Monday, November 17, 2014

Meet a designer - Kara McKinley

Have you ever been inspired just because someone is so passionate about the things she creates? Have you ever wanted to get to know the person behind the pattern? Well, I have been inspired to knit more hats by my brief interaction with a fellow designer who is also participating in the Gift-a-long. I'd like to introduce you to Kara McKinley (Ravelry ID: KaraMcKinley). Below is an interview to help you find out a bit about Kara and her designs and inspirations. I think you will enjoy getting to know about her. And if you are interested in seeing her designs, you can find them here. Don't forget! Many of her patterns are on sale 25% until the end of the day on November 21st with the coupon code giftalong2014! (and P.S.- all photos are hers. . .and so that means she owns the copyright. I have her permission to share them here.)

What fiber arts do you do?

Just knitting. Learning how to sew is on my to-do list and I can crochet at a very basic level, but I'm only proficient at knitting. 

What fiber arts do you design for?

Just knitting. 

Where are you from?

I grew up in Howard County, Maryland, and live in Baltimore City now. I love living and working in the City and I'm incredibly lucky to have awesome local yarn shops and local yarn dyers to work with.

Favorite part of where you are from (where you are currently)? 

Oh, this is hard. Baltimore is such an awesome city. I live in north-central Baltimore and am within walking distance of museums and theatres, awesome local shops and restaurants, and pretty much everything and anything else I could want. I think my favorite part of where I am, is the Wyman Park Dell. It's a gorgeous little park two blocks from my house and is a great place to take the dog or a picnic, or just spend an afternoon knitting outside. I like to think of the Dell as my 16-acre backyard in the city.

 Quirkiest thing about you that you want to share?

This may be a couple of quirks, but they tie together as: I love knitting books. I collect books about knitting, especially old books/guides and books about the history of knitting. I have several Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping books dating from the 1940's and 1950's as well as a number of books about the history of fiber arts. Also, I cannot get on board with e-versions of knitting books and magazines, I have to have my paper editions! 

Fiber Arts History

How long have you been designing?

I have been designing in a real way (meaning creating patterns that someone else can use) for four years now, but I've been designing for myself pretty much since I started knitting in 2003. 

What is your favorite design that you have created?

I love my Sherwood Hat and Cowl set. I may have to knit a second sample because I've been wearing the original I made non-stop since it's gotten chilly the last couple of weeks! The pattern looks like it might be a challenging knit, but it's a surprisingly simple stitch repeat and I think the result is really lovely (it's funny to be talking about my favorite design, mostly because I don't usually tell people how pretty I think my own knitting is!) 

How long have you been knitting? 

I've been knitting since 2003. I was in college and going through a lot of change at the time - transferring to a new school with a new major in a new city. I decided I needed a hobby and had seen other people knitting. So I checked out Debbie Stoller's Stitch N'Bitch from my local library, bought some yarn and needles, and have been knitting ever since.

What is your favorite thing to knit?

I truly believe there can be no such things as too many hats. I think hats are the most fun thing to knit and have limitless possibilities. I wear hats while walking my dog (Molly the Labradoodle) from October through April so I have a ton of hats in my personal collection. Plus, hat knitting is easily transportable (there is always either a hat or sock in my bag), so whenever I have a few minutes free I can pull out my current hat and knit a few rounds.

Random bits of info:

Things that inspire you in your designs:

Baltimore city is a great source of inspiration. My undergraduate degree is in History and I love learning about my almost 300 year-old city. I'm inspired by people, neighborhoods, architecture, events, the list goes on and on. The Light Street Hat was inspired by the Art Deco Architecture in downtown Baltimore. The Sherwood Hat and Cowl was inspired by the spirit and beauty of Sherwood Gardens. I have a bulletin board at my desk and a pinterest board full of ideas and inspiration based on people, neighborhoods, and architecture.

Favorite free-time hobby (other than knitting - if one exists :) ) :

I read a lot and I'll read almost everything I can get my hands on. There's a free book exchange near my house, The Book Thing, and I could very easily spend hours there digging through the incredible selection of books. Of course, I read while knitting so my hobbies tend to be intertwined.

Favorite type of yarn (fiber and/or brand) :

I love working with fingering weight wools. One of my absolute favorites to work with is Neighborhood Fiber Co.'s Rustic Fingering, which not only has amazing colors, but has an amazing feel and knits up like a dream.

Favorite place to buy yarn (LYS or online). Why do you love it? 

Hands down Lovelyarns. Sue Caldwell, the proprietress, has created a fiber haven that is warm, welcoming, and has an amazing selection. Lovelyarns supports a lot of local and regional dyers and spinners so it's awesome to be able to not only support a local business, but also support a business that is in turn support local artists and other small businesses. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Indie Designer Gift-a-Long! (and gifts for you, too!)

YAY!!!!! Yeah. I'm excited about it! It's time for the second annual Indie Designer Gift-a-long on Ravelry. Have no idea what that is? Well I am here to fill you in. 

For the past few weeks, 293 independent designers from 21 countries around the world have been doing the hard work of getting ready for a sale of their patterns. Each designer will have between 4 and 20 patterns on sale, 25% off with the code: giftalong2014 . They will be on sale from 8pm (EST) November 13th through 11:59pm (EST) November 21st. There are HUNDREDS of designers participating with almost 4,000 patterns on sale during the promotion! WHOA!! 

So obviously, you get the benefit of 25% off and we get the benefit of the sale, but there is more!! If you go to this link: there are over 1,860 electronic prizes and many more physical prizes to give away to you just by participating in the threads or the various events that they do over the course of the next several weeks!! This can include playing the find the designer games or knitting a project from any of the paid for patterns of the participating designers (this includes even patterns that were not on sale during the promo period). The end of the Gift-a-Long is December 31st, 2014. . .for all of you procrastinating knitters and crocheters who don't QUITE get it done in time for Christmas.  

The goal of the Gift-a-Long is to get you ready for the holidays. It's the discount and hopefully the inspiration you'll need to get you knitting or crocheting for those special people in your life (including yourself!!) . Many of the items are small and quick so they are perfect for gifting. 

For those of you on social media, you may start to see the #giftalong2014 tag popping up on Twitter and Instagram as we have the chance to promote other designers in our feeds. 

So who do you have to knit for? Need a quick pattern like a hat or mitts or slippers or booties? OR want something a bit more involved like socks? Or maybe something to go with those hand made soaps (like the ones I get from for gifts for teachers? 

Whomever you are knitting for this season (or even if you have no plans to knit for anyone but you have a queue that will last beyond life expectancy that contains a pattern or 7) you might just find something in this gift-a-long worth joining for. And if you want to see my designs specifically, go here:  Hope to see you there!