Tag Archives: interview

Interview with Nickerjac, double filet crochet designer and teacher

Underground Crafter's Crochet Specialty of the Month: January 2015 intermeshing crochet

Welcome to my themed blog series, Crochet Specialty of the Month! Each month in 2015, I’ll feature a specialized crochet technique, stitch pattern, or project type through several posts.

This post contains affiliate links.

As I was researching intermeshing online, I discovered the work of a talented crochet teacher and designer, Nickerjac. She was kind enough to agree to an interview, which I’m excited to share with you today.

Nickerjac lives in the U.K. and she specializes in the double filet technique as a teacher and as a designer. You can find her online on her blog, Nickerjac, or on Pinterest, Ravelry (as nickerjac, as moderator of the Double Filet Interlocking Crochet group, and on the Nickerjac designs designer page), and Twitter.

Interview with double filet/intermeshing crochet/interlocking crochet designer Nickerjac on Underground Crafter

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you firslearn to crochet?

Nickerjac: I can’t tell you exactly when I learnt but have very clear memories of being about 4 and sitting in my Nan’s kitchen crocheting chain whilst she was preparing dinner. She was definitely the one who taught me. I was very blessed as both of my grandmothers were very skilled in all types of textiles and both had the patience to teach me and let me experiment even at a young age.

Interview with double filet/intermeshing crochet/interlocking crochet designer Nickerjac on Underground Crafter

Double Filet Mobius Scarf/Cowl, free crochet pattern by Nickerjac.

UC: What inspired you to start designing and teaching?

Nickerjac: I kind of fell into both. I worked with a lot of young people in summer schemes and youth clubs and I seemed to have a natural flair for the art and craft activities so would often lead groups in different crafts that I had discovered, everything from puppet making to felt making. So when I started work in a Local Yarn Store, it was a natural progression that when we had customers coming in with queries about their knitting and crochet that I would end up teaching them as well. You learn fast, especially the skill to read peoples work. I then volunteered to help out the UK Hand Knitting Association in their teaching areas at the big knitting and stitching show in London, which led me to working a number of the shows, becoming more and more involved in the knitting community especially with the evolution of knitting blogs and then Ravelry, which eventually led to me teaching in Stash in Putney.

Interview with double filet/intermeshing crochet/interlocking crochet designer Nickerjac on Underground Crafter

Double Filet Bubbles, free crochet pattern by Nickerjac.

UC: You do a lot of designing and teaching with intermeshing crochet, or double filet. How did you learn this technique and what do you enjoy about it?

Nickerjac: Again I came across this technique quite by chance. I had recently moved to a completely new area of London and had joined the local library’s knitting group so I could meet people and someone mentioned that this lady (which turned out to be Barbara Mann) taught this specialised crochet technique. This was seven years ago now and there has been no looking back.

After just two lessons, Barbara very kindly asked me to join the design team for the East London Crochet Group who I still meet with every fortnight.

I love double filet because of its graphic nature, it is the closest I can come to painting in crochet, also there is so many possibilities yet to explore as there are not that many of us that practice this type of crochet.

UC: What do you feel are differences between double filet and intermeshing crochet?

Nickerjac: I believe that they have both obviously had the same starting point and are the same in many ways. Obviously, I have limited access to the US literature on intermeshing, but I have noticed that our starting and finishing are slightly different. Double filet it is not always reversible, especially if the design includes colour changing. The only other difference I have seen is that we produce our patterns as a chart rather than written instructions. I actually embrace the differences as we can always learn new things from each other.

UC: What are your favorite projects to design?

Nickerjac: If you look at the collection of work from the East London Crochet Group, you can see that we each have our own very distinct styles and in our quarterly pattern pack, you can usually work out whose is whose very easily. Mine has a tendency to be very flowing. I love circles and curves – quite organic shapes which can then be applied to many different projects.

So to answer the question, it is always my latest project. At the moment, I am experimenting with more 3D work, which is looking great but turning out to be quite difficult to put on paper.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?

Nickerjac: My all time favourite book to go to for reference is Crochet Workshop by James Walters. It’s not just the content, it’s the whole feel of the book. I just feel like I am being let in on crochet secrets when I read it. (UC comment: I agree! I’ve talked about my vintage copy of the book here before, and it’s now available as a Dover reprint.) 

