Archive for August, 2012

Designer Chat With Claudia Wersing

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Setting down a sewing needle to pick up knitting needles is no easy transition, yet German designer, Claudia Wersing has crossed the great divide almost seamlessly.  Initially trained as a dressmaker, Claudia completed a number of fashion collections for German designers, continuing on to achieve a Master’s Certificate as a clothing technician and merging her experience in all aspects of fabric construction with the more fluid nature of knitwear.  Now working as an independent designer, her crisp, clean style is frequently showcased in European publications, Burda, and Verena, as well as the latest Fall/Winter Collection for Mirasol.


Claudia Wersing


MM:  Hi Claudia, thank you so much for stopping by to share your views on design with us.  Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?

CW:  Yes…..I would like a Latte, please.

MM:  So, where exactly is your home base, and do you have a studio where you do all your work?

CW:  Throughout my life, I have moved around a lot.  I worked abroad for awhile, but now I live in Northern Germany in a comfortable old farmhouse in the country where my design studio is located.  I am very fortunate because I can see the lake from my desk, which I find to be very soothing and inspiring.  A few metres away, is an old farmstead building that I have converted into my wool shop.  This is where I work also, whether it’s selling wool or giving workshops.

Claudia's Studio


MM:  What a beautiful setting for a home and studio.  I understand you started your career in dressmaking, what led you to branch out into knitwear design?

CW:  Knitting played an important role in my childhood, and I have always had a passion for traditional handicraft techniques.  I don’t really separate knitting and sewing, as both crafts involve use of the hands.  They are just used differently.  During my work in the clothing industry, the collections always included knitwear and there is not much difference between creating a pattern for a piece of knitted fabric that must be sewn together, and creating one for a hand knitted item of clothing.  What’s important to understand is how to build comfort into the piece….. and of course, where the seams should go.  I like seams!

So in both my professional and personal life, I have always mixed sewing and knitting, and I find that both disciplines benefit from each other, they complete each other.  This gives me freedom in my work.  Anyway, when you are knitting the ability to sew becomes a great advantage.

MM:  Can you remember your very first knitted creation and what it looked like?    

CW:  Yes, I can remember it exactly!  My first knitted creation was a dress for my Barbie doll.  It was sort of a potholder belted with a woollen string.  It looked like a wraparound dress, but of course on Barbie everything looks stylish.  Later on, in the eighties, I knitted a lot of raglan pullovers and those big motif styles which are now very fashionable.  You must remember those??

MM:  Yes, I do and your designs look amazing…. very cutting edge.  I have seen several in Burda, Verena, and now in the Fall/Winter Mirasol Collection.  Do you still dabble in fabric design?

CW:  Thank you for the compliment, I appreciate it.   At the moment I am working exclusively in knitting design, I rarely work with fabric anymore.  This is a natural development, knitting has become more important during the past few years as more and more people discover the soothing and balancing effect of working with their hands.  That is why the demand for modern, wearable knitting designs has risen significantly.  Knitting is such an attractive counter balance to our increasingly technology-driven lifestyle and it suits people’s desire for ‘homeyness’.

Ushya by Claudia Wersing


MM:  Being trained as an apparel technician must bring incredible focus on detail to all aspects of your work, can you describe some of the intricacies that are your signature in knitwear?

CW:  Yes, I have to laugh….but you are right.  As a technician, a lot of value is placed on careful detail and you learn how to organise something ‘big’ into many little steps.  I laugh because my designer’s heart doesn’t like the technician in me, and always takes my inner designer to task and forces her to work carefully, testing everything for both feasibility and usefulness.  It demands precise work on the pattern and exceptional accuracy, but it is essential for a good fit.  That is exactly my signature; well thought-out patterns, pure straightforward designs that are both wearable and fit well with a clean silhouette.

MM:  Lucky you, to be able to work with yarns from Mirasol.  Ushya, Miski, and Sulka are all equally irresistible.  Where did you draw inspiration from for this lovely collection of knitwear in the latest book of designs for Fall/Winter 2012?  

CW:  Thank you again!  And yes…….it was a great privilege to be able to work with all these beautiful yarns.  I enjoyed it a lot.  I love alpaca and the Mirasol yarns have fantastic colouring and are exceptionally high quality.  These designs were developed during my stay by the sea, a place not far from my home.

Miski by Claudia Wersing


MM:  I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but if you had to choose….is there one favorite yarn that you really enjoyed working with?

CW:  Gosh… that is really hard to say, I have a great number of favorite yarns, as it is not only dependent on the season, but also on my mood.  I like to be able to work with different yarns for different occasions.  Sometimes, something cosy is needed, because you want comfort.  Then again, sometimes something a bit more exciting is needed for a glamorous occasion.  Therefore….. no, I have no favorites.  What I favor is constant motion and ever-changing.

