Shop Etsy

Featured Shop: Plush Armour

Oct 15, 2018

by Karen Brown

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

“I’ve always loved to perform and I’ve always loved making things with my hands, so my life has been a journey mingling the two,” says Chasten Harmon, the multi-talented maven behind knitwear shop Plush Armour. Over the years, this self-taught knitter and Yale School of Drama alumnus has found a way to weave together acting and knitting in a perfect tapestry of self-expression. Whether backstage, in her trailer, or on set, Chasten uses her downtime to design and develop her vibrant line of chunky cowls and cozy cropped sweaters. “Sometimes you’re waiting around for hours and hours between scenes,” she says. “So I have my music and my yarn, and it’s a good way to help me stay focused.”

Explore the Plush Armour collection

So how exactly did Chasten’s hobby translate into a design career? “It really started to expand when I was on tour with Les Misérables,” explains Chasten, who is based in Los Angeles. “I was traveling for two years and one of my favorite things to do on the road was visit yarn shops all across the country. I would generate a whole collection based on what I found in local shops and whatever emotions I was feeling at the time.” Chasten started fielding requests from her tour mates for plush pieces of their own, and eventually someone suggested that she open shop on Etsy. “It just kept evolving from there.”

Read on to discover why Chasten loves teaming up with shoppers on custom pieces, and shop the Plush Armour collection

Portrait photo of Chasten in Los Angeles

You’re an actor, so I have to ask: What might we have seen you in?

So far, I’ve done a little bit of everything—musical theater, straight theater, Shakespeare, Broadway, off-Broadway, national tours, film, and TV shows. Right now, I’m focusing on on-camera work because—you want to know the truth?—it allows me more time to knit! Part of the collection I’m going to be releasing later this month is made from yarn I got when I was in Calgary, Alberta, where I lived last year when I was shooting a new series on USA called Damnation.

Currently, I’m shooting a new show for ABC. It doesn’t have an airdate yet but it’s called The Fix and it’s written by Marcia Clark. It’s a scripted legal drama loosely based on her experience with the O.J. trial. I play O.J.’s daughter who’s wrapped up in all the accusations.

Fascinating! Bringing it back to knitwear, the majority of your pieces are custom-made, right?

A good 70%! Different people want to have different degrees of involvement and I’m open to it all. Sometimes people say, “Go wild with your imagination and just make me something crazy.” Sometimes people want to be more involved in the creation of it. It’s fun when I take the lead, and it’s fun when I collaborate because I wind up making things that I never would have thought of without this other person’s mind and ideas.

Chasten hanging up a sweater on a rack in her living room
Chasten knitting one of her pieces while seated on her couch

What’s it like working so closely with your buyers?

I’m really interested in creating a piece for somebody that’s an expression of who they are and that makes them feel happy when they wear it. Through this work I get to know so many different types of people. There’s the woman who says, “I used to knit and I’m older now and I have arthritis, so I can’t make things anymore—can you make something beautiful for me?” Or the woman who told me she had just received a cancer diagnosis and was going to lose her hair. She said, “Can you make something that is fabulous to take me through this transition?”

We’ll go back and forth for months if we need to in order to get it perfect. One of the biggest things I’ve learned with these pieces is that you have to be willing to take it all apart and start over again. And what you build after that is usually ten times better than what you had before.

The texture of your pieces really stands out. Why are you drawn to chunkier knits?

I love chunky knits because they give you a lot of texture and soft, cozy depth to work with. I also find that when the yarn is thicker, the colors show more richly and stand out more than they do with finer yarns. Mixing yarns together to develop color and texture is my signature stamp—and what excites me the most. I improvise a lot and since I don’t always know where I’m going when I start, I think chunky yarn gives me a better map to work through.

What styles are you most excited about for fall?

I’m actually a little disoriented about seasons because I recently moved from New York to Los Angeles. I woke up and said to myself, “Where’s fall?” I miss East Coast fall fashions. But now I’m really excited to integrate East Coast and West Coast. I’m working on a line of sweaters that are large and baggy and cozy to give you warmth, but are short-sleeved. They would work on both coasts for a perfect day in fall or spring. I’m also dabbling in a men’s line of big Lenny Kravitz–inspired scarves.

Chasten working on her computer
Balls of bright colorful yarn
Colorful yarn spilling out of a bin in Chasten's home

How do you develop your patterns?

I make up all my patterns as I go. I’m not a huge formula girl. I work on the fly, just guessing, and start with a color I like even if I don’t know what I’m making yet. If it works, I write it down. One thing that unites a lot of my pieces is that I’m interested in creating patterns with simple construction that are knit in one piece without seams.

Tell us more about the yarn you use.

I have a heavy list of major brands with bold colors that I really love like Madelinetosh, Malabrigo, and Knit Collage, but I also like to find unique locally produced yarns and art yarns. And I do a lot of yarn shopping on Etsy. There are a lot of Etsy sellers who make thick and thin yarns in bold colors that I love.

