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Giveaway+ Designer Spotlight: Tanja Steinbach

On today's post, our designer spotlight goes international! We recently interviewed a German designer named Tanja Steinbach. Tanja is a key designer on the Schachenmayr design team, and she also self publishes her own designs in German. Tanja learned to crochet, knit and sew as a child and - skills which all contribute to her interesting approach to designing. We hope you will find inspiration in her designs and learning more about her process in today's interview. 

How long have you been knitting, and how did you get started designing?
I grew up in a family that was very DIY oriented; I started crocheting doll clothes before Elementary School using patterns from the magazine Nicole (I was 12/13 years old). From there, I learned to knit and to sew. I perfected sewing by learning to become a dressmaker, after which I studied at the Textildesign in Reutlingen. The program at Reutlingen also focuses on knitting techniques because the company Stoll is nearby. The campus has a lot of knitting machines and techniques centered around yarn, which is how I came back to yarn and knitting. After my graduation, I thought about working in the clothing industry, but in the end, I took a different path by entering the world of knitwear design. And if I took a look back, it was the right decision to start working for Coats with the labels Schachenmayr, Regia and Jaeger.

Where do you get inspiration?
I love my work because every day is so different. That's hard sometimes, but it it helps to be open to new ideas. Of course, I also am always on the lookout for new trends in fashion and color, which is also a good way finding new ideas outside of the world of yarn. Tradition & experience is an important base, specially in hand knitting, so vintage craft books are great inspiration tools. Also traveling to other towns, meeting with people or taking in an art exhibition brings new impulses. Keeping eyes and ears open and being open to trying new things is key! 

How did your Design Label come about?
I wouldn't exactly say that I have my own label, but I've worked for the last 20 years for the brands Schachenmayr and Regia at Coats (since 2015). The assignments have changed a little from time to time, but I play a role in the marketing and product development, as well as working in the yarn and design development. When my children were small, I worked part-time, but when they grew older, I began to take on design jobs as a freelancer. I started with TV spots and little book projects in early 2000. The Frechverlag was looking for patterns and designers to star their new handcraft book series, and that was how I made my first sock knitting book.  In the last few years, I have designed more patterns for books such as Jacquardstricken, Gestrickte Taschen, and  Wendemuster stricken. Currently, I am working as co-author for a book called Tücher stricken, will be arriving in stores in Autumn 2016. 



In June of last year, I started a blog where I can directly interact with other fiber enthusiasts, much like on Facebook and Instagram, which I love. My blog was an idea of a collegue and I'm very thankful that she encouraged me to start it! It began with a new knit-a-long for a German TV show called ARD Buffet“ in summer 2015; the pattern, Der Sommernachtstraum, is also availabe here on Ravelry as a free download in both English and GermanIt's been wonderful to see all of the resulting shawl projects from this KAL! 
The year before, I had started something similar for ARD Buffet, the Adventsschal 2014 knit-a-long which took place in December 2014. With a KAL such as this, a lot of projects tend to come in, and knitters often need some assistance - I thought that an independent platform such as a blog would be the perfect place for this! I also share lots of my patterns, tips and tricks on the blog. 
How do you balance your own design and blogging career with curating from your own Design Label?
Truly, I'm always looking for the right balance...work & passion are so close, so it's hard to me jump into other leisure activities.

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
Right now, I am very happy with how things are going between work & life. I'm happy to be part of some knitting events this year such as the Schwabsburger Wollfest, where I'll be teaching my first-ever workshop, and Yarncamp in Frankfurt this October. And I am always looking forward to all of the interesting people I'll meet along the way, not to mention at these events. I may even start another KAL! 

Do you have any knitting horror stories/mishaps?

No! Util now, everything has been working out fabulously, but my personal nightmare is how quick some of my test knitters are able to knit in relation to how quickly I can complete a project. Sometimes I'm doubtful about my own speed of writing patterns and knitting samples......and the testers knitting at full speed and send it back to me so quickly! Sometimes I get a little jealous when I look at my own private projects! 

