Gertie's New Sewing Book!

Posted by AVFKW Staff on September 18, 2014 0 Comments

We got some exciting new books in this week!

On top of the pile is Gertie's new book "Gertie Sews Vintage Casual". A follow up to her first book, "Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing," the focus is taken off of tailored suits and special occasion dresses and works on building a wardrobe of everyday clothing.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my handmade wardrobe, about replacing purchased items with handmade garments and about choosing things to make that will go with each other so that my self sewn clothing is versatile. I want to be able to go to my closet and grab handmade garments and toss them on, the way I grab commercially made jeans and t-shirt. This is exactly what Gertie talks about in this book. Also full of great fitting tips, advice on sewing with knits, and tutorials on finishing techniques, this book is not one to be missed!

We have lots of fabrics that would be great for the projects in this book. Our Robert Kaufman Chambray Union line is perfect for casual tops, or even a jumper! We also have some lovely new knits from Feral Childe that are great for tops or the wrap dress project.

This book is a great addition to your sewing library and is a helpful guide for planning a well-rounded handmade wardrobe.


Happy sewing!


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Stitch Exchange: Interview with Gudrun Johnston

Posted by AVFKW Staff on September 07, 2014 0 Comments

Our fourth and final designer interview for the upcoming year of our Pro-Verbial Club is with Gudrun Johnston!

Gudrun is from the Shetland Islands, where her mother ran a knitwear design company called The Shetland Trader. Now Gudrun lives in Massachusetts, and is a prolific knitwear designer herself under the same name. Her heritage is evident in her Shetland lace patterns, as well as beautiful color work inspired by Shetland. Her newest book, The Shetland Trader Book 2, will be released in October! (Stay tuned for a special book event at Verb in November!)

Gudrun knitting in Shetland during Wool Week 2011

While Gudrun was busy wrapping up the details of her book, she was able to spare us a moment to answer our questions!

What is your first memory around knitting?

My first memory doesn't actually include the knitting part but I do remember owning a ribbed vest in a greeny pastel color that I know I did knit! I don't own it anymore!

What’s your favorite thing about designing shawls?

Gosh, that's a difficult question to answer! I love so many things about designing shawls! I think one of the aspects that gives the most satisfaction is seeing all the variations that come when others knit them up. 

What are you looking forward to the most about working with Verb yarn?

I look forward to picking the color the most....I just adore the palette that Verb has! 

Can you give us a quick look at your design process? 

I really enjoy the planning stage. As I tend to use a lot of lace in my shawl designs, I spend time swatching with different patterns and love to see how they look once blocked. A lot of my inspiration comes from traditional Shetland Lace knitting but not exclusively. I always have to knit the entire thing myself at least once! I may well change some things up along the way!!

Where do you knit -- everywhere, or only in your favorite spot?

Strangely enough I don't knit everywhere. I actually have a hard time knitting with lots of other people around or in public. Not sure why that is!! I tend to knit either at my kitchen table (where the light is good) or on the couch when watching a movie in the evening.

What is your favorite item someone else has knit for you? 

Not very many people have knit things for me!! So I have two favorite items, the only two things someone else has knit for me. A pair of fingerless mitts and a pair of socks (knit by separate lovely people). I really, really appreciated receiving them!!

Thanks, Gudrun! We can't wait to see your design for the club (and your new book!!).

It's not too late!! Sign-ups for the club will be open until September 15th, and we'd love to have you join us. Click here to read more and sign up.

To read the previous interviews, click the following links for Andrea's interviewSusanna's interview, or Grace's interview.

-- Sarah



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Stitch Exchange: Interview with Grace Anna Farrow

Posted by AVFKW Staff on September 01, 2014 0 Comments

Our third designer interview for the upcoming year of our Pro-Verbial Club is with Grace Anna Farrow!

You probably know Grace from her strong sense of geometry and the bold lines of her designs. She loves color play and is enamored with stripes and angular construction. She is the author of The Fine Line, as well as Kelbourne Woolen's Allium Collection -- both beautiful collections of shawls.

Grace wearing her design Volt with a moody New Mexico sky

Grace learned to knit in the third grade, and lives in beautiful New Mexico. She was kind enough to answer the following questions about her designing life and knitting!

What’s your favorite thing about designing shawls?

