I was thrilled when I got an email from one of my guest bloggers this year to enter her blog tour – Laura Nelkin is a designer specialising in beaded knitting, and I got a chance to meet her at TNNA. She’s just as nice in person as she is online, if you’ve read her blog, taken her Craftsy class or follow her on Twitter.
Her latest collection is called Adorn Anew and it’s a group of beaded jewellery and accessories that can be worked in the quickest time. From necklace to cuffs, fingerless mitts and earrings. If you thought handmade jewellery was dowdy you won’t take long to change your mind.
I sent Laura some questions to get to know her better and as usual, the rock+purl quick fire questionnaire! Let’s dive right in, shall we?
- Hi Laura ! For those who have been living under a rock and don’t know you, could you give us a little introduction to who you are?
Sure! I’m a knitwear designer, mom, crafter, foodie, exercise junkie, gardener and traveler (and a few other things too!) who lives in the Fingerlakes Region of Upstate, New York, USA! You can read a bit more about me here.
- You used to work for Schaefer, a company of delicious yarns. Now your focus seems to be in beaded jewelry through knitting. How was this transition?
I started working for Schaefer as I needed a job, and they were right around the corner from my house. When it was time to move on I noticed I was really drawn to portable projects that I could make more quickly while I was working on bigger designs that didn’t travel as well. The idea of designing knitted jewelry was born! I began with a few individual pieces I did for books and magazines, and then released Adorn which was a great hit! I decided to follow up this year with Adorn Anew. I’ve got many other projects and designs in the works, and the balance is perfect!
- Whenever I’ve a designer with a collection visiting I want to know, what was the biggest challenge in this collection?
Making sure that the designs hang well together, but are still unique, is a challenge. I just released Mica Mitts this week, and I’m thrilled to be including some bigger beaded patterns into the mix. I even have a shawlette lined up for the end!
- Some people (myself included) have this vision of knitted jewellery being all chunky and quite kitsch. How do you go about ensuring the pieces are wearable and long-lasting?
When I design something I make sure it’s a piece that either I or one of my friends would love to wear… in fact I’ve been wearing one of my new pieces that won’t come out until 2013 for the last month to make sure that it lays well, and can be worn with a variety of necklines. This technique can really help me perfect a design. This is not as easy to do with shawls and sweaters which take longer to design (and knit), but when a piece only takes an evening, it’s effective to work multiple versions and make it perfect!
- Let’s daydream… on a perfect knit day, I…
Find a series on Netflix I haven’t seen before that completely engages me, make a cup of coffee in my Aeropress, and get to KNIT.ALL.DAY. This never happens as I have a kid to drive, e-mails to answer, blog posts to write, Craftsy students to work with, workshops to schedule and teach, etc… but a girl can dream!
- But as it was a dream, this is what it’s actually like…
Wake up, drive kid, answer e-mail, write blog post, get distracted by social media, make kits for my wholesale customers and Etsy, ship said kits, work on patterns, pick up kid (and maybe drive her around to an activity or two), cook dinner, eat dinner, and then maybe KNIT! Upon reading this, no wonder I needed to resort to smaller projects : )!
- When I lack inspiration, I…
Take a shower… works every time!
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS
- Fave Cast On- depends on what edge I need : )!
- Fave Bind-Off- see above
- Fave Object to Knit- shawls and jewelry and sweaters for myself, and baby presents!
- Fave tool (circ, dpn, scissors, tapestry needle, crochet hook?) My Puppy Snips
- Fave trick from the beading trenches- using a dental floss threader to string on beads
- Knitting pattern that you could knit again, and again, and… Butin Collar (and I have!)
- Yarn you could work with forever and not get tired (if it’s not invented yet, make it up!) Schaefer Yarn Audrey
- Designer/Teacher you’d like to swap brains with for a day: Elizabeth Zimmermann AND Cat Bordhi, at the same time
I bet you feel different about beaded hand knit jewellery, right??