Lenny

I knit this sweet little Lenny by Heidi Atwood-Reeves a while back as part of Ravelry’s Indie Design Gift-A-Long (you can still join in and knit holiday gifts using patterns by eligible designers — if you join one of the KALs, there will also be tons of prizes to be won at the end of the year).

I waited and waited for better weather so that I could take a modeled photo that would do this little top justice, but alas it’s just not in the cards. So blurry yet sassy photos it is:

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This is such a fast and pleasant knit, and I think the result is great. I love the modern t-shirt shape paired with a bold lace pattern in the front. It’s also a very practical garment, which adds a layer of warmth when hanging out indoors in the winter, but I could see it working just as well for a beach day. Add long sleeves, make it longer for a tunic/dress and pair it with leggings… tons of possibilities.

About the designer: I’ve been following Heidi Atwood Reeves on Instagram for a while now and I enjoy seeing her design process so much. I’m very envious of her pretty sketches and gorgeous swatches. I feel like such a disorganized slob in comparison! And her sense of color and style is just lovely. So I wanted to do a little Q&A with her. Thanks, Heidi, for giving such thoughtful answers!

Click on image to go to Heidi’s Ravelry store

·         Tell us a bit about yourself…

I live in the Washington DC metro area with my daughter and my husband. When I’m not designing I am either at my day job or spending time with my little family. I love living where I do – there are lots of great yarn stores and plenty of worthy coffee shops to knit in (not that the latter happens often, but when it does, it is pure bliss). Knitting has been my creative outlet since I first took up the needles ten years ago. Very few days pass without me sneaking in at least a couple of rows.

·         How and why did you become a knitting designer?

I’ve always had an interest in craft. Starting when I was very young, my mother made a point of immersing my siblings and me in arts and crafts.  I still remember sitting at the kitchen table and printing with potato stamps and spending a Saturday afternoon making dolls from wooden spoons. Eventually my interest led me to earn an MFA in bookbinding and letterpress printing, which is when I discovered my love of fiber. A few years out of school, I found myself working in finance as a new mom, with little time or space to pursue bookbinding and printing at all. I had, however, been knitting clothes for my little girl without patterns. It was an incredibly satisfying process, so I decided I was going to learn about knitwear design. The more I read, the more I knew that it was something I needed to be doing. It was also great because I quickly learned that all the time I spent working with spreadsheets and formulas at my job would be incredibly useful for designing.

·         What is the most rewarding thing about being a knitting designer? What is the most frustrating part? What have you discovered along the way?

Almost without exception, I do all of my grading and pattern writing before I knit up a sample, so it always amazes me when these seemingly abstract numbers knit up into exactly the thing I imagined. I also love seeing others knit and enjoy my patterns.

One of my biggest frustrations is finding the time to work on all the designs I have planned. I keep a little schedule of planned pattern released dates that goes out several months, and it can be frustrating when I know I’m not going to meet the deadline I had planned for myself. It’s something I need to learn to let go of, especially while designing is not my full time job.

·         Can you describe your design style?

I love designing for children, and particularly for my daughter. I love vintage-inspired children’s fashion, so many of my designs are very classic shapes.

I’m also a knitter who loves to learn new techniques, and that carries over into my designs. Many of my patterns incorporate one or two interesting technique, or a construction that is a little less typical than the top-down raglan.

·         Which one of your designs are you the most proud of and why? What is your most under-appreciated design?

I’m pretty proud of my most recent design, Spruce Island (which, coincidentally, is one I don’t think has gotten the love it deserves.) It is my 9th published pattern and the one where I feel that I have really come into my own as a pattern writer. Plus, it features an unusual top down construction and some interesting details. For me, it hits all the marks.

·         What can we expect to see from you design-wise in 2015?

I’m already working on the first batch of 2015 patterns. I have a couple of girl’s cardigans planned for release early next year. Both draw on vintage children’s wear for inspiration. I also have plans for more designs for adults, and some accessories too. Mostly, I am excited to see how I develop as a designer over the next year!

