I’m so excited because I’m reviving a special blog series, called Creative Spaces! Today I’m chatting with Lena Skvagerson about what it’s like working on the Annie’s Signature Designs collection and also her experience as Associate Producer and expert on the Annie’s PBS television show, Knit and Crochet Now!
Lena certainly is one busy lady and she says her secret is actually being able to multi-task. I think she is just so crazy-passionate about what she does, and this is what keeps her going. The lines between business and play blend because she loves every bit of what she does and if you ever get a chance to meet Lena, you’ll see what I mean. She jumps into everything she does with a sense of wonder and newness.
To experience this excitement for yourself, you can listen to my chat with her on Power Purls Podcast, episode 025. We talk about the Annie’s Summer Love Collection, launched earlier this month and everything that went into developing this upscale collection. It’s like nothing Annie’s has done before and it’s worth a look. You can check out the latest patterns here at AnniesSignatureDesigns.com
Now let’s jump in to this candid and inspiring look into Lena’s world!
KGW: What’s it like being on Knit and Crochet Now! And also working on Annie’s Signature Designs?
LS: I divide my busy work weeks between Knit and Crochet Now! (KCN) and Annie’s. I love the variety this provides because I’m able to switch gears often, which makes things fresh! Being the Associate Producer of KCN requires lots of organization, as well as communication and planning with the people at the studio, our experts and host on the show. I also work on all the social media for the TV show, and participate in the planning of marketing events and advertising. On the flip side, I’m also in front of the camera as on of the experts and it’s so exciting to design and demonstrate several of the show projects as well. There’s never a dull moment in this fast-paced environment!
I am also so excited to be the Lead Designer of Annie’s Signature Designs. This means continuously making new knit and crochet designs for the collection, Creative Knitting, Crochet! and Crochet World. I communicate often with the editors to come up with exclusive Annie’s designs based on trends, themes and our customer’s wishes.
KGW: What is a typical shoot like for the TV show?
LS: A typical day can start really early, and also end quite late depending on how efficiently we move through the taping process. As soon as we arrive, we hit the ground running! We get dressed, then we the fun begins and get our hair and makeup done.
Off set, I arrange the step-outs and projects in taping order, and then rehearse with our experts so that they’re familiar with the techniques used in the projects. The experts then take turns all day in the recording studio. When it’s my turn I grab a tray with the next project and hurry into the studio, as there is not a minute to waste.
I have about five cameras in front of me, and a crew of at least ten people in the control room watching every move I make (no pressure!). Boy, those lights are hot too… and right before we start recording, it’s so quiet, you could hear a needle drop.
Once the camera starts rolling, it’s intense! It’s all about 100% focus, remembering to say everything you have planned, hoping your hands don’t start shaking, LOL. When they say “cut”, it’s time to take a deep and relaxing breath, and then recharge for the next project… Whew!
KGW: What is a typical day in the office like for you?
LS: As I am located on the Central Coast of California, and Annie’s is located in Indiana, I work remotely. I have a small office in a crafty building that also hosts a fabric store as well as a yarn store. My office has a desk, a couple shelves for yarn and projects, a designated area to tape tutorial videos, and a space for my dear knitting machine.
Every Monday through Friday I get to my office in the morning, make a large cup of coffee and start my day going through emails and social media. Many times I have phone meetings and organize until lunchtime. Then, in the afternoon I am deeply focused on writing patterns and coming up with new creative ideas.
KGW: What does your ideal day look like?
LS: My ideal day starts of at the gym in the early morning, then getting lots of projects finished during the day in the office, and getting some great response on things we have published. If it’s sunny outside, I like to go on a long walk with my dog after work, then enjoy a nice dinner made by someone else than me, then some knitting or crocheting on the couch in the evening.
KGW: Do you have a special daily routine that you feel contributes to your success?
LS: Each day is always a bit different depending on what deadlines I have.
I make sure to check my calendar first thing every day, so that I always know what needs to be the day’s main focus. At the end of the day, I make sure not to leave any emails unanswered and I clean up on and around my desk so that it will look welcoming and creative when I get there next day.
KGW: What kinds of things excite you when you spend time designing and knitting in this space?
LS: What excites me most when designing, is when things turn out exactly as I have pictured them in my mind. I also love being alone in my small office without any distraction.
KGW: How do you organize your yarn stash and knitting needles? Do you have an innovative method?
LS: I do not really have a yarn stash because I work with the yarn that the yarn companies send me for each unique pattern I design. I make sure not to request more than I need so usually there are no leftovers. Many times, I let the stitchers keep the remaining yarns, or I will give them to my crafty friends.
I also have several big buckets on my desk were I keep knitting needles and crochet hooks, with large ones in one bucket and smaller ones in another. I always keep an interchangeable needle set in my craft bag, and I also have a set at home, and buckets there too. I would have to say my method is to have a lot of needles so I’m never without wherever I am, and I even keep some in my car just in case!
KGW: Can you share a productivity tool that you like and how does it help you get things done?
LS: My absolute favorite tool is my iPhone. I snap pictures, take notes, calculate, follow Pinterest and other social media. I also answer emails on the go, and schedule important meetings and events on my calendar. I don’t know what I would do without it.
I also have a favorite crafting bag that follows me everywhere, which contains a couple on works-in-progress, plus accessories I can’t be without, such as: darning and cable needles, markers, a needle set, a couple crochet hooks, a tape measure and scissors. If I at anytime and anywhere I have more than a couple minutes without action, then that bag opens up and I get crafty!
KGW: Aside from knitting, what other things set you on fire and make you want to jump out of bed each morning?
LS: People that know me, can attest to the fact that I never jump out of bed. I always end up staying up too late (“one more row”-syndrome). I snooze many times until I finally get up. I usually wake up once I am at the gym, where I start many of my days. So maybe I can say that the gym sets me on fire and makes me jump over to my office excited for what the new day will offer. Coffee also plays a big role 🙂