YarnCraft Episode 02 Transcript :: Knitters and Crocheters Get Inspired

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Jessica: Welcome to YarnCraft, episode 2. It is October 30th, 2007. If this is your first time joining us, we are glad you are tuning in and if you have listened to our first show welcome back. You can listen to Yarncraft twice a month. We are on every other Tuesday and to find out when we are on, you can check out our blog, YarnCraft.LionBrand.com. Or, if you have any questions, send us an email at yarncraft [at] lionbrand [dot] com. You can download us through your favorite podcatcher and now you can search for us in iTunes, which is very exciting. Now by subscribing to the podcasts the latest show will be sent straight to you soon as it goes out. Now don’t worry if you don’t know how to subscribe to podcast. Everything you need to know is on our How to Subscribe page. Just go to our blog, YarnCraft.LionBrand.com.

Now that we’ve got out of the way. Thanks for tuning in. I am Jessica Abo and I will be hosting the first series at YarnCraft podcasts and a little bit about me: I am a beginner knitter hoping to advance…at least someday. Now today we are coming to you from the 15th Street Design Center in New York City, and we have a great show in store. We are going to talk about what inspires you to knit and crochet and Zontee Hou and Liz Shaw will be joining us again. You may remember Zontee edits the newsletter and online content and Liz works in the design department.

Today we are going to be talking with Liz and Zontee about what inspires them to knit and crochet, and we are also going to share some of your comments and we want to thank everyone who sent in comments on our blog. We want to remind you that your comments are so important to our pod casts and you can comment on our comment line which is 206 350 3957. It is very easy you can just leave a message or you can email us your comments at yarncraft [a] lionbrand [dot] com or even leave your message on our blog at YarnCraft.LionBrand.com.

Zontee, we have gotten amazing feedback from the first podcast.

Zontee: Yeah, we are really excited about the number of people who have commented on our blog. We want to give our shout-out and thank you to Trish, Karen, Alex, Anne, Anna, Sherry, LeAnn, Brianna, and Lauren who have all commented on our blog. We also want to thank all the people who emailed us. It is really exciting to see all the great response. I also want to thank Sherry because she actually wrote about us in her blog and I went, I read it, and I was really excited. So it is good to see that people are really excited and are mentioning us in their own personal yarn blogs. We also want to thank Dee Stanziano who is the Dee from “Crocheting with Dee,” who a lot of you people read already. And she actually came on to our blog and thanked us for mentioning her, and we are really excited to see the participation of all these other people who are involved in the knitting crochet online community. It’s really great.

Jessica: That’s awesome. I want to remind you that you can not only send us a note on our blog or email us; you can also call our comment line and leave us a message there. That number is 206 350 3957. And just in case you didn’t have a pen and paper ready, I am going to go through it again. Our comment line number is 206 350 3957. And don’t put down the pen just yet; take down our email. It is yarncraft@lionbrand.com and our blog is Yarncraft.lionbrand.com, so we can’t wait to hear from you.


Jessica: So, Zontee and Liz what are you working on these days?

Zontee: Well, currently, I am working on a Shrug it is made out of Vanna’s Choice. It is in the Silver Blue color. That’s what’s on my needles, and it is knit. Basically I have taken a Lion Brand pattern and kind of made it my own by adding some cables to make it a little more exciting.

Jessica: Which pattern is it?

Zontee: The pattern is called the “Curtain Call Shrug.” You can find it on our Pattern Finder and it’s actually made in Glitterspun but I have substituted the yarn, and it is a really really, really a basic pattern, so I am using a kind of as my framework to do something a little bit more exiting.

Jessica: Very good.

Liz: I am experimenting using the “Brioche Stitch.” I am basically doing the same thing you are; I am taking one of our existing patterns and trying to mix it up. We have a great pattern called the “Ultimate Sweater” which is a nice top-down, all in one piece, knit in the round, ribbed kind of turtleneck sweater. I am trying to do that but in the “Brioche Stitch.” “Brioche Stitch” looks like a rib. And I am using two colors, so the purl stitches are one color and the knit stitches are another color and it’s in two yarns.

Zontee: It sounds a lot fancier than what I’m doing.

Liz: Well…

Zontee: What are you making it out of?