Chasten looking through a pile of folded knitwear in her home
Chasten at home holding one of her sweaters

What would you say to other creatives who are blending multiple interests and careers?

Don’t believe that you need to choose. I have an adverse reaction to being put in a box and labeled as one thing. Film and TV are mediums I pursue and I also make things with my hands. For me, those are perfectly complementary pursuits. The way I’m working now is the best of both worlds. We all know Hollywood can sometimes stifle creative expression, so being able to take my knitting with me wherever I go keeps me fully expressed and grounded, and reminds me why I am an artist first and foremost.

So what’s next for you?

One of my dreams that I hope to realize in the next year or two is taking a cross-country road trip. I want to make a list of yarn stores to visit, rent a van, and go from store to store and fill it up. What I make from that will be my American Road Trip collection. That’s the Plush Armour dream.

Follow Plush Armour on Instagram.

Studio photos by Kym Allen; product photos courtesy of Plush Armour

Shop Plush Armour

48 comments

  • YearsAfter

    Sharon from YearsAfter said 1 year ago

    Very unique cozy and colorful sweater knits! Congrats on the feature!

  • babsfsu

    Barbara Gable from CrazyLovely said 1 year ago

    Those tops are works of art. And you are so full of personality. Congratulations on the feature!

  • DecoUno

    DeUno from DeUno said 1 year ago

    Beautiful knitwear! Congratulations on the feature!

  • junamoon

    junamoon from junamoon said 1 year ago

    LOL I need to call my dad. You must be a sister of mine that I don't know about. From the no formula, hating to be in a box to your decorating your my younger twin. Knitting is so meditative. My home is a home by decorating with yarn, books, and plants as well. I have driven cross country several times and would have loved to yarn shop. Loveeee your knits. April

  • bedouin

    Nicole from Crackerjackarma said 1 year ago

    Great knits ~ Fun stories ! Cheers to much continued success

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage from accentonvintage said 1 year ago

    Beautiful colors and designs! Congrats!

  • cfgkyxln

    Leo Nuvunga from AfricanCraftsCenter said 1 year ago

    Beautiful knitwear! Congrats!

  • TreasuredMemoryLane

    Sujata from TreasuredMemoryLane said 1 year ago

    Completely in love with your knit sweaters! So vibrant colors, lovely styles. Simply gorgeous! Congratulations on the feature!

  • gardenmis

    Priscilla from Gardenmis said 1 year ago

    Loving the vibrant colors of your knitwear! Congrats on the feature and best wishes for achieving all your goals and dreams :)

  • LadyInPurple

    Jennifer Tyson from LadyInPurpleBoutique said 1 year ago

    Wow, your shop is amazing! Congrats on the feature Chasten and I can't wait to see more of your ideas come to life!

  • kgarrett1966

    R.M Garrett from ArtisticAcrylics said 1 year ago

    I love the energy, passion, and creative vision of this talented artist! You are an artist at what you do!! Your sweaters are beautiful originals, and I wish I could wear them all. Congratulations on your much deserved feature!!

  • IndigoRain

    Gina Brooks from IndigoRain said 1 year ago

    I sympathize with your adverse reaction to being put in a box! I have been living a committed 'none formula' life for along time now. I love your spirit and your amazing, extremely unique sweaters. You go girl! Very inspirational and so colorful :)

  • silpionelf

    Karen from KnitPeddler said 1 year ago

    Congrats on your feature! Love your bright and colorful knits. All the best in your endeavors! <3

  • macraMe

    Ana Paula from macraMe said 1 year ago

    Wonderful!!!! Congrats!!! :-) :-)

  • branda

    branda Moreno from branda said 1 year ago

    Cool!!! Compliments Chasten!!!! :-) :-)

  • mascollected

    Carol from MasCollected said 1 year ago

    Thank you Karen, Kim and Chasten! I enjoyed this feature very much. Having discovered knitting as a way to focus during a very demanding career some years ago and loving the hunt for yarn as much, I felt a kindred spirit, Chasten! The writing, photography and modeling was jubilant, a credit to you all. Best wishes.

  • rmmikrut

    Ryan Mikrut from HandmadeMKE said 1 year ago

    Crop Top Sweaters FTW

  • gilstrapdesigns

    Debra Gilstrap from gilstrapdesigns said 1 year ago

    Congratulations on your feature. Your knits are so beautiful and colorful you are truly the creative type your acting, designing, and creating both fuel and feed off of each other as well as fueling, feeding, and nurturing your soul. Your designs are truly a work of art and what a beautiful shop!!! Much continued success to you!!!

  • TropicalGarden

    TropicalGarden from TropicalGarden said 1 year ago

    Beautiful knitwear collection! Congratulations on the feature:)

  • ClassicMemories

    ClassicMemories from ClassicMemories said 1 year ago

    Lovely shop and great items. Congrats on the feature.

