Category Archives: Interviews

Designer Interview: Corrina Ferguson

We’ve been meaning to get Corrina in our clutches for ages, and we are so glad to finally present this interview! Corrina is known for her beautifully intricate designs, delicate lace, and flattering silhouettes.

Photo on 8-10-13 at 12.58 PM
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.

 

Corrina's first Malabrigo Project, the Tilted Duster by Norah Gaughan

Corrina’s first Malabrigo Project, the Tilted Duster by Norah Gaughan

 

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.

 

Surrey Hat in Merino Worsted, Natural

Surrey Hat in Merino Worsted, Natural

MacDuff hat in Merino Worsted, dyed by Corrina.

MacDuff hat in Merino Worsted, dyed by Corrina.

 

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.

 

Pettine Shawlette in Sock, Indiecita.

Pettine Shawlette in Sock, Indiecita.

 

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.

 

 

Corrina's Foliage Hat (by Emilee Mooney) as modeled by a Robot. Knit in Chunky in Noviembre.

Corrina’s Foliage Hat (by Emilee Mooney) as modeled by a Robot. Knit in Chunky in Noviembre.

 

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

Today we’ve got a great designer from my old Pacific Northwest stomping grounds- Melissa Goodale! A little quick bio:

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.

Echoes Mitts, in Worsted, color Sunset.

 

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.

Remolino Hat in Worsted, colorway Pagoda.

 

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.

Hermosa shawls, both in Arroyo, in colors Coffee Toffee and Aguas.

 

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.

 

Alicanto, in Arroyo, colorway Jupiter

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.

 

Coloma in Finito, in the Glitter colorway.

 

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 and her kiddos!

As promised, I’ve got the second half of the Plum Dandi duo here today- Alicia Plummer! Alicia’s chic and wearable designs have just blown me away, I want them all in my wardrobe. Before we dive in, a little background:

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.

Heathcliff Vest by Melissa Schaschwary. “At least it matches Rebekah’s eyes too, right?”

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.

Shaw Hill in Malabrigo Chunky, Natural.

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.

“Ellie, our youngest, playing with calendula flowers from my herb garden.” Calendula pattern calls for Sock weight (but this particular sample is done in a test yarn in Frank Ochre)

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.

Balmy in Arroyo, colorway Aguas

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!

Kindling Season in Twist, Ravelry Red

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!

Prototype for “Ease”, knit in Rios in Azul Profundo

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, looking darling in her Road to Gimmerton pattern in Rasta.

Today we’re talking to fabulous designer Melissa Schaschwary, who has designed all sorts of wonderful things in Malabrigo yarns, each as gorgeous as the last! Before we dive in, a little bio info:

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.

Melissa’s Children’s Hooded Tunic (design by Diane Soucy)

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.

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.

Selkie, in Malabrigo Chunky in Marron Oscuro

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…

Wilde, in Rasta Pagoda, Piedras, and Abril

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.

Wilde

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.

Another version of Wilde, by friend and design partner Alicia Plum. Rasta in Plomo and Azul Profundo.

I also really love Selkie,

Selkie

which uses Malabrigo Chunky, as well as Hemingway, which uses Rios.

Hemingway in Rios, Teal Feather

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 Road to Gimmerton in Rasta, Piedras

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.)

Doppio Gauntlets in Merino Worsted, in colorways Marron Oscuro and Rich Chocolate. Photo copyright Michael Crouser for the book “Knitalong.”

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.

Mabel’s Scarves everywhere!


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.

From the Fields in Sock, colorway Persia


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.

From the Fields in Sock, colorway Persia


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.

Falconry in Merino Worsted, colorway Rich Chocolate

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!)