Slideshow Sunday: Studio Visit with Annie Lee Larson
The colorful world of Annie Lee Larson is nothing short of amazing.¬† She’s received world-wide attention for her knitwear goods, including her specialty: sweaters.
Larson runs an loin shop out of her studio and produces each garment by hand; the process entails knitting and assembling the pieces to produce each piece. She uses a Brother KH-950 Electroknit Knitting Machine that she can scan in her costume designs.¬† The scan cards, she points out are terribly tedious and fickle — Larson has to use a certain kind of pen that she found after trying dozens, she also can only buy the scan cards from a certain vendor overseas and they don’t come cheap.
Larson gave us a look into her process, and catches us up on the origins of her work, traveling to France, Cafetto and her favorite colors.
Photos and interview by Kelsey Johnston.
SotC: Where are you from?
SotC: When did you start knitting on the machine you have in your studio?
ALL: January 2009
SotC: When did you start working with textiles?
ALL: I think some of it came from having worked at Target, designing sweaters.¬† That’s where the sweater design thing really came from but, it was also very different there it was not like this all.¬† I’d say it sort of started there.
SotC: Where did you go to school?
ALL: The U of M I got a BS in apparel design.
SotC: Who taught you how to knit?
ALL: I didn’t know anything about knitting and was not interested in college but, the lady I bought the machine from was in Columbia Heights she was a big knitter, she’s crazy.¬† She taught me how to use it.¬† She taught me all the basic things and then I pretty much taught myself everything else just from practice.
SotC: I saw on your blog that you’ve recently been to Paris showing your stuff, tell me about the experience.
ALL: It was crazy I was selected to go based on a portfolio that I submitted for this trade show.¬† It was a really big event and I didn’t even know how big it was till I got there.¬† It was weird it was in this huge convention hall filled with designers and buyers and products and stuff like that.¬† It was cool, it was cool to be there but, probably wasn’t the right place somehow or I felt so small in the middle of this thing.¬† It was kind of weird like that but, seeing Paris is awesome and just having the opportunity to show my work in somewhere besides Minneapolis but also somewhere outside of the U.S. is really cool.¬† I’m glad that I did it.
SotC: How would you describe your style?
ALL: I would say design wise a lot of the sweater design stuff ends up being really happy (laughs).¬† I really enjoy working with colors and so I think that has always been really present in all of the design work I’ve done even before I started knitting.¬† The knitting especially, it works really well with the type of designer I am.¬† Dealing with a certain amount of prints and patterns I feel like the product ends up looking really happy.
SotC: What’s the best part about living in Minneapolis?
ALL: It’s comfy and cozier.¬† It’s really easy life.¬† I’ve lived here since I moved here to go to college and I”ve wanted to leave but, never for anything that’s bad about Minneapolis.¬† Only wanting to see something else for a little while before I live back here.
SotC: What’s your favorite place in Minneapolis?
ALL: I’d probably have to say Cafetto.¬† It’s the old standby.¬† I’ve been going there a long time and continue to go there.¬† I’ve met a lot of friends there you know, I’ve met a lot of prospective boyfriends there (laughs).¬† My whole life has somehow happened with Cafetto.
SotC: Childhood dream career?
ALL: I wanted to be a doctor, I wanted to be a pediatrician specifically so I thought for a while that I was cut out for that.¬† The other thing was that when I was in High School I played piano for 12 years and was a very serious band geek in every possible way and so I had started to go to school for piano performance and did not take that route, obviously (laughs)
SotC: What’s your favorite color and if you had to rename that color what would you rename it?
ALL: Oh!¬† That’s an interesting question because when I worked at Target I had to name a lot of different colors.¬† When we were dealing with sweater colors that were specific to a certain yarn we’d look at the color dye that was provided by the mill or the vender and then would decide to use it for our sweaters at Target but then would have to rename it to fit within the Target structure and so during the course of that I named lots of different colors.¬† My favorite color is yellow and I don’t know about, if I would rename it.¬† I think you can get more specific like pineapple or sunflower, marigold perhaps but, I’m fine with whatever name it comes with.
SotC: What would be the contents of a Midge Pak for the Cohen brothers?
ALL: (laughs) Here’s the thing, I mean I’ve seen a lot of Cohen brothers movies.¬† I’ve seen many of them and I’ve liked almost all of them that I’ve seen.¬† Some more than others Fargo definitely is one of my favorites.¬† Here’s the thing though, Midge Paks, I don’t know if I’d be able to make one for the Cohen brothers because I don’t actually know them I only know their work, their product.¬† To make a Midge Pak I would already know the person and have a relationship with them and be able to debate what they would want so, they would not get a Midge Pak.¬† Maybe they could get something like a bro-pak that would be different that trying to get what they need in their life being brothers and all. (laughs)
Annie Lee Larson’s online store can be found at allforeveryone.com