Behind the Skeins with Meghan Babin
In case you didn’t catch our first episode of Behind the Skeins, we had a little chat with Meghan Babin via Facebook Live. We learned a lot about Meghan’s style, her background and her love for the craft. Below is a transcript of that conversation – and if you would like to watch our team in action, the link to our video is provided at the bottom of the post – enjoy!
(Oh hey – you don’t want to miss another episode of Behind the Skeins, so you better get to following us on Facebook!)
Gus: Hey guys! Today we are filming our first ever Behind the Skeins, and today we are interviewing Meghan Babin. This is going to be a series where we interview people who are on the editorial teams, so you can get to know us a little bit better and we can get to know you guys a little bit better.
So, this is Meghan Babin. She is the editor of Interweave Knits and a pretty cool girl.
Meghan: Oh, thanks so much. You’re okay yourself.
Gus: You’re very welcome. Meghan and I both come from the East Coast, we live fairly close to each other back home.
Gus: “Lived”, I should say. That’s very true. So I’m very excited I get to interview her first.
So to start, let’s talk about your background. How did you learn to knit?
Meghan: Well, at about 19, I was in college. I came home for the weekend. My mom was sitting on the couch knitting. I came into the room and she had her tongue out to the side and a ball of fluff by her. I was like, “What are you doing?” She told me she just learned how to knit. And I said, “well, teach me”. We went to a local craft store, picked up a couple more needles and a ball of yarn, and she taught me how to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off. I started knitting and she promptly stopped knitting afterwards and I kept going. I kind of mostly taught myself the rest with the support of my local yarn shop.
Gus: While you were at school, did you study anything fiber related?
Meghan: No. Not even a little bit! I was a literature student and we often knit in class. Luckily I went to a college where the seminars and lecture halls were full of knitters. Most of the professors either knit themselves or they had a spouse that knit, so it was just like there were little balls of yarn running under tables, and down little alleyways. I never studied anything fiber related in college.
Gus: Do you want to share where you went to college?
Meghan: I went to Sarah Lawrence. Which is probably, like, a stereotype for most people in the knitting industry! I went to Sarah Lawrence and it was a wonderful place to go to school.
Gus: You talked about your local yarn shop, that you got support from them. Then you started working at that yarn shop.
Meghan: Yeah! After I graduated from college I was working in the city. I was traveling back and forth on the bus. You know, it’s like a poor, poor, recent graduate who couldn’t afford to live in NYC. A lot of my time was spent, not even on the train, on the bus.
Gus: Oh, I know that game.
Meghan: That’s the worst. The worst! Going to the Port Authority, going in and out of NYC everyday. So, I knit a lot on the bus to keep my sanity. And it ended up being the thing that sustained me. I decided that I just couldn’t work in the city anymore and my local shop owner, Gail, approached me and said, “Hey, would you like to work here?” And I was like, “Yeah, I would. I would!” I thought it would be a good place to go and figure out what I want to do and where I want to go. Turns out knitting is where I wanted to go. I ended up staying there for 7 years? Yeah, 7 years.
Gus: That sounds pretty good. And that’s where we met. We met back when she was working at the Cornwall Yarn shop, which is one of my favorite stores.
Meghan: It’s a great place. It’s my second home.
Gus: During that time, you were submitting to Interweave?
Meghan: Yeah, so, I think about a couple of years after I started working at the yarn store…
Gus: That takes a little bit of gumption to get that together.
Meghan: It does! It takes a little while to really hone in on what your aesthetic is, what drives you to design. What inspires you to design. I started fiddling around with stuff for myself and stuff for my family members. A lot of people encouraged me to submit and the first place I thought to submit was Interweave, because that was quite literally the first knitting magazine I picked up when I started knitting. And I’ve always been an Interweave girl. So, I was like, “oh, well, let me submit to Interweave.” I submitting my first design and Lisa Shroyer accepted it. That was pretty much it from there. I kept submitting and Lisa kept accepting my designs, and I was like, “oh, this is pretty nice.” I had a good working relationship with Lisa before I ever came to work here. Which is pretty special.
Gus: And Lisa Shroyer is partly how you got here.