Silverfox Hats

Soon after I released my Silverfox Cardigan I started receiving requests for a matching hat. I pretty quickly came up with a cute little bonnet using the same cable motifs on garter background — I love bonnets for younger babies and toddlers who will instantly remove any other type of hat placed on their heads, and thus, here’s Silverfox Bonnet (which comes in sizes Newborn to Child:)

But of course, the bonnet style is a bit girly, and I thought I’d better come up with a classic beanie as well, with a slouch option because why not, and sizing from Newborn to Adult. Behold Silverfox Beanie and Slouch:

So here you go, 2 Silverfox Hats, available both as individual patterns and as a discounted eBook (click on image to go to Ravelry for eBook purchase):

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Designer Interview: Littletheorem

I often get blank stares when I tell people what I do. I don’t think many people understand what being a knitwear designer means (or that there is such a thing!), and I’d wager that most people definitely don’t understand the skill set that is required in order to be a successful one. Let’s remedy this!  Over the next few weeks, I will present mini interviews with a few fellow knitwear designers in order to shed some light on this odd occupation :)

To kick things off, here is a Q&A session with Dot of LittleTheorem Knits (littletheorem on Ravelry), the designer behind this lovely cardigan:

Snowcloud Cardigan by littletheorem. (click on image to go to pattern page)

  • Tell us a bit about yourself…

I’m a 29 year old Maths teacher living and working in Glasgow in Scotland. I love living in the city but I’m a country kid at heart and love nature. Every inch of my balcony is used for growing vegetables! I love the outdoors and spend a lot of my time climbing mountains in the Scottish Highlands, and have a particular interest in Alpine plants. I’m a qualified Mountain Leader and take kids out camping and hiking as part of our school’s Duke of Edinburgh scheme- this absolutely has to be one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I have a real difficulty with sitting still and not being busy so knitting is the perfect hobby for my spare time. I need something to keep me occupied!

  • How and why did you become a knitting designer?

I started knitting when I was doing my PhD as a bit of stress relief, research in Maths can be a pretty frantic and it was good to have something calming and meditative in my life. I’m very fussy and don’t think I’ve ever actually followed a pattern exactly as it was written, I like to tweak little details. This soon lead to me making up my own designs. I think my background in geometry really helped, as I could easily picture how shapes could come together to make a garment, and there’s a lot of Maths in pattern design. It was a very natural path for me to follow!

  • Can you describe your design style?

I like simple, unfussy garments with a bit of a twist to them. I love classic, fitted sweaters with a little detailing to make them special, like a little bit of lace or texture. Nothing over the top though, I’m not into super-girly things really. I try to make understated knits that are a bit luxurious, I love knitting with exotic fibres like baby camel or cashmere. I do a lot of spinning as well, so a lot of my patterns are designed with handspun yarn in mind.

  • What is the most rewarding thing about being a knitting designer? What is the most frustrating part? What have you discovered along the way?

Having a vision in your head of a garment you’d love to wear and making it a reality. And being really, really warm in the Winter! The most frustrating thing for me is having so many ideas and not enough time to knit them all. I must literally have dozens of unfinished objects in my flat. Coming from a Maths background and having done a bit of programming in my time, I think I initially wrote knitting patterns more like computer programmes. I think one of the main things I’ve learned is that people aren’t knitting machines! I’d like to think that my patterns are much more “user friendly” now.

  • Which one of your designs are you the most proud of and why?

I really love my Asphodel Shawl as a design. I love the way that the different bands of lace fit together.

Asphodel Shawl by Littletheorem (click on image to go to pattern page)

I think the knitted item that I’ve worn most though is my Moseley Cardigan, it goes with absolutely everything and is super flattering.

Moseley Cardigan by littletheorem. Click on image for pattern page.

  • What is on your needles now?

So many things! I have two sweaters with lace detailing on the go, one in dk and one in fingering weight yarn; multiple lace shawls and scarves that may or may not ever get finished; and of course some Christmas presents! I have a few quick fair isle items that will be under the tree in a month or so.

  • Who’s your favorite designer?

I think we’re really lucky as knitwear designers to live in an age where we can access so many other patterns for inspiration, Ravelry is just an amazing resource for anyone interested in pattern design. I think as a community we learn a lot from each other and everyone benefits from that. If I had to pick one absolute favourite though, it would be Isabell Kraemer. Her sweaters are so stylish and pretty without being too girly.

  • What can we expect to see from you design-wise in 2015?

The two sweaters that are currently on the needles should hopefully turn into patterns early in 2015.I have a pattern for a little cropped cardigan and for a cabled mens sweater that will be getting test knitted in the near future too. I’m going through a big fair-isle kick at the moment so there will most likely be a few colourwork pieces appearing before too long as well. Busy busy!

Thank you so very much for these thoughtful answers Dot! Can’t wait to see what you come up with next. Best of luck to you!

Follow littletheorem’s adventures on her blog, on Twitter or on Facebook. And be sure to check out her Ravelry or her Etsy store.

Huge week-long sale on Ravelry!

