Archive for the ‘Fiber Artist Fridays’ Category

Fiber Artist Friday Part 2: Interview with Ray Whiting

November 20, 2009

Here is my Q&A with Ray. He is a great guy with an excellent sense of humor and I was very happy to get a chance to ask him some questions.

I want to correct another point – originally on the post this morning I had a typo saying that you had to buy 12 skeins to get into the stashbuster stocking contest, when I meant 2. I just wanted to reiterate in case of any  confusion.

With no further ado; the question:

1.)What is your favorite part about running Knitivity?

Dealing directly with customers/end-users of my product; the ability to customize each skein if a customer wants “a little more of this” or “a little less of that” from my regular line-up, as well as a completely custom job from photographs.  I’ve done yarns to match several beloved pets for people, and recently worked from a photo of a customer when she was little, shown with her grandfather — she wanted his shirt color, her dress, his eyes, and the color of the ice cream they were sharing.

I also enjoy the flexibility of being a small operation, so I can adjust to my customers’ needs more readily than a large mill that has to make large production runs.

2.)Can you tell me about the charity work that you do?

I don’t have a specific charity focus, per se, but when I hear of a particular need, I’ll announce it (like the Bundle Up New Orleans project immediately after Katrina, or sending socks to Greensburg  after their big tornado).  And if any of my customers are doing charity knitting/crocheting, and let me know when they order any of the mill solids, they’ll get a bundle discount.  And, if a group is doing a “love blanket” or something, they can all order their individual colors and get a discount, ensuring all the yarns in a project are of similar weight/gauge for a uniform group project.

3.)How can others get involved?

Let me know of specific needs.   I try to avoid focused political and/or religious fund-raisers, of course, because everyone has their own views, but generic social service projects (“Aunt Millie’s house burned down and they need blankets and socks” for example), I can put the word out to others.  When there are larger needs, like after a natural disaster affecting many people, I try to find out who the local contacts in an area of need and direct people to send their charity knits straight to that area.  It’s always much easier to partner with local agencies or charity drives already in place, rather than re-invent the wheel.  Many American-based charities prefer acrylic-knit goods, but I don’t sell acrylic yarns, so my products aren’t suited for most of the big on-going charities.  And groups like Red Cross prefer simply to get money now.   So I stick with encouraging smaller projects.

4.)I know you relocated after Hurricane Katrina, so… how do you like Houston?

It’s bigger than when I left in 1983.  I came here specifically because all my children and grandchildren are here.  Were it not for them I would have picked a smaller city where I could get around.  Houston is fine, of course, but where I live keeps me out of easy access to other knitters and other activities — no easy bus service into town, etc. (I don’t drive).

5.)How do you create your colorways? Do you plan it out ahead of time, pull out the dye and see where that takes you, or is it an entirely different process?

Sometimes I’ll aim for a particular result (like my colorways derived from the Astronomy Picture of the Day photos, or the custom jobs from customers); other times I’ll throw dye at a yarn and see what happens.

6.)I love the names of your colors, do you plan them beforehand or do you look at the finished product and name it accordingly?

As with #5 above, sometimes it is deliberate (like when I wanted Candy Corn, or the Barista Collection), and other times a yarn names itself afterward, such as the Doberman — that was a total accident when a kettle of black was insufficient for all the yarn and it bled out to produce a tan edging, it reminded me of the coloring on a Doberman Pincer.

7.)You sell Dura-lace, certainly the only superwash lace yarn to my knowledge; do you knit a lot of lace?

I don’t personally knit much lace (clumsy fingers, poor eyes), but many of my customers do.   I wanted to find a North American-made laceweight, instead of using imports, so I asked my mill that supplies all my other yarns to develop a laceweight.  So they did, and the rest is history.   Since I’ve had success with it, the mill will be taking it public in their line-up next year, but until June I have it exclusively.

Re: North American yarns:  I’m not strongly “anti” import yarns, and many of them are lovely.   But my personal goal, as an independent artist myself, is to support the North American / USA wool market, and I work with a mill that uses almost entirely North American raised wool, and they do their own spinning and dyeing here in the States.  It helps the sheep farmers, it keeps Americans working in the mill, and they supply virtually ALL my undyed yarns now.

