Striving for the “perfect pattern" is the goal– the road to get there is often long, winding and fraught with frustration. At the end though, the satisfaction of the glorious finished sample and the perfectly elegant instructions of how to create it, it's simply sublime. The path that led to my newest pattern, the Vallo Cowl, is no different. Through many experiments, false starts, and a lot of head scratching, we got there!

I created the design concept about a year ago. I hardly remember making the first swatch. What I can recall, was that it was easy and I was very excited to bring this idea into the world. I shared my idea with Quince & Co. and they too were very excited to help me make the Vallo Cowl a reality.

Months roll by. I created samples and patterns for the *Leonarda Socks, the *Strozzi Cowl, the Motta Hat, and not the least of which, the Judd Pullover. Vallo waited patiently.

Finally, just before Christmas, it was Vallo's turn. I wound up the gorgeous Phoebe yarn from Quince and Co. and pulled up my chart files, ready to go! What I remembered was that it was practically done already. However, reality did not align with this recollection.

What ensued was a ridiculous perfectionist's fever dream. The cowl, as I had envisioned it originally and also how it is now, was constructed from the bottom up. I'm generally not a fan of bottom-up constructions, especially for items that may need length alterations. I became doggedly determined to recreate the design with a top-down approach.

Many nights went by where I knitted swatch after swatch, hours past bedtime, trying to perfect a top-down double central decrease in colorwork that approximated my original swatch. I bought patterns from other designers to research how they did it. No dice. I invented a new—and very unexplainable—way to create a double central increase. I was never satisfied.

Sometimes you just have to give up on an idea, even if it breaks your heart a little. Bottom up would have to do.

So, I went back to my original thought and knew that this time, I was on the true, easy-going path. I cast on all 270-odd stitches for the border and got to work.

Then the math problems started. I won't bore you with those details—this post is long enough, but suffice it to say that there was some frogging.

By New Year's Eve, I had managed to knit about half of the cowl. That's when I started to become aware of that annoying little perfectionist that lurks within me, again.

She would make snarky little comments from the corner of the room.

“Eww, that part isn't very pretty."
Or, “This is not your best work, Alexis."
Or even, “People want to knit something special. This isn't special."

With every passing row, she became increasingly difficult to ignore.

Deep sigh. She was right. I ripped back to the beginning once more so that I could create this dazzling little detail on the back of the cowl. The back SHOULD be as pretty as the front. It's little details like this that make hand knitting so special.

I will always be proud of my Vallo Cowl design and all the work that I put into creating it. In the end, the last iteration of the pattern was an absolute delight to knit. The momentum of the funnel shape made it impossible to put down. The colorwork was easy to memorize and engaging. The finished piece is so luxurious and soft in the Quince and Co. Phoebe yarn. It's fun to wear and easy to style. It will become a staple of my 3-season wardrobe, certainly.

I hope you'll pick up a copy of the **Vallo Cowl and see for yourself. I've offered an introductory discount for my newsletter subscribers (check your email!) which also includes a generous discount from Quince and Co.for the glorious Phoebe yarn.

*The fine print:
• Leonarda Socks and Strozzi cowl were exclusive to the Quince & Co subscription box until April 2022-- keep your eye out for the public release soon!

• I should also note, I am linking to my PayHip store because I get a greater percentage of sales from that platform for this particular pattern. If you would like to see what other knitters are doing with their projects, visit the Vallo Cowl Ravelry page, which is maintained by Quince & Co yarn company.

• First three photos and last photo: © 2022 Quince & Co; Photography: Regan Kenny

Today, I'm excited to launch a knitting pattern that is years in the making. It took a deadline and an intrepid group of test knitters to bring it into the world and I think you'll agree, it's worth the wait. The Judd Pullover, shown here in Purl Soho's Cashmere Merino Bloom yarn, combines all the best elements of my work—graphic motifs, addictive (knitting), and many small, special details that elevate the design beyond just a basic sweater and pattern.

