Go to Knitting School with Malabrigo Junkies
One of the Admins of the super fun, Ravelry based Malabrigo Junkies group was kind enough to agree to the following interview about all of the fun things that go on in this vibrant collection of Malabrigo lovers. Kateclysm is her Ravelry ID and she keeps things moving right along in this fast paced group.
Could you tell us a bit about the Malabrigo Junkies Ravelry group? When did it start? How many members does it have? How did you become an admin?
The Malabrigo Junkies Ravelry group was started a bajillion years ago by member Simplethings. In August 2007. I didn’t join until the next August but the first year was a rolling-rollicking group looking for their next big fix. Most of the oldest threads are asking where to find certain colorways, or reporting sales or asking how to use the colorway they just bought. A truly fun a chaotic group! We’ve accrued 16,180 members, but only about 300 are active at any given time. When a group has been around this long I think that’s par for the course.
I became one of three Admins maybe 4 or 5 years ago when one of our previous Admins had to take a break. We try to never have fewer than three because we all lean on each other and sort of tag-team certain duties. My cohort is made up of myself, the wonderful Gwenschweitzer and the incomparable RiverPoet, we also have a dedicated team of mods who step up to the plate for each event and really do a great job. Truly wonderful people!
This sock by Raveler victoriasews is knit in Malabrigo Sock, colorway Primavera as her participation in the Junkie U sock class.
I know you have quite a few events over the course of the year, what and when are they?
I think we’re most known for Malabrigo March. Simplethings decided that we needed a special event to celebrate our Mal love and Malabrigo March was started! There were KALs for particular patterns or mal bases, contests and random prizes. We still run the event basically the same way and are very fortunate that the always-generous Malabrigo Company is able to donate prize yarn each year! Mal March is always something we look forward to, the camaraderie and competition is awesome and we all enjoy it.
For the Brioche class Raveler momfortytwo combined Sabiduria and Ivy in Rios to stunning effect.
This past year we also started very casual “color alongs”. The members were starting to do little kals where they all happened to have the same colorway and wanted to work it up, others would get inspired (I mean, who wouldn’t get inspired by the gorgeous Malabrigo colors??) and drop what they were doing to cast on something in the same or similar colorway. So we decided it would be fun to make those mini-vents a little more “official” and set aside threads so anyone could play along that wanted to (also making it easier to find the content! The Junkie threads are moving very fast every day and little bits of information can definitely get lost).
At one time, we had an annual event for encouraging members to get their Holiday knitting started early and that was October Stockpile… but other groups have been doing such a fabulous job with that same concept that we decided it was time to let that one go.
And then in summer we have Junkie University…
Of course there is a crochet class and Raveler ChrissieM made this adorable owl using Mechita in a variety of colors including Eggplant, Hollychock, Sand Bank, Anniversario, and Manzanilla Olive. What a great way to use up scraps.
OK, Junkies University! Please tell us all about it? I know that there are different categories and contests and well, a load of fun stuff that I’d love to hear about.
A couple of years ago I proposed a new event that was more related to what inspired me about our group (as opposed to being inspired by the yarn) which was the supportiveness of the members, and my love of learning. I decided to reinforce my credo that there’s nothing you can’t do when it comes to knitting/crocheting/weaving/spinning/dying, by encouraging the members to choose a technique they have always been wanting to learn, or have been too intimidated to start, and pick a project and start it. I called it Junkie University and made it a three month event running from July to September.
In the modular knitting class Raveler carolsumie learned how to do entrelac using Rios in Piedras. She also learned she didn't want it to be a hat so an entrelac cowl is now in the works.
The way it works is self-run learning with peer help. We have mentors in-group who are there to recommend methods, provide clarity, root for results and cheer for the FOs. Since everyone has different levels of interest, we also allow participants to decide how “into it” they want to go: you can choose to Audit the “class” by making a decent sized swatch using the chosen technique, “Normal” level students will generally create something accessory-sized, and then “Master” students work up a proposal and plan for a much larger project that will be worked on through the three month term of the event. At the end of it all, we encourage students to write up a “What I learned this summer” essay which are lots of fun to read and very rewarding! We give out loads of prizes for both participation and finishing… it’s all about adding to your skill set and learning something new!
Sabiduria on Rios knit up beautifully in this pair of mitts by Raveler JavaDressage! Her entry into the gloves class is fabulous.
Finally, a totally unfair question. What is your favorite Malabrigo yarn base and color?
Truly like asking which of my children I love best (this is why I only have one). I think my go-to colorway has been Lettuce for a long time, I have it in just about every base! I love just about all the blues that come out of Mal’s dye pots, and some of the variegated colors make me swoon whenever I see them (Indiecita, Pocion, Vaa). I’m excited about the new speckled colors on Mechita and look forward to playing with some in the near future! As far as bases, Merino Worsted is always my first love, but I adore Twist and Rios as well as Mechita and Mora (the sheen of that silk!). Truly a Junkie, I could go on and on about our beloved Mal!
