Gentle absurdity, a tv show with a cult following, and sweaters inspired by jelly doughnuts & log ladies? Count me in!
Great Northern, a Twin Peaks inspired knitwear collection has all of that. The brainchild of Leah Coccari-Swift (aka Ruby Submarine) & Teresa Gregorio (aka Canary Knits), this collection includes 10 sweater patterns + bundles of accessories that translate the absurdity of Twin Peaks into knitable, wearable, vintage inspired knitwear.
I love reading interviews with designers, and authors, and artists, so when Teresa asked me if I’d be interested in interviewing her for the Great Northern Kickstarter Supporting Blog Tour – I was all “yes please!”
So here’s my interview with Teresa, she’s a designer, lover of neon colors, and generally a fabulous person, it was an absolute pleasure reading through her answers.
HC: For those of us who haven’t watched Twin Peaks before, can you talk a little bit about the show, and why you & Leah were inspired to create a whole collection around it?
TG: Twin Peaks was a ground breaking show that aired for only two seasons in the early 90s. We’re quite used to the conventions it began in our tv shows today, but it was the first to have multi-episode plot lines and bring a cinematic sensibility to the small screen.
It’s also a very weird show. Its weirdness manifests in quirky characters, supernatural phenomena, and sometimes unbelievable actions and consequences. It’s this weirdness, singularity, and (of course) fashion that really drew me (and Leah!) to the show.
Twin Peaks has quite a cult following, and Leah was surprised and excited to see that no one had created an entire Twin Peaks-inspired collection before. So when I approached her in January to collaborate on something, she immediately suggested this project.
HC: Can you talk a little bit about how you translated the gentle absurdity of Twin Peaks into wearable, knitable, knitwear? You’ve said that you’re not trying to recreate the costumes themselves, but rather incorporate elements of the characters and show into your designs – so what sort of elements were you looking for?
TG: Gentle absurdity, I like that!
We want to create something that even non-Twin Peaks fans will be in to; we think our weirdo, bold aesthetic harmonizes both with each other and with the spirit of the show. Our overall look for the collection is one of vintage vibes and modern wearability.
So, my own process of developing designs for the book involved binge watching episodes and noticing what I noticed; seeking out the symbols and archetypes used on the show, and asking myself how those harmonized with what knitters today like to knit and wear.
For example, my Lynch Pin design was inspired by a purple, buttoned, shoulder-pad-enhanced Henley pullover that Norma wears in one scene. I decided to nix the shoulder pads, buttons, and purple, and instead to focus on who Norma is as a character (strong and classy) and update the look for a strong, classy 2015 knitter. So, Lynch Pin is a gentle grey pullover without the fussiness of buttons, which has a neat, tailored look, and artfully-placed increases and decreases for a classic looking sweater.
HC: The previews & sneak peaks you’ve posted all look amazing! I’m obsessed with the red & black color combination of the sexy raglan from Leah, and think I’ll probably need a Jelly Donut cardigan in my wardrobe as soon as possible. What are your favorite pieces in the collection – either favorite to design or to wear?
TG: Thank you! We blush!
I think my favourite to knit will be Lonely Souls – that’s a 3/4-sleeved pullover that’s quite staid and simple but for the striking contrast of the white horse silhouette that will cut across the yoke. That’ll be a fun bit of colourwork to complete, and it’d be fun to see the sweater just POP after you finish that first white-to-black row.
My favourite design to wear will likely be My Log Does Not Judge, Leah’s Log Lady-inspired sweater. Her sketches look so cozy and flattering, with colourwork and cables and long, warm sleeves!
HC: I always love a good behind the scenes peak, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Can you talk a little bit about how the book came together? How the idea was spawned? How you and Leah split up the design, writing, and all the other elements that go into creating a book? Deciding to use kickstarter & the process of kickstarting a book? That sort of thing?
TG: I mentioned earlier how Great Northern came initially from an idea Leah had brewing – I just had impeccable timing! One of my 2015 business goals was to work more with designers I admire and share an aesthetic with, so I sent Leah an email in January proposing that we collaborate on something.
From there, we each spent a couple weeks thinking and sketching, coming back together to compare notes and see how our ideas worked as a whole. For the most part they did work! I had to nix one sweater, but it was nearly magic the way she and I picked a similar number of sweaters in complementary types, styles, and inspirations.
When we realized we had 10 sweater designs that were all so strong, it seemed that to do the work justice we should get it done in print. We’re both great lovers of printed books (especially knitting ones!) so we wanted to participate in that tradition and do what we can to keep it alive. Working with an independent printer is a big part of what we want to do: we’re working with a host of other independent creative people to produce the printed version of Great Northern.
The lion’s share of the Kickstarter funding is to enable us to print the book, but of course we also have to compensate the tech editor, graphic designer, photographer, and other creative professionals. Putting the Kickstarter together is a lot of work; you have to have a solid budget and knowledge of what you want. But it’s worth it! We’re both very excited about and dedicated to Great Northern.
