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Behind The Scenes

Annie Larson Makes Sweater Art

You wouldn’t think it would be a sweater designer’s dream to work in steamy Miami, but Annie Larson, the color-happy talent behind the line ALL Knitwear, could not have been more thrilled to head south from Minneapolis (where she was then living) to work with one of her artistic idols, Jim Drain, and put some grant money and cashmere yarn to good use. Here, she shares her experience. “About four years ago, a friend introduced me to Jim Drain’s work. But Jim was actually the one who reached out to me, soon after I started knitting, when he was working on a sweater series for Opening Ceremony. He sent me a really friendly email that just said something like, ‘You’re doing a really great job. Keep it up.’ And I just felt great. It was really exciting. We started emailing a little. When this grant proposal for the Textile Center in Minneapolis came around, I knew that I was going to apply for it, but I didn’t know exactly what my proposal was going to be. The day before the application was due, I asked Jim if he would be open to the idea of me writing a proposal to come to Miami to work with him.” “I worked with Jim in his studio every day for a week and made a sweater that was shown at an exhibition. I was inspired by a series of benches that Jim was working on while I was there—professionally powder-coated, custom-colored benches made out of handicap rails that you would find in places like bathrooms. He sells them as functioning sculptures.” “I feel like there are definitely parallels between that sort of transaction and the sort of sweaters I make—the wearable art idea. My Miami sweater was also a very literal translation of Jim’s color scheme—I really connected with the lime green, hot pink, and black. I used cashmere, which plays on the high-end feeling of Miami and the fact that I wanted to do something different than anything I would do on a daily basis.” “The cashmere yarn is very, very delicate. It was a lot more stressful to work with than cotton, and obviously the stakes are a lot higher when your material is five times your regular material cost. I’m using the remainder of the yarn from the Miami sweater to make ten scarves, and there aren’t any plans for cashmere after that!” Bench photo courtesy of Jim Drain. Get on our email list to make sure you don’t miss out on Annie’s edition! Her first piece for Of a Kind was also our first sell-out.
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Meet ALL Knitwear

Annie Larson had never knit anything when she bought her 1980s sweater-creating contraption in January of 2009. “It looks intimidating and cumbersome, but it’s doing this activity with this uniformity and consistency that’s difficult for humans to achieve,” says the Wisconsin native who started her career in Minneapolis and made the move to Brooklyn in 2011. “I was really fascinated by it. While it does seem intimidating in certain ways, in others it’s pretty explanatory—it makes sense how it works. It’s not a machine that’s full of mystery. Once I started, I didn’t want to stop. I just wanted to learn everything so fast.”  And so she did. Within a matter of months, the 27-year-old quit her job at Target HQ where she had worked on design for the juniors Xhilaration line and men’s sweaters—and where she first developed an interest in knits. Turning to work on her label ALL Knitwear full-time, she quickly developed a light-hearted but bold aesthetic—“optimistic,” as she puts it—using all cotton yarns. “It’s really different from making clothing in a more traditional sense—you know, cutting out shapes from fabric. I’m really interested in the process of actually constructing. That’s what I do everyday. It’s fun for me,” she explains. Check back tomorrow for our second ALL Knitwear edition. And get on our email list to make sure you don’t miss it!
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A Tour of Annie Larson’s New (Brooklyn!) Pad

“I’ve wanted to move to New York ever since—well, for a long time,” says Annie Larson, whose career started at Target HQ in Minneapolis, where she eventually launched her poppy knitwear line in 2009. “This place is just so exciting—nobody can deny that.” What’s also exciting is that she and her artist BF, Eric Carlson, scored themselves a borderline-palatial Bushwick, Brooklyn, home ideal for live-working and headed east in October. “We came out to look, and we found a place in the first half day. We just went shopping for the rest of the time,” Annie adds. Take a look at how they’re settling in.Don’t miss out on the fantastic hats Annie knit us from her new home studio! Click here to score one of 44. “This is sort of our office. My computer is the desktop, and Eric’s is the laptop—we sit on either side, like relationship corner.” “That graphite drawing is one of Eric’s pieces. He does illustration, he does book design, he does physical installations, and he’s done skateboards and snowboards. We really had to pare down our record and tape collection when we moved—records are especially heavy. John Lennon is always on heavy rotation, and George Harrison has been getting some more play recently. I love classic rock, almost exclusively. Eric has more diverse taste.” “We don’t have that many closets, so before we left Minneapolis, we bought 12 of these uniform white boxes that we call our deep storage. We each have six. I have one that’s called the Fashion Time Capsule. I’ve wanted to throw away so much of my old work over the years—stuff from college, stuff from before college, stuff I was working on when I was at Target—but I’ve dissuaded myself from it.” “That crazy quilt has been in my family a while. We’re trying to figure out how to store shoes—that’s been a major issue.” “There are some pretty amazing rugs on Etsy—I bought this one there. I found an acrylic one from the seventies in the shape of a tiger that’s so amazing. I had it in my basket, but when I showed it to Eric, he wasn’t into it at all. I think that if he came home and saw a tiger in our apartment—if it was already there, which it very easily could be at any time—what would he do, throw it away?” “That’s my studio. I actually got rid of like 60% of my yarn stock before I left Minnesota. I recently bought a new knitting machine and some software. Now I do all my patterns on a computer and plug the machine in. It’s amazing—I can do so many different things.” “The cast-iron rack actually came from my parents’ basement. We did a major sorting out of our hangers before we left. I got all of our hangers onto one rail and walked through like, ‘This one’s gone, this one’s gone, this one’s gone. We’re not keeping any that are electric blue, we’re not keeping any that are white, and we’re not keeping any that are thick.’ My whole theory of moving is not to move anything we don’t want.”
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