Not part of Junkies University, but I couldn't resist this beautiful vest that kateclysm knit up in Chunky using her favorite color Lettuce.
Thank you so much Kate for the interview and insight into Junkies University. The Junkies group is always a ton of fun and if you want to hang out with a whole bunch of crafters who share your love of Malabrigo yarn it is a great place to be.
Designer Interview: Corrina Ferguson
A quick bio blurb before we dive in:
Corrina knits and designs in Florida where it is sadly too hot to wear all her Malabrigo hats. One day maybe she'll be a reverse snowbird and start vacationing in New England in the winter so she can wear all her handknits. Corrina blogs at http://picnicknits.com/Alrighty! Corrina, can you tell us about your first experience with Malabrigo yarns? My first experience with Malabrigo was using it for the Tilted Duster from Interweave Knits in 2007. This was right before I started designing. Malabrigo Merino Worsted was *the* big thing at my LYS and I think a dozen of us knitted that sweater in Malabrigo. The yarn store owner had bags of colors and you got to pick your bag. I chose Red Mahogany. It was then and is still my favorite worsted weight yarn. I actually keep a good chunk of it in my worsted swatching bin - it's my go to yarn for swatching worsted designs, especially cables. And what was your first design in Malabrigo? My first design in Malabrigo was my Surrey Hat. The natural color of the worsted was the perfect backdrop for the cables and honeycomb texture. Malabrigo cables like magic! I actually dyed up a skein of the natural a second time to work a man-style cabled hat- MacDuff- because I was so in love with how it cabled. Oooh, pretty! Nice color too- maybe we need to get you down to Uruguay! Hehe. What draws you to Malabrigo for your design work? For me first and foremost I design with Malabrigo because I love how it feels. It's so easy on the hands, and it's always a delight to work with. And the color selection is wonderful. There's something about the way Malabrigo is dyed that makes even the craziest variegates look gorgeous. What is your favorite thing that you've knit in Malabrigo so far? My favorite Malabrigo design is my Pettine in Malabrigo Sock. The Indicieta colorway is the perfect blend of soft blues and greens. It's one of those shawlettes that you can easily see thrown over a crisp white shirt worn with a pair of jeans. I think I love it best because it's so pretty and so wearable. And finally, the tough one: what is your favorite base and colorway? My favorite base will always be the Merino Worsted, although the Twist comes a close second. I'm actually a thrower, and have recently been trying to teach myself to efficiently knit continental. And the yarn I break out every time for practice is the Merino Worsted. My favorite color is one I have yet to design with - Noviembre. I worked up a Foliage hat (from Knitty) in that colorway years ago and it is still my favorite hat ever with the pinks and oranges. Thank you so much Corrina!! You can check out Corrina's huge body of gorgeous work on her Ravelry page here, or her website here. (Especially if you're a lace or shawlette fan- you've gotta see her stuff!)
Designer Interview: Melissa Goodale
Mel spends her days in Seattle dreaming up new designs and playing with yarn. Her projects expand to fill the space available. Luckily, this doesn't seem to bother her husband or her 2 sons. You can find her as StickChick on Ravelry, scknits on Twitter, or at scknits.com.Hi Melissa! Thanks for talking with us. Can you tell us about your first experience with Malabrigo? The first time I saw Malabrigo was a knit night at my LYS; a friend brought in some Worsted (back when that was the only base available) in Stonechat. I fell crazy in love with the color, and the softness. I couldn't believe it was actually wool. I ran out and bought 2 skeins of Worsted in Stonechat for myself that night. The funny thing is that I've never used those 2 skeins. I love them so much that I'm still waiting for the perfect pattern to use them. I think the first project I actually knit with Malabrigo was the Echoes Mitts I designed. Well that answers my second question about your first design in Malabrigo, haha. I've had many more since then. Remolino won a Malabrigo design competition on Ravelry back in 2008. I was also flattered to be one of the MFPP designers in May 2012; Birds of Mythology was the compilation I put together for that project. And a beautiful collection it was! Why are you drawn to Malabrigo for use in your designs? I'm drawn to Malabrigo because of their deep, saturated colors and amazing softness. These yarns are meant to be worn next to the skin. Now that they have so many base yarns available it makes designing even easier. From lace to super bulky and everything in between I can find a Malabrigo yarn to fit the design. What is your favorite Malabrigo project that you've made to date? This is a tough one, I love so many of my Malabrigo projects for different reasons. I'd say the one I wear the most, though, is my Hermosa. It's just the right size to wrap around my neck and block the Seattle chill from getting into my coat. I've had it for a couple years and it still looks new. Arroyo is such a great base. In the spring I love to wear my Alicanto, which is also knit in Arroyo. If Arroyo came in the full array of colors that Worsted comes in I might never use another sport yarn again. What is your favorite colorway and yarn base? I have 2 favorite yarn bases, Arroyo and Finito. Arroyo is the perfect yarn for everyday items that need to stand up to regular washing and wearing. Finito, on the other hand, is the perfect splurge yarn for those little luxuries. I designed Coloma using Finito and the entire time I was knitting with it I just couldn't believe there wasn't any cashmere in the yarn. It is insanely soft. I'm not sure how it is that Malabrigo has found such wonderfully soft sheep, but I'm happy to enjoy the results. As far as colors there are so many that I love. Red is my favorite color, so I find myself drawn to Tiziano, Ravelry Red, and I've got a great sweater I knit out of Sealing Wax. But I also love Lettuce and Sunset when I'm looking for something vibrant. Stonechat is my favorite from the variegated colors. Thanks so much Melissa!! You can check out all of Melissa's work on her Ravelry page, or on her website!
