June 07, 2016
(L-R, all Spring 2016) Giorgio Armani Privé, Lanvin, Temperley London Spring, Tibi, Badgley Mischka
If you’ve kept an eye on the runways and red carpets and peeped the latest looks on the city streets, you’ve probably witnessed this twinkling trend on the rise.
(Clockwise from top left) Gucci SS2016, Taylor Swift Vogue May 2016, Rihanna Vogue April 2016, Michael Kors Marie Claire Australia February 2016, L'Officiel May 2016 Mia Wasikowska in Valentino
Sequins are having a moment. Not only are sequin-studded garments & accessories wildly popular for 2016, but the look is also considered one of the most wearable, so now is the perfect time to embrace blinding onlookers with your sheer brilliance.
(Clockwise from top left): Rachel McAdams, Saoirse Ronan, Brie Larson, Alexa Chung, Ciara, Naomi Watts, Kylie Jenner, Nicole Kidman
Adding a little sparkle to your knitting with sequins is a fairly simple endeavor—and no, you don’t need to thread the little buggers onto your yarn. The yarn industry has blessed knitters with myriad options for yarns that have been embellished with sequins, paillettes, and metallic fibers. String Yarns has made it even easier to find shimmering yarns by choosing “sequins” from our fiber dropdown menu or you can find using the “Search” function.
Since we are, after all, lovers of all things fashion and fiber—and we consider ourselves a shining beacon for crafters on the Upper East Side—we have our own take on the trend.
The Riviera Pullover was designed by Lidia Karabinech to embrace adding a little sartorial sparkle to your wardrobe. A marriage of chic European style and sophisticated Manhattan sensibilities, Riviera has a figure-flattering A-line silhouette, subtle shaping, and a décolletage-framing V-neckline.
Riviera isn’t just a marriage of style, it’s a relationship between two delicate fibers: Filatura Di Crosa’s Superior, a lux, laceweight cashmere-silk-merino blend, and Stacy Charles Fine Yarns’ Flora, a laceweight cotton kissed with sequins.
We talked a little bit about how the properties of different fibers shape the behavior of a finished garment in a recent blog post, and those ideas come to bear here. Superior’s blend of cashmere, silk, and merino lends Riviera a beguiling softness and decadent drape with just the hint of elasticity, while the cotton in Flora adds breathability and stability. And of course, the sequins add a gorgeous shimmer that catches the light without being totally overwhelming. Riviera is a wonderful entrée into the sequin trend for anyone interested in adding a little sparkle to their wardrobe—it’s universal and timeless.
It’s also easy to dress up or down with Riviera. It looks as lovely paired with cuffed jeans and sneakers as with a diaphanous maxi skirt and sandals. While it may feel like sequins are only appropriate if you’re Cinderella on her way to the ball, the sequin trend is surprisingly easy to style—for some inspiration, check out the great examples below. Shorts, sneakers, skirts, heels, jeans—anything goes!
The Riviera Pullover is 20% off for the entire month of June! Browse the different color options for Superior & Flora and consider whether you’re a woman who loves to coordinate or contrast!
Do you love this year’s hot sparkle trend? Do you own anything that sparkles? Have you worked with sequined yarns? Let us know in the comments!
May 26, 2016
From June 3rd through June 15th, Prism Yarns, one of our favorite hand-dyes, will be at String with a trunk show. Only two weeks away – I can’t wait!
If you don’t know Prism, you should! Prism has a well-deserved reputation for their beautiful, rich, saturated colors, innovative yarns (like Stuff – a combination of over 30 color-coordinated, hand-tied yarns in varying lengths) and wonderful kits that knit up into show-stopping garments and accessories.
My personal favorite Prism yarn is Merino Mia, a sport-weight 100% Merino dyed in lush, tonal colors. I was thrilled when Prism told me that they now have Merino Mia in gradient kits -- eight skeins of a color family in each kit. And we will get some!
Laura Bryant, the genius behind Prism Yarns, is an artist who has authored six books on knitting with hand-dyed yarns. Laura personally dyes all the yarns with the assistance of her staff. Every dyeing season, she develops new colors and styles that produce amazing effects –Ikat, Shades, and Layers are just some examples.
Although Prism is a line we carry at String, we’re excited to bring something special to our Lexington Avenue store this spring. We invite you to come in June 3 - June 15 to discover for yourself why String loves Prism.
