An Interview With Leanne Pressly

I've really enjoyed writing these interviews and learning a bit more about Kate and Courtney through them, and I hope you've enjoyed them too. Today I'm interviewing my boss, Leanne Pressly, CEO of Stitchcraft Marketing. I've learned a lot from Leanne in the almost five years I've worked with her, and she's given me many wonderful opportunities, including working with Kate and Courtney. Although Leanne didn't have any photos with Kate and Courtney (something I will try to fix at TNNA this year), I did find some photos of Kate and Courtney from the internet archives.

Mari: How did you first meet Kate and Courtney? (Bonus points if you have photos!)

Leanne: I used to work with Courtney when she was the manager at Rosie's Yarn Cellar in Philly. She was one of my print ad customers so we'd chat on the phone every call and I'd hook her up with the best placements in the magazine. Not long after, I recall being at Maryland Sheep and Wool (maybe in 2008?) and she came running up to me with baby Clyde strapped to her person and she and Kate announced they had a "secret" which was that they had just signed a deal with Daphne Marinopoulos to distribute for The Fibre Co. yarns. I've never seen two people more excited than Kate and Courtney that day. It was magical.

Mari: How have you seen the Kelbourne Woolens grow and change since you first met them? 

Leanne: Kelbourne Woolens of course started out smaller. I think there were only 7 or so lines in The Fibre Co. line when they came on board. Kate and Courtney have always had an intuitive sense about how to grow the business and they also seemed to have always been just in front of the curve on so many things. They also walk the walk with regard to marketing where most entrepreneurs just talk about things-- those two really do it. They have a firm vision of their brand, a dedication to doing things well and they work hard to make successful outcomes. 

Mari: Definitely! That's one thing I really admire about Kate and Courtney, they don't compromise on quality or style, and they take the time to make sure everything is thoughtfully and beautifully crafted and presented. What do you admire most about each of them? 

Leanne: Some of this might sound arbitrary but here is a short list:

I love their business partnership. They genuinely like they like each other as friends and seem to have that rare synergy that combines to make businesses thrive- Think of the Disney brothers Walt and Roy!?

Kate: No b.s. with a dash of wry wit. Such a breath of fresh air for this New York Native, Oh, and she speaks Italian.

Courtney: Style. Not just a personal style but she has unique thoughts and opinions I appreciate. She's got a way of authentically connecting to people I'm trying to emulate. Oh, and she gave her baby an Italian name which is super cool in my book. 

(If you can't tell Leanne loves all things Italian!)

Mari: Personally I've been really inspired by all the strong women I've met in the yarn industry. Were you drawn to this industry because it's female dominated? 

Leanne: For sure. My first job "in the industry" was working for Deb Robson and then Marilyn Murphy at Interweave Press - both great mentors and role models. I love working side-by-side with strong, capable, talented women and have been blessed to be surrounded by so many of them since starting my agency 8 years ago.  

  • Kate and Courtney in 2013 at Fancy Tiger Crafts, more photos and an interview on their blog archive.

Kimono by Manadrine

French knitter and designer Melody Hoffman has a new pattern in The Fibre Co. Cumbria, Kimono. A cozy, slouchy shrug-like cardigan, with some stitch details to add visual and knitting interest, this garment looks fun to knit and wear. 

From the designer:

I knew that I wanted to create a piece that would be the first thing that I would grab at home when I’d be a little bit too cold. I keep it on the back of my working chair, so whenever I feel a little bit too chilly, that’s the first thing that I grab, and with this deliciously rustic wool, I feel warm instantly.

Yarn: The Fibre Co. Cumbria: Scafell Pike, 5 (5, 6) skeins.
Gauge: 20 sts & 29 rows= 4” (10cm) in stockinette stitch, after blocking.
Needles: Size 7 (4.5 mm). Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.
Size: 1 (2, 3): to fit 34”-38” (40”- 44”, 46”- 50”)86.4 - 96.8 (101.6 - 111.8, 116.8 - 127)cm.