Designer Interview: Alicia Plummer
Alicia is a stay at home mom in rural Maine. She loves to laugh, she’s hopelessly messy, and she always has at least 3 designs on the needles at any time. Her husband, two daughters, and animals keep her very busy during the day while she ATTEMPTS to balance homeschooling, housework, designing, playing, faith, excercise, and cleaning…and fails miserably. But she sure has fun trying!Hi Alicia! Thanks for joining us! Can you tell us about your first experience with Malabrigo? Well, family knows best! When I first started knitting, both my mother and my Aunt were very adamant about the tools I used and the supplies I purchased. When you’re making things, I was told, you never use cheap material. My mother, a quilter, really encouraged my newfound love of fiber and took me on a little yarn spree to a LYS. I’m a toucher, and Malabrigo was the first yarn that spoke to my fingertips. The store had a huge selection of Merino Worsted in every color imaginable. This may sound strange, but my immediate desire was to get a whole bed covered in this yarn and roll in it! Or wear it head to toe. (Maybe I should design a blanket out of it? Maybe I should build a fort next to yours, Alex, and we can be neighbors?) I bought 2 skeins of Worsted in Bijou Blue, completely intending to knit something for myself. The blue reminded me of a gently clouded sky midsummer. I thought I was buying it to match my eyes…(little did I know!) Ironically, as often happens in this house, the skeins were hijacked into becoming a cute little vest for Rebekah who was 2 at the time. I won’t leave you guessing who the designer was…that’s right! Thanks to Malabrigo, Melissa Schaschwary and I met when I knitted her Heathcliff Vest out of the Bijou Blue! We got chatting on Rav, and now we have a friendship that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Aw, what a cool way to make a friend! What was your first design in Malabrigo? My first design in Malabrigo was Shaw Hill in Malabrigo Chunky. I wanted something classic and timeless, so I used the natural colorway. Also, cabling is my PASSION (love it!). What’s more fun than huge cables? I was also nursing at the time so I used it as a nursing cover as well as a cowl. Why are you drawn to Malabrigo for use in so many of your designs? I’m inspired by lots of things. The beautiful rural landscape here in Maine, the ocean, emotions…but mostly memories. I can look at almost every color Malabrigo puts out and have a beautiful memory to associate with it. And designing with it? It’s like telling a story. Sharing your story to the world without words. Calendula, the little girl’s dress I designed out of sock, is a brilliant yellow. The minute I got it, it sang to me of dandelions, daisies, buttercups, and goldenrod. I can’t really mention the inspiration without sharing it here, as it was very difficult for me to expose this part of my heart publicly: My father used to take me to a field of wildflowers down the road from our house, where we’d get fistfuls of flowers to bring home. We’d decorate the whole house with Mason Jars full of these wildflowers. Another reason I love Malabrigo is because I feel that my personal style is a mixture of Rustic Vintage and Luxury. Here in Maine, we need to be practical and warm during the colder months ( which is most of them!) but we also want to look good doing it! I love pastoral and I love luxe. Some may think those don’t go together, but in many cases it’s a beautiful marriage for knitting! Balmy is a good example of that: it’s a simple, no-nonsense silhouette, but the Arroyo’s superwash merino gives it functionality and feels amazing on bare skin. What is your favorite Malabrigo project that you've made to date? That’s difficult- I’d have to say that I love Kindling Season, the little chevron backed unisex cardi I made for Rebekah out of Twist. It’s so soft, vibrant, and in her ever-requested Ravelry Red. It’s holding up surprisingly well to the abuse it’s enduring at her 4 year old hands! And now the toughie: what is your favorite colorway and base? This actually isn’t a tough one at all! My favorite colorway is Azul Profundo—a deep blue that has a hint of warmth to it. Every time I look at it, I’m reminded of my father, a generous and loving redhead who passed in 2007. There are no words to describe what a special man he was. So it’s a big solace to me. I’m working up a sweater in it right now called Ease out of Rios—it’s all about comfort, coziness, relaxation…like being wrapped up in one of my Dad’s big bear hugs. It doesn’t get any better than that. My favorite base is Arroyo- the versatility you can get from this yarn is mind-blowing. I’m a stay at home mom, and let’s just say almost everything in this house MUST BE MACHINE WASHABLE or I’m in trouble! One last bonus question- You and Melissa have associated yourselves as a design team on Ravelry, which is somewhat unique. What do you think makes this pairing so effective, and how does Malabrigo play into that equation? I think we both love designing, and we have so much else in common! (Would you believe that we both got pregnant within a week of each other a year into our friendship?) I think that while our likes and styles are similar, we each bring something unique to the table. Melissa has the romance of the Midwest in her designs, while I bring