8.)What caused you to request superwash lace weight in the first place?

See #7 above.  Originally it wasn’t a request specifically for superwash, but just something thinner than their fingering.  It just happened that their machines were already calibrated to spin the strands for sock yarn, so it was an easy modification to adjust it for laceweight.  But now having committed to the superwash, it is clear there is a market:  it will encourage more people to try knitting lace knowing they can just toss it into the washer if they need to.  Obviously care should be taken for any fine knits, but there’s not the worry about felting as might come with regular wool or other fibers.   And, it holds a blocking quite well, according to reports from my test knitters.

9.)What’s your favorite colorway?

The next one!    🙂   There are some that make me happier than others (and a few that I hope I never have to dye again!) but as long as people order them I will continue doing it.  And quite often a “mistake” along the way often leads to an entirely new colorway.  Like when I needed to do an “Art School” (the primary colors a small child uses in art class), and used the wrong (deeper) dyes, so it became “Art School, Sr.”, in a bolder, more mature set of colors.   And then I accidentally spilled some black on a batch of Art School, Sr., and that became “Graffiti” — it reminded me of the splash of colors one sees while driving past a graffiti-laden freeway overpass.

Fiber Artist Friday: Ray from Knitivity

November 20, 2009

Today’s Fiber artist is Ray Whiting from Knitivity.com. I hadn’t heard of Ray before Lisa suggested him for a feature, but I have since become very glad that she has. Not only is he a talented dyer who runs a great shop, but he also has had the life altering experience of living through hurricane Katrina.

He kept a journal throughout the event and it’s posted here. Warning, don’t start reading this unless you have some time on your hands. It’s not short but it is very compelling and poignant.

Knitivity itself has some very interesting features, for instance it has the only superwash lace weight yarn I’ve ever seen. (And now that I’ve seen, I seem to have developed a burning desire to own- such is the life of a yarn addict.) He dyes all of his yarns in really intriguing colorways; everything from Dirty Mechanic to Cats Paw Nebula. He also dyes to match artwork and photographs. You have to see the results – amazing!

Another feature that I haven’t seen before Knitivity is Dicey Knitting which is basically implementing special dice instead of a pattern. This sounds like it could be a lot of fun, but you have to be committed to it. I’m a control freak so it would take a lot of effort for me to just sit back and let the dice tell me what to do, but you know, I think I would enjoy the process.

Ray also supports local charity, and if you have a local charity you knit (or crochet) for and you are wondering if you could get a discount or bulk deal on some of your supplies, check back later on, because there are details during the interview.

Now to finish off the summary of this great guy and his lovely store, what kind of shopper would I be if I didn’t share some of the deals??

I really enjoy this stocking, it just looks like so much fun! Ray knit this stocking personally and is giving it away. To win the contest all you have to do is either buy 2 skeins of sock or lace *or* $50 worth of stuff.

The reason you only have to buy 2 skeins of sock or lace yarn, is that the 2 will no longer put you over the $50 mark because they’ve been discounted $3!

And… if you buy a skein or more of “Dura-lace yarn” (that’s the superwash laceweight I was talking about before) you can get the pattern for the Limberlost Trails Shawl free!

P.S Remember to check us out at 6pm when I have a Q&A with Ray himself!

Interview: Kara Gott Warner

November 13, 2009

Welcome to my first ever Fiber Artist Friday Interview!!  I hope to continue theis tradition for a long time to come. Today’s fiber artist, as you may know fromt his morning’s post is the Designer/Editor/Etsian Kara Gott Warner! (Kind of a reniassance woman- I applaud!!)

Kara Gott Warner very kindly allowed me to ask her some questions about editing, designing and fiber-life related subjects.

Here they are:
 
How did you get interested in knitting?

I first started knitting when I was about 12. My grandmother taught me, but it didn’t quite stick. I rediscovered knitting in my mid twenties when I was working in a very high-stress design job in New York City. I found knitting as a great escape, and I haven’t stopped since!

 As a mom, how do you keep your home life, creative life and work life balanced?

