We enjoy partnering with Annie’s Signature Designs each year as they get ready to release their new Autumn Design Collection. Last year, in our September 2016 issue, we interviewed Annie’s Lead Designer, Lena Skvagerson, and so this year I got to interview Che Lam, a designer with four patterns in the new collection. I was particularly captivated by her Hilltop Tee with its gorgeous openwork stitch pattern. I live in the desert and we don’t have much of a winter, so I immediately saw that sleeveless, light design and thought that it was an amazing piece. I’ve been working on this pattern for the past few weeks in grey and I can’t wait to finish it up. It’s quite the work of art <3
We teamed up with Annie’s to offer the Hilltop pattern free to one of our readers AND the yarn to make it! Leave a comment on this post and on September 20th, 2017, I’ll choose a random winner from the comments.
Annie’s tells us about this year’s collection, “Lead designer Lena Skvagerson draws inspiration from her Scandinavian roots and 25-plus years of experience in the European yarn markets. With an intuitive sense of color, stitch pattern and on-trend design, she collaborated with a group of like-minded designers to create the Autumn Glow pattern collection. ‘Through my own experience, I gather inspiration from all that I see around me. I can see how a collection of pieces can fit into a woman’s wardrobe that’s not fussy or complicated, but rather clean and minimal. The designs I envision are timeless, just like my own sense of style,’ says Skvagerson. The selection of designs include ponchos, scarves, hats, sweaters, cardigans, cowl and accessories that are practical and timeless.”
Che Lam Interview
Can you tell us about how you got started with knitting and crochet?
20 years ago I moved to Sweden from HK to begin a new life. The winter here was cold and dark and there’s not much to do at night. My ex’s mother was kind enough to give me a bunch of lady’s magazines, with lots of knitting patterns in them. I looked at them and said, I wish I could make those! I bought a knit book for beginners, some yarn and needles from a thrift shop, and got started then. It turned out that most of the clothing patterns were too big for me, and instead of adjusting every one of them, I later thought, why not make my own? I began to design clothing for myself, and haven’t stopped since then. Crochet looked really daunting to me at first, but when I later taught myself, from patterns I found online, it turned out to be just as fun and even more versatile.
Would you tell us about your experience working on Annie’s Signature Designs, the Hilltop Tee in particular? (Do you have any other designs in this collection?)
In this fall edition I have actually contributed 4 designs, 2 knit and 2 crochet, a bit of a challenge which I like. Lena, the Editor shared her vision for the fall with me, and through her inspiration images I could visualize the casual, cozy, boho style that would be timeless but stand out at the same time. After looking through my pattern and stitch library and trying out several swatches, I settled on a simple stitch with a nice crochet texture, which also can be easily shaped and made into several sizes, a criterion for most patterns. The shape would be oversized and relaxed, and I used the lace-up detail to tie up front and back, and add a trendy finish. When I finished the Hilltop Tee, the result was even better than I expected. It has a really nice drape and a cool 70’s vibe that feels surprisingly contemporary. I could totally see myself wearing it!
Do you have any favorites in the new collection?
Yes, Lena’s La Paz Poncho, it is simple yet so flattering, I love it!
**Note, Lee, our Happily Hooked Assistant Editor, will be making this design on her weekly WIP Wednesday LIVE Facebook videos. She will also have a pattern/yarn giveaway for that design. Don’t miss out!”
Where does your design inspiration come from?
I’m always watching out for new impressions and trends, and how they are played out on different people with different styles and body shapes in different times. I also love vintage fashion, its superb workmanship and meticulous attention to details, which is so rare today. What makes people look good and feel good? That is the eternal question behind my desire to create the perfect look for the perfect moment. I’m also addicted to Pinterest, where I save whatever inspires me into my digital design library.
As an international designer, can you tell us about your home country and the influence it has on your designs?
Lucky for me, the Scandinavian countries are rich in the tradition of knitting and handicrafts. I am fascinated by the wonderfully unique, traditional designs, especially in color works. I have so many ideas for new color work patterns, and could easily spend the rest of my life just making those. But I’m also influenced by the contemporary Nordic style which is minimal, clean-cut, and chic. In my designs, I always try to achieve a balance between comfort and style, the past and present, and practicality and efficiency. Handicraft is a time-consuming business, and time is a rarity in our modern lives. At the end, you want to make something that looks great, and have fun while doing it! I don’t really have the patience to spend months on something that is art-gallery worthy.
What are your greatest knit or crochet accomplishments?
It was a pivotal moment when I became a professional pattern designer. Coming from being a mechanical engineer and an amateur knitter, to one day getting a phone call from the director of Drops Design, an interview the day after, and getting the job right there, was something significant and changed the course of my career.
Another accomplishment, which was quite unexpected, was my knit book, Learn how to knit with 50 squares. After posting a crochet tutorial for one of my free patterns, which was quite popular online, I was approached by a publisher in London about writing a new book for beginners. I sent her my proposal for the book a week later, and got the deal without even meeting them in real life. That was pretty amazing for a new designer like me.
What would you say to someone who is just starting out with fiber arts?
It’s important to know your own strength. What can I offer that no one else can? Who would benefit from that? And how can I reach this target group? Find out the answers to these questions, and you have a successful business model.
Do you have any other hobbies besides working with yarn?
I am motivated by everything and anything visual: fashion, photography, interior design, illustrations, anything pretty and interesting to look at.
Now, honestly, which is your favorite: knitting or crochet?
Knitting is great for creating something unique and traditional, but crochet is a more free form of construction, especially in 3-dimensional work, you can literally make anything and everything. I honestly cannot say which is my favorite. I love both and the variation to keep my creative flow going.