We’ll have sample garments from Prism’s newest books (84 and 85), open stock of Tencel Tape, Petite Madison, Radiant Petite Madison, Delicato and Windward, as well as Merino Mia gradient kits.
If you’re unable to join us for the in-store show, you can still get a taste of Prism in the new Broken Arrows Tee kit. Knit in Tencel Tape, a cool, non-wool, tape “yarn” that’s perfect for the spring season, this tee is a signature Prism piece and will be offered online and in-store at 15% OFF during the first week of the show.
We’re looking forward to hosting Prism, and we’d love to see you during these two very special weeks. I suggest you get there early before I snap up all those gradient kits!
Joan, Education + Events Coordinator
May 24, 2016
Depending on yarn weight and needle size, it can take quite a long time to craft a knitted sweater. While knitting may be your favorite past time and the best means of relaxation, it is not a meager investment—of time or resources.
And yet, there are still instances—with even the most practiced knitters—when a garment doesn’t live up to expectations. Whether it’s a sweater that ate one of Alice’s teacakes and grew six sizes larger in the wash or a shape that looked so flattering on the model but so frumpy on our form, there are plenty of things that can go wrong.
Never fear! String Yarns is here to help rescue you from the Land of Mis-Fit Sweaters (get it?) with 4 easy steps.
Step 1 – Pick the Right Yarn!
So you fell in love with the subtle sheen and soft drape of a worsted weight, 100% bamboo yarn. Who could blame you? Luscious fiber l’amour is what keeps us in stitches! The problem arises when that love fools you into thinking a worsted weight bamboo can do the job of an aran weight wool.
Fibers are as beautifully unique and specifically charactered as people. It’s the old adage of “square peg, round hole.” We can’t force the cool drape of bamboo to behave like the buoyant warmth of wool. Know your fibers. Learn how to substitute smartly. Here’s a quick primer:
Wool has exquisite memory and elasticity. As long as you don’t give it a forceful blocking, it will snap back to shape after a light wash. It’s incredibly warm but also breathable. Alpaca is even warmer than wool with the bonus of offering drape, but there’s less memory, so your finished sweater may grow and relax a bit after wash and wear. Cashmere, our favorite love affair, is incredibly soft, warm, lightweight, and has gorgeous drape. It’s a fantastic yarn for heirloom knits—handle it delicately, care for it properly, and it can last forever.
Cashmere Goat (R) and Wool Sheep (L). They may look alike, but the fibers they produce are slightly different.
Silk, Linen, and Bamboo have natural drape, a smooth, soft hand, and gorgeous breathability. These qualities result from a lack of memory—stitches don’t stick together, but rather open and relax with wear. Linen and Bamboo have a tendency to grow under their own weight, but they breathe like a dream and have a beautiful sheen. Cotton is also inelastic, but is quite strong and durable—a characteristic shared with Linen, but less so with Silk and lesser still with Bamboo.
When blended with one another, all these fibers can lend and borrow desirable qualities for your finished knits. A wool-silk blend, for example, can offer crisp stitch definition (wool) with delicate drape (silk). When substituting a yarn, pay attention to the fiber’s inherent qualities to use it to its best advantage. Look at the fiber content of the recommended yarn in the pattern you want to make and think of how the fiber knits up. Regardless of what you may assume about the fiber, the real key to discovering how a yarn will behave is in our next tip…
Step 2 – Knit a Swatch… and WASH IT!
Do not overlook this point —you MUST knit a swatch! And not a slip of fabric that neatly fits in the palm of your hand, no. When we say swatch, we mean a serious swathe of fabric.
Ball bands ubiquitously advise knitting a swatch measuring 4 inches x 4 inches square, but we don’t abide this recommendation. Unless you’re making a log cabin blanket, you aren’t knitting squares. You’re knitting huge prairies of fabric. You relax into your knitting and take on a rhythm, which affects your knitting.
Our advice is to double down and knit at least an 8x8 swatch. It’s also important to wash and dry your swatch. If you’re going to wash your garment, you have to wash your swatch. Otherwise, you have no idea how the fabric will behave after it gets wet. As we said above, certain fibers grow.
Note that a smaller needle was used for the upper half of the swatch, while a larger needle was used for the lower half. PRO TIP: The length of yarn left over from casting on was knotted 8 times to correspond with and keep track of the US size 8 needle used!
Important Tip: Swatch for the way you will knit. Don’t swatch flat if you’re knitting in the round, and vice versa.