Wow, that can be quite a challenge at times! I learned that once I became a mom, everything had to be “integrated.” For example, I may find that in between chopping some veggies for dinner I can get a few rows of knitting in, or answer an important email. I also focus on “first things first.” I  don’t want to put out too many fires, so it’s always best to accomplish what is the most important first. You know how life is- there are just some things you can’t cross off that to-do list, and tomorrow’s another day. Just call it “job security.”
 When you create your designs, do you have a particular method? Do they start with a gorgeous yarn, a certain item, a pretty stitch pattern?

There’s no rhyme or reason, but generally I find my inspiration first from an amazing skein of yarn. Of course ideas pop into my head, and I may imagine if a nice worsted, chunky or fine weight yarn is in order, and then seek out the right yarn. I feel that the yarns speak to me– they always dictate the right design.
 

Is there a certain type of pattern you like to design?

Lately, I’m having a lot of fun designing accessories and small items. It’s so much fun to sit down and just knit for a few hours, and then poof- a new scarf! My igottknits collection this season features a few scarf and other accessory designs that are easy and quick to make. With the holidays approaching, I think they make for some great on-the-fly gift giving!

 I love your etsy shop, especially your felted bobble bracelets. How did you get interested in making them?

It’s kind of funny how I started. What got me excited about making these “mala-esque” bracelets was by examining some traditional mala bracelets. I just loved the idea of making the bobbles into a simple ring and topping them off with a luxurious tassel made of silk or some other fine fiber. What a great way to utilize my stash yarns! My bracelets are featured in my etsy store: igottknits.etsy.com.  
 
Do you have other crafts you like to do?

I will admit that I’m pretty obsessed with knitting, but now that I’ve discovered jewelry, I’ve had so much fun integrating knitting and beading. I’m still learning and exploring different stringing methods, and now I’m venturing into designing necklaces as well.
 What is your favorite fiber? (Come on, I know you have one!) 

Merino wool is my fav. If I had to choose one yarn, I would have to say I love working with Malabrigo worsted the best. Oh so soft, and their colors are total eye-candy!
 
I know you work as an editor for knitting books, what exactly does that mean? (Talk to me like I’m four, I have no experience in the publishing field.)

 
The best way to describe the process of putting together It’s In The Bag– I think the number one important thing is to be a really good organizer. Thank goodness for Excel spreadsheets!  I also try to see “the big picture.” When I start a new book, I always think what the end result will look, and work backwards. I think an important aspect to being a book editor is to have a finger on the pulse of what knitters want, and what sells in the industry.  I also think it’s important to add some creative vision to the process too. Sometimes I have a strong instinct about something, even though it may or may not be what the industry dictates. Sometimes you have to go to the beat of your own drum!
 
So once a theme has been decided, I then flesh out the details of the book- the name, the chapters and I also think of the artistic aspects of layout – what kind of photos I want in the book, what kind of type, copy, backgrounds, illustrations, and the book cover.
 
Next-  a submission call goes out to designers with all the details needed to submit a design consideration. I request a swatch, a sketch and a photo of the design concept. Basically, I need to be able imagine what the finished project will look before I’m holding the sample in my hands or reading a pattern.
 
Once the projects are chosen, I then go about choosing new yarns to match the color theme of the book. In many cases the designers pick the perfect yarn, so it’s always nice to be able to go with what the designer thinks is best since it’s their vision. Then once the projects and patterns are complete, I review the patterns and inspect the finished project samples. From this point, all of the patterns and models are sent to the tech editor. When the tech editing process is complete, I proofread the patterns for style, grammar and general language. Then the fun begins….
 
Once the projects and patterns are complete, the layout and photography process begins! I like to think of this phase almost like putting together pieces of a puzzle. Once the patterns and photos are dropped into the layout, I review it again for style, language, make sure the photos are placed correctly. Basically every little inch of the book is reviewed with a fine-toothed comb.
 
This is a bit of a simplified version of the process, but a book of this size takes about a year to complete from concept to final printing.  When my advance copy finally arrives in my mailbox, it’s quite a satisfying feeling!
 
I hear you have a new book coming out, care to tell us about it?

