An Interview With: Lori Versaci

Earlier this summer our friend and fellow designer, Lori Versaci, contacted us to let us know she was publishing a design in The Fibre Co. Canopy Worsted. Summertime and sweaters! A daring move, perhaps, but I begin to plan my fall knitting in July, and if I don't have something underway on the needles by August I feel as though I am falling behind. Dedicated knitters knit all year, and for that we salute you! As we settle into cooler temperatures, with the kids back to school, it's really crunch time. Rhinebeck is just around the corner, after all! 

Ribbed is knit using Canopy Worsted, a super soft blend of merino wool, baby alpaca, and just enough bamboo to give it a subtle sheen and exquisite drape. Soft enough to wear next to your skin, Canopy Worsted is a 3-ply yarn with a nice, tight twist making it the perfect choice when stitch definition is called for. Lori uses Canopy Worsted quite often, and has told us time and again that it is one of her favorites. In fact, she was one of the driving forces behind the change in put up a couple years back from a 50g skein to an 100g skein.

The design itself is a classic, such as we've all come to expect from Lori. The sweater has just enough ease, with the wide ribs creating just a little bit of definition to your silhouette. This sweater is destined to be a staple in any wardrobe. 

We asked Lori about her design process, and about the Ribbed Pullover in particular.

Kelbourne Woolens: Your designs are always so classic and wearable. Are they things you want to wear, or is there someone you are designing for?

Lori Versaci: It is funny that you ask that, because I was just thinking about how my most successful designs are garments that I essentially design to wear myself! I call my designs, “wearable, modern knits exploring shape, texture and construction”. So wearability is very important to me. My sweater designs seem to emerge one of two ways: I have an idea of a sweater that I want to add to my own wardrobe or I have a design idea that I want to explore. Examples of the first would be tiramisu, lite, pour moi, blocks and tails. Examples of the latter would be Carnaby Street, embrace, rubus and reverso. Ribbed emerged from a combination of both! I wanted a ribbed turtleneck to add to my wardrobe, but I wanted it to have a little fashion flare. Over the last few years I have been exploring how to design a successful (for a wide range of sizes) top-down raglan AND I have been thinking about how to add a bit of a bust dart to garments (since I have a little more bust than average). I enjoy taking on a challenge, so I used what Ysolda calls “compound raglan” which are varying rates of increase along the raglan edge, to create the armhole. This gives the design more control over the length of the armhole which a standard raglan increase doesn’t allow for. Then I played around a bit with where and how to add the dart. It took me quite a while and a number of attempts before I figured out how to create the traveling rib design as a way to both accommodate a dart and add a little fashion element. Voila, ribbed.

KW: This isn't your first design using Canopy Worsted. Your previous design, Pour Moi, was an elegant cardigan. The two designs are so different in terms of shape and fit, but both use Canopy Worsted. When you were planning Ribbed, what made you think Canopy would be a good choice, and was the choice influenced by your experiences designing Pour Moi?

LV: Absolutely! I find that the best way to REALLY understand a yarn is to knit with it. And, for me, this doesn’t just mean a big swatch, it means working an entire garment. That way I can understand how the fabric behaves when it is worn. So, after a wonderful visit to your office a while back, I ordered up sweater quantity of a number of your different yarns. This Canopy Worsted in Ginger was from that order. But, before I knit ribbed, I actually used Canopy Worsted for Pour Moi based on a recommendation from the owner of The Knitter’s Edge in Bethlehem, PA (if you are ever in the area, it is a “must see” LYS). I was a little worried that it would have too much give for Worsted Pour Moi and would “grow” with wear. But it is an amazing sweater yarn! Enough body to really hold a sweater’s shape — even after months of wear AND trying on at trunk shows, my Worsted Pour Moi is still in perfect shape — and enough drape to make it elegant! And the added bonus of a wonderful softness that just feel so fantastic! Just so everyone knows, I have two more sweater designs in the works with The Fibre Company yarn: one with Organik and one with Terra. Stay tuned!

KW: When you're knitting purely for pleasure, what are you making? 

LV: A few months ago I would have answered that I just love to knit sweaters, and sweaters will always be my go-to knitting. But I have been knitting a lot of cowls, scarves and shawls recently and I finally understand why they are so popular with knitters. The sense of accomplishment is fantastic! And from a design perspective, you only have to write up one set of instructions — just one size (although I find myself writing for longer or shorter or different shapes. I guess that is just because it seems too easy otherwise)! That is not to say that I have given up on sweaters! They will always be my favorite thing to design. But you may see me wearing more scarves next winter!

This week, we're offering ONE LUCKY WINNER a chance to receive a free copy of Ribbed (either hard copy or PDF download, your choice) and enough Canopy Worsted in your choice of color to make your very own sweater!

Enter below for your chance to win! Good luck, and happy knitting! - CK