Giftalong 2014 and an Interview with Dani Berg

So the #giftalong2014 sale happened last week and it went quite well for me – a good few sales generated because of it for me, and I’ll definitely be participating again next year, if the lovely organisers hold it again – sure looked like a lot of work from over here! Thank you, if you happen to read this!

One of my fellow designers, Dani Berg, was also participating in the giftalong, and I took the opportunity to ask her some questions about her work.

Dani Berg
When and where do you get a chance to design: what’s your day like?
I mostly design in the afternoons.  After I’m done with my day job and pick up the kids from school, but before dinner.  I knit on designs in the evenings as well.
What pattern are you most proud of and why?
I’m really proud of the Snowscape shawl. It was knocking around in head for almost 2 years before I was finally able to have it look exactly the way I envisioned it.
Snowscape Shawl
What’s your best selling pattern? Did you have a feeling it would do well or was it a surprise?
The Serendipity Ear Band is far and way my best seller, although the Harvest Fling Shawl is catching up!  I never expected it be as popular as it is, but I’m very pleased and grateful.
Harvest Fling
There’s a thread in the designer’s forum on frustration. What frustrations have you had?
Time.  Time is biggest frustration.  There’s never enough to accomplish all I wish I could, plus spend time with my family.
 
What tips would you give to an aspiring designer?
It takes a long time to build up a stable of patterns.  Don’t rush it, quality counts!  Tech editors.  Get a good one!
How long is your design process? Where do you start and what does it take to get it published? How do you go about working up your original idea? Sketches, swatches, see how he yarn takes you? Where do you get your ideas in the first place?
I usually start with an idea, maybe from a stitch dictionary or a fashion magazine or the ether. I swatch – a lot. Then I sketch, and possibly work up a submission or proposal for yarn support.  I try to write the bulk of the pattern before knitting the sample, but there are still a lot of changes and note taking during the knitting.  Then there is rewriting, tech editing, and photos.  The whole process varies wildly depending on deadlines
If you didn’t have yarn, how would you release steam/ relax? Do you *have* any free time?
I love to read, cook, bake.  I generally love anything crafty.  I don’t have much free time, but I try to take a little time each day for myself.  Even if it’s just a few minutes to read before bed.
 
Who have you worked with in the industry that you’d love to work with again? Who inspires you?
I loved working with Stephanie Tallent on both Hitch and as my tech editor for most of self published patterns.  She’s always a pleasure to work with! I hope to continue working with her for many years.
Alicia Tam and Mitts from Hitch
Inspiration:  Anne Hanson.  She’s amazing.  She seems to have unending well of pattern inspiration and work her is just breathtaking.  I would love to meet her one day!
What are you really glad I didn’t ask you? ;)
What are my future plans?  I’m really flying by the seat of pants lately.  ;-)
Dani blogs at http://www.turnknit.blogspot.co.uk/ about her designs and what’s on her needles. Go take a look!

An interview with Skein Queen and some yarntastic events

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In anticipation of my next pattern coming out, Corona Beret, I got in touch with Debbie Orr of Skein Queen, who dyed the yarn for it.

Debbie’s yarns are dyed with beautiful depth of colour, I fell absolutely in love with this gold Blush when I was at her open house over the summer. It was a particularly unsummery day, but we were safe from the rain with a load of scrummy cakes and even scrummier wool.
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Debbie has just opened a new workshop in Newbury. Go check out the pics on her blog, it looks lovely! Here’s one I copied…

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Here are a few question I asked Debbie about her new space and her plans for the future.

1. First of all, how are you? The pics of the new space look fab, has the hummingbird landed on her feet?
Thank you, you’re very kind. It’s been hard work, but I think the hummingbird has finally nested. The new studio space is the attic area of an old barn above a craft shop and is basically all my show stuff permanently set up along with many yarn storage shelves, product displays, electric skein winders and a whole area dedicated to packing parcels (plus a sofa for added comfort knitting). The dyeing is still done from my old workshop at home, about a mile from the studio.

2. What are you going to do in the new space that you couldn’t do before?
The biggest change is that I have a bit of space dedicated to retail, so if customers want to squidge the yarn in person, they can now do so. Although I have an employee a couple of days a week, it’s always best to make an appointment in advance as I might be dyeing in the workshop or away at a show and wouldn’t want to be the creator of a wasted trip.

3. How has 2014 treated you so far? I see you’ll be at the pom pom quarterly Christmas party, any other plans for the rest of the year?
It’s been a year of changes. We launched a jazzy new website at the beginning of the year, got my first proper staff member in April, have introduced much new non-hand-dyed stock, held the first ever SQ Open Studio at home in June and now have another Grand Open Day planned at the new studio on Saturday. After that is the Pom Pom party – which was a lot of fun last year – looking forward to seeing the new venue – and then dedication to clubs and shop updates for the rest of the year. And then a large glass or two of mulled wine over Christmas by way of celebration.

4. Are you planning on going to any yarny events in 2015?
So far, have only booked my perennial must-do show and that’s Unravel at Farnham. In my head I’m planning to concentrate on more shop updates to bring more hand-dyed yarn to those who can’t shop in person.

5. Finally, what’s on your needles right now and what’s in your queue?
Just cast off the bottom edge of the Lush cardigan by Tin Can Knits leaving only the sleeves to do and then… oh I think maybe a Corona Beret!

Thanks for your time, Debbie, it would be great to see another Corona Beret in your gorgeous yarn!

Skein Queen is hosting a workshop-warming party on Saturday, I can’t make it myself unfortunately, but I’d love to hear from anyone who does go! Here are the details

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Then the Pom Pom Quarterly Christmas party is on the 6th of December and I’m definitely going to that! I think a whole bunch of us Harrow Knitters are, in fact.

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But in the meantime, I have this beauty to work with

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200g of “Oosie”, a 100% Scottish Down Cross Dk weight. Sumptuous berry-burgundy in colour. Itching to cast on, but have a few other things in the queue to get through first!