Dover Books

I also love Jan Eaton’s 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns. There is nothing more relaxing than making a ripple blanket and you can’t help but be inspired by these patterns.

UC: Do you have any crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Nickerjac: Besides obviously Ravelry and Pinterest I still read a number of blogs. My friend Lixie at Lixie Makes It is always up to something interesting, especially with her moving to Japan last year. I think we craft in similar ways. Neither of us are happy just doing one craft when you can be doing ten. Also, recently after being lucky enough to do a taster workshop with her, I have started to follow Kim Thittichai‘s blog, Kim’s Hot Textiles, as I find her use of colour and texture really inspiring.

UC: Where do you teach double filet?

Nickerjac: I help at the quarterly ELCG meet ups in Essex, we always do a little session at Skipnorth every year, plus I have a couple of private students who come and see me, but I am willing to teach anyone, pretty much anywhere, if I can fit it around my son who is only seven at the moment. I just want to share this skill.

Thanks so much for sharing your love of double filet with us, Nickerjac.

Interview with Tanis Galik, intermeshing crochet designer

Underground Crafter's Crochet Specialty of the Month: January 2015 intermeshing crochet

 

Welcome to my themed blog series, Crochet Specialty of the Month! Each month in 2015, I’ll feature a specialized crochet technique, stitch pattern, or project type through several posts.

This post contains affiliate links.

Tanis Galik is probably the crochet designer most associated with contemporary intermeshing crochet, so I’m thrilled to share an interview with her today as part of my January focus on this crochet technique. I first was introduced to Tanis’s work through her book, Interlocking Crochet, which I reviewed here (along with 20+ other crochet stitch guides). 

You can find Tanis online on her website, Interlocking Crochet, on Pinterest, YouTube, and Ravelry (as tanisgalik, in the Interlocking Crochet group, and on her designer page). She has a wide collection of video tutorials on the intermeshing technique if you are excited to dive in! You can find links to her 3 starter videos in this roundup of 4 free online resources to learn intermeshing.

Interview with intermeshing crochet designer Tanis Galik on Underground Crafter

Tanis Galik.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet?

Tanis: My paternal grandmother taught me. It seems there is a long line of crocheters on my father’s side of the family. (My father remembered his grandmother crocheting all the time.) Of course, back then it was mostly doilies my grandmother made. Her house was covered with them. Each had tiny colorful fruits incorporated into the doily. They also had delicate ruffled edges starched with sugar water to make the ruffles stand up. The most amazing thing (which I did not realize until much later) was the yarn she used. It was like fine thread. How did she see it? Or work with that tiny metal hook? Unfortunately, I never thought to ask for a doily.

I stopped crocheting; however, in high school crochet fashions started becoming popular so I picked up a pattern and began re-teaching myself. I think grandma’s training and my family “crochet gene” helped me to pick it up easily. Once I started, I never stopped.

Interview with intermeshing crochet designer Tanis Galik on Underground Crafter

Watermelon Parfait Baby Blanket by Tanis Galik. Published in Crochet! Image (c) Annie’s.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Tanis: I’ve often taken a crochet pattern and adjusted it for my preference or taken a basic crochet stitch pattern and used it for something else so I guess that was the beginning. However, it was really learning the basic Interlocking or intermeshing crochet technique that started me designing and submitting to publishers.

Interview with intermeshing crochet designer Tanis Galik on Underground Crafter

Diamond Baby Blanket, free intermeshing crochet pattern by Tanis Galik.

UC: Since your book, Interlocking Crochet: 80 Original Stitch Patterns Plus Techniques and Projects, was published, you’ve been strongly associated with that technique (also known as intermeshing crochet). How did you begin working with this method and what do you enjoy about designing with it?

Tanis: Several decades ago I took a CGOA class from Sylvia Cosh and James Walters. They had been crochet innovators for decades when I met them. At the time they were just beginning to experiment with intermeshing crochet. I learned the basics and a few designs. They said they were going to publish a book. I went home and experimented myself, continuing to come up with various designs. I waited for a book to be published. When the Internet became popular, I searched for a book and never found one. I decided even though I had never been published, I had better try so this technique could be shared with others before it was lost.