Step 3 – Flatter Your Form
We’re big advocates for wearing whatever you want—for too long women have been fed an unhealthy diet of propaganda about what they can and can’t wear because of their age and weight.
However, we do know that we feel better in certain shapes and fits. There’s no denying that for some women, a form-fitting sweater feels better than an oversized caftan. Amy Herzog is quickly building a personal empire around knitting to your shape. Knowing what looks great on you, and what you’re comfortable wearing, is important to knitting a long-lasting wardrobe. You’re simply more likely to wear it if you feel good in it.
The Corporate Fashionista has some great visuals and tips for discovering flattering shapes for different body types. We’re each endowed differently, so look over the pattern you want to make to ensure it has the waist/bust shaping that best flatters your body—you can always make shaping alterations if need be (bless you, Amy Herzog, for these fool-proof instructions!). Better yet, if you’re a NYC local, come into String and let Lidia and our other professional staff members help ensure a perfect fit.
Step 4 – Measure a Garment You Already Love
You should always take your measurements— the Craft Yarn Council provides some good instructions, and you can also visit String Yarns and have your measurements taken by us!—but the next best thing is to find a garment in your wardrobe that already fits you like a dream, and measure that.
Lay your dream garment flat and take some measurements. You don’t have to go crazy—just take those measurements that contribute to what you love about the garment. Do you adore the length of the sleeves or the way the cuffs hug your wrists? The waist shaping? The length at which it hits your hip? These are important measurements. Thoroughly look over the pattern you want to make and take note of the shaping, and whether it has any. If it doesn’t, figure out how difficult it would be to add some shaping—a simple stockinette sweater would be easy to alter, a sweater with shifting cable-and-lace panels, not so much.
What did you think of our tips for making your dream garment? Do you have a favorite tip to ensure the perfect sweater?
May 16, 2016
The Tahki Stacy Charles Spring/Summer Trunk Show was a huge success! We enjoyed a presentation from our very own Stacy Charles as he discussed fashion trends, yarns and the fantastic TSC Collection.
"I popped into the store and found it was buzzing with knitters -- knitting, chatting, noshing and looking at and trying on the pieces. The store really felt "alive." There were so many garments to look at, you didn't know which way to turn. (And... I was excited to see my pieces again.)" Joan
"As soon as you enter the store, there is an explosion of color and texture all around. This trunk show has been great inspiration for us." Cynthia
See more behind the scenes photos from Stacy's visit to String [HERE].
You can still experience the collection now through 5/20 and don't miss 15% OFF select Tahki Stacy Charles garment yarns [HERE]. Sale ends 5/19.
Don't miss another String event! Subscribe to receive event updates [HERE].
May 08, 2016
by Tanis Gray
To me, the season of spring welcomes in an abundance of promise. New life, longer days, knitting on the porch at night, rather than bundled up in my office because it’s already dark and cold after dinner. We can take an evening walk, strolling through the neighborhood looking out for plants starting to pop up and push their way into the sun. The world seems to come alive this time of year and we’re all a bit like bears coming out of their caves after a long winter’s nap. We stretch, yawn, grab our knitting and head out into the world.
I find that my knitting changes this time of year. I reach for the lighter blends, head more in the direction of short cardigans or boleros, lace shawls and baby blankets. I beeline to the part of my LYS that boasts plant fibers with their easy drape and lighter weight. I explore new fibers and lighter colors – my brain and knitting thinking “spring” the whole time.
Spring is still a fickle friend. Layers are essential as the day goes from chilly to warm to downright hot here in Virginia. With that in mind, I’m excited to announce the fourth installment in our yearlong KAL (knit-a-long) with String Yarns in New York City. I’ve talked about the wonderful feeling of camaraderie in a past post here while doing these KALs, of meeting and making friends across the globe as we all stitch together, working on the same project. But what I enjoy the most is seeing knitters go from being complete beginners or have scant knowledge of a particular technique or two, to finishing their project with confidence, having a completed garment to wear with pride and the ability to understand the mechanics of how and why we’re doing something specific in the pattern. It’s one thing to know how to do something, but to understand why is of equal importance.
I’m thrilled to share with you our next project, the Breeze Bolero! Knit in a classic top-down raglan style, this is an ideal first or second sweater project. The benefits to knitting a top-down garment are numerous, but my favorites are that we can try it on as we go, there is practically no finishing, no seaming and it’s easy to make adjustments if you wish.
