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TNNA Recap

We recently returned from The National Needlearts Association’s summer trade show in Ohio, where shop owners got a chance to learn about our new products for fall. The trip to Columbus was a blur of enthusiastic people, excellent food, and exciting yarns,  Read more

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! :)

Whirlwind June…

June has been exactly like a summer storm. A bit scary, very unpredictable, fast-moving, and at times refreshing and beautiful. It has been an exhausting but inspiring month…

Norah and I spent the first half of the month consumed by TNNA! If you weren’t following our updates on Twitter you can see a wonderful recap thanks to the Hello TNNA wonder team (aka Team Rav!). This was a really cool addition to the show, and an excellent way for knitters at home to get a sense of what will be hot in the upcoming year. This was definitely the most busy, exciting TNNA I’ve attended, and I think it is thanks to all the NEW! We were of course very happy to unveil our Fall/Winter 2010 collection but it was also really fun to participate in new programs like the TIPS [Trends, Ideas and Products] info sessions and to see some first time exhibitors, especially Ysolda who set up a booth that made it feel like you had fallen into her Flickr stream! So fun! Norah and I visited often (see if you can find us…).

The minute we got back we had a photo shoot to think about! It was pure madness for a couple of days there. Deliriously tired, we knit the last few items frantically. This is me, on “vacation” (NOTE SUN PRECAUTIONS! WEAR SPF, EVERYBODY!!):

Even after several crippling beach knitting marathons, I still didn’t manage to finish before the day of the shoot! You can read the whole story here, I participated in the 2 Week Sweater Challenge that Kate at Twist Collective, who was also on deadline, dreamt up. For all the crazy stress, we ending up having a fantastic and easy photo shoot at one of our favorite Providence boutiques, Heir Antiques, which shares a space with Calico. We simply love owner/curator/raconteur Tyler’s aesthetic and he couldn’t be sweeter, which helps to make it a fun day rather than a draining one. Here is a sneak peek at Aidez, the sweater that was nearly in peril!

Have you made it this far?! This long post should give you some sense of how insane this month has been, and if you’re still reading, it is probably safe to say you’re genuinely curious about the goings-on of a design team! If SO, I highly recommend you get yourself a copy of Shannon Okey’s amazing new book The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design. It includes all the stuff I have learned along the way, a lot of new things I want to work on. Honestly, just reading it reminded me how very complex this (admittedly super fun) job can be! Inspiring in so many ways.

Okay! Over and out, see you in July!

Cirilia

Rhinebeck Road Trip!!

So, as many of you in the Northeast know, Rhinebeck was this past weekend! We’re still recovering from the rush of spring photography and I almost bailed for some much needed rest, but when I woke to a gorgeous fall Saturday, I grabbed my keys and my knitwear and I hit the road! I didn’t regret it for a minute =)

The drive along the Mass Pike and the Taconic Parkway was absolutely stunning. The weather was perfectly Octoberish, grey and cool with vibrant leaf squalls swirling around me. The weather report was grim so the night before I had started a Hill Country Hat (a free excerpt from Clara Parkes’ new book) using 1 skein of Cuzco in Prune Mix. It wasn’t exactly as chunky as the pattern called for, but I used my size 10 needles, confident that I could adjust it if I needed to (the hat is knit top down). I knit it exactly as written and while it might be a little lacier than the hat from the book, it stretched and fit just fine. I had plenty of yarn, too! I bound off and wove in my ends at a scenic rest area on the Taconic:

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It kept me perfectly warm! I took loads of pictures while I was at Rhinebeck, you can view them here. I had a few key Berroco spottings at the Ravelry party! First up is Sarah from Team Rav wearing a Ripley that she knit using the Vintage that we donated to the Sock Summit prize bags. So cute!

Next I met a witty woman named Thea Colman from the blog BabyCocktails who showed off her very cute Ultra Alpaca cardigan, pattern coming soon! The picture I took was very blurry, but I promise, it’s adorable!

Last but by no means least…I give you, Bob, Team Ravelry mascot. Well, it’s our Scottish friend Ysolda wearing a ridiculously accurate BOB HEAD that she knit in A WEEK. The best part? Bob’s tongue and ears were knit using Comfort Chunky! Besides those eyes, these are arguably the cutest parts of Bob!

If you went to Rhinebeck, I hope you had a great time! And if you didn’t, spend some time poking around the Internet, I think you’ll find plenty of excellent travelogues. I can’t recommend fiber festivals highly enough. Between the beautiful countryside, the excellent nosh and the bevvy of likeminded fibery friends, it’s the perfect way to kick off autumn.

Happy knitting,

CR

Sock Summit INDEED.

