Machine Knitting 101

Since I finished writing the manuscript for my book, I’ve been trying to use my extra time to expand my skills. I’ve had a lot of fun doing so many different things like video production, web design, and even exercise (I’ve been working up to doing a push-up, and somehow discovered that I like running- nobody saw that coming, especially me!).

I’ve been all over the place doing things that have very little to do with knitting, but last weekend I brought it home (a little) by taking a two-day intensive machine knitting class at the Textile Arts Center.

KnitDarling-MachineKnitted-Lace KnitDarling-MachineKnitted-Hem

The class was taught by Mandy Kordal, who has her very own beautiful independent knitwear line. She taught us 3 cast-on techniques, how to make eyelets, some simple shaping techniques, and a few different ways to bind-off. By the end of the class, everyone had made a simple slouchy beanie. Here’s mine:


I used two strands of yarn knitted together to get a marled effect. Here’s what it looked like right before I “casted-off”:


Of course knitting by machine is very different from hand knitting, but I was definitely able to apply my design skills. I have to admit, sailing through a 100 stitch row of stockinette in about 2 seconds was pretty exhilarating. I couldn’t help myself when I saw we had some extra time at the end of class, and I whipped up this simple top.

KnitDarling-MachineKnitted-Top KnitDarling-MachineKnitted-Top-Detail

I think owning a knitting machine would be pretty useful because I could quickly test out unusual shapes for my knitting patterns. But the machines are pretty expensive, so unless I find time to produce and sell my knitted items, I’m not sure it makes sense to buy one. If I ever saw one for cheap at a garage sale though, I would snatch it up in a heartbeat!

Have you ever owned a knitting machine? Did you use it much?

A Genie Named Safari

As a creative and curious person, I’m always trying to figure out how things work. That’s why I design knitwear, why love learning about quantum mechanics, and why I spend so much time watching video tutorials on the internet.

How websites work has always been a bit if a mystery to me. I have to admit, the Internet seems like a magical place. I don’t actually believe there’s a genie in my laptop named Safari, but the web still delights and impresses me on a daily basis.

I’m very fortunate that Brian, my web-developer husband, has always taken care of my website needs. But lately, I’ve been curious to find out for myself what makes my website GO. As a first step I’m learning a bit about front-end web development, starting with HTML code and CSS design.

KnitDarling-Code-KDIt’s been interesting, and not surprisingly, the more I learn the more I feel like I’m using my knitting pattern design muscles. I’m organizing information, using special abbreviations, and formatting elements in a way that reminds me of writing a knitting pattern.

I became curious about this stuff because I’m currently in the process of designing a shiny new website for Knit Darling. The process has gone something like this for me:
*design a few things, consult with Brian, find out that I’m crazy, go back to the drawing board, repeat from * until (what seems like) forever. Needless to say, I think more like a painter than a programmer! KnitDarling-NewSitePreview-KD

I’m under no illusion that I will soon have the skills to code any of my new website design for real, but I’m starting to understand how it all works together. So maybe I’ll have a few less of those “repeats” in my future!


A Sneak Peak at Graphic Knits

For those of you that love being first in line, I’m excited to announce that my book, Graphic Knits, is now available for pre-order! Both Interweave and have posted the book for sale on their sites. 

Pre-order sales are very important for authors because those numbers are what drive big orders from large retailers. Of course big orders mean a bigger audience, so I hope you’ll check out my book and order yours today!


Even though the release won’t be until September, I’m really starting to feel the excitement! I just received a big box of business cards, and I can hardly wait to get out there and start meeting new knitters.

I’m going to start organizing a blog tour for the book soon, so I’d love to know what your favorite knitting blogs and podcasts are. Please share in the comments below!

Needle Set And Pattern Giveaways

If you read my last post, you know why it’s useful to possess a variety of knitting needles made from different materials. With that in mind, the folks at Knitter’s Pride have generously offered a deluxe set of their interchangeable Karbonz Needles for me to give away to one lucky knitter!

KarbonzDeluxeIC copy

But wait, there’s more!
In addition to that, I’m also doing a pattern giveaway for three of my favorite patterns: Delancey Cardigan (regular or plus-size), Brewster Pullover or my Rosendale Slouchy Hat.

Knitdarling-Delancey-Giveaway Knitdarling-Brewster-GiveawayKnitdarling-Rosendale-Giveaway

Here’s how to enter: 
Leave a comment on this post telling me which is your favorite pattern from the list above. Please share this post because the more people that comment, the more patterns I will give away :)

The grand prize will receive the Karbonz needle set, and all three patterns. Runner-ups will receive the pattern mentioned in their comment.

