Modeled after the famous TV program called Inside the Actor's Studio, The Designer's Studio is the place where you will meet a well-known designer and read about her/his designing style, philosophy, most favorite techniques, publications, and many other interesting details of the creative world of knitwear designers. Our guests will be answering a set of 15 questions (the same for every guest) and you will have the opportunity to leave the comment or your question after the interview is posted. We will try to keep up with your questions. This is a very exciting project and I hope you will visit here often and will not miss any of the interviews posted here.

Faina Goberstein.

October 25, 2010


It is my pleasure to welcome Angela Hahn to The Designer's Studio. I am positive that you know and love her feminine and beautiful designs. She plays with stitch patterns in a way that her designs look effortless, light, and very appealing. I always enjoy looking at her creations and I know I am not alone. Angela focuses on style and comfort so any knitter can see herself making and what is more important - wearing the garment she makes when she follows a pattern by this designer. You just cannot miss Angela's designs. One of the reasons for that is simple: some of her designs are right on the cover of Interweave Knits and of Vogue Knitting.

One of them is on the latest (Fall 2010) issue of Interweave Knits.

Here is the older issue of Interweave Knits where Angela has 2 designs!

And, of course, the Vogue cover:

Now tell me, did you see her designs? I am sure you did.
I have no doubts that we will see so many more from this talented designer and enjoy wearing her creations. Here is what she told us.

1.When did you start knitting (crocheting) and who taught you?
This is a photo of myself as a tot (that's my little bro in the high chair), wearing a hand-knit outfit probably made by my grandmother. It's very 60s!
I started knitting when I was a child, I don't remember exactly what age. My mother taught me. I have never learned how to crochet anything more complicated than a simple chain. One of the first things I remember knitting was a vest in green Lopi wool, for my sister; I stayed up late on Christmas Eve one year in high school, trying to finish it in time for Christmas. Just thinking about that vest makes me itch-- I'm not quite a "No Sheep For You" person, but my preferred wool is extra fine merino, ideally worn with an under layer!
I started to create designs for myself when I was in college-- I played varsity soccer for three years (occasionally midfield, but mostly bench warmer), and there was a group of us that would knit on the long bus rides to away games. At least when we traveled with the women's field hockey team; when we shared the bus with the men's soccer team, I preferred to chat with the boys!

2. When did you begin publishing your designs?
I got my online start in 2006. I self-published several patterns, both free and for sale, on my blog. In addition, the (now-defunct) online magazine "Magknits" published three of my designs in 2006 (each one made the "cover" of its respective issue), and Knitty published one of my designs in the Fall 2006 issue. Then in 2007 I broke into print media, with a pattern in the summer issue of Interweave Knits.

3. What is your most favorite knitting (crocheting) technique?

Hmm. So many choices...I am very intrigued by short rows right now. They can be so much more than a simple shaping device. I also find reversible stitch patterns fascinating.

4. When you are thinking about some new design, what inspires you the most? Is it
different every time? Could you give us some examples on inspiration for some of your designs?
Often I start by looking for an unusual stitch pattern. I enjoy finding ways to use the qualities of that stitch pattern in the design: for the Selva skirt (published in Interweave Knits Winter 2007), I thought the dense texture of the stitch pattern would make a perfect fabric for a skirt (skip the Spanx!), and for the Lace Cable Rib Pullover (pattern self-published), I let the rib pattern and the drape of the yarn do the shaping, while the eyelets in the stitch pattern kept the fabric lighter in appearance than the usual ribbing. I especially enjoy working decreases and increases into pattern stitches, and incorporating those into garment shaping, for example in the Chinese Lace Pullover, Dayflower Lace Camisole (both self-published) and Plaited Tam (Twist Collective); or transitioning lace or texture stitches into ribs, as in the Chinese Lace Pullover and the Primrose Path pullover (Twist Collective).

5. What does your studio look like?
Right now we are remodeling our house, so I'm using a temporary studio, with some of my yarn and reference books in storage, more of it crammed into a crawl space, and the active stuff in boxes on the floor! But when our house is finished, I'll have my own office, with plenty of file and shelf space, built in cubbies for yarn, a drafting table, a dressmakers mannequin, and a piano (well, we had to put it somewhere).

6. What is your most favorite place to knit (crochet)?
By nature I am impatient, so I love to bring my knitting to waiting rooms, on trains, to Little League games, that sort of thing-- it makes it much easier for me to be patient if I feel I'm doing something productive. (And I always stop knitting when my kid is up to bat.)

