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New England Knits!

Read on to hear some behind the scenes scoop from the authors of New England Knits, Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre.

CR: Hey ladies! Why don’t we start by explaining how you know each other?

We first met many years ago through mutual friends, but because we lived in different places, we lost touch. When Ravelry came into the picture we found each other again and discovered that we had both become a bit knitting-obsessed. The rest is history because we’ve been hanging out ever since!

CR: I know firsthand how much a garment can change from sketch to final piece. Were there any garments in New England Knits that morphed or surprised you?

Melissa: The Montague vest actually started as a belted sweater, but when I was about to sew in the sleeves I realized that I really loved it without them. After trying it on, it was officially a vest!
Cecily: We actually had included a couple designs for men’s sweaters in the original proposal, but then decided it was more cohesive as a collection of women’s garments only. The Augusta Cardigan is a revised version of one of the men’s designs.
CR: Time to play favorites! Which garment in the book is at the top of your daydream queue?

Melissa: Oh boy, this changes almost daily for me. I think I need to knit myself a Hampton Cardigan. I love the construction, and I keep trying it on and dreaming about not giving it back to C.
Cecily: I agree, I keep finding a new favorite! From the sweaters though, I always seem to come back to the Salem Hooded Jacket, a hood, ribbon detail, and pockets!
CR: Melissa, you just used Peruvia Quick and Vintage for your Acorns hat. Any other Berroco favorites?

Melissa: Peruvia Quick is my absolute favorite right now. I’ve been daydreaming about a starting a new design in it. I am wool girl to the core.
CR: Cecily, I just knit myself a Goodale because I needed a break from constant designing! Do either of you have any “cheat” knits that you sneak in between designing? If you weren’t a professional designer, what would you be working on right now?

Cecily: Can I put a big disclaimer on this? I am not saying this to be nice, it is absolutely true- I bought the pattern for Kiloran [Ed: Kiloran is a dress I designed for Twist Collective in Ultra Alpaca], just so I can just have it at the ready for when my workload slows down. I have been dreaming about it since the new issue of Twist came out!
CR: Summer in New England is coming to an end. What is your favorite part of New England summers? What are you looking forward to in autumn?

Melissa: I really enjoy knitting on the beach, and just being near the ocean, but I can’t wait for SWEATER WEATHER!
Cecily: Definitely being able to spend time by the ocean is my favorite part of New England summers. However, after this particularly hot summer, I am really looking forward to the cool, crisp fall air.

From left: Gudrun/Shetland Trader, Melissa/Knitting School Dropout and Cirilia/Skrilla Knits


CR: What’s next for Cecily and Melissa?

We plan on working together again. That’s all we’re saying! :)

Twist and shout!

Twist Fall 2010 is UP! Norah and I both have designs in this issue. It’s my first design for Twist and I couldn’t be more excited about it! Norah designed a pullover called Orange Pop, a really fun turtleneck with quirky details. Using Mary-Heather’s exact measurements and fun personality as inspiration, Norah designed a figure-flattering Ultra Alpaca sweater with lots of waist shaping, reverse Fair Isle and a unique pointed turtleneck collar.

I designed a dress called Kiloran. It was an absolute joy to work on from the initial inception to the agonizing wait for the debut issue.

In the past couple of years I have really tried to figure myself out as a designer. One item or shape I return to again and again is the dress. I think I like the design challenge of making something that won’t stretch out of shape or look shapeless and unflattering. Two things that are vitally important are yarn choice and the judicious use of seams. I am all in favor of knitting things in the round and avoiding seams when possible, but in certain situations, a seam or a bound-off edge can add much-needed structure. Kiloran features several seams and where it makes sense, easy circular stockinette.

I was first inspired by dramatic open necklines seen on the runway and on Princess Anne of Battenberg of all people. The loose, elbow-length sleeves and fitted empire waistlines gave way to full skirts, sometimes with generous bustles. Precisely the kind of dress I’d want to wear in early fall! Here is my mood board for the dress:

The knitting seemed to zip along, I’m not sure if it was because I was working with the very well-behaved 3-ply Ultra Alpaca in a new shade that I adore (Candy Floss Mix is a strange, evocative dusty pink) or if it was because I had discovered my new favorite film while working on the dress. “I Know Where I’m Going!”, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in 1945 is funny, wistful, gorgeous and endlessly entertaining–I finished the dress in under two weeks time, unusual speed for me that I completely attribute to Powell and Pressburger’s masterpiece.

The front lace insert is knit in Ultra Alpaca Light:

I’m really hoping to knit a Kiloran for myself this fall, perhaps in romantic Flannery Red…though I do love the Candy Floss colorway I used (this is a back view of the bustled skirt):

CR

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