The four winners of the Sandra Singh giveaway are:
Nupur, Kristina, Dale,Lindsay and Shannon (this is one person), and Sheryl. Wow! All the winners have blogs of their own. Congratulations on winning a skein each of SandraSingh.com Exclusive yarn. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing info and your first choice for which yarn you would like (either the 3 Ply Merino or the 1 Ply Merino). The first winners to contact me will have first dibs.
Whew! This past week has been hectic. I apologize that this giveaway post is going up a little late. I participated in the Puget Sound LYS Tour this past weekend and it was a lot more time consuming than I imagined. My mind is still reeling from all the beautiful yarns I saw! Twenty five yarn stores in 3 days! It's a lot take in... but more on that later.
This week I have for you the very talented knitwear designer, Christina Wall, here with us. Christina just released her new Whispers of Spring Collection in March and she's here to tell us a little bit about herself and the inspiration for this lovely collection she has designed. Grab a cup or glass of your favorite drink, and sit back and relax while you read her fun and entertaining interview.
1. Christina, please start by telling us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
Currently, by day, I'm a full time wife of a wonderful journalist and mom to an adorable baby boy. By night, I'm a die-hard knitter. In my career days I was a freelance court reporter and worked for the largest court reporting firm in our city i.e. I had no time of my own and no time to be creative. Not wanting to spend the rest of my life in the corporate ratrace, I decided to stop working and take some time to figure out what I wanted to do.
That spring my husband took a business trip to Japan, and I, lonely and suddenly with some time on my hands, took up knitting again. (My mom had taught me when I was little and I continued to dabble in it through highschool and college, but it was just recreational dabbling, nothing too serious.) I remember picking him up from the airport two weeks later wearing a purple cotton tank-top I had designed and knit in those two weeks. My knitting snowballed that summer and eventually led me to take a part time job at my LYS that fall. It was then that I realized I had found my passion. My first official pattern I sold at my LYS was Delia - still available on Ravelry and on my website.
Now I spend as much time as I can designing and knitting and blogging, although I have a few distractions, namely a 9 month baby! =) I lost my knitting studio to the baby, but have a desk in my husband's home office upstairs as well as a desk in the toy room downstairs. During John's (the baby) naptime, and especially in the evening, I can be found knitting or scribbling new patterns at one of those two desks.
2. You just recently released the Whispers of Spring Collection. Tell us about the five patterns in this collection and where your inspiration came from for this booklet.
I loved Ysolda's collections that she came out with last year. I thought they were adorable and brilliant and decided to challenge myself to design an "outfit" collection - a collection of patterns that coordinated or matched each other in some way with a sweater as the main piece. I had just come home with my new baby and had ceased to work part time at my LYS. I think I wanted to convince myself that I could still design - even while working as a full time mom - crazy, I know. But who says you are sane after having a baby? =)
The sweater had been in my head for about a year and I was dying to work it up. The inspiration came from Evenlyn Clark's beautiful Swallowtail Shawl. If you notice, the lace for the upper portion of the sweater is the same motif in the main portion of the shawl.
Once the sweater came together I knew I wanted mitts and a hat that matched the sweater, I just wasn't too sure of the style. The mitts have the same motifs as the sweater -- st st, garter and lace -- and are meant to mimic the sweater almost exactly. The beret I wanted to challenge the motifts as much as possible while still maintaining the same elements. The lace is the main portion which then flows into the garter stitch ring and then a st st band. The slouchy shape with the deep band came from watching the new Emma on Masterpiece Theater - one of Emma's hats is a velvet beret of similar shape.
The cowl and the shawl were inspired by my morning walks. Early in the year, as soon as it became somewhat tolerable outside I began to bundle John up and take him out for at least a 1 hour to 45 minute walk each morning (I was desperate to loose the baby weight, which I'm still working on) =). Each morning I would look for new signs of spring - the bulging red buds in the tops of the trees, the tiny little flowers on the floor of the woods, the green leaves that finally break open on the bushes... thus the cowl got covered in leaves and the shawl begins with garter stitch (the barren woodland floor) moves into a floral lace (the little flowers that pop up on the woodland floor) and then ends with an edging that looks like leaves (the leaves on the bushes or on the trees).
3. What is your process when you start designing a pattern? Do you have a routine?
Ha! I should have a routine but every design is different. Some start out because I'm inspired by a yarn. Others start out because I see a shape that I just have to try to get into a knitted sweater. I will say that the hardest design is when I have the design in my head but I can't find the perfect yarn -- something I'm going through for my fall collection. I have the perfect cable sweater running through my head but I cannot find the perfect, round, Aran weight yarn. Anyone have any favorites?
4. For budding new designers out there, what's the one piece of advice you have?
Knit, knit, knit and submit, submit, submit. Do what you love, don't try to mimic someone else's success, you will be successful only when you are you. My love is top-down, seamless sweaters and coordinating outfits. I don't love knitted nick-knacks therefore, I would not be good designing them.
5. What will be next for you? Do you have new designs in the works that you can share with us?
Yes! I just partnered with Twisted Fiber Art, an Indie dyer, to put together the South Hampton Scarf. I really appreciate the color and uniqueness Indie dyers bring to the table and I look forward to working with more Indie dyers. Knitpicks has picked up a small neckerchief and shawlette design I just did and that will be debuting soon. And, of course, there will be a collection for fall, again, planned around a sweater (the lovely cabled one I can't find the perfect yarn for) with accessories that coordinate. There are some lovely things in this collection - I can't wait to release it... but not until fall.
