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Newsletter - August 2012
A wonderful knitter from Palm Desert, California, Borie Petrovay, wrote me last month asking for light weight designs, like shawls, to knit in the midst of the heat wave that was blanketing the United States. I was happy to fulfill Borie’s request and we’re featuring lacy shawl patterns in the Collection of the Month. Borie fell in love with the gorgeous Basilica Shawl from Apple Tree Knits and suggested that she share her work in-progress with newsletter readers. Zip down to From the Ambassador’s Desk to see a photo of Borie’s no longer in-progress, but completed Basilica and the pattern photo.
Prime Minister's Choices
This time it’s personal.
“But, Julia, what do you actually knit yourself from Patternfish?” asks nobody. Well, I'll tell you anyway. It goes without saying that each of these patterns is very well written and I enjoyed working from them (or will). And when I didn't use a suggested yarn, it's only because I was using up stash acquired from various marketplaces over the years: laudable.
I’ve always thought it would be lovely to have a basket full of knitted and crocheted slippers sitting by the front door for guests. I haven’t done it yet but I’m now motivated. We’re renovating a house and with any luck, it will be done by early winter. My goal is to have a basket ready for the house warming party. Here’s what I’ve chosen.
I’m especially enthralled with two new patterns from Kris Basta, Birkenslippers and Airy Scuffs. Here's what Basta has to say about these designs,"Both the Birkenslipper and the Airy Scuff are for those folks who want to slip out of their shoes at the end of the day and rest their aching feet without having a heavy, too warm, slipper."
I likely won’t need to offer children’s slippers, but these make me laugh so they are quite irresistible.
The more sophisticated of my guests will appreciate these.
Some people’s feet get colder than others - thrummed for them.
Sweet and easy. I’ll probably make lots of this these.
Fair Isle patterning for interest, mine and the wearer’s, and I could knit them in manly colours.
For when I feel like crocheting, and felting.
In this issue ...
A Landmark Design
Glenna C.’s Urban Collection
There are different approaches that the best designers consider before they launch into their creative process. We’re especially enamoured of Glenna C.’s consideration of the needs of her customers, both physically and psychically, and the wonderful result, her Urban Collection - 8 Designs for Winter to Spring e-book. Here’s how Glenna pithily describes it; “A collection of women’s knitwear patterns to suit any occasion, to practice your many knitting skills, and to wear with confidence.”
There's wonderful variety in the 8 Urban Collection patterns: two cardigans, one cabled and fitted, the other fingering weight and cozy, a cabled hat and coordinating mitts, a cowl to wear looped or swingy, twisted stitch socks, cabled fingerless mitts, and a gorgeous lace shawl that looks harder to knit than it is.
Plan now for Fall.
From the Prime Minister's Desk
This is my birthday month. (Thanks for the congrats, I can hear them.) What do I want? I have it. In fact, we all share it.
We live-- right now, right this minute-- in the best time in the history of the world for knitting and crocheting. The absolute best ever. There's never been more variety in yarn, in tools, in patternwork, and (very critically) in design talent. And the internet is making it all available to everyone at warp speeds.
A few years ago I was talking with Linda Benne of Linda's Craftique in Port Credit, Ontario. She was marvelling at a great new young designer. “She doesn't know that purling three together through the back loops was supposed to be hard!” exclaimed Linda. “So look what she did!” And I gazed in wonder at a truly amazing new shawl design.
My mother raised me to knit but warned me that cables and lace were tricky. I was years throwing off this well-meant advice. Today's knitters and crocheters-- perhaps raised by second-wave feminists who did not pass on any knitting skills at all-- are feral in their approach. They like the look of something, or want to achieve a certain effect, and they monkey around until they do achieve it. Whether or not it's supposed to be 'hard' doesn't occur to them. It's just what you do.
This is breathtaking. It's monumental. It makes me want to applaud, and cry. Our world is now full of young folk who are like Kipling's little mongoose Rikki Tikki Tavi, whose family motto is “Run and find out, dear.” Our new dyers and designers are out there blazing their own trails both as indies and working for big companies, and since they don't know what can't be done, there's nothing they can't do.
There's a lot of competition, sure. But we don't believe it's a zero-sum game; that is, we don't believe that anyone else's success means that we succeed less. The more great materials and designs and learning opportunities are out there, the more knitting and crocheting gratify and reward. And the more they reward, the more they embed themselves into our culture, and the more new crafters will be born.
When I was a yarn rep, people used to ask me how long the current knitting/crocheting boom would last. I believe we're past that stage. It's entrenched now. More than that: we're at a Wild West kind of point in crafting history which people will be nostalgic about forever.
The present is my present. Yours, too. Happy birthday, everybody.
Publisher of the Month: Kolláge Yarns
Kolláge Yarns is unique. To the best of our knowledge, it’s the only company in the world that markets everything you need to make a garment: beautiful yarns, fashionable and timeless patterns, knitting needles and crochet hooks – square needles and hooks. It’s a pleasure to feature Kolláge Yarns as our publisher of the month.
Kolláge Yarns has an outstanding pattern collection for Fall 2012 designed by some of the most talented people in the industry. Susan Moraca, President, personally chooses the theme, yarns, colours, and type of design based on her knowledge of her customer base and industry and fashion trends. She selects the best person for each design assignment according to their specialty, be it shawls, cardigans, sweaters, socks, cables, lace, crochet…
We’ve just received Kolláge’s Fall 2012 pattern line up. Here are three of our favourite patterns from outstanding and admirable designers Sandi Rosner, Tabetha Hedrick, and Fiona Ellis.
