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Inspiration Friday: Lily Chin

Today’s Inspiration Friday is with rockstar yarn diva, Lily Chin. She is one of the world’s fastest crocheters and travels the country teaching crochet and knitting workshops. She was named a “Master Knitter” by Vogue Knitting International and holds the title of the World’s Fastest Crocheter in 2004. She has designed knitwear for more than 25 years and has worked with Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Diane von Furstenberg, and Isaac Mizrahi. Her new books, Lily Chin’s Crochet Tips and Tricks and Lily Chin’s Knitting Tips and Tricks.

Visit her site at http://www.lilychinsignaturecollection.com/main.php

Lily, tell me about your new books!
I’ve been teaching my classes for more than 10 years, and they always sell out. I’ve had scads of folks say they’ve been waiting to get in for 6 years or more. I decided these folks can benefit from the book. Even those who’ve already taken the class want a book to remind them of what we covered. Furthermore, the book has over five times (more information) what we cover in class.
These are things any knitter or crocheter can start using immediately, no matter what they’re working on. I think that’s why the classes have been so popular. It’s also an eye-opener. I’ve had many say they’ve been knitting/crocheting for over 40 years and never thought to do some of these fixes.

There are far too few *technique* books as opposed to the tons of *pattern* books so this is what sets these books apart from others. Also, there is lots of info in both books that are not found anywhere else.

You are a master knitter, the World’s Fastest Crocheter, chatted with movie stars… what are some other wild scenarios you’d like to see?

Craft Czar to the Obama administration? Heheheh.
You travel so much – how do you get past security? Do they ever try and confiscate your knitting needles, scissors or crochet hooks?
Yes, all the time. Even though the official TSA.gov website says knitting/crocheting is allowed, it’s still up to the whim of any given airport. Many security staff are ill-informed. Yet even when I bring a printed page from the website, they ignore it. So I have to be creative and travel defensively. That is, I have my tools disguised as something else, like a garment closure for hooks and double-pointed needles or hair ornament. My circular needles are necklaces or headbands and my work is on scrap yarn.
When you aren’t working the yarn, what else do you do?
Hardly ever. Sad thing is: when I’m not knitting/crocheting for work, I do it for my own edification. When I’m not traveling for work, I travel for pleasure. When I’m not at the computer for work, I diddle on it for fun. I need a life !!!
What is a common mistake newbie yarn crafters make?
Thinking that’s there’s only one way or one approach to a problem. I can’t tell you how often people have said “I didn’t know that was allowed” or “I didn’t think to do that.” Maybe it’s a confidence issue, but crafters often stick to a set of rules like “though shall not knot.”
I’ve always been curious – do you have a whole storage facility filled with yarn? Kidding aside, what does your studio look like?
Actually, I do! I work from home and live in a small NYC 1-bedroom apt. and I have to rent storage space for my stash. I’m rather notorious for it. I PAY RENT ON MY YARN !!! Just don’t ask me how many storage units I have, I plead the 5th. Have been doing so since 1994.
How you go about starting a project, do you sketching, use swatches or just jump in and go for it?
All the above. In my design class, I talk about all the different approaches. It may start with a garment, a visual image, a stitch, a yarn … I also do a Design Inspiration class on the subject.
What are some recent inspirations you have drawn from, either in pop culture or otherwise?
I love emulating “regular” garments in yarn. Since I’ve been raised in NYC’s garment industry, I’m very influenced by fashion. Yet I also love theory and concepts. For instance, post-modernism is a nod to the traditional but with a twist. Thus, I like to take traditional garb like a Scandinavian design and update and tweak it for today such as working it in a boucle or chenille instead or making it a dress instead of a sweater. I also like to interpret ideas and moods. As an example, how do I express anxiety? I can use a poison green and do an asymmetrical garment, etc.
It is early December, is it too late for people to learn to knit or crochet and still make gifts in time for the holidays?
Why not? A scarf is the typical one but there are scads of other smaller and do-able projects for the newbie like little bags or coasters, etc.
What is the next big thing you have coming up?
Yet another book for spring. Also, I’ve been holding knit and crochet classes on lots of cruises. In 2010, I’m actually teaching on 3 cruises: from Japan to China in March, to Bermuda from NYC in June, and from New Zealand to Australia in Oct. Check out craftcruises.com for my schedule. I’ve been doing the cruise thing since 2000.
If Hollywood were to make a movie about your life, what two or three films would describe what it would be like?

Mine would be a documentary or reality show rather than fiction, like Frank Lloyd Wright on Project Runway. I’m constantly trying to meet deadlines for challenges that seem ridiculous but I do it with an eye for engineering and architecture. Many also think I’m one of those “bigger than life” personalities and Mr. Wright was quite a character. As a matter of fact, throw Reggie Jackson in there. He was clutch in tight situations and also had quite the mouth.
Would you like to submit an article for Inspiration Friday? I feature a different person every week! Click HERE for the guidelines.

-SUBMIT your piece with INSPIRATION FRIDAY in the subject line and email to kathy[at]craftychica[dot]com

Peace, love, and glitter!
Kathy 🙂


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