Be Square Cowl.



Tracy @ CEY:
Tell us a little bit about the type of design work you currently do and where we can find your designs or finished garments.

Lois Weaver:
I mostly design for small looms like Rigid Heddle and Pin Looms, although recently I’ve been revisiting my crochet and knitting skills and incorporating those techniques into my designs. My designs and kits can be found on my Etsy store so you can see what I mean.
T @ CEY:
How did you get into the design world?  When did you publish your first design?

LW:
I’ve loved making clothes all my life! As a small child, I enjoyed dressing up dolls and making their clothes. I started my career as a weaver and designer in my 40s, specializing in original wearables marketed through boutiques and galleries.
Looking for adventure I sold everything except my stored looms and tools and moved into an RV to explore the west. After a year I had serious “weaving withdrawal”. I rented a small loom to take with me into the desert and discovered Cotton Clouds, Inc. in Safford, Arizona. Irene, the owner, and I became fast friends and she asked me to develop a kit from one of my designs. Thus began beginning of my shift from weaver to designer.
T @ CEY:
Do you come from a “crafty” background?  Did your mother or grandmother teach you to knit, crochet or weave?

LW:
I come from a long line of Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonite women known for their work ethic and attention to detail. They made all their clothes and quilts out of necessity. In what little free time they had, they embroidered or crocheted.



My mother taught me to crochet when I was very young. At age 13 I taught myself to knit from a Workbasket magazine so I could knit a Barbie dress. Most of my life, my creativity that had been lying dormant, so at age 40 I enrolled in a university fiber arts program where I discovered loom weaving and made the connection with my birth name, “Weaver” and the craft of my ancestors. Weaving is in my blood—it feels like I have always done it!


T @ CEY:
Where do you find your inspiration?  Nature?  Art?  Dreams?

LW:
Oh, I love color! The beautiful colors and textures in nature and anything that’s around me—even the yarn on my shelf. Even as I finish one project, I see the possibilities for the next. And sometimes all it takes to get my creative juices flowing is someone asking me the question, “Could you . . .? Or in these colors . . . ?”


T @ CEY:
What do you like to do when you aren’t designing or weaving?




LW:
Exploring! My husband and I love to travel. I’m always curious about what’s over the next hill and around the next bend. There is so much to discover.  I also love hiking or anything that gets me out into nature.


T @ CEY:
If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow – where would you like to visit?

LW:
Not just one place -- I’d love to visit Iceland and the Scandinavian countries, New Zealand; other places in the world where artisans are creating from their own heritage. In the US and Canada, the Pacific Northwest is on my list.


T @ CEY:
What are your favorite fibers for weaving and why?




LW:
I have primarily used cotton, rayon and bamboo in my designing. Since moving back to Colorado, I have been experimenting with a variety of wool yarns. I especially love that small loom weavers can use most of the same yarn as knitters. There are so many new options available and the amazing variety of color effects such as the Liberty Wool Prints that I used in my latest design, Hip to be Square Poncho and Cowl.


Patterns and kits sold at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ZoZoFiberArts


About Schacht -
Schacht Spindle Company, Inc. was founded during the back-to-earth movement of the late 1960's and its accompanying craft resurgence. Their first loom was a simple tapestry loom, a version which they still make today. Over nearly 50 years, Schacht has developed a broad range of high quality hand weaving and hand spinning tools, including their popular Cricket Loom and Ladybug Spinning wheel. Schacht’s mission is to create beautiful and well-designed products that enhance customers’ weaving and spinning experience through innovative problem solving, creative ideas, skilled woodworking and craftsmanship, and friendly, knowledgeable customer service. Schacht’s family owned business is located in Boulder, Colorado.

TO ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY: Please use the comments section below to tell us what fibers you most enjoy working with whether animal fibers such as wools and alpacas or plant fibers such as cottons and bamboos. What are your faves to create with them.

Entries must be posted by August 27th and winners will be selected at random and announced on Monday, August 28.

PART 1: Hip to be Square – Win a Schacht Zoom Loom and Liberty Wool Print!

Hello Fellow Makers. It's Tracy here, from Classic Elite Yarns, and I am so excited to share some news with you!

