Wool Studio: Inspire Your Needles
Interweave editors Meghan Babin and Hannah Baker sat down for an informal interview to talk about the newly released Wool Studio Digital Collection. Below is a transcription of that conversation, with many reasons included as to why you will love Wool Studio, too!
Hannah: Hi! I’m Hannah Baker and I am sitting here with Meghan Babin, editor of Interweave Knits, knit.wear, and the brand new Wool Studio Digital Collection. Hey, Meghan, how ya doin’?
Meghan: I’m good!
H: I wanted to sit down and talk with you about Wool Studio because it’s a new product that we have at Interweave and it’s a solely digital collection (there is no print edition). The collection has nine gorgeous knitting patterns. You came up with this idea, and I am curious about what your inspiration for creating Wool Studio was from the beginning.
M: The inspiration really sprung from knit.wear and addresses the limitations of knit.wear. I wanted to expand on the idea of a capsule wardrobe. Minimalism is something that knit.wear does well, but I think Wool Studio takes it home since it a has very stripped down, wearable, enjoyable-to-knit patterns and garments for the day-to-day knitter. The look book format gives us a lot of freedom to get the designs out there and that format seemed to be the a great way to experiment with the whole capsule collection idea.
H: Cool! That’s a really good idea in this digital age. People are kind of moving away from solely print things and like to download knitting pattern PDFs versus having them physically.
M: Right, and it’s also a really exhilarating experience being able to flip through the entire collection on your computer, your phone, your iPad, whatever device you’re using – because the photography is beautiful! You can zoom in on it and I think that it’s a very immersive experience.
H: Also in Wool Studio there are these little pieces, occasionally, where you’ve got some movement in the images, right?
M: Not for this one . . . that is something that we are planning for the next edition.
H: Spoiler alert!
M: A little spoiler for the future, true! We will have static images just like we had for the first one but in the second Wool Studio we’ll have movement. We’ll have either GIFs or video in the look book so it’s more interactive.
H: How did you choose the designers for this issue? Did you do a normal submission process like we do for all of the other issues or did you do something a bit different?
M: I did something a little different for this one. I went back through all of the wonderful contributors that I’ve been working with over the last eighteen months for Knits and knit.wear and I went back to my favorite contributors from both my tenure and years past. I reached out to them and told them what the deal was for this collection and got an enthusiastic response from just about everybody that I reached out to.
So, for this first collection, I wanted to keep it tight and close to home and really ensure that the look book came out exactly like it was supposed to. I went for our all-stars. But it might change in the future. We might open up the submission calls for Wool Studio in the future.
H: Why these particular patterns? What is it about the projects in Wool Studio that really make them Wool Studio?
M: I think that the key to Wool Studio is minimalism more than anything. It’s about minimalism and it’s about creating a really simple canvas that makes the yarn shine. The goal was to have the designs support the beauty of the yarn. I am proud to say, that’s what we got.
H: Yeah, all the projects do a really good job of that. You know that my favorite project is the Chatham Pullover, the one that I always wear in the office when I get cold. It’s such a simple silhouette and stitch pattern—it’s just stockinette and garter stitch everywhere—and the tonal yarn (the Squid Ink colorway) from that Mrs. Crosby Hat Box is so, so pretty and it’s really subtle.
M: It was a nice way to showcase a tonal yarn, because you don’t want to do anything that’s going to hide a stitch pattern and this was just the perfect complement to that yarn.
H: In the end, after all has been said and done, with this first edition of Wool Studio do you think that your vision was achieved?
M: It’s a collaborative process, so when you first come up with a little kernel of an idea you take it—and luckily I work with an amazing team of people here—but it transformed over the nine months that we were working on it. It became more than I expected it to be so it actually surpassed my expectations. This was truly our first venture into digital publishing with this look book. I think that for the first one it came out really well, and I can’t wait to see what great improvements the team can achieve over time.
The Essence of Place
H: What was your inspiration for the names of these projects? These sound like places to me.
M: They are all towns in Cape Cod in Massachusetts. It was completely self-indulgent on my part—naming them after places on the Cape because I grew up in New England—the first half of my childhood anyway. I have a lot of great memories connected to growing up there and I always thought that this collection reflected the type of laid-back but elegant style that people wore on the Cape and coastal New England during the summertime when it was chilly out. I liked putting those two things together.
H: What is your favorite project from the collection? I will force you to pick a favorite. If you had to—obviously, they are all your favorite.
M: I do love all of the pieces but if I were personally going to choose one to make for myself I would select the Falmouth Cardigan because I would wear that all the time. And it’s made in Arranmore which is one of my favorite, current yarns—anything that’s an Aran-tweed is just like, “Be still my heart.” It has silk and cashmere in it and I love it so I would wear that thing to death. Kate Gagnon Osborn just knows how to make some clothes.
H: What was your favorite part in this whole process of working on Wool Studio from the inception of the idea and getting it approved and moving on to creating the collection?
M: I bet you already know what my favorite part is. The photo shoots are always my favorite part because you start with this nugget of an idea and you start building on it, you create mood boards and storyboards, you select yarn and find designers and it all starts forming.
At the photo shoot it all kind of comes together and you finally get to see it and you go, “Oh yeah, this thing that’s been inside my head for eight months is finally a reality,” and when it actually gets executed even better than what is inside of your head, that is the best for me. That is absolutely my favorite part.
H: And we are definitely blessed with an amazing photo crew, everyone on our photo crew is just the best, and the synergy and the teamwork that happens on the set—
M: —and the friendship!
H: And the friendship! It doesn’t really feel like work. And so I think that’s another positive twist. When it all comes together but it’s just a ton of fun.
M: Even if you don’t get to see what’s going on behind the scenes, I think that the energy on set is always reflected in the photography. And you can see how much talent and fun we have doing this.
H: That’s awesome.
Raising the Bar
H: My last question for you about Wool Studio (without giving too much away aside from what I accidentally gave away earlier) is what does the future of Wool Studio look like, in your mind?
M: The future of Wool Studio is growing on the horizon because we have two more collections in the works with more to come. I’m really excited about the integration of video into the next look book but I’m also really excited about the spring collection which we just shot. It was again, amazing and wonderful.
We will have twelve pieces and I think that premiers in June, don’t hold me to that; it could be earlier but it’s a spring/summer collection. We are still keeping it inside of the realm of transitional wear, not necessarily all things for warm weather but there’s definitely a good mix between some lighter tops for spring and summer-wear and then your traditional, year-round, heavier pieces that you can pull out of your closet at any time.
The winter collection is a little bit of a secret; I think it will be a beautiful surprise. We’ve got a bit before it is released, but it’s going to be exciting so we are just going to hold onto that one for a little while.
H: I cannot wait to learn more about that and share it with everybody. Thanks Meghan for sitting down with me and talking over some Wool Studio stuff today. I think it’s a great collection and you know how I feel about that pullover. Hopefully, I can knit a bunch of those for myself in my life.
M: And maybe we can do a knit-along.
H: Let’s do a knit-along! I like that!
M: I’ll make the Falmouth Cardigan and you can make the Chatham Pullover. It’ll be great. I’ll finish it way before you because I’ll be knitting on chunky yarn and you’ll be knitting in fingering weight yarn.
M: It’s going to be good.
Wool Studio: Make it Yours