out of the box knitting inspiration

In my last blog post I shared design inspiration and storyboards for my Chalet Collection knit pillow project. (see them here) After a year in the works the pillows have come to life! They were a resounding success at their debut at the Chandler 4 Corners showroom at the AmericasMart Gift, Rug, and Home Shows in Atlanta last week.

The pillows are knit of the softest wool (like your favorite old ski sweater but not itchy) and backed with cotton velveteen. Some are also hand-embroidered. The pillow inserts are filled with down. A Norwegian style pewter button is sewn to each corner for a distinctive touch. (Do you think the button adds to or detracts from the overall effect?)

Evoking winter’s romance with their traditional alpine motifs, the pillows will start being shipped in November – just in time for the first snowfall! For information about ordering pillows contact Chandler 4 Corners. Or stop by the Chandler 4 Corners booth at the New York International Gift Show next month.

There are twenty-one Chalet Collection pillows. These are some of my faves. Which do you like?

To see more of my portfolio click here. To connect with Poppy Gall Design Studio on facebook click here.

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I’ve been working on an exciting and hush-hush design project for the last year and I’m now finally able to reveal it!  When the owner of Chandler 4 Corners (who has known me since Mountain Ladies & Ewe days) decided to add a knit pillow collection to his already wildly successful hand-hooked wool pillow business, we got to talking. Although I don’t know much about the home furnishings business, I do know a thing or two about knitting and how to get things made, so our collaboration was a no-brainer.

Chandler 4 Corners’ pillows designed by Laura Megroz are well known for their folk artsy motifs of bears and moose and Labrador retrievers. My knit designs would need to complement Laura’s, yet not duplicate her themes.

The first step in the process was to craft the story and to define the collection’s themes and look. Designing pillows both nostalgic and fresh would be paramount to its success. My creative juices really started flowing during a hut-to-hut ski trip in the Alps.

It was then that I decided to focus on alpine-inspired designs influenced by the traditional motifs and colors of vintage ski sweaters, and to incorporate patterns true to mountain traditions into the pillows. It would be a coup if they were equally at home in a hand-hewn chalet AND a light-filled Scandinavian-modern mountain retreat.

I usually start my design process with storyboards – images and colors that spark my creativity and give credibility to my ideas. Storyboards are a good tool for allowing clients to get a visual look at what’s inside my head. The storyboards below are from my first presentation to Chandler 4 Corners and give you a peak at the design process.


The Chalet Collection was introduced last week at AmericasMart Gift, Rug, and Home Show in Atlanta. Next stop: the New York International Gift Show August 17-21. Look for future blog posts highlighting The Chalet Collection. In the meantime you may follow Poppy Gall Design Studio on facebook by clicking here.

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As a knitter and lover of Norwegian sweaters, I fell in love with Nike’s limited edition Pro Oslo Glow tights as soon as I saw them.

Nike designer Ryan Noon drew inspiration for these running tights from the classic Setesdal lusekofte sweater that originated in the Otra river valley in southern Norway.

By digitally mashing up the familiar knit and hand-embroidered design elements found on Norwegian sweaters, Noon pays homage to a traditional design in a thoroughly modern and delightful way.

For more about Setesdal Sweaters click here.

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Truth be told, even though I’ve been hand knitting for decades, love to knit, design knits for clients, and even owned a knitting company, I am technically not a very good knitter. I tend to knit while I’m chatting, or when I’m a passenger in a car, or making dinner, so often my knitting doesn’t get the attention it needs resulting in dropped stitches or bloopers too far back for me to worry about.

What really gets me excited about knitting is the way the yarns feel in my hands, how the colors react with each other, and how the design unfolds.

You may recall that I hand-painted some lovely muti-colored yarn last November. I’ve always been awed and inspired by all those highly patterned Norwegian and Latvian style mittens. And intimidated because you need to knit two of them, and my attention span is too short for making more than one of anything. However, the yarn, a very sturdy 2-ply lightweight yarn, that lost its identifying tag eons ago, beckoned to be made into mittens, and I obliged.

I’m not one for following written instructions but I  looked through a number of old knitting books for pattern inspiration and decided to graph my own.

I knit much more quickly and comfortably using smaller needles so I used size 2 and 5 double pointed needles for cuff and hand respectively, and mixed my hand-painted yarn with a dark aubergine of similar weight.

If you’d like to give them a try, my pattern below is for a size medium. If you do, I’d love to know how they turn out. And please don’t use the pattern for commercial use.

Don’t look too closely or you’ll see my bloopers! Happy Knitting!

for more knitting inspiration click here. Click to “Like” Poppy Gall Design on facebook.


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It’s hunting season again, the time of year when hunters and non-hunters alike don garish day-glo orange apparel with hopes of not being mistaken for a buck or a bear.

A couple of thoughtful yarn bombers in Wilson, Wyoming adorned this lovely elk, just in time for hunting season.

