Things to do with Liberty Wool Print!

I've always loved Liberty Wool...what's not to love? Squishy, soft, machine-washable, and the perfect gauge, it suits me completely. As soon as the first Liberty collection came out in fall of 2010, I cast on for the Elizabeth sweater ("the Magic Sweater" as we called it around the office), but made it in a solid color. As a knitter that tends to shy away from bright colors, Liberty Wool Print took a little longer to embrace, but the compulsion hit me hard.

As soon as this week's free pattern was completed, Meg and I both cast on the Splash of Color cowl, one in each new colorway (12 new colors are being released this spring as part of our retailer subscription program). Meg's is in Berry Brambles, mine is in Golden Pagoda. The colors are bright, but what a great way to add an accent color to your outfit.



If you love cowls, this pattern from Kelly J. Knits, the Key to Warmth Cowl, knit here in Liberty Wool Solids and Prints, is brilliant.


We also dressed up our office with Liberty Wool Print. Machine-knit, the installation is 60' total length in 20 colors of Liberty Wool Print...overall 8900 yards and 8 pounds of wool with 73 color changes!

Putting the Liberty "knitdown" on foam core for our office decoration.

Finished! All 60 feet of it!
Downtown Knits in North Carolina has another beautiful display idea using the Molly scarf, one of our best selling patterns. Owner Michele Riggs knit one ball of each color into a scarf, and as new colors are released, she just adds a little more to it.


Betsy, the owner of Classic Elite Yarns, knit up a Log Cabin blanket (with the help of the Mason Dixon ladies) in multiple solid and print colorways of Liberty Wool.


Hub Mills Store here in N. Billerica knit up a chair cushion in each color to soften up the chairs for Knit Night. You also catch a glimpse of the Aldred scarf over the chair, an independent design that uses Liberty Print's color variegation very cleverly.


How do you use your Liberty Print?

TNNA Recap and Spring Sneak Peek

The National Needlearts Association hosted its semi-annual spring trade show this weekend in Phoenix. TNNA trade shows are the perfect place to see old industry friends and meet new ones, show off your newest collection of garments and yarns, meet retailers and designers, and, most importantly, to sell some yarn!

Meg Myers
Meg Myers, our resident web administrator and graphic designer, headed out to Phoenix with Betsy, Heather and Susan for her first trade show experience. Here is her TNNA recap in pictures.

Hello Phoenix!

The famous "Yarn Wall", one skein of every CEY brand yarn.

New Spring Accessories!

Liberty Wool Print colors, awesome display idea!

Two new kits to support Stitch Red, a campaign to fight heart disease

MinnowKnits designs in CottonTail

MillaMia, a new line of patterns and washable Merino for kids.

MillaMia offers contemporary takes on traditional techniques

Their photography is guaranteed to make you smile.

Excited for spring knitting? 

New yarns for spring 2012

A garment from our first dedicated Silky Alpaca Lace booklet, Summer Breeze, #9178



VKLive New York!

I suppose I'm a little biased, with New York being my hometown and all, but how fabulous is Vogue Knitting Live NYC? We were lucky to be included, and snapped some quick iPhone pictures while we were there.

With two events already under their belts, VK had plenty of practice for this one...and it showed! There were art installations, unique vendors, an amazing class line-up and expert panels. Our very own Betsy Perry was on the "When Knitting Becomes a Career" panel, and was heard saying something we're used to hearing around the office here in Billerica--"On a bad day, I can say 'Well, at least I got to play with yarn today'"

Unique display/storage containers for crafty stuff

White wedding indeed...an art piece made of yarn!



Some cool yarn-focused prints and postcards from Carol E.S. MacDonald

Knitting pottery by Alyssa Ettinger at the gallery
And with a magazine that's world-renowned for its fashion expertise, who could forget the fashion shows! Betsy snapped some photos of garments knit in Classic Elite Yarns from the Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer Issue. For a clearer look, you'll have to wait till springtime!

Seedling at the VK Fashion Show
Twinkle Cruise at the VK Fashion Show
Cotton Bam Boo Crocheted at the VK Fashion Show
For all who missed this one, or for any knitter who hasn't yet experience VKLive, get ready for Vogue Knitting Live Chicago this October! Were you at VKLive this month? If so, head over to our Facebook wall and post some pictures for us...we would love to hear about your experience!



Knitting and Yoga Adventures!

I asked CEY Creative Director Susan Mills to share some words about Knitting and Yoga Adventures here on the blog. Read on to hear about her experience!

The Monhegan gang in 2010
I've gone on the week long trip to Monhegan for 6 years. In 2011, Lisa added a long weekend in Vermont and I went and taught the Ariosa Reversible Cabled Cowls, this week's free Web Letter pattern Knitting classes are usually project-based and I try to come up with something new each time (for returning attendees) and structure the classes for all skill levels. 

