Friday, February 23, 2018

An Interview with...Annie Haas
Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the knitting world.

You can find
Annie here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere. I love to get inspiration from my surroundings, and TV shows and movies….I actually re-watched the TV show The Killing (its a dark crime series on Netflix that takes place in Seattle, WA) because I remembered the main character wearing a number of awesome sweaters that looked hand knit. I also enjoyed a show called the Bletchley Circle that was on Netflix, it was a period piece set in the UK post war and the women wore lots of hand knits. I also just love looking through my stitch dictionaries for inspiration. I will get an idea for a garment type/shape and then look for the perfect stitch pattern(s) to create it.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
That is a tough one….I can’t say I have a favorite, I love the rhythm I can get into when knitting brioche, but I am a sucker for any stitch pattern that I is easily memorized so I can get into a groove while knitting it.

Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
Honestly I try not to look at other designer’s work, though it is hard to not see other people’s pieces on Instagram, which is my social media of choice (and really the only one I use other than Ravelry). If I have a new idea for a design, I don’t like to look on Ravelry or elsewhere to see if a similar one already exists, I just like to cast on and see my ideas come to life.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I usually knit the prototype and or first piece of a new design. If I don’t love the way the first knit came out, I will re-knit it, sometimes changing the design a little…..Then I like to have the pattern test knit, and depending on what it is (an accessory or a garment) I like to have more testers for a garment (especially if it comes in multiple sizes).

Did you do a formal business plan?
Nope. I do this for fun, and to support my yarn habit. 

Do you have a mentor? Not really, my great grandmother taught me how to knit when I was about 7 or 8, and I knit on and off over the years. I did get back into it in 2010 when I moved back to Michigan from California. I realized I needed a Winter hobby, and knitting fit the bill. Until then I literally only knit. (I didn’t even know how to purl). I took a knitting lesson from a friend who taught me how to cable, soon after I knit the Owls sweater by Kate Davies (I actually knit it 5 times and gave away all but one as gifts) and it was all over for me! I had found my new favorite thing!

Do you have a business model that you have emulated? No.

Do you use a tech editor?
Yes. Her name is Angela of Buzz and Fuzz Tech Editing and she is AWESOME!

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
That has been a little tougher lately, as I have a little boy who turns 2 in March, and I just had a baby January 1st. I also work as an Acupuncturist, so knitting and knit designing is more of a hobby and creative outlet for me rather than work….I do try to pick up my needles at least once a day, as knitting really is my meditative Zen time, but right now I am really trying to prioritize spending time with my littles.

How do you deal with criticism? Well, I always prefer constructive criticism, and luckily I am not aware of much critique in the way of my knitwear design, but I also consider myself a small fish in the world of knit designing, so I don’t think that there are that many out there who know about me….therefore I don’t think I have as large of an audience with the potential for criticizing….that said, at the end of the day, I design things that I like and want to wear, so if someone doesn’t like something I have created, that’s fine, its not for them.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting? 

I’d say go for it! There is something so very satisfying about seeing your ideas come to life with your own two hands, and to put yourself out there as a hand knitwear designer, and have others who like your designs enough to take the time to knit them is very rewarding.

What’s next for you? 

That’s a good question. I am not sure…I still have so many ideas for new designs that I see myself continuing down this path of designing for at least the next few years. I also love the opportunity to work with different yarn companies and other creators. I am looking forward to doing more collaborations with other designers and makers in the future.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Dior at the ROM

If you are a local reader I highly recommend you make a trip to the ROM for the Dior show.

It was fantastic!  The show was set up so a garment maker geek like me could get a really good look at the construction techniques for the garments which were made from 1947 - 57.

There were tablets included with the displays which showed detailed photos of the insides of the garments displaying the construction techniques used.

I was able to see the details of:

silk organza under-linings,

padded hips, supported with canvas,

bodices edged with silk from the waist down for tidy tucking in to skirts,

skirts with hook and eye attachments to exchange bodices from daytime to nighttime styling,

sleeves supported by canvas ,

shirt overlays which also functioned as capes,

corsets to support gowns,

feather sequins,

a one seam skirt which I'm still trying to figure out,

beautiful embroideries (did I mention I took a class in Tambour embroidery and I learned how to use a Luneville hook) 

Photo from

I did notice in the videos of fashion shows that often the models couldn't walk normally in many of the garments because the bottoms were so narrow. 

Here's a photo of Shopia Loren in one of the dresses.

While none of this relates directly to knitting I did find it got me thinking about garment construction in the way I did back when I was sewing. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Tips for Working with Linen

I've been working swatches with linen in preparation for some summertime knitting so a post on linen may be timely for other knitters. I have some of the Louet sport weight, you can find it here. I've used it before, the first garment I made from Euroflax was much loved and I wore it so often that it was truly worn out when I finally stopped wearing it. 

Linen can be a little hard on the hands during the knitting due to it's lack of elasticity. It's a wonderful summertime knit fabric though, it's both cooler and lighter than cotton. My experience has been that the fabric gets better with age. Washing and drying improves it. It gets softer the longer you have it. The sheen can increase over time. It's version of in-elasticity and the light weight of the fibre means garments don't stretch, unlike cotton. 

You may need to use a smaller needle due to it's nature. Make sure you do a large swatch and block in the same way you intend to on the finished garment. Check for shrinkage and adjust while knitting the garment if necessary. If you air dry and find the fabric feels crunchy, pop it into a warm dryer for a few minutes and it will soften up. Be prepared for the drape of the fabric to increase the more you wear, wash and dry a linen garment. 

I prefer to use linen for garments with seams for two reasons. First it can occasionally have a tendency to bias in stocking stitch. Secondly it needs longer strands for seaming because it is a smooth yarn which moves more than wool and I prefer to bury my ends in a seam. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

New Pattern - The Amelia Viner Vest

I've published this one on Ravelry, Love Knitting and it will be up on Patternfish soon. 

It's worked bottom up in a single piece to the underarms, then divided to work to the shoulders. The Kimono style front band is knit separately and sewn into place. The vest features a faux cable stitch pattern on the front band and on the sides for added interest. It is shown with 9 cm (3.5 inches) of positive ease at the bust and 25.5 cm (10 inches) at the hem, which makes this a flattering pattern for both slim and curvier figures. The armholes and bottom edges are worked in a 3x3 rib. The armhole bands are picked up and knit outwards. Most of the vest is worked in stocking stitch with armhole and neckline shaping done at the same time, making the project suitable for the intermediate knitter. Crochet cast on is used in the sample for consistency in appearance on all finished edges at the joins of the front band. However, you may use your preferred cast on.

I'm almost back to normal knitting after my earlier wrist problems. However I'm finding that some projects cause much less discomfort. The stocking stitch in this vest was easy knitting for me and the faux cable didn't create the strain regular cable crosses do. I'm starting to work on summer projects and I may continue exploring more stocking stitch in my designs than I have in the past.