a fresh East Coast prep to the table. There’s a balance in our friendship. She is incredibly talented at making chunky yarns flattering on everyone, while I play with structure and drape in more of the Sport to Aran weight yarns. I don’t think there’s a single design, since we’ve met, that I’ve published that I haven’t discussed with her, and vice versa. And on that note, I think the better question is how DOESN’T Malabrigo play a huge role in our collaboration? We discuss the colors, the moods they set, the fabrics we can achieve, the structural elements that the yarn is so suited for—it’s much of our conversation. We have a great group on Ravelry called Plum Dandi where we do fun giveaways, post test knits, talk about anything- it’s a warm group and we’re thankful for every single person in it. We have fun, but we also listen to people and share our concerns. Come join our fun—we have some very exciting things in the works… Thanks so much, Alicia! I can't wait to see what lovely things you come up with next (I know you've got some awesome stuff in the works, hehe ;-) ) You can check out all of Alicia's work at her Ravelry page or follow her blog!
Designer Interview: Melissa Schaschwary
Melissa Schaschwary lives with her husband, 2 daughters and her rat terrier, Puck in beautiful Wisconsin. She learned to knit when she and her husband relocated from Illinois to follow his career. She drinks way too much coffee, laughs a lot, talks very fast and has a hard time sitting in one place for long, which is why you’re likely to find her running after her kids with her needles in hand and the dog barking at her heels. She's even written a book about a knitting spider! Melissa moderates a group on Ravelry called the Plum Dandi Group with her design partner and great friend Alicia Plummer. Stop by to talk about anything and everything, to get the chance to test knit, or be involved in exciting knit alongs and to see what Malabrigo recipes the girls are frequently cooking up!Hi Melissa!! Thank you for letting us quiz you! Let's jump on in- what was your first experience with Malabrigo? I am very lucky to have the really wonderful Main St Yarn Shop within walking distance from my house, whose shelves are stocked as often as possible with bounties of various types of Malabrigo. When I first started knitting, my dear friend and shop owner, Ronda Hattori, gave me the invaluable advice that my projects would only be as good as the materials that I used. With that in mind, when I knit my first full length, long sleeved sweater for my daughter, (Children’s Hooded Tunic by Diane Soucy,) I chose Malabrigo. While I made a novice error and knit the sweater a few sizes too big, but it ended up working out because 3 years later, the sweater still gets a lot of use and the fabric has held up incredibly well when you consider numerous trips to the shore and lots of hot cocoa spills. Super cute! Those colors just scream "day at the beach." What was your first design in Malabrigo? My very first design using Malabrigo is called The Harbor hat. It’s a very simple, striped slouch hat for children. I created it because we spend many of our weekends on the shores and walking the harbors of Lake Michigan, where the crisp lake wind can really bring a chill to the bones during the winter months. I chose Malabrigo Worsted for that project because of its warmth, softness and its ability to achieve great fabric drape. I designed the hat for my little girl who at the time was only 4 months old (then made one for her older sister too.) I wanted only the softest yarn for the little noggin that I cherish so much. Aww :-) Besides the softness, why are you drawn to Malabrigo for use in your designs? I simply adore Malabrigo’s colorways. I have always appreciated art, thanks to my parents, who filled our little farm house with artwork to take the place of the television we didn’t have. Many of the Malabrigo colorways remind me of Degas, Van Gogh and one of my personal favorites, Andrew Wyeth. I find it very easy to be inspired by the colors themselves when it comes to designing. Consider Selkie, whose namesake was inspired by the seal-like color of the yarn. The Peruvian inspired color palette I chose when making my hooded coat, Wilde, took me away to exotic, fairytale places in my mind. It was a great “escape” project to knit on it while my little one took her afternoon naps and I procrastinated on chores. Who knew a yarn could be so transporting? If only it could transport the chores…permanently… Both of those are breathtakingly gorgeous! And I can only imagine how luxurious a Rasta coat must be to wear. What is your favorite Malabrigo project that you've made to date? Hmmm, this is a hard one. At the moment I really am completely in love with Wilde. Every time I slip into it I feel like a storybook character. I really wanted to showcase the Rasta’s ability to be used as not only a garment yarn, but as a flattering garment yarn! The colors in the yarn bring so much drama to the coat, that it truly is like wearing a piece of art. And we haven’t even talked about the cozy factor yet. The only problem might be that when wearing this coat, I’ve learned to be prepared for random people to reach out and touch my sleeve to feel if it’s really as soft as it looks. Yes, it can be awkward, but as the girl who can frequently be seen at yarn