Knightsbridge Collection Feature / Hawkes: evolution of a design

For the next couple of weeks we'll be profiling the designers featured in the Knightsbridge Collection with some insight into their process, tips + tricks about their garment or accessory, fun interviews, and other little tid-bits. We hope you enjoy getting to know the Kelbourne Woolens team and contributing designers. To view the full pattern line, check out the Knightsbridge Collection on Ravelry here. 

Today, we're delighted to have talented (and supremely interesting - melon farmer? Latin scholar? NASA employee?!) Hilary Smith Callis give us a little insight into the evolution of her gorgeous design, Hawkes.

HSC: When I start designing a new piece, sometimes the inspiration comes from a stitch pattern, sometimes it comes from something I’ve seen in a magazine, sometimes it comes from an idea I’ve pulled out of thin air...but most often, it’s a combination of all of those. This was certainly the case for Hawkes, my design for the Knightsbridge collection, and the design made such a drastic transformation from start to finish that I thought I’d share a little bit of my process and how I ultimately landed on the sweater that it became.

When the Knightsbridge call for submissions came out, I was struck by the beautiful mood board – lots of texture, interesting shapes, modern takes on old classics. I pulled out some random stash yarn and started swatching some of the really texturey patterns that had caught my eye the last time I’d looked through my Barbara Walkers. One that had particularly struck me was the Twin Rib (from Ms. Walker’s second Treasury). 

I fell hard for the deep ribbing and how it looked combined with garter stitch – and, as a bonus, it was a pattern that was simple to execute. This is always a plus when you know you’ll be adding shaping for multiple sizes. But then I realized that my stash yarn was 100% wool, and Knightsbridge (which was so new I didn’t have any on hand) contained llama and silk as well. The closest I could come up with was a slightly lighter weight camel/silk blend, which was not the same as Knightsbridge, but I wanted to make sure that a yarn with silk wouldn’t completely change the look of the stitch pattern.

Luckily, I still liked it.

Now, at the time of the Call, I was wearing a lot of open-fronted cardigans, so that was the first idea I sketched out. Thinking Twin Rib all over, simple raglan shaping, garter stitch cuffs, and a huge, cushy, garter stitch collar. Cozy!

But....meh. This was not a modern take on a timeless classic, and I just wasn’t feeling it. So I went back to the inspiration bank. I looked through my book of (literally) cut-and-pasted magazine inspiration and came across this lady from an article about a renovated loft in a home décor magazine – isn’t she cool? 

At first, I skipped right over her. Her top was so simple, no texture, and the colorblocking was what I’d cut out the picture for. That wasn’t really what I was looking for. But then I took a second look. What if, instead of colorblocking, I did some “texture-blocking”? Use one color, but do Stockinette stitch on the top and the Twin Rib on the bottom. The sweater could be a simple shape, maybe even boxier with some ease, move up the “blocking” on the body to meet that of the sleeves, and...

Yes. Much better. It was a winding road, but in the end, I’m thrilled with what Hawkes became!

Thanks, Hilary, for sharing your design process with us! 

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If you love this post on the Knightsbridge Collection, check out our other features here.

Knitter Projects: Amelie

Another day and another beautiful sweater! Today we have a lovely sweater knit in Canopy Fingering by Swedish knitter Nicolina. The pattern is Amelie by Gudrun Johnston, a skilled designer with many stunning designs.

Amelie in Fibre Company Canopy Fingering

Shown here in Macaw, this soft and lightweight sweater is perfect for transitioning into cooler, shorter days. Great job, Nicolina! 

amelie in Fibre Company Canopy Fingering

cAll photos © Ninnilina, used with permission.

Knightsbridge Collection Feature / Barnaby: A day in the Life

For the next couple of weeks we'll be profiling the designers featured in the Knightsbridge Collection with some insight into their process, tips + tricks about their garment or accessory, fun interviews, and other little tid-bits. We hope you enjoy getting to know the Kelbourne Woolens team and contributing designers. To view the full pattern line, check out the Knightsbridge Collection on Ravelry here

Today, we're delighted to have the lovely Mari Chiba give us a little insight into her day as independent designer, marketing manager, and all around industry expert.

