Getting to Know You #11: Lee Meredith

Back after a nearly 10-month hiatus, I'm reviving this series! Today's guest is none other than Lee Meredith, whom many of you know as Leethal. I had the pleasure of meeting Lee in person last year during the June showing of TNNA, and she was just as delightful as I'm sure you've always imagined her to be.

Lee and me, TNNA, June 2012

Lee has just come out with a new mini-collection that I'm completely in love with, Short Stripes Trio, and after taking a peek at the patterns I knew I needed to have her by the blog for an interview.

TSK: You clearly have a mathematically minded brain. I love that you're able to take fairly complicated mathematical ideas, translate them into knitwear, and then make them accessible to even the most mathematically-challenged of knitters. Are you the kindof math geek who sets out to translate a specific math idea into knitwear, or do you start with the knitwear and then use math to accomplish your goal?

LM: I definitely start out with the knitwear idea, then use math as needed to make it work.  I usually spend a lot of time swatching to figure out just how to make a construction idea look how I want it, more trial and error rather than hardcore math… I didn'treally take any math in school post high school, since I was an art major, so actual math knowledge is all old and foggy in my brain, I just kind of think mathematically, which helps me figure out weird construction concepts in my knit design, along with allthat swatching experimentation!

TSK: You're famous for coordinating some pretty badass mystery knitalongs. As a fellow designer, I simply MUST ask: Do you complete the pattern before you've ever released a clue, or do you feed off the group's reactions to develop each pattern's twistsand turns? How much planning do you go through to ensure the project stays a surprise for as long as possible?

LM: I've always completed the patterns before beginning the mystery knit-a-longs; I've never thought about the option of using the knitters' reactions to decide where to take the pattern!  (Might be thinking about that in the future now, hmm…)  For most ofmy mystery knit-a-longs, I've had them tested by test knitters first before releasing any clues, so the pattern is in a pretty much completely finished state by the time the first clue is out there.  As for keeping it a surprise, I feel like most knitters likeseeing spoilers each week as the pattern sections go out, so I let knitters put photos on their project pages, etc; I don't really take any steps to keep it extra mysterious, except, of course, telling my test knitters not to reveal their finished knits untilthe end.
TSK: You've created quite a niche for yourself in designing cleverly constructed accessories. Any plans to cross over into garment designing? How would you imagine applying your techniques to that branch of knitwear?

LM: I've thought a lot about this for the future, but have no immediate plans to go there yet… I'm always overflowing with accessory design ideas, and I never have time in my schedule to knit anyone else's designs, which means I have very little understandingof how to construct a sweater, when I think about how I'd design one.  I'm actually in the middle of knitting my first real sweater right now (I've been a knitter for over 10 years! I've just always been accessory-focused), but it's slow going since I alwayshave to prioritize my own designs.  So maybe within the next couple years I'll be able to squeeze in a couple more sweater knits in order to increase my grasp of garment construction, and then I'll be able to brainstorm more seriously about garment design!
TSK: You offer most of your designs with customizable instructions for any gauge or yarn, and you often include many different options and variations. That seems like a lot of extra work, especially when you consider that the majority of designers out there are writing patterns for one specific yarn or gauge. Are you just an overachiever, or...what's the deal?

LM: There is always so much possibility with knitting, it's so personalizable, and part of the fun of designing for me is to brainstorm about a concept and think of all the places it could go.  So I don't want to limit myself to choosing one single yarn, andmaking the design one specific way - I'd feel like I've destroyed all these other potential awesome versions!  So, I write most of my patterns for any weight yarn, letting the knitter choose what kind of piece they want to make, and I often include severalstyle/shape/size/etc options to choose from.  It's more fun for me (even though it's also more sample knitting work!) and I LOVE seeing all the different versions by knitters that look totally different from my versions!  It all kind of connects with how Ilike to view knitting as a fun, almost game-like activity - from my ebook that's actually called Game Knitting, to my Quick Knits projects, which are fun (and often silly) ways to use up leftover yarn bits, to my mystery knit-a-longs… I'm working on a new projectfor the summer which will combine some of these knitting-is-fun elements, which I can't talk about yet but I'm SUPER excited about!  Anyway, I think the whole any weight yarn, customizable options, etc, aspect of my patterns scares some knitters away, but allthat variety is to make the knitting experience more personalized and fun!  It doesn't mean my patterns are hard to make, I promise!  (Well, most of them aren't hard, some can be tricky, but if you trust the pattern, you can do it!)
Thanks so much for stopping by, Lee! For those of you not already following Lee around the web, here are some handy links for you:
Ravelry: Leethal
Twitter: @leethal
Ravelry Group: Leethal Knitters!

Are you a longtime fan of Lee's work? Leave us a comment with your favorite pattern of hers, and we'll draw one lucky winner to receive a copy of her new Short Stripes Trio! Comments will remain open until May 31st.


