Friday, April 29, 2011

Design Ideas

Our parents purchased a set of World Books when I was a girl. They lived in my bedroom and I found them wonderful for just looking at pictures and learning facts. Books remain a default resource for me: stitch dictionaries, pattern drafting books, books on designers and art.

Non-designers are always curious about where ideas come from. Does it come from the yarn, from something I see, or where? It is a bit of a chicken and egg thing. A great idea without the right yarn is just an idea, and a great yarn without the right design is just yarn. So it is a convergence of the right idea and the right yarn, combined with stitch pattern and details that make it all work. Like all things creative, it is probably 10% serendipity and 90% hard work.

The first time someone seriously asked me this question was when I realized I was really a knitwear designer. I was capable of pulling all the elements together to create the right design. I didn't start out designing knits, so when I decided that was what I would do it required a fair amount of education to be able to do it. All of the skills I had learned using paper and fabric to create garments still applied, but with knits you create the fabric and the shape and do the construction, so I had to learn how to create the fabric I wanted, and then how to fashion shape into that fabric, and then how to join shapes together to make my ideas come to life. Then I had to learn how to write a pattern so someone who wasn't sitting in my head could create my idea.

Like most hand knit designers, I started out by knitting and trying out different things and learning as I went along. I took classes, read books, and did a lot of experimenting. But I can't produce enough if I do everything as-I-go, so I had to learn a different way. I do a combination of pattern drafting and knitting swatches to create most patterns. I rely on someone else to knit it and give me feedback as they go so we can change things that aren't working. The internet, of course, makes all of this possible!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Absolute Positive NEED for Designers

So we make yarn. Lots of yarn. Beautiful yarn. Yarn with color, with personallity, with spunk! "Lively" as it has been called. So as much as I love to sit and stare at it, and would love to just drape it as is around my neck, it longs to be made into something. But not just anything. SOMETHING.

That is where Jill and Susan of Y2Knit enter the scene. Their background in art and design, and their technical expertise translate items created first in their imaginations onto paper. BRAVO!

So while this blog is called "A Yarn is Born" it would be just as well to call it: "A Yarn is Born and Adorned with Design"!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Pattern Collection?

This photo has nothing to do with pattern collections. I did have a nice memory of the Basque dance performance put on for us at Mountain Meadow Wool though. My favorite memory was of the boys behind the scenes. They didn't know we could all see them, but there was an elbowing thing going on, which of course kept escalating, but when their turn to dance came, out they would come all innocence and concentration.

So what does a pattern collection entail? In the case of the Powder River Collection, it is designed to have something for all kinds of knitters. There are 5 garments, a pillow cover, a throw, a hat, gloves, scarves and cowls, and the previously mentioned ipad/iphone/itouch cover. Most of the accessories are single skein projects and the rest require appropriate quantities. All pieces are tied together by stitch patterns/stitch pattern variations.

Stay tuned for more. We can't reveal details for a while yet. If you are a shop, sign up now so you get early release info. If you are a knitter, same thing, you'll just get it after we release to shops.

Poll Results

Thanks to all who took the poll posted here (and that I accidentally deleted).

We asked what you thought was the inspiration for the new yarn and pattern collection.  

Mountain range:  most of you chose this
River basin:  a few of you were on target here in selecting this one.  Powder River is a river basin in Wyoming and the name of the yarn and pattern collection. 
Local lore around Crazy Woman:  Ok, you were right not to choose this one!
Fiber content:  too easy and common and no one liked this one.  We don't either.

Pictured here:  Crazy Woman Canyon, near Buffalo, Wyoming.  Awesome, eerie and not a good name for a yarn!  Fabulous colors found here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A River Basin

Probably soft, luscious, lanolin-rich, high micron merino isn't what you think of when you think of Wyoming. You might not think of sheep at all. But in a mineral-rich state, hidden in plain sight is another great resource and it is Mountain merino.

If you've never been to Wyoming you cannot believe how visually beautiful it is (at least where I've been). Living in the west you frequently hear people say, "Yeah, Wyoming. I drove through there and it was the most beautiful place I've ever seen, but it was kind of scary." Most of us aren't used to wide open spaces like they still have there.

The Powder River basin is mostly known for coal and minerals. But you can see from the picture above, it is a place of beauty too. I kept seeing signs for Powder River this and that and I just loved the name. Not being into coal and minerals, I thought of Powder--like blush. We wanted a name that was connected to Wyoming and it seemed perfect.

Powder River

I love this name that Jill chose and the image of the train tracks.  As travel lovers, we have fun looking at maps to choose locations or inspiration for names. This one needed to connect to Wyoming, where the yarn is being made (and where we love to visit--we've learned so much there!).

Powder suggests soft and we'll talk more about the other connections we see when we reveal more about the yarn.  Enough for now to have the name.

Sign up at the right to get preview info and a free pattern.  Tell your friends and yarn shop owners that you want Powder River when it releases on September 10!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Is it Real?

As we've been talking and planning this week we all started to feel like this is kind of real. It is odd to be working on something that you can't talk about and that no one else knows what it is. I am so familiar with this yarn because I knit on it all the time. As I work out designs, I've knit some of it so much that I had to block the kinks out of it to knit it again. In doing that, I came up with a cool technique for doing this. It goes very quickly for me because I have a vacuum table on my ironing board and can suck the steam out in seconds meaning I don't have to wait for the yarn to dry.

So this is what I did: Wrap the yarn around the ironing board, and around the wire tray that sits underneath making a hank-size loop. Once all wrapped I left the yarn around the wire tray to keep some tension on it, then *shot tons of steam into the part on top of the ironing board. Then I hit the vacuum pedal and removed the steam. Rep from *.

This yarn is up to being reknit--still looks great, still performs. Lots of reknitting as Ideas are explored.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sexy electronics

If you don't love Steve Jobs you've got to at least take your hat off to him. He has made us want electronics that we don't really need in a way that can only be described as lust. Sexy electronics.

I don't pretend to be as clever as he is. I think he is a genius--he just figures out the market and our desires so well! So I'm just going to piggy back on his genius.

Look for creative covers for your favorite electronics from Y2Knit and Mountain Meadow Wool. The pattern will be available in the future, so stay tuned.

Our new yarn is very gender neutral, so this will be suitable for everyone!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The World Wide Wool Connection

This week has been super busy here at the wool mill, and as always a learning experience! We started out the week with a visit from friends from Kyrgyzstan. Aizada Imports brought a trunk show to our little berg. Gorgeous stuff and our minds were awhirl with the possibilities. I particularly love to see a strong young woman in business. Especially from one of the "Stans" (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan) where women do not traditionally hold positions of power.

So excuse me for a brief side trek into an exotic land. The glue that holds us all together the world over is fiber. Hooray for Wool!