The design features a large intarsia motif (perfect for newbies), modified drop shoulders, a vented hem, and a funnel neck with a lovely Vikkel braid detail. For more details about the construction of this garment and additional photos, visit the Judd pattern page here on Knit Darling.

The general concept for Judd has been kicking around in my head in one form or another for at least a couple of years, just waiting for the right moment. When that moment came, I was laying in bed pondering a serious problem—I didn't have any new sweaters to wear to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival, only about a month away. Inspiration struck, as it often does at inconvenient moments, and I suddenly knew the time had come to create this glorious sweater. I quickly sat up to turn on the light and grab the closest thing I could find to a piece of paper—an old envelope—and furiously began sketching. And, Judd was born.

The next day, I refined my sketches and began researching yarn options. I quickly settled on a most luxurious yarn called Cashmere Merino Bloom from Purl Soho. Within a couple of days, the yarn arrived and I got to work. With only one month to go, there was no time to lose.

I managed to knit the sample and write the pattern all in 3 weeks, which is pretty darn fast for me. I finished and photographed the sample with only a few days to spare before the festival. I felt triumphant and so proud to wear my new creation.

Pictured here at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival (AKA Rhinebeck): @kehleycovi @woodsyandwild @emilywools @alexiswinslow @emilygreeneknits

Immediately after the festival, I sent the pattern out for tech editing and organized a test knitting group. The process of editing and test knitting is so incredibly valuable to the end result of the pattern. It was almost unbearable to set the publish date in 2022, but with every improvement I made through the testing process, I grew even prouder of this pattern.

Here are some of the beautiful finished test knits and the wonderful knitters who helped me with the test:


I can't thank these brave knitters enough for generously lending their talents and time to my project over the past few months—a spectacular bunch, indeed! They've helped me take this pattern to the next level. It's probably my best written pattern to date, thanks to them.

The yarn I chose for the sample is Purl Soho's Cashmere Merino Bloom. This yarn is so incredibly soft—it's like wearing a hug. It was easy to work with and tolerated a little ripping out and reworking well. I didn't find any clumps of fiber in my hand as I knitted, which makes me think this yarn will resist pilling to some degree–the destiny of many soft, fuzzy yarns in my experience.

It's difficult to fully capture the coziness of the yarn in photos so you'll just have to trust me. Or, maybe you can trust the look of pure joy on my toddler's face, pictured here as he thoroughly snuggles this sweater. He loves anything soft and just can't resist a good cuddle.

It was quite hard for me to pick colors, especially because this yarn is offered in such a gorgeous palette. I settled on a monochrome color combo because most of my wardrobe is black or neutral. Purl Soho just released an extension to the colors they offer for this yarn line including a particularly gorgeous color called Warm Honey, which I am already scheming to use for an upcoming project.

To help knitters imagine the possibilities, I included a coloring page in the pattern, along with yardage estimates for each little section of color in case you want to really mix things up. Please, have some fun with this! :)

I hope you've enjoyed learning a little background about this design. I'm so excited to share this pattern with the world. The pattern is available here on KnitDarling, Ravelry and Payhip for $9 USD. I'm offering the pattern at 15% off for the first week with the code GETJUDD—hurry to get your copy now!
(Offer expires Jan. 27, 2022 at midnight ET)

I'm so happy to announce the release of my new knitting pattern, the Motta Hat. The pattern pdf is available here on my website and also at Quince and Co for $7.00 US.

The design is full of fun knitterly details– bold stranded colorwork, popcorn texture and Vikkel braids. Top off your hat with an optional pompom– or don't, because the colorwork on the crown shaping is extra pretty, too! The pattern includes links to tutorials for all the special techniques, making this project accessible to knitters at every skill level.