One entry per person, please. I will email winners next weekend (March 23, 2014), so keep an eye on your inbox!

If you’re a fan of free patterns (and who isn’t?!), you’ll love this new thing I’m doing with my email list. For anyone who signs up, I will send you a free copy of my Cabled Dad Hat pattern as a thank you gift (just for a limited time). The sign-up form is in the right column of my website.




Needle Material Affects Gauge

Recently, I got a new carbon fiber interchangeable needle set (Karbonz from Knitter’s Pride). As you can imagine, I already have an extensive needle collection, so you might ask why I need a yet another set. The short answer? Gauge.

Each of my needle sets are made from a different material, which can affect both stitch and row gauge. I was curious how I would knit with my new needle set, so I designed an experiment.

I began with a ball of 100% wool yarn (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted) and 4 sets of size 7 needles, all made from different materials:

1. Plastic Resin: Denise Interchangeable Needle Set
2. Wooden: Knit Picks Harmony Needle Set
3. Metal: Addi Turbos
4. Carbon Fiber: my new Karbonz Interchangeable Needles

I knitted up a stockinette swatch (30 sts x 45 rows) with each needle type, then blocked them all very, very carefully to be sure they weren’t stretched.


After the swatches dried and kind of mellowed out for a while, I took careful gauge measurements. Then I used the results to figure the dimensions for an average sized sweater that is 200 sts wide and 150 rows tall.

I was shocked!

The results really surprised me: if I knitted a sweater with one kind of needle versus another, I would have about a 2″ variation in either width or length. That’s a big difference!


I was also curious about differences in my “flat vs. circular” gauge because I’ve had trouble with sleeves not matching the sweater they are attached to. So I got to work on a circular swatch with my wooden dpns.

Results? There is a difference, of course. If I knitted my 200 st x 150 row sweater with a circular construction, it would come out 1.5″ narrower than if I knitted it flat with the same wooden needles. Surprisingly, the row gauge was unaffected.

So what’s the take-away from all this?
While your results would certainly vary from mine, I think it’s important to be aware of how your tools can affect your finished objects and to use this knowledge to your advantage:
1. Knit your gauge swatch with the same needles you plan to knit the garment with.
2. Knit circular swatches for circular garments.
3. The more stitches in a row, the more a difference in gauge affects the finished measurements of the garment.
4. If you need to connect a circular-knitted sleeve to a flat-knitted body, make a separate circular gauge swatch. If you knit like I do, you might need to go up a needle size or switch to a needle made from a different material to get the correct gauge.
5. And for goodness sake, make large gauge swatches! (6″+ is a good rule of thumb)

I hope you found this post informative! I know I will probably reference it often in the future. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.

Introducing The Brewster Pullover

Meet Brewster. She’s entirely seamless, knitted from the top-down, striped, fair isle’d–an all around modern beauty (in my humble opinion). The PDF pattern with integrated video content is now available in my shop for sizes 31″-52″. More details here…


I was inspired to design this immediately after I finished writing the manuscript for my forthcoming book. Why didn’t I want to take a break, you ask? Well, because I’m a little crazy I guess. Actually, I’ve been thinking about this design for almost a year. Brewster has a very unusual seamless-top-down-set-in sleeve/shoulder construction (worked kind of like a yoke) that I developed for one of the patterns in my book. I loved it so much, that I couldn’t wait to try it out again.


I’ve seen a few similar yoke-esque seamless-top-down-set-in sleeve designs, but they all seemed to have a sort of faux seam on the top of the shoulder that I didn’t like. If you know my design work, you know that I am a big fan of a particular type of shoulder construction where the seam falls slightly over the back of the shoulder. So I took that style of shoulder and figured out how to work it from the top down and also include the sleeve caps–all at the same time. The result is not only a really beautiful silhouette, but also a very entertaining thing to knit. And since there are no seams to sew, the set-in sleeve is pretty much fail proof.


Another thing I’m excited about is the integrated video content that I have included in the pattern PDF. I’ve been creating tons of new video tutorials so I found a way to link to my videos inside my patterns. The videos cover some of the skills that most patterns gloss over–things like blocking or how to pick up stitches. My goal with this is to make my patterns more accessible to knitters who aren’t confident that they have the necessary skills. I’m really excited to offer this kind of content in my patterns, and I’d love to hear what you think about it.

I’d also love to hear what you think about the overall design in the comments below. What colors would you choose for your Brewster?