Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Interview with Christina Werge

Ready to meet another designer who is participating in the Indie Design Gift-a-long? This week I got to know more about Christina Werge from Berlin, Germany. 

Annie, Hitch: Patterns inspired by
the Films of Alfred Hitchock
photo (c) Nick Murway
I've been to Germany many times in my younger years to visit family, so it was fun to reconnect - in even the remotest way - with someone actually living in Germany. 

Christina is an accomplished designer who has been published in a number of places, including Knitty, Knit Now, and Clotheshorse. She also has a design in the Cooperative Press book Hitch: Patterns Inspired by the Films of Alfred Hitchcock. You can also find her designs on her website  Herrlichkeiten which also offers tutorials and blog entries.

What I really noticed about Christina is that she has an impressive range of designs, from accessories like shawls, hats and mitts, to sweaters and tank tops.

How would you describe your design style?
My designs always have a twist to them. Sometimes you’ll have to look hard to find the it - a unusual construction or small details. My designs sometimes look more complicated than they are as I always have the knitting process in my mind when designing. If a design looks good, but is a pain to knit, it is not going to be published.
Dome Hat, photo (c) C. Werge
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from a lot of sources. I am a very visual person and love to discover patterns in everyday life and nature. Sometimes this leads very directly to a design like when the cupola of the new synagogue in Berlin on my way to work sparked the idea for the Dome Hat. But more often it’s just a detail that gets my gears working…
Who is your knitting audience? Who are your designs targeted at?
I love to think about my audience as knitters who like to try something new and have fun knitting for themselves and other people. That’s why I have a lot of smaller, giftable things in my portfolio. I believe easy does not have to be boring and love to design for a wide range of skill levels. While I love to design things for everyone, I feel I can best anticipate the challenges of my own figure when it comes down to sweater design. MY sweater patterns are designed to make women look great - if they have curves or not. I always include instructions where to alter the fitting of my sweaters so that every woman can look good in them!
Daphne Tank, photo (c) Christina Werge
What are your favorite techniques or types of things to knit?
Looking at my patterns I’d have to admit that I love slipped and twisted stitches. It’ such an easy thing to knit - or in the case of a slipped stitch to not knit - and they open up a world of possibilities: colour work, cable work, even shaping (like the waist shaping of Daphne) is possible.
You have a sweater pattern, Annie, in the book Hitch: Patterns Inspired by the Films of Alfred Hitchcock from Cooperative Press. How did you come to be involved in the book?
I saw the call for submissions on the Designer board in Ravelry. As I love Hitchcock films I just knew I had to give it a try and submit a design.
Is there a difference in your design process between self-published patterns and designs for publications like Knit Now, Knitty or Hitch?
Yes, there is. While a call for submissions might spark an idea that leads to a self-published design or an idea that was to become a self-pub fits a call for submissions so well, it gets chosen, the process that follows is quite different. When self-publishing, I can/have to chose the yarn myself, my personal deadlines are flexible and I can make changes until the last moment and perhaps just knit another sample. There is a lot of going back and forth involved. With publications that’s different. I write down the pattern first as always, and then I will knit the sample. When working for someone else my sample knitting is the first (and possibly only) test knit there will be. So everything is pretty straightforward. Especially as I have to get a lot of knitting done in little time.
What is your greatest challenge throughout the design process?
Letting go. Accepting a design just won’t work and not trying to start it again and again is definitely not my strength. ;)
What do you have planned for 2015 design-wise?
Dome mitts, photo (c) C. Werge
I have a sweater pattern almost finished and also a great cable heavy design. I didn't have much of time for designing this year and next year looks like it’s going to be similar. So I’m focusing on self-publishing as I can tailor my schedule to my needs.
Elinor Shawlette, photo (c) C. Werge

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Me! Me! Me!

Just a drive-by posting to link to a fun interview that I did with Corley. She had some great questions for me and posted the interview on her blog, Crafted by Corley.

Thanks so much Corley!