When I initially designed this hat, it was part of a submission for the Quince Quarterly subscription box. They ended up selecting two different designs from that submission—the Strozzi Cowl and the Leonarda Socks, which won't be publicly available until April 2022 (but you can peep them on the Quince site here and here). Thankfully, Quince didn't want to let this hat design go, so they commissioned it separately. I'm so glad they did because it was one of my favorite designs from the bunch. Below is my original design sketch from that submission:

I really loved this initial sketch, but when it came time to add the giant pom pom that I had proposed, I just couldn't do it. I spent a lot of time perfecting the crown shaping. Below are some test swatches I did while I was working out the design. I'm pretty proud of how it turned out. I definitely regret not getting a nice photo of the top before attaching the pom pom, but you can see glimpses of it in some of these photos. It absolutely pained me to hide all that hard work under a silly pom pom, as much as I love them.

Even so, a wee pom was made, and set atop the hat, only covering a small portion of the crown motif. I do love how it balances the contrasting color of the brim so nicely, so it really couldn't be skipped.

The motif has a great rhythm to it that is really fun to knit. I had been kicking this motif around for a while before I landed on this hat design. I briefly thought it would make a cute baby sweater, maybe with some extra colors, perhaps with some cool Spincycle Yarn as the contrast? I even developed the motif a little further and submitted it to another yarn company (Hudson + West Co.) as a sweater, but without all the textured stitches. They ended up choosing a different design from my submission-- the Kuffel Pullover-- which is one of my all time favorites, so no hard feelings there :) You can see how those two designs kind of jive.

The gorgeous yarn, Chickadee, of course is from Quince & Co and pictured here in Honey, Petal and Slate. I absolutely adore this yarn! It's very soft and warm and it drapes well, perfect for a hat. I also love all the colors that this yarn comes in-- you could hardly go wrong with that palette! I would love to knit another one in an inverse colorway, perhaps with the background and brim in darker Gingerbread and the foreground in Camel. I've been really into warm earth tones lately.

I really hope you'll pick up a copy of the Motta Hat knitting pattern! With all those details, a fun time is guaranteed! If you cast on, please post some pictures on Ravelry. I'd love to see what everyone is working on.

Photo credit for first and sixth images: Regan Kenny © 2021 Quince & C

Jan 31, 2020

Meet my latest design— Kuffel, a wonderfully cozy, effortless, swingy new pullover sweater pattern with all the knitterly details that a girl could want.

She's a top-down, seamless beauty. She's also a snap to knit, worked in Hudson and West Co's Forge yarn, a soft and lofty WORSTED weight wool. Pick up a digital copy of the pattern here at KnitDarling (via Ravelry), or a paper printed pattern at Hudson and West Co.

The pattern features 6 sizes, from 42" to 70" bust, and is intended to have a loose, boxy fit with about 8"-14" of positive ease for a swingy silhouette. Top-down construction makes it easy to adjust the length and fit as you go.

The sweater has a slight high-low profile achieved by working periodic short rows between the colorwork sections. The bold, graphic colorwork is super fun to knit from easily memorized charts. I've included some clever chart shenanigans that will make your beginning of rounds almost completely disappear. Just try to spot it—prominently displayed in two of these photographs! It's little details like this that make my knitwear-designer heart swell. Efforts that, I'm sure, you will appreciate as well.

Below is my initial design sketch. I originally intended for the colorwork to be in reverse-- dark pattern on a light ground. The gals over at H+W suggested it the other way around and I could not be more pleased with the results. The beautiful navy ground that you see in the photos is their “Midnight" colorway and the cream contrast color is their “Aspen" colorway.

I worked a tubular cast-on for the neck, and did a Kitchener bind-off at the cuffs and hem, which effectively looks exactly like a tubular bind off. I've written about this lesser known bind-off technique before--check out my post if you're unfamiliar. It's my favorite 1x1 rib bind-off and I think more people should know about it.