Meghan: Yes, Lisa is partly how I got here. It was in June of 2015, I got an email from Lisa, and she was emailing all of her friends and colleagues to let everybody know that she was moving up to the Content Strategist position for the yarn group. I was so bummed out. Lisa had been my support and she really helped me establish myself as an independent designer. Alright, well, I guess this part of my life is kind of over, maybe this chapter is closing. But then I thought about it for a minute and said, “Hmm, maybe I could do that. Maybe I could be the editor of Knits?” I love and always read it, I know the brand really well. I think I am fairly good designer.
Gus: I’d say so!
Meghan: I’m a fairly okay designer! I emailed her back and said, “Hey what do you think about, what if I applied for the job?” And she said, “Yeah, do it!” And about 2 weeks later, I was hired. I think it was about 2 weeks, it was a really short window. It was a very exciting time.
Gus: On a recent Instagram post, Lisa comment, “She [Meghan] is doing a better job than I ever did at being an editor.” What’s it like coming to work knowing you have that much support and how does that influence your day-to-day?
Meghan: It’s wonderful. I mean, she’s my mentor, she’s my friend, she’s one of my greatest supporters. I always thought Lisa was an amazing editor. Before I even knew who she was, she was editing knitscene. I loved knitscene when Lisa was editing it. I’ve always loved knitscene, I particularly loved it when she was editing knitscene. I thought that she was a fantastic editor of Knits, so to hear here say something like that is very humbling and I’m so grateful that I get to work with her.
Gus: Let’s talk about your personal style. Meghan has a very, very cool personal style. Well, you do! She does! But you also take that and you are able to craft 3 separate magazines that each have their own take on their individual style snd you keep it pretty clean in between. How do you do that?
Meghan: I have those own aesthetics inside of myself. I have always loved traditional knitting and I love tweeds, cables. If you went into my closet you would see half of it, literally half of it is all black.
Gus: It’s a very New York style.
Meghan: And then the other half of it is kind of like south western and colorful and such a sharp contrast. If you walked into my closet you would see the two different aesthetics that I live in, daily. So, editing Knits and knit.wear and Wool Studio come fairly natural to me because they serve me and I know that they must serve other people, too. I’m certain that most people don’t just wear all black or to mix-and-match, to have multiple sides to themselves as far as fashion goes.
Gus: Wool Studio is something that you started? You created it. What was the vision behind it?
Meghan: It originally came from wanting to do a spin-off of knit.wear. Making a capsule collection was the original idea of wools studio. It’s recently, like within the last several years, I’ve really honed down my own wardrobe. I think that this happens to a lot of people, you only wear like 20% of the things in your closet, so what do I need all this extra stuff for? Let me just carefully and thoughtfully curate what I actually wear. So, I did that and then I thought about that for knit wear, specifically. And creating a collection of knits that you would want to go to and wear everyday. That’s where the inspiration for Wool Studio came from. And I also thought an snazzy digital platform would be super cool.
Gus: And it is. The second edition of Wool Studio just came out. What is the big thing that separates it as the second edition?
Meghan: A premiere edition is always, you know, you still have your training wheels on, you’re still figuring out what the aesthetic is, really honing it in. The second issue, we really honed in on the photography, on the styling, but more specifically I think it’s a more interactive experience, specifically that we have video. We have video in this issue so you can see what the garments move like, what they drape like, and you can get a better idea of what that garment’s going to look like. It was pretty fun. It was fun to do that on the photo shoot too. Like, “Yes! Get it!”
Gus: So back at Cornwall, at the Cornwall Yarn Shop, you had a pretty special Halloween. I want to talk about that.
Meghan: Yeah, Halloween! It was in the last year I was working there. And we put our little column on Facebook that said, “come and bring your most terrifying knit. The thing that you just can’t finish, you need to emotionally detach yourself from it.” So we set up a BBQ in the back, we got charcoal, we lit the charcoal. I was the first to throw a little, like, half made sheep-thing onto a charcoal grill and watch it go up in flames. It was one of the most cathartic knitting experiences of my life.
Gus: THAT’S AMAZING!
Meghan: It was pretty fun. People came dressed up in their Halloween costumes, with their knits and just roasted them. We roasted those suckers! It was really fun, yeah.
Gus: So now, we’re going to take some viewer questions. So all you guys who are watching, write in. If you have any questions you’d like to ask Meghan. Our great social media person, Andrea is here waiting.
