JBW’s loveable head knitter and owner Laura Zander sat down with the brilliant Lorna Miser for a great casual interview about her new book The Knitter's Guide To Hand-Dyed And Variegated Yarn. And she left us a couple signed copies that we’ve decided to giveaway to all the Lorna’s Laces fans out in cyberspace AND in our LYS. Here’s the interview:
Laura: Can you tell us how this book came to be?
Lorna: You might say the book ideas started a long, LONG time ago. I started Lorna’s Laces on a shoe string when I was in my 20’s. Amazingly, to me anyway, it grew to the point that I hired help, lots of help and needed a web site. On-line I met Laura (aka Jimmy) and we met a couple times to discuss how she could help build a site for me. At one point Laura inquired about the idea of supporting oneself owning a yarn shop. I knew enough successful shop owners to tell her that yes, it was more than possible, I was sure it could be done well if run as a business, not a hobby or as someone who wanted to sit and knit all day.
Oh how I wish I had a penny for every dollar Ms. Laura has earned. (joking) She has made me as proud as the new (8 years now) owner of Lorna’s Laces, Beth Casey. I sold the company to Beth in 2003 after it, like my children, had grown up and was ready to leave the nest.
Since selling LL, I now devote my work full time to designing, teaching and writing books. This is my second book. It focuses on teaching knitters why hand dyed and variegated yarns do what they do (make pools and seem unpredictable). Once you know what to expect from the yarns, you can take control of them. The techniques I show in the book are not complex or advanced, but they will allow you to emphasize a color, a stitch pattern or choose a pattern with confidence.
|Beaded Silk & Sequins Color 141|
Laura: What’s your favorite project in the new book?
Lorna: Not so much a favorite pattern, but my favorite technique is adding a matching solid. By choosing a solid, preferably a hand dyed one that matches one of the colors in the multi perfectly; you can add invisible stripes periodically as you wish. Doing this prevents color pooling and also lets me manipulate the color MY way…usually that mean with more purple in it!
Laura: Other than Lorna’s Laces (obviously), what hand-dyed company (or companies?!) do you admire the most, want to knit with the most, love the most?
Lorna: I like the work of Hand Painted Knitting Yarns and the way they combine so many textures, all dyed the same color. I love ArtYarns and their fabulous silk, beads and sequins! (BLING!)
Laura: What’s your favorite yarn of all time?
Lorna: If I was on the Minnow and stranded on a desert island with only one yarn choice (lol), it would still to this day be Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted. I designed the yarn with the right bounce, twist, loft, softness, body, ability to absorb color, washability, you name it! I just love this yarn for every reason under the sun.
|Purple Mustang in Helen's Lace|
Laura: Other than the new Lorna’s color (Lorna's Purple Mustang), what is your favorite hand-dyed color on the market?
Lorna: Hmmm, purple, aborigine, plum, lilac, eggplant, lavender, mauve, violet, wine, amethyst, heliotrope…do you see a pattern? Seriously, I do love purple. I wear a lot of purple, I had my car painted purple and I decorated my house in a lot of purple. But I do balance it with other colors. My current preference is sage shades of green and soft dusty purple.
Laura: What are you going to knit with the new Purple Mustang color?
Lorna: I've designed a very simple but dramatic shawl using Lorna’s Purple Mustang. The colorway ranges from very pale to very dark which can make a color difficult to show off well. I made a lace shawl that is a very repetitive eyelet pattern. The semi-circular shape is constantly increasing which changes the stitch number which in turn, diminishes the pooling. The colors can’t really form a repeat if the stitch number is changing all the time. Maybe I’ll have time for a pair of fingerless gloves and a hat to match this winter!
Laura: What’s on your needles today?
Lorna: There is always “work knitting” which means either swatches for proposals or items for classes or designs for publications. That does NOT mean that they are not fun, enjoyable knitting, just the opposite. Because I design projects that are true to me, things that I would wear or things that I think are fun to knit, I honestly enjoy every minute of my “work knitting”. Please don’t tell my employers! Shhhh!!
For fun knitting, I have far less discipline. I let personal projects linger for months, some even become UFO’s! Currently I’m finishing the sleeves and hood on a sweatshirt style sweater for my youngest grandchild. The older two have been wearing theirs for months, but this one lingers on! Yes, I’m just like many of you!
Laura: If you weren’t a knitting designer or involved in the yarn industry, what would you be? A chef? A musician?
Lorna: If I had to cook for a living, I’d be homeless. I like to bake a batch of cookies now and then, but mostly I dislike the kitchen. Many of my kitchen cupboards are full of paints, grandchildren’s treats and flower vases. I’d rather have flowers than a home cooked meal. I suppose I could work on the music though. I've played violin since I was um, 8 or 9? I love, love, love violin or fiddle or any kind of music that it gives. Occasionally when I've practiced people can stand to be in the same room while I play. Currently my beautiful antique violin is a wall hanging. I also have a very weird looking electric violin!
|Vera in Shepherd Worsted|
Laura: What’s one thing that most people probably don’t know about you? (Other than the fact that my favorite LL color, Vera, is named for your mother!)
Lorna: LOL, it’s great to have a mom who knits because I have often just given her yarn for a gift rather than having to knit the item for her. One time I designed a colorway for her, to match some of her raw silk separates that she wore. I named the colorway Vera as a gift and a tribute; however she had to knit it herself. (silly evil giggle!)
Other factoids about me? I’m spontaneous to a fault, I don’t really like planning tomorrow yet, but I will if you make me. I ride my bicycle a lot. I like country music, especially Trace Adkins who I've met one-on-one. I speak Himalayan Cat fluently and just a little Spanish. I love, love, love Scotland and one of these days I might just buy a one way ticket and disappear there. I’m not Scottish but could pass for it with my fair skin, (faux) red hair and the name Lorna but would ruin the secret by speaking since I can’t even fake a good Scottish accent. I can pass for Minnesotan though since I do have that in my blood, doncha know?!
Laura: Do you miss owning LL?
Lorna: Nope. It was a lot of work, physically, mentally and in my life, it had become a burden, not as much to me but to those around me. Since then I have found ways to start my life over and I might handle it differently now. But I have no regrets, I still get to do what I love every day of my life and feel recognized for it. I’m very happy.
Laura: Who’s your closest friend in the yarn industry?!
Lorna: You Laura, of course! You silly, smart, brat. Lol I adore you, admire your accomplishments and am proud to know you.
Thank you so much to Lorna for taking the time to chat with us!! And thanks for generously donating these books for giveaway. Here are the details:
We have 2 signed copies of Lorna's new book, “The Knitter's Guide To Hand-Dyed And Variegated Yarn” to giveaway! We will be giving one away here on the blog. To enter, leave a comment (one per person please) and tell us what your favorite Lorna's Laces colorway is before 3pm PST Friday (January 14th). We will pick a winner using a random number generator.
The other book will be given away as an in-store drawing! For those of you who don't know, we are not only your local yarn store online, but for a lot of folks we are their local yarn store in person!! All you locals drop in and enter in person this week. The time lines are the same!!
Check back this Friday and we will announce the winner's of both contests!! Thanks again to Lorna for all that you've done for Laura and the rest of us here at Jimmy Beans Wool. (And for making some of the most scrumptious delightful fibers!)
Good luck and Happy Knitting!