Friday, November 21, 2014

An Interview with Michelle Meyer

One of the things I love about Ravelry and in particular, the Indie Design Gift-a-long (GAL) is finding new (and new-to-me) designers. There are so many talented people out there who often get overlooked because they aren't one of the 'big' names (yet).
Michelle Meyer, Indie Designer

Thanks to the GAL, I recently had an opportunity to interview Michelle Meyer, a relatively new designer from Wisconsin, USA. 

I love her Footbridge shawl. Part of what attracts me to it is its simplicity. This would be great travel, TV or waiting room knitting. And because of its simplicity, Footbridge presents a wonderful opportunity to focus on colors. I find Michelle's choice of colors for this shawl to be very striking. And I can also see this as being a great stash busting project, great for using up yarn remnants from other projects.

Footbridge Shawl

How long have you been knitting? 
I was taught to knit when I was young by my adopted Grandmother, however I didn't stick with it. At that time I could only knit, I couldn't even cast on. Then about 4 years ago I was preparing to undergo back surgery. At that time I was wanting to do something that was more portable than the other crafts I was invested in. A friend re-introduced me to knitting, ever since then there hasn't been a day that I haven't knitted.

What are your favorite techniques or types of things to knit? 
I love to knit cables. They add so much dimension to your project. I also love to knit in the round. My favorite things to knit are hats and cowls. I think I like to knit these items so much because of their instant gratification factor.

What prompted you to start designing? 
The designing process intrigued me, and always wanting to learn more I found myself gravitating to it. One of my biggest inspirations to design are my two daughters. I also have a very good friend of mine Sara Gresbach of Addiema Designs who been such a wonderful support for me. She is always there to answer my “silly” questions. Knowing some with her experience makes designing less intimidating.

What has been your greatest challenge throughout the design process? 
I think that there are many challenges. One is to make sure I go with my gut and not over analyze or over think my designs. The other one is the challenge of naming my design. Sometimes this process takes longer than the designing process.

Your designs all seem to have a strong connection to nature and your environment. Is this a happy coincidence or on purpose? 
My first design was actually because I wanted something with texture, and also involved a little bit of inspiration from another passion of mine, which was quilting. However the designs after that pretty much have a connection with my love of the outdoors and nature. My husband, and our children love to ride our Motorcycles. Being out in the fresh air and driving the open roads of Wisconsin, bring out a lot of inspiration.

What do you have planned for 2015 design-wise? 
Looking ahead to 2015 design-wise I plan to keep putting out patterns using inspirations of my surrounding. I also plan on putting out more designs that help me step out of my comfort zone, and challenge me more as a designer.


You can also find Michelle on Facebook at Timeless Knits.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I am not a lucky person. By that I mean that I never win things. I've entered blog contest, draws, lotteries (we have several great ones here in Ontario where you can win homes, cars, trips - all to support cancer research and local hospitals).

There was even that Stag & Doe (you know, a party for a couple getting married) party where my husband and I bought almost $100 worth of tickets, each holding onto our own set. He won a free makeover by a professional makeup artist (boy, did that get laughs!). I won nothing, nada, zip.

Synchronicity by Andi Smith,
photo (c) Andi Smith
By contrast, I know a couple people who seem to have all the luck and are constantly winning prizes (Hi Geri!).

But last week, I hit the jackpot. No, I didn't win the Lotto. I won the knitting Lotto and won a copy of Andi Smith's new e-book Synchronicity, which was being given away by Natalie Servant on her blog.

And it was perfect synchronicity. I love cables - one look at my patterns and you'll know that. And I've been trying to master the skill of two color knitting. Andi's book puts cables and color work together with beautiful results.

Andi's book contains 7 dazzling projects accompanied by careful explanations of the techniques needed to complete each one. She even includes instructions for sewing in a lining on one of her cowls to beautiful effect.
sevenofnine, Andi Smith, photo (c) Andi Smith
It's no wonder that Andi has created these brilliant designs. Andi is no stranger to designing. Her Ravelry page lists over 50 designs, including ones published magazines, book collections and her own books like Big Foot Knits from Cooperative Press. Andi blogs about her designing at  KnitBrit, slightly unraveled.