The Breeze Bolero is knit using String Yarn’s Breeze, a cashmere, silk, cotton blend fiber, perfect for spring and summer. This lightweight DK blend has wonderful drape and a dozen lovely colors to choose from. Use the code MayKAL16 to get 15% off on the kit here exclusively for our KAL! The pattern is written in 6 sizes, ranging from a 30.75″ bust circumference to a 50.25″ bust circumference, just specify which size you’d like in the drop down menu on the kit page to ensure accurate yarn amounts.
The Breeze Bolero KAL is chock full of techniques for us to explore together. Not only will we cover top-down construction, but we’ll turn our raglan increases into cable twists, make buttonholes, discuss the best way to attach buttons, read a schematic, and my favorite thing of all in this project, create Vikkle Braids.
How do our KALs work? Each Tuesday for a month starting on May 10, look for guidance and tips in the String Yarns Ravelry Group [HERE].
Photos courtesy Tanis Gray. Read the entire post from Tanis here.
May 07, 2016
As the warmer breezes arrive, so do new and exciting fiber collections that offer an amazing array of yarns. As we fill the shelves with all of this wonderment, the creative minds at String begin imagining spectacular new designs, each one combining yarns in a different fashion.
The String Opera Coat is a unique collaboration of color and texture similar to what we see in the store windows up and down Madison Ave, Lidia Karabinech was particularly inspired by this season’s Missoni collection.
"We wanted to make a cool, but very cosmopolitan piece that one could easily wear from day into night.” - Lidia
The top panel is worked up in our String Exclusive Breeze yarn, which adds structure to the sweater and perfect balance to the fluid drape of the lower panel.
TSC’s Stella, Tandem and Flora yarns are worked in coordinating colors highlighting the hills and valleys of the chevron pattern which flows so beautifully into the leaf lace pattern. Flora adds an elegant touch of twinkle, giving the garment an added dimension.
The sweater is delicately over-sized, one-size fits most. Lidia’s signature shoulder shaping along with the slim 3/4 sleeve balances the proportion of the body and together come together in a sleek and flattering piece. I-cord edging is the perfect finishing touch to offer a piece with couture details that are very feminine and on trend.
Get the String Opera Coat for the month of May for 20% OFF [HERE].
May 03, 2016
New York! The days were long, dark, and cold, but that dreadful time is finally over—Spring has sprung! Tulips are blooming on Park Avenue, the sun hangs low but warm at 6pm, and bare arms and legs are making their prefatory appearances.
What better time to meet Tahki Stacy Charles’ fantastic new Spring/Summer collections?
We’re accustomed to keeping eyes on Ravelry for the current seasonal offerings, but opportunities to see new garments in the cloth, so to speak, come few and far between. String Yarns is thrilled to announce that garments from Tahki Stacy Charles’ Spring/Summer 2016 collections will be coming to the store next Wednesday, May 11, 2016! As if that weren’t enough, TSC Yarns' fearless leader, Stacy Charles, will also be on hand from 3-7 pm to answer all your questions and help guide you towards your next warm weather knit!
We sat down with Stacy to get some early, behind-the-scenes feedback about Tahki Stacy Charles new collections—consider this your TSC Yarns primer!
Tahki Stacy Charles encompasses 3 very distinct brands—Stacy Charles Fine Yarns, Tahki Yarns, and Filatura Di Crosa.
Can you describe the individual "personalities" of the brands? If these 3 brands were women, what would they be like? Where in NYC would they live? Can you ascribe a popular designer/designers that fit the personality of each brand?
I think of the Stacy Charles Fine Yarns’ woman as being sophisticated and fashion conscious—she’s probably trying to snag tickets to at least one runway show at New York Fashion Week every year. She lives uptown, bordering Central Park on either side—she shops at Bergdorfs and Barney’s. The Stacy Charles woman loves designers like Michael Kors, Alexander Wang, and The Row.
The Tahki Yarns woman is more relaxed, playful, and adventurous. She could easily live downtown or in an outer borough like Brooklyn and commutes to Manhattan. She has a laid-back style and sensibility—she pounds the pavement in kitten heels for the office, but switches to stylish sneakers or ballet flats after hours. The Tahki Yarns woman loves Kate Spade and Tory Burch.
