Designer Interview: Robin Allen

Today we’re featuring an interview with Robin Allen (atexasgirl on Ravelry), designer of the Hermosa Tee from the Louet North America Spring 2016 collection. Robin is a writer, reader, knitter, yoga instructor, and raw vegan living in the Texas Hill Country. She loves designing items that are easier than they look, but also enjoys the challenge and beauty of cables and stranded knitting. See what she’s up to at A Texas Girl Knits.

How long have you been knitting? How long have you been designing?
I was going to say that I’ve been knitting for 30+ years, but that’s a high number! Let’s just say that I learned to knit in the fifth grade, but didn’t start knitting seriously until high school. This was way before the internet (and even before computers), so I’m mostly self-taught. I would knit all of these really complicated intarsia sweaters from Vogue Knitting using kitchen cotton and cheap acrylic yarns. I published my first design, my River Road Fingerless Mitts, in 2009, then took time off to write and publish three novels in my Poppy Markham: Culinary Cop mystery series. The day after I turned in the third manuscript to my publisher in 2012, I returned to designing and have released 24 patterns.

Can you tell us a little about your design, the Hermosa Tee? What was the inspiration? Is this something you would wear?
Sometimes I have an idea of what I want to create, but most of my designs come from sitting down with a stitch dictionary and some yarn and needles, and swatching patterns. The Hermosa Tee came out of this process. My working name for it was the Long Island Tee, and it went through several idea stages, including wide stripes in two colors in a worsted weight nylon and one color in a worsted weight wool, before I settled on a sport weight. I really love it in the Euroflax linen. It has such a nice drape and sheen. I always design for myself, and I love wearing my Hermosa Tee prototype. Have you had any knitting/designing disasters?
Only a couple of thousand!

Any chance you’d be willing to expand on one of your recent knitting disasters? (It helps to remember we ALL make mistakes!)
I have the worst case of Second Sock Syndrome! And because I wait so long to knit the second one, I’m practically a different person. My tension is off, so one sock doesn’t fit. Plus, I always modify everything I knit, so my notes say something like “b to f for rnd 6,” which makes no sense to me when I finally get around to knitting the second one. I have, however, finally learned my lesson and just say no to socks.

What do you find most challenging about designing?
The math.

What do you find most exciting about knitting/designing?
I love that knitting and designing have certain boundaries of shape, raw materials, color, etc., but within those boundaries are infinite ways to express creativity through individual choices and combinations.

You can see the rest of the patterns in the collection and purchase them here on Ravelry: Louet North America Spring 2016. Don’t forget to join our Ravelry group & share your projects with us!

Geek-along with Louet and Lattes & Llamas!

Megan-Anne & Jac of Lattes & Llamas

Louet North America is proud to sponsor this year’s Geek-along with Megan-Anne and Jac of the Lattes & Llamas blog. As we mentioned here on our blog last month, the Geek-along is a yearlong mystery blanket knit-along that is centered around a theme – in 2016, the theme is video games – and each square will be knit using our GEMS worsted weight yarn. We recently got a chance to interview Megan-Anne and Jac via email, so we’ll let them explain the Geek-along in their own words on today’s post. Enjoy!

For our blog readers who are new to the Geek-A-Long, how would you describe it?
The Geek-A-Long (GAL) is an annual year-long knit/crochet-along aimed at raising funds and awareness for Child’s Play Charity. This year the theme is video games, and each Sunday you can go to lattesandllamas.com to find a free pattern for a new 10″x10″ geeky square. At the end of the year, we’ll show you how to put together your favorite squares. Because as much fun as it might be to wind up with 24-48 throw pillows, we think a blanket is more practical. Really, the GAL is just us hanging out with a bunch of other nerds who love the same stuff we do. Think of it as your local knit night on a larger scale.

Some folks might be intimidated by the technique of double knitting. What are your favorite online resources and references for mastering this technique?
Well, I may be biased, but we’re partial to the Lattes & Llamas video. However, if you get sick of staring at Megan-Anne’s face, our go-to for fiber tutorials is the Purl Bee. On a side note: double sided knitting is actually super easy. It’s literally just knits and purls. It’s a great introduction to color work since you don’t have to worry about floats. The key is to not overthink it.

2016 Geek-Along Squares in Gems Worsted

What prompted you to begin the Geek-A-Long in the first place?

Funny story, I actually conned Megan-Anne into doing the project. I kept seeing people doing awesome things with double sided knitting, like the There and Back Again Story Scarf by Frivolite Handcrafts, and I became obsessed with the idea of a nerdy themed blanket. Except, at the time, I was exclusively a crocheter. Fun fact: It’s not hard to trick Megan-Anne into things. Just tell her she’ll like it and buy her a latte. Then, do things like wind the yarn for her, slap together some color charts, and tell her how awesome she was for coming up with the idea to do it all for charity. It didn’t take long for her inner fangirl to take the drivers seat, but next thing she knew, she was knitting the last GAL square of our first year and asking me what the hell happened. How had I talked her into doing that? So, I bought her a latte and asked her what we should do for year two. Basically, we’re going on year three of me grifting my sister and it’s been awesome.

How do you choose each year’s theme?

Megan-Anne and I go on a special sisters vacation with our baby sister once a year. We wear footie pajamas, order too much room service, drink a lot of spiked hot chocolate, gossip, and make major life decisions. Last year, we went spent our sisters vacation at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Our days were filled with fibery goodness and our nights were half drunken shenanigans, half bickering over the theme for 2016. By the time the weekend ended, we had agreed on Video Games as the theme and came up with a bigger, crazier idea for the 2017 GAL.

We’re thrilled to be your yarn sponsor this year. Can you talk about why you picked Gems for this year’s blanket?
We knew going into it that we wanted a worsted weight yarn and bold colors. One of the things we love about Gems is the nice twist and minimal pilling, but color was the most important. Luckily, you guys love color as much as we do and were open to expanding the palette to reflect the video game theme. And even though it didn’t impact our decision to use Gems since we had already partnered, we can’t get over your generous by-the-skein donation to Child’s Play Charity*. I didn’t even have to buy you a latte. 😉

*Louet has pledged to donate 50 cents for every skein of GEMS Worsted yarn sold to knit or crochet the 2016 Geek-A-Long blanket, so be sure to let your LYS know that you are participating when you purchase your yarn!