Yarn Loop is so excited to announce our very first Designer Spotlight with one of our favorite designers, Jennifer Weissman, the artist behind ShadyStroll Knits. This good-hearted woman has re-made herself several times in her life thus far, starting as a book editor, working her way towards a biotech patent attorney, becoming a mother (the hardest job of all in my opinion), and finally, a knitwear designer specializing in accessories such as shawls and scarves. Her background in highly technical review makes her patterns absolutely brilliant with tantalizing shifts written simply & clearly. Weissman says, "I enjoy creating designs with a variety of stitch patterns, to keep the knitting interesting. My goal is to design accessories that are a pleasure to knit and to wear."
After spending hours contemplating what excites Jennifer and what prompts her design process, it is apparent that her sensitivity to the world around her and her very loving heart makes her work so tantalizing.
She is quite cerebral in her designs; even her company name, ShadyStroll Knits, tells you so much about what she seeks in her work. Her designs embody this name...she wants you to be comfortable and peaceful with beautiful garments to accompany you through life. She states that all of her designs are things that "I would want to wear. I prefer pieces that are reversible, so I strive to design accessories that are beautiful on both sides. It's so nice being able to throw them on without worrying about which side is showing."
What I enjoy most about Jennifer's patterns is her versatility. She shows a great understanding of construction, drape, and style with lovely lacework, cables, and geometric patterns for interest. Her work draws from the world around her such as the motifs found at the Empire State Building in Deco Lines (above left), the geometric shapes in Tilted Texture (above middle) and Architexture (above right), the pattern of "drops of sunlight filtering through summer leaves" in Dappled Sunlight (shown at top of page), or the twisted cables that are perfectly named in the Betangled Hat (coming in the fall of 2017 and shown below) & Betangled Cowl, heavy winter pieces to add extreme warmth on frigid days. She uses fingering to sport weight yarns for shawls "that won't weigh down [the] shoulders" but uses worsted to super bulky weights for cowls.
Jennifer says, "I learned to crochet first but I almost always knit. I am fascinated by the beautiful fabrics knitting can create as well as the seemingly infinite number of stitch pattterns in the knitting universe." She also likes to use merino wool and merino blends "that will be soft against the skin, without a lot of pilling. I prefer yarns that have some loft and fluffiness to them so that they won't be overly droopy or heavy." For those out there still learning about fibers, Merino Wool has the smallest diameter of all the wool breeds, thus making it the softest and preventing pricking from the ends of the hairs. You will absolutely love how your hands soften as you knit with wool because lanolin (the main ingredient of lotion) is a natural bi-product of wool.
Jennifer Weissman loves semi-solid hand dyed yarns such as Malabrigo (Arroyo shown below on left) and Miss Babs among others because the "slight variation in color...adds light and interest to the fabric, a look I absolutely love. And it is such a pleasure watching those colors slip through my fingers as I knit." For projects that need a true solid "to show off a texture, cable or lace detail", she loves extravagant yarns such as The Fibre Co. (Acadia shown below on right) and Shibui because of their "stunning colors as well as beautiful neutrals that match everything."
For a truly decadent and luxurious accessory, Weissman likes to combine Shibui Silk Cloud (laceweight silk and mohair blend) with a heavier yarn, "knitting one strand of each yarn simultaneously...to add a gentle halo to the fabric that makes it look and feel incredibly rich." This halo is evident in the Betangled Cowl above and her beautiful shawl, Simply Sheer (below), is a luxurious combination of mohair and silk yarns.
The level of thought and detail that goes into Weissman's work is intriguing, from the weight and color(s) of the yarn all the way down to the last stitch. Please give a look at all of her patterns on Ravelry as we only have a small sampling at this time. She also posts updates about her work on Facebook.
As you may have noticed, Yarn Loop has recommended a few charities for knitters and crocheters who want to knit for someone else. Jennifer would like to add Halos of Hope to our charity list, in hopes that more people will knit hats for chemotherapy patients. She has knitted several hats "for friends and family, and they are such a comfort, both physically and psychologically". There are many organizations that provide similar products for cancer patients, and Yarn Loop encourages you to get involved and help others while doing something you love. And remember, that our good friend, Elena Nodel, the well-loved knitwear designer, is currently undergoing chemotherapy as well. No matter where you look, there are always those who need knitted goods and a kind heart to help.
To wrap up this wonderful interview, I would like to share a wonderful story that Jennifer had the heart to confide in me. While chatting about adopted animals (I have an adopted African Grey Parrot named Mischief; a well-named bird who chews up and destroys everything), and she told me about her cute puppy, Sawyer. "He is a rescue, too — I found him on Petfinder, one of a litter of eight. They were driven to New Jersey from Alabama when they were only 3 weeks old. They were all sick at the time, so they were divided between two amazing foster families until they were 10 weeks old, and then I was able to bring Sawyer home. He is such a sweet and affectionate puppy, always ready to climb into our laps. And, as you can see, from the photo, he learns tricks and commands very easily!"
With such a cute dog at home, you would think that he would be the culprit behind a knitting mis-adventure, but in truth, the fiend is the clothes dryer. Jennifer has had a sock snatched and held captive, but she luckily retrieved the article without too much damage (thank goodness for superwash yarn!).
My favorite piece by Weissman is Changing Light, a gradient shawl with a giant diamond motif centered on the back. The colors she picked are a striking combination that make each section pop spectacularly. Because I am so enamored with this pattern, I am switching it up, and making my first shawl in years! Please join Yarn Loop's Knit Along (KAL) beginning June 10th and tag your photos with @yarnloop on Instagram or post photos on Facebook so I can see what you are doing, too! Photos will be uploaded regularly to Instagram with tips for tricky sections.
All participants will be entered into a drawing on July 15th to receive Dappled Sunlight, Jennifer's favorite design in your choice of color in Arroyo by Malabrigo with a Yarn Loop Project Bag! Want more entries? Simply sign up for our email list or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!
When Jennifer learned that O-Wool was about to be added on Yarn Loop, and she immediately said that these yarns would work wonderfully for several of her patterns. O-Wash Fingering will be available for Deco Lines & Changing Light, and Balance will also be available for the Betangled Cowl & Hat (please note that this is a lighter, summer version; the winter version of the pattern is also available). O-Wool kits will be mailed out the first full week of June as we are still receiving our shipments.
O-Wool has a striking color palette and is processed, spun and dyed on the East Coast near Philadelphia. All of the organic cotton comes from farmers near Lubbock, Texas, a short 2.5 hour drive from Yarn Loop's store, so of course I want to support the local folks and the booming cotton industry of Texas. O-Wool is a rapidly growing company that uses only Certified Organic fibers such as merino wool, alpaca and cotton and dyes that are low impact and environmentally sensitive. The best part is that O-Wool is produced here in the good old USA.
I hope you have enjoyed this first Designer Spotlight. And remember, Jennifer Weissman's fully reversible patterns are always interesting to make and glamorous to wear, and you will receive compliments anywhere that you show off your ShadyStroll Knits!
Please post comments for suggestions or questions we missed. Expect more designer spotlights on the first of every month! Remember to sign up to our email list for promotions and exclusives. All subscribers will automatically be entered in our first drawing!
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