Liz: I am using Lion Cashmere Blend and Lion Wool. A lot of people don’t know that we have Lion Cashmere Blend. It’s not in a lot of stores, but it is available on our website. It is a great yarn; its 72% Merino wool, 14% cashmere, 14% nylon. It is just really soft and lofty. And then Lion Wool is a great basic that comes in a lot of colors and has a nice feel.

Zontee: Those two are definitely my favorite yarns actually, so that is kind of exciting that you are doing that.

Liz: What you can see here right now is Zontee and I are holding a ball of Lion Cashmere Blend.

Zontee: We’re yarn petting.

Jessica: I’m their witness. It’s true.

Liz: Yeah… Let’s see how this ambitious sweater goes.

Zontee: Liz is a lot braver than I am. I like really simple patterns, that way I can stick it in my bag and go on in subway…and I can knit in public and people stare at me like I’m crazy.

Liz: See, I also have to have one simple project going which is actually going, which are actually the only ones I ever finish because I don’t have enough time to sit at home and work on this more complicated sweaters. That is why I have twelve works in progress.

Zontee: Wow, that is a lot with me right now. I had so many works in progress with the summer that I have now boiled down. I am working on this one item, and soon I am going to start the second project, and that is it. I have lots of items in my queue though…

Liz: I also want to be that of kind o f knitter, but no. I hear the siren call and I have to cast on.

Jessica: So do you not sleep?

Zontee: I would say that I sleep, but there are probably knitting scenes involved in my dreams. Probably little bit of crochet in that too.

Liz: Yeah, I will definitely stay out far too late working on yarn things far, far too often.

Jessica: Now in today’s show, I am going to talk about what inspires people to knit and crochet. We are also going to speak with Karen Tanaka, our Creative Director, and find out what she has to say about inspiration. And we’re going to talk to Stefanie Japel, the author of “Fitted Knits,” which we have featured before on our newsletter.


Jessica: And now we have Karen Tanaka, the creative director here at Lion Brand Yarn. Karen, what does a creative director do?

Karen: Well, Creative direction means trying to interpret trends, colors, styles, but in a way that is useful for knitters, crocheters, and people who use yarn, and also accessible. Meaning you may take a pattern that you think is really great, and will try to interpret it so that it is easer to make, faster to make, quicker to wear, easier to wear. Creative direction is also about kinds of yarns we pick, colors we use, types of garments we are going to have, types of afghans. It’s pretty much everything, in terms of design.

Jessica: And what inspires you to knit or crochet, or what inspires you to choose certain colors?

Karen: I am one of those who falls inside of “I want to relax, I want to zone out I want to be calm, peaceful.” So I have always got knitting or crocheting with me. I love yarn. Even if it is to knit a only a round, I pretty much can’t go anywhere without my comfort needles or hook.

And In terms of what inspires colors if we looked at the line of colors that we have and we decided we wanted to pump them up a little, to get them to be a little bit more vivid, more bright. So depending on the yarn, we added colors to do that and the consideration that was always in mind was what looks good on people, what’s a flattering tone of this or that. When we go to make something, or put our energy into it, you’re going to really love it. Is it going to serve you well? Is it going to look good on you? Or, if you’re making an afghan, is it going to look good in your home? So that was our main consideration.

Jessica: What do you find is the number one thing people are wanting now?

Karen: Recently people have asked me a lot about our colors, because they are noticing a change. And that is always great, because we put lot of thought and trial and error into our colors and lots of different considerations. There are certain kinds of colors that you are going to wear next to your face. There are certain kinds of colors that might be related that you might want on an afghan, or certain kinds of colors that will spark up an item even if it’s not something that is going to be the main color of the garment. So that has been both fun and a challenge for us, and I am really pleased to hear so many people commenting on how much they like the colors.

Jessica: Do you have a favorite?

Karen: Let’s see…a favorite. I guess, I don’t know. I like green…I like fuchsia. I don’t know if I really have a favorite. I like gray… (laughs)

Jessica: Do you tend to knit in one color more so than another?

Karen: No, I love mixing colors, and so in some ways, I’m more of afghan type of person, because I like to do a row of yellow, and a row of fuchsia, and half a row of blue, just to see how they combine and see how they look together. That for me is a real treat, more than finishing a sweater.

