Independent Designer Feature: My Fair Maiden by Meg Roake

If any of you follow us on Instagram, you may know of my horribly failed attempt at sewing up butterfly wings for Charlie's Halloween costume. To be honest, I'm not even sure if she really wanted to be a butterfly, but she likes to flap her "wings" when wearing a hooded towel after bath time, so it seemed like as good an idea as any.

Looking back, the project was doomed from the start. On Monday, I had a mere 15 minutes to shop on Fabric Row and grab all of the blue and green polyester sparkle and sequins I could get my hands on. I then set to work, late at night, long after dark, with no plan, no idea, and most importantly, no base fabric to both hold the terrible stretchy sparkly mess, and give me (and my dear machine) a break. Note to Self: The ability to sew garments for myself out of natural fibers does not a successful last-minute polyester & sequins Halloween costume make. Needless to say, I was one of the (surprisingly many) sad souls wandering through the nearly-empty Halloween aisle of Target last night desperately grasping for something toddler-appropriate that looked vaguely like a butterfly. Jury is still out on whether or not Charlie will wear what I bought. (I'm sure if you check instagram, you'll find out!) 

What I should have done, instead of failing at a costume, was start early, plan ahead, and knit Charlie the adorable My Fair Maiden tunic by Meg Roke out of Canopy Fingering.

The perfect balance of simple & cute, the My Fair Maiden tunic is a nod to Fairy Tales without being too over the top (way more than I can say for those store-bought costumes. Shudder.)

Pattern Specifications:
• To Fit: 2 (4, 6 , 8, 10) years.
• Yarn: Canopy Fingering: 2 (3, 3, 3, 4) skeins in Crocus (MC), 1 skein in Purple Passion (CC).
• Needles: US 2 (3.25 mm) straight or circular needles + US 4 (3.25 mm) straight or circular needles.
• Gauge: Tunic: 28 stitches and 38 rows = 4” (10 cm) in stockinette stitch pattern using size US 2 needles. Ribbon: 24 stitches and 32 rows = 4” (10 cm) in stockinette stitch pattern using size US 4 needles.

Thankfully, if I get started now, I'm pretty sure the size 4 will fit Charlie perfectly next year. Wonderful work, Meg!

For more information, and to purchase the pattern, check out the Ravelry page here, or Meg's website here.  - KGO

(All images © Meg Roke)

From Mama, With Love: Individual Patterns available now!

Back in May, we announced a collaboration between myself, and 4 other amazing designers, From Mama With Love. Now that the collection has been out for 6 months (where does the time go?), I'm delighted to share that my three designs in the collection, the Isadora Lopapeysa, Petunia's Blanket, and Bluebell Pullover are now available via the KW website & Ravelry for individual PDF download. 

For more information on the collection, you can see the original post here. Enjoy! - KGO

Knightsbridge Collection Feature / Teegan: When our friends make our stuff

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 feature Kelbourne Woolens co-owner Courtney Kelley discussing her design, Teegan, and her design anxiety, with Jaime Jennings of Fancy Tiger Crafts

CK: One day I came to work and Kate said, oh-so-nonchalantly, "Oh! Jaime is knitting your Teegan." I must admit, I died inside a little. Oh, man, what if the pattern is totally horrid? What if it's full of errors, and fits wrong and one sleeve ends up in the wrong place and it's like that shirt Denise made for Theo on that episode of the Cosby Show?! And then Jaime will call me and I'll have to apologize and reknit the sweater for her. But, NO! It did not, thankfully, go that way at all. 

I believe the words, "It's like clouds parted and sun shone down on me," were uttered. Hallelujah. You can read Jaime's post on her Teegan sweater here

So, now that I can breath a deep sigh of relief that I'm not a total disaster (which you now all know is my secret-not-so-secret inner fear), I started thinking about what it means to be a knitter when being a knitter is your job, or at least a piece of your job. And what it means to create things for others, and how to balance that with creating for yourself. I asked Jaime if I could ask her about how she balances the desire to make for herself, and make for her shop. Our conversation is below. Enjoy!

CAK: Owning a yarn store, and being surrounded by so much amazing yarn and other crafting distractions, must be kind of awesome, but I imagine also sort of difficult. How do you decide what to make? Is the timing important to you, or do you just make what strikes your fancy?

JJ: It can be difficult. The best way I've found to manage the constant temptation surrounding me is that I am a monogamous knitter - only one project on the needles at any given time. This helps me from starting too many things that I can't finish. I don't want to be taking a lot of inventory if it isn't going to turn around fast into a sample. Timing is important. Amber [co-owner of Fancy Tiger Crafts] and I think long and hard about the products we carry and yarns we bring in and we like to have a sample made from all of them. I try to focus on new yarns and I love making sweaters so I usually will knit a sweater out of a new yarn. I try to get companies to get us new yarns before they come out so that we can have samples made and ready to blog around the time we are getting the yarn in to promote the new products. My last two sweaters were this way (Teegan and Breakwater) We have sample knitters that knit some samples for us and we also have a staff program that encourages staff to make samples as well. Amber and I usually have ideas of what we want to make out of a new yarn as we are ordering it for the shop so I often have a list of future projects that I know I will be knitting (and I am excited about!)

CAK: Do you find that customers "jump on the bandwagon" of whatever you and Amber make? Does that influence your choice of projects?

JJ: Absolutely. We tend to sell a lot of whatever pattern/fabric/yarn we use. We always blog about our projects so people can get the details of them. We actually wear all the things that we make. When I am working at the shop it is so easy for me to sell whatever yarn/fabric/pattern I happen to be wearing that day. I think wearing items sells them way better than just having them displayed on a mannequin or hanger. We don't let this dictate what we make too much, though- we usually just make what we want to wear or are excited about working with and then make sure we have a lot of that on hand to sell.

CAK: I know you said you totally loved the sweater, which is amazing! It's pretty rad when your friends like what you do. I have to admit, this sweater was not my favorite to write, I don't often knit top down raglans, so it was sort of a personal challenge. How was the pattern? (This is me being paranoid that I can't write a decent pattern to save my life, which I know isn't exactly true. See above).

JJ: That's ridiculous! I thought the pattern was well written. I am pretty adept at this style of sweater so it seemed totally straight forward to me. I had one disaster where I started the sweater and brought it with me to California for a week and then while on a plane I started the clove stitch pattern. Those k3tog are challenging on a regular addi and it was like 4 days of knitting before I was able to get to a LYS and get a lace needle. Totally recommend a lace tip for that. That doesn't have anything to do with the pattern or question, though, the pattern is great!

CAK: Did you make any modifications to the pattern? (I can't ever knit the same thing twice the same way...or the first thing, for that matter.) 

JJ: No modifications - it was perfect :)

Thanks, Jaime, for letting me interview you on your experience with the Knightsbridge Collection! 

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


Knitter Projects: Carly

Although the temperatures are cooling here in the northern hemisphere, south of the equator summer is on the way! Australian knitter Fiona has knit a lovely summer pullover using the Carly pattern by Justyna Lorkowska with Savannah in Seafoam and Natural.

Carly Pullover in Savannah from the Fibre Company
Carly sweater in Fibre Company Savannah

This looks like such a great sweater for warmer days, and the color combo is dynamite. Great job, Fiona!

All images © Pandamum, used with permission.

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! 

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!
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

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.