If this is the first time you’ve heard of Patty Lyons, Lion Brand Studio’s Studio Director, then you are in for a treat! I’ll admit, this was one of the most efficient Q&A interviews I’ve done to date, because from the moment Patty and I began our discussion she was off and running! I was immediately impressed with her initiative, and when I expressed this, she laughingly recalled how a previous interviewer stated the experience as all “A and no Q.”
Listening to Patty describe her day, or share details about a new class she’s teaching, it’s clear that she’s truly passionate. It reflects in everything she does–the Studio experience, her teaching style and her personality. Patty’s big picture mentality shines through brightly as she happily choreographs every detail of her vision. Thanks to Patty, there certainly was no dead silence or awkward moments during our interview. We hit things off instantly and I felt a definite connection.
Let’s get started with the “A,”with a little bit of “Q!”
KGW: So when did you first learn how to knit?
PL: I first learned from my grandmother at a young age. She was a combination knitter and was told she was knitting “wrong.” I dabbled, but then put it on the burner for a while. I didn’t really become and obsessive everyday knitter until 2000. I used to be a stage manager on Broadway. Many hair and wardrobe people knit backstage and they would pull out projects from their aprons. This idea was so attractive to me, so I began taking classes, and became a certified knitting instructor.
KGW: What was the turning point that made you want to turn knitting into a full-time career?
PL: In 2005, I started teaching in the “green room,” which is where actors would wait before going on set. On the road with Jersey Boys in 2006, I came to a turning point. It was at this time that I decided that I didn’t love theater as much as knitting.
I first thought of purchasing a shop in New York City, managed a local yarn store for a year, but then 2008, I came to Lion Brand. Owner, David Blumenthal “wooed” me. He enticed me to join the company, and share his dream of wanting to open a Studio that would serve as a branding site and wanted someone to create it from the ground floor. It was too good an opportunity to turn down, so I went for it. David told me: “Do what you do” and let me run with it. His vision for the Lion Brand Studio was to be like the “Apple Store” of yarn. I saw something beyond just a store. I envisioned an event and education space too.
We started with one class and one event. Then, this morphed into just under 200 courses in knitting crochet, machine knitting, wet felting, yarn dying, etc., with eight staff teachers and three class rooms often running at the same time. Teachers come from all over the world, offering classes by Ysolda, Nicky Epstein and Lily Chin to name just a few.
KGW: How does your own style and view on life fit into your way of knitting?
PL: “If only life were like knitting” because I strongly relate to fixing mistakes. When I encounter a problem, I first search for the diagnosis. I teach knitters to “read” their knitting. Then, decide what is the treatment? What steps need to be taken to fix this? You can’t be a good knitter without dropping some stitches. My opening shtick during Knitting Doctor, offered each Wednesday night goes like this: In a very (pretend) serious way I say: “do you know what happens when we make a mistake?” I then scream: “NOTHING” It’s knitting, we can just fix it. You can control knitting from beginning to end– you can’t do that in life!
KGW: What does a typical day “at the office” look like?
PL: Running a yarn store Studio is not as glamorous as one might think. I’m tied to my computer on most days, but Wednesday is my fun day because I get out of the office to teach Sweater School, then Knitting Doctor in the evening. It’s really the best time to interact with knitters. This mix provides a much-needed solution to break up the week. I also get to “play with yarn.” It’s a win-win!
Also, Patty’s article “Simple Fixes in Lace” is featured in the new Special Interest Issue of Creative Knitting: Easy, Everyday Openwork & Lace. In this tutorial, Patty shows you how to effortlessly fix a mistake in lace knitting. To get your copy, click here.