Design

Playful

Don’t keel over from the shock, but it’s another pattern launch day chez WGK: introducing the Lalita pullover! Lalita is a Hindi girls’ name that means “playful,” because everyday play is what this sweater’s made for. This design began as Ada’s beloved Rainbow Sweatshirt… almost half her lifetime ago. Remember this wee muffin?

Rainbow Sweatshirt is still in her sweater drawer, looking rather more ragged after several years’ use and rather shorter in the sleeves, but I deployed all my cunning mom-savvy in this design to make it fit as long as possible.

  • A-line shaping means it can evolve from a swingy tunic to a more standard-length pullover.
  • Exaggerated drop shoulders and a sneaky wee gusset at the underarm give extra ease through the chest. Kids tend to grow longer faster than they grow wider anyway, but this means you can start with 4.5″ ease, as Ada’s wearing it in these photos, and still have plenty of room a couple of years later.
  • Rolled cuffs may seem like an insignificant detail, but I find they transition gracefully to bracelet length without ever shouting “I’m growing out of this sweater!” the way ribbed cuffs might.

Lalita is knit in the round, so the only seams to sew are at the shoulders, where you want the stability of a seam to bear the hanging weight of the sweater. Stitches for the sleeves are picked up around the armscye after the shoulders are joined, and I’ve given directions to work them flat or in the round, just as you like. (I knit the Rainbow Sweatshirt sleeves in the round, but I worked these flat because it stopped my marled yarn from pooling. I was holding together a strand of plain white Cascade 220 with some crazy space-dyed Cascade Alpaca Lace Paints in white-black-grey, and I didn’t like all the black parts hanging together in large splotches. Some folks also hate having to flop the whole body of a sweater over and over while they’re knitting around on a tiny sleeve, and I get that. Other folks would rather visit the town library naked than sew a seam. I get that, too.)

You can also see in this photo that there’s a difference in gauge between the body and the sleeves. That’s intentional. I wanted drape in the garment, but didn’t think the elbows would wear well in a loose fabric. So the sleeves are worked on a smaller needle for a subtle change in fabric structure.

There are phoney seams of slipped stitches at the sides that disguise the shaping decreases and also help the tunic hang straight to show its A-line. The hem is lowered at the back with German short rows (I’ve described how to do them in the pattern, but also pointed to a helpful tutorial online).

For those of you reading here or on Instagram, I’ve provided a coupon code that will get you the pattern at half price during its launch weekend (until midnight Sunday Pacific time): enter PLAYFUL at checkout in my Ravelry shop. I do hope you enjoy this knit — and yes, there are plans for a grown-up version in the works!

Littlewing live!

Winter Solstice seems like an auspicious day to publish a new pattern—for the shortest of humans on this shortest of days—and to reemerge from blog hibernation, no?

littlewingback

After much tinkering with the geometry, test knitting in all sizes, and a little more tinkering and a whole lot of life getting in the way, the Littlewing vest is now available for purchase! Sized for babies newborn to two years old, this vest uses 150-250 yards of DK-weight wool. I’ve used two yarns from Green Mountain Spinnery—the blue shown above is Mewesic and I did a newborn size for a friend’s baby in New Mexico Organic—and loved the results. But I also did a prototype in YOTH Big Sister

littlewing-v2-16-of-20

And Martha, mama to this little peach, knit one for her nephew in Brooklyn Tweed Arbor, so really, the options are wide open. If you’ve got worsted weight in your stash that you’d like to substitute, you could probably just knit the next smaller size and come out fine.

My favorite feature of Littlewing is that it’s reversible. For wee ones who can’t sit up or move around much, the front fastening is the easiest way to put it on: just lay the vest out flat, place baby on the back portion, flip the front over her head, and wrap the wings in to button or tie closed. But for inquisitive and coordinated specimens who can’t see a button without wanting to taste it, just flip the vest around and you’ll stymie them completely.

littlewingback2

One change I made after the test knitting phase was to add an optional second set of buttons to secure the lower hem. I recommend this modification for the larger sizes. The four-button vest comes out like this:

littlewing4buttons

Littlewing is available for purchase in my Ravelry store. I hope you’ll love this little wardrobe staple for the small folks in your life; I can’t wait to see some out in the wild. (And now, off to cast on two more, because the tiny cousins are landing thick and fast! The good news is that these will be my sixth and seventh iterations, and I’m not sick of knitting this pattern yet. They’re like eating potato chips.)

Interview

Wearing my Brooklyn Tweed Copywriter hat, I had the pleasure of interviewing five of the Wool People designers for the BT blog. All are first-time contributors to Wool People and it was interesting to learn more about their designs and their various points of entry into the knitting world. Since Haro was my second WP design, I didn’t interview myself for the feature, but then I thought it might be fun to answer my own questions anyway!

What’s your favorite detail of your WP10 design contribution?

I think I’m going to have to go with the way the Fir Cone lace pulls the final ridges of garter stitch into gentle waves. You can just see it in Jared’s photo below:

haro

A close second is the way you can subtly change the look of the edging depending on where you pin it. I opted to pull out the little details between the tree forms; they actually look even more tree-ish if you pin the bases of the “trunks,” but I decided I liked the more abstract effect. Try your swatch both ways!

Any interesting techniques in the design you’d like to tell knitters about?

The cabled cast-on is often dismissed in favor of fancier and stretchier options, but sometimes you want a good firm edge—especially against garter stitch, which will totally man-spread if you give it a stretchy cast-on. In this case, the cabled cast-on really helps the shawl hold a crescent form. It’s easy to work and the slender, rope-like roll it produces looks particularly classy as a base for garter fabric.

What’s your favorite place to knit?

Oooo, let’s get personal. I knit absolutely everywhere—waiting rooms, faculty meeting, red lights—if I don’t have at least a sock in my handbag I feel naked. I knit in bed with Masterpiece Mystery! a lot after my kids go to sleep. (I should start a series of designs inspired by English detectives, I really should. I can’t believe I let Amy Herzog beat me to a sweater named for DCS Christopher Foyle. Though I’m strongly considering that sweater for my Tour de France project, if I can only choose between the pullover and cardigan versions.) My favorite, though, has to be the kind of knitting I did last night: on the porch swing on a warm but breezy summer evening, with a Hendricks G&T + cucumber spears and a knitting sister for mellow company.

Who inspired you to start designing knitwear?

I think the itch to depart from the beaten path is innate. Almost as soon as I could knit I was tinkering with other people’s patterns to see what would happen if I altered one detail or another. Mothers of the revolution like Elizabeth Zimmermann and historians like Priscilla Gibson-Roberts piqued my interest in the wide variety of possibilities for sweater construction and gave me the confidence run the basic math to figure things out myself. Coming into knitting just as independent designers were beginning to use the internet to sell their designs directly was wonderful, too—the more I see, the more I imagine. I love following other designers’ processes and seeing their careers blossom. And I’ve never been to school for fashion or design, so everything I’ve learned about fit and construction has been from knitting other people’s patterns. I have such appreciation for designers like Ysolda Teague and Amy Herzog, who go to such painstaking mathematical lengths to write patterns we’ll all enjoy wearing as much as we’ve enjoyed knitting them.