Norah, Warren and I headed West to attend The National Needlearts Association trade show in San Diego, CA. I’m used to trade shows being in sort of isolated areas but the location here was fabulous. It was breezy and sunny the whole time we were there and we enjoyed some distinctly California moments. Here are some highlights:
It was so much fun to catch up with everyone, especially our fellow East Coasters (Mary-Heather is an honorary East Coast girl) the Ravelry gang! Casey was a little shaky as he took this picture and when Jess banned him from any more coffee I just about lost it. Speaking of caffeine, how cool is this new mug?! The whole design team is coffee powered so we just love this mug.
Speaking of design, I have to get to work…on Fall 2009!! Can you believe??
UPDATE: Just noticed a free pattern for Green Squirrel, gorgeous cabled hat (Ravelry link) designed by Katy Wight, a Western Massachusetts based designer who loves Ultra Alpaca. Looks like an excellent man hat, and it only takes one skein of Ultra Alpaca!
Working in the world of knitwear design means that your calendar is more than a little screwy. Deadlines and lead times require you to be mentally “out of season” pretty much all the time. I’ve modeled heavy alpaca sweaters in July, knit angora in August and sketched summery tanks in September. Perhaps the craziest part is photographing catalogs and pattern booklets for spring in the middle of New England autumn which is COLD! You’ve got to think warm thoughts!
This was pretty easy for the first photoshoot of our spring collection. For Booklet #282 Latitude, we set up shop at a seaside hotel in Galilee, Rhode Island. Brisk October air was indeed whipping around us, but a steady diet of fried clam cakes and great nautical scenery made it feel like we were enjoying a particularly late summer vacation. Have a look:
Be sure to subscribe to KnitBits for plenty more inside info about the Spring/Summer 2009 collection. We’ll be posting pictures, pattern information, audio slideshows and as always, free patterns galore. I have a few more behind the scenes videos to share here as well so stay tuned!
Pretty much the moment I started at Berroco we’ve been talking about GIFTS. It started way back in September with tiny holiday sweaters and gift sets you could make on a budget. There was a bit of a debate over the propriety of verbing a noun (I maintain that it is okay in the case of ‘gifting’ and Dictionary.com agrees). This week we’ve decided to give our KnitBits subscribers a gift–a chance to win one of four baskets specially selected by members of the Berroco design team. No worries if you’re not already a subscriber, you can enter until 12 p.m. PST on December 15th (your entry will also sign you up for the KnitBits newsletter).
Our baskets are totally idiosyncratic, though mine was a little conservative to begin with. It contained the yarn to knit Crotona in a watery blue shade of Cuzco since that is what I have been knitting for myself in between holiday gift knitting. After I saw the masterpiece Donna had whipped up, I knew I had to step up my game.
I finally settled on a basket stuffed to the gills with two skeins of every color of Ultra Alpaca Fine. I threw in lots of Clover bamboo DPNs and Booklet #275 which is full of basic sock patterns. The idea was that you could knit socks for yourself or your friends all year long but I immediately came up with a billion other uses for the yarn. I think it would be perfect for crewel, the wool embroidery that is making a comeback. It would also totally rock on the rigid heddle loom–the high yardage (I just typed ‘yarnage’ by mistake, tee hee) and the nylon content are perfect for weaving with.
If you can believe it, Elin, a Swedish blogger living in Melbourne is knitting a STRIPED CARDIGAN with it. This makes her a high priestess of patience IMHO and check it out, she’s not cutting any corners. My new year’s knitting resolution is to take a page from Elin’s book (blog) and knit simply but well.
And since this is a blog entry about gifts and the holidays I may as well share my stance on it–it’s the knitter’s way, no? I have done exactly one Christmas where everyone got a handknit gift and it was a very harried December. This year I took the Buy Handmade pledge and have had a fabulous time visiting Etsy and places like Craftland. Now that the crafting pressure is off I’m more motivated than ever to knit for friends and family! I’m loving Closely Knit by Hannah Fettig and Knit One, Embellish Too by Cosette Cornelius-Bates.
Good luck to all us gift knitters! Remember to rest!
That’s what Margery said when she saw me winding a skein of Ultra Alpaca from a little nook at my desk.
I’ve certainly settled in, populating every corner with knitting essentials: stitch dictionaries, shade cards and a bulletin board that holds inspiring images and a detailed calendar. I’m getting used to forgetting what day/month/season it is! It’s a little disorienting to plan summery photo shoots, arrange a palette of autumnal colors and squish skeins of wintry wool blends all in the span of a day.
In spite of that, it’s a very happy perch…
Yesterday Norah and I returned to Western Mass for an interactive trunk show at Webs. Norah introduced the sweaters from NG vol. 3 and Andra (the Northeast Berroco sales representative) and I walked the runway showing two sizes of many of the most popular sweaters. Andra was a natural and Kathy took quite a bit of video footage (I’ll link to it when she posts it). Usually people are pretty shy about trying on sample garments but this was pure sweater madness–it looked like Filene’s Basement!
As usual, unconventional shapes were surprisingly flattering on a wide range of bodies, and using the tried and true upside-down trick, options were multiplied. One attendee tried on Linear but didn’t feel comfortable with the flyaway shape. We turned it upside down and voila–no exposed belly and a lush shawl collar gave it a wholly different ‘grandpa chic’ look. Eastlake was a crowd favorite, but I was impressed by Cosmia–everyone on Ravelry says it’s super fast which sounds ideal as the mercury is plummeting here faster than I can knit!