Giveaway
This month, one lucky blog reader will win a Nova Platina Cubics Deluxe Interchangeable Set! To enter, leave a comment telling us what kind of projects you like to knit or crochet in the summer months. Be sure to also mention your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win. We'll announce the winner on our next blog post on Friday, May 27. Good luck! 

Winner + Knit & Crochet for Charity: Where to Donate

Congratulations to LisaTknits, our first prize winner for the Spring KAL with Angela Tong that's happening now here in our Ravelry group! We will get in touch with you to arrange for the delivery of your prize, a Marblz DPN Set. Click here to learn more about our KAL on our previous blog post
Our Spring KAL is a great opportunity to knit items to donate to charity, especially if you're making the newly-released Hishigata Hat by Angela Tong! Knit in a bulky weight yarn with a pretty diamond cable pattern, this hat is a fun, fast project that can be donated to those in need.
The Hishigata Hat by Angela Tong
Of course, you don't have to limit your donation to projects made in our KAL, or just hats - there are plenty of organizations that are looking for hats, scarves, and other items year-round! Today, we'd like to spotlight a few of these organizations where you can donate your finished objects (FOs), though this is by no means a complete list! If you happen to knit or crochet for a particular organization that isn't listed here, we would love to hear about it in the comments! 

This project was launched last year to collect knitted and crocheted hats (or tuques, as they are known in Canada) for Syrian refugees arriving in Canada. Initially begun as a small group in Quebec, the project quickly spread throughout the country and even into the US with Purlescence Yarns in Sunnyvale, CA serving as a donation collection point for American crafters. While the project is focused mainly on hats, other donations of mittens and scarves are also accepted if they have a matching hat along with them.

This not-for-profit organization accepts knitted, crocheted or sewn caps for chemo patients which are distributed to over 450 cancer centers each month. They provide a set of guidelines for your handmade donation here on their website, as well as free and for sale hat patterns for knitters and crocheters

This organization accepts donations of sweaters, caps and blankets to distribute to children living in poverty worldwide. They prefer items which are knit with easy-care acrylic yarns and provide free patterns for making your donations. Donors can also use a pattern of their own choosing if they prefer.

This organization accepts donations of knitted and crocheted blankets and other accessories year-round; you can check their Current Needs section of the website to see which items they are currently looking for. 

Join Our Spring KAL with Angela Tong & Knitter's Pride

This spring, we invite you to knit along with Angela Tong over in the Knitter's Pride Ravelry group! Angela has a brand-new hat pattern out, the Hishigata Hat, which you can purchase on Ravelry for 20% off when your enter KPKAL at checkout. This coupon code is also good towards any pattern from Angela's Ravelry pattern store (located here), and all of these patterns are also eligible for our KAL! There will be some fabulous prizes up for grabs (more on that in a bit), and Angela will be sharing some great tutorials over on her blog throughout the course of the KAL.

Here are the details:

What: A Knit-A-Long for any and all of Angela's patterns from her Ravelry pattern store, located here. Enter KPKAL at checkout to save 20% on your Ravelry Pattern Purchase April 8-May 13.

When: This KAL is happening now through May 13, 2016!

Where: Join the fun by sharing your photos in the Knitter's Pride Ravelry Group and on Instagram using the hashtags: #KPtongKAL and #knitterspride.

Prizes: 
Knit Blockers: one lucky person who purchases an Angela Tong pattern between April 8-22 will be entered in this prize drawing (note, you must use this coupon code when you check out to be eligible: KPKAL).
Marblz Interchangeable Circular Needle Set: post your FO photos here in our Ravelry group to be entered in this giveaway; we will announce the winner in the thread on Monday, May 16.
Allure Fiber Wash: anyone who posts a photo of their WIP or FO for the KAL on social media using the #KPTongKAL hashtag will be entered to win an Allure Sampler Pack!
We also have a short interview with Angela to learn more about her new design!

Can you tell us more about your new pattern? 
My Hishigata Hat is a super slouchy hat knit in a bulky weight yarn. It's knit from the brim up and can be finished with a pom-pom or without. In Japanese, Hishigata, means diamond, a rhombus 

that has four equal lengths and diagonal lines that cross vertically. The 2 stitch cables used in the hat forms the diamond shapes on the hat.