The Filatura Di Crosa woman is worldly, well traveled, international and artsy. She can be bold with print and texture, is influenced by the art scene, and isn’t afraid to mix up her style. She follows trends to subvert them and reinterpret them into something all her own. She lives in Tribeca, where she can be infused with new ideas and influenced by the current art scene. The Filatura Di Crosa woman loves designers like Celine, Missoni, and Stella McCartney.
Tahki Stacy Charles’ Spring Collections this year are thematic—can you describe each of those themes?
The Chelsea Morning Collection from Stacy Charles Fine Yarns exemplifies the hip, chic neighborhood of Chelsea in downtown Manhattan. It includes 17 knit and crochet designs with an urban, fashion-forward feel. Chelsea is home to the Fashion Institute of America, art galleries, The Highline, and unique fashion boutiques, and you can feel those influences in Chelsea Morning.
The Sea Breeze Collection from Tahki Yarns is like a Manhattanite’s weekend getaway collection. The 17 garments and accessories in Sea Breeze are inspired by New York’s beaches—Long Beach, Rockaway, etc. It’s very relaxed and casual, full of natural fibers and textures—it’s your classic, sitting-in-the-sun-on-a-towel, book-in-hand beach knitting.
The Arte Collection from Filatura Di Crosa is all about creativity and color, and the thoughtfulness and ingenuity of designs that exist in the place where fashion meets art. Arte includes 12 garments and accessories inspired by the runway and the art world—so many of Filatura Di Crosa’s yarns are infused with rich colors and textures, so it’s easy to see how that translates to garments with a painterly, artistic vibe.
Where do you find the greatest inspirations for your collections? Which designers do you consistently follow, year after year?
Living in New York, we’re blessed with a constant stream of inspiration. The city itself is like one big gallery, but we also have museums we can visit. I get a lot of inspiration just by walking the streets of Manhattan. I look at the way fashion is worn by both the older and younger generations. I look at trends and looks I’m seeing from a cultural as well as historical perspective. You’d be amazed at the way the brain consumes and translates the different inspirations it takes in just on a daily basis. Living in New York is a creatively enriching experience.
I consistently follow Missoni, Michael Kors, Prada, The Row, Versace, Dior, Chanel, and Brunello Cucinelli.
What is your favorite aspect of working in the knitting industry?
I love creating yarns and developing products. It’s a wonderful experience to be able to control a product and be there from its inception to its fruition. I like wearing the fashion hat and indulging in the creative side, and then taking those things that inspire me and hammering them out on the business end of things. It’s a personal investment, and one that I love dearly.
If you could pick one garment from each collection this season as your favorite, what would they be? What about yarns?
I love the Phlox Tank in Alicia & Crystal from Chelsea Morning, the Long Beach Poncho in Ripple from Sea Breeze, and the Caravaggio Cardigan in Chantal from Arte. To me, all of these garments exemplify each brand’s personality and are easy, light, wearable, and timeless—they are what Summer knitting should be about.
If I had to play yarn favorites, for Stacy Charles Fine Yarns it would have to be Alicia. Alicia is an elegant, lightweight linen in striking jewel tones. Linen is having a moment right now, which is great because it’s such a lovely Summer fiber—it has so much character, it grows softer with every wash, and it knits up beautifully.
For Tahki Yarns, I would pick Ripple. Ripple has been a beloved favorite among knitters ever since we introduced it. There is really nothing else like it anywhere. It has this very interesting flattened thick-thin quality that doesn’t require complicated stitchwork, but I’ve seen it worked up into cables and lace and it’s amazing the way the texture works out.
For Filatura Di Crosa, I have to pick another fan favorite: Tempo. Tempo is our Missoni-inspired yarn. It’s a self-striping, multicolor, tweedy cotton blend with a lot of texture. Knitters love it because it makes every knit look like an artist’s masterpiece. Tempo has a lot of personality and lends itself beautifully to outside-the-box garments like this season’s Botticelli Top.
Tahki Stacy Charles prides itself on a deep knowledge of fashion and an ability to stay trendy while still remaining wearable and timeless? How do you balance designs that are both classic and trendy?
With trends, everything goes into the idea mill. You don’t leave anything out, because even if you aren’t necessarily going to embrace the trend as a whole, you can always pick and choose details or aspects that translate well into knitted garments.