MC: I write a lot about my inspirations for designs on my blog. Although I love to talk about my designs and where they come from, today I'd like to write more about what it's like to be a designer. Each designer their own niche, workflow, schedule, and a host of other factors that make this job draw such a diverse group of people. So today, I share with you, a day in the life with me. 

• 5:45: My husband gets up to work out before heading to work. I turn my back to this early hour and stay in bed. 
• 6:30: Brian leaves for work and I finally roll out of bed. 6:30-8:30: Attempt exercise (sometimes more successfully than other days), eat yogurt, sample knitting, watching trashy TV.8:30-9:30: Sample knitting, reading emails.
• 9:30-1:00: Work my day job, for Stitchcraft Marketing. I work from home, so this means sitting in my office answering emails, writing, talking on the phone, and lots of other small tasks, all focused around yarn. 
• 1:00-1:30: Eat lunch (usually left overs from the night before) while reading blogs and trying to stay current on what's happening in the knitting world.
• 1:30-5:30: Back to the day job at Stitchcraft. More meetings, more to-dos. I have a color coded detailed to-do list each day, and we do all of our project tracking on Trello. I love lists and spreadsheets. I make lots of both for work and life. 
• 5:00-6:00: Cook dinner - and knit in the kitchen while I'm cooking! I cook pretty low maintenance one dish meals so that I can knit while cooking. 
• 6:00-6:30: Eat dinner with my husband. Sometimes I knit during this too, but only if it's stockinette or garter, something I can do while still making eye contact and holding a conversation, and pausing just long enough to shovel food.  
• 6:30-10:00: At this point I've 'left the office', so I'll usually work on patterns from my laptop in the living room (because then it feels less like work, and at least if we're in the same room it feels more like we're spending time together), I also work on sample knitting, writing blog posts, etc. 
• 10:00-10:30: Lights out! I try to have 30-60 minutes each day with no screens and no lights. Usually we just talk or listen to music in the dark. After spending most of my day staring at a computer screen I try to give my eyes a break. 
• 10:30: Sleep! So we can start all over again tomorrow.

As you can see, my whole life revolves around yarn! In my day job I work with lots of yarn companies and other industry related companies, and in every spare moment I'm usually knitting, writing notes for a pattern, or daydreaming about my next design. I design because I have to--there's a little voice somewhere inside me that whispers sweaters into my dreams, and when I'm awake I knit them. 

Barnaby was inspired by dreamy men in woolly henley sweaters standing around looking rugged. And if you knit this sweater, I'm sure you'll entice one or three...right?
Thanks, Mari!
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If you love this post on the Knightsbridge Collection, check out our other features here.

kelbourne tips + tricks: three needle bind off

Quite a few Kelbourne Woolens patterns utilize a 3-Needle Bind-Off - it is a wonderful way to work a secure, yet not-bulky shoulder seam or finish off a cowl knit horizontally. In contrast to the kitchener stitch, the bind-off row creates a stable seam, but it is not as bulky or prone to issues as a seamed edge. Below is a tutorial for you to reference when working this lovely finish!

Please Note: For this tutorial, we are utilizing three different colors so you can clearly see both sets of stitches and the bind-off row. In your actual work, you most likely will be binding off matching pieces of fabric. If you end one piece working a RS row, you should be able to use the yarn attached to the work for your Bind-Off. Additionally, it is necessary to have the same number of stitches on each piece in order to bind off evenly. 

STEP ONE: To work the 3-Needle Bind Off on the inside of the work, so it cannot be seen from the right-side, you will want to hold your pieces with right sides together with both needle points facing to the right. (If you are familiar with sewing, this is the same concept if you were to sew a seam with right-sides of the fabric facing.)

three needle bind off step2.jpg

STEP TWO: Using a spare dpn of the same size, insert the dpn into the first stitch on both needles as if to knit. You will be treating both pieces of fabric as if they are one.

three needle bind off step3.jpg

STEP THREE: Knit the stitches together as one, slide both stitches off of your left hand needle. 

three needle bind off step4.jpg

STEP FOUR: Knit the next stitch on each left hand needle together as one. Slide both stitches off of your left hand needle. You now have 2 stitches on the right hand needle. Two stitches have been worked off of each left hand needle, for a total of 4 stitches worked.

STEP FIVE: Pass the right stitch over the left stitch on the right hand needle as if you are working a traditional bind off. One stitch has been bound off.