The pattern is part of Hudson and West Co's Deep Winter 2020 collection, which is chock full of cozy, colorwork stunners. I'm honored to be included in this talented bunch. My favorite design from the collection is Wildhaven by Jesie Ostermiller (@knitty_jo on instagram). I might have to make this for my husband!! (but no promises, Brian!)

Jun 19, 2018

When I was a young girl growing up in Oklahoma, my parents loved to take me and my brother on road trips to New Mexico to visit Santa Fe or Taos. This was a marvelous contrast from my ordinary suburban life — seeing a different culture, pueblo pottery and Navajo rug weaving, and most importantly a glimpse of the New Mexico art scene. This is when I first became aware of Georia O'Keeffe, and first had an inkling that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up.

The Okeeffe Shawl from my new book, Homage, honors this amazing woman and her influence on my life. Georgia O'Keeffe (1897-1986) has been called the “Mother of American Modernism", and is famous for her paintings of enlarged flowers and New Mexico landscapes, and her radical feminist views (for the time). But to me, she was an inspiring pioneer, blazing a path for little girls with big dreams like me.

This project definitely took some twists and turns. I started out with a completely different design actually. It was still a shawl, but it featured some rather intense geometric lacework. I was having some trouble settling into the design, and put off starting it for an absurd period of time. I procrastinated to the point where I would have to push back my book's publish date if I waited any longer. Mainly, I was struggling to find the right yarn in the colors I wanted, and was resisting compromise.

Around that same time I had the pleasure of meeting Alice O'Reilly, the amazingly talented dyer of Backyard Fiberworks. I took a look at her yarn line, and discovered that it included some fabulous gradient kits and colors that I had not previously seen before. This sparked an idea for me—I asked Alice if she would be interested in collaborating on a palette for one of her kits that I could use for my new shawl design. We began texting back and forth, and in no time I had this beautiful yarn in my hands.

The design changed quite a bit in the process, and in the end it reminded me of the rolling hills in an O'Keeffe painting. Alice suggested that we expand the concept into a limited edition line of O'Keeffe inspired yarn kits for the book launch party.

The palette for the sample pictured is called Pedernal after Gorgia O'Keeffe's painting by the same name.

This shawl was so much fun to knit! There is something about it that just begs you to keep going. I could hardly believe how fast I got to the end. I used a special technique called the Icelandic Bind-Off, which makes a beautiful, super-stretchy edge for garter stitch. It's pretty easy to do (instructions), but I made a video to fully demonstrate the technique, and linked to it in the pattern pdf.

The pattern is part of my book, Homage (Knit Darling Book 2), but I'm also selling it individually here on my website and on Ravelry for $6.00. It's finally perfect shawl knitting weather, so I hope you'll pick up a copy!

I had pretty low expectations when I released my Cabled Dad Hat knitting pattern in 2014, but for four years it has remained one of my most popular designs. To date, I've sent over 10,000 copies to people all over the world—I can hardly believe it! It's been an inspiring, and humbling ride.

Today, I'm adding another twist to this adventure (cable joke, anyone?). I'm thrilled to announce the release of a coordinating pattern: the Cabled Dad Mittens. The pattern includes instructions to knit three unisex styles: classic mittens, fingerless mitts, and convertible gloves—choose your own adventure! The three styles are also at three skill levels; fingerless mitts easiest; mittens slightly harder; and convertible gloves the hardest because there are so many parts. See more info and pics on the pattern's page here.

It has been amazing to watch the Cabled Dad Hat projects proliferate on Ravelry over the past few years. I love looking to see what people are doing with my pattern, especially when they modify it into something a little different. Every once in a while, I stumble upon someone who has created a complete spin-off—a matching scarf, a mini hat for their daughter's doll, or something like that. This is one of my favorite things to find! To see that one of my ideas was a source of inspiration for someone else who designed something original makes me so proud!

My Cabled Dad Mitten design was created in that same spirit. I wanted to make a coordinating pattern that would be super accessible (hence three styles in three sizes). My hope is that someone will buy this pattern because they want to make one style for themselves, a different style for their boyfriend, and maybe yet another set for a gift.