I enjoy coming up with new designs, especially those that have a different pattern and dominate color on each side. I used to go to baby showers and watch the seasoned crocheters turn the blanket (usually with three or four panels of double-sided designs) over and over again, trying to figure out how I had done it.

Interview with intermeshing crochet designer Tanis Galik on Underground Crafter

Irish Blossoms Baby Blanket by Tanis Galik. Published in Crochet World. Image (c) Annie’s.

UC: What are your favorite projects to design?

Tanis: I tend to do accessories – scarves, hats, bags, ponchos and comforting items – baby blankets, afghans, lap throws, dog mats. Since I donate most of my crochet to charities, these items are the ones they usually want.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books (besides yours, of course) in your collection?

Tanis:  Needless to say, I have a large library of crochet books since I have been collecting them for decades.

I tend to like books that have a large selection of crochet stitch designs, including granny squares. Many of them are older books from England that have 200 – 300 stitch patterns. These give me ideas of some different stitches to use in my designs.

I’m beginning to collect Tunisian Crochet books and Irish Crochet books since I want to work more with both of these techniques.

I’m also the first to buy any “new” crochet technique book for my library. I love looking at and trying these different crochet approaches.

3-in-1 Double Crochet Woven Scarf, free crochet pattern by Tanis Galik.

3-in-1 Double Crochet Woven Scarf, free crochet pattern by Tanis Galik.

UC: Do you have any crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Tanis:  I do have a place on Pinterest and Ravelry. I’m one of the moderators on a Ravelry group called Interlocking Crochet.

Interlocking Crochet Reversible Placemat, free crochet pattern by Tanis Galik. Published in Knit and Crochet Now! Season 5. Image (c) Annie's.

Interlocking Crochet Reversible Placemat, free intermeshing crochet pattern by Tanis Galik. Published in Knit and Crochet Now! Season 5. Image (c) Annie’s.

UC: What are some recent designs you’re excited about?

Tanis: I was very happy to have two projects included on Knit & Crochet Now! Season 5. One of them was an Interlocking Crochet placemat. This month (January 2015) I have Irish Blossoms Baby Blanket in the current Crochet World magazine.

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story with us, Tanis!

Interview with knitting designer, Peggy Jean Kaylor

Interview with (mostly) knitting designer, Stefanie Bold, on Underground Crafter

Today I’m sharing an interview with knitting designer, Peggy Jean Kaylor.  Like me, Peggy Jean is participating in the 2014 Indie Design Gift-a-Long, a virtual extravaganza running through December 31st here on Ravelry.

This post contains affiliate links.

Stefanie can be found on Ravelry (as pjkaylor and on her designer page). All images are copyright Peggy Jean Kaylor and used with permission.

Interview with knitting designer, Peggy Jean Kaylor, on Underground Crafter blog.

Peggy Jean Kaylor.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to knit?

Pegg Jean: When I was very young, I would watch my great-grandmother (my mother’s maternal grandmother) knit and crochet.  The first time she put needles or hook and yarn into my hands, I was about 4 years old.  I would sit with her and try to make the stitches she showed me … for maybe 5 or 10 or 15 minutes … then I would run off to play with my big brother or little sister.  Whenever I came back, my knitting or crochet was always waiting for me to work on it some more.

My mother has since told me that she caught Grandma putting the wool and needles/hook away in a drawer between sessions.  She said she tried to tell Grandma not to do that with her precious yarn and tools but Grandma wouldn’t listen.  Instead Grandma gave me a small supply of yarn oddballs, a pair of needles and a hook.

It took a few years … and my paternal grandmother took over teaching me when my great- grandmother became blind.  By the time I was 7 years old, I was beginning to knit and crochet Christmas gifts for family and friends.

Interview with knitting designer, Peggy Jean Kaylor, on Underground Crafter blog.

Belgian Waffles Scarf, free knitting pattern by Peggy Jean Kaylor.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Peggy Jean: My transition into designing was a long, drawn out process.  I was in my late teens when my paternal grandmother and I had a conversation.  I can remember her telling me that before I could make anything at all, I needed to have a pattern for it.  I probably took that as something of a challenge.  Granted, up until then I had always had a pattern to work from and I always followed it somewhat religiously … but … at that point, I began modifying many of the things I made from patterns.  At some point in my late 30s, I had reached the point where I had never met a pattern I couldn’t modify … and during my 40s, I worked steadily to free myself of all the patterns.