shops and fiber events rubbing yarn and fiber all over her face and neck to see if it’s as soft as it looks…well….I get it. I also really love Selkie, which uses Malabrigo Chunky, as well as Hemingway, which uses Rios. Again, the colors are really beautiful, but the durability of the fabric makes them all garments that will be in my closet, or nestled safely in my heirloom chest for years to come. And finally, the toughie: what is your favorite colorway and yarn base? Again, a really difficult question to answer. If I had to pick a colorway off the top of my head, I’d say I have an infatuation with Piedras. I used this colorway in sweater that I designed for my daughter called The Road To Gimmerton. The design is extremely basic and wonderful for beginner knitters, or those looking to make a first sweater, because the colors in the yarn really do most of the work! Knitting with it is like watching a painting unfold before your eyes. There is so much depth and richness; it’s like someone walked along a fall garden path, plucked all of the best colors and spun them into the softest fiber. After I finished this sweater, I actually had it hanging in my kitchen for a week, just so my eyes could drink it in and savor it for a while. I find that I most enjoy working with bulky and super bulky yarns. I love finding ways to create figure flattering shapes with not so typical yarn weights. I also love instant gratification (yes, I am that person who reads last page of the book, and have been known to shake my Christmas packages on more than one occasion.) With bulky yarn, I can typically have a full garment in just a few days’ time. What’s not to love about that? Truer words, my friend! (I think she's done a pretty fantastic job turning Rasta into a figure flattering silhouette, don't you?) You can check out all of Melissa's designs on her Ravelry page or keep up with her adventures on her blog, Another Dandi Day! Thanks so much Melissa! (I think we might have to turn the spotlight onto her pal Alicia next, whatddyathink?)
Designer Interview: Larissa Brown
Today I'm very excited to present to you an interview with Larissa Brown! Larissa was one of the first designers I ever discovered, way back in my knitting noob days. Her Mabel's Scarf was one of the first patterns in Malabrigo I ever saw, and is named after the first real LYS I ever went to (may it rest in peace.) It's safe to say she's been an inspiration to me from the beginning. Before we dive in, a little bio info:
Larissa is a lifelong knitter who learned with aluminum needles and Red Heart yarn on her nanny's chenille couch in suburban New Jersey. She writes about it in her book My Grandmother's Knitting: Family Stories and Inspired Knits by Top Designers. The book includes engaging family tales from 17 of today's foremost knitting designers, and 22 designs inspired by family. As an independent designer, Larissa sells dozens of patterns for accessories and the home that all invite the knitter to create their own works of art.
Hi Larissa!! As usual, we'll start at the beginning- what was your first experience with Malabrigo?
My first experience was buying some Taupe Worsted and just looking at it for inspiration. The colors were subtle and enchanting, luxurious. That skein became the Sacred Yarn. I don't think I ever found anything worthy to make with it. I mailed it to my editor, Melanie Falick, just so she could see it. (I don't know where it is now. It has a life of its own.)
They don't always get a lot of attention, but the neutral colors like Simply Taupe are some of my favorites. Mmmm. Wonder where that wayward skein is now... anyway, moving on, what was your first design in Malabrigo?
My first design was the Doppio Gauntlets in my book Knitalong. Shortly after that, I created one of my most popular designs with Mal Worsted called the Mabel's Scarf. It continues to be widely loved by Malabrigo addicts and I'm still amazed by how different in looks in the huge range of colorways knitters have used. The yarn is perfect for its labyrinth design.
Why are you drawn to Malabrigo for use in your designs?
In technical terms, I like how it squishes. It somehow features cables and texture while still being fuzzy and cuddly. I also like the huge range of colors; lots of unexpected color combinations can be achieved.
What is your favorite Malabrigo project that you've made to date?
I'm really proud of a recent design that's close to my heart--the From the Fields Shawl. This year, I'm writing a novel--a time travel love story that takes place in 10th century Iceland. I'm publishing a collection of shawls and wraps that are inspired by all my Viking research, and this one--the first--is designed in Malabrigo Sock. My amazing sample knitter, Kelley Dew, suggested the yarn in Persia and it's perfect.
Another favorite is the Falconry gauntlets. They were a technical achievement for me at that time in my design career and I still think they are cool. People have used them for steampunk events, and they're quite perfect for any archeress-hunteress-game of thronesish party you might have to attend.
It's so cool that you're writing a novel! And I can't wait to see the rest of the shawls. Everyday it seems like I fall in love with Iceland a little more (and I've never even been there, haha.) And to wrap up...what is your favorite colorway and yarn base?