What inspired it? What do you love about it?
I have been obsessed with knitting hats due to the unusually long cold season we have been having in the North East. I wanted to design a slouchy hat that can be knit up quickly. 

My oldest daughter likes to borrow my hats, so I made sure to include a size for knitters who wants to knit for their older kids, too. 
Do you have any special tips for knitters who will be participating in this KAL?
My preferred method of finishing a bottom up hat is to use double-pointed needles. For beginners who are not used to working with DPNs, it really only takes a little practice and some good needles. In my Craftsy Class, My First Mittens & Gloves, I teach knitters how to swatch in the round and to knit in the round with double-pointed needles. I begin the class using Knitter's Pride Marblz needles - they are smooth yet not slippery, perfect for a beginner using DPNs or even an experienced knitter. Click here to sign up for this class and save $15 off your registration!

What are you most excited about with hosting this KAL? 

Knitalongs are so much fun. I love seeing what yarn knitters will choose for the same pattern. It can really vary the look of the finished project so that will be exciting to see. 

Angela Tong is a designer, teacher, mother and food lover living in New Jersey. Her knit designs have been published in numerous magazines and books. She enjoys teaching weaving, knitting, and crochet. As a lifelong crafter, she has never met a craft she didn’t like. You can find her on Ravelry as AngelaTong (http://www.ravelry.com/designers/angela-tong) or follow her on:

Twitter: ATongDesigns
Instagram: ATongDesigns


APRIL BLOG GIVEAWAY
This month, we're giving away a Marblz DPN Set! Leave a comment on this blog post for your chance to win this prize - we will announce the winner on Friday, April 22 right here on the Knitter's Pride blog (be sure to also mention your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win).











Go Circular!

What was your first set of knitting needles? This is probably a question whose answer will reveal your age, as there has been a distinct progression in the materials and shapes of knitting needles over the last century, a span which is likely to include even needles inherited from long-departed relatives. One hundred years ago, long steel knitting "pins" (usually what we would call double-pointed) were the most common tools, almost always in tiny gauges. Fifty years ago, aluminum straight needles with a cap on one end, incised with the number size of the needle, were the standard - smooth but not slick, it could be a real struggle to slide stitches along these needles. Circular needles made of nylon extruded in a single length of fatter tip and slimmer cable had also made it to market, but their stubbornly coiled cables had a few kinks to work out, pardon the pun.
A selection of Knitter's Pride needles.
Over the last twenty years, there has been an explosion of materials, shapes and styles of knitting needles - here at Knitter's Pride, we use diverse materials ranging from rosewood and bamboo to chrome plated brass, acrylic, and carbon fiber, all of which are available in single point, double point, fixed circular and interchangeable needle options. With all of this diversity, however, the stereotype of two sticks and a ball of yarn is still the universal short-hand for knitting needles, even though many knitters knitters leave straight needles behind for the comfort and convenience of an interchangeable set of tips and cables once they have mastered the basics.
Shadow Chevron Stitch on single pointed needles - click for free washcloth pattern at VeryPink.com.
Single pointed needles are perfect for certain projects, like scarves or dishcloths - but they have limitations. If you are knitting a garment for anyone beyond toddler size, it will be difficult to comfortably fit your WIP onto a straight needle. Even it you are using a longer 14" length, the width of your garment will most likely be larger than that, even if it is going to be knit in pieces and seamed together. Your wrists are going to bear the weight of the garment’s fabric as it grows and you try to keep those stitches on your needles - ouch! Smaller items like hats, mittens and socks can be knit flat and then seamed to create a three-dimensional piece, but most knitters prefer to work in-the-round. Double-pointed needles (DPNs) are a good solution for seamless knitting, but they are a bit fiddly, particularly at the beginning of a project, and they are very easy to lose down chair cushions or in the airplane aisle.
So go circular! Our interchangeable needle sets provide knitters with a wide range of versatility so that the knitting experience can be customized to each project’s size, yarn, construction technique and stitch pattern. You can knit anything, flat or round, from the tiniest baby bootie to a lace Pi shawl, on a circular needle with the right cord length. When you knit a project on a circular needle, the cord bears the weight of the project while your wrists are free to create the stitches. When you’re done knitting for the day, you can slide the project onto the cord and avoid the row of stretched stitches that a work-in-progress develops on straight needles. Once your project is resting on the cord with the tips dangling, your project is portable; you are less likely to lose either your stitches or a needle.
The ever-popular mitered square scrap yarn blanket using Karbonz interchangeable needles.
How do you knit flat on a circular needle? Imagine your circular needle is a flexible straight needle with a cap on one end. First, cast on your stitches as you normally would. Next, instead of picking up a second needle, bring the other tip around to the right end and begin knitting. When you reach the end of the row, drop your working tip and turn the entire work around so that your working yarn is at the right end, ready to go. Bring the other tip around and knit on!
Now for the mysteries of knitting in the round. First, let’s think about why this is a great way to construct knitted garments: put simply, the human body is not flat. Creating tubes with our knitting is the best way to accommodate arms, legs, heads, necks and torsos. Many knitting patterns employ this technique - take, for example, the classic Icelandic lopapeysa. The body is a tube; each sleeve is also a tube, and at the top they joined them together (sleeve, torso, sleeve) to knit a patterned yoke up to the neck and then bound off. The only seaming required is at each underarm!
In-the-round projects on Knitter's Pride needles.
Learning to knit in the round opens up all kinds of possibilities for your knitting. Once you understand what’s happening in your knitting, it’s very easy. Begin by assembling the right combination of tips and cord from your interchangeable needles. For example, a hat or cowl is generally going to be best on a 16 inch cord; you really need the shorter tips of a Knitter’s Pride Special interchangeable set to comfortably form a 16 inch circle (shown below is our Karbonz Special Interchangeable Set). An adult sweater will be best on a 24-inch or 32-inch cord, depending on yourstitch count. To begin, cast on the number of stitches your pattern specifies.
Now comes the crucial step. Most patterns will now have a line that reads something like “Join to knit in the round, being careful not to twist.” What this means is that you will bring the end of the cable where your working yarn is back around to the beginning of your cast-on. Once you knit the first stitch of the cast-on with the working yarn of the last stitch of your cast-on, your work is joined in the round. But is it straight? If it is twisted, the only solution is to start over, so you want to make sure that it is straight. One way to do that is to knit a row flat before you join so that you have enough fabric to see that you have an untwisted tube below your needles. It will require a one-stitch seam to finish your garment at the end, but it is worth it!