Jessica: And do you think everyone can wear every color? I’m a color person–my closet looks like a rainbow.

Karen: Which color do you like?

Jessica: I like every shade of blue, I like every shade of green, I tend to wear a lot of pink, but I am not a fan of orange, maybe I just don’t look good in orange, so I don’t think I would knit something in orange. So what do you think? Do you think people can wear any color?

Karen: I think as far as color goes, it really depends on tone and shade. I feel there are oranges that you’d look fabulous in, and there is probably oranges you’d find glaring that you might not feel are flattering, so that is another consideration while picking out colors. People might pick a red, but we might want a red that we feel like might really be flattering to a lot of people. And also, another consideration is in a particular line of yarn does it go with the other colors that we have?

Jessica: Can you talk to us about the other yarns here?

Karen: Yea, as I said right now, I have two new baby favorites, as far as color goes–Cotton-Ease and Vanna’s Choice. Those two yarns we did from the beginning. That is to say, we did the color work from the beginning, which is really fun because you start off with the colors you like, and it is not just the question of, “Hey, these are these ten colors I love them — put them all in.” When we did Vanna’s Choice, we picked twenty-eight colors, and the fun thing about it–and the challenging thing about it–was that we wanted them all to go with each other. So if somebody comes to this store, and they want to make an afghan and they want it in Vanna’s Choice, they can pick a yellow, a blue, a pink. Whatever colors they pick, they can make into an afghan and it is going to look nice, it is going to good look good, because it tones go with each other. We did the same thing with Cotton-Ease, so that color selection is both fun, but in the end it’s rewarding. It’s not going to be scary that you might end up putting all that work into something that you don’t quite like.

I’d say color is something that can be the most pleasing part of choosing yarn, picking combinations and it is great when from the very beginning you have beautiful colors to choose from and this makes every aspect choosing a garment or afghan to make or whatever you are going to make pleasant from the beginning.

Jessica: Well, thank you very much, Karen. It’s a pleasure having you with us and I’ll think of you next time I choose my colors.

Karen: Oh, thanks very much. It’s my pleasure.


Zontee: Hi, this is Zontee and today my guest is Stefanie Japel, the author of FITTED KNITS. She is joining us via telephone from Las Cruces, New Mexico, so please excuse for any background noise you might hear.

Hi Stefanie. How are you doing?

Stefanie: Hi, I am great, how are you?

Zontee: Great. We are so glad that you could join us today.

Stefanie: Thank you for inviting me!

Zontee: We are huge fans of your latest book, FITTED KNITS. We actually just featured in the newsletter a little while ago. We think it’s just great. Could you tell us a little bit about the inspiration for this project?

Stefanie: FITTED KNITS was inspired by my search for patterns that I felt would flatter my body. At the time, I was finding those big boxy knits that don’t have shaping, and kind of look like they were made for men. So, the project grew out of the desire to find garments that I would want to wear.

Zontee: Yes, I definitely agree with you. I think that the other thing that I really love about your book is the fact that you described how to take your own measurements and how you go about deciding where those seams and darts go. I think that that is just something that a lot of people don’t really describe.

Stefanie: Yeah, well thank you! Yes, this I think is because I have a blog and I am accessible. I get a lot of emails and lot of questions from people asking me, “Okay, what do you mean by upper bust?” “What do you mean by shoulder to shoulder measurements?” Just a lot of this stuff that, you know, if you have a background in fashion, you understand. Any other person may be new to knitting new or to making clothing isn’t necessarily familiar with all that stuff, and where that is our body and how that translates into the pattern.

Zontee: Definitely. Now in terms of your own interests, is there any particular style or period of clothing that really inspires you? I know that in the last couple of months we’ve seen books come out with knitting inspired by Victorian designs and things that are kind of punk… is there a specific style that really inspires you?

Stefanie: Well, specifically as at the time I was working on FITTED KNITS, I was watching movies like PRIDE AND PREJUDICE a lot. We were living in Germany and so we had a kind of a small selection of English-language films that we had brought with us. One of my favorites and one that I can watched over and over is definitely PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. So you are looking at those Edwardian shapes, puffy sleeves, and sleeves that have kind of puffy at the top, fitted… I also like the film GOSFORD PARK, so that kind of 1920s-style clothing-–like British Tweed-–are things that I’m attracted to.

