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Newsletter - January 2016
Happy New Year!
Bonnie Dean, January’s Designer of Month, is a newly minted graduate of the TKGA Master Knitter Program. If learning to be an exquisite knitter is on your wish list, have a look at what Bonnie has to say about the program. You could end up being expert enough to design something like her final project, the Uplands Aran.
Our Collection of the Month features collections created for personal use by three Patternfish customers. They were inspired! Perhaps their choices will inspire you.
Patternfish customers’ New Year Collections have inspired my own — a collection grounded in warmth. After I made my selection, another commonality was clear; each is quite simple and classic, but each has a slightly quirky element that makes it stand out.
The So Soft Tunic is a classic turtleneck with extra deep ribbing at the collar, cuff, and hem, knit top-down in Cabin Fever’s signature method. It's a snuggle-worthy sweater with a touch of elegance, even if you don’t have pearls to wear with it.
It’s a hat; it’s fashionable and warm; it’s a one skein project; it’s named for the “Queen of Milliners”, Caroline Reboux. What more could one want? This is a fun pattern to read and knit with lots of tips to make it your very own. Check out the detail page for style variations.
Polo is an easy-to-knit sweater with such great style. The garter stitch bands at hem, collar, and cuffs are details we have frequently seen in 2015 designs, but this pattern, designed in 2007, was ahead of its time.
This simple jacket from the fashionable house of Bergere de France has been on my wish list for some time. Is 2016 its year? Perhaps in the stunningly beautiful green colour in a coat a friend was wearing recently. Perhaps 2016 is the year to abandon greys, blacks, and navy.
The texture pattern on this coat is an easy 4 row repeat of knit rows alternating with k1, p1 rows to create a stretchy fabric. This designer creates with years of wear in mind, through both her techniques and classic style.
Knit and purl ribs are enlivened with swirls; alluring, yes, but cosy, too. The intermediate skill level rating seems over-stated. This would be achievable by an enthusiastic beginner.
Megan Lacey lives in Ontario, Canada, so it’s understandable that she created a headband with 3 times the warmth of most headbands. The stranded knitting piece, equal to two thicknesses of fabric, is sewn to a plain stocking stitch band. This traditional headband is a great way to learn a new technique and use up bits of your favourite leftover yarn.
There are two elements that make this design special: the bodylengthening effect of the extra long ribbing and the visual interest of the shoulder purl stripes. It’s an easy road to a classic sweater but, happily, not a boring knit.
We’re seeing lots of new crochet designs that look as if they are knitted. Check out the beanie’s cable-like post stitches, the shawl’s crossed stitch border, the out-of- the-ordinary large eyelet border on the cardi, the fly stitch fingerless mitts, and the richly textured pillow cover.
A Star Wars Celebration
Two Patternfish designers, both Star Wars fans, have created patterns to celebrate the latest movie.
Who can resist the appeal of the Yoda and Princess Leia Hats, in sizes from newborn to adult? Guaranteed to put a smile on faces.
Emily Ringleman ensures that we’ll be ready for Jedi battles with her Lightsaber.
Patterns for Men
Here’s a collection of designs for men: an easy and fast chunky raglan, a handsome rib sleeved pullover, and a classically shaped sweater using 6 colours of Lopi yarn. It’s a small collection. We don’t want to be too distracted from working on projects for ourselves, not that these sweaters wouldn’t look great on women, too.
Designer of the Month: Bonnie Dean
It’s unusual for a relatively new designer to be selected as a Patternfish Designer of the Month, but Bonnie Dean launches our 2016 season for two excellent reasons:
And just in case you think she’s done with learning and facing challenges, read on to see her lofty goals for the next 5 to 10 years.
As we make our way through 2016, Bonnie’s predictions about the future of our craft will be memorable touchstones: “Our world is likely to become more organic and more about handmade to counteract the increasing depersonalization and mechanization we face. We work with fibre to become calm, create, and have a tactile experience like no other.”
Here’s more from Chief Left Hand Knits’ Bonnie Dean.