Staci Perry demonstrates 3 sure-fire ways to join for knitting in the round in her most recent tutorial video:




And now the real magic of knitting in the round is revealed: If you’re knitting plain stockinette, you won’t purl again unless the pattern instructs you to purl for ribbing or some other textural effect. Knitting in the round creates a fabric where the “right” (or knit side, if you are working stockinette stitch) is on the outside, and the “wrong” (or purl side) is on the inside of the tube. Since you’re working on the outside, all you have to do is knit! It’s quick, it’s easy and it doesn’t require every brain cell you have, so it’s great for social or movie knitting.


Once you’re comfortable with knitting on circular needles, you can add to your repertoire of knitting techniques with Magic Loop and other specialty applications. In a future post, we will look at advanced uses of circular knitting needles!

Designer Spotlight: Mari Chiba

Today we feature an interview with Mari Chiba from Mari Knits, and her new Mystery Knit-Along and pattern. Mari re-learned to knit in the Peace Corps in Armenia, started designing while teaching English in China, and now designs in Raleigh, NC. She spends every waking moment working with yarn and fiber in one way or another. Her designs have been featured in Interweave Knits, Knitscene, Knitty, Twist Collective and other publications. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, Ravelry, Pinterest, and Twitter; you can also visit her website

Can you tell us about your MKAL?
I hosted a Mystery Knit-A-Long last year featuring Mountain Colors Perspectives Kit, and it was a huge success! I got a lot of really wonderful feedback about it, and lots of people asked me to host another one, but using the sport weight yarn. I was happy to oblige! Fun side note: I actually designed and knit this cowl in 2 days. I was a week overdue with my son last September, and really grumpy. I needed a positive outlet for all that energy, and this pattern is the result!