Zontee: That’s great. Yeah, that is something I am also attracted too to, the ’20s-style is something that is fun and interesting. Is there anything in particular that you are working on currently?

Stefanie: Yes, currently I am working on a second book that will be published by F&W and it’s called GLAM KNITS and so this work kind of inspired by the title of my blog which is Glampyre.com and so we decided on GLAM KNITS. This book is not completely top-down-–there are also traditional piece knitting with more of a focus on evening wear. More luxury-type yarns, and glittery yarn as well.

Zontee: Wow, that sounds really exciting, I can’t wait for that to come out.

Stefanie: Oh, thank you, I can’t wait for it to be done! (laughs)

Zontee: Is there anything you would recommend for people who are looking for inspiration in their knitting and crochet?

Stefanie: I recommend looking at lot of magazines, and I really think about, you know, what I’m missing when I open up my closet. I feel frustrated sometimes, and I say, “What is the one thing that could be in here that would make that day just perfect?”

Whether it’s a short little swing coat, or you know a camisole that would go great with this skirt I have. Pretty much I just draw my inspiration from what I am lacking in my wardrobe, and what will really make me happy right now.

Zontee: That is a really good thought. Can I ask you how long you have actually been designing?

Stefanie: Yes, I first started the designing my own stuff in about early 1991. I was in a band, and I was the drummer in this band. So you know, I was sitting hidden behind the three guitarists, and I just wanted to have something that would stand out that was unique to me. And so I taught myself started to knit from books and yarn that I found from the Salvation Army. So I was making these wild mohair bikini tops, and these strange sequined little tops. When the whole blogging scene got going in the mid-late 1990s, I was in grad school in Baltimore. And it’s just a wonderful city to look at street fashion-–there’s an art school and fashion school there. I started getting inspired, you know, by what other people are wearing, and so I started putting my knits on my blog and that’s when I really started thinking about designing for other people as well.

Zontee: That’s great. Do you have any advice for somebody who wants to get started in terms of designing their own knitwear?

Stefanie: I think, you know, if you need to start this designing for yourself, be conscious what your body really will look like. Take measurements, have in your mind an idea of a garment that you want to make, and then think about how to make it fit you, so that it flatters your figure, and then go from there. When you start designing for other people, think about what would flatter them. It’s hard making garments that flatter “most people.” It’s hard to tell someone how to really incorporate those ideas.

Zontee: Well, thank you again so much for joining us, Stefanie. It has really been a pleasure and we are really looking out for to your next work. We hope that you will let us know when it comes out.

Stefanie: Thank you, and I definitely will. Thanks so much for having me on your show!


Jessica: And now Liz and Zontee are here to talk to us about what patterns inspired them. So, give us the scoop.

Zontee: Something that has been really inspirational to me recently–and is on my docket of things to do–is that “Basketweave Cape” that was in VOGUE KNITTING for its 25th anniversary. It was one of the covers, and we featured it in the newsletter a couple of weeks ago, and it has been really popular. We had over 50,000 downloads of that pattern, and I would have to admit that I am one of those peoples because I am really excited about it. I can’t wait to make it. I think it’s gorgeous. I think it would look good over jeans…I think it would be really good for party…I can’t wait to make it.

Liz: Zontee looks good when she layers, so she could really pull that off.

Zontee: I am really big on layers. I think the New York weather changes so rapidly that, if you don’t have a couple of layers, you are just never prepared. I have almost never walked out of the house without some kind of sweater, jacket or something. Sometimes I think I do it too often, but I would rather be prepared than sorry.

Liz: See, I’m always hot and I never get cold, so one of the things I like to make, are little things that you don’t have to wear. One of my favorite patterns is the Best Bunny amigurumi pattern we have on our website. I mean, it is super cute just as it is, but I had not done a lot of three dimensional crochet in the round, so I took that and I made my best friend a pig when I was going to see her, because she is obsessed with pigs and can’t wait for the day when she can live on a farm with pigs.

