One of the best things about creating Lace Yarn Studio was the chance to work with so many talented designers. Andi Smith designed the lovely A Little Luxe Gauntlets
that so beautifully use twisted stitches and pleats, techniques which look particularly good in fine-gauge yarn. (My favorite part about writing a curated book is getting packages in the mail from designers sending in their sample garments. When I opened the package from Andi, I screamed — the gauntlets were just so amazing.)
Andi has been knitting for over 40 years (apparently she started in utero) and she originally hails from Yorkshire. She now lives with her family in Ohio and teaches, designs, writes and tech-edits. You can find her on Ravelry under the name “knitbrit,” and she’s got lots of gorgeous patterns there for sale. I chatted with Andi recently about her knitting, working with fine yarns in particular and other fun stuff.
CS: A lot of knitters are intimidated by the thought of working with very fine gauge yarn. What’s your favorite thing about lace weight?
AS: I have two favorite things about lace weight yarn. First has to be the flexibility it gives me to manipulate the fabric created. Working with 9 or 10 stitches per inch creates a versatile fabric that has boundless possibilities without bulk. For Lace Yarn Studio, the fabric created for the Little Luxe Gauntlets was so fine and delicate that I was able to add pleats and keep the delicate aesthetic. The second thing I adore about lace weight is the actual knitting. To me, working with US#1′s or 0′s is utterly pleasing. The zen of knitting each stitch is exponentially increased the smaller the gauge.
CS: Have you always used lace weight and other fine yarns in your knitting?
AS: When I started knitting in the early ’70′s, I used whatever my mum would give me, and that tended to be fine, fingering weight yarns. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I truly fell in love with lace weight yarns, and again, it was their versatility that intrigued me.
CS: Tell us about how you came to design the Little Luxe gauntlets.
AS: You mean other than begging you to let me design for you?
If I remember correctly, I wanted to do a wrapped stitch gauntlet, but it wasn’t until I was able to play with the yarn that I came up with the row of buttons, and the pleats. Trendsetter/Lotus Mimi is such a classy yarn, and so I thought about classy gloves, and images of 1930′s and ’40′s silk gloves, with long, long rows of buttons and clever manipulations of what is essentially a tiny scrap of fabric came to mind.
CS: What did you think of the Trendsetter/Lotus Mimi yarn? It’s 100 percent mink (a Chinese breed — the fiber can be collected without harming the animal).
AS: Oh! The hand! This is such a blissful yarn to work with. I’d take the gloves in progress to my knitting group, and everyone would pet and swoon over how soft and delicate the yarn was.
CS: Any tips for people making the gauntlets?
AS: Don’t be daunted by the pleats! When I was figuring out how to make them, and write directions that are easy to follow, I used scrap yarn, and practiced a few times before working the Mimi. Work a swatch or two of just the pleats in a larger gauge. Turning those dpns clockwise and counter-clockwise can seem awkward at first, but it’s easy to do, if you work step by step.
CS: What are you working on next?
AS: I’m currently working on my second Synchronicity collection, and hope to have it published late summer/early fall. Much like the Little Luxe Gauntlets, I love to manipulate the fabric our knitting creates and see just how far I can stretch the bounds of traditional knitting. You can see the first collection here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/synchronicity/patterns
CS: What is your favorite cocktail?
AS: Oh, that has to be a Moscow Mule.* Utter deliciousness.
A huge thanks to Andi, both for being a part of Lace Yarn Studio and for doing this interview. Make sure you check out her beautiful collection called Synchronicity, which features some stunning two-color cable patterns.
The collection also includes a tutorial to help you with the two-color cable technique. If you’re a sock knitter, I often recommend Big Foot Knits, Andi’s sock book which gives all sorts of valuable information about fit, particularly for designing socks that fit larger-sized feet. And her Queen Street Cardigan is just gorgeous!
In honor of Andi’s visit, we’re going to do a giveaway. We’ve got a copy of Lace Yarn Studio and a skein of the Mimi yarn you’ll need to create Andi’s gauntlets.
To be eligible, leave a comment and make sure there is a way for me to get in touch with you (either by being registered with an email to leave comments or including your Ravelry user name in the comment — no way to get in touch, no way to win). Leave a comment by midnight on Monday, May 11th and on Tuesday, I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner.
*Squeeze about 1/2 an ounce of lime into a glass, add the rind and ice, then add 2 ounces of vodka. Fill to the top with ginger beer.