The Fiber Factor, Challenge 2: Promo

Alex and I are back, this time with our take on what's happening for Challenge 2 (and a desperate request for help to name our podcast)!

Don't forget to leave us a comment about the name, if you have any ideas! I'd also love to hear what your take would be on this challenge if you were participating. How would you Color Inside the Box?


Things You Need: Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet, Volume II

Regulars to the blog may remember my review of Hunter Hammersen's Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet, and how impressed I was with that beautiful book. Good news, kids, Hunter's just come out with Volume II, and it's every bit as beautiful as the first!

 There are 18 patterns in all; 9 socks, and 9 accessories.

Where the patterns in Volume I were inspired by vintage botanical illustrations, Volume II is inspired by...wait for it...vintage BUTTERFLY illustrations! Perhaps a sneak peek at my studio will tell you why this is particularly exciting for me:

Covered in butterflies!

Butterflies are just fascinating to me; I feel like they're almost like floating flowers. The stunning variety of colors and patterning, combined with the delicate nature of the creatures' wings, just delights me. When I found out Hunter's new book centered around this species, I was more excited than perhaps was strictly necessary.
As with Volume I, each individual butterfly has inspired 2 patterns; 1 sock, and 1 accessory. Here are a few of my favorite patterns from the book:

You can find purchase information over on Hunter's website, or queue up the whole collection on Ravelry here.


The Fiber Factor Recap: Challenge 1

Hopefully you've all heard about The Fiber Factor by now; if not, head on over there and check it out! This Project-Runway-esque event for knitwear designers started last month and the first challenge's results went up on Monday. The amazing Alex Tinsley and I have teamed up to bring you challenge recaps as the competition progresses, a la Tom & Lorenzo. Here's our take on Challenge 1:

Big thanks to The Fiber Factor for allowing us the use of their photos! Be sure to follow along on the official website for all the extra goodies Skacel is offering throughout this event. You can also find The Fiber Factor on Twitter as @TheFiberFactor, or like their Facebook page here.

Looking for the winner of the Crochet: Book One giveaway? It's Sheila O'Keefe! Congrats Sheila, you've won a copy of Rebecca Velasquez's Marigold Sweater!


Find Your Sexy: Undressed Skeleton

Yesterday I was browsing Pinterest and came across an interesting redirect:

 Happy girl holding carrots? You've got my attention...

The pin promised, "This girl has awesome tips on eating clean and staying healthy. She has GREAT ideas for lunches to take to work and snacks that don't require a lot of time. This is seriously the jackpot of all fitness pins .... her site is amazing!"

Although I am not currently the MOST healthy of eaters, I am definitely interesting in vegetarianism and clean eating, and am trying to get back on track with exercise and general health. I clicked through to discover Undressed Skeleton, and I have to say - this pin's advertisement did not disappoint!

For those of you who've never visited Taralynn's site before, you can read her amazing story about overcoming depression and self-loathing right here. This site is not just about Taralynn's journey, though - she has set out to help others create their own journey to happiness and positive self-esteem through healthy eating and appropriate exercise. Along with a generous selection of appetizing recipes that will have you drooling on your keyboard, there are plenty of upbeat posts on how to get started making changes, even for the most exercised-disinclined. (I'd recommend starting with this one.)

I'll definitely be visiting Taralynn's Tumblr again; go take a peek, or follow her on Twitter here. Let's get our sexy on!


Foolishness at the playground...

The Dr., the dogs and I went for a walk today, and I remembered that when these two were puppies, they used to LOVE going down the slide at the playground. Thought I'd see if I could convince Jax to do it again! The first one's a bit forced, but I think he remembered how much fun it is, in the end. ;)


Style Your Knits: Winona

Today on the Twist Collective blog, the question was asked: "How would you style Winona?" Since it's been awhile since I presented a Style Your Knits, I thought I'd take them up on the challenge.

Twist decided to style this cardigan, designed for them by Laura Chau, by offering 4 variations on the same theme, similar to how the piece was styled for the original photoshoot:

sweet and girly options

While I do think that this cardigan looks perfectly nice over a floral dress, my style tends to lean more towards the glamorous-chic than the office-ready, so I opted for something a little different:

glamorous and punk option
Once you venture into skull, studs, and fringe territory, it's easy to go too far into full-on rock star. To me, though, this look stays firmly on the glamorous side by pairing the bold, funky accessories with crisp seersucker shorts, fresh, clean makeup and a sleek top knot. Finishing it off with Laura's swingy stockinette cardigan gives it a modern, timeless appeal.

Overall, I think this cardigan has a great shape and endless styling options. If I were going to knit one for myself, I'd add rhinestone buttons, or leave off the button placket altogether since I can't remember the last time I buttoned on a cardigan.

Interested in knitting one for yourself? Grab the pattern over at Twist Collective for $7.00. Want to see more runway-ready knitwear? View my entire collection of styled knits, here.