I chose Magpie Fibers Domestic Worsted yarn to knit this design. This yarn line has a really wearable palette, which is always a consideration for me, but it's also a really great work-horse yarn, perfect for these mittens. It's 100% domestic Merino wool, soft yet sturdy, and has incredible stitch definition. I chose smaller size 5 US (3.75mm) needles to produce a dense fabric that will keep your hands very warm.

I hope you'll pick up your own copy of this super fun mitten pattern! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Dec 16, 2017

Can an ordinary knitting project possibly be considered conceptual art? Well, maybe—meet the Hilla Hat from Homage: Knit Darling Book 2.

Time for some art history, yay! All the patterns from my new book, Homage, honor a different pioneering female artist from history. This design honors Hilla Becher (1934-2015), conceptual artist and photographer. The Hilla Hat design reflects Becher's most famous works—a series of gelatin silver printed photographs depicting industrial architecture arranged into a grid. Becher's work has influenced generations of photographers, and has impacted Minimalism and Conceptual Art since the 1970's.

Almost like collage, Becher arranged her photographs depicting similar objects to create motifs of repeating structures. The arrangements make her otherwise straightforward photos quite visually interesting. However, as a conceptual artist, Becher's work is rife with meaning and should not be considered merely decorative. Becher's presentation of her work pits objectivity against subjectivity, depicting a pattern of sequential experiences that is connected in a network.

Though her message was more about the human experience and the evolving/decaying characteristics of nature, I rather liked this idea as it relates to a knitting pattern, repeated endlessly with slight variations, and also more specifically as it relates to the process of creating knitted fabric that is composed of a single strand of yarn. Also, in the broader context of my book, which is all about gratitude for my predecessors and my followers, I love the idea that I am forever connected to the knitters who make my designs through our shared experience of creating the same object.

On a less conceptual level, this adorable hat is my new favorite accessory! I've already knitted it 3 times, and I might go for a fourth soon. The hat features an easy geometric Fair Isle motif and a wide brim that can be folded up for extra warmth, or left down for a slouchy look. The pattern is part of my book, Homage, but I'm also offering it as an individual pdf.

If you want to learn more about Hilla Becher, check out the links below:

Did all this talk of conceptual art inspire your inner critic? I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below.

Nov 16, 2017

Meet the Stay Woke Mitts. This design was my contribution to Join Hands, an ebook collaboration with seven other designer friends of mine to benefit the ACLU and the SPLC.

All proceeds from the ebook will be split evenly between the two charities. So far we've raised over $2K! I can hardly believe it. Check out Emma Welford's Instagram where she is also auctioning Leigh Miller's sample for her “Love More" mittens from the ebook, as an additional part of this fundraiser.

I was inspired to design these mittens after some very upsetting political events that happened earlier this year. I was especially dismayed by the travel ban which put some close friends of mine in a heartbreaking position. Rather than feeling helpless, I decided to take action using my only super power, knitwear design!

Complacency is the enemy of progress; the words and symbols knitted into these mitts serve as reminders of this profound message. The phrase “stay woke" has become a rally cry for the social justice-minded, and particularly for matters of racial injustice. We must keep our eyes open, and stay focused on the issues that are important. The pyramid symbol depicted on the mitts is called the “all-seeing eye of providence", and in this context also represents the importance of maintaining awareness —seeing the hidden, being aware of the whole story. This symbol has been associated with the United States seal since 1776, and connects this modern message to the core issues this country has been wrestling with since it was formed. Meditate on this message as you knit these mitts, and let them inspire you to make a difference.

Nov 11, 2017

Homage has launched! It's hard to describe the feeling of launching a book. It's part excitement, part relief, part anxiety that someone is going to discover some egregious error that I somehow overlooked despite round after round of exhaustive editing, but mostly, I'm just plain proud. I'm proud of all my books, but this one is something special.