Sure, the book is called The Perfect Finish: A No-Nonsense Guide to Finishing Techniques for Knitters of Every Level. I have to say, this book has taken me out of my comfort zone a bit. Finishing is of course a very technical and precise subject. The book will feature 11 teacher/designers. One of the well-known teachers featured in the book is Leslye Solomon, who is known for her vast knowledge as an expert finisher. I think this book will such a unique addition to any knitter’s library for years and maybe generations to come. 
 

I want to send a huge thank you to Kara Gott Warner for being so nice to answer all my questions. If you want to hear more from her be sure to check out her blog: www.SheKnitsintheLoop.com  and don’t forget that this Monday I am kicking off the blog tour of It’s in the Bag! Follow along and you’ll get to hear all about this great book, and get a chance to win a copy of the book, or one of the DellaQ bags featured in the book!

That’s all for today!

Fiber Artist Friday: Kara Gott Warner

November 13, 2009

Todays Fiber Artist is a wonderful knit-wear designer, an editor of knitting books *and* she has her own etsy store! 

On her blog www.SheKnitsintheLoop.com she talks a little bit about her different activities, and boy does she keep busy. However, as many different activities as she has, she keeps calm throughout it all; which is certainly more that I can manage!

Her etsy shop, i gott knits has some great e-patterns, including her new pattern collection “Au Petit Paris” I love to knit accessories, so I really get into things like this.

cowlclochecowl 2

According to the site www.igottknits.com the pattern was inspired by her time living in Paris. I find this especially exciting, because it makes the collection name truly meaningful, rather than just pretty. I would love to translate all the french names of the different patterns for you, but I took spanish in school! 🙂

I have to say though, despite the wonderful patterns on her etsy store (www.igottknits.etsy.com) my favorite items are her “mala-esque” bracelets. I am not a bracelet person normally, but I totally covet these accessories!

mala 2mala 1mala 3

Don’t they just look intriguing?

Kara was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, and gave me some great behind-the-scenes info on the process of publishing a knitting book, so be sure to check back in 12 hours; same bat-time, same bat-network!!

Friday Fiber Artist: Ana Paula Rimoli

August 7, 2009

ana paula

Ana Paula Rimoli is a fabulou crocheter who specializes in Amigurumi (a Japanese style of crocheting small toys which more directly translates to  ‘cute animals’)

She has written 2 books about it: Amigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet and Amigurumi Two: Crocheted Toys for Me and You and Baby Too

ana casitas

Ana Paula Rocks!! (just in case you were curious)

ana tree

I saw an interview with her on Knit & Crochet Today where she told the story of how she got started. The gist was that she started crocheting toys when she was pregnant with her first child, Oli (who is now 5) and found this Japanese style toy to her liking.

After designing and crocheting for 9 months she realized that she had far more toys than she could ever use, so she decided to sell them on etsy.  Her toys became such a big success on etsy that she ended up writing a book… and then another; voila, a legend is born.

Her blog, though it hasn’t been updated in a while is also a lot of fun to check out, and best of all it has a whole bunch of free patterns!

ana momma and baby

Fiber Artist Friday: Regina Rioux Gonzalez

July 31, 2009

Regina Rioux Gonzalezlady linoleum

Regina Rioux Gonzalez, otherwise known as Lady Linoleum is the originator of MonsterCrochet.com. She is also and exhibiting artist with a Masters degree in fine art from Claremont Graduate University. To quote her bio:

Currently, she spends her days
generating income and her nights enmeshed in a world populated by crocheted churros sporting
sombreros, vegetables wielding weapons, bins filled with yarn, felt and sordid errata, making art,
assembling creatures and devising ways to unleash them on an unsuspecting world.

I found this site only recently, and I became enthralled. It wasn’t just the Vegetable Liberation Army, or the CSI Humpty Dumpty, or even the bacon chart pattern.

It’s the blog.

I love hearing what she has to say, getting a sense of both her humor and her art, and a little bit of what’s going on in her life.

She’s fun, she’s creative, and she’s got a wicked sense of humor, what more could you want in a crocheter?

Happy Stitching!