That being said, we take trends and try to balance them from the perspective of our yarns—what yarns will be best suited to a chosen silhouette? Once the trend is incorporated with that yarn, is the garment still wearable? Does the yarn lend it the right texture? When we look at adapting a trend for the hand knitting marketplace, the fashion aspect must be balanced with the wearability factor, and at the end of the day, wearability must come first.
You’ve had a lifelong relationship with yarns and fibers. What do you look for when introducing a new yarn for the season?
Believe it or not, I look for trends in yarn, trends in lifestyle, and trends in the general world. It’s like that moment in the Devil Wears Prada when Meryl Streep breaks down the particular shade of blue Anne Hathaway is wearing, and how it began on the runways and then was fed into different aspects of life. I glean information, both seasonally and globally, from so many different types of sensory observations, so I’m never specifically looking for any one thing, because what I’m looking for is always evolving.
What advice would you give to a knitter looking to cast on for a new project?
Do some research into what you are going to make. Think about what you’re putting into your wardrobe, how you will wear it. Knitting is not fast fashion—ideally, you will live with your garment/accessory for quite some time, so make something you will love. Make it with good materials too. It’s worth it to make yourself a quality garment. Know and trust your own sensibility; if you like the way it looks, go for it. Lastly, have a point of view. Wearing the trend doesn’t do you any good if it isn’t relatable to you. Have an opinion about it!
Join Stacy and the String Yarns’ staff on May 11 from 3-7 pm to see and touch the new Spring/Summer collections, try on your favorite yarns, and ask Stacy any questions we may have forgotten!
April 30, 2016
Mother's Day is rapidly approaching. Celebrate the Mom in your life...even if the Mom is YOU!
Choose a kit from our Mom's Day Gift Ideas Collection [HERE].
April 21, 2016
Designer and author Tanis Gray will host the fourth in String Yarns' series of 6 Ravelry KALs (knit-alongs), beginning May 10th in our Ravelry group. Join other knitters while learning new techniques to create this perfect 3-season bolero.
Tanis will share her expertise and teach you new skills during this KAL: top-down raglan construction, buttonholes, cable twists, Vikkel braids, M1R and M1L, steam blocking, pattern reading, sewing on buttons and schematic reading. She’ll walk you through each of these techniques as you make new Ravelry friends, ask questions, while knitting this 3-season bolero in a virtual knitting circle.
Please note that if you purchase the pattern prior to the start date of May 10th you will receive the specs and materials page (page 1) only with the discount code so that you can purchase your yarn. On the morning of May 10th, you will receive an update with the full pattern.
Don't forget, the Breeze Bolero KAL officially begins on Tuesday, May 10th! Buy the pattern now on Ravelry [HERE].
Offered in String Breeze, a beautiful blend of 20% cashmere, 20% silk and 60% cotton. Sample color: Lavender #200790.
Get the Breeze Bolero kit [HERE]. Use the code MayKAL16 to save 15% OFF.
April 19, 2016
The world of high fashion, the bustling streets of New York City, the flashy windows of Barney’s, Sak’s, & Bergdorf’s—String has a bountiful wellspring of inspiration from which to draw. Our cup runneth over, so to speak. With head designer Lidia at the helm and String’s faithful and incredible staff, it’s no surprise that String Yarns churns out the most innovative, beautiful, and haute couture designs.
Our very own Lidia Karabinech has been clicking away at the needles for over four decades. While we’ve always admired her fashionable eye and amazing ability to convert runway to retail, we realized there’s a lot we can all learn from Lidia. From her unique knitting method, her interesting choice for favorite fiber, and what she considers to be her richest knitting muses, we think you’ll be surprised and delighted to learn more about Lidia!
Let’s start at the beginning—where are you from?
I was born in the former Soviet Union, in Ukraine. I went to university in Kiev and then lived in western Ukraine, which is a beautiful mountainous area near Hungary. Then I moved to New York City in my thirties.
The Carpathian Mountains on the border of Hungary and the Ukraine
When did you start knitting? How did you learn to knit?
I learned to knit and crochet from my mother when I was 8 years old, so I have been knitting for almost fifty years.
What do you love about knitting?
I like to make things. From the very beginning I was interested in creating items I can wear. Even though I enjoy the knitting process, I always look forward to the completed garment.
What are your favorite fibers to work with? Do you have a least favorite fiber?
My forever favorite is linen. I think about blue flowers in linen fields, how it is treated with sun, wind, and rain. My grandmother used to live in a place where linen was grown, so it’s very personal. And I think linen ages like a woman—it becomes softer, relaxes a great deal, and it always retains its strength.
