7.15.2013

Metropolitan Knits: A GiveAway and Interview with Melissa

If you read my blog a few months  ago, you'll know that I already had plans to knit a sweater out of Melissa Wehrle's new book from Interweave Press/F+W Media Metropolitan Knits.  So imagine how quickly I said YES when Melissa asked me to review the book and do a giveaway on my blog.  I've always adored Melissa's designs, AND am so intrigued by her day job.  So instead of my usual review I thought an interview with Melissa so we could all get to know more about her would be great fun!
 Since I know you personally, I know a bit about your day job…. But my readers don’t, will you share with them a bit of what you do Monday-Friday?  
For my full-time job, I am a Senior Designer for a junior sweater company. My job mainly consists of working with the design team to develop colors, trends, and designs for each season. We work about a year ahead of time, using trend services and tons of hands on research to predict what our customers will be wearing in the future. Sketches, measurements, and pictures of swatches are sent over to our factories in China, who produce our samples on knitting machines. While my knowledge of hand knitting is helpful, actual hands on knitting is not a part of my full-time job.
What are some differences when you are designing a sweater for factory production vs. hand knitting?
For our particular customers, I have to be mindful of the cost of the garment. Adding an extra seam, a lace pattern that has too many holes, or a cable that has too many transfers (in the hand knitting world, this means whenever you need to cross your cable or move a stitch to the left or right) all need to be taken into account. All of these things will slow down the machine knitting time, which in turn, increases the cost of the garment. We are also limited to using certain yarns, you won't find any wool, alpaca, or silk in our design room! Also, knitting something in one piece is not an option for us. There are machines out there that can knit something all in one piece, including the pockets, buttonbands, and pockets, but it just costs too much and we don't have access to them.
For example, here is the Magnolia Cafe Cardigan. In the machine knitting world, we would design this a bit differently to bring down the cost of the garment. This cable pattern is a bit too complicated, so it would have to be changed to a standard 4x4 cable that crosses every 1" to 1 1/2". The smaller cable that hugs the neckline would stop at the collar instead of curving upwards toward the shoulder. If we could afford pockets, they definitely wouldn't be knit in, they would be sewn on, and the cut little hot pink pocket lining detail wouldn't exist. The yarn would be Acrylic instead of gorgeous organic wool and the gauge would be a bit smaller, more along the lines of a DK weight. Finally, the wooden buttons would probably be replaced with something plastic.

Do you have any favorite finishing techniques that you like to use in hand knitting that don’t translate well to machine knitting? Or vice versa?
I really like to overlap pieces of knitting seamlessly, such as the little sleeve slit detail on the Carriage House Cardigan or the faux surplice on the Open Air Pullover. This is a technique that we just don't have access to in the machine knitting world unless a fancy machine is available.

I know many of my readers are accessory knitters and haven’t yet tackled sweater knitting. If they were to choose a sweater from Metropolitan Knits as their first sweater, which would you suggest? Why?
Since I only get to pick one, I think the Cobblestone Hoodie would be a good choice for a beginner. It's a classic style that would be useful in anyone's wardrobe. The yarn isn't too thin, so progress will be fairly steady, the color changes give the knitter something to look forward to (and is easily customizable), and the knitting is fairly straight forward since two parts of the shaping never need to be worked "at the same time". They will learn how to shape a sweater, work a small bit of overlapping stitches at the split at the neck, how to add a hood, and how to work a set-in a sleeve, not to mention they will get to block the garment and sew it all together.

Do you have a favorite design (or two) from the book?
This is such a hard question! I suppose if I have to choose, the Magnolia Cafe Cardigan and the Grand Army Plaza Shawl would be at the top of my list. It also happens that they were my two favorite to knit as well.

I have Washington Square Cardigan in my Queue (and even already have the yarn for it!) Any suggestions for fit that I should think about before casting on? I have narrow shoulders and am concerned the neckline might be too wide for me.
Since this is a bulkier sweater, having the proper fit in the shoulder is important to keep a nice smooth look. To begin, I would compare your measurements to the schematic and check to see if the full shoulder width for your size is at least 1" smaller than your actual measurement shoulder bone to shoulder bone. If it's too wide and an adjustment needs to be made, it should be fairly simple in the larger gauge. You might only need to remove one or two stitches from each armhole. Just keep in mind that the stitch pattern may be interrupted in the armhole area on some sizes depending on how many stitches you need to remove.If the shoulder does need to be brought in, I would also share the same concern that the neck might be too wide for you. Again, this should only involve adding a few stitches to either side to close it up a bit. To make sure the neckline keeps a nice round shape, instead of a U shape, I would suggest graphing out the changes on graph paper. You may need to raise the neck drop by a row or two to keep a similar shape. Since your neck width will now be smaller, you will also need to pick up fewer stitches for your collar. You may also want to consider making the collar a little bit shorter. 

WOW, thanks Melissa, it's so wonderful to get advice from the sweater's designer on how to mod the pattern for my body!  Can't wait to cast on!  It's going to be a great fall jacket!

Interweave had generously offered to send one of you a copy of Melissa's new book Metropolitan Knits.  All you have to do is leave a comment letting me know which pattern you'd love to knit from her book!  Comments will close on Sunday July 21st at 12 EST and I'll let you know who the winner is the next day!

61 comments:

  1. Really love the patterns. I'd start with Washington Square. Just my style and I have the yarn!

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  2. I like the cover sweater! The lace detail on the sleeves is lovely.
    Jane

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  4. Love, love, love the Washington Square Cardigan. Sweater knitting is new for me but the idea of adding lace-type design is intriguing...now that I'm a lace knitting lover. :)

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  5. Oooh, the Grand Army Plaza Shawl is right up my alley!

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  6. I just love hoodies so I would have to make the Cobblestone Hoodie!

