Thursday, January 17, 2008


What's with all the letters? Well, they represent some things I've been so busy with the past four months that I haven't had time to post! Let me explain a bit....okay, a lot.

I became an associate member (aka aspiring professional) of the Association of Knitwear Designers in December 2003, then the Professional Knitwear Designers Guild or PKDG. This is a group of knitting and crochet designers which early in 2006 changed its name to AKD. I was inspired to join because of the impressive array of talent that I saw there and wanted to benefit from networking with other designers and learning to build my business and hone my craft. I decided to request a mentor, and I was paired with Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer of Heartstrings FiberArts. Boy, did I get lucky! She's the absolute best. She has been so generous with me and given me loads of great business and design advice, as well as just being there when I needed to rant. It makes all the difference when you have other people who do exactly what you do on a daily basis to compare notes with and to learn from.

Well, lo and behold, this last fall, just when I was applying to move up to pro level with AKD, the organization underwent an entire restructuring and became a corporation. This meant electing officers, as opposed to having an Executive Committee. Next thing you know I'm being asked if I would consent to being nominated for one of the three Director-at-Large spots, I said yes, boom, I'm elected, boom, I got my approval to be pro, boom, my business starts taking off. It's been crazy.

Now, to bring in the TNNA thing, I'll point you to Clara Parkes' report, which kinda says it all (and won't take up so much room here :-). Yes, this past weekend we had a blast at the TNNA Winter Trade Show. I had the pleasure of traveling and attending with my good friend and business associate, Sonya Acord of Yorkshire Yarns of Lakewood, WA. One service that we AKD members provide is to help yarn companies display their new yarns by knitting and crocheting swatches. Barry Klein at Trendsetter Yarns coordinates all the yarns and sends it to us participating AKD members. We each indicate how many yarns we are willing to test out. We get the yarns, we make a swatch, and we send them, labeled, back to Barry, and they end up on this wall.

This wall is amazing! As for the swatches, sometimes you'll see the traditional squares, rectangles, and circles, but sometimes the swatch will take the form of little sweaters, socks, etc. It's fun to see what everyone comes up with. What did I come up with?

Well, I requested only two yarns, because I knew this was all I could feasibly fit in. I received Obi, an organic superwash wool from The Great Adirondack Yarn Company and Bamboozle, a bamboo, cotton, elastic blend from Crystal Palace Yarns. Here's what I did with them.

(Please excuse the light.) I chose to make little top-down sweaters, because I am working up a class on this topic. The swatch on the left is the organic wool sample, of course, and is a little turtleneck with a braid cable down the front and deep 1/1 rib edges. The swatch on the right is the bamboo blend and is a little girl's top with seed stitch edges and a twist-stitch lattice area on the chest. This was so much fun! I only had enough left over of the wool to make a little brooch (I worked a single crochet triangle and affixed a leather backing and pin), but I had enough left over of the Bamboozle to make a toe-up baby sock and a little top-down dolly hat. I can't believe that I forgot to take pictures of the other little goodies, but I was working on those during the last week before the show and just ran out of time. I gave the extra goodies to the folks in each of their respective yarn company booths at the show. If you see these yarns in your LYS, get some and try it! They are both really good yarns and fun to work with.

In the pic on top you see the little Bamboozle sweater with the other yarns and swatches at the Crystal Palace area, and in the bottom pic way in back up high is the little turtleneck with the other Great Adirondack swatches. This also gives you more of a closeup view of how the wall works. TNNA also provided notebooks with all of the yarns listed alphabetically by company, with a spot to tape in a little strand of each yarn. On the tables in front of each yarn company's display lay hunks of these strands, and you just take one and tape it in. Like so....
To wrap it up, this trip was worth it in so many ways. I got to meet wonderful people, eyeball beautiful yarns and notions, and I even took Melissa Leapman's class (thanks Knit Sisters for the post since I forgot to take pics and it was just like this!) on sweater shaping and Margaret Fisher's class on teaching. I loved both classes and learned a whole bunch! I had a very fun talk with Kim Werker of Interweave Crochet and another with the great and wonderful Clara Parkes, aka Queen Bee at Knitter's Review. The very best part was getting to meet a whole gaggle of talented designers and talk with each about what they do. The next show is in June in Columbus and we plan to exhibit. Whole 'nother story to come!
Here's a pic of my loot from this show. Looks like Christmas morning, doesn't it? Yarn from a few nice companies just for stopping by and chatting, needles from others, and even some color cards and magazines.

Now, off to do some knitting and crocheting, of course! Thanks for visiting!


Rachel said...

That's some great news, and I'm so happy for you! I love your designs!

Shelly said...

Congratulations on your new leadership role. Looks like a vibrant organization.

Crystal Palace Yarns said...

We loved your sample in our Bamboozle! And I'll get photos of the samples you gave me at TNNA.

It was great meeting you, too!

Susan at CPY

laura said...

i'm drlaura, the CPY blog-guru and would love your permission to link to you from our blog, and to put up your wee pictures there?
your tiny bamboozle sweater is soooo adorable!
do let me know, or

blessings, :L

Jackie E-S said...

Hi Jen, Thanks for the great report on the TNNA show. Wish I could have been there, but I will see at the June show! Your mini-sweaters are adorable.

Breien in Lansingerland said...

WoW! Thank you for the full report :-) I wish I had the chance to visit such an exhibition :-0