Lisa Evans, founder of Knitting and Yoga Adventures
The yoga is suitable for all levels – The yoga teacher, Melora, is fantastic and caters to everyone’s level with special emphasis on  shoulders and neck – possible problem areas for knitters. And you can’t forget the massages. Mary Alice gives a wonderful massage – some people go for 2 or 3 massages. The camaraderie on these trips is incredible – women of all ages who all share a passion for knitting. And hiking and yoga. Schedules are very relaxed but there is a ton of stuff to do. 

Monhegan Island, from our Shoreline booklet shoot, 2010

Every trip has a slightly different flavor depending on the combination of participants but there is always a lot of laughing. Monhegan is extra special because it is an incredibly quaint little island, artist colony and fishing village 10 miles out to sea. 

The Vermont countryside
The Vermont trip is great, and may be more accessible, being only 4 days instead of the full week. And you still get to hike, knit, laugh and relax!
Susan



Visit the Knitting and Yoga Adventures website to learn more about their upcoming trips, and visit their blog to read more from Lisa and her incredible team. 

Designer Spotlight: Sweaterbabe!




"As knitters, we can and should knit things that don’t just mimic the styles we could easily find at stores. . . it’s all the fine details, careful knitting, yarn choice, and interesting project elements that make each knitting project worthwhile."

Sweaterbabe is a pretty hard name to forget, and once you see her work, you'll have even more reason to remember it. Katherine Lee has been designing for about 10 years and knitting for over 30. Her designs are flattering and contemporary, and feature special little details that add a touch of femininity. Her fans couldn't agree more; Ravelry shows almost 4,000 projects knit in her designs! Katherine was kind enough to answer some questions, hope her answers leave you feeling inspired!

How long have you been designing? 
I’ve officially been a knitwear designer for about 10 years. Throughout my 30+ years of knitting, I’ve always improvised and altered patterns to suit my needs though, and the designing process has since proven to be my strength in this business.  Now, I really consider it my job to design interesting knitting projects that feature unexpected and interesting details that can define a project as hand-crafted and make the time my customers’ spend knitting them really fun and rewarding!
How did you get started?

I started by designing knitwear to be produced and sold in stores.  I designed entire lines of knits in baby alpaca, from sexy knit lace dresses to monogrammed baby cardigans.  In order to be able to produce the same designs more than once, I had to take meticulous notes and create charts to serve as really detailed production specifications.

This was only a few steps away from formally writing up complicated hand-knitting patterns...



As it became clear to me that I preferred the designing process vs. dealing with all of the production, marketing, and distribution issues that come with selling finished goods, I shifted towards developing designs where the knitting patterns themselves were the products. I quickly discovered that all the feminine, interesting, and textural details that I can include in my hand-knitting patterns (that were the costly design elements I had avoid when designing for production knitting) are the things that keep me and my customers happy and make my SweaterBabe.com line unique and special!

Ruffled-Strap Tank from Sweaterbabe.com's Fabulous & Flirty Crochet
I created SweaterBabe.com as my online shop to sell patterns directly to knitters, but to also offer a lot of advice and information on knitting that I did not find on the web at that time, e.g. like a Yarn Shop Directory that was comprehensive, free, and easily searchable.  That Yarn Shop Directory is still a very important service on my site and my pattern line has grown since to over 120 patterns!  Now, I have a mailing list of over 45,000 knitters and crocheters, hundreds of knitters who belong to my SweaterBabeClub.com to enjoy all of my new patterns as free downloads each month, and a strong presence on Ravelry.com. 

And, I’m able to do this on a flexible work schedule so I can still be a stay-at-home/part-time working mom!  My 3 girls are still young, aged 3 to 8, and it’s so nice be a working mom with lots of flexibility and control over my time. 


Shawl Collared Wrap Cardigan from Sweaterbabe.com's Fabulous & Flirty Crochet
What's the first piece you ever designed (not necessarily for CEY)? How have your ideas/aesthetics changed since then? 
One of the first knitting patterns I offered through SweaterBabe.com is a simple wavy lace scarf.

It is like many SweaterBabe.com patterns in that it features a stitch pattern that creates a lovely, complicated-looking texture, but is actually quite easy and repetitive to learn.  It is a scarf that I still wear very often because it’s classic, but has an up-to-date feel (wider and longer than “old” scarves).  I still very much like to design things that can be wearable for many, many years, but never look dated because the details are modern.