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  7. There are so many amazing patterns in that book. I would love to try out the Magnolia Cafe Cardigan - it looks very cozy!

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  8. I like the cardi shown on the book cover! Thanks for introducing us to another great designer Laura!

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  9. I like the Grand Army Plaza shawl - but it was difficult to decide since everything is beautiful!!

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  10. Love the Courtyard Pullover! and the Brooklyn Bridge Cardigan!

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  11. I'm a tunic and skinny jeans kinda gal in the winter, so the Skyline Tunic would be my first pattern! But really, how can you choose? They're great!

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  12. All the patterns look terrific...it would be hard to choose just one. I probably would start with the Washington Square Cardigan. Just lovely.

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  13. What a great book of patterns. I would choose Cobblestone first.

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  14. I love the Union Square Cowl.
    wahoomerryf on Rav

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  15. Being a NYC resident, I would love them all. But I woyld start with the Grand Army Plaza shawl. That would satisfy my love of shawls and my hometown of Brooklyn.

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  16. definitely the Union Square cowl!! looks like a lot of fun

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  18. Definitely the Courtyard Pullover. What a gorgeous sweater! Though since I always have Kidsilk Haze in my stash, if I win, I might end up making the Uptown Scarf first.

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  19. The Cobblestone Hoodie is perfect for Colorado in the fall

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  20. Love, love, love this book!!! I would definitely start with the Magnolia Street Cafe cardigan - the cables see to die for! Thanks for the interview too :-)

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  21. Cobblestone Hoodie!!! Thanks for the giveaway and a peek at Melissa! :)

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  22. I love the Grand Army Plaza Shawl! Interesting interview - thank you! Stephanie (indigodogmt on Rav)

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  23. Ditto on the cover cardigan or maybe the third picture - the Carriage House Cardigan?

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  24. Washington Square, for sure. I need a good warm sweater for the fall.

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  25. I am liking the Washington Square Cardigan.

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  26. It's so hard to just pick one. I see that I "need" this book. One that I just have to knit is the Skyline Tunic. I love the zig-zag lace that runs down one side of the front and I'm finding that the longer length keeps my hips warm and decreases the aching that I get from them.

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  27. I like the Washington Square or the Magnolia Cafe Cardigan pretty!

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  28. It's hard to choose. The longer I looked at them, the more I liked. I am torn between Magnolia Cafe Cardigan and Carriage House Cardigan. The former looks like it would be a fun challenge to knit AND I would love to wear it and the latter would be perfect when it's a little chilly out!

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  29. I'd make the Magnolia Cafe cardigan.

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  30. I really like the Magnolia Cafe Cardigan and it seems that I'm not alone!

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  31. I really love the Magnolia Cafe Cardigan and I even have the perfect yarn in my stash for it.

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  32. The one on the front cover would be my pick. So feminine and light.

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  33. I agree with you Washington Square would be my first knit from this book.

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  34. It would be the Grand Army Plaza Shawl for me, but all of the designs look appealing.

    ONEDAYDESIGNS on Ravelry

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  35. The Magnolia Cafe Cardigan and the Grand Army Plaza Shawl are my favorites.

    Amber N- Ravelry id- gibbles83 and email is-gibbles_n_bits@hotmail.com

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  36. Oooh, the Washington Square looks so warm and cozy!

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  37. I like a lot of the designs in this book, but my favourite is the Carriage House Cardigan.

    donaldsg on Ravelry

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  38. The Grand Army Plaza Shawl looks amazing. I would start with that one.

    heatherlaura on Ravelry

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  39. I'd stitch up Skyline Tunic first.

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    1. Can't decide which to do first, the Atrium Cardigan or the Grand Army Plaza Shawl

      Lovegoodyarn on ravelry

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  40. I like the Carriage House Cardigan

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  41. Oh my. This book could keep me busy for a while! These are beautiful designs and there are so many different styles. Something for whatever mood I'm in. Today, I'm in a Brooklyn Bridge Cardigan mood. A hood - and lace?! Beautiful!

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  42. I would do the Washington Square Cardigan.

    frazuld on Ravelry

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  43. The Cobblestone Hoodie. Thanks!

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  44. I would make the Sunday Henley or the Union Square Cowl.

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  45. My first pick is the Grand Army shawl. Your blog is terrific.

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  46. I would knit the Grand Army Plaza shawl.

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  47. Start with the Skyline Tunic and mine on from there.

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  48. I would love to knit the open air pullover. jhoops7 on rav

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  49. I just returned a copy of the book I got from my local library - I would knit everything! There are so many beautiful patterns I could never knit just one of them.

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  50. Thanks for the interview, this looks like a lovely book from a talented designer. I would start with the skyline tunic.
    naomil1@verizon.net

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  51. I'm working on the Grand Army Plaza Shawl - beautiful design and well-written pattern.

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  52. I'd love to knit the Grand Army Plaza Shawl! Thank you for the chance to win.

    lmecoll on Ravelry

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  53. I would knit EVERYTHING in the book!! Love your blog!
    sthomasknitter06 on Ravelry

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  54. I'd like to make the Cobblestone Hoodie, since Melissa recommended it as a starter sweater. I've had bad luck with garments I've knit for myself, but I'm ready to try again!

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  55. I like the Washington state cardigan. Very pretty backtobasics on ravelry

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  56. I'd love to knit most of the patterns, but especially Magnolia Cafe.

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  57. Oohh! I would definitely love to tackle the Grand Army Plaza shawl! As a former Brookynite, this pattern particularly tugs at my heartstrings (I learned to drive at the Plaza!).

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  58. I already have the book... All the patterns are stunning (really!) - I think I'll start with the Meyer Cardigan and progress to the Magnolia Cafe. It's stunning.

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