Photo by Suzy Allen
Today we would like to put a spotlight on a good friend of Green Mountain Spinnery, designer Suzy Allen. Suzy is the force behind Chain Two, a purely digital e-zine that focuses on the beauty of crochet. In addition to promoting these fashionable and modern crochet designs, she is a frequent participant in the Knitters Retreat weekends and a prolific designer.
From an early age she was surrounded by great handmade heirlooms passed down by her great-grandmothers. As she grew up, she began to notice hand knits everywhere she went and was frequently told “I made it”. Suzy was determined to learn how to make those items as well. Her mom taught her how to knit with a pair of chopsticks and yellow yarn when she was 11 years old. As she says, “While you couldn’t really make anything and she never taught me how to bind off, the passion stuck.” Years later, she found herself again with yellow yarn, and this time a purple crochet hook and a “Teach Yourself to Crochet in One Day” book. She taught herself how to crochet, with a bit of help from a family friend, while she kept her boyfriend (now husband) company during a hospital stay.
Suzy’s father was born and raised in Vermont. Her father’s family has a history of being in the state, farming and building houses, since the 1600’s! Her parents met in Korea, settled down in New York, and continued to summer in Vermont over the fourth of July. Suzy spotted a travel pamphlet for Green Mountain Spinnery at a Visitor Information center during one of these vacations and asked to go! When she was old enough to drive the car herself, she made it a priority to seek out the Spinnery! She says she was immediately captivated by the gorgeous colors, amazing textures and amazing machinery they had in the back. Her first purchase was a book with baby patterns, blue Cotton Comfort, and a Green Mountain Spinnery tote bag. She never misses a chance to stop at the Spinnery and her Green Mountain Spinnery stash continues to grow, especially because she now visits them at shows as well. When asked to pick a favorite, she says, “It’s probably Sylvan Spirit or Mountain Mohair. The Sylvan Spirit is awesome because of the stitch definition it gives and Mountain Mohair is perfect for colorwork. Those yarns are the first two I ever designed with as well. Every time I knit with GMS yarn I fall more and more in love. If home is where my yarn is, my heart is in Vermont! I feel connected to my family every time I knit with it.”
What’s currently on her needles? She is swatching up some great new designs with gorgeous Spinnery yarns. Her hint: I feel a cardigan and a hoodie coming on! You can find her designs on Ravelry where she is known as Chaintwomag and on her website, Chain 2. If you just can’t wait, you’ll want to check out several of her currently available designs: Fire and Ice, a crochet shawl (shown at the top of this post) worked with Simply Fine; Green Mountain Aran Mittens crocheted with Capricorn; Rhinebeck Boot Warmers which would be great in Weekend Wool; Putney Cowl in Mountain Mohair; and the Farmer’s Market Capelet in Sylvan Spirit. All photos by Suzy Allen Designs, used with permission.
Suzy may be a knit and crochet wear designer by night, but her day job is a physical therapist. These two passions are shared in a presentation she has given on the Retreat Weekends called Healthy Hands, Healthy Knitting. The form of stretching she teaches is called Active Isolated Stretching, which was developed by Jim and Phil Wharton who are licensed massage therapists out of NYC. This method of stretching not only helps to increase flexibility helps to increase blood flow as well. These stretches leave the stitcher more energized and ready to sit and stitch. She also covers optimal positioning while knitting as well as the best way to take care of your hands throughout the winter stitching months. A good stretch to help prevent carpal tunnel is flexing and extending your wrists.
Lets do it together, First Wrist Extensors:
1) Using your dominant hand, bring your fingertips up towards the ceiling (wrist extension) hold for 2 seconds (This is not the typical hold for 30 second stretch, this helps increase blood flow!)
2) Repeat 10 times
And for the Wrist Flexors:
1) Using your dominant hand, bring your fingertips down towards the floor (wrist flexion) hold for 2 seconds (This is not the typical hold for 30 second stretch, this helps increase blood flow!)
2) Repeat 10 times
March is also National Crochet Month and it is a great time to stretch your crafting muscles! We would love to hear about your favorite Suzy Allen design in our Ravelry group or on our Facebook page!