Sulka by Claudia Wersing


MM:  Right now in Canada, ruffle scarves and lace shawls are very popular, and cowls for the winter season.  What seems to be the current trend that you see in Germany? 

CW:  That depends on the level of knitting ability.  Beginners like to knit hats and what we call ‘loops’ and those who want to try a bigger project usually choose a knit jacket.  The classic knit jacket is very popular and also a versatile item of clothing.

MM:  What’s ‘on your needles’ at the moment Claudia?

CW:  At the moment, I am preparing for a new workshop which deals with knitting Christmas ornaments, and I am knitting a size XXL ‘Fun Bauble’ with size 15 needles.

Inside Claudia's Studio


MM:  That sounds like a lot of fun!  Thanks for letting us take a peek inside your studio!

(images courtesy of Claudia Wersing)

(Video) For a behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoot for Mirasol’s F/W Collection 2012 by Claudia Wersing.

Top Ten Ponchos For Fall 2012

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

The CNE opened its gates to millions of visitors this week and magically the first flutter of Autumn leaves was spotted on city sidewalks, a sudden reminder that an incredible summer is slowly winding down.  While still enjoying the warm days of August, its full steam ahead for many of us knitters who look forward to the cooler weather for knitting and have started to line up projects.  For the transition between seasons, look for a parade of ponchos, a far cry from the granny-squared fringed creations that were a mainstay of the 1970’s hippie culture, instead the trend is leaning towards chunky knit two-panel versions, and the new crossover pullover styles, the fit is comfortable and more relaxed than a jacket with sleeves.

Get an early start on your knitting with the TOP TEN PONCHOS FOR FALL 2012-


Sirdar Leaflet #9634

Cover up in shimmery cables!  Design #9634 is knit in a new quality from SirdarSoftspun Chunky, with a different spin on traditional wool blends, this unique yarn is encased in a silvery sheen, available this Fall in ten shades.  Frostie (shown above). 


Katia Sport Book #71 Bolivia

Poncho panache!  Ride the wave of easy knitting this season, with simple two piece construction to make this stylish poncho from Katia’s Sport Collection.   Knit in a luxurious new quality, Bolivia, a chunky homespun-style bamboo/wool blend out in shops this month in eight painterly palettes.


Sirdar Leaflet # 9651

Not just for jeans!  The wear-with-anything poncho, design #9651 from Sirdar.  Add a row of fringes along the bottom edge for vintage flair.  This beginner style is knit in the all-new Faroe Super Chunky from Sirdar, an easy care mix of wool, cotton and acrylic available in six softly hued colourways.  Sized from tots to adults.


Knitting Notes by Grignasco

Euro-styled elegance!  Cross a poncho with a pullover and add an exquisite belt detail to make a style that is big on comfort and still chic for the workplace.  From the Knitting Notes Collection by Grignasco, knit in Springfield, a 50/50 blend of merino and cotton in a dk weight.  Eighteen shades are available for perusing, including charcoal (shown above). 


Katia Sport #71 Dual

A daring duo!  Two yarns in one, Katia has done it again, mesmerizing us with a fascinating transition from smooth to loopy by just catching part of the yarn as shown in this vibrant banded poncho from the Sport Collection #71.  Knit in Dual, a superwash merino mixed with acrylic in fourteen shades.  Watch the video here to see how this yarn changes texture without changing from stocking stitch.


Sirdar Leaflet #9631

A Celtic charmer!  Bands of interlocking cables make this poncho a classic showpiece.  Design #9631 is sized from six years to adult and knit in Sirdar’s debut yarn, Wash ‘n’ Wear Double Crepe DK, a superior strength twist which makes this quality virtually indestructible.  Available in shops in a range of eighteen colours, including brown (shown above). 


Katia Sport #71 Azteca

From any angle!  This poncho has the colour and texture of Fall written all over it, from the Katia Sport Collection.  Knit in Azteca, an aran weight wool blend available in twenty-two stunning colourways.


Diamond Luxury Collection Leaflet #1482

Try a hybrid on for size!  This striking design combines a cosy pullover and poncho all in one.  A classic go anywhere style designed for warmth and easy layering, leaflet #1482 is from the Diamond Luxury Collection.  Knit in Fine Merino Superwash Aran, a soft and luxurious yarn highlighting six new shades for Fall.  Chestnut (shown above). 


Sirdar Leaflet #9677

 A change of direction!  Impress your knitting friends with this trendy topper featuring a central medallion bordered by ridges and cables.  Design #9677 from Sirdar.  Knit in Click DK, a proven winner from Sirdar, with four new shades this season, cream, flannel grey, indigo, and hemp white (shown above). 


Sirdar Leaflet #9605

Last but not least!  Welcome the change in weather with this super quick knit slipover poncho knit on 10.00 mm needles.  Design #9605 by Sirdar with sizes ranging from four years to adult.  Knit in Big Softie, a plush wool and acrylic mixture with four new and natural shades for Fall- fleckie, mellow, nubbly, and wispy (shown above).  



