Patternfish Featured Designer: Susan Mills

Our very own Susan Mills is the Designer of the Month over at Patternfish. Below is part of their recently released interview with her. You can find the rest in the Patternfish Newsletter here.

 We’re so delighted to have Susan Mills, prolific and talented designer and Creative Director of Classic Elite Yarns, as our November Designer of the Month. We were interested in her perspectives on designing and her views on the changes that have taken place since she began in the fibre world in 1992.
'Leona' in Mesa, 'Shelburne' in Tiverton Tweed, & 'Albright' in Fresco.
You have had an amazing 20+ year career in the fibre world. Any predictions about how it will change in the next 10? What do you think you will be doing?
I am one of a fortunate few to have made a career in the yarn industry, starting at Classic Elite in 1992, then moving on to JCA and Westminster Fibers/Nashua Handknits. I came back to CEY in 2009.

The internet has completely changed the handknitting industry. Downloadable patterns and YouTube videos to teach techniques have helped spread the popularity of knitting. More people than ever are knitting and that’s wonderful. But, even though more people than ever are knitting, it’s tougher than ever before for LYS's to survive. So much yarn is bought and sold online (and at fiber festivals and other knitting events).

The handknitting industry is certainly not alone in this but ours is a tactile, hands on business that can’t take place completely online. LYSs are vital in creating, inspiring and encouraging knitters, especially new knitters. We’re an industry made up of small companies - CEY has 15 employees yet we’re often considered to be one of the big yarn companies. Yarn companies that only sell directly to knitters and aren’t in yarn shops are profiting at the expense of the LYSs. They are making more money for themselves, but ultimately are not helping the industry to grow and remain healthy.
With a growing interest in slow fashion and handwork of every kind, I think that handknitting will continue to grow and become even more mainstream than it is currently. The proliferation of stores combining knitting and sewing (or other crafts) will help knitting grow in popularity.

I wish I had a crystal ball and could tell where it all is heading, but I hope in 10 years I’m still surrounded by yarn and dreaming up new designs.

'Lacole' & 'Silverdale' in Mohawk Wool, 'Bishop Of Aberdeen' in Liberty Wool Light.
We also wanted to know what the creative director for a major yarn company and pattern publisher actually does. To find out what she had to say, see Susan's interesting insights into the workings of the CEY creative team.

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