knitting designer

From Japan with love: Hanami

Hanami is the second pattern in the “From Japan With Love” pattern bundle. Additional patterns in this bundle will be released throughout the year.

The design:

I've you've been following me for a while, you probably know that I have a special fondness for swingy garments for little girls. While the yoke and sleeves are designed to be relatively fitted, the skirt portion of Hanami flares out rather dramatically for a good dose of whimsy. Let's just say that this particular dress is sure to be a hit with twirly dress enthusiasts ;) As always, it's also a practical, comfortable garment that looks really special with its neat finishing touches.

The stitch pattern featured in the front yoke produces a rich and visually striking texture that is reminiscent of blossoms or snowflakes (I actually think Hanami would make a fantastic winter dress! It would be stunning in white, red or speckled yarn). The wide skirt is intended to have a gauzy feel and float about in the breeze.

The inspiration:

As I explained in the blog post I wrote about Sagano, another Japan-inspired design, my recent trip to Japan brought back so many memories and emotions.

One of the most special experiences that I had there as a teenager was to take part in Hanami, a traditional Japanese custom that involves sitting under cherry-blossom-covered trees in the Spring, and watching the exquisite, fragile blossoms fluttering away. There's something bittersweet, almost poignant about it, and it's in my view very reminiscent of those beautiful, fleeting moments of childhood. I tried to capture this mixture of excitement and nostalgia with this design, imagining little girls twirling about in the sun, in an exuberant explosion of joy and life.

This wonderful photograph was captured by one of my test-knitters,  Raveler Flerpy . She knit the "top" version and I think it's just delightful. (photo used with permission)

This wonderful photograph was captured by one of my test-knitters, Raveler Flerpy. She knit the "top" version and I think it's just delightful. (photo used with permission)

About the yarn:

I used Leizu fingering by Julie Asselin for the sample, which is a merino blend containing a small amount of silk, creating a lovely stitch definition and subtle sheen. The soft pink colorway is called Romance and I find it perfectly evocative of delicate cherry blossoms. 

While this design calls for a fingering weight yarn (by the way, a "sock yarn" should work great and be durable, too!), I would steer clear of "light fingerings," which might produce a fabric that is a bit too loose. Actually, the gauge would allow you to get away with using a slightly thicker yarn, such as a sport, but in that case, the garment wouldn't be as breezy/floaty, it would end up being a bit "denser", so, warmer and more structured. Just a matter of personal preference ;)

From Japan, with love: Sagano

My latest release, Sagano, is the first of a series of Japan-inspired designs, which will be released throughout the year. It's a truly unisex, everyday sweater that looks great on babies and bigger kids alike. I've added a size to my usual range for this one, with sizes going from 3mo to 10yo.

Sagano sweater by Frogginette Knitting Patterns

The design:

The fit is comfy, slightly roomy, which is also a bit of a departure from the close-fitting silhouettes I usually favor. The pattern is worked top-down, seamlessly, and some short rows can be worked after the yoke increased are done, to raise the back neck and ensure a nicer fit. In the pattern, I suggest using German short rows with a variation on how to work the last double stitch when resuming work in the round. The unique textured bands that run down the shoulders and sleeves are very intuitive to work, although a chart and written instructions are provided.

My inspiration:

A so-called "third-culture kid," I lived in several different countries as a child, and Japan was one of them. I lived in Tokyo for a couple of years as a teenager and hadn't been back since I was 16 years old, so it was quite emotional to be back when my husband and I took a trip there last Fall. It was a great opportunity for me to rediscover not only my favorite hang outs (well, the ones that still exist... The house we lived in and my old school have both long been torn down) but also to explore places that I had always dreamed of seeing.

One of these was the Sagano bamboo forest:

Sagano Bamboo Forest

I had not expected my trip to Japan to yield so much design inspiration but it was truly magical. I had to quickly start sketching as every thing I saw evoked a texture, a silhouette, an emotion.

The Sagano sweater was the first design that I sketched in my notebook. My husband and I had just visited the beautiful Sagano Bamboo Forest near Kyoto. We were walking through a quiet residential area, with the feeling of awe still lingering after exiting the forest, when my eye was caught by this humble but beautiful woven fence:

Sagano woven fence

I loved how the strong horizontal lines of the large bamboo stalks helped bring out the woven texture, so I decided to translate that idea and came up with this variation on an existing stitch pattern that I had seen floating around on Pinterest, which I bordered with twisted stitch columns. I had to experiment quite a bit with it until it was just so, but I am SO happy with the result. It turned out exactly the way I wanted:

Sagano sweater texture

I used Leizu DK by Julie Asselin for the sample, which is a merino blend containing a small amount of silk, and the stitch definition really brings out the texture, and this gorgeous nuanced grey captured the moody vibe of the forest.

I hope you love this design as much as I do! You can purchase it here.

