Description



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.

April 30, 2011

TODAY'S GUEST: LINDA PERMANN

Linda Permann is a crochet designer, an author, and a teacher. Her vibrant, exciting, and modern style is very obvious and contagious. She is known and respected in the "crochet world" for her interesting take on crochet elements, play with color, and meticulous detailing. Her designs are published by most major crochet publications such as Interweave Crochet, Crochet Today and others. For more information about Linda's designs and her other interests visit her blog LindaMade .
On a personal note, this photo of Linda is saying it all. She is very friendly, upbeat and interesting as a person. When you talk to her, you know that she has so many ideas and interests that this is just a beginning of her professional life as a designer. I can't wait to see what she does next. I participated in the blog tour for her new book Little Crochet , so you can see the book review on At First Glance.


I AM DOING A GIVEAWAY FOR THIS BOOK. Thank you to Linda Permann and The Crown Publishing Group for providing a copy of the book for it. Read here about the terms how to win it.

1. When did you start knitting (crocheting) and who taught you?
My very first experience with crochet was as a little girl, when my grandma taught me to make chains. I remember making lots of chains but never going any further with it. I then taught myself to crochet around 2001. I was living in NYC and just amazed at the amount of free time I had since I was done with school, and I was also cold, so I wanted to find a hobby that would solve both of those problems. I went to the Knit Out but decided I would learn to crochet, I guess because I figured I had a head start with the chains!

2. When did you begin publishing your designs?
The first design I had published was in Debbie Stoller's Stitch and Bitch Crochet, which came out in 2006. Shortly after submitting that design, I was hired on at Soho Publishing, and started doing designs here and there for Knit 1, Crochet Today and Adorn magazines. I had to learn to write patterns so that they could use my designs--that was a challenge!

3. What is your most favorite knitting (crocheting) technique?
I really like to play with post stitches and textures, which you can see in some of my designs, like Petal Pouf, Artichoke Hat, and Blazing Cowl
















I wish more publishers went for more complicated designs and crochet diagrams (as they are kind of essential to these types of designs), but, I really enjoy employing them when I can!

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?
It really depends, but most of the time it is all about the yarn! It's "what can I do with this yarn that would show it off, create a fun texture, and be fun to make?". If I have (or am given) a basic idea--i.e. design a hat--that makes it much easier for me but generally I swatch and play and let the stitch pattern tell me what it wants to be. I design very organically--I don't do a lot of sketching or planning (although I am trying to be better at that), I have to see what happens when I actually make the stitches. Color is very inspirational to me as well, I love to play with color combinations when I can. People tell me that they have a hard time picking colors that go together--I have the reverse problem, I can never pick just one color! That's what I like about crochet, it is pretty easy to change colors every row, or even every stitch, if you want to.
















5. What does your studio look like?

My studio is a bedroom in my house that contains a couch, bookshelves, sewing table, desk and a whole lot of yarn. I end up doing a lot of the actual crocheting in the living room in the evenings, though, but the pattern writing happens in the studio. It's very colorful and bright, I try to keep the space cheery and inspiring.

A lot of times it becomes a gigantic mess (for instance the couch is covered in yarn right now), so thank goodness for cropping and selective photography. I wouldn't want to spoil anyone's glamorous ideas.

6. What is your most favorite place to knit (crochet)?
I keep it simple and knit and crochet in my living room. My WIPs (work in progress projects - FG) are all there, and my boyfriend doesn't complain about all of the messy tangles I leave hanging around. I learned in art school that it's very important for me to be able to leave my projects out if I actually want to finish them. I love how immediate getting started can be with yarn crafts, it's so easy to do it anywhere.

7. Do you spin your own yarn?
I've only spun one skein on a drop spindle, which was a very enjoyable experience. I love that it really involved my whole body, playing the spindle like an instrument. That felt completely different than sitting and crocheting. I could see myself becoming very interested in spinning, so I have to restrain myself! When I lived in Montana I met some ladies who did the whole bit--raised their own sheep and used the wool to spin yarn; grew their own plants to dye it, and made their garments from start to finish. I admire that.