Finally during my mid-50s, my teenage daughter convinced me to begin writing up formal patterns for some of my designs.  My darling daughter also convinced me to join Ravelry (she had already joined) … she argued that it was a place where I could self-publish my designs.  So, I guess Ravelry has been a ‘business decision’ from the get go … but I never had more fun from any other business decision … and my husband tells me every year at tax time that it’s not a business yet, it’s still only a hobby.

Interview with knitting designer, Peggy Jean Kaylor, on Underground Crafter blog.

Hourglass Chevron Scarf, knitting pattern by Peggy Jean Kaylor.

UC: You have a joint Ravelry shop with your daughter. How did you decide to start this venture? What are the advantages and disadvantages of working together with family?

Peggy Jean: Yes, I have a joint venture Ravelry shop with my darling daughter.  Our Ravelry shop, Fiber Fabrications, really represents the fact that I did pass this art form on to the next generation … to the daughter I’d named for the woman who taught me to knit and crochet.  I was thrilled when my own daughter asked me to teach her how to knit and crochet.  Because of my own experiences, I made sure to teach my daughter that she could make anything she wanted to … whether or not she had a pattern.  While she was a teenager, I helped her design a felted backpack … I used the project to teach her how to pick up stitches, how to shape the bag seamlessly, how to make mitered squares, how to felt (full) the fabric, how to sew the straps and inside pocket onto the bag, and how to write clear instructions.  She sold a few hard copies of her pattern at the LYS down the street and around the corner, where she worked every Saturday while she was in high school.

Having the Ravelry shop with my daughter is now mostly a gesture … because last spring she finished her BS in Chemistry and this fall she moved to almost the other edge of the country to pursue a PhD in Biophysics and Biochemistry.  I miss her a great deal … and she hasn’t had time since she graduated high school to design and produce any patterns.  I am a good mom, though.  I let her have whatever she wants from my own stash every time she is home because it would be way too sad if she did not have enough yarn to engage in stress knitting while she keeps up with the intensity of graduate school.

Interview with knitting designer, Peggy Jean Kaylor, on Underground Crafter blog.

Heart Throb Scarf, knitting pattern by Peggy Jean Kaylor.

UC: Most of your patterns are for scarves and wraps. What do you enjoy about these types of projects?

Peggy Jean: I have enjoyed the challenge of designing reversible scarves and stoles.  I’d grown tired of scarves and stoles that roll and curl when they don’t hold a block … and it pains me when one side is much less attractive than the other and yet still often seen.  It makes my day to design something that is totally reversible.  I do have some things in the works that are not reversible … hats and cowls and such … hopefully, those designs will see publication during the next year along with some more shawls and scarves.

Interview with knitting designer, Peggy Jean Kaylor, on Underground Crafter blog.

Melite, Nymph of Calm Seas knitting wrap pattern by Peggy Jean Kaylor.

UC: What’s your favorite knitting book in your collection?

Peggy Jean: Well … I kind of feel like Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote the Old Testament of Knitting (I was able to borrow some of her books once, so I’ve read a couple of them and find that her ‘voice’ is much like that of the great grandmother who taught me my first stitches), Barbara G. Walker wrote the New Testament of Knitting (I own all 4 volumes of her Treasury and they are well worn), and Nicky Epstein wrote the Apocrypha of Knitting (I own and love her entire Edge series).  I can’t really choose a favorite from amongst those.  They are all very important to me.  The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt is the other really important book in my personal reference library.

UC: Tell me about a designer you discovered through participation in the Indie Design Gift-A-Long. What attracted you that designer’s work?

Peggy Jean: Annie Watts.  I am tickled by her whimsy.  I will be knitting her Fightin’ Words (fingerless mitts) in the Indie Design Gift-a-Long Hand & Arm Things KAL for my darling daughter.

Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Peggy Jean!

To find more designers participating in the Indie Design Gift-a-Long, visit this forum thread on Ravelry.

NaBloPoMo

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through November, 2014.

Interview with (mostly) knitting designer, Stefanie Bold

Interview with (mostly) knitting designer, Stefanie Bold, on Underground Crafter

This post contains affiliate links.