  • ruffinar1

    ruffinar1 from CrochetKnitParadise said 1 year ago

    Congratulations on your feature. I've admire your work and individuality. Thank you for being so inspiring.

  • elizabethforster

    elle and belle Forster from elleandbellejewelry said 1 year ago

    Love love love your colors and unique designs, Chasten!! Congrats on the feature and all the best with both your careers!

  • ysib9ldx

    Kelly from CedarMillStudio said 1 year ago

    Wonderful feature! Love the colors throughout the pieces and the chunky knits!

  • minipotterybyanita

    AnitasPottery.com from potterybyAnita said 1 year ago

    Your designs are so fresh and inventive! I also LOVE this sentiment: “Go wild with your imagination and just make me something crazy.” I'm trying to get looser and more playful with my pottery designs. Hope to be adding some soon! CONGRATS on the feature and wishing you much success in both your careers, both on-stage and off! 🎀 💚 🎀

  • pillowlink

    Rosita from pillowlink said 1 year ago

    So inspiring story, lovely photos and very energizing woman. Love stories like this - it is always better believe in what you are doing than in what others would like you to do.

  • PokutniaAnna

    Anna from FairyToysWorld said 1 year ago

    I like this knit style! Bright and unusual.

  • trendychicposh

    SimplyCuteArt posh from SimplyCuteArt said 1 year ago

    Lovely story. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ciaffi

    ciaffi from ciaffi said 1 year ago

    Wonderful work!!!! Congrats!!! :-) :-)

  • crystalng

    Crystal N from RadandFriends said 1 year ago

    Beautiful sweaters! Inspiring feature. I love creative professionals with multiple interests!

  • ShopCointrelle

    Cointrelle Vintage Clothing from Cointrelle said 1 year ago

    Chasten sounds amazing, and I love the color combos she uses in her sweaters! Also, that model is stunning!!

  • Kashuen

    Kashuen Collectibles from Kashuen said 1 year ago

    I love the color and texture contrast of this store. Beautiful works.

  • gerri716

    Gerri Lewis from GielDesigns said 1 year ago

    Plush Armour was one of the first shops I favorited when I joined Etsy several years ago. Your work is beautiful and congratulations on the feature!

  • RandMhandmade

    Renee from RandMhandmade said 1 year ago

    Beautiful shop! Congratulations on the feature!!

  • rellyh

    Relly from RelsFindsNapaValley said 1 year ago

    Plush Armour is a beautiful shop filled with colorful, cozy crop sweaters... Timeless design for fall and winter.

  • kotskulich

    Tiana Kotskulich Precious Embroidery from TianaHandmade said 1 year ago

    Congrats on the feature! Great isnpiring story and very cute and cozy sweaters ant tops

  • bijubrill

    Sorina from BijuBrill said 1 year ago

    what I love the most is her exuberance ♥

  • f4kfoogb

    maggie from BlossomBouquetStudio said 1 year ago

    Great story! Congratulations on the feature!

  • PetroBean

    Oriaku Onuoha-Bean from JewelryByOri said 1 year ago

    Lovely and colorful! Beautiful shop!

  • nsyaaoyf

    Elena Golovina from DressEmbroideredRU said 1 year ago

    Such impressive and comfortable things!

  • msbijouxbeads

    Cathy from msbijouxbeads said 1 year ago

    Love these, that fringe bottom one is awesome. Beautiful knitwear. You look like you're having the time of your life, continued success to you, Great feature!

  • StyleGraphicDesign

    Maria from StyleGraphicDesign said 1 year ago

    Cozy and lovely:)

  • mrsakarn

    cindy Q. from mrsakarn said 1 year ago

    Oh what beautiful work!!!!!! I love the colors!!! Stay true to you, you are amazing, dont let anyone take that beautiful smile, joy and creativity of yours away!!!!!! Wishing you all Gods speed, Cindy Q

  • snczd7fy

    Ninni Andersen from CeaselessArtistry said 1 year ago

    Congrats to the feature! Fantastic knitting! Just have to love them!

  • stekiapantou1

    Stekia Pantou from StekiapantouStore said 1 year ago

    so happy woman and so talented well done i love hoodies and colorfull shirts

  • zhuravlevaelizaveta

    Elizaveta Zhuravleva from artjewelryfromstones said 1 year ago

    Your works are works of art!

  • MysticalRaindrops

    Jeannie from MysticalRaindrops said 1 year ago

    I love chunky yarns and seeing what creative people make with it, so this was a great story for me to read.

  • rachbing

    Rachel Bingaman from BingArt said 1 year ago

    Cozy, colorful, and creative! Love these!

  • MysticalRaindrops

    Jeannie from MysticalRaindrops said 327 days ago

    I just love these colors, and the plushy look.

Sign in to add your own