Friday, June 24, 2011

Welcome Knitwear Designer Janel Laidman

Who taught you to knit?
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I learned to knit by watching Danish girls knitting when I was an exchange student in Denmark. They all had been knitting since they were young children and I was too shy to ask questions, so I copied what they were doing and puzzled the rest out of knitting patterns. Because of this I ended up with a few quirky habits.
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What knitting method do you use? Continental? English?
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Well, here's my first quirky habit. I actually do both, although mostly Continental, and I'm also a combination knitter which means my purls are mounted in the opposite direction from most people's. For a long time I couldn't follow patterns very well, because I didn't realize that my combination style affected things like decreases and it never seemed right to do a k2tog or an ssk when the pattern suggested it.




What is your favourite stitch pattern?
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I like to create my own stitch pattern so I guess my favorite is always the one I'm currently working on right now.
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What is your favourite yarn?
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All of it! Well, maybe not all of it. I like different yarns for different projects. I'm also a spinner so I always have the option of creating the exact perfect yarn for whatever I want to do.
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Is there a needle size that you prefer to work with? Bamboo, plastic or steel needles?
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I work a lot with size 0 (US) needles because I knit so many socks. I think my favorite sizes though are the US 3 -- US 5 range. I like different finishes depending on the project. For sock knitting I like a nickel plated needles or the Blackhorn carbon fiber needles. For lace and sweater knitting I like the Darn Pretty Rosewood circulars. For swatching I prefer straights and for that I have a nice set of Lantern Moon needles which are both pretty and lightweight. I have yet to try the Signature needles, but I have a feeling I would like those as well.



What is your favourite item to knit?
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Currently it is lace. I also love socks of course, but I have had a very long love affair with lace.
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What are you currently working on?
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I'm currently working on a stitch dictionary of new stitches with tutorial information on designing your stitch patterns. I also have two different sock clubs running the illuminations club which is all stranded colorwork, and the Art & Sole sock club which is sock and other accessory patterns inspired by art. All of these activities keep me pretty busy, but in between I try to get a few other patterns out. Right now I'm working on designing a lace shawl.



Why did you become a knitwear designer?
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Well, I used to be a biochemist, and my job involved growing huge quantities of e.coli. Knitwear design seemed like a much less smelly alternative! Joking aside, I became a knitwear designer because I love designing and I saw an opportunity to try and make a living from it. I also wanted a portable career because I was planning to move to an area without a lot of biochemistry type jobs.




Do you attend fibre festivals? Why? Why not?

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I love to go to fiber festivals! I love to see the sheep, watch the dog trails, eat the fair food and buy lovely goods from small business vendors. I used to be a vendor at fiber festivals and so I know that it's a tough job setting up and taking down and selling all day long. I love to support these folks. Plus, you find amazing stuff that you can't find through regular commerce channels.

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Have you taught knitting classes? Where? When?

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I love to teach. I teach both knitting and spinning and I've taught at Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat, Stitches West, Sock Summit, Knit Nation, SOAR and other places.

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What is the most rewarding aspect about being a knitwear designer?

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Seeing what other people do with my designs. I love when people take my design and make it their own.

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Challenging?

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The most challenging part is being a one-woman business. It's tough to wear all the hats, designer, bookkeeper, promo department, secretary, mailroom and more. It seems I'm always behind on something!




Knitter's eye candy--visit Janel Laidman's...Blog Website

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