Today, I’m really excited to share an interview with Stefanie Bold, a German crochet and knitting designer.  Like me, Stefanie is participating in the 2014 Indie Design Gift-a-Long, a virtual extravaganza running through December 31st here on Ravelry. In addition to her self-published works, her designs have appeared in knit.wear and Knitty.

Stefanie can be found online on Ravelry (as stebo79 and on her designer page) and on her German-language blog, Steffis Hobbyatelier.

All photos are (c) Stefanie Bold (except where noted) and are used with Stefanie’s permission.  Click on the pictures to link to the pattern page.
Interview with (mostly) knitting designer, Stefanie Bold, on Underground Crafter

Stefanie Bold.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to knit and crochet?

Stefanie: I was about the age of 8 and I asked my mom to show me how she is knitting all these sweaters for me. She also taught me how to crochet. I was proud to know these techniques already as we had handicraft lessons in elementary school!

Interview with (mostly) knitting designer, Stefanie Bold, on Underground Crafter

Kylie Hat, a free Tunisian crochet pattern by Stefanie Bold.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Stefanie: Quite soon in my knitting career I adapted patterns to my own needs and finally came up with my own ideas. One day I decided that others might be interested in knitting my “designs” and started to write them up. A friend of mine encouraged me to send one of my patterns to Knitty and it was accepted! But without Ravelry, I wouldn’t be self-publishing that many patterns. It is a great platform for crafty people!

Interview with (mostly) knitting designer, Stefanie Bold, on Underground Crafter

Berlin, a knit sock pattern by Stefanie Bold. Image (c) Tangled online magazine.

UC: Many of your patterns are for socks. What do you enjoy about these types of projects?

Stefanie: A sock WIP (work in progress) is very portable and can accompany me while running around. Also, there are endless possibilities how to add patterns and play with gusset decreases.

Interview with (mostly) knitting designer, Stefanie Bold, on Underground Crafter

Allegra, a free Tunisian crochet pattern by Stefanie Bold.

UC: Most of your patterns are self-published. What do you enjoy about self-publishing?

Stefanie: I can make my own timeline and don’t get stressed when life interferes.

UC: What’s your favorite knitting book in your collection?

Stefanie: The one I mostly use is the one with lots of knitting patterns. Thumbing through it can be very inspiring!

Interview with (mostly) knitting designer, Stefanie Bold, on Underground Crafter

Xandra, a knit shawl pattern by Stefanie Bold.

UC: Tell me about a designer you discovered through participation in the Indie Design Gift-A-Long. What attracted you that designer’s work?

Stefanie: That’s a hard one as there are so many great designers… I’ll pick two: Sue Lazenby designs shawls that feature textured patterns, a contrast to the usual lace shawls. Cynthia Levy designs socks with heavy cabling, something that I also like to design, knit, and wear.

Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Stefanie!

To find more designers participating in the Indie Design Gift-a-Long, visit this forum thread on Ravelry.

NaBloPoMo

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through November, 2014.

Interview with Pam Hoffman from Indian Lake Artisans

I’m really excited to share an interview today with Pam Hoffman from Indian Lake Artisans. I had the pleasure of meeting Pam at Vogue Knitting Live in 2013, and then again in 2014. Pam and her husband, Mark, make these amazing hexagonal knitting needles (and other knitting and crochet accessories) using locally sourced materials. If you are at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend (also known as “Rhinebeck”), please check out their booth!

Pam and Mark also generously sponsored my 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-a-Long by providing a set of hexagonal knitting needles to the winner of our August giveaway. (If you want to join in on the MKAL, you can buy the pattern here on Ravelry and chat in the Underground Crafter group here. There are more fun prizes to come in October, November, and December!)

You can find Indian Lake Artisans online on their website, Facebook page, and Twitter. Product photos are copyright Indian Lake Artisans and used with permission.

This post contains affiliate links.

Interview with Pam from Indian Lake Artisans on Underground Crafter blog

Pam at Vogue Knitting Live in 2013. I loved the booth as soon as I saw it!

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you start Indian Lake Artisans?