REPEAT STEPS FOUR + FIVE until all stitches have been bound off and you have one stitch remaining on your right hand needle.

Fasten off the final stitch and weave in your ends. 

Even if a pattern does not call for a 3-Needle Bind-Off, 9 times out of 10, you can use this technique when joining two pieces of knit fabric together. Enjoy! - KGO

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Looking for more tutorials? Visit our Tips + Tricks page here

Knitter Projects: Umaro Afghan

This week, we're finally seeing cooler fall temperatures stick, and when the weather gets cool, wrapping yourself in wool is the best way to stay warm and cozy. This beautiful Umaro by Jared Flood, knit in Tundra by Cher is the berfect blanket to snuggle under when the weather gets cool. 

The gorgeous turquoise color, Boreal, is the perfect afghan for curling up and reading a good book. Great job, Cher!

Photo © Crickat, and used with permission.

Knightsbridge Collection Feature / Maeve:

For the next couple of weeks we'll be profiling the designers featured in the Knightsbridge Collection with some insight into their process, tips + tricks about their garment or accessory, fun interviews, and other little tid-bits. We hope you enjoy getting to know the Kelbourne Woolens team and contributing designers. To view the full pattern line, check out the Knightsbridge Collection on Ravelry here

Today, we're delighted to have talented designer Bristol Ivy discuss her design process when creating the bold and unique cable for her stunning design, Maeve

maeve.jpg

BI: One of the things that I’ve been really interested in recently is how different designers draw inspiration for their patterns. Some work from emotions, some from artwork, others from wanting to incorporate a specific technique. Still others take inspiration from hints and peeks at readymade garments, deconstructing a stitch pattern from a random sighting in a restaurant window or thrift store. In the case of the cable pattern on my design for the Maeve cardigan in the Knightsbridge Collection, it was just one of these random sightings that sent me down a path of graph paper and sketches galore.

Now, here’s the thing. These glimpses are never somewhere logical. You never see them anywhere you have paper and pencil at the ready, able to sketch them down quickly before they disappear around the corner.  Nope--these are the ones that have you grabbing whatever’s at hand--receipts and a crayon, gum wrappers and a permanent marker--to sketch, or whipping out your phone and taking a covert picture, or frantically pausing the movie at just the right spot so you can take a screenshot. In Maeve’s case, I had mere seconds: a glorious, tantalizing white sweater appeared on screen, the diamond-shaped cables a beautiful tesselation in the sunlight (never mind that it was Anthony Bourdain’s cameraman and they were discussing squid ink pasta in Sicily). That was all I saw of it, but the idea of those diamond cables stuck in my mind.

Once I was able to sit down with graph paper, I started sketching. I am a huge, huge fan of antler cables, so I knew it had to start there. From there, it was a series of decisions--would the cabling rate over the top half of the diamond be the same as over the bottom half? I decided no--it would be stronger and more visually interesting to have them move at a different rate.  Would the diamonds all face the same direction, or would they flip back and forth? I decided the same--though it meant more rows as the angles of the cables wouldn’t fit into each other snugly, it would create a more interesting use of negative space.  Would they mirror on either side of the body of the cardigan, or continue in the same direction? I decided on mirroring--I wanted the same line of cables traveling up and over the shoulder.  In all of these situations, graph paper was my guide.  

It surprises people sometimes that I don’t do a lot of swatching when I’m figuring things out; most of the time I rely either on thinking it through (chances are, if I’m staring off into space, there’s a sweater in my head) or on sketching things out with graph paper (and sometimes Photoshop, to manipulate the basic graphs into different iterations).  Only when I’m completely satisfied with the preparations do I pick up yarn and needles. In some cases, that can reveal a whole host of issues I hadn’t thought about yet, and so it’s back to the drawing board. But in the case of Maeve, the cables played nice in its very first swatch, and with those cables coupled to a clean, architectural and wearable shape, I couldn’t be happier with how the final piece turned out. 

{sketches, from top to bottom: The original Idea for the cable panel, option 1, and option 2. All sketches © Bristol Ivy and used with permission}

Knitter Projects: Sombra

Another day, another beautiful project to share! Today's knitter project is the Sombra sweater by Elanor King from the Summer 2014 issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. This version was knit by Amanda in Fibre Company Meadow. 

