I just returned from Stitches Midwest, in Schaumburg, IL, just outside of Chicago. It was my first time having a booth there and from the amount of sales I had, it won't be my last. Pattern support is huge when it comes to selling yarn and I had plenty of it at the show. The week before the show we introduced our first pattern collection - Simply Silver - and I was able to take all of the knit pattern samples with me.
Greensboro by Christine Marie Chen
Our biggest seller, by far, was Greensboro. A beautiful cowl & fingerless mitts pattern designed by Christine Marie Chen. Everyone who walked into our booth was asked to try on the mitts, most did not want to take them off. One customer described the fit as a "cozy hand hug."
I've asked all of the designers for our collection to answer a few questions about themselves and their designing so we could get to know them a little better and delve deeper into the thought process of a knitwear designer. I thought it would be nice to start with Christine since her pattern did so well at the show:
Can you give us a little background intel on yourself? Where were you born? Do you still live there? How long have you been knitting? Who taught you to knit?
Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to introduce myself! My name is Christine Marie Chen. I was born and raised in the Heartland (Oklahoma) until the age of 9. I've moved and traveled quite a bit since then. I could fill the pages of a book with my many adventures, but until then, let's just say that by serendipity I have found myself transplanted into the heart of Silicon Valley where I now design and raise my own 2 children.
I have been knitting since about 2005, when I decided to take a class at my then local library in Aurora, IL. I learned the basic knit and purl stitches and immediately became absorbed in the craft. I could not put it down. I dug into every knitting book I could find and taught myself everything else I wanted to learn. Soon after, I did some production knitting for a couple of local designers before making the decision to branch out into doing some designing of my own.
Where do you do your designing? Do you have a special room in your house, a studio, a favorite chair? (Can you share a photo of your spot?)
I do my designing anywhere and everywhere. I have a constant supply of yarn and needles in my bag at all times. Whether I'm sitting on the beach at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, or riding shotgun in the car on a road trip with my family, my designs have sprouted from many locations.
Where do your design inspirations come from? Nature, architecture, fine art, what?
I find inspiration everywhere! It's all around us if we just take the time to stop and look around. Nature is the best resource for color inspiration. Just look at the flowers! Stitch patterns and textures also evolve from found objects as well.
Who are your favorite designers (and it doesn't have to be knitwear designers)?
I really admire Natalie "Alabama" Chanin who is owner and designer of the American couture line Alabama Chanin. I love her use of 100% Organic Cotton combined with up-cycled and re-purposed materials.
What is it about designing that gets you to jump out of bed every morning and grab the needles?
It's hard to say where my drive comes from. I find joy in seeing something imagined come to life in my hands. I could knit for hours on end without setting the needles down. I believe it's in my blood. I recently discovered that my grandmother was an avid knitter, something I never knew about her, and sadly never had the opportunity to share with her.
What do you have on your needles right now?
I actually have a couple of projects in the works. One is a top secret design I'm working on, and the other is a scarf that I'm knitting for a friend that recently moved away. She fell in love with one of my designs, and since she does not knit, I'm re-knitting it for her. :)
While designing for our look book, Simply Silver, what qualities of SilverSpun did you find most appealing?
I truly enjoyed the feel of the yarn between my fingers. It really does "Feel Good"! That plus the uniquely added benefits of it being therapeutic, conductive, and thermal make it amazing to work with in my book!
What is your favorite color?
I've always loved the color purple. But over the last several years I'm being more and more drawn to greens, powdery blues and oranges as well.
Please add anything else you'd like to share.
It has been such a pleasure designing for your company and working with your amazing yarn! I just want to take the time to thank YOU for allowing me this opportunity and accepting my design into your stunning collection! I hope to do business with you again in the future!
Your readers can follow me if they'd like! I can be found as Bayareaknitter on Instagram and Twitter, and Christine Marie Chen Designs on facebook.