Andrea: Alright, our first question is from Carissa, and she asks, “What impact has the internet had on the paper magazine industry?”
Meghan: That is a great question! Well, I recently read in, I think the last quarter’s issue of Folio, that digital for the first time ever, had outpaced print. So, it has impacted newsstand and print significantly, which is part of the reason why Wool Studio has been such a welcome addition to the Interweave family. And, it’s helping us step forward to the future. I think the internet has had a significant impact on print, but being a paper person, myself, I love my magazines. I love my magazines, I love my books, I love being able to still have a tactile experience. I, myself, even though I do have patterns and I do have patterns on my phone and have stuff on Ravelry in my library, I still go to the magazines if I can.
Gus: I could also see, I mean, definitely, I am paper person too. I would much rather have a paper copy of a book or magazine.
Meghan: I mean, like, I’m a literature student, I want a book!
Gus: But, being in the internet age and having all of this at our fingertips, I think this really allows us to interact and engage with more customers than we would have if we were just doing print stuff. So that opens up some new demographics and new people that we might not have had previously.
Andrea: Okay, our next question is from Laurie, “How do you try to distinguish you magazine from all the other knitting magazines?”
Meghan: That’s a great question. That’s a really great question. I always go to newsstand to look and see what’s happening, what I, myself, gravitate towards. I particularly love lifestyle magazines. Specifically, like, Folk Magazine, Kinfolk, and I’ve always wanted to make Knits look more like a lifestyle brand and combine that with the craft brand. So, making it look like a lifestyle magazine has been my goal for Knits since I started.
Andrea: Okay, our next question is from Tiffany, “What content or topic have you written about lately that inspired or shocked you?
Meghan: Content or topic that inspired or shocked me? Well, I mean, I have written about the Pendleton needle cases and working with Pendleton. That has particularly been inspiring because Pendleton has been a big part of my own design aesthetic and using brands like Pendleton has been particularly inspiring. I have a few things that I am working on behind the scenes that is going to come up in Knits and knit.wear that I’m very excited about. But I’m not ready to talk about.
As far as stuff that has come out recently, the Shakespeare issue has been something that I was particularly inspired by. Like I said, I’m a literature student, so basing an entire issue on Shakespeare was challenging and really fun. I’m so lucky that I work with people who were very enthusiastic about, including our head of content strategy, who wrote two 14 line sonnets in iambic pentameter and a poem for every single design in the issue. That was pretty exceptional and fun.
Andrea: Our next question is from Gus, “What is your favorite type of yarn to work with? Wool, cotton, or a blend?”
Gus: That is to you from, it’s actually my mother. [Laughter] Thanks mom!
Meghan: Awesome, mom! I’m definitely an animal fibers person. I wrote about it in my editor’s letter in Knits Summer, to much controversy. I think it was fairly polarizing because I am not particularly fond of summer knitting, but I love knitting for winter. I am a year-round winter knitter. I enjoy knitting with wool, most of all. For sure. And designing with wool. But I am currently crocheting with a cotton, right now.
Meghan: I am making a boho bag in cotton. I mean, it’s not like I exclusively only knit with wool. I also crochet.
Gus: The things you learn!
Meghan: I know! I’m terrible at it. I’m really, really bad at it, but I do occasionally do it. Yeah.
Andrea: That’s all the questions we have from the viewers today and I think we’re just about out of time.
Gus: Thank you guys for tuning in. This has been our first edition of Behind the Skeins with Meghan Babin.
Meghan: Thanks for having me.
Gus: You’re very welcome. So where can people find you if you they want to follow you on social media?
Meghan: The easiest place to find me is on Instagram @Meggospurls. You can also follow, I think it’s @InterweaveCraft. Those are the easiest places to find me.
Gus: If you guys make a project, coming up, in any of the Knits, knit.wear, or Wool Studio, tag Meghan if you put it up on Interweave. On Interweave, on Instagram!
Meghan: And if you ever want to see behind the scenes from photo shoots, my Instagram is the best place to check.
Gus: Definitely, there are some gems!
Andrea: Meghan are you on Ravelry?
Meghan: I am on Ravelry. I am Ravelry as Meggospurls, across the board.
Gus: Alright. Thanks for tuning in, you guys. We’ll see you again soon.
Check Out the Magazines That Meghan Edits!