Sombra in Fibre Company Meadow.jpg

Amanda used Meadow in Lavender, Pokeweed, and Black Adder for this multi-colored pullover. 

Sombra sweater in Fibre Company Meadow

We love this modern sweater and it's a great take on the current chevron trend. The v pattern is worked on both the front and the back of the sweater.

Sombra sweater in Fibre Company Meadow

It looks like a great lightweight pullover for warmer months, and the color combination is fantastic! Great job, Amanda!

{All images © Amanda Davidson and used with permission.}

Knightsbridge Collection Feature / Tilly: Life as a Design Student

For the next couple of weeks we'll be profiling the designers featured in the Knightsbridge Collection with some insight into their process, tips + tricks about their garment or accessory, fun interviews, and other little tid-bits. We hope you enjoy getting to know the Kelbourne Woolens team and contributing designers. To view the full pattern line, check out the Knightsbridge Collection on Ravelry here

For today's post, Meghan, who works with us at KW headquarters, will talk about her dual life as textile design student and hand-knitter. 

MLK: I live to knit!  Or is it that I knit to live?  I guess both are true. Besides working for Kate and Courtney at Kelbourne Woolens, I am a full time graduate student at Philadelphia University studying textile design with a knitwear concentration.  

I stumbled on the textile program almost by accident. After living in Chicago, my husband accepted a job in Philadelphia. In the first week in our new city, my mom and I walked my dogs down the street and saw a tree covered campus. I looked it up, and to my great surprise, I found that the school was known for having one of the best textile design programs in the country. Shortly after I started school, I was hired as an intern for Kelbourne.  My knitting hobby was coming full circle!

Now that I’m ending my 3 year grad school experience, instead of becoming tired of knitting, I find that I enjoy it more and more all the time. I have had the opportunity to design for Kelbourne, and I found that as a newbie designer, I have a lot to learn!  I think that’s the really great thing about knitting; as much as you know (and I feel like I really know knitting) there is always so much left to learn and discover.  (The same could be said for crocheting, sewing, anything…..life….)

One of the surprising things I discovered immediately, but still ponder on a daily basis, is that my hand-knitting and my machine knitting ideas are completely separate. It is as if they live in different parts of my brain. The stitches of hand knits and machine knits are the same, and, for the most part, the end products are of the same ilk, but their development into being proceeds on such different paths that they feel unrelated. While machine knitting is light-years faster, there are limitations. The machine cannot do what a pair of needles in my hands can do without hesitation. While working on my recent collection of knits last semester, I was also designing and knitting the Tilly Legwarmers. While I was working on making an interesting cable detail for the legwarmers, in studio at school I was only concerned with different ways color and texture interact in one piece to create depth in a relatively flat piece of fabric.  

I find this disconnectedness between my two knitting activities to be rather comforting.  I love being in studio, geeking out on the knitting computer, building programs and then testing my ideas on the electronic Shima Seiki knitting machine.  But when my eyes and body get tired, I can go home, sit on the couch with my husband and dogs and pick up my hand-knitting and relax.  Because they are such different activities, the latter retains its effect as my relaxing hobby and doesn’t impede on my desire to continue to learn machine knitting. Maybe one day my two knitting worlds will meet but it is fine if they don’t. I live to knit!  And hopefully someday in the future I’ll be knitting full time to live my life and support my hobby!

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If you love this post on the Knightsbridge Collection, check out our other features here.

knit.purl Fall/Winter 2014: Lupinus Cardigan by Beatrice Perron Dahlen

The latest issue of knit.purl hit our doorsteps last week and we were immediately taken aback by the collection of patterns featured within this issue. We immediately dreamed about this skirt, started playing with yarn choice for this scarf, and stared at the construction of this sweater - it's awesome. 

Lastly we fell in love with the Lupinus Cardigan by Beatrice Perron Dahlen featuring The Fibre Company Terra in Belladonna. 

Incorporating a diagonal lace detail throughout, the Lupinus Cardigan is perfect atop a button up shirt and a pair of jeans or a simple t-shirt dress for a more casual outing. 

You can learn more about the Lupinus Cardigan, and other amazing patterns from the latest issue of knit.purl on their website, here. For more information on The Fibre Company's Terra, click here

{All images copyright 2014 Joe Hancock for Interweave and used with permission}