7. Do you spin your own yarn?
No. Nor do I plan to start. Nor do I dye.

8. Do you belong to a knitting group?
No. Unless Ravelry counts.

9. Are you in touch with other designers and how do you communicate with the knitters
who knit your designs?
I've contacted a number of other designers via email, and I've become friends with Connie Chang Chinchio, who introduced me to several designers on a trip to Northampton last fall: Ysolda Teague, Melissa LaBarre, and Gudrun Johnston. Now that I'm not living in Italy any more (I moved there with my family in fall 2006, and returned to the US a year ago), I hope to make it to more trade shows and festivals, and meet more knitters and designers in person. I communicate with knitters who knit my designs via email and on Ravelry.

10. Where can we see your published designs?
My self-published designs can be found on my website Knititude, (where there is also a list of just about all of my designs published elsewhere, including those in Interweave Knits, Vogue Knitting, and several books). I also have several patterns on Twist Collective, and a pattern in the book Brave New Knits.

11. Do you teach classes? If yes, where do you teach?
I tried to teach my son's first grade class how to knit. In 30 minutes. Not long enough. I learned to knit so long ago that I had forgotten how difficult knitting is when you are just starting! Other than that, I have not done any teaching, although I would be open to trying it.

12. What would you like to tell knitters who are timid and do not believe they are skillful
enough to knit some of your designs?
After my one teaching attempt, I thought a lot about what is difficult about knitting, and I concluded that mastering the basic knit and purl stitches are the hardest part; compared to that, a k2tog or a YO is easy! Okay-- maybe keeping your place in a complicated lace pattern, or doing a giant cable crossing, or even finessing a three-needle bind off-- those can still be tricky-- but it's all a matter of your skills progressing with practice, right? My personal challenge is learning to knit with one color in each hand (but I'll have to master the art of Continental knitting first, with yarn in the left hand-- I'm a thrower, with yarn held strictly in the right hand). Knitters can always feel free to email with questions about my patterns, but the best way to learn a particular knitting skill is to find a knitter who can show you in person (try your knitting group or LYS!).

13. What are your plans in the near future?
VERY unusual for a knitwear designer-- book proposal. I'm kidding about the "very unusual" part.

14. Can you share with us some of your latest designs?
Well, right now my latest design is easily spotted, on the cover of the Interweave Knits Fall 2010 issue! Very exciting (for me anyway). In other news, I've recently started creating original stitch patterns. This is the pattern of a scarf featuring an original reversible lace cable. It also includes directions for a wrap version. I named it "Onda," which is Italian for "wave."

(FG: It is now available on Angela's website.)

15. Would you like to add anything about yourself?

My maternal grandmother knit for most of her life and rarely used a pattern, just figuring out and copying stitch patterns that she liked (although her sizing and shaping were often rather odd). My paternal grandmother, a CPA, pronounced knitting "old-ladyish," and preferred to golf and travel. I like to think I got my affinity for knitting from one, and my math skills (important for a knitwear designer) from the other. What else? I was a veterinarian (small animal) for almost 15 years.

FG: all above photos of the designs have copyright of Angela Hahn unless otherwise noted

1)Inversion Gansey, Interweave Knits Fall 2010 (cover) ( © Interweave Knits) 2) Roped Shell, Interweave Knits Summer 2008 (cover) ( © Interweave Knits)
3) Vine Leaf Beret, Vogue Knitting Fall 2009 (cover) (copyright Soho Publishing)
4) Sherwood child's sweater
5) Lutea Lace - Shoulder Shell, © Interweave Knits
6) Selva skirt, © Interweave Knits
7) Primrose Path pullover, Twist Collective (copyright Jamie Dixon)
8) Leaf Yoke top © Soho Publishing
9) Submission sketch for Leaf Yoke top, Knit.1 Spring/Summer 2009
10) Gudrun Johnston, Ysolda Teague, Connie Chang Chinchio and I, Northampton, MA, Fall 2009
11) Sorelle sweater
12) Aran Wrap, Vogue Knitting Fall 2008 (copyright Soho Publishing)
13) Reversible lace cable scarf Onda
14) Rose of Sharon hat

FG: I am so glad that we did this, Angela. Thank you for sharing with us your work. It is nice to hear that you continue to design, publish, and are working on a book proposal. Good luck with all of this! My readers and I will be looking for your new designs. I hope to see you at TNNA soon.

October 05, 2010


Lily Chin is a well-known name in the knitwear industry. Her career began many years ago in her native New York as she was working for such designers as Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Diane von Furstenberg, and Isaac Mizrahi. Lily's first publication was in 1982. For almost 30 years her designs bring us fashion-forward ideas combined with impeccable finishing techniques. In her column for Knitter's Magazine called "On Design" she examined different aspects of designing and generously shared her take on it. Later Lily began to teach at such venues as Stitches, TNNA, knitting tours and cruises, and knitting and crochet guilds. She is a great and memorable teacher with lots of energy, humor, and little tricks that she gladly shows to her students. Lily says that she is very proud of her teaching ability and she knows that she is a good teacher. If you are planning to take Lily's class, hurry. They fill up quickly. Lily Chin is also an author. Her numerous books are reflecting her teaching and designing expertise on knitting and crochet. Here are some of her newer books.