“Just as the bird’s wing evolved to fly, the human hand evolved to manipulate. An idle hand is not a happy hand. We really need to use our hands; they’re not happy if they’re not doing something.” [Barbara G. Walker]

hueloknitting

The quote above captures my impression of Sock Summit 2009 pretty accurately! I’m very familiar with trade shows like Stitches, NENA, TKGA, TNNA, etc. and I have been lucky enough to attend many of them in the past few years. This year marked the first Sock Summit, a sort of knitter’s retreat on steroids! It had a fantastic marketplace full of amazing artisans, an impressive array of super fun events (like breaking the Guiness World Record for most knitters knitting in one place) and a truly astounding roster of knitting luminaries.

Berroco was there displaying a range of our sock yarns: Berroco Sox, Berroco Sox Metallic, Comfort Sock and Ultra Alpaca Fine, as well as a few of our more popular sock yarn patterns (not socks, incidentally): Celestine and Celestine Crochet, Saige and Johnny Boy are some of my favorites. I was also encouraging people to enter our Sock Star competition. There are still more than 2 weeks left to whip something up, give it a go!

I’ve put together a video of some highlights here and some of my snapshots in a Flickr set–I apologize for their quality; I’m not the best photographer in the world, I’m afraid. To be honest, things happened so quickly that it was a challenge to even get the cameras out and on! I was Tweeting constantly though and you can catch up with those Tweets here.

One of the highlights of the show for me was meeting Meg Swansen (I’ll admit it–I was too nervous to say hello to Barbara Walker!). Meg is true knitting royalty and SO beautiful! She was hilarious and kind, to boot. Norah says we have the same eyes! As you can see, I could barely contain my joy at meeting such a legend:

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One thing that came up during the luminary panel over and over was the value of her mother Elizabeth Zimmerman’s book the Knitter’s Almanac. When I worked on the retail side of things I would constantly tell people to skip two lattes and buy a copy of the Knitter’s Almanac instead. It is my desert island book, it contains so much more than knitting advice. It gives you a glimpse into Elizabeth’s life and her amazing curiosity, bravery and wit.

Yesterday I proposed a year-long project to Norah involving the Almanac and Ultra Alpaca. So many of the projects seem well-suited to the Ultra Alpaca family and we know that the folks at Schoolhouse Press are fans. In fact, Cully Swansen, the handsome model/son/grandson in many of the Schoolhouse Press publications, has a hat pattern in the most recent Wool Gathering that calls for Ultra Alpaca! We’re still batting around ideas, but we’ll keep you posted.

I’m still catching up on my rest but I will say that my imagination has been running on overdrive thanks to the Summit. I’m sure you’ll feel it’s effects in the months to come ;)

Cheers,

CR

TNNA Columbus Videos + More

What can I say that hasn’t already been said all over the Interweb? I was Tweeting our trip, you can catch up at our Twitter page. It was a whirlwind! It was my second time attending the The National Needle Arts trade show and I felt a lot more comfortable with my new perch. The new collection was really well-received and I was thrilled to see my first design sent down a runway (Locus from the Booklet #289 Lustra). With all the excitement surrounding supersoft Blackstone Tweed™ and the mega-affordable Vintage™, I feel like Lustra™ is getting lost in the shuffle! I’m designing with it now and it’s gorgeous–so shiny and the colors are soOoooOoo pretty. It’s hard to pick a favorite!! That said, I’m knitting with the deep violet blue Provence =)

It is always inspiring to be around so many knitting greats, but the highlight of this show for me was catching up with the younger ‘new guard’ knitters, too many to list here but you know who they are! It’s staggering to look around and see all the bloggers I’ve read for years working for yarn companies, publishing books, going on book tours, building websites and generally kicking butt in the yarn world. And oh yes, having a mess of fun while doing it…Casey from Ravelry suggested that Ysolda and I have a knitwear model walk-off, a la Zoolander (I can only find this Lego version on YouTube)…madness ensued in the lobby of our hotel, with an audience of knitting stars that quickly became our paparazzi.

Watch the Great Model-Off of 2009, graciously shot and compiled by the lovely Laura Chau.

modeloff

Ysolda and I did our best to recreate all of the most notorious cliches of the knitting fashion world, including one of our favorite tricks, putting on a sweater upside down (a la Violette-de-Luc and Linear)! This usually happens by accident when a stylist misunderstands a garment but with Norah Gaughan sweaters it is often pretty uncanny, they look amazing and completely new! In the videos below you’ll get to see Potter from Norah Gaughan vol. 5 upside down and it looks fantastic. I’ll admit, I was pretty neutral about this sweater before, mostly because it wasn’t very Norah-y. After wearing it all night and noticing the details (perfect collar, cool sleeves, ability to look good when worn “incorrectly…”) I’m sold! And you have to love Mimosa, an energetic new shade of Pure Merino.

