Friday, July 26, 2013

No Worries - Knits All Done!

I don't know about you, but I LOVE finding tools and tidbits on the Interwebs that help make my life easier, especially when it comes to knitting.  Whether it's digital graph paper for plotting designs, a website where I can order as much undyed yarn as I want (for Kool-Aid dyeing experiments, of course!), or a formula for planning the perfect stripe sequence for my next pair of socks, I’m thrilled that there’s so much interesting information out there about my craft!

That’s why I was stoked to find out about Knits All Done, a professional knitwear finishing service started by Keith Leonard, who realized that he was one of the few knitters out there who really enjoyed that aspect of project-making that many of us dread: finishing!  I will admit that I have at least one sweater in my stash that’s still in pieces – only because I’ve been putting off the hours-long process of blocking, seaming, and weaving in all those ends.  I’m also guilty of rejecting patterns with too many pieces or color changes (I’ve only ever done ONE project that used intarsia…shh, don’t tell anyone!), for the same reason, and I know I’m not the only one.
  
Naturally, I wanted to find out more about Keith and his company, so I called him up and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, and provide me with pictures of some of the work he’s done. 



Keith (and a pile of yarn!)
1.      What started you knitting?  How long have you been knitting/crafting?

I started knitting at age 11 when I joined a lunchtime knitting program in my public school. I was the only boy to participate in the program, and I definitely paid the price in terms of bullying, but ultimately, that didn’t matter. I had always loved crafting projects, in all forms, whether it was drawing, painting, ceramics, sculptures--anything.  But I knew I had found my niche with knitting. When I went away to college I was known as “that kid who knits during class,” and even better, in college (unlike in grade school) I was widely accepted and the students and faculty were always interested (as opposed to confused by) what I had on my needles.

2.      What’s your favorite thing to knit?
Sweaters! I love knitting sweaters, from complex cables and color work, to a classic stockinette stitch sweater with a beautiful hand-dyed yarn. You can never have enough sweaters, and with all the new yarns and patterns on the market, the possibilities of creation and fashion are endless!

3.      How would you describe your business?  What’s its place in the knitting/fiber arts world?
I would first of all describe my business as a labor of love. I genuinely enjoy the hard work and time I put into each and every project. In the fiber arts world, my business is the only official company for professional knitwear finishing. My love for finishing combined with the average knitter’s abhorrence for finishing culminate in the perfect match.  I hope my business inspires knitters to enjoy knitting, without having to struggle through the tedious finishing stages. 

4.      What was the inspiration for Knits All Done, and how did you make that into an actual business?

Knitwear finishing is a specialized type of work I have done locally for a long time. During the holiday season of 2012, I was extremely busy working in the city when a customer called me to inquire about a finishing project. Our schedules prevented us from meeting in-person, so instead, she mailed me a beautiful sweater to finish and send back to her. When I shipped the finished sweater back to her, it occurred to me:  “Why not offer my services to the rest of America?”
As for turning Knits All Done into an actual business, it has been the singular biggest learning experience of my life. I knew I needed a premier logo that would be a crisp, clean reflection of the work I do. I multi-tasked, hiring a first-rate graphic designer to bring my vision to life while reading guides on HTML-coding in order to construct my website. After all that, the Facebook page was born and I began making many new friends, connections, and customers.

5.      Why do you like finishing knitwear – a task that so many other people avoid like the plague?
Swallowtail Shawl
It’s true; the majority of knitters would say they hate finishing. It is very labor-intensive, yet I believe that the finishing aspect of knitting/crocheting marks the very important difference between handmade and homemade knitwear.  While working in yarn stores for six years, I have had experience finishing over 100 garments. This provided me with the practice I needed in order to perfect my finishing skills. I love the finishing aspect of knitwear because I am able to see the process through from conception to completion. I truly believe I have perfected the finishing aspect of knitwear.  Finishing is a completely different skill set that is often mistaken for sewing.
            
Perfecting any skill is a wonderfully rewarding experience. Do you remember when you knit your first project? At first, your tension was most likely uneven and you dropped stitches left and right, but as you progressed, you were able to see vast improvements in your work.  This applies to finishing as well. 

6.      What aspect/type of project (if any!) do YOU avoid like the plague?
Yikes! This is indeed a hard question. Do I get any lifelines? Can I phone a friend? Okay, in terms of finishing, there is no project I would avoid. When it comes to my personal knitting, I do avoid putting zippers in my knits, simply because I love the look and feel of buttons on hand-knit sweaters.

7.      What would you say is the most exciting part of your job/aspect of your business?
Hands down, the most exciting part of my job is when a customer phones in after receiving their finished project in the mail. One customer elatedly exclaimed, ”You are a human machine! Your work is meticulous and I couldn’t be happier.” There is nothing more rewarding than doing what you love, and making others happy at the same time. I also appreciate the opportunity to see the individuality of each person’s product when they send it to me for finishing. 

8.      What’s been your favorite finishing project so far?
Lizard Ridge
I have two favorites!  The Lizard Ridge afghan knit using Noro Kureyon has always been a favorite to finish. I love how no two squares are alike and therefore each and every afghan comes out different. The Lizard Ridge is an explosion of color, and you can’t help but to feel joyful when you get a chance to see it as a finished and polished piece of work.  
On a more personal note, a month before I graduated college, one of my most beloved professors passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. He was always known for wearing a purple sweater, and as part of a collage that my classmates and I put together, I knit and performed the finishing on a miniature purple sweater to replicate his signature style. I could have been working on my senior thesis assignment, but to me, this was a way more important endeavor. This sweater was my absolute favorite item to finish. I knit it just like a real sweater, complete with a front, a back, and two sleeves. I then seamed, blocked, and picked up stitches to knit the collar. I will never forget the amount of love that went into that project, nor will I forget the brilliance of the man who inspired its creation.     

9.      Any really interesting or off-the-wall requests you’ve received?
Well, recently, a customer sent me a cotton sweater to be assembled. She had run out of yarn, and told me the sweater was about three inches too short. I assured her that due to the content of the cotton, I would certainly still able to block it to her measurements. When she received the finished project, she was so impressed with the fit of the sweater that she asked is if I could block her body about a foot or two,“ to even out about 20 pounds.”  I said, “Sure, why not?" and thought to myself, "I better add that to my list of available services!" 

10.   Any type of finishing/project you WON’T do?
Simple answer: No. I will perform finishing on any knitted or crocheted item. The more challenging, the better!

Nespelem Cardigan

11.   Any advice you’d like to share with budding entrepreneurs out there in the fiber arts world?  
Like any skill, knitwear finishing takes time and years of experience. Before starting Knits All Done, I worked at a variety of yarn shops in different locations with a large variety of customers and colleagues. Being patient, open-minded and honest are the three most important factors that I would associate with my business. I would advise others in the fiber arts world to build a foundation of trust with their customers. I trust my customers. My customers trust me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 


So, there you have it – one more helpful service to have in your back pocket in case you come across that project that you’d love to knit, but would hate to finish.  Visit http://www.knitsalldone.com/ to find out more!

~Heather

3 comments:

  1. What a fantastic concept! I will definitely keep Knits All Done in mind for the next project that needs finishing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. As someone who has worked with Keith and seen his knitting and finishing in person, I cannot recommend him highly enough. He does beautiful work and he's a pleasure to deal with.

    ReplyDelete
  3. At least you find knitting a great way to keep you sane and relaxed. It can actually help refresh the mind so that you can think clear which can be good in formulating thesis topic and writing the paper. Anyway, I do hope everything went well with your plans.

    ReplyDelete