Shawls are inclusive; The same design has the capacity look just as flattering on many different body types, ages and genders.

Shawls are a blank canvas; As long as the fabric drapes it can be any shape, color, or size.

Shawls are flexible; Unlike any other garment a shawl is worn not by placing oneself within it, but by draping it around one's body - there is so much room to personalize. 

Do you have a favorite fiber to work with? 

Wool, wool, 100% wool. Then animal fibers, then plant fibers, then synthetics. We are animals. Animal fiber was designed to cover animals. To my mind we have not yet improved upon that solution. 

What are you looking forward to the most about working with Verb yarn?

The thoughtfulness of the colors you all produce at AVFKW from such humble materials seems alchemical to a non-dyer such as myself. I want that magical, mysterious experience running through my fingers, onto my needles and eventually into my wardrobe. 

Can you give us a quick look at your design process? 

I don't want to misrepresent my process as consistent or repeatable because my life is a state of beautiful chaos that only a poet could describe. But here goes:

I sketch things that look like angular repeating lines on graph paper and then I marinate on if it is actually something that should be knit. I think of a way I could knit it. And then I sketch the new idea and repeat the process. 

I swatch stitch patterns and wonder how they could be worn.

I stare into the bottomless void of the internet (recently Pinterest) and am inspired by what comes from the minds of others. 

I squeeze skeins of yarn and see what they want to be when they grow up.

I make the things I crave.

Part of Grace's designing process

What is your favorite item someone else has knit for you? 

My little sister gave me the first item she ever finished - a ribbed scarf. It is the only non-shawl, non-self designed neckwear that I wear.

What do you do when you make a mistake?

Rip. It. Out. 

Most of my knitting these days becomes samples that travel in one trunk show or another.  Having worked in a few local yarn stores, I can remember that at some point, someone is going to scrutinize that sample, count the stitches, turn in inside out to see how it was made, so it has to match the pattern as written. Because most of my designs have a strong graphic element built into the construction (like a chevron formed by stacking decreases) if the stitch count is off it can really show.

But if I were to be completely honest - I have a horrible tendency to be overly critical of my own work. It's that vicious internal critic that will focus on a mistake until there is no way to move forward until I correct it. That internal critic can be helpful at times too. It makes me return to certain themes and iterate, iterate, iterate until it is ready to make that transition off the page and onto the needles.

Grace learning to weave with her youngest daughter

Thank you for your wonderful answers, Grace! And thank you for being a designer for this year's club!

It's not too late!! Sign-ups for the club are currently open, and we'd love to have you join us. Click here to read more and sign up.

Missed the first two interviews? Click to read Andrea's interview and Susanna's interview.

-- Sarah



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Stitch Exchange: Interview with Susanna IC!

Posted by AVFKW Staff on August 28, 2014 0 Comments

Our second designer interview for the upcoming year of our Pro-Verbial Club is with Susanna IC

Beginning her training as a visual artist and art historian, Susanna is now a prolific knitwear designer whose focus and love is scarves and shawls. Most readers are probably familiar with her shawls from Knitty, Twist Collective, and her own self-published patterns. Full of intricate lace and cables (her favorites!), her shawls are striking, and fun to knit, too! 

Susanna draws her inspiration from nature

Here are Susanna's answers to our questions. 

What’s your favorite thing about designing shawls?

I see shawls as blank surfaces that can be transformed into just about anything depending on the inspiration. Shawls are to my knitting as canvas is to my painting. I think it’s great that just like jewelry, shawls can completely change an outfit, dress it up or dress it down. They can be simple, one-skein projects for a beginner knitter or large intricate masterworks – the possibilities are truly limitless.

Do you have a favorite fiber to work with? 

Although I love working with all sorts of fibers and blends, I really adore silk - its strength, its luster, and its ability to accept brilliant dyes. I love how even a small amount blended with other fibers can add a gorgeous drape and sheen to a finished shawl.

What are you looking forward to the most about working with Verb yarn?

Because nature is always such an important source of inspiration to me, I am looking forward to letting the natural hues of your yarn inspire this design. I can’t wait to see where the yarn will take me.

Can you give us a quick look at your design process? 

