A modeling career begins

Look who I found grinning at me when I opened the October KnitPicks catalog:

The cute little guy in yellow is my son, Liam, modeling a sweater that I designed for KnitPicks’ Independent Designer Program. I was thrilled to see that they featured the design in the catalog.

I still need to write to you all about Fiber College, an absolutely gorgeous event in Maine that I attended two weekends ago. Soon, my sweets, soon. Meanwhile, a girl’s gotta grade.

Finally, I can show you one!

After much (by necessity) secretive knitting, I can finally show you a completed design. A few days ago, KnitPicks posted my pattern –called Dawson — for a men’s shawl-collared pullover knit from their new merino-cashmere blend.

There’s my dear boy modeling it on a typical, blistering summer day here in Austin. Impressive how he’s not even breaking a sweat, isn’t it? I had to arrange the shots carefully so as not to show in the background the 20-somethings in bathing suits diving off their boats into the river and the 30- and 40-somethings on shore who were dripping sweat into their iced coffees.

I’m really proud of this design, mainly because I calculated all the measurements completely from scratch. That is, I took the standard measurements for men of different sizes and calculated how that would translate into directions for each size. This was a bit of a nightmare when it came to the set-in sleeves because the shaping on that kind of sleeve is complex.

I’m also really happy with how well the stitch pattern married up with the yarn. Capra, the yarn used in this design, develops a slight halo after being knit and worn, so you need a stitch pattern with some sharpness to it. But then, most sharply defined stitch patterns are either ribs or cables — totally expected for a men’s sweater, yawn — or a bit too femme. After much swatching with different stitches, this simple combination of knits and purls fit the bill.

I loved working with this yarn. It provides rather affordable access to cashmere. While $90 for a size small might seem like a lot, it is a cashmere blend, and that is a men’s small we’re talking about.

I’d be grateful for any feedback you are willing to offer.  Also, let me know what patterns for boys and men you wish were available. I’m in the market for new ideas to pursue!

A honey of a sweater

I’m so excited! This Thursday, my latest knitwear design — the sweater you see above — will be posted onto the KnitPicks web site. KnitPicks, one of the major U.S. yarn companies, has a new Independent Designer Program through which independent designers can sell patterns that are made in the company’s yarns.

I approached them with this idea and they liked it. Earlier this week, the completed pattern was officially approved. This is exciting for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that KnitPicks gets hundreds of thousands of hits. For a novice designer like me, this kind of exposure is invaluable.

KnitPicks also lets designers sell their patterns elsewhere simultaneously, so I’ve already posted the pattern to Ravelry. In the six hours since I posted the pattern, it has already received more love than either of the first two patterns that I posted. I feel like I’ve finally hit it this time.

The design is just what I usually shoot for — something that looks more complicated than it is. The honeycomb stitch pattern is actually just a simple combination of knit, purl, and slipped stitches. The sweater is also worked together in one piece so that little sewing is required at the end.

I’ve named it Langstroth after the man who developed some of the modern techniques used in beekeeping. Get it? Honeycomb? Beekeeping? Yuk yuk yuk.