Tag Archives: knitting

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.

2014 Crocheter’s Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

It’s that time of year when we all start thinking about gifts for others – and for ourselves. I’ll be sharing a series of gift guides for crocheters, starting with today’s edition: Yarn Club Memberships and CSA Shares.

Yarn club memberships and CSA shares are gifts that keep on giving. For the next month, or season, or year, the recipient will receive a delightful package of yarn in the mail, sometimes even including a pattern. These gifts are also great for knitters. (If you’re looking for options for spinners, many of the companies in the gift guide also have a fiber or roving option.)

So what are yarn clubs and yarn CSA anyway?

Yarn clubs are subscription services for yarn lovers. Many yarn clubs operate on a mystery model, where the exact yarn and/or colorway isn’t revealed until the package is received. Some yarn clubs are organized by a single yarn company and include exclusive colorways or first releases of a new yarn; others are coordinated by one company and include yarn from several dyers, spinners, or manufacturers.

CSA is an abbreviation for community supported agriculture. (You can read a brief but interesting history of CSA in the United States here.) Members buy a share of a farm’s fiber or yarn production in advance, which allows the farmer to plan and budget and also gives the share holder the opportunity to get to know more about how the yarn was produced and the animals that contribute to the yarn. CSA yarn is sometimes undyed, in which case it would also make a great gift for a dyer.

I should mention that I haven’t participated in any of these yarn clubs or CSA programs in the past, but they look like a lot fun! I’ve compiled a list of 5 yarn clubs and 5 yarn CSA programs that are still open for 2015.

5 Yarn Clubs Accepting 2015 Subscriptions

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Ladybug Fiber Company: Self-Striping Sock Club (3 Month Subscription)

  • Shipments: 3 – January 2015, February 2015, and March 2015
  • Yarn: 1 of 6 different superwash wool blend sock yarn bases are hand dyed each month
  • Cost: $95
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

stitchjones: Yarnageddon 2015

  • Shipments: 4 – March 2015, June 2015, September 2015, and December 2015
  • Yarn: Each package contains hand dyed yarn (in a colorway inspired by the Beatles) accompanied by an original pattern, PLUS a yarn alternate or fiber selection, PLUS a special themed gift
  • Cost: $210
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Sundara Yarn: The Happiness Yarn Club

  • Shipments: 3 – January 2015, March 2015, and May 2015
  • Yarn: Hand dyed Sundara Yarn, 8 skeins, 2050 yards, DK Angora (angora/wool blend), Worsted Silky Alpaca (alpaca/silk blend), and Sport Silk (100% silk)
  • Cost: $310.50 (6 monthly payments of $51.75)
  • Deadline for sign up/order: Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 5 p.m. PT

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

sweetgeorgia: Sock Yarn Club

  • Shipments: 3 – January 2015, February, 2015, March 2015
  • Yarn: Approximately 4 oz (113 g)/375-425 yards (343-389 m) each month of a unique colorway of sweetgeorgia sock yarn (exclusive for at least 1 year) in wool or wool blend
  • Cost: $105
  • Deadline for sign up/order: Wednesday, December 31, 2014 or when supplies run out

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Yarnbox: Classic Crochet Gift Subscription

  • Shipments: Monthly (3 and 6 month packages available)
  • Yarn: Customizable by weight and color
  • Cost: $39.95/month – $215.70/6 months
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

5 Yarn CSA Offering 2015 Shares

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Feederbrook Farm (Maryland): 2015 CSA Membership

  • Shipments: Ships late August, 2015
  • Yarn: Wool – 6 skeins of natural colored or organically hand dyed, locally milled 2 ply DK yarn (approximately 260 yards) from Bluefaced Leicester sheep
  • Cost: $175
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Foxfire Fiber and Designs at Springdelle Farm (Massachusetts): Sheep Shares CSA

  • Shipments: Spring Share ships in June 2015
  • Yarn: Cormo Flock Sock (90% Cormo wool/10% Bombyx Silk), 220 yards (approx. 2.2 oz) skeins in 3-ply, fingering weight
  • Cost: undyed: 2 skeins/$48; 4 skeins/$90; dyed 2 skeins/$52; 4 skeins/$98
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Grand View Farm (Vermont): 5 CSA Options

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

 

Juniper Moon Farm (Virginia): 2015 Colored Flock CSA

 

  • Shipments: Ships September 2015
  • Yarn: Varies from year to year with an average of 6 skeins of worsted or dk weight yarn in a full share
  • Cost: $125
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Where the Rooster Crows (Montana): Shetland/Romney Wool

  • Shipments: 1, late summer 2015
  • Yarn: A variety of natural colored wool yarn in whites, browns, blacks and gray, typically 12- 16 skeins.
  • Total Cost: $150
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

If you’d like to find more yarn clubs and yarn CSA programs, I have a Pinterest board devote to this theme. Many of these open up at different points during the year and aren’t accepting new subscriptions or shareholders now.

Follow Underground Crafter’s board Yarn Clubs & Fiber CSAs on Pinterest.

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.

5 Tips for Holiday Crafting Success

Right now, many crocheters and knitters are revving up for the holiday crafting season. Unfortunately, this time of year can be filled with late nights, repetitive stress injuries, and disappointment. In the hopes of sparing you these dramas, I’m sharing my 5 tips for holiday crafting success.

5 Tips for Holiday Crafting Success by Underground Crafter

1) Create gifts only for those who are “worthy”

It can be tempting to make handmade gifts for everyone on your holiday gift list. If you love your craft and are skilled, often the fruits of your labor are more valuable than any gift you can afford to buy. But there are two realities you should consider before trying to crochet or knit gifts for everyone on your life.

