For the next couple of weeks we’ll be profiling the designers featured in the Knightsbridge Collection with some insight into their process, tips + tricks about their garment or accessory, fun interviews, and other little tid-bits. We hope you enjoy getting to know the Kelbourne Woolens team and contributing designers. To view the full pattern line, check out the Knightsbridge Collection on Ravelry here.
Today we’re delighted to feature Kelbourne Woolens co-owner Courtney Kelley discussing her design, Teegan, and her design anxiety, with Jaime Jennings of Fancy Tiger Crafts.
CK: One day I came to work and Kate said, oh-so-nonchalantly, “Oh! Jaime is knitting your Teegan.” I must admit, I died inside a little. Oh, man, what if the pattern is totally horrid? What if it’s full of errors, and fits wrong and one sleeve ends up in the wrong place and it’s like that shirt Denise made for Theo on that episode of the Cosby Show?! And then Jaime will call me and I’ll have to apologize and reknit the sweater for her. But, NO! It did not, thankfully, go that way at all.
I believe the words, “It’s like clouds parted and sun shone down on me,” were uttered. Hallelujah. You can read Jaime’s post on her Teegan sweater here.
So, now that I can breath a deep sigh of relief that I’m not a total disaster (which you now all know is my secret-not-so-secret inner fear), I started thinking about what it means to be a knitter when being a knitter is your job, or at least a piece of your job. And what it means to create things for others, and how to balance that with creating for yourself. I asked Jaime if I could ask her about how she balances the desire to make for herself, and make for her shop. Our conversation is below. Enjoy!
CAK: Owning a yarn store, and being surrounded by so much amazing yarn and other crafting distractions, must be kind of awesome, but I imagine also sort of difficult. How do you decide what to make? Is the timing important to you, or do you just make what strikes your fancy?
JJ: It can be difficult. The best way I’ve found to manage the constant temptation surrounding me is that I am a monogamous knitter – only one project on the needles at any given time. This helps me from starting too many things that I can’t finish. I don’t want to be taking a lot of inventory if it isn’t going to turn around fast into a sample. Timing is important. Amber [co-owner of Fancy Tiger Crafts] and I think long and hard about the products we carry and yarns we bring in and we like to have a sample made from all of them. I try to focus on new yarns and I love making sweaters so I usually will knit a sweater out of a new yarn. I try to get companies to get us new yarns before they come out so that we can have samples made and ready to blog around the time we are getting the yarn in to promote the new products. My last two sweaters were this way (Teegan and Breakwater) We have sample knitters that knit some samples for us and we also have a staff program that encourages staff to make samples as well. Amber and I usually have ideas of what we want to make out of a new yarn as we are ordering it for the shop so I often have a list of future projects that I know I will be knitting (and I am excited about!)
CAK: Do you find that customers “jump on the bandwagon” of whatever you and Amber make? Does that influence your choice of projects?
JJ: Absolutely. We tend to sell a lot of whatever pattern/fabric/yarn we use. We always blog about our projects so people can get the details of them. We actually wear all the things that we make. When I am working at the shop it is so easy for me to sell whatever yarn/fabric/pattern I happen to be wearing that day. I think wearing items sells them way better than just having them displayed on a mannequin or hanger. We don’t let this dictate what we make too much, though- we usually just make what we want to wear or are excited about working with and then make sure we have a lot of that on hand to sell.
CAK: I know you said you totally loved the sweater, which is amazing! It’s pretty rad when your friends like what you do. I have to admit, this sweater was not my favorite to write, I don’t often knit top down raglans, so it was sort of a personal challenge. How was the pattern? (This is me being paranoid that I can’t write a decent pattern to save my life, which I know isn’t exactly true. See above).
JJ: That’s ridiculous! I thought the pattern was well written. I am pretty adept at this style of sweater so it seemed totally straight forward to me. I had one disaster where I started the sweater and brought it with me to California for a week and then while on a plane I started the clove stitch pattern. Those k3tog are challenging on a regular addi and it was like 4 days of knitting before I was able to get to a LYS and get a lace needle. Totally recommend a lace tip for that. That doesn’t have anything to do with the pattern or question, though, the pattern is great!
CAK: Did you make any modifications to the pattern? (I can’t ever knit the same thing twice the same way…or the first thing, for that matter.)
JJ: No modifications – it was perfect 🙂
Thanks, Jaime, for letting me interview you on your experience with the Knightsbridge Collection!
If you love this post on the Knightsbridge Collection, check out our other features here.