2.17.2014

And The Winner Is...

Thanks to everyone who participated in the first contest to celebrate my book. Between now and when the book is published I'll have more contests so be sure to check back. I used a random number generator to determine the winners and they are:

The Winner of Knitting Notes: Molly Spangenberg 
The Winner of a Worldknits Pattern: Prairiegirl

Congratulations to our winners! And good luck to everyone else on the next giveaway.

2.10.2014

2014 - The Year of the (First) Book

video

I'm thrilled to share that I'm working on my first book! It's a collection of 19 brand new designs, both garments and accessories, that are a modern take on classic feminine silhouettes. The designs in the book can be styled for the office, the weekend, and a night out. I love the act of dressing and with the designs in this book you will too!

The book is slated for release in Fall of 2015. I know, that's so far away. Alas, I need time to write the patterns and knit the samples, and my publisher needs time to take photographs and put it all together. Fear not; follow me on Instagram and Facebook to get extra special sneak peeks of the process. In the meantime you can check out my back catalog here. If you'd like to receive an e-mail when the book is available and get a heads up when there's a new contest sign up here.



Piles of yarn have started arriving at my design studio. In the next 9 months I'll be knitting through 39,888 yards (22.5 miles) of yarn, making 15 garments (pullovers, cardigans, and dresses!) and 4 accessories. I've organized the projects and am ready to get my needles moving. To celebrate I'd like to offer my fans a chance to win a knitting book that will help you get organized, too. Good luck!


Contest #1- Win a Copy of Knit Notes - US Residents


In the comments below, share how you like to organize your knits- baskets, project bags, ravelry, spreadsheets, etc.- and tell me from what state you come. I'll randomly select one winner in a week's time. Check back on Monday, February 17 to see if you've won. (sorry, anonymous commenters can't win)


Contest #2 - Win Your Choice of One Worldknits Pattern - Citizens of the World

In the comments below, share how you like to organize your knits- baskets, project bags, ravelry, spreadsheets, etc.- and tell me from what country you come. I'll randomly select one winner in a weeks time. Check back on Monday, February 17 to see if you've won. (sorry, anonymous commenters can't win)

1.10.2014

Soundtrack of a Sweater: My Wedding Dress


As always, the soundtrack to my design as I was writing the pattern and knitting the sample. I walked down the aisle to "Perpetuum Mobile" and finished the ceremony with "The Winner Is." Enjoy!

I promise...

My wedding dress was knit with love and made from treasures carefully collected on our shared adventures. It’s a celebration of memories past, as well as a meditation on hope for our future. It’s a dress that I designed to commemorate my decision to become a professional knitwear designer, to relive trips taken and muse on those yet to come, and to honor my husband’s Austrian ancestry.

AlexSquared: How Knitting Led Me to Alex

Knitting is my life, so it’s fitting that knitting led me to my husband. In 2009, I attended my first knit night. It was such a wonderful experience that I wrote a blog post about it. Rachel, another young woman saw the post and was inspired to join the group. Our friendship grew, as did our knitting skills. It was Rachel who would introduce me to Alex (mostly because I think she found it humorous that we shared the same name, but also because she knew we shared a love of travel and adventure).

Although Alex doesn’t knit, he is very good about visiting yarn shops. He’s patiently waited as I’ve fondled yarn across the US and the world. Although I didn’t know it at the time, it was on a trip to Peru in 2012 that I found the yarn that would become my wedding dress, a luscious alpaca-cashmere so heavenly soft that you want to swaddle yourself in it (more on the yarn below).


Finding the Luxury Alpaca-Cashmere at the Michell Fiber Factory in Peru.

Designing a Wedding Dress

In August of 2013 I began sketching. I knew the silhouette I wanted: a fitted bodice with a full skirt and I knew that I wanted an Austrian stitch motif to honor Alex’s family (his father is Austrian, as is his mother’s mother). I found my motifs in Maria Erlbacher’s Twisted-Stitch Knitting. For the center-front panel I selected “#91 Large Chain with Twisted Bands” flanked by two braided cables, and for the remaining dress “#166 Double Chain”. I originally designed the dress with a high round neck and a large shawl collar, but later changed to an elegant fold over boatneck. 