Fall For Mirasol Yarns

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Picture a vista in the Peruvian Andes, windswept, barren, and exposed to all the harsh elements in a climate where the summer temperature can drop below freezing at night.  This is where alpacas graze on what little patches of vegetation they can find and local shepherds care for their flock, in the high sierra at Mallkini, the largest private alpaca ranch in Peru, and the home base for Mirasol yarns.  A highly valued fibre dating back before the Inca Empire, alpaca fleece grows to a long silky lustre and is spun into some of the world’s most treasured knitting yarn.


Funded by The Mirasol Project

Students and teachers gather for a group photo outside the Mirasol Boarding School which officially opened in March 2008.  Proceeds from the sale of Mirasol yarns assisted in the building, and now the day-to-day management of this facility where children of the Puno region can stay during the week to learn Spanish, reading, writing, and hands-on skills that will help secure the future of their community.  By continuing to support the Mirasol Project, we are giving back to the hard-working families who create these luxurious yarns we love to knit with.

Have an early peek at Book #29 with designs by Jane Ellison for the Mirasol Fall/Winter 2012 Collection



Berrylicious!!  A slouchy hat enhanced with zig zag cables in a dynamic shade of raspberry is ripe for Autumn accessorizing.  Add the  matching cowl with a pretty lace edge and make it a stunning duo, both designed by Jane Ellison.  Knit in Api by Mirasol, a silky blend of alpaca and highland wool in a chunky weight.  Look for a fresh crop of outstanding tone-on-tone shades to catch your eye.



Savor the changing seasons and liven up the classics with a radiant burst of orange in this button-up cardigan designed by Jane Ellison.  Knit in Api, the new darling of the Mirasol family tree, available at your LYS soon in greys, blues, browns, reds, pinks, oranges, and greens.



Wrap yourself in cocoon-like comfort with this stylish pull-on vest designed by Jane Ellison.  Knit in Hasa by Mirasol, a brand new chunky quality spun from the finest blending of natural fibres- alpaca, merino, and a slub of silk.  Take your pick from twelve brights or neutrals and get a headstart on Fall knitting.  Chalk (shown above). 



Honeycomb cables highlight the nubby texture of Hasa in this cosy cowl neck pullover designed by Jane Ellison.  Choose from one of the fabulous grey tones, charcoal, silver, slate, or storm (shown above).  For a clever option, knit this style as a crew neck and make the cowl separately to be worn with or without.



Top picks for Fall include this trendy relaxed cardigan, designed with shorter sleeves, making it a breeze for layering under or over.  Knit in Hasa by MirasolSlate (shown above).  

Going The Distance

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

What does this Olympic athlete, nicknamed Blade Runner have in common with the latest line of knitting needles from Knitter’s Pride?  Apparently, supersonic speed!!  As of today, Oscar Pistorius, a South African sprinter has made history as the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics, finishing in second place and advancing to the semi-finals of the four hundred metre race.  Dubbed, Blade Runner, for his high performance prosthetic legs specifically designed for athletes by a company which utilizes a composite material consisting of carbon fibre for strength and resin for binding.  This is revolutionary, a reinforced polymer that is extremely durable, virtually weightless, and has the ability to bend without snapping.  Now, isn’t that the perfect formula for knitting needles!!  Initially used in the aircraft industry, and manufacturing top level race cars, carbon fibre is now showing up in a wide array of equipment for sports such as- archery, golf, hockey, tennis, and cycling.


Oscar Pistorius Goes For Gold


Diamond Yarn is all set to introduce their exciting new line-up in yarn shops this September.  Karbonz from Knitter’s Pride are geared towards knitters who want full throttle performance from circular, double pointed or straight needles.  Pass the word on to all your knitting pals, these are the ultimate in ultralight, quality craftsmanship with more w-h-o-o-s-h in every stitch than a cloud of dust from a roadrunner cartoon.


Karbonz Fixed Circulars

Lace knitters will appreciate the the hassle-free cords which remain completely relaxed and the flawlessly tapered points designed to pick up even the tiniest of stitches.  Sized from 2.00 mm to 3.50 mm in lengths of 16″, 24″, 32″, and the hard-to-find 40″ span which is ideally suited for knitting two socks at once.


Karbonz Double Pointed Sets

Sock knitters will adore the finely honed tips and the incredible featherweight feel of these needles.  Sized from 1.00 mm to 3.50 mm, in 6″ or 8″ lengths as sets of five double pointed needles.  Continental knitters prefer five needles when knitting in the round to make a smoother transition from a triangle to a circular shape.  If you prefer working with four needles, the extra one makes a handy spare.


Karbonz Straight Sets

These needles are flexible and warm to the touch with an easy grip for the most arthritic or sensitive hands.  Sized from 2.00 mm to 3.50 mm, in 10″ or 14″ lengths to cover the gamut from baby projects to larger ones.