Pam: We live in a little log cabin, on a little island, on a little lake, in southeastern Michigan, north of Detroit named Indian Lake. Mark and I have always loved the outdoors and find much inspiration in our life from nature. We love arts and crafts so when we began making knitting needles we wanted a name that would grow with the company and encompass multiple art forms and artisans, thus Indian Lake Artisans was born. We launched the company in May 2010 with 9 products and we now make over 200 items. We make single point, double point and circular knitting needles. We have shawl pins, cable needles, stitch markers and our very own unique hexagonal wooden yarn bowls.

Interview with Pam from Indian Lake Artisans on Underground Crafter blog

Straight hexagonal knitting needles by Indian Lake Artisans.

UC: What inspired you to create your signature line of hexagonal knitting needles?

Pam: I was shopping for a Christmas present at my local yarn shop and I wanted to buy some knitting needles, yarn and a book for my daughter who was in her mid twenties and a beginning knitter.

The expert knitter at the shop thought square needles would be a good idea for her. She took a set down and began casting on to show me how easy it is to knit with the square needles. She was all thumbs and really struggling, and she was the expert. It sure didn’t look easy to me!

I declined on the square needles and bought a traditional pair instead but I couldn’t stop thinking about different shapes that might be beneficial for knitters. Back in my Jeep and driving to pick up my son, I came to a stop sign. Octagonal? No, too many flat sides. I had a Dixon Ticonderoga pencil on my dash board and that triggered my brain. Hexagonal! Easy to hold, round in nature. Returned home, grabbed my pencils and yarn, and began knitting. This felt really great.

The hexagonal shape is easy to hold. You do not have to grip the needles tightly to control them. The hexagonal shape is round in nature and creates beautiful stitches with uniform tension, and your stitch gauge stays true to size. If you think about the hexagonal shape, the yarn stretches from point to point around the hexagon. The flat side is slightly under the yarn and this creates a tiny gap or ease in the yarn. This makes it very easy for you to slide your knitting needle under your stitch, making it very easy to knit and purl. You never have to force anything.

The minute you have to force your knitting needles, you need to grip them tighter and that action tenses everything…hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, back and brain. When you are holding our needles in one hand, they rest comfortably flat side to flat side. You don’t have to try to control two round objects that want to spin against each other. The hexagonal shape makes knitting multiple stitches together, or knitting into the front and back of a stitch, so much easier because you have just a little extra wiggle room to work your stitches. The needles are recyclable and non toxic. Allergy sufferers really love our needles as they are nickel free. We hear from our customers all of the time how our needles have changed their lives. They are able to knit again and their hands no longer ache. Our needles are very ergonomic.

Indian Lake Artisans single point knitting needles are available in US size 6 through size 15. Each single point size has a decorative copper topper unique to that particular size. I designed all of the tops and they are made with a very lightweight and recyclable plastic that is copper plated. The toppers from small to large are as follows; feather, owl, fish, rowboat, arrowhead, lantern, acorn, turtle, and cabin.

The double points are available in size 2 through size 15. The DPN’s are wonderful as they provide control for your hands and your stitches. No need to worry about your stitches dancing off the needles while resting on the table.

The circular needles are available in size 3 through 15. We make standard lengths 16″, 24″, 32″ and 40″. We are also able to make custom lengths. We have made 12″ and 60″ length circulars for customers and everything in between. We love customizing needles for a particular project need. The circular needles swivel on the connector and this relieves twisting of the cord as the needles move with you.

Hexagonal knitting needles make happy knitting!

Interview with Pam from Indian Lake Artisans on Underground Crafter blog

Hexagonal circular knitting needles by Indian Lake Artisans.

UC: Tell us more about your commitment to using locally sourced materials.

Pam: On receiving the first patent, we had to figure out how to make the needles. What an adventure it has been! Michigan had not rebounded from the recession of the early 2000s and was devastated by the financial crash of 2008. I wanted to utilize every Michigan company I could to produce the needles. If we couldn’t find a Michigan source, it would have to be a USA company. I was determined to avoid overseas, outsourced, cheap labor and components.

