7 Things Annie Larson Is Seriously Sweating

We’re obsessed with what she’s obsessed with.

One look at Annie Larson’s line of color-happy hats and bold, feel-good sweaters, and you’ll be convinced she has an eye for cool. “Right now, I’m really into black and white, heather gray, big shirts, color-blocking, and patterns of all sorts,” the very talented ALL Knitwear mastermind says—more on all that below. —alisha prakash

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“I am on a huge sportswear kick right now. I have been buying sweatshirts left and right. Norma Kamali is a huge benchmark here. I really love her take on the heather gray sweatshirt dress. I really wish I could find more of them.”

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“I have really been admiring the design work of Études Studio. I’ve always loved head-to-toe dressing and multiples, so this modern take is really appealing. The collections featuring artwork by Robin Cameron [Ed: Pictured here!] and Pia Howell are really nice.”

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The perfect color-blocked wallet from Comme des Garçons—highly functional!”

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“When it comes to internet shopping, most of my vintage finds come from Etsy. I keep an Etsy window open on my computer all day and will search for different things in between working on sweaters. I thought about buying a Courrèges cut-out coat for a few months, and when I went to make the purchase, I found it had already sold. That’s the game, I guess! I am still very much considering this Versace sweater.”

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John McCracken: Works from 1963-2011 just came down at David Zwirner. I loved this show!”

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“Everyone is all about Nike these days, and I’m totally on that bandwagon. I haven’t found the perfect pair of Flyknits yet, but I’m constantly looking. In the meantime, I have a pair of black and white Frees that are doing just fine.”

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“I’m really on the hunt for some eighties-era Versace—this is one of my top searches on Etsy these days. The Avedon photographs really work for me too—very inspiring!”

Annie’s edition, coming on Tuesday, is going to be one of your newest obsessions—get ready!

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Annie Larson Makes Sweater Art

The knitwear whiz gets all luxe.

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.”

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“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.”

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“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.”

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“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.

Annie is back with an edition that will keep you warm all through the winter—see it first thing tomorrow!

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A Tour of Annie Larson’s Brooklyn Pad

The designer just made a big move last year—and she’s feeling right at home.

“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 bold 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 last 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 set up their pad when they moved in. —erica



“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.”

Annie’s back with an Alumni Sunday edition! Make sure you don’t miss it!

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A Tour of Annie Larson’s New (Brooklyn!) Pad

The designer just made a big move—and already feels at home.

“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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Notes

40 notes

Annie Larson Makes Sweater Art

The knitwear whiz gets all luxe.

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

Even as her business grows, Annie’s still making everything herself.

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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How Annie Made our Hats

It’s a lot of work. Annie and her machine are no joke.



If you thought that machine knitting meant you could just press a few buttons and kick up your feet, you’ve got the wrong idea. Annie Larson’s device employs technology from the era of the floppy disk and Oregon Trail and requires a lot of personal attention. “To make a sweater, it takes about ten hours from start to finish,” she says. “And the design process can be frustrating—and long and cumbersome. There’s only one way to figure out if something will work, and that’s to actually make it.” Here, she shows us her machine and explains how she created the hats she made just for us.


“All of the yarns sit on the floor and run through the tension unit—that wire frame that extends from the center of the machine.”


“The machine consists of a keyboard-sized instrument that has 200 needles and then the ribbing attachment that has another set of 200 needles and is also the size of a keyboard. Once I cast on, those two different needle beds move close together so that the needles interact with each other to actually make the ribbing.”


“Once the ribbed section is completed, I transfer all of the stitches from the ribbing bed to the main bed by hand with a tiny needle.”


“Now I’m programming in the first pattern, the red and white dashes. The machine is scanning all the information and memorizing the different needle placements. The graph paper is pretty hard to come by. I ordered it from the U.K., and it’s not even made specifically for the machine. I should probably stock up, actually.”


“This next picture shows the second pattern being created. The white needles are extended outwards—that’s how the actual dashes being made.”