It takes commitment, passion, and discipline to become a designer. What drives you? I have had a passion for design since I was 15 years old, working with my great aunt Dorothy, a London-based fashion designer. Although my medical career diverted me from pursuing design, I truly love the process of creating something from small kernels of ideas that develop into something I can feel, touch, and put down on paper.
What’s been your greatest personal challenge? Becoming a Master Knitter was my greatest personal challenge because I was not an expert knitter at the start, nor did I have a clue about designing hand knitted apparel or accessories. As I am extremely goal oriented, I never dreamed of quitting this program before completion. It has opened amazing doors for me.
Do you have a particular customer in mind when you start a design? For my apparel designs, I am designing for the young or young at heart who are interested in figure-flattering hand knitted items with visual appeal. My hats, like Wounaan, Braided Head, and Arielle, have a history or an unusual attribute that my customers appreciate.
My first two baby blankets, Easy as One, Two, Three and Tiempo were honoring my first grandchildren (twins) born in March 2015. As I am expecting many more grandchildren, I have a notebook of ideas for future baby projects.
Do you have established goals when you write patterns? My main goal is to write the highest quality pattern featuring items that knitters would be happy to knit and wear or gift. Expert tech editing and test knitting are essential. I strive to have knitters “knit a level up” by using written instruction or video tutorial links for new or rarely used skills so that the knitter is confident and happy with the final product.
What inspires you to create a new piece? I try to look at things in my environment closely as suggested by Deborah Newton and Olga Buraya-Kefelian. My signature piece, Left Hand, is from a hut design found on period clothing from Margaret Coel’s book, Chief Left Hand, on Colorado’s top 100 historical books list. Wounaan was inspired by a black-and-white V design on a basket from indigenous peoples of the Darien rainforest in Panama.
What are your bestselling designs? My TKGA final project, Uplands Aran has had amazing success and rave reviews. The addition of optional embroidery to Braided Hand has added abundant sales to an already successful pattern. Arielle has been a huge hit for the beginner knitter who is young at heart.
Which designs are your personal favorites? I designed Afrikatana as an entry for the Vogue Knitting Magazine South Africa mohair design competition, and although I was initially disappointed that I was not named a finalist, I am now in sole possession of my favorite blanket on the face of the planet. It was this original stitch pattern of cable and lace that led to the design of the successful Rolling River Scarf kit. Uplands Aran will always be my sentimental favorite!
What do you hope to accomplish in 2016? I hope to train and begin work as a tech editor, continue teaching, publish 15+ new designs, and submit ideas to magazines. I will be running a post-holiday knit-a-long starting in January and hope to start a local TKGA guild in Montana to help raise the level of knitting skills in my community.
Where do you think you and your business will be in 5-10 years? My five year plan includes: designing collections of patterns consistent with my design theme of texture, modern cable and embellishment, publishing those collections, being a recognized and respected tech editor, and being a national level educator and TKGA Guild leader. Within 10 years I hope to have a high-quality hand-dyed yarn business, marketing those yarns in kits.
How do you practice medicine and find time for knitting and designing? I’m fortunate to work as a physician 34 weeks per year, giving me lots of time to knit and design. When I am working at the hospital, I arise every morning at 4:30 or 5 AM to work on designs before going in.
How did you come to the decision to list your patterns with Patternfish? Since Patternfish is more selective than other sites and represents patterns from very high quality designers, listing my patterns here is much like being invited to a juried art show. I am honored to have been named Designer of the Month for January 2016.
You may see all of Bonnie Dean's Chief Left Hand Knits designs here.
Five of Bonnie Dean’s patterns are available in kCDesigns. Bonnie finds that her students are amazed at the ease of following directions in the kCDesign format.
While there are two ways to create a moebius knit, these patterns celebrate the knitting-from-the-inside-out technique that true aficionados insist upon. The cast on takes a bit of concentration, but once you get it, you’ve got it. And it’s well worth while, as these patterns demonstrate. For all the moebius details from Cat Bordhi, the expert, there’s A Treasury of Magical Knitting.