All images © mandarines.

New Free Pattern: Luma Baby Blanket

Our fabulous sales rep, Antonia Shankland, recently designed this lovely baby blanket out of the newest yarn in The Fibre Co. lineup, Luma. Knit using two colors (shown here in grigio and goldenmosa), the slip stitch pattern provides visual and knitting interest without being too difficult or complicated. 

The end result is a blanket perfectly sized for wrapping your baby up on a cold morning, laying out for some tummy time, or going for a walk in the stroller. Linette took these photos of the blanket in Lucy's room and I would be lying if I said I seriously contemplated "forgetting" to bring it back to the office so I could keep it for myself!

As luck would have it, Antonia generously agreed to make the pattern available as a free PDF download, available on our site here or directly from Ravelry here, so you can make one for your wee babe or to give to someone you love. I spent the snow day on Tuesday swatching some color combinations - stay tuned tomorrow for those. Maybe Lucy will have her very own Luma Baby Blanket after all!

The Fibre Co. Luma (50% merino, 25% organic cotton, 15% linen, 10% silk, 137 yds/ 50 gm skein):
Grigio (Color A), 3 skeins.
Goldenmosa (Color B), 3 skeins.
GAUGE: 21 sts + 32 rows = 4” (10 cm) in Woven Stitch, after blocking.
NEEDLES: 1 - US 6 (4 mm) 32” (80 cm) circular.
SIZE: 25” width, 35” length.
NOTIONS: Darning needle, 2 stitch markers.
SKILLS: Knitting, purling increasing.

Images © Linette Kielinski.

Finished Project: WSP Auction item - Stone Point Poncho

Going once, going twice.....SOLD to the lovely woman with great fashion sense!

That's what I'm hoping to hear when the Stone Point poncho I knit is sold as an auction item for my boys' school, The Waldorf School of Philadelphia. The annual Spring Auction is in a few weeks and it's one of the larger fundraising events at our school. WSP values handwork tremendously and I thought a hand knit item would be a special contribution to the school's fundraising efforts. 

This knitted project did not go without a few lessons. My first and only gauge swatch came out much larger than the recommended gauge for the pattern, so I went down a needle size. My first lesson: I should have knit another gauge swatch. Second lesson: I need to read the pattern. I thought that I had added an extra repeat in my poncho but after another look and discussing with my friend and LYS owner Lisa (who is also knitting the poncho) I clearly did not do that! I thought there were 3 repeats total in the pattern when there are actually 4. I knit a total of 4 repeats which made the poncho come out to specs after blocking, but I didn't get the extra length I was hoping for.

There was a moment of freak out before blocking, but I was assured that Luma had a lot of stretch and give, and the post blocking row gauge would work out. Again, had I knit a second (blocked!) gauge swatch, I would have known this, and saved myself from a moment of panic! 

The pre-blocked poncho came to about 13 inches tall. After blocking it was 22 inches! It took all my pins to block it well, and the finished project looks great and it will look amazing on the lucky bidder! Now, I just need to think about what the starting bid should be? What do you all think?

A very special thank you to Courtney and Kate for donating the Luma yarn and allowing me to knit up the poncho for auction.

Photos by Linette Kielinski Photography

Knit Night at Slip Knot

Last week after a short 20-minute drive, Linette and I arrived at one of our favorite local yarn shops just outside of Philadelphia. One of my jobs greatest pleasures is chatting with shop owners and managers on the phone. So it's really a joy to actually be able to speak in person. 

Run and owned by Clare Fullerton, Slip Knot is located in Newtown Square, PA. Clare was rocking her Stone Point poncho knit in Luma in the color Blanca, and helping costumers when we arrived. 

We had been planning this visit for some time and were so excited to finally make it over! Slip Knot is a lovely LYS that showcases a wide range of beautiful yarns and the latest pattern trends. Clare makes sure that Slip Knot maintains a large inventory of knitted and crocheted samples in all the yarns she carries for her customers to see and be inspired by.