Monday, April 17, 2006

A Trip Inside the Mind of a Knitwear Designer

My latest knitting adventure is the HIP DENIM BLUE SHRUG. I knit this on size 11 needles and I must say that this shrug is a wonder to wear -- lightweight, gorgeous, and knit in a lace mesh stitch that makes it perfect to wear year-round. This is a really sexy garment!

Here's what I was aiming towards when I designed this:

* Style - It's got it! Great over a dress, jeans and tank top, or a sweater. No edge finish because it doesn't need it. No sleeve gatherings because they would be lumpy in such a thick yarn. Mid-arm length so the wide sleeve ends don't dip in your pasta sauce when you dine al fresco.

* For Travel - Packs into a small square that fits in an overnight case or carry-on bag. Also weighs less than a pound.

* Color - A fabulous blue that will go with all your jeans and most other clothes.

* How to Wear - Just slip your arms through the ends and go. Doesn't mess up your hair like a poncho. Doesn't fall on the floor like a shawl.

* Warmth - Will keep you warm but not too hot. A must for all vacations.

I knit this from the softest, cushiest yarn I have ever used. It's 50% Merino wool and 50% Microfiber and feels like a cross between chenille and suede. I placed the shrug on my website for sale.

Several people have written to ask me to make this shrug into a kit, so I am working on the pattern booklet now, and will be ordering more yarn. It takes a couple of days to make my pattern booklets because I not only include color photos of the garment, but also step-by-step instructions without abbreviations.

A digression: I know knitting magazines need to use abbreviations to save space, but it causes lots of problems for new knitters and sometimes even for experienced knitters. I've been knitting all my life, but I never say in my head -- sl 1, k1, psso -- while I am knitting. NO - I repeat in my mind - slip one, knit one, pass over -- Don't you???

So I do not use abbreviations in my booklets. What I do though is to write instructions broken up into small steps, just as I did when I taught school. It's too easy to get lost when following multiple instructions written as if they were sentences in a paragraph. Also, I feel it is my responsibility to ensure that all of my kits end up as satisfactory garments. Therefore, I always include my email address in the booklet so that knitters can get in touch with me in the unlikely event that they have a problem knitting the kit garment. For clarity's sake, I also include charts when needed and laundering instructions. Moreover, I wind all the yarn in center-pull balls with the inside end VISIBLE to the knitter. Don't you hate to have to stick your finger into most center-pull balls and root around trying - and usually failing - to find the end? Then you wind up with a big mess of yarn that you have to deal with while you knit. So I'm careful to leave the end out of the ball for easy knitting.

Is this a lot of work? Yes it is! But it's worth it to me to produce something of quality. I hope you will check my website at
to see my kits and custom garments.

Here are some photos of the soon-to-be-a-kit HIP BLUE DENIM SHRUG:

You can buy this shrug at


madmuze13 said...

geez, I thought I was the only one mumbling knit one, purl two, now remember to slip it over, when I knitted. :)

KnittingGuru Blog said...

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Nope, you are not the only knitting whisperer!