The pattern is for a cowl, featuring some lace. I can't tell you too much, it's supposed to be a surprise! You can purchase the pattern on Ravelry here: 2016 Perspectives MKAL, and join the knit-along in the Mountain Colors Ravelry Group here.

The MKAL starts on April 8th, and until then you can purchase the pattern and select yarn. If you purchase the pattern by April 1st you'll automatically be entered to win a River Wash Sport Perspectives Kit! You can also learn about more prizes for participating in the MKAL in the Ravelry group.


Who taught you to knit, and how did you become a designer?
My mom tried to teach me to knit when I was young, maybe 8 or 9? I remember knitting what was supposed to be a headband out of neon acrylic variegated yarn. It had a lot of holes, and I never finished it. Fast forward a bunch of years to when I was newly graduated from college, and living in a small village in Armenia as a Peace Corps volunteer. There wasn't a lot to do in the winter, so I re-learned to knit. I got some help from online tutorials I would download to my flash drive from the internet cafe and some other volunteers, but mostly learned myself through trial and error. 

I started designing not long after I started knitting. It started by just adjusting other patterns because I didn't (and still don't) like to follow directions. That then went into making up my own patterns. Then eventually I started writing them down. 

What are your favorite patterns you've designed?
I'm not sure, I can tell you the one that has brought me the most attention has been Ginny's Cardigan from The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits. 

The one I wear the most is probably Chibi Maruko. I have three of these cowls in different lengths, and I like the simple texture! 

The one that took the longest to come to fruition is the Canted Pullover from Knitscene Fall 2015. I originally sketched this idea back in 2013. I submitted it as a sketch to Blue Sky Alpacas, Brooklyn Tweed, Manos del Uruguay, and at least one other place that I can't remember. I was excited for it to finally become a real pattern and published for all to knit! 

Giveaway
Head over to Instagram and follow @mariknits for a chance to win a Marblz Interchangeable Needle Set! Mari is also taking over the Knitter's Pride Instagram account, and you can see behind-the-scenes photos of her home office, design process, and her stash of Knitter's Pride tools!


Winner + Crochet World Record

Our international brand KnitPro recently participated in a project to create the world's largest crochet blanket. In conjunction with an Indian group called Mother INDIA's Crochet Queens - MICQ, crocheters throughout India and several other parts of the globe took up the challenge. On the 31st of January in Chennai, India, they not only broke the previous record (which was 3,377 square meters), but also set up a nearly unbeatable new world record of the largest blanket with an impressive 11,148 square meters total!

You can watch the short video below to learn more about this record-breaking project:


We were very happy to be a part of such a major collaborative effort by Indian women! Below, you can see photos of our own team of crocheters who contributed blankets to the project. They were especially excited to participate once they learned that the blankets would be donated to underprivileged children so that they could keep warm during the winter months. Our workers come from humble backgrounds, but the spirit in them to contribute towards a charity cause was very inspiring.

Each individual worked day in and day out to finish as many blankets as they could, and their toil resulted in our donating over 500 ready blankets for the record. In addition to the number of blankets contributed to the project, we also supplied 300 crochet hooks for this project.





We hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes peek; to learn more about this project, click here to download a free ebook!

February Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to dianedora and Angele, who have both won Marblz DPNs! We will get in touch with each of you via Ravelry to arrange for the delivery of your prize. Thanks to everyone who entered this month's giveaway!

Giveaway+ Designer Spotlight: Julia Farwell-Clay

The designer models her Hiro cardigan.
This month, we interview American designer Julia Farwell-Clay, whose work you have probably already seen on the pages of Knitscene, Pom Pom Quarterly, Knitty.com and Twist Collective, among others. Julia is well known for her creative patterns which use cables, color, and other interesting techniques to create striking garments and accessories. You can find her on Facebook, InstagramRavelry and Twitter; you can also visit her blog and website. Enjoy! 

Who taught you to knit, and how did you become a designer?
My mom taught me to knit, but I caught the bug when I saw my Danish babysitter knitting at full tilt in such an elegant way I knew I had to re-learn. Annie gave me fun and simple projects to get me going, but I was ambitious. I was so taken with a fisherman’s rib that she showed me that I knit a scarf that used all of the yarn in the house, and probably was 20 feet long. I even wore it wound round my neck as I was still knitting it, which I did for a few months in eighth grade. Some of the kids in school used to love to step on it as I walked to class. I guess that’s what you call an easy target.