8. Do you belong to a knitting group?
I don't belong to a formal stitching group but I do have an tiny occasional craft night with two friends, which is lovely. I work at a yarn store and sometimes when the planets are aligned, all of my past students will come to sit and crochet on the same day that I work, and the store will be quiet so we can actually chat-- I love that.

9. Are you in touch with other designers and how do you communicate with the knitters who knit your designs?
I am in touch with other designers through twitter (follow me @lindamade) and TNNA-- it has really made a big difference for me to actually meet and be in touch with my peers, it makes it so much nicer to have someone that I can ask questions or complain with.

At Soho Publishing booth with Doreen

With Robyn Chachula

I am in touch with the crocheters who make my designs through my teaching at the yarn store, and also on Ravelry.com (again, my username is lindamade). I strive to help anyone who has a problem with my patterns, and in the store I've walked people through so many different techniques and patterns that it's really a skill-building experience for me, too. So many of my students have told me that they are so happy to finally have someone to ask their questions. I think with knitting, there is a lot of help available in shops because most shop owners knit. But it's just been recently that the higher-end yarn industry has started paying attention to crocheters. There are so many of us! And all it takes is providing the same support that knitters get to woo those who hook. I love working at the shop and seeing all of the lovely creations (both knit and crochet) that people make with yarn.


10. Where can we see your published designs?
You can see my designs in my two books, Crochet Adorned: Reinvent Your Wardrobe with Crocheted Accents, Embellishments and Trims


and Little Crochet: Modern Designs for Babies and Toddlers

I also publish regularly in Crochet Today, Interweave Crochet and Inside Crochet, among others.The best place to find them all is on my Ravelry designer page.

11. Do you teach classes? If yes, where do you teach?
Yes- I teach in my LYS, Yarnivore every Saturday. I teach beginning classes and a lot of private lessons. It really keeps me in touch with what is hard for crocheters, which I try to keep in mind when I design. I like small class sizes and one-on-one teaching, it gives me time to get to know my students, work at their pace, and help them reach their crochet goals. One thing I really love about teaching crochet is that everyone comes in for a different reason, and a lot of times there is a life event going on (a new baby, a wedding, an illness) that inspires the person to crochet. I feel honored to be a part of helping people make gifts for these occasions.


12. What would you like to tell knitters who are timid and do not believe they are skillful enough to knit (crochet) some of your designs?
If you can read and follow directions, you can do almost anything! A lot of the things in my first book, Crochet Adorned, were actually designed with beginners in mind. Make a motif, an applique, a bowl, for your first project--it doesn't have to be a blanket that goes on and on forever. Depending on where the pattern is going, I strive to keep things simple so that crocheters can make classic item they can wear for a long time. To those knitters who are hesitant to add a new skill set to their repertoire, I say, give it a shot! It's so handy to know both crafts as there are definite strengths to each one. I love to knit too!

To those who are afraid to try more advanced designs-- you will never know if you can make them until you try! And you will never gain the skills unless you have the need to use them, so you might as well go out on a limb and see what happens. It's yarn, it's supposed to be fun, and you can always unravel it!

13. What are your plans in the near future?
Right now, just to keep on trucking! I'd love to keep creating beautiful crochet books, there are so many things I want to make! Of all of the ways I publish, I think writing books might be my favorite, because then I really have the freedom to choose my yarn, my design, my tech editor, etc. I also just want to keep pushing crochet to the limelight, I get a thrill from showing crocheters who wander into our shop just what they can do with their hooks--many of them have no idea that crochet has just as much potential for fancy footwork. I am happy to see so many modern crochet designs being published.

14. Can you share with us some of your latest designs?
My newest book, Little Crochet: Modern Designs for Babies and Toddlers (Potter Craft, 2011) is full of designs that are both classic and fun to make, with a colorful crafty twist. I like to throw layers of crafts in when I can, like simple embroidery or sewing techniques. I also recently designed a few of my first adult-size garments, which I am really excited about! One is a lacy motif-based cardigan that I think I will have to make for myself, and another is a summer tank. Both are coming soon to a crochet mag near you.



