Fiber Artist Friday: Wendy D. Johnson

July 31, 2009

wendyjohnsonWendy D. Johnson is a knitwear designer, author, the keeper of www.WendyKnits.net, and the owner of the cutest little kitty I have ever seen; Lucy.

lucy

You can’t make them more adorable than that!

Ahem, back to the topic. Wendy is an amazing designer and fantastically funny on her blog.

I own her book Socks from the Toe Up and love it. Its full of beautiful patterns and tons of useful information. Actually, you can see my review here.

She is coming out with another book March 23, 2010 called Toe-Up Socks for Everybody

socks

I think it looks like lots of fun, and I can’t wait to get it. Hmmm, wonder if I can get an interview with her before the book releases?

The good news is that I can get drips and drabs of her wisdom (and maybe some cool patterns.) On her site. The best part about the site though, for all the knitting goodies; are the fabulous pictures of lucy.

lucy 2

Happy Stitching!

Fiber Artist Friday: Edie Eckman

July 24, 2009

edie

Edie Eckman is the author of The Crochet Answer Book and Beyond-the-Square Crochet Motifs.

At this point anything I write will be a paraphrase from her blog, so instead of a cheap imitation, here’s the real thing:

A former yarn shop owner, Edie has her hands in many aspects of the fiber arts—teaching, writing, designing and editing. Her designs are contemporary classics accessible to the average knitter or crocheter; they have appeared in many yarn company publications, magazines and pattern leaflets. Edie travels extensively teaching at conventions, shops and guilds. She enjoys sharing in that “aha” moment when her students grasp a new technique.

I had to put Edie Eckman up today, because after the post about Barbara Walker this morning I got looking for a comprehensive crochet collection, and the 2 people I came up with are Edie Eckman and Jan Eaton, and well, first of all, Edie is a lot more accessible to the online world. (I really do prefer to post people who have their own website.) Also, I own and use both of Edie’s books, so I have to give credit where credit is due, to this great crochet teacher and author.

Fiber Artist Friday: Barbara Walker

July 24, 2009

barbara walker

You learn something new every day and today was certainly no exception for me. You see, I have been eyeing Barbara Walker’s “Treasury of Knitting” volumes for ages. Really, if I was millionaire those 4 books would be at the top of the list of my first purchases. (I wouldn’t be a millionaire for long, my ‘if only I could-‘ shopping list is never ending 😉 )

In case you are not familiar with her books, please allow me to enable um, enlighten you.

The four books are: A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, A Second Treasury of Knitting PatternsA Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns, and A Fourth Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

Simple, right? These books are exactly what they say they are, lists of patterns, but not the “Short-sleeved Sweater” type pattern, more of a lace/cable/ribbing type pattern book, but with extensive notes on how to make items using these patterns. (See why I need them?)

Now, if you’d rather not just shell out over $100  right now to get these books (I can’t blame you) you should definitely visit The Walker Treasury Project  which is doing a wonderful job of helping to share the resources with everyone. Not as good as a physical book, but hey, what is?

However, despite being the author of four (Not one or two or three but four!) compendiums of knitting; this was truly her hobby.

Yep, her day job was studying Pre-Indo-European neolithic matriarchies(Bet’cha can’t say that five times fast.)  from a feminist view point. Besides her Knitting treasure trove- ahem, excuse me I mean Knitting Treasury volumes, she also wrote The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets (1983) and Women’s Rituals: A Sourcebook.

Now to some people I’m sure this sounds deadly dull, but hey, I’m comfortable enough with my nerd status to admit that I want to read these almost as much as I want to read her other books.

I’m foreseeing a shelf set aside for the Barbara Walker collection in my fantasy library.

Fiber Artist Friday: Margaret Radcliffe

July 17, 2009

maggie_oval

Margaret Radcliffe, knitting author, teacher and designer as well as the owner of www.MaggiesRags.com is a most impressive fiber artist.

I first came across her because of her book The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques. (which I’ve reviewed Here.) She is also the author of the ever helpful Knitting Answer Book.

What I especially like about Margaret Radcliffe is all of the different hat she wears. She teaches knitting (all levels), designs and even publishes her own and other designers patterns. How cool is that?

So I take my hat off to her (corny joke, I know) 😉