Zontee: I understand. I like animals.

Liz: So right now she lives in a tiny apartment, no room for pigs, so I have decided I want to make her one and I used the instructions in the “Best Bunny” pattern and just made the body of the rabbit a lot bigger, and used that as the body for my pig and just added on from there and it turned out really cute.

Jessica: That sounds really awesome.

Liz: And I made it Lion Cashmere Blend which has the perfect soft baby pink color.

Zontee: Ah, that sounds really cute.

Jessica: But there has to be more-–what else do you have for us?

Zontee: And now so the pattern that I am personally really excited about is a crochet pattern which is just in our most recent catalog, the Whiter Shade of Pale Car Coat, and I think it is gorgeous. It is this really kind of impressive looking, and I can’t wait to make that.

Liz: And it’s got to be great name too.

Zontee: Yeah, it’s true. The name’s a little bit long for me–I can barely remember it–but I like it. I am very excited about it.

Liz: Anther great source for inspiration is the Lion Brand Stitch Finder. I don’t know if people know about it, but in addition to all the patterns we have, we have a library of different stitch patterns you can use. And I really like to take those stitch patterns and put them into scarves, so I used the pointelle pattern that is on there with a bulky orange yarn to dress up the middle of a scarf. That turned out really beautiful, and now I am eventually going to go back and put a little ruffle edging on it.

And another pattern that really shows how just a simple motif looks great in chunky yarn is the “Learn to Cable scarf” that is really quick-–I think it’s a twelve-row repeat. It’s a big yarn and looks really impressive.

Zontee: Yeah I mean for me cabling is one of those things that looked really intimidating, but once I started, I was like, “Wait. This is so easy. I am so excited that I have decided to do this.” I was really intimidated the first time I made this set of cabled wrist-warmers, and when I got the pattern I was really excited. And then I said to myself, “I am never going to be able to do a cable.” But then I did it, and I was like, “Wow! I feel really talented!”

Liz: Yeah, it’s so fun. A lot of people get really hooked on cabling and just want to use it everywhere. I find that it’s easier to learn in a little bit of a bigger yarn because you can really see where the stitches are going and you really learn what happens when you cross a cable.

Jessica: Oh, those are great patterns. Thank you very much.

And now–this is exciting–it’s time for our “Stash This! Ideas for Crafting Your Life” segment. This is a new feature, and you are going to be hearing it in every podcast, and it is just for us to give you some extra tips from Zontee and Liz, and other members of the Lion Brand family.

Liz: So we’re talking about inspiration today, and one way people pull together a lot of different things that inspire them and make them want to create is an inspiration board. There is a great group on Flickr. If you look for the inspiration boards pool, there are lots of examples.

Karen: And then in the industry there are also mood boards. Basically what they are is this kind of moving, changing scrapbook. If you walk around our designed pattern you see everyone has got their own inspiration board and, it is great to just pin up anything that you think is beautiful, or delightful. It could be it can be something you tear from a newspaper. It could be yarn swatch. It could be acouple of yarns tied together, just combinations. It could be any little piece of graphics you think is interesting. What I think is great is that it’s truly “The sum is greater than the parts.”

Zontee: We probably need to clarify by a little a bit. So basically, the basics of an inspiration board is that you have a bulletin board where you keep things that inspire you, that interest you, that make you feel kind of excited when you see them. So around here, we have a lot of bulletin boards in the office. The one behind Karen has a little bit of wallpaper, yarn swatches, photographs, all sorts of color, and fun things. For us it is just a really great way to kind of collect our thoughts in terms of what we are interested in at the moment and you know every time you feel like you know your inspiration has changed, you can add new things.

Liz: One thing we learned in designs course was when you are making your mood board (which are the same thing as inspiration boards), it is easy to just keep adding and adding and adding, but it can actually be more effective–like if you are working on a particular project of sweater or an afghan–it is better to kind of narrow down to just the few images colors or swatches, that really bring you focus and that gives you really firm foundation to build on. And the other thing we learned was that, if you don’t have a bulletin board on your wall, you can just use a piece of foam core. They do this in ready to wear fashion houses because they pass the board throughout different departments for presentations to work on, but I will also find it really makes it easy if you keep updated and working with them even at home.