Who doesn’t love a bargain, am I right?

Starting today and lasting through the 21st (i.e. about a week), a huge number of indie designers are coming together on Ravelry and are offering a 25% discount of selected patterns. Just use the code “giftalong2014” at checkout to claim your discount. The list of participating designers can be seen here.

Once you have collected your goodies, feel free to join us in the Indie Design Gift-A-Long group on Ravelry and knit-a-long your holiday gifts. Chat with designers and other crafters, play games, win tons of prizes (patterns, yarn etc), and more importantly finish all the things!!!

Want to know which ones of my patterns are on sale? Click on the image below — note: I have 12 patterns on sale, so the ones on the image are just a little preview ;)

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Curious about the Gift-A-Long event? Here’s a nifty infographic, put together by Kimberly Golynkskiy.

I will be interviewing some fellow designers in the next few weeks, so stay tuned and discover new favorites!

Catch Up post: Madame Entrechat

Since I released my Entrechat pattern almost two years ago, I can’t count the number of requests I’ve received to come up with an adult version. At first, I wasn’t quite sure the style would translate well into a “grown-up” garment: something about the cap sleeves, the ruffly peplum and cropped back really screams “little girl:”

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So I thought about it a lot and, with a few adjustments and the help of some well-placed short rows, I think I achieved a more grown-up look, without taking away from the original design too much, and of course keeping the same fun and unique construction:

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There is an elbow-length sleeve option included in the pattern as well.

Madame Entrechat calls for worsted weight yarn and comes in sizes XS to XXXL. You can find it in my Ravelry, Craftsy, and Etsy stores.

Catch Up post: Summer Into Fall

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This design has been in my head, pretty much exactly as you see it above, for years. The ruffles on the straps, the V-shape of the straps at the back (cute but also ensuring the straps do not fall off of the shoulder!), the side tabs and A-line shape…

I am not sure why it took me so long to knit it and write it up. It’s the perfect instant-gratification project: a very easy knit, it also includes a few “tricks” to make it look polished and practical. It calls for aran-weight yarn, so it knits up extremely quickly, and uses very little yarn. It’s a versatile garment, which could be a worn as a back-to-school jumper/pinafore dress over a shirt and tights, or as a simple summer dress.

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I was so impressed with the versions that my test-knitters made that I made a little collage (the photos were used with permission): doesn’t it look completely adorable on all these sweet little girls?

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Credit (Ravelry user ID) from top left clockwise: cbahler, buttons29, Cellybelle, Serendipitystitch, LauraPNW, JuneK, blogiete

Summer Into Fall calls for aran weight yarn and comes in sizes 3 months to 6 years. You can find it in my Ravelry, Craftsy, and Etsy stores.

Catching Up post: Silverfox cardigan

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I don’t usually knit cables very much, let alone use them in designs, I’m not sure why, I think I might carry this impression from my beginner-knitter days that they are an expert skill (like fair-isle, steeking etc).

But I do love the look of cables, especially when they don’t overwhelm a garment (well, sometime, cablepaloozas are fun!). I’m particularly fond of garter stitch and cables together, which you don’t see much of for some reason. I think there is a nice contrast between the squishy garter stitch and the disciplined cables imbedded in it, particularly for children’s clothing.

The cable here is very simple and repeated everywhere, so the charts/written instructions aren’t really needed after the first repeat (I really dislike having to constantly refer to a chart, it takes me out of my knitting groove!). I also wanted to do a variation on the raglan yoke, something that looked a bit like a saddle shoulder, featuring that pretty, tight cable. I also used this same cable along the button band and used its natural properties to my advantage: since it pulls the fabric a bit, it naturally lowered the front neckline, meaning no shaping was needed. It stiffness also made the front bands lay very nice and flat.

Finally, I wanted to pay extra attention to the finishing details, including some more intermediate techniques that I haven’t used very much in my patterns: I-cord edgings, I-cord bind-off, grafting (a tiny amount of that only, I promise!!).  The cardigan is worked from the bottom up, completely seamlessly, which I also don’t tend to do, but it was the best option for this design.

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So here’s the result, which I am so proud and happy with. This is another one where my tech-editor and amazing test-knitters were beyond helpful. It’s also one of the handmade things that my daughter has worn the most. For those who are curious, I’m working now on a matching bonnet as well as a beanie. Coming very soon, stay tuned!

Silverfox calls for dk weight yarn and comes in sizes 6 months to 6 years. You can find it in my Ravelry, Craftsy, and Etsy stores.

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