15. Would you like to add anything about yourself?

People always want to know how I got to where I am, so I'll give you the short version. I got my BA in Studio Art at UT Austin, and have always loved making things and playing with color. After college, I moved to NYC and worked as a temp, and a communications job at a drug company led me to a communications position at Newsweek magazine, which was good enough street cred for Soho Publishing to hire me. I didn't even know that jobs like "Craft and Decorating Editor" existed but when friends sent me the job posting two months in a row, I knew that it was meant for me. I really enjoyed my time working on first Joann magazine and then Adorn, but when I was ready to move on from NYC I knew I needed to keep a way to work in my field. My friend suggested I write a book and I just jumped in feet first--so far, so good! It's not always easy, but it is gratifying work, and I can do it from anywhere!
With my family

FG: Linda, what a pleasure to visit with you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and work with us. Good luck with your new book and many other venues. See you at TNNA.

April 07, 2011

TODAY'S GUEST: SIMONA MERCHANT-DEST

There are so many things I love and admire about Simona's designs that I do not know where to begin. Her style is always feminine, flattering, modern, interesting, and, what is very important, wearable. She puts a lot of thought in the construction of a garment incorporating shaping in the overall look. I am sure that many of you at some point opened the issue of Interweave Knits or Vogue Knitting and stopped at the page with her design to admire it a little longer. I always do. You can't miss it. Simona's designs vary in stitch patterns, yarn weights, constructions, but every one of them are inviting you to make them. She designs for people and knows how to dress them. I think it is a very valuable characteristic of a designer and it is not that easy to achieve. Her European upbringing and her life in the USA helped her to develop a unique vision for her designs. Simona is a knitwear and a crochet designer. I do not think there is anything she cannot do. You can see her designs in many books, magazines, collections by yarn companies, and her blog Stylish Knits.














There is no doubt that we will see many more of Simona's designs over the years to come. I am inviting you to read her answers below and admire her work.


1. When did you start knitting (crocheting) and who taught you?

I started knitting when I was about 6 or 7 years old. My Grandmother taught me. She was an avid knitter who knitted and “designed” out of necessity for the whole family; she was very creative and loved the craft. My sister and I “had to” knit while she was knitting her projects and that’s how we improved our knitting at a very young age. Growing up in the communist Czech Republic, we did not have access to many patterns, so I had started designing without even realizing it when I was a child: making sweaters for my dolls, and recreating sweaters and tops I saw in fashion magazines.
2. When did you begin publishing your designs?
I had knitted on and off since I was a child and took a long brake from my late teens until I’d had my first child. Having a girl, I wanted to dress her fashionably. But I became a stay-at-home mom and was on a budget, so I started to design outfits and hats for her and that’s when knitting and crocheting became my escape and passion. In 2005 I had sent my first proposals to a publisher and got 2 out of 4 accepted! And I have not stopped since.

3. What is your most favorite knitting (crocheting) technique?
My favorite knitting technique is combination of St st and rev St st. – it’s simple but it offers endless possibilities! But I like all textures created by knitting like lace and cables. My favorite is to knit and crochet in seamless constructions.














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?

I am greatly inspired by what’s going on in fashion, by art, home magazines, shoes, rugs, and places. Since I love fashion, I try to create something that people will love to make and wear. What gets my creativity going is when a publisher/yarn company offers some topics and/ or techniques they are looking for. This narrows it down for me, and I can explore the technique(s) into a wearable design. I have so many things I’d like to design, so that’s really helpful since there’s just not enough time for all my ideas!

I mostly like clean and simple designs where the stitch pattern plays “the main role” forming the silhouette of the garment.

5. What does your studio look like?
For longest time, my “studio” was my living room table and floor under the coffee table. When my yarn and reference books stash grew, I stored it in boxes on the floor in a messy home office. I was constantly looking for something! Finally, last year, I had bought some IKEA furniture (love IKEA!) and got organized. I have a 25-cube Expedite organizer where I store my books, most of the yarn (yes, my stash is still growing!) and office files. I have a large desk where I can spread all my stitch dictionaries, fashion magazines, and other things that inspire me! I also have TV and an extra computer, so my kids can do homework there and hang out with me while I work. Now I love to spending time in my office/studio.
6. What is your most favorite place to knit (crochet)?
I love to knit on the sofa in the living room watching the news and movies. That’s my favorite time of my job!

