Tuesday, April 5, 2011

She sells seashells...

In January, my good friend, Sima, and I attended Vogue Knitting Live. It was an awesome experience. We each took six classes (a full schedule) Friday through Sunday. I only had one dud class. The rest were excellent -- teachers and curricula both. VKL also had a very dangerous marketplace and while were there, Sima, ran into two women she knew, Lori and Susan. Last summer, Sima had done a beautiful scarf design for their brand new yarn company, Stitchuary. We had a drink, talked about their company -- check it out here -- and discussed designing. They generously offered me the chance to do two designs for them. There was only one catch. I could only use one skein of yarn. When I got home, I used the first skein to employ some of the new skills I learned at VKL and whipped out a pretty little scarflette which was published last month, Riva del Mare, whcih means seashore in Italian. What made this interesting to design was that even though it's knit from the top down, I charted the bottom lace first, and then "unvented" how it would flow from there. In other words, designed from the bottom up, knit from the top down. I named it seashore because the pattern kind of "dissipates" just like waves as it flows down to the bottom edge. I'd love to do this in a larger size. The second pattern was a hat. It hasn't been released, so I can't show you yet, but as soon as it's released, I will write about that one as well. You can purchase both the yarn and the pattern by visiting the pattern page at Stitchuary.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


...has it really been that long? Okay, so the holidays got away from me, but what's my excuse for last 6 weeks? I've been busy -- designing, knitting, shoveling, attending Vogue Knitting Live, shoveling, sketching, writing, shoveling, submitting....

This is one of the sweaters with which I've been busy -- Strathmore -- a design for Knit Picks.

Here are the specs:

Finished bust size
31 (34, 37, 40, 43, 46, 49, 52)"

810(910, 985, 1100, 1170, 1265, 1375, 1470) yds DK weight yarn.

Suggested yarn: Knit Picks "Gloss DK," 70% merino wool, 30% silk, 123 yds/50 g, color Gulfstream 24993

US 5 (3.75 mm) circular needles, 24" and 16" long
Set of US 5 (3.75 mm) double-pointed needles
US 3 (3.25 mm) circular needles, 24" long
Set of US 3 (3.25 mm) double-pointed needles
Size D (3 mm) crochet hook

20 sts and 31 rows over 4" in stockinette stitch with US 5 (3.75mm) needles

4 stitch holders (or waste yarn)
stitch markers in 3 different colors

You can buy it at Knit Picks or here on Ravelry.

I really have to say that Knit Picks were a fantastic group to work with. Please support them, as they treat designers and their work with respect. They were generous with their yarn, incredibly patient when I couldn't get a "spring-ish" picture (because of all the snow out there -- I finally gave up) and answered lots and lots of questions. In particular, I want to thank Stacey, who walked me through the process.

Thank you especially to Dana, Elly, Louise, Rose and Susan from the FPT group on Ravelry for test knitting this. They were so talented, efficient and generous with their time, skill, insight and comments. Thanks to Jaya for tech editing. She's amazingly thorough and patient.

In other news, I have two other patterns coming out shortly -- one skein projects for a new yarn company -- which I'll be writing about soon. Of course, I also want to write about VK Live -- awesome. Hopefully there will be less shoveling and more writing, both patterns and blog posts.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Knit Simple Winter 2010/11

Meet the "coatigan." It's a piece I designed for Knit Simple's Winter issue which will be on newstands in a few weeks. Rose Callahan took the beautiful photos for this issue. Carla Scott, editor-in-chief, has put together an amazing issue, These are pieces I'd love to knit, if only I had the time!

The sweater coat is something I love to wear. This particular piece has a really simple elegance, while being fun -- to knit and to wear. I especially like the bold ribbing and the easy-to knit i-cord closures. It's knit in one piece from the top down, seamlessly, with raglan sleeves.