In celebration of our partnership with Schacht Spindle Co. and designer Lois Weaver on her release of the Hip to Be Square Poncho, Classic Elite Yarns is pleased to offer a fabulous giveaway to inspire your creativity.



Answer our entry question by posting in the comments section below, and you will be entered to win a kit to create Lois' Hip to Be Square Cowl pictured below.  
Answers must be posted by August 27th. Winners will be chosen by random drawing and will be announced on Monday, August 28th.   

Answer our second entry question in Part 2 (published tomorrow) for a second chance to win.
Offer valid for residents of continental US only.  
Hip to Be Square Cowl by Lois Weaver uses the Schacht Zoom Loom and CEY Liberty Wool


CEY recently had the opportunity to partner with designer Lois Weaver of ZoZo FiberArts in creating a stunning woven poncho, called Hip to be Square.  Lois’s poncho received lots of oohs and aahs as it was modeled on the runway during the fashion show at TNNA's summer trade show in Columbus, Ohio.


Lois transformed our top selling yarn, Liberty Wool Print into this spectacular design.   The woven squares were completed on a Zoom Loom from Schacht Spindle Co.  Lois used a complimentary Liberty Wool Solid to stitch the squares together, add a crochet border and knit the turtleneck.  Wow!


Lois has been a professional weaver and designer for the past 20 years. Her unique pieces are noted for their use of color, attention to detail and contemporary styling using the latest in knitting and weaving yarns. Lois loves to introduce fellow fiber enthusiasts to new ways to enjoy fiber crafts. She teaches and publishes patterns for small looms, designed with beginning weavers in mind. Lois studied art at James Madison University with a concentration in Fiber Arts. Her studio is currently located in Pueblo, Colorado.
Patterns and kits can be found at the ZoZo Fiber Arts website.

To enter our giveaway, use the comments section below to tell us what you might create with a Schacht Zoom Loom and Liberty Wool. The possibilities are endless.

And come back for Part 2, and another chance to enter, tomorrow.

PROCESS OR PRODUCT? Who cares when what we need is more time for both!?


Whether you’re a process knitter (for the zen of it) or a project knitter (to expand your wardrobe) most of us would LOVE to have more time to knit. Here are some ideas for finding more knitting time each day. Choose one or two of these, and you'll find you're finishing projects in no time!

*******

Always have your knitting with you.
Carry a small easy/mindless project (socks or garter stitch something) in your bag/purse/backpack and always leave an emergency project in your car.


Wake up a bit earlier.
A great way to start the day, knitting in the morning is more productive than the same amount of time spent knitting late at night. Plus, it’s quiet and peaceful in the morning while everyone else is sleeping  - and there is coffee.





Knit while watching television.
Even if you only knit during the ads, make it habit not to turn on the TV without picking up your knitting.


Put down the phone and computer. Social media and game addiction is real and knitting is so much more productive. Get away from the screens and you’ll be glad you did.


Knit while watching sports.
Whether on TV or at the field with your kids or grand kids, there is lots of time during warm up and in between the actual playing to get a few rows done.


Knit while waiting. In line at Costco, the DMV, or at the dentist or doctor, knitting will help you past the time.


Listen to books instead of reading books.
Knitting while listening to books on tape or podcasts is multi-tasking at its best.


Let some one else drive.
Being a passenger = knitting time. A car, bus, subway, train and plane are all great places to find extra knitting time.


Give up housework. Hire a chef and a housekeeper or, if that would affect your yarn budget too much, treat yourself to a bit more knitting time and put off vacuuming for another day and order take out.

Vintage Sweaters - The Intarsia Edition

It's so much fun to dip into Classic Elite Yarns' extensive pattern archives. On my last archaeological, fashion dig,  I kept coming back to these fabulous intarsia sweaters from the 1980s and '90s. All of these patterns are available for digital download from Patternfish.

I couldn't resist sharing some of my favorites.


#183 Polka Dot Pullover designed in La Gran mohair for the 1986 collection. Designer unknown.


Modeled by a teenaged Uma Thurman, #230 by Sally Lee was designed for the 1987 collection. Also in La Gran.


Entering the 1990s, #331 Carpet Bag Pullover was 
designed by Norah Gaughan.



#345 Rosa Rugosa by Michele Rose in Newport cotton. 
I knit with Newport in the mid 1990s, but now I love our Provence cotton even better.