Sketching the dress.

Choosing the Yarn 

Once my ideas were transferred to paper, I shifted my focus to the ideal materials with which to bring the design to life. The yarn decision came easily when I remembered the 20 skeins of Michell Luxury Edition Alpaca-Cashmere in an ecru colorway that I had purchased in Peru the year before. Who knew I’d be able to stash bust for my wedding dress?! While the alpaca-cashmere would become the body of the dress, I wanted something more delicate and ethereal for the lace at the hem and collar. Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze Glamour, a mohair silk blend studded with delicate glass-like sequins, fit the bill perfectly. 


Casting on for my dress October 22, 2013


Creating the Pattern

All patterns begin with swatching. I started by working my desired motifs in the DK weight yarn using US 6 needles. I was pleased with the even tension and stitch definition, so decided to proceed on the 6s. The key measurement for this design was the waist; it would be here that all of the double chains would converge. After subtracting out the center-front motif, I learned how many of the double chains would make up the remaining circumference at the waist. 

Next, I needed to make a decision about the hem. To keep the visual line of the chains from being broken, I decided to enlarge the chains from 6 sts across at the waist to 12 sts across at the hem. This solution allowed me to avoid having to add more horizontal repeats of the chains, which would have thrown off the continuity of the pattern.


The continuous line of the double chain motif from the hem to the neck.

The skirt with front detail.

Finally, I had to negotiate the waist-to-bust increase, keeping the visual line of the chains unbroken. Unfortunately, increasing the size of the stitch motif wasn’t an option, as I wanted the bodice fabric to look delicate. I decided to eliminate two of the chain motifs at each side of the dress and instead worked a seed stitch motif across these stitches. All of my increases were invisibly worked into the seed stitch section, solving the problem of broken lines.


The transition from double chains to seed stitch on the bodice.

The top of the sleeves mirror the body of the dress with a single chain, surrounded by smaller versions of the braided cables. The seam line of the underarm features a seed stitch motif that transitions seamlessly into that of the bodice when I lift my arms.

Construction

The dress is worked in the round from the hem up so that it is seamless to the underarms. I began with a simple mesh lace at the hem, worked only in the Kidsilk Haze Glamour (KHG). The asymmetrical shape of the lace (it’s longer in the back than in the front to mirror the chapel length train of the underskirt) was achieved by working short rows. I didn’t want the lace to transition immediately into a solid fabric so the 12-stitch chain motif at the hem uses a combination of yos and k2togs to create lacework within each chain. 

Initially, I held one strand of the KHG together with the alpaca-cashmere to blend the two yarns. As the chains became smaller and smaller, I transitioned from lacework to seed stitch and dropped the strand of KHG as I worked the smallest chains in reverse stockinette. I separated the front and back at the underarms and worked each piece flat. The sleeves were worked flat and set in, giving the dress a very stable fabric at the shoulders (this is important because this is the area that is holding the weight of the dress).

The body of the dress was finished on November 20.


Embellishing the Design

I opted for a crocheted lace edging to save on time. I chose "Romanesque Arches" from Interweave’s Crochet Edgings & Trims (The Harmony Guides).The lace edging had an art deco feel reminiscent of my vintage engagement ring and looked beautiful with the dress.


crocheting the lace border
The finished lace.

The final step was to sew on the pearls. When I was in Guatemala in 2010 I found strands of organically-shaped freshwater pearls. The subtle ivories, champagnes, rosy pinks, and dusty silvers were too beautiful not to include on this dress. There are 459 individually sewn on pearls. After using a beading needle to sew the pearl, I knotted each one, cut the thread, and used fray check to glue the knot. Unfortunately, after hugs at the wedding, I heard the tiny ping of a few of the pearls hitting the floor. My mom thought my small "trail of pearls" was like something out of a fairy tale. I’m going reinforce the pearls with a second dot of fray check now that the wedding is over and replace the ones that fell off.


Sewing on the pearls.