HC: And finally, what’s the number one thing you want people to know about this book before they decide to support the kickstarter?
TG: Leah and I are both passionate about bringing the knitting community a thoughtful, strong, beautiful collection of knitwear that will give knitters an exciting project and wearable FO, whether you’re a Twin Peaks fan or not!
Thank you so much to Teresa! I can’t wait to see this book complete. All the lovely photos in this post sketches and ideas of sweaters from Great Northern, and are used with permission. You can see the rest of the designs, and learn more about the project, at GreatNorthernKnits.com.
Great Northern is a Twin Peaks inspired knitwear collection, designed by Leah Coccari-Swift (aka Ruby Submarine) & Teresa Gregorio (aka Canary Knits), it promises cult tv show love, gentle absurdity, and jelly doughnut inspired sweaters.
If you’re a Twin Peaks fan, or just someone who likes brilliant knitwear, be sure to check out and support the Great Northern Kickstarter Campaign.
With just 9 days to go, there are still some amazing backer rewards left, and you could help bring to life a collection that promises cozy sweaters, fascinating characters, and a pinch of that wonderful gentle absurdity.
This is an excerpt from Shawls to Play With, a shawl collection that is more than the individual patterns, it’s about bringing more freedom to your knitting.
LETS TALK YARN
You’re at a yarn shop, wandering around looking at an amazing array of colors and fibers. A skein catches your eye, you pick it off the shelf, and fall in love. Madly, madly in love. Repeat.
Before you know it, your basket is full, you’ve checked out, and are on your way home with your haul, including a skein or two of lace weight that you didn’t mean to pick up, but that were too pretty to resist. Those skeins hang around your stash, until you finally do a yarn cleanse and pass them along to a lace knitting friend.
Sound familiar? A substantial portion of my stash is lace weight yarn passed along from friends who realized they would never, ever, knit with it. I’m happy to take beautiful yarn off your hands. But I’d be even happier spreading the lace weight love.
I get it. tiny yarn + tiny needles + big shawl + crazy lace = eep!
However, lace shawls are divine. They’re light, airy, drapey, ethereal, and well worth the headache.
But I concede, sometimes they’re a headache.
One of the most straight forward ways to reduce some of the headache of lace is to scale the project up. Many scale their lace projects up by using sock or fingering weight yarns. This does make the project less intimidating, however, most easily accessible thick yarns (especially sock yarns), are designed for durability instead of for drape. This makes them great for sturdy socks, but not so great for drapey shawls. When you use sock yarns for lace shawls, you’re exchanging the drape of lace yarns for the durability of sock yarns.
There’s nothing wrong with fingering weight yarns for lace shawls. It’s been done many times with great success. However, you will never get an ethereal shawl out of sock yarn.
Sock yarn just isn’t ethereal.
Instead I would suggest holding multiple strands of lace weight yarn together.
By holding multiple strands of lace weight together, you keep the drapey properties of lace yarn, while simultaneously being able to go up needle sizes. Of course not all of the properties of lace weight yarn scale up one hundred percent, but many of them do.
The shawls in this collection are perfect for…
…that special skein you’ve been hoarding
We all have very special skeins of yarn that we have no idea what to do with.
Maybe it comes with special memories.
Maybe it’s too variegated.
Maybe it’s not quite your color but is still breathtaking.
These shawls are for the skein that won’t play second fiddle to an intricate lace pattern.
No complex stitch patterns to steal the show, just an expanse of stockinette and strategically placed increases, so these patterns let the yarn shine.
…combining colors or mixing fibers & textures
Holding multiple strands together lets you easily mix colors. Or fibers.
And because the yarn is the star of these patterns there’s no lacework to obscure.
It means you can concentrate on your colors and textures and fibers.
Mix colors, or textures, or both.
The possibilities and combinations are limitless.
This was an excerpt from Shawls to Play With.
This is a small excerpt from Shawls to Play With, the shawl collection I’m working on. There are four shawls in the collection (named Gratia, Xylia, Yuki, and Idril) all of which are designed around elegant simplicity.
PLAYING WITH CONSTRUCTION
The shawls in this collection are all variations on traditionally shaped, knit in the round, shawls. The traditional shawl shapes being, the wedge circle, the concentric circle, the pi circle, and the center out square.
Gratia is a variation on the concentric circle, Xylia on the wedge circle, Yuki on the center out square, and Idril is a variation that falls somewhere between the concentric circle and the wedge circle.
Why are there multiple ways to knit a flat piece of fabric in the round?
Because all circular shawls are simply variations on each other.
They all follow the same ratio of stitches increased to rounds worked, 8 stitches increased on every other round, but each shape has the increases arranged in a slightly different configuration.
For the shawls in this collection, I took those traditional increase placements, and the ratio of stitches increased to rounds worked, and played with them.
This is an excerpt from Shawls to Play With, which, with a bit of luck, will be making it’s first appearance later this week.