Inspiration comes to me from many different sources. I’ve designed knits inspired by literature and architecture, but I am most often inspired by nature and the changing seasons. I love the richness of autumn colors and textures, the stark geometry of winter, the vitality of spring and the lushness of summer. Where I used to employ brush and paints on canvas before I learned to knit, I now use needles and yarn to try to capture the sparkling ocean, the feathery clouds, the unfurling petals…  

Where do you knit? Do you have a favorite place to cozy up with your needles?

Anywhere and everywhere! I am used to getting some odd looks from strangers by now. That said, I am most comfortable and most productive sitting on the sofa in our family room watching television or listening to some music. Sitting there I can see the entire backyard with its luxuriant trees through the window. Watching nature change and transform daily makes me very happy; the incredible variety of green shades never fails to amaze me.

What's your favorite item someone else has knit for you?

That’s an easy answer – socks. I must confess that I have never made even a single sock. Thankfully, I have some amazing friends who have made sure my toes never get cold. I have five very special pairs that are my designated ‘sit & knit’ socks because I only wear them while I knit; they are all much too beautiful to walk around in.

Thanks Susanna! We are looking forward to see what beautiful creation you devise for the club!

It's not too late!! Sign-ups for the club are currently open, and we'd love to have you join us. Click here to read more and sign up.

Click here to read our previous interview with Andrea.

-- Sarah



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Stitch Exchange: Interview with Andrea Rangel

Posted by AVFKW Staff on August 17, 2014 0 Comments

Hi everyone!

As you probably know, our Pro-Verbial Yarn & Fiber Club is just starting out on its fifth year! Sign-ups are currently open, and we would love for you to join us. Click here to read more and sign up.

We have four amazing designers on board this year -- click here to read about all of them (as well as last year's designs). We thought we'd offer you a glimpse into their lives by interviewing each of them in turn!

Our first designer interview is with Andrea Rangel of Andrea Knits! Andrea was taught to knit by her grandmother when she was 8 years old, and currently lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

Andrea wearing her new pattern Dutch, coming out this fall

Andrea loves to bike, and many of her designs are perfect for biking. We asked her a few questions about knitting, yarn, and the design process.

What’s your favorite thing about designing shawls?

Shawls are certainly functional, but their main purpose, in my opinion, is to be beautiful. They’re wonderful blank canvases and can be extravagant or restrained; they can be delicate and spidery or lavish and cozy. I’m a bit omnivorous when it comes to design (I like to make everything!) and crafting shawls allows me to stretch myself creatively, which is always a thrill.

Do you have a favorite fiber to work with? 

I know I’m not alone in loving wool and I certainly knit with it more frequently than anything else. But I don’t know that I have a favorite fibre because I also adore the crunchiness of linen and the softness of cashmere -- each fibre has its place and I wouldn’t want to give up any of them.

What are you looking forward to the most about working with Verb yarn?

Knitting makes me feel connected with all those before me and around me who have also used textile arts to clothe themselves and their community, while adding color and beauty to the world. Because of that, I relate strongly to the Verb philosophy and love to see Verb's unique work. I know that the yarn and pattern we create together will be special and inspirational.

Can you give us a quick look at your design process? 

All my shawls start with a decision about shape, followed by extensive swatching. It often takes me at least five or six swatches before I settle on which stitch patterns I’d like to use, and the decision is usually informed by the feel, look, and color of the yarn. When I design garments, there’s a lot of math to be done before I can even cast on, but since shawls only have one size, I just do a few basic calculations and write a quick draft of the pattern before beginning with the knitting.  Some day I may need to use sample knitters, but I haven’t done it yet because I love to knit and because I often adjust the pattern while I work.

Out of all of your amazing designs, which do you yourself wear the most?

Last summer my husband and I took a month-long bicycle trip around the Netherlands, but before we left I designed Dutch [see photo above], a sweater just for the occasion. It turned out to be perfect for the trip -- made of lightweight wool with an oversized fit and happy color work. I wore it every day while traveling. The pattern is currently in testing and will be published this coming fall. Another design I wear all the time while cycling is my pair of Kalaloch leggings -- they’re perfect for winter riding and are actually one of the most functional things I’ve made.

Andrea in her Kalaloch leggings

We are thrilled to have Andrea as part of the Pro-Verbial Club this year, and can't wait to see what she designs for us! Thank you, Andrea, for answering our questions.

-- Sarah



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