This is the first time I've done a top down piece and I had an interesting time doing it. I had to make my brain think "upside down." I guess it's kind of like learning to use your other hand to write. It is a completely new way of thinking about a piece. Usually, when I design bottom-up in pieces, crossback numbers are subtracted from bust numbers, and those numbers become the decreases, evenly divided between the two edges of the front or back. When designing top-down, in the round, the crossback and bust numbers are still critical, but you're adding in the upper arm measurements and increasing in multiples of 8, for each side of the front and back "seams" of the raglan sleeves, and in multiples of 4, for each side of the side "seams." Multiples of 8 and 4, of course are another "something" to think about. The things I absolutely LOVED about this way of knitting and designing is that I could try it on as I knit, and that when I was finished knitting, there were NO SEAMS.
(My submission sketch)

Am I a convert to top-down knitting? Not yet, but I wouldn't say never. Seamless knitting? You bet. In fact, I'm designing another two somethings seamlessly, bottom-up; one with set-in sleeves and the other a yoke sweater -- both to come out sometime in mid- to late January.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

At last…

The pattern I wrote about last month, Jamberry, is finally being published today. It was a long time coming, since I began writing this pattern back in September and it is a small piece of knitting as knitting goes.

jamberry Pro8

My inspiration for this was some yarn I purchased in the city in August. It’s Trensetter’s Vigna. I admired it at Gotta Knit and had to have it, although I had already spent more than enough at another yarn shop earlier in the day. When the owner asked what I was making with it, I said without thinking, “a little girl’s dress.” I don’t know what made me say it, since my “little girl” is now 17, but I believe in fate, so it had to be. The pattern is named after one of my children’s favorite books (when they were littler, of course) by Bruce Degen.

I’ve always admired Debbie Bliss children’s patterns because they’re so roomy. I wanted to make this dress comfortable for the wearer because I remember fussiness in clothes and small children rarely go together. I also wanted to make it pretty without being “overdone.” The dress has lace at the hem, bodice band and sleeves. Other than that, it’s all stockinette. It’s a quick knit, so why the delay?Jamberry Pro2

The dress is knit from the bottom up, in the round to the armholes – easy. The sleeves are just lace rectangles with no shaping – easy. The tricky part for me was working out the calculations for an odd number of stitches to be split (twice) after the bodice band and for dividing the back bodice to be split for the button opening. (In addition, I was in the middle of changing my full-time job and working out the logistics of that, too. It’s been worked out satisfactorily now, but was touch and go for awhile.)

The delay also comes because this is the first time I’ve used a tech editor AND test knitters. I’ve been reading a lot on Ravelry these days about tech editors, but didn’t think I could afford one. Now I don’t think I can afford NOT to have one. Jaya, who was wonderful, did the tech editing for me, and looking at her spreadsheets, got me to bite the bullet and sit down to use Excel myself for my patterns. She was well-worth her fee. I also used a fantastic group of test knitters from Ravelry – Amy, Beverly, Carina, Courtney, Heather, and Rose. They were enormously helpful and caught mistakes that I didn’t, as well as kindly letting me use some of their beautiful pictures. Some designers say they use either a tech editor or test knitters. I think both for me.

Thjamberry Pro9is comes to the final reason Jamberry was delayed…no 2-year-old to model the dress. All of my friends have children around my daughter’s age. I don’t have grandchildren and the one 2-year-old girl in my extended family is extremely tall for her age. Enter my good friend, Sima, who happened not only to have a two-year-old in her neighborhood, but an extremely talented photographer, Lauren, living nearby as well. (Check out Lauren’s website.) Meet the beautiful and talented Samantha K. Isn’t she gorgeous? She did an awesome job and don’t you love the pink, Dorothy-esque shoes? Big thanks to her mom, Karen, for allowing her to do this.

Jamberry Pro5

The pattern is available through Ravelry. Specs below:

Finished sizes

To fit baby/child’s sizes 12 months (18 months, 2, 4, 6).

Finished measurements:

  • chest: 22¾ (22¾, 24½, 26, 28¼)”
  • length: 16½ (18, 19¾, 21¾ , 24)”


5 (5, 7, 8, 9) balls Trendsetter Yarns “Vigna” color 540 (Grape Jelly) – 95 yds/50 g or 442 (468, 615, 725, 860) yards worsted weight yarn


  • Size 7 (4.5 mm) circular needle, 16” long (for sizes 12 mo., 18 mo. and 2) or 24” long (all other sizes)
  • Size 9 (5.5 mm) circular needle, 16” long (for sizes 12 mo., 18 mo. and 2) or 24” long (all other sizes)
  • Size I (5.5 mm) crochet hook


  • stitch holders or waste yarn
  • stitch markers
  • tapestry needle
  • one ½“ button


  • 19 sts and 27 rows = 4”/10 cm over stockinette stitch with size 9 (5.5 mm) needles
  • 20 sts and 27 rows = 4”/10 cm over branching lace with size 7 (4.5 mm) needles

Skills needed: working in the round, increasing and decreasing.

