I have really enjoyed the seasonal collections from Annie’s Signature Designs which launched with Summer Love, continued with Autumn Bliss and now includes the Spring Breeze collection. This series of patterns comes from lead designer Lena Skvagerson, who I’ve been lucky enough to interview for each collection, including this new one. Here’s that interview:
Q: How does this collection of patterns differ from the Summer and Autumn looks? And how do they integrate?
In the Summer Love and Autumn Bliss collections I included a lot of accessories, and in the new Spring Breeze collection the main difference is that we decided to focus on garments. I think there is a lack of on-trend crochet garments out there, and I wanted to use all our resources to come up with a range of modern spring and summer apparel. My core style is timeless and stays pretty much the same, and with the new collection I think our customers will start to recognize my style. I absolutely see a mix-and-match potential, where some of the accessories I made last summer would go perfect with one of the tops in the collection this spring.
Q: I recall from the first press release that the idea of each collection is to evoke a specific mood / emotion. What is the emotion you were striving for with the Spring collection?
A: I’m so attracted to the peaceful lifestyle of living on the coast and I just love being at the beach. I’m fascinated with the details of the seashore, the shells, the sand, even the rhythm of the tides. The shapes of starfish and sand dollars subtly influence the details in my designs. The emotion this environment evokes in me, and that I wish to share, is one of being calm.
Q: Calmness is definitely something a lot of us are seeking! In addition to the seashore, what are some of your own favorite things about springtime?
A: The returning light and the longer days. The pastel spectrum of the morning sky. Even on not-so-sunny days, the mysterious coastal fog produces a delicate light that is softening the colors. I’m often captivated by this misty spectacle.
Q: Many of the crochet patterns have circular / round elements in the design, probably in part from those sand dollars that you referenced. Any thoughts on this?
A: Yes, I love to work with the circular shape. I am intrigued by the challenge of the math process to create the flat circles in multiple sizes. I have made a couple circular designs in previous collections that has been very well received, so in this collection I wanted to broaden the selection and add alternative designs on the same theme.
Q: What are some of the other specific techniques / stitches used in the crochet patterns for this collection?
A: In addition to the circular pieces you will see that the majority of the patterns use openwork techniques including shell patterns, pineapple stitch and easy-to-crochet lace patterns created by chain stitches. These are all perfect choices for lighter spring and summer wear. The designs look intricate but use basic stitches; if you know how to make a slip knot, chain, single crochet and double crochet then you will be able to make these designs.
Q: Several of the patterns have a white or black/white tone. How did this come into play with the more pastel tones?
A: No matter what the trends or seasons, I feel these graphic colors will always be the base in my own wardrobe. In the summer I can’t be without my white jeans and some black and white sweaters to go with them. I thought of this when including those colors with the pastels that are more traditional to the spring season.
Q: Who, in addition to yourself, were the crochet designers for these patterns?
This season I paired up with some super talented designers that I know, admire and have worked with before. I am proud to present designs in the new collection by Che Lam, Mona Modica, Jill Hanratty, Lisa Gentry and last but not least Robyn Chachula. They each do unique work but what is true for all of them is that they are open-minded and we speak the same creative language. When I share my visions, these designers are able to interpret and capture every little detail.
Q: How has your vision of these collections changed / evolved since it first came to mind? What do you envision for future collections?
I know that I gave my best already with the first two collections I made for Annie’s Signature Designs. I do, however believe that there’s always room for improvement. I see things as new challenges and I wanted this third collection to be even better. With this comes bigger responsibility, more designs that offer a wider variety of sizing options, which translates to more effort in picking the right styling and making sure that the photography represents the designs in the best way possible.
For my next collection, which will come out in Fall 2017, my plan is to go even more basic. My direction is to keep creating garments that are practical for everyday wear, and that can fit right into most woman’s wardrobes.
Q: One of the additions to this lookbook is 360 degree videos? What can you tell us about this?
A: These videos are a great addition to the photo presentation of the design… and they are fun to make too! Once we have shot all the different angles of the garment, we switch cameras and start being silly. As we don’t work with any professional models, it’s all about making the model comfortable and able to let loose a bit. It’s interesting how suddenly it gets so hard to walk and spin once a video camera is pointed at you! All we want though is for them to swing a little bit back and forth and make a 360 turn, so that we all can see how the garments looks like in action, how the fabric falls, and how it fits when you move. This is a great benefit for the crafter who is looking for a new project, as in a single still photo it can be very hard to capture these details.
Q: It sounds like a lot of fun to make those videos. What is something fun / wacky / interesting that happened behind the scenes or in the process of creating this collection?
Yes, there are plenty of funny moments in the midst of all the serious work of shooting a whole collection. This time we also had some struggles, as we had models cancelling multiple times on the same day as their photo shoot, plus it was the rainiest 2 weeks in California for 6 years. We rushed in and out between the storms to shoot. In several pictures it’s actually raining and I am standing next to the model on a chair holding an umbrella over the model’s head. Also as always, a couple garments came in late, and I found myself sitting there in the car weaving in the last ends 5 minutes before the shoot. Luckily, one way or another it always seem to work out in the end.
Q: Finally, I wanted to be sure to mention that you were featured in Where Women Create BUSINESS. Congratulations! What has that meant to you?
Thank you, yes I am so very grateful for this. It’s so exciting when we in the craft industry are able to give some publicity to our world of knit and crochet. It’s so important to keep our crafty heritage alive, and to be able to show the next generations that there are so many exciting projects out there, beyond the crochet granny afghan grandma once made.
This wonderful publication also gave me the opportunity to guide and inspire other fellow designers (or designers to be), by letting me tell my story from my first Barbie outfits in the daycare center in a small town in Sweden, to become the lead designer at Annie’s Publishing as well as Executive Producer of the popular PBS TV show Knit and Crochet Now.