Monday, September 19, 2011

Getting Chatty with Yarncraft of Lion Brand

What is a Yarncrafter? I haven't been able to find the word yarncrafter in the dictionary just yet, but I have a feeling that we'll see that very word in a future edition of Webster's.

To many of us who crochet, knit, weave or spin the epitome of a yarncrafter is one who can do all of those things and more. Fortunately, those of us who may only participate regularly in one of those crafts can also consider ourselves a yarncrafter.

Yarncrafting for me began in childhood, with a dabbling of crochet and knit work in my late teens and early twenties. I put it down for several years and picked it back up just a couple of years ago. One of the things that got me moving back into the world of crochet and yarn-play was finding the Yarncraft podcast from Lion Brand. Once I started listening to the Yarncraft podcast I was completely enamored by the quality of the production, the variety of yarny material that was covered, and honestly by just how intelligent Liz and Zontee made me feel while listening. They provide me with a friendly level of education that is inspiring and thought provoking.

If you haven't had the opportunity of listening to Yarncraft then please treat yourself to an episode today! I'm confident you'll not only find a wealth of information on crochet and knitting options, but they also enlighten their audience with information on spinning, weaving, yarn dying and other fiber related topics.

[caption id="attachment_108" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Zontee and Liz from Yarncraft at Lion Brand, Photo published at"]Zontee & Liz from Yarncraft at Lion Brand[/caption]

Now that you know how I feel about the Yarncraft podcast, you can imagine my excitement when my offer to feature Yarncraft on my blog during the Yarncraft Blog Tour was accepted! I literally felt as if my mentors had just shook my hand and invited me over for a glass of wine! Without further delay, please enjoy the responses from Liz and Zontee below, and hopefully you'll get to know them from a new perspective.

The Q & A

How long have you been with Lion Brand and how did you come to work there?
Liz: I've been at Lion Brand for about 5 years. I answered a post on the Parsons The New School for Design (where I went to school) job board looking for freelance knitters, and have just stuck around!
Zontee: I've been here just over 4 years, and it was a really lucky coincidence for me that Lion Brand was looking for someone to join their marketing team and that I happened to be a knitter/crocheter who used their yarn.

If we could see your desks, what would we see?
Liz: On an organized day, a clear work surface with a few binders and spreadsheets. On MOST days, bags and bins and boxes and balls of yarn EVERYWHERE.
Zontee: I have a big bulletin board at my desk with photos from fiber artists I've worked with over the years, tokens from various yarn and craft events that I've attended, as well as lots and lots of knitting and crocheting books and magazines. I like color, so I like to keep my area decorated with buttons, ribbons, and little yarn creations.

What was the first complete project you ever knitted or crocheted?
Liz: A basket weave scarf out of Lion Brand's Chenille Thick & Quick. It was a gift for a friend, and she still has it!
Zontee: Well, the first thing I knitted was a little swatch I turned into a tissue holder for my purse. The first finished thing I crocheted was a sampler scarf in cotton; in retrospect, I wouldn't recommend 100% cotton for a beginner, because it was pretty hard on my hands!

Tell me a bit about your all-time favorite project that you've knitted or crocheted.
Liz: Wow, that's like trying to pick a favorite child!  I suppose mine is the Rogue Hoodie I made, because I learned so much about making it,
including how to modify a pullover to a cardigan, read cable charts, and sew in a zipper.
Zontee: That really is a hard question. Honestly, I don't think I have a favorite project--my favorite project is probably whatever I've just finished because I often pick projects that challenge me in new ways. YarnCraft listeners probably know that I make tons and tons of things for other people, and making things for others is always enjoyable to me because I love seeing their reactions.

If you could teach a class (either knit or crochet) what technique would you teach about?
Liz: I love knitting socks, so I'd teach about all the different methods for doing that! Top down, toe up, heel flaps, gussets, Kitchener stitch, etc.
Zontee: I think my class would be about getting back to basics. I really believe that all yarncrafters should have a foundation in understanding different fibers and what they're good for, doing substitutions, reading the stitches (both knit and crochet) in a piece of fabric so that you can understand how the designs are constructed, understanding basic shapes and how to accomplish them. I'm a firm believer that if you understand the basics, then the sky is the limit.

Out of all the fiber options (bamboo, cotton, acrylic, mohair, angora, wool, alpaca, etc.) what is your favorite?
Liz: My favorite fiber, which I think everyone knows, is Superwash Merino. I love that it's natural but also easy care, and so soft.
Zontee: I definitely think wool yarns are my favorite. They're so versatile, warm, sproingy (springy plus a little extra bounce!) and even water resistant. I like them at all weights, fingering to super bulky. I love the softness and silky hand of alpaca too, but I think it's the spring of wool that makes it really versatile and suitable for all kinds of projects.

What has been the best benefit to you for being actively involved in the fiber arts?
Liz: Definitely all the great people we've gotten to meet!
Zontee: I definitely agree with Liz. I think I wouldn't be nearly as outgoing in the fiber community if I weren't a part of Lion Brand, but I'm glad I am, because there are so many amazing creative people in this community who are so generous about sharing their ideas and resources.

Thank you so much, Liz and Zontee, for taking the time to share your responses with  Shorty's Sutures! I'm so excited to be part of the Yarncraft Blog Tour and am looking forward to your next episode of Yarncraft. And, as I like to say to the Shorty's Sutures crew... keep those hands stitchin'!

Rest assured Liz and Zontee will be stitchin' up a storm and sharing their experiences with us on the next episode of Yarncraft!