This is a design that I began in Spring of 2020. It was knitted in the early days of the pandemic when many, including myself, thought we’d be back to “normal” by the Summer. At the time, I was inspired by Spring colors and a hopeful fresh beginning...and now almost one year later I have those same thoughts. The design itself is a reflection of my love of color, a long-time admiration of mosaic knitting, and a more recent infatuation of textural Japanese knitting stitches.
Q. What’s the significance of the name?
I’ve become a little obsessed with names of small towns in Alabama AND Michigan.
Sometimes (Not Always😂) a name pops up that just makes sense. “Union” is a small town located in both states...but also the word “union” is about melding, joining, and coming together. Seems fitting to me.
Q. So many beautiful kits! What are your personal favorite(s)?
I had the luxury of getting to swatch several color combos...and I want to make EVERY ONE! The kit containing Pinky Swear with Hotsy Totsy, Feather Dusters and Sockeye is in my queue! Then there’s Miss Manners with Wax Poetic and Barely Birch....not to mention Enchantment, Ogre, Gilded Age...both of those have Wintry Mix as a neutral and I’m having a hard time making my final decision. I need to take a class on speed knitting!
Q: Do you have any tips or secrets you’d like to share that are useful in your making?
Color plays a large role in my process, and my iPad goes hand in hand as a part of this. Lately I’ve been using the Plucky Knitter App to help me create different color combos. I use the “favorites” section of the App to create my own color pairings. I have the ability to ❤️ a color and it shows up in a list that I can later edit or make adjustments to. If you want to see how two colors look next to each other, or need to see subtle differences between two close colors, then this is a fabulous tool.
Q: What’s on your needles for Winter knitting?
I took a few weeks away from A.Opie Designs for pleasure knitting....I made “Sweater No. 11” by My Favorite Things Knitwear...and currently on my needles is the gorgeous “Pressed Flowers” by Amy Christoffers. I’m using Terra DK and it is stunning. Must. Finish. This. ASAP so I can wear it!
Never fear...I’m also in the design cave with so many fun ideas for 2021. Behind me right now...on a table in my office...are quite a few color combos laid out in several different Plucky bases...all designated for various designs in the works. They are calling my name...waiting patiently for me to dive in. I can’t wait to share them!
Q: And we’re guessing you’ve also been up to some wonderful Winter baking…and cooking?
I have joined the party and discovered hot chocolate bombs! (Look ‘em up on social media.) I ordered the chocolate molds....plus some VERY awesome sprinkles to make them fancy! This is all thanks to Instagram for gently suggesting these items in my feed....hmmmm...do I say thank you, or should I be concerned that they know me so well?
But, It needs to be said...they are so much fun to make and give away. My friends’ children are on a constant sugar high. Oof....sorry about that.
I wanted to design a versatile accessory item that could be worn in multiple ways. I envisioned the cowl staying on while inside shopping or dining, and then transitioning as a layering piece over your coat while outside in cold weather. It has a coordinating hat, and the pattern offers multiple sizes including a child’s size.
Q.Your favorite color combos?
Cuddle Bug is in the color family that I LOVE! I realize it’s not for everyone....but I’m drawn to the scummy yellow greens...I consider it to be a neutral....don’t laugh!
Seriously...it’s a wonderful backdrop to showcase other colors…pinks and reds pop....aqua blues and purples create a lovely contrast, and neutrals give the eyes a place to rest. When picking color palettes, I make a conscious effort to have a versatile representation from the color wheel. Some of the combos in this offering are a little off the beaten path...maybe a little unexpected. I find it fun to occasionally knit something outside the norm.
Q.New Year's Resolutions?
I’m not one for listing out resolutions. I figure if it’s important enough...then you should do it..no need for a calendar rollover! I will say, I make a point to learn or try at least one new thing each year. I don't always achieve it...but most years I reflect back and can find something to meet my self-imposed criteria!
Q.Reflections on 2020?
Knitting sure helped me navigate 2020...I’ve never been more grateful to have a hobby to keep my mind occupied. While 2020 might be remembered as one of the worst years for many, I like to remind myself that wonderful things still happened....just different than most of us expected.
Q.Plans for 2021?
I would love nothing more than to be able to gather with friends and visit family that we haven’t seen in well over a year. I’m hopeful and optimistic for the coming year. As far as knitting goes....I’m always thinking of new designs and I also plan to knit a few things for myself as well. I learn and fine tune my skills with every project I knit.
Creating our Winter Capsule Collection presented another wonderful opportunity to collaborate with our good friend Amy Opie of A.Opie Designs.Once again, the fact that Amy lives in Alabama and we live in Michigan didn’t hamper our collective creativity, nor the wonderful comradery we’ve developed. No matter the distance, it is always a joy to see how knitting can bring us together.
As you will see, Amy’s great sense of color and her charm shine through in her Fairview hat. We love how the rotation of color offers a variety of coordinated hats, maximizes yarn usage, and minimizes remnants. Thank you, Amy, for another truly great collaboration!
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Amy, we invite you to read on!
Q. What inspired your fabulous Fairview hat for our Winter Collection?
I wanted to design a color work project that was mindful of yarn waste while appealing to gift knitting’s need for smaller projects. However, using multiple colors in a small item generates quite a bit of leftover yarn.I challenged myself to create something that minimizes the remnants and still satisfied my love of using multiple colors, so I designed a hat where the colors were interchangeable.Each hat is distinctive yet harmonizes with the others. 4 skeins, 4 colors...4 hats!