Round up of beautiful projects for babies and kids: Hyphen cardigan

When I released my Hyphen knitting pattern 9 months ago, I had no idea that it would quickly become one of my best-sellers. Many knitters have since then made adorable versions of this quick and practical cardigan for lucky babies and children.

I think there's something about the design that really allows knitters to make it their own. The textured yoke can be either a subtle, sophisticated touch that elevates a simple cardigan, or it can really make a statement. The whole cardigan can also serve as a great canvas for some serious creativity. These projects are a few of my favorites, made by very talented knitters (photos used with permission):

By the way, did you know that there is now a grown-up version now as well? It's called Em Dash, which, in case you are wondering, is a large hyphen... Get it? ;)

Did you make a Hyphen? What is your favorite thing about it? If you have a blog, please give us the link to your project so everybody can see!

 

 

 

Designer Interview: Littletheorem

I often get blank stares when I tell people what I do. I don't think many people understand what being a knitwear designer means (or that there is such a thing!), and I'd wager that most people definitely don't understand the skill set that is required in order to be a successful one. Let's remedy this!  Over the next few weeks, I will present mini interviews with a few fellow knitwear designers in order to shed some light on this odd occupation :) To kick things off, here is a Q&A session with Dot of LittleTheorem Knits (littletheorem on Ravelry), the designer behind this lovely cardigan:

  • Tell us a bit about yourself…

I’m a 29 year old Maths teacher living and working in Glasgow in Scotland. I love living in the city but I’m a country kid at heart and love nature. Every inch of my balcony is used for growing vegetables! I love the outdoors and spend a lot of my time climbing mountains in the Scottish Highlands, and have a particular interest in Alpine plants. I’m a qualified Mountain Leader and take kids out camping and hiking as part of our school’s Duke of Edinburgh scheme- this absolutely has to be one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I have a real difficulty with sitting still and not being busy so knitting is the perfect hobby for my spare time. I need something to keep me occupied!

  • How and why did you become a knitting designer?

I started knitting when I was doing my PhD as a bit of stress relief, research in Maths can be a pretty frantic and it was good to have something calming and meditative in my life. I’m very fussy and don’t think I’ve ever actually followed a pattern exactly as it was written, I like to tweak little details. This soon lead to me making up my own designs. I think my background in geometry really helped, as I could easily picture how shapes could come together to make a garment, and there’s a lot of Maths in pattern design. It was a very natural path for me to follow!

  • Can you describe your design style?

I like simple, unfussy garments with a bit of a twist to them. I love classic, fitted sweaters with a little detailing to make them special, like a little bit of lace or texture. Nothing over the top though, I’m not into super-girly things really. I try to make understated knits that are a bit luxurious, I love knitting with exotic fibres like baby camel or cashmere. I do a lot of spinning as well, so a lot of my patterns are designed with handspun yarn in mind.

  • What is the most rewarding thing about being a knitting designer? What is the most frustrating part? What have you discovered along the way?

Having a vision in your head of a garment you’d love to wear and making it a reality. And being really, really warm in the Winter! The most frustrating thing for me is having so many ideas and not enough time to knit them all. I must literally have dozens of unfinished objects in my flat. Coming from a Maths background and having done a bit of programming in my time, I think I initially wrote knitting patterns more like computer programmes. I think one of the main things I’ve learned is that people aren’t knitting machines! I’d like to think that my patterns are much more “user friendly” now.

  • Which one of your designs are you the most proud of and why?

I really love my Asphodel Shawl as a design. I love the way that the different bands of lace fit together.

I think the knitted item that I’ve worn most though is my Moseley Cardigan, it goes with absolutely everything and is super flattering.

  • What is on your needles now?

So many things! I have two sweaters with lace detailing on the go, one in dk and one in fingering weight yarn; multiple lace shawls and scarves that may or may not ever get finished; and of course some Christmas presents! I have a few quick fair isle items that will be under the tree in a month or so.

  • Who’s your favorite designer?

I think we’re really lucky as knitwear designers to live in an age where we can access so many other patterns for inspiration, Ravelry is just an amazing resource for anyone interested in pattern design. I think as a community we learn a lot from each other and everyone benefits from that. If I had to pick one absolute favourite though, it would be Isabell Kraemer. Her sweaters are so stylish and pretty without being too girly.

  • What can we expect to see from you design-wise in 2015?

The two sweaters that are currently on the needles should hopefully turn into patterns early in 2015.I have a pattern for a little cropped cardigan and for a cabled mens sweater that will be getting test knitted in the near future too. I’m going through a big fair-isle kick at the moment so there will most likely be a few colourwork pieces appearing before too long as well. Busy busy!

Thank you so very much for these thoughtful answers Dot! Can't wait to see what you come up with next. Best of luck to you!

Follow littletheorem's adventures on her blog, on Twitter or on Facebook. And be sure to check out her Ravelry or her Etsy store.