“I’m gathering all of stitches at the very top of the hat with a double-eyed tapestry needle. They’re still live stitches, so if I miss one the whole thing can unravel—you have to be very careful, and it’s especially hard with a black yarn because its harder to see.”


“After I finish that part, then I take it off the machine, I steam it, and I wet it down—it’s called blocking—to make sure that all the dimensions are proper. I let it dry that way. When that’s done, I put it back on the machine and match up the different patterns and do a single crochet stitch. If I have really severe color changes like I do in this hat, I use three different linking yarns so that when you stretch it out you don’t see a little red yarn pulling from a blue section.”


“It’s taking on more of a hat form, and now I’m cinching it together. I’m just pulling on the strings—pulling as hard as I can—and tying a knot.”


“You don’t ever see it, but there’s a tiny hole in the center of the hat. All the pompoms have waxed cotton strings that create their entire structure, and I use a hook tool to pull the tail of the pompom through that tiny hole in the top of the hat. Then I use a black button as an anchor—like a nut, I guess—to secure it. Because the string from the pompom is waxed, it sticks super tight. And then it’s all done! That’s it!”

The hat Annie Larson made just for Of a Kind is sold out! Check out (amazing) limited-edition exclusives by other designers here.

Photos courtesy of Annie Larson.

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Annie’s Pompom Collaborator

Those magical balls of joy don’t make themselves. 

All of Annie Larson’s color-drenched knit pieces are created entirely by her—except for the hats, for which she calls in backup to complete the finishing touch: a soft, fluffy pom. Her friend Crystal Quinn, a jack-of-all-arts who lives upstairs from Annie in their Minneapolis apartment building, has become a fuzz-ball master, and Annie gives her total creative license—making for some pretty awesome (and sometimes eccentric) color combinations.


“Crystal started making these pompoms, and one day during the summer she dropped one off at my house. I wore it in my hair everywhere I went—I just loved it. I thought it was the best accessory I had ever had. Then, when it started getting to be fall, I thought, ‘I guess I should make a hat!’ This picture is in New York, where I was on vacation in July.”


“This photo is of us reenacting a pompom delivery—20 pompoms are in that pink bag. After Crystal shows up, we set them out on a table and look at all the different ones. There are always moments where I’m like, ‘Oh my god! I can’t believe it!’”


“She makes whatever pompoms she wants to, and it’s interesting because that makes every hat sort of new, in a way. The one in this picture is a really classic Crystal pompom. She liked the color peach before anyone else did.”


“Crystal is a maker of all things, and I feel like I specialize in one specific thing. These are slippers that Crystal does—she’s been into working more with the foot lately—and that’s one of her drawings. If you were to look at our collected bodies of work over the last five years and compare them, you’d probably see very little crossover, but this partnership is working out really, really, really well.”

The hat Annie Larson made just for Of a Kind is sold out! Check out (amazing) limited-edition exclusives by other designers here.

Images courtesy of Annie Larson and Crystal Quinn

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ALL Knitwear

Annie Larson had never knit anything when she bought her Brother KH 910—a 1980s knitting machine—in January of 2009. “I was really attracted to it. I had never seen anything like it before,” says the Wisconsin native who moved to Minneapolis for college and has since made her way to Brooklyn. “After seeing how the machine knit patterns, the needles moving backward and forward selecting different yarns, I was completely sold! The first few things I ever knit were miniature stockings, dishtowels, and eventually a cardigan.”

Within a matter of months, Annie 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 her label ALL Knitwear full-time, she quickly developed an amazingly strong—and easily identifiable—point-of-view that has won her quite a fan base as she’s headed east, updated her knitting arsenal, and grown her business. “The patterns I use are often high-contrast, in classic primary and secondary colors and in motifs that have geometric qualities,” Annie explains. “And I use simple shapes like a classic crewneck or stocking hat to maintain a simple, clean appearance.” Another way to describe all of Annie’s pieces: They make you smile.

allknitwear.com

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