Enjoy your weekend! To see more yarn bombing click here.

Photo courtesy Allison Levy.

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Knitting has been proven to take your mind off things and to lower stress levels, just ask any knitter. So if you’re a bride-to-be this June (or the mother-of-the-bride-to-be) take your knitting with you and knit a few rows when you feel the need to de-stress a bit. Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida is pictured here as a nervous bride on her wedding day in the 1961 romantic comedy film Come September.

Come September was directed by Robert Mulligan, starring Rock Hudson, Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin and was set in Italy.

Enjoy your weekend!

Photo: Leo Fuchs

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We have a winner! Kathleen from the Fashion Incubator blog (check it out!) won my 2nd Anniversary Thank You & Give-Away. A pair of hand knit mittens from Lost Horizons is on the way to her. The mittens, designed by me, are hand knit in Nepal in a woman’s co-operative and can be found at many natural food co-ops around the country (unfortunately the company doesn’t have a website).

Kathleen writes, “I would like to see more of the design process. The real life side of it that laymen don’t understand or know exists. In sum, the boring paperwork, project management of execution. This would be invaluable to any aspiring designer.”

I received similar comments from other readers. I will do more of this. I’ll just need to think ahead, keep my inspiration boards and take photos as projects progress.

I start working on a design project sometimes up to 18 months before the collection arrives in stores. That’s how long it takes to design, make prototypes (usually 2 rounds), to weave and dye the fabrics or yarns, make salesman samples, take orders from retailers at trade shows, make and ship the item from the factory and then send it on to the retail store – whew!

Alas, I’m not able to show product that isn’t in the market yet. I’ve almost forgotten about the stuff I’ve designed by the time it hits the store floor.

Another of Kathleen’s comments: “By all means, be more commercial. By that I mean, flog the products from your job. Let us know about them.” As soon as I am able, I promise I will post more of my work with links to where you can find it here and on my facebook page.

Thank you everyone for all of your thoughtful comments and for your subscriptions. I really enjoy hearing your thoughts and ideas and you’ve introduced me to all sorts of new things – you keep me going!

This is my concept sketch for the mittens Kathleen won. Sometimes I like to get away from my computer and sketch by hand as I’ve done here. My drawing skills have become sloppy because I use a computer all the time, so spending some time hand sketching keeps me limber.


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It’s sweater season again, and time for me to wash the sweaters I didn’t manage to get around to last spring. Yes, “wash”.  Most people are terrified to wash sweaters by hand because they think they’ll shrink them, and often avoid buying them in the first place. In reality washing wool sweaters by hand is quite simple if you know how.

images via: Sandra Backlund

Here’s a step-by-step description of how I wash my wool sweaters and hats. I’ve never ruined one by hand washing. The first thing to keep in mind is that the combined agitation of wet fabric and soap mats and shrinks i.e. “felts” wool knits, not the temperature of the water. Wet wool needs to be handled gently as the fiber is weakest when wet and easily disturbed.

Start by running hot water, but not so hot you can’t plunge your hand into the sink or tub you’re filling. (Yes, “hot”.) Add a squirt or two of mild detergent; using the same amount you would wash dishes with. Swish your hand around the sink a couple of times to blend it with the water without creating suds.

Unless you want to felt your sweater it’s important to use a mild detergent rather than soap. Soap has a high alkaline ph content and scours the wool fibers and helps mat and shrink the fabric. Dish washing liquids like Ecover, Seventh Generation or Dawn (with the blue label) work well. Dawn is used to clean birds caught in oil slicks because it doesn’t damage their feathers so it is fine for wool. Despite Woolite’s fantastic job marketing itself as a wool wash, don’t use it; it has a high alkaline content.

Next, lay your sweater down on the surface of the water and very, very gently push it down into the bowl to wet it, or you can just let it sink by itself. Do not rub, scrub, scrunch or wring the sweater. Just let it soak. The hot water and detergent will pull out dirt, grease, wood smoke and pet dander without your help. Let it soak for at least 15 minutes. Longer is Okay.

Drain the water from the sink without handling the sweater or gently reach under the sweater and pull the plug. Once the water is drained gently push down on the sweater with your palms to remove more water. Then carefully lift the lump of wet sweater and place it in another container. I wash my sweaters in the bathroom sink and transfer them to the bathtub for this step. Wool is most fragile and susceptible to felting and stretching when wet so it is important that you transfer it carefully. Resist the temptation to wring or squeeze the water out.

Rinse out the dirty sink and fill it again with hot water, this time without detergent. Place the sweater back into the sink and let soak again for another 10 or 15 minutes. Repeat the rinse process two times or until the rinse water is clean.

