Today I’m welcoming designer Holli Yeoh to Sheep to Shawl to celebrate the launch of her new book, Tempest. This is a pattern collection, which is not the type of book I usually buy. But when Holli asked me to be part of her book tour, I knew I would want to check this out because I’ve been so impressed by her designs in the past. Holli’s design aesthetic is classic and fun at the same time, and her designs are eminently knitable. Here’s how she describes the book:
A collection of 11 patterns designed by Holli Yeoh for SweetGeorgia Yarns.
Inspired by the idea of the Tempest. Rainstorms. Tides rise and fall. Waves ebb and flow. Storms rage and we seek refuge from the wild and fierce Tempest. These designs embody both the shelter and the storm.
This beautifully photographed, 84-page book includes 11 patterns along with photo tutorials and tips to make handknits that will be cherished.
I hope you enjoy our chat.
DD: Hi Holly! welcome to my blog. I’m so glad to have you here as part of your book tour. I love your book, Tempest. There are several projects I would like to make for myself, if I ever get to take a “selfish knitting sabbatical.”
HY: I love hearing that more than one pattern resonates with a knitter. It means I accomplished what I set out to do!
DD: I was first attracted to your deigns when I bought a “Guess Who?” glove kit from you in Vancouver several years ago. I was very impressed by your design aesthetic and have been happy to watch as you continued to produce more patterns and now a book. How would you describe your design philosophy?
HY: I design what I like to wear AND what I like to knit. I’m intrigued by technique and stitch patterns. I have a Fine Arts degree and the principles of design (composition, balance, etc) are at the heart of everything I design.
DD: I think Stormwatch is my favorite project. I love the fit and style and casual elegance of this design. It’s very different than the close-fitting, tailored designs that have been in many books over the past several years. How did you decide on the fit and style of this design?
HY: I’ve been wanting to design something very loose fitting for quite a while. I’m influenced, in part by some of my favourite off-the-rack designers. I think that a garment with maximum positive ease can be flattering when worked in a fine weight yarn. The drape and flow of the garment doesn’t mask the body, but compliments it. I think the modern update of the drop-shoulder garment is fun and easier to wear with its narrow sleeves and lighter fabric as compared to the bulky underarm excess of fabric from fashions of decades past.
DD: What about the other projects in the book? I see a lot of cowls, which are both popular and practical, as well as other sweaters that are fitted styles.
HY: Felicia and I wanted the book to be accessible to a broad range of knitters. We wanted smaller projects to appeal to knitters who haven’t taken the sweater plunge yet and for those who might be knitting on a budget. As a sweater knitter myself, I’m please to see that it’s the sweater projects that seem to be the most popular so far. I tried to include more novice projects like the Ebb & Flow blanket, but then I threw in short rows! However, we also shot both photo and video tutorials to help out with the technique.
DD: What styles and trends do you see on the horizon? Are your designs inspired by what is on the fashion runways?
HY: I don’t watch the haute couture fashion runways but I am definitely influenced by current fashions. When I see a new silhouette I like to find it in a shop so I can try it on to get a sense of fit, ease and style on the body. Currently the drapey styles are very appealing to me.
DD: What else inspires your designs?
HY: I’m constantly pulling out my cell phone to snap pictures of anything and everything that inspires me. Sometimes its the costumes in an historical drama on TV. Oftentimes it’s an interesting stitch pattern on a sweater in a store. Sometimes I follow people on the street so I can snap a picture of the cut and lines of a jacket they’re wearing. I’m most inspired by clothing, but nature also influences me. Living in the Pacific northwest I have the ocean, waves, trees, rocks, really everything right outside my door!
DD: Do you start with an idea? A yarn that speaks to you? A color that catches your eye? Or something else?
Yes! All of those can and do inspire me! For Tempest I started with a stitch pattern I saw on a garment in a store while I was on vacation months earlier. I had one snapshot of that stitch pattern on my phone and it kept calling to me. I began swatching and playing with the stitch pattern. Once I was able to recreate it I altered it by stretching and pulling it, pushing and compressing it. Then I sat down and drew up design ideas that would work with all those variations on the stitch pattern. I also pulled together several other designs not related to that stitch pattern but they were things I’ve been wanting to pursue. From there I met with Felicia and we discussed the focus for the book based on my designs. Once we had the theme of the waves and the idea of storms we rounded out the collection with a good selection of accessories and garments that would showcase SweetGeorgia Yarns colours and different yarn bases. Not every design was a literal representation of stormy waves, but also the kinds of garments to wear when hunkering down to weather the storm.
DD: You design for women, men, children, babies, and for the home. Do you find it easier to design for one of these groups over the others? Which is your favorite?
HY: I began designing for babies and children which I find easy. The sweaters are so small and I like the square proportions. There’s certainly a larger time commitment to designing adult sweaters but I find the problem solving more satisfying. I think what I find most challenging is coming up with one-skein projects or “simple” projects ideal for beginners. I like to say that my easier patterns are suitable for adventurous beginners.
DD: The projects in Tempest are all made from Sweet Georgia yarns. How did this partnership come about?
I had been wanting to work on a collection for some time. I love Felicia’s colour sense and when I’ve designed with her yarn in the past always valued her input. She’s intimately familiar with her yarn bases and colours and I felt that my designs were better as a result of her advice. Felicia also has awesome graphic design and business skills. I knew our abilities would compliment one another. I decided I had nothing to loose by approaching her and I’m so glad I did!
DD: The photography in your book is drop dead gorgeous, as are the outdoor photos that accompany each project. How much input did you have on the photo styling and choice of photos?
Thank you so much! Both Felicia and I were very involved with the photography and styling. Felicia was the photographer for the accessories photo shoot at Iona Beach and my husband, Rod Yeoh photographed the larger garments at the Britannia Shipyards in Steveston. Both Felicia and Rod contributed the scenery shots. We’re blessed by our surroundings here in BC!
DD: Where can people by the book and ebook? Do you have signed copies available?
For more information on each of the patterns in Tempest go to http://tempestknit.com/.
You can also join the Tempest community, share and discuss the patterns and navigate to the learning platform where we have video tutorials.
Print and digital books are available through this link: http://tempestknit.com/buy-tempest/
(Donna, we didn’t even think about selling them as signed copies! We’re happy to accommodate any request for a signed copy.)
DD: Where can people learn more about your other patterns and designs?
All of my patterns and designs can be found on my website: holliyeoh.com
I also have photo tutorials, a blog and newsletter.
DD: Thanks again, Holli! I can’t wait to find some time to cast on for Stormwatch. I can see myself living in that sweater and needing a second one to take on the road when I travel and teach!