Our Valley Yarns Longmeadow is the perfect yarn to bridge the seasons, and the new Ascending Leaves Pullover designed by Ashwini Jambhekar is the ideal springtime sweater! Cool and soft against the skin, but fluffy enough keep you warm on breezy April days, this pullover features a climbing vine lace pattern that circles the hem and flared sleeves.
We asked Ashwini to tell us a bit about herself and her work.
When did you learn to knit?
My “learn to knit” story is pretty traditional: my mom taught me when I was quite young, around age 4. And in keeping with tradition, my first project was a garter stitch scarf. The yarn was a department-store acrylic in a lovely coral color. I made the scarf for my grandmother, who lived in the heat and humidity of Mumbai, India!
What prompted you to start designing?
I started designing in graduate school, when I discovered the lovely LYS Artfibers in San Francisco (now closed). The shop samples were very youthful and shapely, unlike the large, bulky acrylic or wool samples on display at the time in the east coast chain stores, which were my only other exposure to yarn and garment design. The Artfibers staff used to create new designs for their samples, and after learning a bit from them, I began by making minor modifications to patterns and was soon creating whole designs from scratch.
Give us a glimpse into your design process, where/how do you find inspiration?
I like to think about the different kinds of shapes and lines that can be created in a garment, and what features they emphasize. For ideas, I often browse sewing patterns. I also look through stitch pattern dictionaries and try to imagine various ways to arrange a pattern on a garment, and how the placement affects the overall look of the garment. Unfortunately, the latter can’t easily be determined by swatching, but I definitely swatch to get a sense of how a pattern looks in a particular yarn (and to calculate my gauge, of course!).
Tell us about your design aesthetic.
I primarily knit women’s garments, and strive for a look that’s elegant and feminine. My work as a scientist isn’t compatible with too many frills, so I try to keep the silhouettes pretty sleek. This design is one of my first ones to incorporate flared sleeves, which I love in theory, but perhaps not so much when I’m working.
What did you love about the Valley Yarn you worked with?
I loved the smooth, crisp stitch definition of the cotton in Longmeadow, coupled with the wool-like resiliency provided by the microfiber.
Valley Yarns Longmeadow has long been one of our favorite Valley Yarns, both for it’s versatility and durability. With a washable 60% Cotton/40% Microfiber blend and all-purpose DK weight, this yarn is ideal for everything from baby knits to homegoods. Which color will you use for the Ascending Leaves Pullover?