The Big Day

The night before the wedding my petticoat still hadn't arrived. UPS finally delivered it at 6pm. The petticoat was vital to the design because it served not only to fluff up my dress, but more importantly to hold the weight of the knitted fabric (the dress weighs 2.5 pounds). I tried all of the pieces on together for the first time that night.


Coming down in the dress for the first time the night before the wedding. My soon-to-be husband was not present.

Our wedding day had arrived. My husband met me at the alter in a wool-cashmere suit we had made while in China, and not to be outdone, a handknit tie I made for him using a vibrant shade of green ToshMerino Light. I walked down the aisle feeling like I was floating on air. We were married in my friend Rebecca’s restaurant, Kybecca. The venue was draped in hundreds of colorful pompom garlands, crafted by Alex. The ceremony was beautiful and it was followed by a brunch celebration with friends and family. A bride and a knitwear designer couldn’t ask for a better day.





Alex showing off his handknit tie.


You may recognize my little brother on the left. He's my knitwear model.


Question and Answer

I’ve tried to answer possible questions below. If you think of others please leave them in the comment section. You can also communicate with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Is a pattern available for this dress?

I’ve decided not to publish this pattern. While I love designing for others, I’d like to keep this as my own. If you like this dress you will also like Bryn Mawr, a dress I designed for Interweave Knits Fall 2013. It’s a heavily cabled dress that transitions from an A-line skirt to a fitted bodice.

How long did it take you to knit the dress?

The dress took about 7-8 weeks to complete, with one false start in the first week. I began knitting it at the end of October and had the body of it completed in 4 weeks. After catching the flu on a trip to China over Thanksgiving, my work slowed down a bit. I finished the sleeves, crocheted lace edging, collar and beading in the remaining 3-4 weeks. Hour-wise, I’d estimate the dress took somewhere around 275-300 hours.

Where did you purchase the skirt underneath your wedding dress?

I made the skirt underneath using Buttericks pattern #B4131 and a satin fabric and lined it using china silk lining fabric.

Where can I find the yarn?

You can find the color card for Rowan Kidsilk Haze Glamour here and Tosh Merino Light here, but be sure to support your local yarn shop when you purchase the yarn. I bought mine at Old Town Yarnery in Fredericksburg, VA. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Michell Luxury Alpaca-Cashmere is available outside of Peru (if you know of a source let me know).

Where did you have your wedding?

We had our wedding at Kybecca Wine Restaurant in downtown Fredericksburg, VA. They serve dinner 7 nights a week and have an amazing chef and beautiful bar. 

Where will you take your honeymoon...and will you bring your knitting?

For our honeymoon, we will be visiting the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, with plans to visit each of the other six islands on our 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 year wedding anniversaries. We're excited because we'll be there for carnival. The theme this year is Cartoons; we plan to dress up like Where's Waldo and Wenda, who of course will be spotted in the crowd with her yarn and needles.

Can I see the dress in person?

The dress will be on view at Old Town Yarnery in Fredericksburg, VA through February 15, 2014. If you stop by on a Friday or a Saturday chances are you’ll be able to meet me as well.


Stop by Old Town Yarnery in Fredericksburg, VA to see the dress in person and check out their great selection of yarns while you're there.

What will you do with the dress?

After the dress is removed from display, it will be carefully packaged and put away. I plan to eventually donate the dress to a museum.

10.09.2013

Soundtrack of a Sweater: Copper Canyon Pullover


The Copper Canyon Pullover is rustic, warm, and relaxed with an allover slipped stitch rib, raglan sleeves, and a henley front placket. Made from Cascade's Eco Wool (available in a number of gorgeous natural colors), this pullover will keep the cold at bay.


I designed this sweater for my little brother (the model), who lives in Colorado and is huge into outdoor activities. Wool is the original fleece and I wanted something to keep him warm whether he's out on the slopes, sitting around a camp fire, or riding his bike around town in the fall and winter. While my brother is fashion conscious, he feels that anything heavily patterned, like an aran sweater, is too flashy for him to wear. You can see my dilemma as a knitter, because the patterning is what makes a garment fun to knit. I think the slipped stitch rib is a happy medium, subtle enough so that he feels comfortable in it, and interesting enough for me so that I don't fall asleep at the needles.

