You might ask yourself: how do we successfully wrangle all of our fantastic classes & events?
To answer that, we once again turn inward to interview one of String Yarns’ very own staff members, Joan Forgione!
Joan is a local middle school reading teacher and knitwear designer whose work has been featured in every knitting publication you can think of—Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits, Knit Simple, you name it. She is also String Yarns’ classes & events scout. She delivers all the best teachers, knit-a-longs, and in-store events String Yarns could hope for. So how does she do it? Well, let’s find out!
Let's start at the beginning - where are you from?
I'm from Plainview, New York, on Long Island, about 40 minutes east of Manhattan if there's no traffic on the LIE—which never happens.
Editor’s Note: The LIE is the Long Island Expressway, for non-New Yorkers.
When did you start knitting? How did you learn to knit?
I started knitting when I was in college. Although my grandmother was an expert knitter, my mom never wanted to learn. Unfortunately, my grandmother passed away when I was 4, so I never had the opportunity to benefit from her experience. I am self-taught. I learned from books in the beginning, but then I started taking classes. I'm a reading teacher by profession so those two things—books and education—are what I love.
What do you love about knitting?
Almost everything. I love that it’s a marriage of art, craft, and math. I love that I’m creating something with my hands. I’m also a bit of a math geek, so I love playing around with all the numbers involved in patterns.
What are your favorite fibers to work with? Do you have a least favorite fiber?
My favorite fibers are wool, alpaca, and cashmere, but I love all animal fibers. Hemp is probably my least favorite, but if it’s blended with something, it’ll do.
Are you a picker or a thrower—do you knit continental or english style?
I'm a continental knitter (picker) usually, but I pick and throw when I do colorwork.
Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in how to “pick and throw” for colorwork, this instructional video is very helpful. Employing both techniques makes for faster knitting and ensures color consistency in the finished fabric.
How many WIPs do you currently have on the needles?
Currently I have 4. Two are designs I'm working on for magazines (unfortunately, those are secret until publication) and two are things I’m doing for fun. I try not to have more than that going at the same time. I’m working on a shawl called “Care to Dance?” (below). It’s crescent-shaped with a lace and cable edging, which I’m in the middle of working right now. Unfortunately, all shawls look scrunched before they're properly blocked.
What is your favorite thing to knit?
I love to knit lace and colorwork, but if you're asking about types of garments, then sweaters, shawls, and hats (in that order).
What do you look for when choosing classes and events for String?
As a teacher, I know that the teacher can make or break the class. I also know that knitters love to learn new techniques while creating something beautiful. So those are the things I look for. We want to create an environment where knitters can learn from experts in the field and a very experienced staff, but where they feel supported at whatever experience level.
Which upcoming classes/events are you most excited for?
I can’t wait for Whitney’s Quicksilver KAL class
beginning on June 28. The “knitalong” is one of my favorite types of class anyway because it’s social and educational. I'm especially excited about this one because Whitney chose a shawl by Melanie Berg (below), who designs incredibly beautiful shawls. Whitney is working this up in 3 colors of Anzula Squishy
, which is just as its name implies: soft and luxurious (It's a wool/cashmere/nylon blend). I can’t wait for this one.
What makes classes/events at String Yarns unique/different from other LYSs?
Our staff classes are unique because every single one of us is a designer in her own right. Our design experience means we’ve learned to anticipate where students might have difficulties in a pattern. All of us have knit lots of different things and learned lots of different techniques (sometimes even more than one way to do the same thing, i.e., short rows). We’re prepared to help with knitting-related difficulties that might come up in a class because we’ve either experienced it ourselves or have helped one of our customers with the same issue. It’s a perfect symbiosis, actually, because when we invite instructors we like to call our Master Teachers (see below), we, as educators, are able to provide the necessary back up to their teachings. Our staff classes marry beautifully with a lot of our special master workshops.
How does being situated in New York City influence the kinds of classes/events String Yarns can offer?
We’re so lucky to be in NYC because we have a wealth of talented designers right here, a taxi ride away. Our Master Workshop Series this fall features 3 New Yorkers—Shirley Paden, Melissa Leapman, and Patty Lyons.
What was the last thing you finished knitting?
The last thing I finished knitting was a piece for Knitscene
to be published in Spring of 2017. I can’t send a picture, but I can tell you it’s a lace top. But I finished this cabled pullover, The Crossings
(bottom of page), knit in one of Tahki Yarns
’ great new summer cotton/linen blends, , two weeks ago and another pullover, Policy of Truth
(below), with a high/low bottom edge almost at the same time.
Set the mood. How else do you entertain yourself when you're knitting?
My other passion in life is reading. Since I haven't figured out how to knit and read simultaneously, and I've come to realize that I'll never have enough time to knit all the things in my queue of read all the books I want to read, so I've compromised and do a lot of audio books. Currently, I'm reading The Summer Before the War
by Helen Simonson. I don't watch much TV, but I love old movies and the History Channel.
Thank you so much, Joan! We loved hearing from you and can’t wait for all of String’s upcoming events! Visit our classes and events page
to see what else we have in store this Summer.
Which String Yarns class are you most excited about? Which event? Is there a teacher you’re dying to learn from? Let us know in the comments below!