Did you know that Lily is the reigning champion as fastest crocheter in the world? She received this title in October of 2004 at the World Championship in London. I did not know that and I think it is remarkable. In summary, Lily is a fun and interesting person who works very hard and inspires others with her talent and vision. And now, let's see what she told us herself.

1. When did you start knitting (crocheting) and who taught you?
Mom taught me the basics when I was 8 years old. She cast on 20 stitches for me. I learned to knit but not to purl. When my 20 stitches became 3, I tossed it away in frustration. Desperate to keep me occupied and out of trouble, mom gave me a hook instead. I took to crochet like the proverbial duck to water. I later went back to knitting at age 13, not wanting this thing to get the best of me. I learned to cast on, knit, purl, increase and decrease … all from magazines. I was determined to do it all myself because I thought mom jinxed me :).

2. When did you begin publishing your designs?
When I was in college, my first design was published in Woman’s Day magazine in 1981 or ’82. This was when the magazine used to feature knit and crocheted patterns on a regular basis.

3. What is your most favorite knitting (crocheting) technique?
That’s like asking who’s your favorite child. I don’t necessarily have a favorite, but I prefer to make garments. I do have a least favorite and that’s intarsia.

4. When you are thinking about some new design, what inspires you the most? Is it different every time? Could you give us some examples on inspiration for some of your designs?
Since my husband is an architecture critic, I’m often inspired by that. I’ve done classical Greek columns in ribs and cables. I actually do a lecture on this where I show my inspiration and the results in a slide show format (actually, power point nowadays). I also use a lot of theoretical ideas as inspiration, such as the post-Modern movement of alluding to tradition in a tongue-and-cheek way. I did a classic Scandanavian design with their star motif but modernized it with beads, for instance, or used metallic yarns.

5. What does your studio look like?

I work out of home and it used to be more of a mess than it currently is. I recently renovated the apartment and that meant clearing everything out of the place so I had to organize. I have two knitting machines set up in the bedroom with 4 more under the bed. I live in a small 1-bedroom apartment in New York City!

6. What is your most favorite place to knit (crochet)?
There’s nothing like being curled up on the couch while watching television. My travel schedule is such that I spend more time working on airplanes and hotel rooms, though.

7. Do you spin your own yarn?
No but I know how and have tried it. Time is limited as it is; you have to make choices and to prioritize.

8. Do you belong to a knitting group?
I am a long-time member of the Big Apple Knitting Guild and the New York City Crochet Guild.

9. Are you in touch with other designers and how do you communicate with the knitters who knit your designs?
Yes, we chat at shows a lot. There’s a Yahoo group for Stitches teachers also. I rely on email a lot.

10. Where can we see your published designs?
Most magazines will eventually feature a design of mine from time to time. I’ve been concentrating on my books, however, so you can purchase the books.

11. Do you teach classes? If yes, where do you teach?
I’ve been teaching since 1989. I teach allover, I criss-cross the US and Canada. I’ve also taught on knitting cruises since 2000 and teach all over the world – Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand …..

12. What would you like to tell knitters who are timid and do not believe they are skillful enough to knit some of your designs?
Where else in life can you rip out your mistakes and start over? I mean, I wish I can rip out my ex :). Lots of crafters view ripping as a mistake. It is a learning lesson. They have lost nothing but a bit of time but it’s also time well spend for an education. It’s also about process and not all products. How will you ever know if you don’t try? When I was a teenager, I did lots of projects considered way beyond my skills. You work your way through it, fudge a little, and learn.

13. What are your plans in the near future?
More books, more teaching, more magazine work – the usual suspects :).

14. Can you share with us some of your latest designs?
I’m doing some projects for a crochet magazine that involves circular, 2-color Tunisian crochet. I got this double-ended hook that makes it possible and it’s very addictive. I’ll be writing a design piece about shaping lace.

15. Would you like to add anything about yourself?
I know of no one who comes into our business with the aim of designing knit and crochet designs for a living. You usually come from someplace else. I thought I was going to be a chemist in college. When I changed to liberal arts, what else do you do with a liberal arts education? I’m gleefully fortunate in that I have in my background education in the arts, science and math, business and garment manufacturing that has shaped my career. I have found all these to have been tremendously helpful in my growth.

FG: Lily, it was an honor to have you as a guest. We all see your designs, books and read your articles, but it is very different when you can actually talk to us here. Thank you for being so open and encouraging. You teach many people and make knitters and crocheters want to try new designs and techniques. Thank you from all of us!