Monday, December 8, 2008

Knitting Contrisstmas Day 7: Iris Schreier- ArtYarns

Iris (above) wearing a moebius of her own design knitted with 2 colors of Artyarns Silk Rhapsody

Iris, I really appreciate your appearance for Knitting Contrisstmas this year, it is an honor!! I've never met you in person and certainly can't wait for the opportunity to do that!

KC: Can I just tell you right off the bat how much I love ArtYarns? Just mention the yarn to any knitter and they will sigh off at the mere thought of the quality and beauty of each skein! How did you get started there?

IS: My first book, "Exquisite Little Knits", was organized by yarn type, and I realized when sending out to various companies for sample yarns for the book, that there was no hand painted silk yarn and the options for hand painted cashmere yarn were very limited as well. I decided to venture into my own business in order to fill the holes in the market and hand-dye luxury yarns.

KC: The Chevron Ruana pattern (featured in current ads in knitting magazines) just knocks my socks off. It is gorgeous! It is from “Lacy Little Knits”, a wonderful book! Can you tell me what inspired your latest book?

IS: Well "Lacy Little Knits" is my latest available book, but not my last, thank goodness. I was inspired to create Lacy Little Knits because of my love for lace and the fact that lace knitting is practiced by so many people these days. Lace knitting does not have to be complicated to be stunning, and I wanted to illustrate that with the use of some of ArtYarns’ incredible embellished yarns as well as with our basic luxury yarns. The beads and sequins and pearl versions of our yarns help augment the design of the silk and let the knitter have the fun of creating a unique item.

KC: you have two other great books, “Modular Knits” and “Exquisite Little Knits”---- I love them both. Is there another fabulous book in the works?

IS: Yes, I have a new book all finished! It’s called “Reversible Knits” and it combines the beauty of knitting with the functionality of a reversible garment or accessory that is perfect on either side. It will be out in April of 2009 and it is published by Lark.

KC: How would you describe your designs?

IS: Respectful to the materials which are used would be the best way I could describe my designs. My intention is to showcase the beauty of the fibers with hand-dyed, top grade silk, cashmere, merino and mohair. It’s easy to let the yarn be the star when the materials are so naturally exquisite from the outset. I am also fascinated with construction and the architectural element involved in designing a knitted item.

KC: Do you design for the specific yarn? Or does the yarn inspire a particular pattern? Sort of the chicken or the egg controversy!

IS: It can go either way. Sometimes, the yarn “talks” to me and I want to showcase it’s color and texture, so I may choose a very basic design variation. Other times, I will see something and it will start my designer heart to envision how it could be translated into a finished garment. Ideas comes from anywhere – an art exhibit, a flower, a change in the seasons. The world is awash with inspiration. When you open your heart, as well as your eyes, it’s there for everyone to draw upon. If there’s one thing I would like to communicate to everyone, it’s that we all have the capability of creativity. I often design new yarns with specific patterns in mind.

KC: What has been your favorite design, or is that like calling out one particular child?

IS: It is exactly like that since I tend to love my designs for their individual aspects – whether that be for a specific technique or a detail or a yarn and color combination. A lot also depends on the category. For instance, I love designing items that have a lot of drape. My Silk Rhapsody Ruana is a great example of that – as is my Celestial Tie Wrap Jacket which use Silk Glitter yarn and Mohair. They have a dramatic flourish to them and they showcase the yarns and colors so well.

KC: What has been your “most knitted” design?

IS: Definitely the Multidirectional Triangle Scarf. Although there are many versions out there now, I must tell you that mine was actually first and original. Followed by the Zigzag Scarf, and Sheer One-Piece Shawl. I sold these patterns individually and they can all be found in my book Modular Knits. More recently, the Diagonal Tee has gained popularity, and that can be found as a sheet pattern (P90), and is also in the book Lacy Little Knits.

KC: Because you are a crazy knitter as well…………what is your favorite thing to knit.

IS: I like to make larger items when I’m home or in the studio – Anything that illustrates the effects of draping and color on a larger canvas. When traveling, which I need to do quite a bit, I love to have portable designs along for the ride. Scarves, children’s items, crochet work – You name it, I have been known to drag it with me everywhere – even the gym.

KC: It has become well known that I am the only slow throwing knitter left on the planet these days…………. Does speed matter?

IS: No! Not for a moment. It’s the process that matters. It’s about the enjoyment of the work, the yarn and the time spent in doing it. Remember knitting is considered one of the most meditative of all the crafts. No meditative effort should be rushed.

KC: Are you a process or a product knitter?

IS: Both! I love the process. It’s the process that allows me to harness my energy and put my thought into every stitch. The reality of my business, with its deadlines, does demand that I turn out a lot of product – and I’m grateful for those who help me to do that in a timely fashion.

KC: You are a knit designer of much acclaim, do other designers inspire you? If so, who rings your bells?

IS: I have studied with Shirley Paden, and I think she is one of the most amazing designers that I have ever encountered. I have taken her classes more than once, and each time I learn more things. She is brilliant and I can’t wait for her first book to come out next fall.

KC: Is there anything in the world of knitting that you have not done and wish to tackle?

IS: I enjoy discovering new techniques that I have not seen before and developing them into patterns for knitters. Or making something that is cumbersome, slightly easier. In Modular Knits that was the idea of modular knitting with short rows, so that you would not be required to pick up stitches. In Lacy Little Knits it was using faux lace patterns that did not require graphs or memorization. In Reversible Knits (April 09) it is a collection of techniques that I have developed that are new or have not seen assembled before—e.g., long tail cast on to create a moebius; cables that are completely different on each side; double knitting that is completely different on each side; cables combined with double-knitting; one-piece modular construction…. Even embossed knitting was included, which is a phrase I coined for knitting with 2 different-colored strands together, and using 1 of the strands to form a design on one of the sides.

KC: I know you are very involved in the Ravelry world, do you spend daily time on the web Ravelizing? Can you please share your Ravelry name for those who haven’t found you yet?

IS: I wish I had more time to spend on the internet. I love the knitting community that lives there. It’s united people from all over the world, who have the love of knitting and crochet in common. Ravelry is an amazing asset to everyone, and I do appreciate it. You can find me on Ravelry by going to My Ravelry name is irissch.

KC: What else do you do to feed your inner creative muse?

IS: In addition to vintage knit or crochet patterns, music and art are large influencers. Nature is also up there since it tends to inspire my color choices. I’m fascinated with the change of seasons because each part of the year is unique in its reflection of our world..

KC: What will you be doing during the holidays 2008?

IS: Getting ready for the launch of my new book, “Reversible Knits”, and turning out additional designs for some of the magazines and editors who have been good enough to ask for more. And working on an incredible new yarn called Splash that has splashes of beads and sequins…stay tuned.

KC: What is coming up for Iris in the future?

IS: I already have some ideas for the next book, believe it or not. I am going to be traveling to Europe in the spring – for an international fiber fair – and I hope to make my yarns more widely available in Europe. There’s a real (and growing) demand for luxury and fine yarns and, thank goodness, there has been a lot of interest in ArtYarns on the European market.

Thanks Iris---------- we appreciate your time and you know for a fact that the knitting community will be on the alert for your new book, can't wait! Happy Holidays!

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