TKGA Master Knitter Experience - Bonnie Dean
Bonnie Dean became a TKGA Master Knitter in April 2015. Other than giving birth to her sons and obtaining her medical degree, she considers this her highest achievement.
In order to develop her passion for hand knitting into a new profession, Bonnie embarked on the Master Hand Knitting Program (MHKP) in March 2012. It’s a self-directed, self-educational, and self-researched program to demonstrate to TKGA (The Knitting Guild Association), not only mastery in hand knitting techniques, but also excellence in pattern writing and knitwear design.
Required are: successful completion of three separate levels of research, answering questions, knitting swatches, writing patterns, designing and knitting projects, writing reports (including the history and traditions of knitting), and reviewing books and magazines.
At each level, the candidate submits a notebook of required items into the national TKGA office. The materials are first sent to volunteer MHKP Committee members, and finally to a Co-Chair who reviews and summarizes the Committee’s critique of the individual’s work in a letter that judges each item of work as acceptable or not acceptable with supporting information. As Bonnie reports being rather a novice at hand knitting at the start of her MHKP journey, she was asked to resubmit many of her Level One materials. She was so disappointed with the quality of her first submission, she waited MANY months before having the courage to work on the resubmission.
The culmination of the program in Level Three is to design, write a perfect pattern, and perfectly knit a sweater and a hat, generally in the Aran and Fair Isle traditions. Bonnie chose to design her hat, the Sheep Craig Tammy in Fair Isle technique and sweater, the Uplands Aran in the Aran tradition.
Bonnie chose to pursue knitwear design as an extension of her competitive and professional sewing background, and her love of hand knitting. Dorothy’s Vest, her Level Two vest design, honors her British great aunt Dorothy, a London fashion designer with a flair for small details. Bonnie pursued the TKGA MHKP in order to gain credentials in offering knitting patterns on a local and national basis.
Our Newest Designers and Publishers
In December, Patternfish welcomed 3 new designers.
Fiona Hamilton-MacLaren is a sock knitter who uses stitches favoured by many garment designers. You’ll find twisted stitches on Cameo zig zagging their way up the ankle. The perfectly named Jump to the Left is a surprise for the feet and fun for the knitter when knit in a high-contrast variegated yarn.
Amanda Kaffka, aka The Crafty Jackalope, creates lively accessories with a youthful vibe. She tells us that the Portobello Cowl “looks best with two high contrasting colors accompanied with a splash”. The Berry Picking Slouchy Hat is a good choice for warmth and for learning stranded knitting on a small, circular canvas.
Holli Yeoh’s designs show a distinctive European influence. Aquitaine, in elegant long or dressy short versions, uses two different slip stitch patterns to create textures. Wake is a pretty cardigan for cruise or summer weather wear with waist shaping easily achieved by changes in needle size. The patterns are well written, with lots of photographs and tips to guide your process. You will be in safe hands knitting Holli’s patterns.
New Year Collections
As a change from the chosen-by-Patternfish collection of the month, we’ve been keeping an eye on the new year selections made by Patternfish customers. We thought we’d share three of them to provide inspiration.
The first new year collection is cables, cables, and more cables to span a wardrobe — waistcoat, cardigan, vest, mitts, and handbag.
The second collection is from a Canadian (that’s all the information I’ll disclose) who is a fan of vests (me, too!)
The third collection has a concentration of cardigans, plus one tank top. Most are easy knits but one lace one is included.
From the Ambassador's Desk
- Gayle Clow
I’d heard about Shetland Hap Shawls, but wasn’t familiar with them. Suddenly two appeared on Patternfish.
On-line research tells me that the sturdy hap shawls were created by Shetland women for daily wear from dark, thick Shetland yarn. One source defines hap as cover or wrap up, but most definitions are - a happening, a chance, or good luck. Hap shawls are in dramatic contrast to the fine 1-ply Shetland lace wool shawls that will easily pull through a wedding ring.
Hap shawls begin with a garter stitch square, then stitches are picked up around the perimeter and knit in a simple lace. Katherine Vaughan’s design is a recreation of an old pattern knit many times by the grandmother of a friend, while Jared Flood’s pattern is a more modern variation.