Definitely the first Malabrigo I ever tried is still my favorite base. The original Worsted. As for colorways, does everyone tell you that's impossible to answer? I can narrow it down. I love Simply Taupe, Pearl Ten, Frost, and Water. Those are followed by the tonal shades, especially in yellows and golds. Despite my early work (circa 1974) in the Red Heart Mexicana colorway, I've moved away from variegated yarns. They're not as beautiful, I think, with textures and lace. They tend to obscure things, and the beauty of the yarn itself gets lost too. That's why I love the huge range of tonal colorways Malabrigo offers. They are complex while the majority of them still work with a textured design. Thanks so much for talking with us Larissa! You can see more of Larissa's fabulous patterns on Ravelry and on Craftsy (and don't forget to keep an eye out for that love story!)
Designer Interview: Kitman Figueroa
Designer Interview: Sara Gresbach
I live in a small town in Wisconsin with my husband, who takes most of my design photos, and my two children. I chose to leave my job as an Occupational Therapist at a hand clinic after having my second child. At that point, knitting was a hobby but a growing addiction. I found myself inspired to create things for my kids and decided to try my hand at writing down what I did. Raised by an English teacher and having worked on my college paper as a copy editor, I enjoyed putting my designs into words. It’s such a humbling and wonderful feeling every time I sell a pattern, and the things I’ve learned along the way are invaluable.Hi Sara! Welcome to the blog ;-) We'll start at the beginning- what was your first experience with Malabrigo? I have loved the colors and soft touch of Malabrigo from the very start, but as a new knitter, I was hesitant to use it for fear of not doing it justice. My very first project with Malabrigo was a brimmed hat using Worsted in the Déjà vu colorway. I had been coveting the Déjà Vu for some time, and to my surprise and delight, a skein appeared on the front seat of my car after a visit with my mom (who taught me to knit and got me thoroughly hooked on Malabrigo). I chose Kimberly's Cool Cap, which is not a very well known pattern on ravelry. In fact, I think my project is the only one linked to the pattern, but it showcased the yarn beautifully and I love the result. The seed stitch and the decreases on the top were perfect with the yarn. And what was your first design with Malabrigo yarn? My first design in Malabrigo was the Little Treasures Cardi, designed for my son’s 18-month pictures, taken at an abandoned gas station. The whole family had so much fun at that photo shoot, and best of all, because of the undeniable softness of Malabrigo Worsted, he loved wearing that sweater. Sadly, a year later, he has outgrown it. What draws you to Malabrigo for your design work? There are so many reasons….the colors, the softness, the reliability. It’s so wearable, and honestly, it just makes me happy! I know when I pick it up, whatever it will become, I will love the finished object. Whether it’s for me, my kids, or a gift, there is never any doubt, it will be worn and loved. I had a skein of worsted in Bobby Blue in my stash for several months. It had been sitting all alone on the shelf at my local shop, Main Street Yarn Shop, Hartford, WI, so I had to bring it home. It sat and sat in my stash, and when the cooler weather hit this Fall, I designed Yellowstone with it and gifted it to a friend, who in turn modeled it. The color is fabulous on her and as a knitter, she truly appreciated its loveliness. What is your favorite Malabrigo project that you've made to date? The more I knit with it, the harder that question is to answer! I would have to say that my County Clare boot toppers are a contender because of their inspiration. I had a wonderful get-away weekend with my sister (who is not a knitter, but has a great fashion sense) and we stayed at a lovely little Irish Inn, The County Clare Hotel, in Milwaukee. Together we dreamed up this design, which was really fun to knit. It was my first experience with Arroyo. Needless to say, I am now hooked on another base. What is your favorite colorway and yarn base? It really is impossible to choose just one. I always come back to Worsted. This summer when I was away on vacation for a week, the shop owner at my local yarn shop posted on Ravelry about receiving a huge shipment of worsted and how amazing all the new colors were. I was seriously having anxiety because I wasn’t there to experience it! I am always drawn to the variegated colorways that Malabrigo does better than anyone. It’s sometimes a challenge to find the perfect pattern to fit the yarn, which is what I had in mind when I designed the Kaleidoscope Cowl. It was specifically designed to showcase a highly variegated yarn alongside a more subtle solid or semi-solid yarn. One of my current favorites is Malambo, used in the cowl, but Milonga, Pearl Ten, Candombe, and Apple Cinnamon all come in very close behind. I used the remainder of a skein of Arroyo in Candombe for Trailhead and cannot get past the depth of the colors, they just blow me away. I could go on and on….at this point there is no doubt I have a true addiction! Thank you so much Sara, for sharing your beautiful work with us! If you’d like to hear more about Sara's knitting adventures or follow her blog, check out her website, frontporchknitting.com. You can also find Sara on Ravelry (or click any of the photos in this interview to go straight to the pattern!)