And, of course, I always have some random, knitterly ideas in the back of my head. One I would really like to see come to fruition is a pattern partnership with fiber farms here in the United States. I hate the fact that most of our yarn that we use gets shipped back and forth all over the world before it makes its way to our needles. It seems so senseless. Instead, why don't we support and build up the sheep and wool industry on our side of the ocean (at least) if not within the borders of the US. Also, I would like to see more done to develop patterns for heritage breeds of sheep and more attention paid to keep the yarn as breed-specific as it can be. It sounds crazy, I know. But I think it would be a wonderful way to begin to knit sustainably. Britain has done this quite successfully and I think it is high time we try.
6. Why do you knit?
Ah, that is a million-dollar-question. Knitting is an art form for me, a way to release all the creative energy that builds up in my mind. My mother is an artist, a wonderful watercolorist; my two sisters can paint and draw but I can't - not at all. In fact, I usually don't draw up my designs when I have an idea because my sketches are so bad. Knitting is the way I draw and paint.
7. When did you learn to knit and who taught you?
I can't remember the age I learned to knit - I must have been very young. At first I mainly crochet, and again, I rarely used a pattern but preferred making up my own (this would have been when I was 7 or 8. My mom has some hideous slippers that I made at this point in my life. I knit my first sweater when I was 14 - I saved up my lawn mowing money and went to the only yarn shop in town at the time. A terrible mistake. It was run by two older women who made the whole experience miserable for me. But I made the sweater and then ripped it out and made another sweater (as a 14 year old I didn't have much money but found I loved to knit. So I would reuse my sweater yarn. I still have a sweater whose wool I used to make 3 totally different sweaters, again, all my own designs, unfortunately I never wrote those designs down).
8. If you were to knit and live anywhere in the world, where would you knit and live?
Hmm... well, I'm pretty happy here. If I were to take a knitting vacation, though, it would be to an island in Maine with heaps of yarn, or perhaps New Zealand where there are boatloads of sheep. Hmm... well, perhaps Samos Island in Greece -- I'll never forget that island - it was so pretty. But just a vacation, mind you. I've lived overseas before, would love to do it again, but love having my family nearby. I didn't have that growing up and would like my son to have the experience of playing and romping with his cousins.
9. What's been your worst knitting disaster?
Ha! My first sweater from that horrid little yarn shop run by those two old ladies. They picked the yarn and the pattern out for me. It was an oversized, pieced, drop shoulder affair made in chunky yarn. It came together fine but it was SOOOOO uncomfortable to wear. I was so frustrated. However, it led me to discover the wonders of Elizabeth Zimmermann and how math is the foundation of a sweater that is comfortable to wear. From then on I designed my own sweaters using the percentage system, only I preferred to knit from the top down, where as most of EZ's designs are from the bottom up. This year I realized I had never made one of EZ's sweaters. I had always used her percentage system to create my own. So... crazy as it may sound, I embarked on a project to knit my way through her book, Knitting Around. You can read about my progress so far on Knitting Zimmermann!
10. And last but not least, if you were to be drinking a cocktail while reading my blog, what would it be?
I love this question! Definitely a mohito - absolutely my favorite. However, to be honest with you, I usually read your blog drinking a good, strong cup of Irish Breakfast, milk in first, of course, and no sugar.
Thank you, Christina, for such an enjoyable interview! Now, onto the good stuff! Christina is offering SIX winners the opportunity to win a PDF electronic copy of her new Whispers of Spring Collection. This collection includes five beautiful patterns and a great short story about a fiber fest.
The first place winner will also receive one skein of Dream In Color Smooshy sock yarn, because we couldn't do a giveaway without a little yarn! This one skein of fingering weight yarn has enough yardage to make the entire Woodland Spring Shawl (the shawl pattern in the collection).
In addition to the fabulous purple skein of Smooshy, the top winner will also receive that adorable felted flower pin handmade by Christina's sister, Heather from The Blackberrytree. How stinkin' cute is this flower pin?! And! Not only is this flower cute, but it is also made from recycled, felted wool. Who doesn't love repurposed material art?!
I would like you to do the following if you would like to be entered into this week's giveaway (I HAVE ADDED AN ADDITIONAL RULE FOR THIS AND ALL FUTURE GIVEAWAYS):
1) Have an address in the US to ship the yarn to. If you have a friend or relative that has a US mailing address who is willing to be your shipping sponsor, that will work as well. I will send it to them and they can then forward it on to you.
2) Post a comment on this blog post by the end of Sunday, 5/30/10, telling us what project is currently on your needles (name and Ravelry link if you would like to share) and why you are knitting this project. Christina says, "I always like to know what people are knitting!"
3) Please post only one comment to give everyone a fair chance.
4) The winner(s) need to contact me with their shipping information at email@example.com within 2 weeks of the winning announcement being made on the blog. If I do not receive an email within those 2 weeks, your winnings will be forfeited and go up for grabs at a future giveaway determined by me.
Again, I'll randomly pick the winners on Sunday and post the results on Monday along with the new giveaway, so be sure to check back. Good luck everyone.