I hope that the men in your life enjoy wearing this as much as you'll enjoy knitting it.

Happy knitting!

Alex

add to basket



video

PS As always, I hope you enjoy the music I was listening to while designing and knitting this sweater.

8.02.2013

Soundtrack of a Sweater: Plowman and Bryn Mawr



First, I have to say, I was freaking out when I saw that I got the cover. This is a first for me and I am so thankful.

©Interweave Knits

Plowman Cardigan

©Interweave Knits
©Interweave Knits
Plowman reminds me of summers at my dad's house in Colorado. Living on the east coast, the only place you get a southwest influence is on the pages of Vogue and Marie Claire and perhaps at the American Indian Museum (I'm just south of DC). But in Colorado, I see people actually wearing it and their homes decorated in it. I have to say I love the simple beauty of southwestern geometric art.

Chevrons are having a moment for me in my designs (in fact, you'll be seeing a lot more chevrons later on this fall and winter in new patterns I'm releasing). The motif on the back of the garment was actually inspired by a rug at my dad's house. I was thrilled with the contrasting variegated green that Interweave chose for this design.  Brown Sheep's Lambs Pride Worsted couldn't have been a better match for this pattern. It's incredibly soft and warm with great structure and has a large color palette. I can't wait to see what you guys do with it.

In my design.
In my design.
This has to be my favorite thing I've designed so far. I wanted a form fitting dress that used texture to make a woman's curves look amazing (not to brag, but look at my butt in this dress). I believe that the chevron/diamond traveling cables achieved this. It was quite the challenge sizing this five ways and making sure that within the skirt of this dress you can't tell that stitches are being decreased. I have to give a HUGE THANKS to the tech editor at Interweave that reformatted my original charts for the magazine. The yarn, Rowan Wool Cotton, was a dream to work with, and despite the dark colorway, the cables really popped off the fabric. I can't wait to get this sample back and wear it all fall and winter long.

©Interweave Knits
©Interweave Knits
©Interweave Knits





4.06.2013

Soundtrack of a Sweater: Matins Dress and Eva's Blouse

I'm excited to announce that two more of my designs were featured in Interweave Knits, Spring 2013. Introducing, Matins Dress and Eva's Blouse. Music is an integral part of my design process and I wanted to share with you the music behind these Spring designs. I hope you enjoy these songs as much as I do (don't be afraid to get up and dance- it'll make your day better!). And while you're listening to these samples read about the inspiration behind Matins Dress and Eva's Blouse.


Matins Dress

When sketching Matins Dress I had Titania from A Midsummer’s Night Dream in mind. I really like the ethereal, ultra-feminine, and delicate aesthetic of this dress. I would wear this day or night with a pair of espadrilles or cowboy boots and a jean jacket.

Matins Dress features a close-fitting bodice with a cascading lace tiered skirt. Each lace tier is knit with a progressively larger lace pattern and a progressively darker shade of the same color to give the dress an ombre look. The sleeveless dress shell incorporates waist shaping, a deep scoop neck, and finishing around the armholes and neck edge. Lace tiers are knit separately and then are gathered and attached to the shell. To maintain elasticity the waist band around the top tier includes a back closure. Sized for small, medium, large, 1X and 2X.






Eva's Blouse

Eva's Blouse features a vintage sweater girl silhouette with a high waist and cap sleeves. The ribbing at the waist gives the garment a feminine shape and the diagonal lace top with a button feature at the back neck makes this sweater eye catching. I wear a lot of high waisted a-line skirts and wanted a summer sweater that would work with this look. I love how it turned out and can't wait to get my sample back so I can wear it on my summer travels.




1.07.2013

Soundtrack of a Sweater: The Susie Tee

My design, the Susie Tee, is the table of contents page of the latest Spring 2013 edition of KnitScene! It's available now for download and will be available on newsstands January 22, 2013. I'd love to see your finished object on the Ravelry project page.

I thought it would be fun to put together a soundtrack of music I was listening to while designing and knitting the Susie Tee. I hope you enjoy the music as much as I do.











 
1 09 10