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.