Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Met Debbie Bliss!

Designer Debbie Bliss

Debbie Bliss is one of the biggest names and brands in the knitting industry. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely lady and British designer behind the brand...Debbie Bliss!

I met Debbie at a Trunk Show & Talk August 4, 2010 at the Yarn Garden in Portland, Oregon. Debbie and her adorable daughter Nell flew out from London for several Northwest events. Debbie went on to Seattle the next day and threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Seattle Mariners Stitch N Pitch. Since I live on the west coast in California...I knew I couldn't miss this opportunity to meet Debbie in person.

My timing couldn't have been better entering the Yarn Garden for the event. Debbie and her daughter Nell were nearby when I arrived. I told Debbie that my husband drove me all the way from California to meet her. To help her understand the distance I told her that would be like driving from London to Edinburgh. Debbie in her lovely British accent said " Oh, I better be good, then!" I said "I know you will!"

And so began my evening with Debbie Bliss. The moment I met her I knew it was going to be a special night!

Presentation & Talk

First off, I just have to say that Debbie looked just like a top fashion designer. She looked so smart in her "little black dress", Ralph Lauren glasses, silver cuff and animal print "pointy" flats. Hard to believe she had just arrived from London with no signs of jet lag!

She began the evening with a slide show presentation and talk. She immediately told us the Debbie Bliss Brand is "incredibly still a hands on operation". She still does all the creative work and designs 90% of the brand.

Knit Flower for Liberty

She told us about how she started in the knitting industry back in the 1970's. I had no idea that her first work was knitting flowers and soft sculpture knits for Liberty of London. I am a huge fan of Liberty of London so I loved this story!

She next walked us through her design process. She visits the Pitti Filati show in Florence twice a year to select her yarns. 80% of her Debbie Bliss yarn line is from Italy. Her preference being smooth and classic yarns.

She says "the yarn has to speak to me". She doesn't follow fashion trends however when she adds new colors to an existing yarn line, she does follow fashion trend colors. One of her favorite colors is Burnt Orange which really makes other colors "pop".

One of the highlights for me was hearing how her Designer vision comes to life. After she selects her yarns, she swatches the yarns into knitted fabrics. This is where she sees the drape and nature of the knit fabric. Next are the garment sketches, yarn selections and then off to the test knitters.

Next her design vision comes to life in her pattern books. She herself determines the theme and photo shoot locations for her pattern books. She is involved in every detail including the photo styling to see her patterns and vision come to life!

Now Let's Meet Her Daughter Nell!

Nell Bliss
Scottish Eccentrics Sweater
Featured on the cover of the Fall/Winter 2011 Magazine

The moment I saw Nell, I couldn't wait to ask her about Fairy Cakes. In her Mum's Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine Fall/Winter 2009 there is an adorable photo of Nell with her Fairy Cake recipe. Being an American I had to know...are Fairy Cakes the same thing as Cup Cakes? Nell cleared it up for me...yes, Fairy Cakes are what the British call Cup Cakes.

Nell was a delight to meet. (You'll probably recognize her since she's been a model in her Mum's books since she was a young girl.) She is currently on a break from her University in London. Nell and I chatted for quite a bit. We chatted about London, vintage shopping, Anthropologie (yep, they're in London now) and, of course, her Mum.

Thanks to my chat with Nell, I now know Debbie's favorite cuppa... PG Tips. I could have guessed that's a favorite with most Brits.

Nell was such a trooper when I asked for a photo with her Mum's sweater from the Scottish Eccentrics collection. Yep, it's the fabulous Fair Isle sweater on the cover of the upcoming Fall/Winter 2010 Debbie Bliss Magazine. Wow... I got to see it in person! According to Debbie she just finished editing this issue two weeks ago. It will hit the stands in America on September 5th.

Now for the Trunk Show

Annie from the
Yarn Garden

Next came the fun of the Trunk Show because who wouldn't love trying on a Debbie Bliss garment? Debbie brought two very large suitcases filled to the brim with garments from her new Fall/Winter 2010 Collections.

It's no secret that I love everything British. Since I was also married in Scotland, I have a love for Tartan! I absolutely adore the cardigan that Annie from the Yarn Garden modeled (photo above).

I just love this tweedy cardigan with it's Tartan pockets and the cool mix of buttons. Sorry though...due to all the excitement of the evening, I do not know the name of this cardigan. Perhaps it is also from the Scottish Eccentrics collection in the Fall/Winter magazine?

Yes, I Met Debbie Bliss!

Lisette & Debbie

Debbie was so gracious and so personable. I told Debbie that I have never knit a sweater before. Before I knew it, she was personally assisting me trying on sweaters from her new collections. We both liked the Long Line Gilet sweater the best (photo above). It is from her new yarn and book Glen.

Debbie said the A-line shape is figure flattering for all shapes. Her fashion advice "feature the waist...skim over the hips"! So I purchased the Glen book and yarn to knit my first sweater. I plan on casting on this week..hey I can't let Debbie down now, can I?

By the end of the night I felt as though I was chatting with a school girl chum! I told Debbie how much I love her magazine. I mentioned how much I enjoy seeing the personal side of her (the designer) when she shares with us (the reader) her hobbies, interests and recipes. She said she struggles with that part of the magazine, being ever so humble.

I told her how much fun my knitting pen pal Ruth and I have comparing notes when each issue comes out. Oh, and how we both loved her Scone recipe in her Premier Issue. I told her that we, the readers, love those special bits in the magazine. Please keep doing them for us Debbie!

Several times throughout the evening Debbie said "what a privilege it is to be doing what I love".

All I can say is.... what a privilege for me to meet her, Debbie Bliss!


Ruth said...

Ah, the blog I have been dying to read. I am so happy that you met her (but still jealous:). I hope to pick up the fall magazine when it hits the stand. Til then...finish a project or two so I can cast on!

Anonymous said...

I know you love Debbie Bliss as do I. What fun. Love the pictures (as usual) of everyone. We'll help you with that sweater. It's lovely. Nina

sallyknits said...

How lovely, your blog is so great to read. I am so glad you met her, lucky you. Best wishes.

catnip1948 said...

Lisette, I am sure Debbie enjoyed you as much as you enjoyed her. What an awesome experience for you. Go girl. Catherine

heartgirl said...

Catherine is so right - I'm sure YOU made Debbie's visit quite a bit more enjoyable. Lucky you to meet her and lucky you to have a great husband to drive you. I'm looking forward to seeing that sweater in person. I will visit the shop when I'm in Portland in a few weeks...

Jules said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing your experience and pics!

Ann at KFI said...

Sounds like you had a great time. Can't wait to see your finished sweater.

Bonnie said...

Your blog is just full of great stuff! I enjoyed reading about all of the yarn shops you have visited and about Debbie Bliss. Great photos as well. Bonnie

Sarah said...

How fun to learn about Debbie Bliss! The sweater looks fab on you. It is great you got to try it on before committing to making it. I hope the knitting goes smoothly for you!