Archives for posts with tag: knitwear design

I hadn’t purchased novelty yarns since the felted purse craze, when I incorporated a lot of it into my designs. But, the new metallic ruffled yarns have been catching my eye! As I look ahead to next year’s fundraisers, I’m thinking about knitted purses. I’m looking for an updated style, and ruffled yarns may be just the right material to create a fun evening bag.

The ruffled yarn by itself does not have enough body for a purse, so I decided I would knit it with a chenille yarn. At my local craft store, I found a great ruffled yarn: Premier Yarns “Starbella flash” in the Marble colorway. They also had the right shade of chenille: Patons “Bohemian” in Casual Cream. (I didn’t think of taking a photo of the yarns before I got started, hence just the small ball of the remaining chenille!)

Yarns used for the purse

For my design, I chose to start with a basic Japanese Knot Bag. I like the simplicity of the knot bag style, with its built-in handles that draw through each other to close the purse safely. No snaps, buttons, or zippers needed. Here’s a photo of one that I recently purchased:

Purchased Knot Bag

After doing my gauge swatch and experimenting with the ruffled yarn, I wrote down some notes and started knitting. It was a quick project, and I’m happy with my finished purse!

My knitted Knot Bag

My knitted knot bag, closed over my wrist

I published the instructions as a free download on my pattern page.

If I were to make some of these to sell at a fundraiser, how much should I sell them for? Please leave a reply below. Thank you!



Tangible Twists Infinity WrapI have some exciting news to share with you. The first is that I created a pattern for the Italian-inspired infinity wrap I wrote about a few weeks ago. I’ve named it “Tangible Twists.” The second is that, unlike my other patterns which are free downloads, I’ve decided to sell this one. Why? Well, from now through the end of 2012, I will donate 100% of my proceeds to the Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

As some of you may know, I grew up on the coast of Rhode Island, and I have family that still lives there. While their homes survived with little damage, my mom’s store was severely impacted. The photos of the devastation are so hard to see. That corner of the world holds such a special place in my heart.

After the earthquake in Haiti, I remember hearing about knitting pattern designers who were donating their proceeds to the relief effort. I was so impressed, but I couldn’t join in because I had never designed anything. Now all of that has changed. I have 12 free knitting patterns! And, I’ve tackled my most difficult pattern designing effort with Tangible Twists. It’s time to enter a new phase of thinking differently about knitting for charity, by raising money with pattern sales.

I don’t know how much I will be able to raise, but I am confident that any amount will help.  Please spread the word!

The pattern can be purchased from my store on Ravelry.


Tangible Twists Infinity Wrap

Fashion sketch of the twisted collar pieceSomething caught my eye on Pinterest last week…a beautiful chunky knit collar-skirt by Masnada. It has two wide ribbed strips that are twisted and attached to a collar (or waist band, if you were to wear it as a skirt). How striking! After obsessing about this piece for a few days and sketching it out, I decided I had to try to make it.

First, I needed some bulky yarn. Just like a seamstress uses inexpensive muslin fabric to create prototype designs, I wanted to use a cost-effective bulky yarn to initially design this piece. I headed to my local discount craft store and found Debbie Norville Serenity Chunky on sale for less than $3 per skein of 109 yards. Perfect!

Next, I started knitting the strips. Using US size 11 needles, I cast on 15 stitches and worked in 1×1 ribbing for 44″. After knitting a second strip to match, I laid the two strips on the floor to arrange the twists, pinned the twists together, joined the twisted piece into a circle, and used a three needle bind-off to join the edges together.

Knitted strips twisted around each other

The challenging part was to figure out the design of the collar. Should I make it as a separate piece and sew the twisted strips to it? Or, could I pick up the edges of the twisted strips and knit up from there? Because I strive to minimize sewing in my patterns, I decided to try to pick up the stitches.

My first attempt, however, was a disaster. I picked up some stitches along the “hills” of the twists, and cast on some over the “valleys”. After knitting for a couple of inches, I tried it on. It was awful; the cast on edges curled and looked sloppy. It was so bad I didn’t even take a photo.

I quickly ripped out those inches and started again, this time picking up stitches along both the hills and valleys. Much better! Here’s a photo showing my “take 2” after I had knitted the collar for a few inches:

Collar being knit

Last night, I finished knitting it, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

Finished Wrap

I’m thinking about turning my notes into a pattern. Would you be interested?



Update, Nov 12 2012: After publishing this post, I released a pattern for this wrap. You can find it here.

It is well understood in the design community that “to fail quickly” is a good thing. You need to know when it is time to stop designing and get feedback. The sooner the better, before you are too far invested in the design, in person hours, cost of materials, and mental energy. You also need to know when it is time to throw out a design idea because it is not working.

I bet you know where I am headed in today’s blog post. Yup, I am going to check my ego at the door and write about some of my “dogs”…knitting designs that really didn’t work. And I will proudly share what I learned from each one.

Time to turn over a new leaf: Or throw it away? Recently, I experimented with knitting wire leaves for a necklace. I made three leaves and threaded them on a wire choker. The look was a bit boring, so I added pearls to the tips of each leaf.

Photo of wire leaves necklace

When I showed it to my 16-year old, she said it looked like a jester’s collar. While it hurt to hear that, she was right. To address her feedback, I took off the beads from the leaf tips and threaded them on to the “seam” between each leaf. Unfortunately, now the necklace looked just random. I could only imagine what Tim Gunn might say…and it wasn’t going to be “make it work.”  I had been planning to proudly wear this necklace, to publish the pattern, and to hopefully see others make them. But, it was time to hit the reset button, put the prototype aside, and make a promise to sketch my designs first before starting to knit. If I had only sketched my leaf concept, I could have spotted the problems before spending time and materials to knit it.

Not-so-pretty in pink: As I was thinking about what eventually would become the Golden Waves Necklace, I knew I wanted to create a three dimensional pendant. I had some pink metallic yarn in my stash, which I thought would be perfect. I started knitting, keeping careful notes about how many stitches I cast on, what size needles I used, and the dimensions of the knitted rectangle I created.

Photo of the pink metallic rectangle

After casting off, I tried to mold the rectangle into a 3D shape, but it was too floppy. The metallic yarn clearly did not have the qualities of wire, which would have retained the shape I twisted it into. How disappointing! As I tugged at it, I wondered if I could use spray starch or a spray-on glue to keep it twisted. No! If I had let myself go down that path, I would have had a rigid piece of knitting most likely marred with dried drops of glue or starch. Instead, I stopped working on it, went online, and ordered some 38 gauge wire. After all, if I wanted the qualities of knitted wire, I needed to use wire. And, once it arrived, I used it to successfully create the necklace I had imagined.

While there are many more mistakes that I could share with you, I’ll leave it at just those two examples. I hope you will join me in taking the pledge to fail quickly. Celebrate constructive feedback and those times when you need to hit the reset button on a prototype. Draw energy from the experiences. Take a deep breath and then carry on!