A while back, a curious reader left this comment:
I am loving this peek into your design process! And at the same time as I look at your sheets feeling ever do disorganized!
As I also watched your latest video slideshow for booklet 279 (keep doing these slide shows they are great) one question kept coming to mind. I was wondering how far ahead do you prepare these designs for the booklets? The way you both spoke of the designs in the slideshow they sounded like, well, old friends!
First, I have to say, that while we have to stay organized in order to produce so many new patterns each season, the rest of my office does not look so very organized. Here is the truth. My desk, right now:
My boss kinda understands that we designers need to be a bit messy, but I am forced to clean up periodically to clear my mind (or prep for an impending visitor). Right now we are finishing up the last minute designing for Spring ’09. Our sales reps are on the road with the photos in a few months, we show all at the TNNA trade show in January and all the info goes up on the web in January. Spring hits the stores, well, when ever they want it, starting in January or February. So really, we are not all that far ahead, 6 months, give or take. We are BUYING yarns for Fall 09 now though. As soon as this season is all wrapped up will be off and running with that one.
The sweaters DO feel like old friends by the time the books are in the yarn stores. We know all of their names (as odd as they may be). We’ve talked about them and written about them ad nauseam and yet we still love them.
Yippee, yahoo… the search for an assistant designer is over! I am so very pleased to announce that Cirilia Rose is now working with us in the Berroco design studio. Cirilia jumped right in, multitasking from the start. During her first two days we have had her editing Knitbits, planning future issues, fully participating in design meetings, swatching, and, even though it wasn’t part of the work agreement, we persuaded her to model for a few minutes too.
As many of you know already from, the book and from the audio slide show, the NGV3 cover cardigan, Violette-le-duc, was photographed “upside down”. I think it looks truly lovely this way. The flip was due to a flash of brilliance on Margery’s part while acting as stylist for the book – picking all of the clothing and accessories and making it all work on the models. Now, of course, folks would like to see what the cardigan looks like “right side up”.
To the right is Cirilia, styled by Margery, shown in the ”right side up” Violette-le-duc. Thank you, Cirilia – and welcome!
P.S. Cirilia will be co-hosting this blog with me. Look for an entry soon.
For the few of you who may not know, Margery Winter is the creative director at Berroco. After years of a mentor/student relationship, we now work as parts of a team here at Berroco. Margery writes about another very important member of our team:
Deana Gavioli keeps the design department running like a top. Her responsibilities range from assisting our art director, gathering and updating all information for our website, proofing all stages of Knitbits, monitoring firstname.lastname@example.org, creating and trafficking trunk shows, editing all written pieces generated by this department, tagging and labeling all samples, acting as the liaison between designers and sample knitters, managing all production of store models, processing invoices. Deana is our clearing house of facts and keeper of information. She works at her desk and computer everyday, calmly coordinating all packages to and from the sample knitters so that Norah and I can maintain our rigorous design and photography schedule. With her finger on the pulse of our department, she calmly goes about her business quietly making sure that all runs as smoothly as possible while at the same time our dear Deana, beautiful inside and out will not allow a single Knitbits to be released until every ”t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted. Often I wonder how Deana can remain so calm and so steady. I have worked with her for many years and I continue to be in awe of her endless reserve of patience. Thanks so much Deana. We can’t do it without you!
Photography courtesty of Photo by Cregg Annarino Photography (Deana’s talented brother)
We are very lucky to have Becky as an intern in our design office for the Spring semester. We work her hard. She runs from winding yarn into balls and keeping our sample drawers in order, to swatching our stitch ideas to answering consumer e-mail. On top of all that, I asked her to write the bulk of this week’s newsletter AND she’s even got a secret design project going. You’ll get to see the results in a few months. Thanks Becky!
It’s Becky Snow’s senior year in college, studying design.
Here at Berroco we have a weekly meeting to help keep things from falling through the cracks. Between the constant call of the Knitbits newsletter, keeping our web site up to date, publishing Spring 08 and designing Fall 08-09 – there’s a lot going on. In fact, I’m sure that I’ve missed a few things – where are my meeting notes!!??
Above is a glance at Margery’s notepad from this weekly ritual. Being very visual, and not liking to sit still for long, M’s energy reveals it’s self in a highly pictorial collage of meeting topics and design ideas.
Notes on the notes:
(top left) – The pullover referenced above, Wakame, opened up new avenues of design for Margery and me, together, as a team. Yin Yang #262, the booklet in which it appears is one of our best selling pattern publications ever. Folks loving these asymmetrical, deconstructed garments gave us permission to be quirky and touched on an over lap in our design sensibilities.
(bottom left) – The truth comes out. Our knitter didn’t quite have time to finish the sleeves on Alan, and since we had a little boy’s version too – we cheated. We put a jacket on our male model to hide the fact that the sleeves were not actually attached to the sweater and were, in reality, little more than cuffs. After photography, Margery used the front and back of the sweater to make a big sack and added a shoulder strap to make it functional.
(top right) – Ravelry is our friend! Margery also has a special affinity for Bob because he reminds her of her childhood dog Candace goes a Courtin’.