7. Do you spin your own yarn?
I do not spin my own yarn, but I would love to learn how to do it. Last year I took a class on dyeing yarn and loved it. Though, spinning sounds like another time-consuming hobby to me that I will need to put on hold for the time being – there’s just not enough time in a day. I know I could get hooked.

8. Do you belong to a knitting group?
I do not belong to a knitting group. Unfortunately, I do not have the time. But I constantly knit or crochet everywhere I go.

9. Are you in touch with other designers and how do you communicate with the knitters who knit your designs?
I am in touch with other designers, definitely. I love seeing what others are doing and love to connect with them. Knitwear and crochet designing is a very solitary job. For the first 3 years I only communicated with publishers via e-mails, people I have never met. Couple years ago I went to visit TNNA and there I finally met with many designers face to face and formed some nice friendships and business relationships. It helps to have friends among designers; they are great and fun people!
In this photo left to right: Ellen Gormley, Linda Permann, Kristin Omdahl, Marly Bird, and Simona Merchant-Dest. All of them are crochet designers. TNNA 2010 Ohio, Bijou Basin Ranch booth.

Faina Goberstein, Stefanie Japel, Simona Merchant-Dest at TNNA in Long Beach. 2010

10. Where can we see your published designs?
You can see my designs in most national knit and crochet magazines and books. I also design for yarn companies designer’s lines and booklets.














Magazines
: Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, Vogue Knitting, Knit Simple, Knit.1, Knitter’s magazine, Knit ‘N Style

















Books:
Mission Falls Silhouette (2010), Circular Knitting Redefined (2010), Mission Falls Weekend! (2010), Mission Falls Duets (2009), Mission Falls Accents (2009), Mission Falls Dreamer (2008), Vogue Knitting on the Go: Felted Crochet (2008), Vogue Knitting on the Go: Cables—Mittens, Hats & Scarves (2008), Stitch Style: Socks (2007), Vogue Knitting on the Go: Crochet Baby Blankets (2007).















Yarn companies:
Mission Falls, Bijou Basin Ranch, Classic Elite Yarns, Imperial Yarns, Cascade Yarns, and Skacel Collection.

11. Do you teach classes? If yes, where do you teach?
I do not teach classes as of right now. I am planning on creating on-line classes for busy people so they can learn and improve their knitting and crochet techniques in the comfort of their home.

12. What would you like to tell knitters who are timid and do not believe they are skilful enough to knit some of your designs?
You can learn any technique you are unfamiliar with in your LYS. But you can always try by yourself, and if it does not work out the first time, you can unravel and try again and again until you get it right. You can experiment, and you will be surprised how you will reveal your own potential in what you can do. Just keep trying.

13. What are your plans in the near future?
I am working on launching my own website. The website is still work-in-progress, since it is quite tedious work and quite time consuming. I am striving to complete it soon, though. As of designs, I am working on book proposals, work with yarn companies, submitting to magazines, and expanding my own pattern line.
























14. Can you share with us some of your latest designs?

My latest designs were featured in Vogue Knitting Holiday 2010 issue, the Neck Bow Cardigan and Vine Lace Scarf. I have 6 designs in Mission Falls Silhoutte book released in Fall 2010.

I have several crochet projects coming out in Spring: one is in the spring issue of Interweave Crochet Hialeah Bag
















15. Would you like to add anything about yourself?

I love to read; though, I do not have as much time as I’d like; so I only read books recommended by friends as must-reads.
I am a fitness junkie – I go to the gym 4 to 5 times a week to break a sweat – I am a runner and lift weights. I am interested in healthy lifestyle.
I am passionate about preserving my Czech culture and language for my kids here in the USA. My Czech friends and I had started a Czech and Slovak school in our area for the kids, and it’s been going strong.
I love singing, music and dancing. I’d grown up a folklore dancer and traveled through Europe with our dancing group. Now I teach children dancing and singing in our Czech and Slovak school’s folklore group.
Simona with her daughters and grandmother.

FG: Simona, thank you very much. It was very interesting. I know that I cannot possibly put all the photos of your wonderful designs here, so I think our readers will be looking at your Ravelry page for more. Good luck with your plans and we will be watching for your new publications.