Mary-Heather from Ravelry captured Norah jumping to my aid and Jessica from Seattle’s Fiber Gallery captured the SCREAMS of laughter. I’ve uploaded a gallery on Flickr with some iPhone snapshots…not great quality, but hopefully they’ll make one thing clear: Berroco <3s Columbus!

CR

Peruvia…

I made my Tilted Duster out of this yarn and it was such a pleasure to work with, light and quick knitting. It’s also a joy to wear, a very wooly wool that is amazingly soft, especially after a nice soak.

Sadly, there have been many Peruvia projects that have been languishing in my mental queue. I’m especially intrigued by all of the skirtless shrug style Tilted Dusters out there on Ravelry. By eliminating the most time consuming part of the sweater these shrugs are practically insta-sweaters!

I’m also craving a Poska from Booklet #264. There is something so adorable and modern about the funnel neck, the cropped length and the graphic mosaic colorwork (note the differently colored sleeves). 

 

http://www.berroco.com/264.268/264/264_poska_pv.html

 

Design team member Donna has a Peruvia specific tip: because it is a single-ply roving style yarn it has the tendency to come apart while seaming. This is perfectly normal and not a yarn defect! Your yarn, once knitted will stay put, we promise! But, while you’re seaming it’s best to add a bit of twist as you go. This will stop the natural ‘drafting’ process which sometimes results in a break. She’ll probably use this tip when she knits HER favorite Peruvia pattern, Pakuna from Booklet #277.

 

My favorite Peruvia tip is the spit splice! Simply rough up your yarn ends, wet them with water (or yes, spit) overlap the ends in your palm and vigorously rub your hands together. This will felt the ends together leaving you with an invisible join and no ends to weave in! Wooly, feltable single-ply yarns were simply MADE for this joining method.

Do you have any Peruvia tips or dream knits? 

CR

Ravelers Rock

It’s time, once again, to showcase you fantastic knitters out there – our customers. Here are five sweaters designed by me and interpreted by Ravelers to fit their individual tastes and needs. 

KallieKYs Assemblage

KallieKY's Assemblage

KallieKY’s assemblage is knit in Inca Gold.  The pattern calls for Pure Merino dk , but as you can clearly see Inca Gold works very well. Here’s the link to our original photo. 

TrafficKnitters cabled coat

TrafficKnitter's cabled coat

This pattern is in the Fall 2007 edition of Vogue Knitting. Traffic Knitter whipped up the Pure Merino pieces very quickly and suffered angst about sewing it together perfectly.  She’s posted a great side view on her blog and described her sewing solution.

gauges linear

gauge's linear

Gauge let her creative instincts free with her interpretation of Linear from NGV3. In her hands a more austere monochromatic Inca Gold cardigan is infused with steampunk prettiness.

cadburyskeepers chantal

cadburyskeeper's chantal

Cadburyskeeper expressed the wish that she had taken a better photo of her Chantal, but I love the boldness of  the red cardigan against the black and white curtain and the odd feeling that she is taking a photo of us as we gaze on.  Oh, and  yes, she’s used the yarns called for Ultra Alpaca and Ultra Alpaca Light (which come dyed to match).

meegiemoos alpine

meegiemoo's alpine

I think that meegiemoo’s Alpine suits her perfectly.  Here’s the link to the  free pattern . Check out her blog to see  “The Cutest Shoes in the World”, completing the the look (scroll down). For more pictures of Alpine knit in Cuzcoclick here.

More ravelers’ sweaters in my previous post.

Thanks for all the great Knitting!

Norah

One more!

Hi again, just a quick addendum to the Vest-uary post. I completely spaced out on a very cute vest pattern! It’s the Ribby-Yo Vest by Cathy Carron. Knit in Peruvia Quick, it’s available now in the Spring 2009 issue of Knitscene, one of my favorite knitting publications…

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knitsceneribbyyovestback

 

This vest was featured in a very cool column called Style Spotting. Styling knitwear can be difficult–you don’t want to have that unfortunate slip shod, ramshackle look that pop culture usually saddles us crafters with. We know we’re better than that!! This column helps by discussing the sartorial properties of specific garments and showing a few cute underpinnings and accessories. To quote my fellow UMass alumni the Pixies, it’s educational! I don’t know about you but I’d like a whole issue’s worth of this sort of content…here is a preview: 

 

ribby-yo

 

Cute! With such a chunky yarn, you’d have plenty of time to whip this up before the end of February/Vest-uary, especially if you have President’s Day off…

CR

Berroco Design Team at Large, part deux

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??

Cheers, 

CR

UPDATE: Just noticed a free pattern for Green Squirrelgorgeous 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!

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