Central to Moraca’s values is the belief that if knitters invest their time and money into knitting a sweater, it should be timeless.
When I was planning the interview with Moraca, there were two things that I had to know about Kolláge Yarns. What’s the origin of the name? Where did the idea of square needles come from? The answers are revealing. They convey just about everything that’s important to know about the company.
First, a bit about Moraca's history. Moraca has always had a passion for knitting and although she doesn’t say so, she must be expert, having owned a yarn shop, done custom knitting and taught both machine and hand knitting before she launched Kolláge Yarns from her home a mere 8 years ago.
It was in the basement of that home that partner Mark came up with the original iteration of the name while gazing at thousands of yards of yarn hanging on pegs in the basement. A collage is what he saw and that was it, the name. They soon discovered that people read it as ‘college'. A great idea ought not be abandoned; the name became Kolláge. To me it says artistic sensibility, flair, and a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that’s very appealing.
As for the invention of square needles, here’s Moraca’s story: “After our first year in business, I wanted to send gifts to our stores to thank them for their support. I asked my father-in-law, Mario, an accountant with a passion for wood working, to make rosewood needles. He did and brought me some in a variety of rosewood colours for me to choose. He had not rounded them yet but assured me he would after I chose the wood colour.
“Wood colour? What wood colour? They’re square. I just wanted to get them in my hands and start knitting. I couldn’t believe how nice they felt. We sent out our gifts and then the phones started ringing with shops placing orders. They were amazed at the uniformity of their stitches and the reduction of fatigue on their hands.
“We quickly reached the point where my father-in-law couldn’t keep up with demand. Our original production was overseas but it has now come full circle. We opened a manufacturing mill in Alabama last December and are proud that we started shipping our made in America needles on July 18th.”
Here’s what I learned about Moraca and Kolláge Yarns from these two stories: she’s quick to recognize a great idea and act on it, her family is critical to her success, and she’s generous.
Read on for more about Kolláge Yarns and Susan Moraca. See all the designs here.
Kolláge’s photography is outstanding. How do you achieve that level of excellence? I am lucky to have a great photographer that I’ve worked with for the past three years. Also, we pay very close attention to pairing and fitting the designs with the best models as well as carefully choosing locations. I love doing that.
Patternfish customers are most fond of our shawl and shawlette patterns. Leafprints is the best selling design followed by Bellingrath and Little Iris. One of our shawl patterns, the aptly named Sister Shawls, includes both knitted and crocheted versions.
I notice that there are just two of your designs in the Kolláge pattern lineup. What place does designing hold in your life? I love to design but I just do not have the time anymore. When I opened Kolláge I did 90% of the designs. I miss that.
What does a typical day for Susan Moraca look like? I start checking emails at 7:00 am and at 10:00 am get to the office. Suddenly it is 3:00 in the afternoon, what happened to lunch? Did I miss it? Back to work.
We have two rescue boxers that come to work with me every day. Around 6:00 pm they let me know they’re hungry. I fill their bowls and get back to work. I try to get out of the office by 7 or 8 pm.
What did you have to learn in order to make your business successful? Quickbooks , inventory control, social networking and a lot of patience.
Where do you think the knitting/crocheting/fibre world will be in 10 years? Our industry has changed so much since so many people use the Internet. I can’t imagine the changes we will see in the next ten years. As for me, I’ll be on the beach!
Why did you decide to list your patterns with Patternfish? Patternfish is an amazing tool for our industry. Their ability to communicate with their customers and keep them updated as to errata is amazing. I feel that they too provide a service to our industry.
See all of Kolláge Yarns patterns here.
Our Newest Designers and Publishers
We welcomed two new designers in July.
Sheila Zachariae debuts at Patternfish with her Classic Cabled Cowl. The cowl uses about 100 yards of superbulky yarn, has only 6 cable crosses, and there are no button holes. Think about this for gifts in a flash for men or women.
Check out this Crocheted Pocket Cowl from Zachariae, too. Such a clever way for moms, runners, or anyone on the go to secure their keys, phone, tunes and a bit of cash.
Browneyedbabs begins at Patternfish with her Honeycomb Brioche Cowl Shrug. Showcase a variegated yarn that you love and amaze your non-knitting friends with brioche stitch. Browneyedbabs explains the technique very well so this pattern would be a good introduction for a novice.
Loopy Lion is a great example of Browneyedbabs' skills at explaining intermediate techniques like intarsia in the round, loop stitch, and i-cord to create a most appealing creature.
Collection of the Month
Here are sixteen shawls for Borie Petrovay and other knitters who want a break from heavier projects during this summer season.
From the Ambassador's Desk
- Gayle Clow
Here is Borie Petrovay’s completed Basilica Shawl and the Apple Tree Knits pattern photo. Not only is Borie an expert lace knitter, she is also fast. It took her just 10 days to go from cast on to blocked and ready to wear. Borie is a huge fan of both Colourmart yarn (navy cashmere in this case) and beads, lots of beads. In her knitting communities, both actual and virtual, she is deservedly known as the “Queen of Lace” and loves to customize basic patterns.