Designer Interview - Alex Tinsley
I bought my first skein of Mal Worsted at a shop called Busy Hands, in Michigan. The color was "Dry Blue" which doesn't exist anymore, but I think it was kind of like Stone Blue. I was still a pretty new knitter at the time and it was one of the first high-quality, not-from-Joann's yarns that I used, and I was just blown away! It just felt really good in my hands. Soft, but substantial. I crocheted a not-very-good hat and scarf with it... and then promptly went out and bought a bunch more in all sorts of colors.I have been told this happens to quite a few people! Not to me, of course. Never. No (ahem) Moving on What was the first thing you designed with Malabrigo?
My first design in Malabrigo was called Golden Boy, and it was a hat I knit for my now-husband shortly after we started dating. It's knit flat, and then finished off with a short-row wedge, because at the time, I only had size 10 needles that were straight, haha. I did the first version in Chunky, in Loro barranquero, and then another in Worsted in Lettuce and some leftover Dry Blue. It's never gotten much attention, but I still kind of like it- especially the Chunky version.I really like this design. It looks simple, but then you look closer and see the short row wedge, and now that you explain why that design feature is there, it goes to show how a little thinking outside the box and using what you have at hand can create something beautiful and original. Many of your designs are done in Malabrigo, why do you choose Malabrigo for your designs?
I think Malabrigo is the perfect combination of soft texture, great colors, and availability. It's a luxury yarn without being wildly expensive. It's sold (and loved) just about everywhere, which is great for designers. But most of all - it still just feels good in my hands! Mal Worsted and I are like old friends- I know how it will knit up without even needing to swatch, and it's wonderful for hats, which are my favorite things to design. The colors are always so rich and beautiful- especially some of the new "watercolor" shades, which have been tempting me away from Worsted into some of the other bases, hehe.If you had to choose one project done with Malabrigo as your favorite, which one would it be?
Oh man, that's hard. I think the one that gets the most wear is my Bespeckled hat. I love the color, I like how it fits, and pom poms are awesome. I recently had to make a second one for a workshop I was putting together, so now I own it in two colors, Frank Ochre and Polvoriento. Yay!That is definitely a hat that will put some sunshine as well as warmth on a cold winter! You could say you have knitted with most of Malabrigos bases and colors. If you got stranded on an island and could take only one base and one color with you, which would it be?
I love all the bases but Worsted will always be closest to my heart. I would happily roll around in a pile of Finito though! My favorite colorway is, hands down, Frank Ochre. I want it to come in every base, and then I want to pile it up and make myself a fort out of it, where I will live happily forever. I also really like the neutrals- Pearl, Simply Taupe- and some of the other gold/chartreuse colorways like Glitter and Mostaza. Some of the new watercolors are amazing too- Volcan and Marte and Peacock, oh my! This question is too hard.Thank you, Alex, for letting me be the journalist once, this was fun! If you want to see more of Alex's designs, you can visit her designer page in Ravelry or visit her website dull-roar.com.
Designer Interview: Hilary Smith Callis
Living in chilly San Francisco, handknit sweaters are appropriate roughly 360 days a year. So that's what I like to knit, and that's what I like to design. I'm a big shawlette fan, too, but just can't stop thinking up sweaters I want to create!
Designer Interview: Sarah Burghardt
Designer Interview: Mia Rinde
I’m totally addicted to knitting lace shawls, I tell myself (and try to convince my husband) that one can never have too many shawls.(I'm with ya there, Mia.) Hi Mia! Thanks for being here :-) What can you tell us about your first experience with Malabrigo yarn? My first skein of Malabrigo was actually a gift sent to me by a Raveler in Finland. I had heard lots about the yarns but didn't know any retailers where I lived (in Sweden). I think the fact that I finished my lace shawl in a week is a good indication on how much I liked it. I've always been fascinated by colours and the slight variegation in this yarn, the constant question of how the next row will look on the row before is addicting and fun (/terribly sleep depriving). And what was your first design in Malabrigo? My first design with Malabrigo was a shawl depicting foilage, it's called Leaf by Leaf and I used less than one skein of Malabrigo lace. My designs often start out with me trying to find ways of interpreting nature in knitting but it isn't always obvious in the finished piece. Why do you choose to use Malabrigo in so many of your designs? Well, this year I had a plan to knit with a wider range of colours (not just pink, purple, green and everything in between (hey that rhymes)) I've chosen a lot of Malabrigo because it has just the right amount of colour variegation for my taste. What is your personal favorite Mal project to date? I'm not the kind that sticks to a favourite knit over a longer period of time, I tend to prefer one of the things I've made recently. Right now it's this one in Silky Merino (Madre Perla)- I'm proud I managed to give it to the intended recipient as I'm normally a very selfish knitter keeping all of my goodies to myself. What is your favorite colorway and yarn base? My favourite colorway out of the ones I've actually seen is Hollyhock. I keep thinking I should get Damask Rose when I look online but my retailers don't carry it. There are so many beautiful colours this question is almost impossible to answer! I have just the faintest memory of my kindergarten teacher saying "everybody is best in their own way" so I think my final answer is "every colourway is best in it's own way". As for favourite base I'd have to say Malabrigo Lace, my hands are in heaven when I knit with this wonderfully soft yarn! Thank you for answering our questions Mia! You guys can ogle all of Mia's lovely designs on her Ravelry page ;-)