Q. How did you go about selecting the bases and colors?
The Plucky Knitter has a fantastic selection of bases and several met my specific needs for this project.
First...I wanted DK weight because of its versatility across a wide range of climates.
Second...The yardages needed to be generous enough to easily knit four hats with enough leftover yarn to make a Pom Pom. Both Terra DK and Beau DK fit the bill perfectly.
Color...wow...what can I say? No one does it better than Plucky! When choosing the colors for Fairview I wanted the customer to have a wide variety of choices...some with a holiday vibe...some with a traditional feel, and, last but not least...bright, happy with a touch of whimsy.
Q. Are you inspired more by color or by yarn type?
Wait....You said there wouldn’t be hard questions! I performed a random drawing....Color for the win! Truth...I have to love both! 😍
Q. Among all of the color kits, do you have some personal favorites?
I’ve already made kits 1-3. Does this make me seem crazy?Don’t answer that..lol.
And yet.....Kit No. 9 and Kit No. 11 are calling my name......So don't judge me!
Q. When you design your patterns, do you draw inspiration from any particular style icons?
Lately I’ve been re-watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” The clothes in this show are fabulous! If you look at anyone’s old family photos....people really did dress like this...there was no such thing as casual Friday.
Q. How would you describe your own style?
Full disclosure... I’msitting here in my flannel PJs... but...my pre-Covid style I’d describe as classic with pops of color....always a pop of color!
Q. What’s the most rewarding part about designing?
I really do love seeing what others knit with my patterns. It’s very flattering to scroll through social media and see what people have made! If someone knits more than one...it’s the ultimate compliment.
Q. What do you have in the works for holiday gift knitting this year?
Spoiler alert... everyone in the Opie family is getting a hat! Oh... and homemade baked goods... because that precedent has been well established!
We’ve so enjoyed collaborating with Amy Opie of A.Opie Designs on our 2020 Fall Capsule Collection! The fact that Amy lives in Alabama and we live in Michigan didn’t hamper our collective creativity, nor the wonderful comradery we’ve developed. No matter the distance, it is always a joy to see how knitting can bring us together. Thank you, Amy, for a truly great collaboration!
As you will see, Amy’s contribution to our fall pattern capsule is both uplifting in her use of color and inspiring in the way she pairs stitches and colorwork. Her patterns are unique, engaging, and above all, fun!
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting and knowing Amy, we are pleased to introduce you to her through this Designer Spotlight.
Q. When did you first learn to knit and who taught you?
I learned to knit in 2001 while living in Ohio...I was taught by a lady named Holly who owned a yarn shop in Vermillion, Ohio.
Q. As you were learning to knit, what was your biggest challenge?
I immediately wanted to start with big projects...no dish cloths for me! My very first project was a sweater that NEVER got finished....it remains on sleeve island to this day.
Q. How and when did you decide to design patterns?
It really wasn't in my mindset to ever design patterns. Gentle nudges from Susan Barstein (SknitsB) and Donna Higgins (Big Bad Wool) morphed into lots of encouragement and frankly pushing me (in a very loving way) down the path. I’ve been writing patterns for five years, and I now have 22 published designs.
Q. What are your sources of creative inspiration?
Without a doubt, I love textiles and color. Art, fabric, and fashion all contribute to my creative process. I have a vast and completely unorganized Pinterest profile which I often circle back to for inspiration.
Q. What influences your color choices and pairings?
Fabric and Art!
Q. Do you have a “secret” knitting tip you’re willing to share?
Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.
Q. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not knitting and designing?
So far 2020 has rearranged everyone’s “normal” into something different. For me, I would say friends, family, travel, and sports have shifted to FaceTime, reading, jigsaw puzzles, and cooking.....lots and lots of cooking! Without any doubt...knitting still brings me a lot of joy!
Q. How did you come up with the names of your patterns for this collaboration with Plucky?
With very few early exceptions, I name my patterns after cities or towns in Alabama. Plucky Knitter is Michigan-based....so, what to do?! After a little research, it was no surprise that there were quite a few towns with corresponding names found in both states. I’ve enjoyed learning a little about each town.
I named the Jasper sweater after a city in Cullman County, Alabama, and also a small town in southeast Michigan’s Lenawee County.
And here’s a fun fact about the name of my cowl pattern—there’s a Chelsea, Alabama, and a Chelsea, Michigan, and both have notable, beautiful clock towers!
Q. What was the inspiration behind your Jasper sweater for this collection?
Designing a top down sweater had been a personal goal for 2020. My aim was to create something that a skilled beginner might want to try, but still appeal to more advanced knitters. I wanted to combine my love of color with a little texture... challenging for some, yet holding the interest of others.
Q: What was the inspiration behind your Chelsea Cowl for this collection?
Stranded color work is my ABSOLUTE favorite technique. The endless color options and designs that can be created from this skill appeal to me on so many levels. Chelsea began as a sketch that I translated to a color chart. Always a work in progress, I make changes as I go...ripping....adding…or removing colors. I wanted to break up the stranded color work with a simple textured section that repeats at intervals throughout. I personally LOVE this particular silhouette. It shows off all the color work and creates that pop of color up against coats or sweaters.