A flax field in bloom
(SIDE NOTE: The former Soviet Union is one of the world’s largest flax producers, and the Ukraine is now printing banknotes made from linen!)
Of course, I love cashmere for its softness and how easy it is to work with. The finished garment is so luxurious and always beautiful.
I don’t have a least favorite fiber. Even acrylic serves its purpose.
Are you a picker or a thrower - do you knit continental or english style?
I knit eastern European style, which is close to continental. I knit and purl through the back loop, but the yarn loops lay differently on the needle. I keep the yarn over my index finger on my left hand, no wrapping. (A helpful pictorial on Lidia’s method can be found here.)
How many WIPs do you currently have on the needles?
Countless. I have some sweaters that I started 15 years ago.
What is your favorite thing to knit?
Sweaters, cardigans, and big pieces. I also like to make scarves if I want to try a new yarn, so it’s not a big commitment. (Good tip!)
What inspires you to knit?
When we get a new yarn in the store, I just feel an itch in my hands to make something. Or if I see somebody’s intricate piece and I want to try a new technique. I feel there is always something new to learn.
How did you learn to design knitwear?
When I learned to knit, I had some books of stitch patterns but no written instructions for garments, so I learned to design from understanding garment construction and a little bit of math. I had no problem measuring myself and doing simple calculations. I studied tailoring and couture sewing later, so I mostly understand how things are made. I also read a lot of books about technique.
Where do you find design inspiration?
Everywhere. When I go to museums and see paintings or installations, I look for details that can be used in knitting. On a trip to Moscow, I drew inspiration from the famous onion domed churches and thought about how they could be translated into hat shapes or colorwork. Flower shows enhance my sense of color. And butterflies. Also, when I see runway “it” pieces, I like to use and reinterpret some of the details.
Lidia's Flower-Motif Beanie & the famous Onion Domed Churches of Moscow
Which comes first—do you pick out a yarn and then design based on the yarn, or do you fashion a design idea and then look for a yarn to suit the design?
It goes both ways. If I’m using a particular yarn as a starting point, I think about how it will drape, what kind of stitch can be used without being overwhelming, so you can see the beauty of the fiber. The shape of the garment has to compliment the body shape.
What is your/String’s design process?
We first decide what yarn we want to use, and then we consider trend reports, fashion magazines, what people are wearing on the street, what we see in high-end stores. Our goal is to present our clients with pieces that are trendy, but classic enough to be worn for many years without looking outdated. I personally like simple shapes with couture details.
What inspired the couture designs you did for Tahki Stacy Charles Yarns this season? (Modigliani Tunic, Titian Shawl/Scarf, and Orient Point Asymmetrical Skirt)
When I saw Filatura Di Crosa MiniTempo, it screamed “Missoni”. The Modigliani Tunic is reminiscent of seventies ribbed sweaters and dresses; it’s body hugging and youthful. And, of course, striped.
Missoni for Vogue 1971 (l) and Lidia's Modigliani Tunic in Filatura Di Crosa MiniTempo (r)
The Titian Shawl/Scarf in Nirvana & Superior (below left) is a simple piece that you can knit on a trip, or anywhere without thinking too much, just relaxing. The combination of yarns is soft, breezy, and light.
The Orient Point Asymmetrical Skirt (above right) is made with Tahki Yarns’ linen/cotton blend Laguna. This piece is easy to layer. I like the high/low silhouette because you can style it different ways—so it’s low in the front and long in the back, or with one side lower than the other. You can even wear it over your shoulders as a little cape. It’s a playful piece.
Of all your designs, which is your most favorite?
Probably the Coat of Angled Cables (below) in String Classica, but it’s hard for me to choose. I hope my best is yet to come.
What was the last thing you finished knitting?
The Fruit Stripe Pullover is the last piece I made.
Set the mood. How else do you entertain yourself when you're knitting? (Watch tv, listen to music/podcasts, drink tea, etc.) Are you currently watching something while you knit that you'd like to recommend?
I like to watch (or listen to) TV, and drink a lot of coffee.
Thank you so much, Lidia! We loved Lidia’s view on linen, her magnanimous approach to the utility of all fibers—big and small—and how much her history influences her design process.
Do you have any questions for Lidia? Which is your favorite Lidia design? Let us know in the comments below!