Karen: And how can you make them more durable?

Liz: What I did for mine was that I wrapped just a heavy white cotton fabric around them and stapled it on the backside, and I’ve had this set for a couple of years now, and it still works great.

Zontee: I think it’s a really good idea. I personally like anything which you can kind of make yourself on the cheap because especially with this kind of thing you don’t want to go out and buy something really expensive, and so to keep that in mind you don’t have to do anything too expensive to make this really great piece and the other thing is that if you keep it on your wall near your office area or your crafting area or you know people will walk by and go, “Oh, wow, I love what you’ve done with that!”

Karen: Liz, I noticed on your board you have a couple of different boards.

Liz: Oh yeah, I always like to kind of segment my thinking. I’m kind of like that. For my board I work I have a lot of yarn swatches for new products we’re developing, and I group them in systems that make sense to us. In my home life, I recently got married and did a lot for my own wedding and so I had a board for each different aspect. I designed my own dress so that was one whole board, and I had one for the general color scheme with décor, and one specifically for the flowers and–

Zontee: Liz, You are so organized. It’s amazing. I am serious. I am really really impressed.

Karen: I am going try that myself.

Liz: Yeah, to me, I can’t keep track of things if they’re not really clearly separated and defined. That really works well for me. If you got too many ideas bumping around in your head, separate them out and keep each in its own board around its own section.

Zontee: Do you know what I like about the inspiration boards that gives you a kind of opportunity to explore texture and especially with something like knitting and crocheting, it’s all about texture. All the different yarns and swatches that you can make for yourself, it’s good to keep them in a place–and I think what you were taking about development having these groupings–it helps to kind of visualize and think about what you have got.

Liz: Absolutely, I know a lot of people who find yarn to be really inspiring and so…

Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. That is interesting that you are talking about the inspiration of yarn because we actually got this great comment from Holly who wrote on our blog and she said that yarn really inspires her. She says: “It’s yarn- the colors and the textures, I’m a big yarn stasher–I love yarn. The ladies in my knitting group call me the yarn savant.” And I think that a lot of people feel that way and I think that that is why YarnCraft is a kind of exciting venture for us, because it is really all about the love of yarn and about sharing that love with other people and interacting with all other people who are crazy about yarn and hoarding it.

Liz: Actually just hearing Holly’s comment gives me great idea. It would be fabulous to do an inspiration board with just a little swatch of every yarn you have in your stash, and that way when you are thinking about a project you can just look and have a visual reference of everything you have, because if you are like me, and all your yarn is in boxes, to see what you have, you have to go dig for everything. So I think I might do that. I might make myself a stash inspiration board.

Zontee: That I think sounds really cool. Something I like to do is that I have to keep swatches of different stitch patterns that I like and new motifs because that way I can keep in mind what different looks and yarns actually feel like in my hand because sometimes you know you say to yourself, oh, this pattern calls for seed stitch. You know how to do seed stitch, but what does it actually look?

Karen: These are all really great ideas and we would like to hear from YOU out there, and find out about your inspiration boards as well, and get ideas from you too.

Zontee: If you want to tell us about your inspiration boards or if you having comments please comment on our blog at yarncraft.lionbrand.com or you can call into our comment line and the number will be coming at the end of the show.


Jessica: Thank you very much Karen, Liz, and Zontee.

We want to remind you that to subscribe to our podcasts, you can download us through either your podcatcher of your choice. We will be on every other Tuesday and you can read our show notes on our blog which is yarncraft.lionbrand.com. You can add YarnCraft as a friend on Blubrry if you’re a podcaster. Next time we will be talking about gift ideas and we want to hear from you. So call us at 206 350 3957. Again that is 206 350 3957.

We want to hear your gift stories, what was your favorite gift to make, what was your favorite gift to get. It is just easy to call and leave us a message. So try to do that that and you may be part of our next show or if you don’t want to call us you can email us at yarncraft [at] lionbrand [dot] com or of course you know what to do. Just leave a comment on the blog! Our music today came from Podsafe Music Network. We want to thank all our guests for being part of the show and we want to thank you again for tuning in.

Check out the links, patterns, and more mentioned on this episode by visiting its episode guide.