Also, that scarf design required using a classic yarn that would show excellent stitch definition. Back then, and ever since, I’ve always preferred classic yarns (like Classic Elite!) vs. the novelty ones, because of their long wearability, sophisticated colors, and how they allow the true skill of the knitter’s work to be showcased.
What pieces have you designed in CEY yarn? 
I've designed many of my most popular knitting patterns in Classic Elite yarns!  My #69 Cables and Lace Kimono Wrap Cardigan in Princess (on Ravelry here) and #70 Lush and Lacy Cardigan in Lush (on Ravelry here) have been incredible best sellers.
I’ve also used Classic Elite yarns in at least 10 more designs, including several of the projects featured on the front and back covers of my book, SweaterBabe.com’s Fabulous and Flirty Crochet (Rockport, 2006).  Most recently, I’ve used Classic Elite Montera yarn to create two fun one-ball hats, which I know will be great-selling patterns!
Three New Hat Designs
What is the timeline for one of your designs, from swatch to pattern to sample?
Lately, my design process can vary very much in length based on how many designs I’m simultaneously creating.  Generally though, I’d say 1 to 2 months from the first swatch through a finished pattern that’s been tech edited and is ready for sale.  Wow – that sounds faster than it feels!

Approximately how many patterns do you publish a year? 
Because I give at least one new pattern to my subscription-based SweaterBabeClub.com members every single month, I currently publish at least 15 patterns each year.  I’d do more if I could find more time for it...and I plan to when my youngest begins Elementary school in a few years ;-)
Two sweater designs from Sweaterbabe.com

Do you use test knitters? 
No, never have.  I always knit the sample myself because much of my design process involves determining fit and detailing as I see the project progress.  Proportion and fit are very important to me, so I am constantly trying the sample on myself and sometimes ripping out entire sections to perfect the shaping and placement of details, like pockets or fancy waist shaping. 

Also, I’ve never felt a strong need for test knitters because I do have an excellent tech editor AND a loyal audience (especially my Knitting Club members!) that often knit up my new patterns incredibly fast.  They are also not shy about telling me if they spot any errors.  My best customers and Club members end up being great test knitters!

What is your "design process"?
I usually start with a yarn and a very vague idea of what I’d like to design. It’s very often based on what I want to add to my closet to wear that same season! 

I then get inspiration from people watching, shopping online, flipping through magazines, or just thinking about how best to use the yarn.  I’ll do a very simple sketch with notes on possible design details.  I’ll hunt for stitch patterns that will be incorporated into the design, and then I’ll swatch to get the different gauges needed.  The swatching always takes longer than I’d like, but I know that I need to do it since I can be extremely picky about how a yarn feels after it’s knit up in a certain stitch pattern and at a certain gauge.  Sometimes, even bumping the needle size up by one size can make the resulting fabric feel that much softer or let the stitch pattern show up that much better. . .
 #69 Cables and Lace Kimono Wrap Cardigan in Princess

Once I’ve got the gauges, I begin a lot of math to determine stitch count and stitch pattern placement, shaping, etc.  I knit and adjust, knit and sometimes rip back, knit, knit, knit – all the while taking lots of notes down on what I’m doing!
Once the finished sample is to my liking, I have to sit down and write out the pattern in additional sizes and do a lot more math, as well as making stitch charts, etc.  This pattern writing part can take a while, but I’ve got a process and pattern writing standards that my customers really appreciate!
Where do you do your design work? What does your "creative space" look like?
I do all of my design work at home, mostly in front of the TV at night, sitting next to my dear husband.  I prefer to do the knitting sitting comfortably on my couch vs. at a desk or work table.  Once the sample is finished however, I do take all my handwritten notes and the sample and park myself at my computer to do the sizing and writing up part.

Besides working on the couch in the living room and at the computer, I also have a room where I store all of my yarn and hundreds of samples in a big shelf.  I call this my “yarn wall.”  This room is also where my big blocking table and other knitting supplies are located. 


What is your favorite piece you've designed in CEY yarn and what endears it to you? What was your inspiration? 
My current favorite Classic Elite project is the #70 Lush and Lacy Cardigan!  When I designed it, I remember having a great a-ha moment deciding to create the nipped in back waist detail and then echoing this as part of the sleeve design.

#70 Lush and Lacy Cardigan in Lush


That little change really transformed a nice little cardigan into a very feminine, flattering, and “designed” sort of signature piece. This pattern has also had many lives because of sites like Ravelry.com, where I’ve seen this pattern knit up by so many people, some of whom have done it multiple times in totally different yarns!


I believe the inspiration for the Lush and Lacy Cardigan really was that I wanted something that was unique, but in its subtle, lovely details, which is something I strive for in all of my designs.  As knitters, we can and should knit things that don’t just mimic the styles we could easily find at stores. . . it’s all the fine details, careful knitting, yarn choice, and interesting project elements that make each knitting project worthwhile.