Designer Interview: Judy Marples
My favorite thing to design is lace. I love the logic of lace, the math involved and playing with graph paper and pencil. I love all the little details that come together to form lace and I always strive to create patterns that are intuitive for the knitter.Hi Judy!! Thanks for letting us interview you. Can you tell us about your ?rst "Malabrigo experience"? In spring 2007 I began working part time at my LYS 88 Stitches Yarn Shop, which just happens to be right across the street from my home. The owner, Sue, was just opening the store and I began working with her on the second day of operation. We didn?t have much yarn in those early days but that fall Malabrigo Merino Worsted appeared on our shelves. I couldn?t believe how soft it was and how lovely it felt in my hands. And the colors just blew me away! The ?rst color I choose was Velvet Grapes. I started knitting with Malabrigo then and have never stopped. The shop is now happily full of yarn and Malabrigo is one of our top sellers. I love introducing other people to Malabrigo! I teach classes as well as designing and I recently did a series of Learn to Knit classes at my local City Hall for the employees on their lunch break. I made up kits for the class and along with my favorite needles I included in each kit a small ball of Merino worsted. They loved it! We now have a large group of women who meet once a week and are passionate about knitting. Aww, that's great! What about your first design in Malabrigo? My ?rst design with Malabrigo was also my ?rst design ever. Woodsie Gloves(knit in Merino worsted) is a free pattern that I published in November 2009. Very cute! What would you say drives you to use Malabrigo in so many of your designs? Malabrigo has remained one of my favorite yarns over the years. Working in a LYS I see tons of yarn come and go but Malabrigo has remained consistent in it?s quality and of course, I love, love, love the colorways. I really am all about the color when choosing yarn. It?s the ?rst aspect I react to in a yarn and usually the deciding factor for me. With Malabrigo I know that quality yarn comes along with the awesome color. I know it will block beautifully and there won?t be any surprises. Also the wide range of yarn weights are awesome, there is a weight for every project. What is your absolute favorite project that you've made in Malabrigo? Wow, now you have me stumped! They are really all my favorites, but if I had to choose just one, it would have be my Sweet Details Cardigan. This was designed with my little granddaughter in mind and is knit in Rios. I knit two versions of this pattern and once the pattern was published she took the samples home with her. She loves her sweaters and wore them both until they ?nally became too small. Time to make her another one in a larger size! Some of my other designs that I love in Malabrigo are: Heart of Wales Shawl which I knit in Sock in Tiziano Red. Love that color! Knit Night Hat (free pattern) and Knit Night Gloves, done in either Merino worsted or Rios. Elowen Shawl, using Arroyo yarn was so much fun to design. Yorkshire Shawl - one of the samples was knit in Finito, which started another whole obsession for me with this amazing yarn. So many beautiful designs! Alright, last question- what is your favorite colorway and yarn base? Sue at 88 Stitches has provided me with a steady diet of treats, we?ve had all the Malabrigo yarns over the years. Last fall she ordered Arroyo and I do have a special love for this base. It?s such a versatile weight and I?ve used it for shawls, accessories and sweaters and love that it is superwash. This spring a small shipment of Finito arrived in the store. I used it to knit a sample for my Yorkshire Shawl and I absolutely fell in love with it. I Immediately began to buy one skein for every shift I worked in the shop, lol! One of the perks/dangers of working in a LYS :) I now have a small stash of Finito, waiting for inspiration. My plan is for fall accessories. I really do love them all but in particular, I love the washability of Rios and Arroyo for kid?s clothes and I love the lighter weights for lace. My favorite colorway? Really hard question for me to answer! I have made several projects with Vaa and it is amazing. I just love the combination of greens and blues. It would de?nitely make my short list. Another favorite is Frank Ochre. You simply cannot be in a bad mood while knitting with this colorway! I made a cowl using Merino worsted in Frank Ochre as a Christmas gift for a co-worker and it was really hard to give it up. It just glows with warmth and I really love it. I?m working on a sweater for myself right now in Arroyo Jupiter and I?m loving this color too. I also love Tiziano Red, Lettuce, Paris Night, Purple Mystery and Buscando Azul. The neutrals are awesome too, I?m thinking of Plomo, Pearl Ten, Coffee Toffee...Oops, sorry you probably meant just one favorite :) I could ramble on and on about the colors... Thank you so much Judy!! You can check out all of Judy's amazing designs on her Ravelry page or her blog.
Designer Interview: Gege à la Gomme
Designer Interview: Gege à la Gomme
Designer Interview: Joji Locatelli
Designer Interview: Jennifer Dassau
Interview with Terri Kruse