  1. You are only one person with a finite amount of time.
  2. Not everyone is truly crochet- or knit-worthy.

By knocking the non-worthy off your list, you can manage your holiday crafting time more realistically, and increase the odds that the gift will actually be appreciated. When your gifts are appreciated, neither you nor the recipient is disappointed, so everyone wins!

What are some signs of a knit- or crochet-worthy recipient?

  • S/he has enjoyed and used previous handmade items you’ve gifted, or
  • S/he is also a crafter, and appreciates the skill and labor that goes into a handmade gift, or
  • S/he has complemented your work and seems to grasp that handmade gifts are difficult to produce!

2) Make a list – and check it (at least) twice

I usually start with 3 lists for holiday crafting: the must-makes, the maybe-makes, and the if-I-have-extra-timers.

The must-makes are the gifts at the top of my production schedule. The recipients are the most “worthy,” I have a clear idea of the project I plan to make, and the yarn is already in my stash or readily available. These are the projects I start right away.

The maybe-makes are the next tier of gifts. Perhaps the recipient is not as “worthy,” or I’m not quite sure what to crochet or knit, or I don’t have a suitable yarn, or, the recipient is really looking forward to another (non-handcrafted) gift. These are the projects I may (or may not) start once the must-makes are finished.

The if-I-have-extra-timers are the last tier of gifts. These include projects for people I don’t always exchange gifts with and quick and easy projects that can be used as gift wrap or embellishment. For instance, if I have the time, I may crochet a set of washcloths to go with a luxury bath kit, or coasters to go with a set of gourmet jams.

The lists keep me on track throughout the holiday crafting season, and I frequently make adjustments. I may find a perfect gift for someone while shopping, and decide to take them off the must-makes list, for example. Then, I may move up a project from the maybe-makes list.

And, of course, it helps to be realistic about your lists. Think about how much time is left before the holidays and what else is going on in your life during this time of year before even adding projects or recipients to the lists.

3) Remember the recipient

This tip may seem simple but it can be a difficult one to keep at the forefront of your mind, particularly if you spot a project that you’d love to create. The best handmade gifts are the ones that are enjoyed by the recipients, so taking some time to consider his/her needs, interests, and preferences before picking up the hook or needles can really make the holiday crafting season go much smoother and spare you (and the recipient) some hurt feelings down the line.

The key things to consider are project type, color, fiber, and care instructions. Your cousin who doesn’t wear jewelry will probably not love those crocheted earrings, even if they are lovely. Your friend with a very specific color scheme in her apartment will probably never display that stunning blanket (in a clashing color) that you labored over for weeks. Your uncle that is allergic to wool (or *thinks* he’s allergic to wool) will tuck that wool scarf in the back of the closet (even if it’s Merino!). And, your son who can barely do his own laundry will not be hand washing anything in the near future, so please use machine washable yarns.

4) Take breaks

Especially if your lists are long, it can be tempting to crochet or knit during every spare hour of every day through the holidays. But remember to be kind to your body. Repetitive stress injuries can make it impossible for you to enjoy your favorite craft again, so to avoid them be sure to take frequent breaks from your crafting (at least every half hour). Stretching, especially your neck and hands, can also keep you flexible and comfortable.

5) Add in something fun!

I frequently hear from crafters who dread this time of year. Gift making becomes an albatross around the neck, or a hated obligation. If you feel this way, drop as many projects from your lists as you need to and remember, you don’t owe anyone a handmade gift. Make some fun projects – for yourself, for gifts, or for charity – so you can remember why you love to crochet or knit in the first place.

NaBloPoMo

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

Unexpected treat

I traveled up to Saratoga Springs for a few days for a work-related project. I knew I’d have plenty of down time, so I packed enough yarn for 3 projects. Except, I packed the yarn before leaving in the morning. Early in the morning.

When I opened my suitcase in Saratoga, it turned out that one of the yarns I brought with me was already assigned to another project. In the dark, it looked just like this yarn (even though in the light of day, there is no resemblance between the two).

Luckily, there happened to be a local yarn shop literally around the corner from the hotel. My colleague agreed to make a stop over there before we set up to for the day.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

 

 

Common Thread turned out to be a delightful local yarn shop.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

In addition to the welcoming staff, they have a great yarn selection.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

The shop organizes the yarn by weight, so medium and bulky was in the second room and the lighter weight yarns are closer to the front door.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

They had a great selection of madelinetosh (one of my favorites) and some fun looking kits.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

They even convinced my colleague, who hasn’t knit since she was in college in the 1970s, to buy some yarn and needles for a one-skein cowl (the Quick Slip Cowl by Andra Asars) for her daughter.

The highlight for me, though, was the wall of local yarns.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

There’s something really special about visiting a yarn shop and finding some yarns that you can’t pick up at home. There was a great selection of undyed wool and alpaca from regional farms, as well as some great hand dyed yarn.

I ended up picking up a skein of Stillwater Island Alpacas called Melanie and a skein of FlockSock from Holiday Yarns by Jennifer Vancalcar in Wolverine.

Visit to Common Thread, yarn shop in Saratoga, NY on Underground Crafter

And, a few notions, too. I had been looking at the Knitter’s Pride Symfonie Dreamz cable needles for a while, and I couldn’t just let my colleague knit in the round for the first time in 30+ years without a stitch marker.

This turned out to be a fun diversion. If you’re ever in Saratoga, I suggest you check out Common Thread!

NaBloPoMo

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