This month I am introducing you to Kathleen Dames and Anne Podelesak, knitwear designers and Editors of Filament. These monthly features of other creative businesses are a way for all of us to get to know these wonderful businesses; It has been a long-time interest of mine to explore how other creative people make their way as professionals.
Introducing Kathleen Dames and Anne Podlesak, and Filament No. 1
Welcome both of you! I have met Kathleen in real life, and Anne I’ve spoken to you on the phone in another capacity. I want to know more.
First, heartfelt congratulations on this first issue of Filament. I am sure that it will become a part of the knit-iverse very quickly and I wish you the best.
The Who of Filament
A: For Filament we would have to say that Amy Clarke Moore (former editor of Jane Austen Knits) really helped bring us together, though she may not know it. We both contributed to that Interweave special publication from the beginning. We got to know each other over the years after being in several issues together. That led led to interaction on Ravelry and social media. We have similar-but-not-the-same styles that really work in that romantic Jane Austen world, though we are now exploring other romantic times and places in Filament.
We should also give a shoutout to editrix extraordinaire Amy Singer at Knitty. If she had liked Kathleen’s original Bloc Party submission with its sharply contrasting yoke and body, Anne and Kathleen might not have discovered that they could work so well together as a team. After seeing the original, Anne suggested using handspun yarn for the yoke, then offered to dye up roving with a coordinating commercial base *and* to spin the yarn for the yoke. That back and forth on design ideas, yarns, and solutions to seemingly insoluble problems has been great for both of us. Having each other as a soundboard to bounce “what ifs” off of has been invaluable. Knitwear designers often find themselves working solo, but it is wonderful when you find someone who speaks your language.
So, thanks, Amys! We couldn’t have done it without you. xo
Can we give a special shout out to our friend Laurel Johnson who took Kathleen’s, um, imperfect scribble and turned it into a lovely logo? She also did the charming illustrations that grace each pattern to illustrate the schematic details. They were the perfect addition to our lookbook to give a taste of the designs before we were ready to share the patterns with the world. You will see more of her work promise!
I know how great it is to meet someone who speaks your language; it takes so much of the explaining out of things!
The What of Filament
Q: Starting a new knitting publication seems brave, but also inspired. Tell us how that happened.
A: The actual, physical paper version of Filament No. 1 began as a riff on “wouldn’t it be fun to collaborate on a project?”, then turned into a flurry of literary references, Pinterest boards, lots of “look at this” tags on Instagram, and tons of email threads, that left us both saying “let’s make a magazine of our own”. With our combination of skills, we started to think we could do it ourselves. In addition to her indie yarn dyeing business, Wooly Wonka Fibers, Anne is a talented photographer and partner in Stitch Definition. Kathleen’s professional background is in graphic design and book publishing, with a smattering of editing, marketing, and web design work thrown in for good measure. Between the two of us, we have the bases covered. Though we know that times are tough for traditional magazines, we also think that there is room in the knitting marketplace for more niche publications. Obviously, we aren’t a proper magazine (yet), but you have to start somewhere. And there is something so satisfying about creating a thing you can hold in your hands, especially when it is a thing that can help someone else create a beautiful garment or accessory.
I’ll be looking for you to reveal some of that behind the scenes stuff! Please share those literary references and design detail inspirations.
The Where of Filament
A: Let’s say “the interwebs”, mostly because Kathleen thinks it’s a funny word that takes the internet down a peg or two. But more importantly because that is where we met and where we bring our ideas together. This isn’t to say that the yarn stores and libraries and museums and shops around the world that also contribute to our ideas aren’t important (just ask Anne how she feels about her dyeing operation or Kathleen how she feels about the Members Preview at the Met’s Costume Institute), but online, particularly on Pinterest and Instagram, with special thanks to Google Docs for their shareable spreadsheets where we organize our world domination, is where we have brought it all together to become Filament. Filament is not only the luminous part of an Edison bulb and the fibers in your yarn, it is the physical wires that bring the world together on the interwebs. We loved the idea of all of those tidbits intersecting in one illuminating final product.
What Lies Ahead for Filament?
Q: Having seen Filament No. 1 I assume there are more in the works? What’s ahead?
A: We are already working on the next four issues! So much for starting slowly.
Spring will herald issue No. 2 with what we are calling our “Roses” collection, then we are pursuing ideas in the Gilded Age for Summer, some gorgeous snow and ice for next Winter, and we are planning a riffoff between the two of us for Fall with help from some of our favorite yarn companies. For the riffoff we will both use the same yarns to come up with different designs. It’s something that Kathleen has long been intrigued by. What if you give the same yarn to a bunch of different designers? Anne thought it might be kinder to be our own guinea pigs with this idea first before pulling anyone else into our crazy orbit. See we really do balance each other out.
So, we have piles of yarn, stacks of sketches and stitch dictionaries and mysterious notes (what did I mean by “the neck like McQueen”?), a number of Pinterest boards (some seekrit), and a master spreadsheet of projects to get us started on the journey. We are so excited to see where Filament takes us!
Well, I can tell your experience in publishing by the fact that you are working ahead! I encourage everyone to check out the links below, but be sure to get your copy of Filament No. 1 so you understand why you should be looking forward to, apparently, issues 2, 3, 4, and 5!
Important Links for Filament, Kathleen Dames, Anne Podlesak