I “became” a designer by recognizing that the difference between what I was doing for myself and people who were publishing was that they were writing their work down, and of course, doing the math for all the sizes rather than just my one. I paid a friend who was a technical editor to show me Excel, I read everything I could about grading patterns, and drew upon what I knew from years of sewing and knitting my own clothes and modifying patterns, which were never right as they came. I submitted my first design to Amy Singer at knitty, and I haven’t looked back.
The Albers Pullover
What are your favorite patterns that you've designed?
I have a particular fondness for a few things I’ve done that were solutions to design problems. When I saw a horizontal cable across the shoulders that was a popular idea a few years ago, all I could do was worry about the binding properties of that cable sitting on top of the body’s biggest range of motion, so I tried to figure out a way to make that cable flexible but retain the design element, and I got Skipperdee. That’s maybe my favorite. But I also like Albers, which looks very complicated and full of ends to weave in, but in fact only has two ends because I figured out a yarn management strategy that is part of the design. And it’s super flattering too.
Julia's Design Studio

Do you have any knitting horror stories? 
When I was 24, I knit something from Kaffe Fassett’s first book that should never see the light of day, but you can google it: it’s buried here on the blog.

What are your best tips for sweater knitting? 
Oh, I have lots. But I’ll try to keep it to a few things. I think there’s the potential for a lot of fear and frustration in knitting. I knit a lot of sweaters, years of sweaters, with mixed results before I learned how to get to that magical nexus of gauge and fit and flattery. Nowadays, there are all kinds of ways to game the outcome: you have designers who specialize in a high success rate with your very first sweater, and you have Ravelry where you can look at a sweater on the people who have knit it, and hope someone looks enough like you in their shape to help you imagine if it will work in your wardrobe and on your body. I suggest that an aspiring sweater knitter pay for a reliable pattern (free patterns from anywhere but knitty are suspect) that they really love, invest in decent yarn that will put up with a rip out or two, and work on the sweater a little at a time. The first time I finished a sweater on US size 4 needles was a revelation to me. I realized that all that knitting had happened in small bits here and there. I knit when I could, and that was enough over a few months to get me through even all those tiny stitches. And one last thing: never forget that knitting is entertainment. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.

Burton Hills Jacket, From Folly Cove collection
I think I approach some design work as a research project. Instead of writing and conferencing the paper, I knit the garment as my thesis. My collection for Classic Elite was a study of the Folly Cove Designers; my recurring Cowichan sweater pre-occupation comes from my childhood surrounded by the work of Indigenous Artists in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t just look at pretty things on the internet, I read about them, I visit museum collections when I can, and as I knit them I might be consuming movies or fiction related to the project. It’s a real immersion in a way I recognize from the way I used to produce when I was in the research and publish cycle in academia.

Julia Farwell-Clay has always loved making things to wear. Once a college English teacher, Julia left academia to focus on her youngest child, but also found enough flexible time to write the Moth Heaven blog, publish articles and patterns for most of the major knitting magazines, and helped get Twist Collective up and running. As a designer, she is particularly inspired by the bright colors and graphics found in many textile traditions, and also finds inspiration in elements of painting, architecture, and even poetry. In 2015, Julia published From Folly Cove with Classic Elite Yarns, a pattern collection inspired by the Folly Cove Designers, a group of largely women artists who block printed textiles in the last mid-century on Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Her most well known patterns are a popular baby cardigan, Welcome to the Flock, and the Hiro sweater, a perennial favorite at Rhinebeck. 

Giveaway! 
This month, we're giving TWO lucky blog readers the chance to win some Marblz DPNs*! To be entered, please leave a comment on this blog post telling us your favorite pattern designed by Julia (click here to see them all on Ravelry!). Be sure to also include your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can get in touch with you if you win. We'll announce our winners on our next blog post on Friday, February 26. Good luck! 

*Please note, prize may vary from what is pictured here.