Classic Elite's Creative Director, Susan Mills says intarsia motifs are favorites of designers as there are few limitations. You can think outside the box and not be confined to thinking only in rows. With intarsia, designers can become painters, putting color all over the place. She notes the challenges to designers (who can't quite find the colors they imagine in available yarn lines) and to knitters (who may be daunted by charts and lots of ends to weave).

But in the end, a completed intarsia sweater is an accomplishment that proves your knitting chops.

What's Susan's favorite intarsia design? This pullover from 1992 by Sofia Delaunay is the winner. Susan knit it for herself in '92 in La Gran. She wore it so much over the years, she completely wore it out! That's sweater love.





Meet Tracy Russell



Please help us offer a warm welcome to the newest member of the Classic Elite Yarns' team -- Tracy Russell, Director of Sales!

Tracy has a wide ranging career in our favorite thing -- yarn. She's owned a local yarn shop in Baltimore, MD, was the wholesale manager for Cocoknits, and worked as an independent sales representative bringing lovely yarns from many companies to shops throughout New England.  She knows the yarn world from all sides and understands what knitters and crocheters want, knows want shop owners need and is creative about what a yarn company can be.

Like most knitters, Tracy goes through phases. She always seems to have a pair of socks, a sweater and some sort of accessory on the needles. If she's particularly stressed out -- it's garter stitch all the way! When moving from Baltimore to Boston while selling her yarn shop, she completed three big log cabin blankets.

What is she most looking forward to? Tracy says it's combining her experience as a knitter, shop owner and rep and looking at every situation from a variety of perspectives. That, and learning how this woman owned, small company runs. From selecting yarns, developing dozens of designs each year, the marketing and distribution -- there's so much to learn. And lastly, the people of course. For Tracy, it's all about the people, so working with shop owners across the country will be the best part of all.



An Auspicious Anniversary


photo credit: Katherine Moxhet

Thirty years ago, on March 22, 1987 a nine-alarm fire ravaged and destroyed Building 7 of the Lawrence Mills Complex along the Merrimack River in Lowell, MA, causing $7 million in damage (in 1987 dollars).

At the time of the fire, Classic Elite Yarns was known as Elite Speciality Yarns and was housed in the mill complex in the Hub Hosiery Building across a narrow street from Building 7. The two buildings were connected by a second floor catwalk which became engulfed in flames. Firefighters poured enough water on the catwalk to keep the flames from Hub Hosiery and Classic Elite!

Jim Doyle, Classic Elite's Credit Manager and Buyer has been with the company for 33 years. His memories of the fire and their impact on CEY and its employees are vivid. Here's a bit of my conversation with Jim about that week back in 1987.

The alarm was called in by an off duty firefighter at about 5:40 PM. I was home having dinner and was either listening to the radio or watching TV when they broke in with a bulletin noting that there was a major mill fire in Lowell.  I got in my car, not knowing exactly where the fire was, as Lowell is full of mill buildings.  I lived about four miles from work and when I got on the highway I could tell from where the smoke was emanating that there was a chance the fire was nearby our offices and mill.  

I got as close as three blocks from our complex and walked the rest of the way.  Our building was not on fire, but everything behind it was, with only a narrow alley separating buildings.  There were over 200 firefighters from ten towns in MA and NH fighting the fire.  On the street, I asked one of the firemen, who was pouring water on our building if he thought it could be saved, his answer was “50/50.”
Our building was saved, but everything on the two floors we occupied was wet, all of our inventory, mill machinery, and the office area.  If memory serves we just went about cleaning up with the help of service master crews and then getting hold of vendors to see what they could do to get fresh stock to us ASAP.  At that time we had many more domestic vendors than we do now, and most were able to work with us to get back up and running.
The impact was that about 200 plus people were not as lucky as we were and their businesses were devastated.  Several were never able to open again.  We were very lucky, and as is the case many times in situations like this, we just rolled up our sleeves and got to the business of cleaning up and getting up to speed as quickly as possible.
I can remember on the first anniversary of the fire we had a “Feast of the Fire” lunch.  We all wore plastic kiddie fire helmets and had several from the fire department drop by and share cake, and shared stories of that day, that I for one will never forget.