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!

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.

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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Another selfish knit done!

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Pattern: Tatie by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne (a.k.a. Ittybitty)

Yarn: De Rerum Natura Gilliatt colorway Aster

Time to Knit: a long time because I was working on many other things as well. But it’s a relatively quick knit. The only thing to watch out for is the length of the crossed loops cables (I made a couple of mistakes.. oh well.)

My mods: Skipped the pockets, did twisted ribbing for the bottom hem, picked up 3 sts per 4 rows for buttonbands, I think I tweaked the width of the buttonbands too, can’t remember exactly. My cowl is a bit shorter, and the cable sequence on it doesn’t start on row 1 (not sure why, maybe I made a mistake somewhere). The sleeves are a bit short because I ran out of yarn.

What I thought about the pattern: Good, straightforward, well-written, though there are a few typos (bits of french leftover in the English version), I must remember to let the designer know. I enjoyed knitting it because the crossed loop cables are fun to knit and don’t require a cable needle. I really liked the yarn too, it’s rustic yet soft (and a good value!), and the finished garment is very lightweight. I know I’ll get a lot of wear out of this cardigan!

What I would do differently next time: maybe make it a size larger and add the pockets? If so, I might position the cables differently on them though. Also, make the sleeves extra long for a comfier fit.

New pattern: Petites Feuilles cardigan

I’m a bit late to the party here, since my latest design, Petites Feuilles cardigan, went live a little while ago.

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I knew I wanted to do a spring-themed cardigan with some leaf motifs (“petites feuilles” means “little leaves” in French). Then when Mellifera Yarn‘s beautiful merino dk showed up in my mailbox (Mel came up with the gorgeous “Lawn” colorway when I asked whether if she could come up with a fresh, crisp light green colorway), I felt really inspired and went to work.

And boy this one turned out to be quite a bit of work! But I’m thrilled with the result. My test-knitters were so great in helping me work out kinks [Thanks guys!]

One of the cool things about this cardi (I think) is that the leaf motif is the right side up (stem towards the bottom) AND the body is knit top-down (which I think is a pleasant and practical construction for long-sleeve sweaters). There are quite a few leaf-themed garments that are knit top-down but all of them seem to have the leaf pointing down. Also, I wanted a garter stitch background for those leaves, not reverse stockinette, because I think garter stitch is just more fun to knit and super squishy. Finally, I wanted the leaf motif to be embossed, not flat.

Well, with all of these pre-requisites, it turns out that I had to come up with my own design for the leaf motif, which involved a LOT of trial and error. I also thought I should offer charts in addition to written instructions for this pattern, and there was a bit of a [ahem] learning curve there too!

So, in summary, I pushed myself with this one, and I’m excited about the result. In addition to the cool way it’s constructed, there are also cute details (elbow patches, optional pockets…) that make it a super fun knit.

I am planning on coming up with 3 more designs based on the leaf theme, so it will be a mini-collection if you will! Stay tuned for more leaf-y knits very soon!

A bouquet of daisies

Now that my latest design, Miss Daisy, is available in my Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy stores, I thought I’d share a few of my test-knitters’ versions. This round of test-knitting was a real treat, and I’m so pleased with how the pattern works out in all different sizes! (all photos are used with permission. Clicking on photographs will take you to each project page on Ravelry).

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Photo courtesy of ViolettaIvanova. Yarn used: Spud & Chloe Sweater.

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Photo courtesy of MelliferaMel. Yarn used: Mellifera Yarns Merino Aran.

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Photo courtesy of Madamour. Yarn used: Malabrigo Merino Worsted.

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Photo courtesy of deepgreenandblue. Yarn used: Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran.

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Photo courtesy of Emma-Saru. Yarn used: Malabrigo Merino Worsted.