Place a big towel on the floor and gently move the sweater to the towel and arrange it so that it is smooth and flat. Roll it up in the towel and press hard to remove the water. I kneel on the roll for better leverage. Never twist or ring the towel – just press. You’ll need a couple of towels so you can repeat this step again. Once the excess water is removed and the sweater is just damp, carefully place it on a dry towel and gently pat the sweater back into the same shape it was before it was washed. Wet wool stretches so be careful that your sweater isn’t wrinkled or skewed to one side or the other because it will dry that way. Some people like to use special netting racks designed for drying sweaters. These are great because your sweaters will dry more quickly than on the floor.

Be patient because it can take a couple of days for a sweater to dry depending how heavy it is. I dry mine in my guest room where I won’t walk on them. Check in on it periodically to flip it over or turn a sleeve back to expose the damp areas.

As you can see it’s really not hard to wash sweaters by hand. Think too of all the money you’ll save by not sending them to the dry cleaners.

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I found this knit rainbow spiral on and might just have to knit one myself! The colors are great too! If you’re a knitter (or crocheter) join Ravelry and be prepared to get lost/inspired for hours.


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From a series of hand knit wool sweaters and accessories made in Nepal, designed by Poppy Gall Design Studio.

3 Sweaters

To see more work by Poppy Gall Design Studio click here.

Like” Poppy Gall Design on facebook.


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High tops with a twist – tartan plaid, cable or snowflake knit ! From French shoe manufacturer Spring Court.




Via: A Fashionable Sport

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I think yarn bombing is great, but PLEASE let’s keep our knitting needles and crochet hooks away from defenseless creatures!


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What do you call a bunch of women motorcyclists who are yarn-a-holics? Purl’s Angels, Moto-psycho Knitters, The Close Knit Gang? We can’t decide either!

On a recent weekend adventure, a group of landlocked gals headed for the coast of Maine in search of twisty roads, lobsters, and yarn! On Saturday morning, while the men in the party were off getting haircuts, we immersed ourselves in a fiber artists heaven called Halcyon Yarns in Bath.

Motorcycling and knitting seem pretty incongruous and we all had a good laugh at ourselves as we crammed colorful skeins of yarn into our tank bags and next to our tents. We’ll be knitting up a storm until the road beckons us again. Now all we need is a name for our “gang. We’re taking suggestions…

Purl's Angels

box of yarn

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In recognition of International Yarn Bombing Day I’m posting a few of my favorite examples of a pastime that is rapidly gaining mainstream popularity.

Yarn bombing, or guerilla knitting, blurs the distinction between craft and installation art. Knitters and crocheters are picking up their needles and hooks worldwide to add color and humor to public spaces, inner city sidewalks and galleries alike, with a bit of DIY craftiness.

While knitting or crocheting scarves for statues, or sleeves for parking meters and lampposts, is a popular form of yarn bombing, I prefer larger scale installations that require a bit more imagination, planning and engineering.

Click to see more great examples of guerilla knitting.

1-tree yarn bomb

2-yarnbomb tank


3-yarnbomb moto


4-Shed Jumper

Via: Artyarn

5-yarnbomb magda_mini_countryman

Via: Knittaplease



via: Let’s Colour Project

8-yarn bomb sheep

via: Alan in Belfast

via: Twisted Sifter


Via: Theresa Honeywell


Via: Ajoure


Via: AV Club

13-yarnbomb Paris

Via: SMU Daily Campus

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Visiting the Álafoss factory shop housed in the old knitting mill in Mosfellsbær where Iceland’s woolen industry was launched in 1896 was on my “to visit” list.

The shop is packed with woollen goods knit, woven and felted from world famous Istex “Lopi” wool, the yarn from which Icelandic sweaters are knit. Unique in it’s composition, Icelandic wool is made up of two types of fibers; fine, soft and insulating inner fibers and long and glossy outer fibers which are water and dirt repellent. Sweaters knit from Lopi yarn are lightweight and warm.

In the old days the small waterfall (“foss”) behind the mill powered it’s machinery. A large selection of old photographs and knitting machinery are interspersed throughout the store, which fills the mill’s first floor, reminding one of the building’s heritage.

My visit to the shop was not disappointing – I left with two large bags of Lopi yarn and a wool blanket. This was the first time I had seen the full range of Istex yarns ranging from super lightweight “LéttLopi” to “Plötulopi”, the unspun yarn used to knit Icelandic sweaters. The colors are luscious and I was unable to resist buying a skein of almost every shade! Luckily the skeins compress and I was able to cram them into the empty spaces in my ski bag to avoid paying an excess baggage fee!

© Poppy Gall 2011

Yarns, sweaters, blankets and crafts fill the whole first floor of the old mill shop in Mosfellsbær

© Poppy Gall 2011

A delicious spectrum of color!

© Poppy Gall 2011

One can never have too much yarn!

© Poppy Gall 2011

Love the company vehicle!

To become an interactive part of Poppy Gall Design Studio on facebook click here.


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