(All photos in this post © Lauren Shay Lavin 2010)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spectacle Lake

Just a quick post on a tiny new design -- the Spectacle Lake Mitts.

The mitts are named after one of my very favorite places, a short walk from my home. Although it's surrounded by private homes, there is a quiet bridge from which to observe its beauty, especially during autumn.

This yarn Prism's Merino Mia warranted something beautiful and elegant. The color, Moss, is the loveliest gold-ish green. Just let me say, I love mitts in general, not only for how quickly they work up, but also because at this time of year, I am always cold, particularly hands and feet. I love having something soft and lovely wrapped around my hands.

Thanks to Joe for the photography and to Sima for the yarn enabling on our last trip to String.
Update on Jamberry: Just waiting for final modeled pictures before this pattern goes live as well.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Party Dress

Today I feel lighter -- not physically, mentally. There have been many new things happening in my life which I will share when I can sort it all out in my head, but until then, the new thing that I can share is this ~ Jamberry. It's a little girl's dress, designed in sizes from 12 months to 6 years.

This time around I am going to see about having it tech edited as well as test knit. I'd like to streamline the process once I get the ball rolling on coming out with more self-published patterns.

There was something about this yarn, Vigna by Trendsetter Yarns. When I saw it at Gotta Knit this August, I immediately envisioned the dress. Even though I don't have a little girl who could wear it, I had to make it. I'm hoping to have it ready for publication by the end of the month, just in time for the winter party season.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Exotic Wood and Chinaberry, a New Pattern

When I was a girl, my dad worked as a machinist in a lumberyard in the Bronx. He used to come home smelling of sawdust. I loved that smell -- maybe it was dad, maybe it was the wood.

Every once in a while he would bring home a special bag. Inside would be small blocks of the exotic hardwoods that the lumberyard handled. There would be babinga, ebony, mahogany and teak. There were so many, I could never keep track, but it was a great lesson in geography because he used to tell us where each tree grew, and we would find it in the atlas. I don't think he ever brought home any wood from the Chinaberry tree, but it sounds exotic enough that he would have. It grows in China (of course), as well as Australia and India. The tree yields small purple or yellow flowers that look like bells. These bells remind me of the lace on my newest pattern, Chinaberry.

This pattern took some time to develop. I wanted to take the leap into self-publishing and I had some ideas, sketched out. I decided on one. Chinaberry started out as this sketch:
As you can see, it was originally meant to be sleeveless, and it still may have an incarnation as that, but for this piece I wanted sleeves. After the pattern was written and the prototype was knit (see post from July 25th), I had some lovely women test knit the pattern. A huge thank you to Deb (jstdt3t), Liz (oddlizard), Rose (rosejulia1), Connie (faeriesandpixies), Louise (louiseclsc171260) and Elly (iknitcupcakes) for the many, many hours they took to not only knit the pattern, but find my errors and keep me grounded in reality. Without their support and encouragement, I'm not sure I'd ever have had the courage to self-publish.

Then, of course, came the pattern layout. I'd been working on parts of the design layout all summer. I knew what I wanted my patterns to look like, but it took me the better part of this month to tweak it down to what I envisioned.

Yesterday, my husband and I took a ride to the beach on the Long Island Sound near where we live for the photoshoot with out new camera. The day was fantastic for late September -- 80's and sunny (and just a little bit sad because you know you won't be getting many more like it). I love the light in the autumn. Although my hair leaves much to be desired (appointment next week, Nicole, are you listening?), I think the pictures were wonderful. So, thanks Joe for being so supportive.

Chinaberry is an elegant, easy-to-wear, three-season lace pullover in five sizes (S, M, L, 1X, 2X). It features set-in sleeves, high jewel neck and center front placket. Simple lace adorns the yoke, cuffs and bottom band. All pieces are knit flat, bottom up and seamed. The pattern is written in table format for ease in following directions.

It's available to download now through Ravelry.