So, if it turns out my ration of luck was used up by winning Sychronicity, I'm quite happy with that. This is a wonderful book full of stunning projects.

Now, my only problem is trying to pick which one to start first: Black Bunny, French Quarter or sevenofnine?

French Quarter, Andi Smith
photo (c) Andi Smith
Black Bunny, Andi Smith
photo (c) Andi Smith

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Indie Design Gift-a-Long 2014

This is the second year of the Indie-Design Gift-a-long (GAL) on Ravelry and it's bigger and better than last year.

What is the GAL? It's a collective effort to highlight the designs of almost 300 Indie designers. There's 2 parts to it:

1) A sale: From November 13 at 8pm US EST through - November 21, 2014 at 11:59pm US EST these 293 indie designers will be discounting between 4 - 20 of their patterns 25% for this event.

2) KAL/GAL: There are eight KAL/CALs to participate in, prizes of all sorts given out, games, and generally a lot of fun! The Gift-A-Long KAL/CALs will run from November 13 at 8pm US EST through - December 31, 2014 at 11:59pm US EST

You can find out all the details on the Ravelry forum.

Some fun facts about the GAL:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


So many poppies in the roadside fields of France.

"A soldier of the Great War"

Beaumont-Hamel, Canadian memorial.

Ypres, Canadian memorial (the towers) with a typical Canadian symbol

The unknown soldier.

So many road side cemeteries. So many white tombstones.

Their name liveth for evermore.

Poppies, everywhere.

Honoring Operation Jubilee in Dieppe
The beach at Dieppe, where the Canadians landed.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Maple Leaf Forever

(c) Natalia @ Elfmoda Maple Leaf Shawl
Last December Natalia @ Elfmoda released a stunning maple leaf shawl design. As a Canadian, I was entranced with the pattern, seeing as the maple leaf features prominently on our national flag.

I didn't really place the shawl high on my 'to knit' list until a chance remark by a friend at Rhinebeck. Rhinebeck is a cornucopia of beautiful shawls, yet my friend noted that no one seemed to have knit the Maple Leaf shawl as their Rhinebeck signature piece. "Maybe next year", she said.

That's when I got the idea to knit one for Rhinebeck next year. Later in the day, I happened to find a braid of Polwarth fiber in the perfect Fall colors. I snapped it up, with the idea to spin the fiber and knit the Maple Leaf shawl with it. I pictured a shawl that mimicked how real leaves turn from green to yellow to red. I had no idea about yardage, but I figured one 4 oz braid should be enough, even if I had to use singles or at most, 2 ply yarn.

After browsing the Ravelry project notes of finished shawls, I decided to take a chance and spin the fiber with a view to navajo plying it to preserve the color transitions. I'd recently spun a skein of 440ish yards of 3 ply out of a braid. And many of the project notes stated that they'd only used between 400 and 450 yards on smaller needles than the pattern called for.

So, I spun. And spun. And spun. It took about 2 weeks to spin and then ply the yarn. I was so eager to get it done so I could start knitting the shawl and see if it would turn out the way I envisioned it. (And frankly, if I'd have enough yarn!)

Once I got started on the shawl, it sped along quickly. The pattern is a clever collection of simple knit stitches, yarn overs and decreases. The color transitions are nicely preserved as you knit the main body of the leaf and then separately knit each point of the leaf. I started getting anxious about how much yarn I had left by the time I started working on the final (and center) three points of the leaf. And when I got down to the second last leaf I was down right nervous.

My ball of yarn was getting smaller and smaller. There are several small points, each of which require you to break the yarn and then join again to the main body. All that breaking of yarn and rejoining meant several inches of yarn getting 'lost' each time.

Finally, this morning I finished the shawl, with about 4 grams of yarn to spare! Whew! The shawl is blocking now. It's smaller than the pattern calls for, since I used smaller needles to ensure I didn't run out of yarn. But it's lovely! Just what I'd envisioned.

I'm hoping to find a way to display it as a piece of wall art. The trick will be keeping all those points in place!