Participating in the Indie Gift a Long is a really fun experience for me. I always love chatting with knitters about projects & yarn and the threads offer the perfect venue for that. But there are parts of it that push me outside of my comfort zone and that is always a good thing.
One thing that we were asked is if we would want to interview another participating designer and blog about it. Well, that had never occurred to me as a thing to do – but why not? And by saying yes I also became an interviewee (who me?) I was interview on the awesome blog (that I happened to already follow) StringGeekery – if you want to take a peek at my babbling check it out here.
I, in turn, had the pleasure of interviewing Aimee Alexander (getknitty on Ravelry). If you would like to check out her designs click here. She is a double threat in that she is a designer extraordinaire and the owner of a yarn shop in Montana called Polkadotsheep – a little fact that drove some of my nosy questions. ;)
Q. I think it is possible that to many knitters out there you seem to be “Living the dream” being the owner of a yarn store. Having worked at an LYS, I know it isn’t all sitting around sipping lattes and knitting. How do you end up being a Store owner and designer?
A. Well, while it isn’t all as you say “sitting around knitting and sipping lattes”, I do feel like I am living the dream. I love most aspects of my job, from working with customers, to going to trade shows, and designing knitting patterns. Throughout the 11 years we’ve been open, we’ve reinvented ourselves a couple of times to keep things exciting. Our most recent endeavor, of course, was launching our own hand-dyed yarn line: Polka Dot Sheep Yarns.
Q. You are surrounded by yarn all day, which must make you itch to get your pattern ideas worked out and into the world. How do you balance your design work with your store responsibilities?
A. I work full time, for sure. Many of the day to day tasks of running the LYS are taken over by my wonderful staff. I have a social media specialist who runs our blog, Twitter, Facebook, and the back end of our webpage. I have a great team of moderators that keep our Ravelry groups (we have three: Knit ‘n Needle Yarn Shoppe, Polka Dot Sheep Publications, and Polka Dot Sheep Yarns) fun and active. And, I have excellent sales clerks at the shoppe, some of whom have been with me over 5 years. All this help frees up some time that I use to focus on design, which I can do from home while spending time with my children.
Q. Looking at your patterns, you seem to have a soft spot for cables. Do you have any favorite stitches/techniques that you find yourself revisiting or using as a “go to” in your designs?
A. If I create a stitch pattern or motif that I’m particularly fond of, I will often write it up in more than one design. The Snow Ghost Collection is an example. I have used the motif in mittens, two hats, and I’m now working it into a cowl. I do like the idea of matching sets.
I can’t say for sure what type of knitting I like best: lace, cables, or color work. My passion for each tends to ebb and flow. But one thing I do like and you will see in many of my designs is the knit-in-hem. I like the firmness and stability it creates for brims of hats, cuffs of mittens, and you will even find it on the edging of my Sea of Dreams baby blanket.
Q. As a corollary to question 3, do you have a preferred weight of yarn that you consistently reach for?
A. No. I like all weights equally. For me, it’s about choosing the correct weight for the stitch pattern. For example, when I was first toying with ideas with the Sea of Dreams stitch pattern, I was working with DK yarn. It didn’t take long to discover that the larger stitch repeat required a lighter weight yarn. Likewise, a bulkier weigh yarn needs a motif with less repeats. Sugar Pine Hat, for example, is a multiple of 4, and it really works with a heavy yarn.
Q. As an LYS owner and a designer, you are in a great position to keep really good tabs on what knitters are actually knitting and want to knit. Do you see any new trends coming down the pike as far as what kind of accessories or garments you will be designing to keep knitters happy and coming back for more?
A. Initially I dabbled in designing simply because I couldn’t find the patterns my customers were asking for. (This, of course, was long before the Ravelry In-Store sales program which has been a tremendous resource for our yarn shoppe). My first few successes were simple patterns that a beginner could easily create. Bobbles for the Whole Family (written in 2006) was big local hit for me. To this day, I can still walk downtown certain to see a Bobbles on the head of a happy toddler.
I still enjoy creating simple patterns, like my Tenderfoot Socks. While the sock design is not ingenious, it serves a purpose and sells well in shops. I have found as a LYS owner that customers need and want basic patterns that they can return to time and again. But, thanks to Ravelry, I’ve found a larger market for more complex designs.
All in all, trends do come and go. Remember felted bags and purses? Ruffle scarfs? But mittens, hats, cowls, scarves, baby blankets, toys, and garments are always popular. And, with Ravelry, in-store sales it’s so very easy for us to find in vogue patterns for our customers and be inspired.
Thus ends my very first blog interview! Who knew being nosy could be so rewarding? Which brings up another question – one for y’all … Are interviews something you would like to see more of on this blog? It was kinda fun and as I said, a bit of a leap for me. If indeed you would like more interviews – who would you (reasonably) like me to interview?