Designer Spotlight: Carol Sulcoski

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Today, we’d like to introduce you to Carol Sulcoski, who has designed many gorgeous patterns using Ancient Arts Yarn. Carol J. Sulcoski is a knitwear designer, writer, hand dyer, and teacher. Her books include Sock Yarn Studio (Lark), Knit So Fine (Interweave), and Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarns(Interweave), and Carol’s work has also appeared in such magazines as Vogue Knitting, KnitSimple, Interweave Knits, KnitScene, and Noro Magazine. She has a new book coming out in early 2016 from Sixth and Spring called Knitting Ephemera, which is  a collection of factoids, tips, anecdotes and other fun stuff about knitting and yarn. She is also working on another pattern book which will come out in Fall of 2016! You can learn more about Carol at blackbunnyfibers.com. She lives with her family in Villanova, PA.

How long have you been knitting?
My mom taught me to knit when I was about 7 or 8, but it didn’t really take until I was an adult. I rediscovered it when I was a young professional working long hours, and needed a creative outlet. It’s been about twenty years since then.

What made you decide to become a designer? What is your process like? 
I started by adapting patterns myself. I would like something about a pattern, but not, say, the edging and would figure out how to substitute a different one. Or I would adapt a pattern to a yarn of a different gauge and tweak the numbers to make it come out right. Then I started having more and more ideas about garments I wanted to make, and began designing patterns for a local knitting shop. Eventually I started having patterns accepted to national magazines and websites.

My process depends on exactly what I’m making. Small items like socks, I’ll just cast on to see what happens since swatching isn’t much different than the size of the regular item. For sweaters, I’ll do some sketches or swatches or both first. I play around a lot, because I think it can be hard to really know what an item looks like until it’s actually on the needles (or off the needles, sometimes).

What attracted you to Ancient Arts Yarns for your knitwear designs? 
I fell in love with the Meow line of yarns, since I’m a huge cat lover. The more I saw of the yarns, the more I liked them! I love the combination of high-quality base yarns and beautiful handdyeing that Ancient Arts yarns have. I like that it is a woman-owned business, too,that treats designers fairly.

What is your favourite part about designing (and knitting!) socks? 
Socks have to be a pretty specific shape in order to fit the foot, and so it ends up being a game of theme and variation. I like that they are relatively small projects, easy to carry around, and they can be as elaborately knit or as simple as you want. I like that you can use nearly any technique in knitting for socks — colorwork, cables, twisted stitches, lace, multidirectional knitting….and I love exploring the folk techniques (like different kinds of heel and toe shapes) that have evolved over the years.

What are your best tips for working with hand-dyed yarns? 
I write a lot about handdyed yarns in my books (especially Sock Yarn Studio, which has a  technical section that talks about handdyes) but I think it’s important to understand that there are very different styles of handdyed yarns — some handdyed yarns are nearly all one color and can function much as a solid machine-dyed yarn — the sky’s the limit. Some yarns have tons of colors and there is so much going on with the colors that it makes sense to use subtler stitchwork and let the color be the star. You need to understand how the yarn is dyed and then adjust your pattern to suit it.

The above interview and official bio tells you a little about Carol, and now Barb Brown will take over to share more about  who and what is she to Ancient Arts Yarns. Take it away, Barb! 

Carol has been a good friend to the Ancient Arts team, both personally and professionally. She has worked with us in a variety of ways, including doing our pattern tech editing, advising us, showing us the ropes from the inside out of the yarn industry, and last but not least using our yarn in her designs and publications! Let’s show you some of what we think is a beautiful partnership. In her latest book which was released this summer, Lace Yarn Studio, she features her beautiful Mihika Cardigan which uses our limited edition BFL lace weight yarn (our 100% Merino lace weight yarn would substitute in beautifully).

Image © 2015 Carrie B. Hoge

Two other patterns in this book also use our yarn, including Barb Brown’s fabulous Scarlet Swag (below left), and her ethereal Wind on the Waters scarf (below right).

Images © 2015 Carrie B. Hoge
Images © 2015 Carrie B. Hoge

In short, she’s talented, generous, beautiful inside and out, and has a wicked sense of humour. We wish we could see more of her. Imagine our surprise and delight when we looked out the condo window at Olds College Fibre Week in June. We had invited her to come along for a visit and to promote her book, but we didn’t really think we would be lucky enough to have this happen!

I took a closer look because I couldn’t believe my eyes. Yes! It was her!!!

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We took her on a tour of the lovely campus and showed her the gardens and roses. You can see by the smile on her face how much she enjoyed it all! Here she is, stopping to smell the beautiful prairie roses.

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Carol seemed to really enjoy the water garden, so we spent some time there while she relaxed and wound down from the long trip. Then it was time to head off and introduce her to some of our Olds College friends.

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We headed to the Land Science building, where we ran into the Olds Fibre Week Program Administrator Zach Webster. He was totally charmed by Carol, as you can see by the gleam in his eyes! And by the smile on Carol’s face, I think she appreciated him too. 

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We then introduced Carol to Carol in catering services…one of our favourite people at Olds. Carol from Olds was most impressed with Carol from Philly, in fact, she was head over heels to meet her!

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She had a ton of fun and had lots to say about the sights, the projects, the skills, and all the people she met. 

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At one point, she was inspired to try that head stand herself. It wasn’t really a success, though. I had to hold her steady through the whole thing.

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Here we are, taking her for one last walk around the campus before we had to take her back to her plane.

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By Carol’s huge smile, we can see she enjoyed the whole visit as much as we did! We sure hope she can make it again, for a longer visit….perhaps she can teach there one year???

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