We are extremely proud to say that we have succeeded in our “Michigan made” mission. We use more than ten Michigan companies that help employ roughly 500 people to produce our needles. The individual decorative tops for the single points are made in Grandville, MI along with the tooling for these tops. They are copper plated in Warren, MI. The wood we use is from sustainable forests in the Great Lakes and a mill in Highland prepares the native wood, walnut, cherry, and maple, for Mark. The two custom made machines Mark uses to cut the needles were made in Ann Arbor and Lapeer. The cutting blades for the machines are made in Flint. The US stainless steel connector parts for the circular needles are made in Saint Clair. The packaging is made in Rochester and is die cut in Dexter. The brands to mark the needle sizes and our logo for the beautiful yarn bowls were made in Madison Heights. The 100% natural beeswax we use to finish the needles comes from Benzonia. We use local patent attorneys, lawyers and accountants.

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And there is us, me and Mark, our labor force of two. Yes, indeed, the needles are handcrafted by us, every single one, hand cut, hand sanded, and hand polished. The needles are beautiful! We both try very, very hard to make the best quality knitting needle available in the marketplace today and we think we have succeeded in this mission. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing you are knitting with a locally sourced, locally handcrafted product, helping to provide economic support to your local community.

Interview with Pam from Indian Lake Artisans on Underground Crafter blog

Shawl pins by Indian Lake Artisans.

UC: You travel to a lot of fiber festivals to showcase the Indian Lake Artisans products. (In fact, I met you at Vogue Knitting Live in 2013.) What are some of your favorite memories from the fiber festivals you’ve visited?

Pam: We have been participating at fiber festivals for roughly two years and we absolutely love it. Mark and I love adventure and travel and we enjoy meeting people everywhere we go. Having a booth at a fiber show allows us to meet our fellow fiber enthusiasts and tell them all about our wonderful knitting needles. We always have a few different sets with some yarn for knitters to test drive the knitting needles and experience the hexagonal shape. We just have the best time and it is always fun to see a beautifully finished project the following year from a satisfied customer.

We have exhibited at  the Vogue Knitting LIVE events, STITCHES, and many local fiber festivals. We have a lot of fun at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY and will be there again this October. We are busy right now preparing for the Michigan Fiber Festival held in Allegan, MI (UC comment: This event was held on August 15 – 17, 2014). We hope to exhibit at more festivals in the future and see more of our great country. We really like driving to our shows to help keep the travel costs down. Plus driving allows us to take more products along too. We met Marie at VKLive in New York last year.

Interview with Pam from Indian Lake Artisans on Underground Crafter blog

Hexagonal yarn bowls by Indian Lake Artisans.

UC: If people aren’t able to meet you at a local fiber festival, where else can they buy your needles?

Pam: We of course sell the needles and accessories at the fiber festivals we attend. Our complete product line is available on our Indian Lake Artisans website marketplace. We are lucky to have about 75 retailers across the country that carry our needles and that list of retailers is on our website. We are constantly surprised by the number of people who have never heard about our fantastic knitting needles and we are always looking for opportunities to reach more people. So please spread the word to your favorite local shop owners and friends.

Interview with Pam from Indian Lake Artisans on Underground Crafter blog

Stitch markers by Indian Lake Artisans.

UC: Do you and Mark knit?

Pam: I learned to knit as a teenager and  almost finished a sweater but really took up knitting with interest in 2003. Mark just learned to knit last year and was only using size 10 needles to make his first scarves and hats that sent him on his knitting adventure. He challenged himself recently though, and picked up some size 6 double points to knit a pair of fingerless gloves with flaps. The fingerless gloves are a very complicated pattern for a new knitter and pose additional challenges with a first attempt using double points. You can see photos of Mark’s gloves in progress on the Indian Lake Artisans Facebook page. I think you will agree that Mark is doing a great job!! I firmly believe the hexagonal shape facilitates learning to knit and purl, and control of the knitting needles. Mark’s very first scarf was even and straight. For a first project I attribute his success to our hexagonal needles as his stitches were well formed and very nice. Successful beginnings lead to a life long hobby.

UC: What’s next for Indian Lake Artisans?

Pam: We are in the process of developing interchangeable circular needles and designer needle cases. We plan to launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding for the project. This is a very exciting undertaking for Mark and me. We will be sure to announce the Kickstarter on Facebook and Twitter so friends can help us reach our goal.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Pam! We look forward to seeing those interchangeables on the market, so let us know when the Kickstarter launches!