At one point in my life, I thought I wanted to be a portrait artist—there are even a few of my older works still out there, and I occasionally get orders for prints. I went to art school and studied painting and pottery (which inspired my last book), and incidentally I also minored in art history. I wasn't really trying for a minor, since I already had a dual focus in my studio arts studies, but I just kept signing up for those art history classes! I remember at the time, not really loving all the reading that was required for those classes, but I also saw the value in exposing myself to as much art as possible. I have always loved looking at art.

Homage features five new patterns, each drawing inspiration from an influential female artist—Agnes Martin, Maya Angelou, Otti Berger, Hilla Becher, and Georgia O'keeffe. These women had different paths through their artistic careers, but they all offer something that has seeped into my aesthetic vocabulary. I'm so proud to share this collection with the world, because like a Maya Angelou poem, it reveals my insides to the world in the best way I know how, through yarn.

Now that Homage has launched, it's time to announce the winners of my pre-order promotion! Congratulations to Jamie, Kelly, and Esther who all won yarn to knit one of the sweaters from this new collection. Thanks to all you wonderful folks who pre-ordered the book. I actually sold out of my stock in the first 24 hours after the launch, which was quite unexpected! I still have more yarn to give away, so I'm planning another giveaway at the end of the month (more on that very soon).

The launch party at String Thing Studio was tons of fun! Despite the Nor'easter raging outside, plenty of people showed up to celebrate. Thanks to everyone who braved that torrential rain—you folks are some real badass die-hards! I have an extensive trunk show still going on at String Thing Studio until November 30. I hope you'll come by to check out the show, and pick up your copy of Homage.

Nov 6, 2017

Every time I go to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, I leave with a full heart and sense of overwhelming gratitude. Spending time with other designers, meeting passionate enthusiastic knitters, petting the sheep, and talking with farmers and producers—all reminds me that I'm part of a big wonderful community. Every year feels like a warm fuzzy reunion, but this year seemed especially good, and just at the moment when I was starting to wonder why I'm doing this crazy job.

[Cue the violin music]

Leading up to the festival, I had been working day and night putting the finishing touches on Homage, Knit Darling Book 2. I had a hard deadline to get my final files to the printer—the same day I was leaving town for Rhinebeck—and the same day I was set to start taking pre-orders.

For weeks I had been working 16+ hour days, squeezing every spare minute trying to make this book perfect. I sent my final files just after 1am the night before my deadline. The next morning I got up at 6:30, sent out an email announcement and started taking preorders. I also had to go work at my day job. I was already late for work, and hadn't even started packing for Rhinebeck. Then, almost immediately after sending the big announcement to my rather large mailing list, something broke on my website. This sent me into total freak-out mode and my poor web-programmer (aka husband) had to scramble to figure it out. I have nightmares that go something like that.

And then suddenly, so perfectly, everything was resolved. I somehow packed my bag in like, 2 seconds (more on that later), Brian fixed my website, and I was on my way to work. Pre-orders were coming in, and I remembered why I do this—it's for you guys!

That afternoon, I met up with my knitwear designer friend, Dianna Walla, and boarded a train to Rhinebeck where we met our other knitwear designer friend Beatrice Perron Dahlen. Then we drove to the most perfect beautiful house that we had rented for the weekend. We poured some wine, and Bea made us a delicious dinner. And the next morning we woke up and knitted with our coffee in the sunshine. Perfection.

The next day at the festival, I was absolutely giddy. I met some seriously amazing people, and I think I said some coherent things to them.

[ Pictured above: Beatrice Perron Dahlen, Dianna Walla, Karen Templer, Jessica Forbes, Ysolda Teague, Emily Greene, The Sundance Kid, and Megan Williams]

I also met some seriously amazing yarn!

Meet my new pile of luscious Magpie. I now have a sweaters quantity of Magpie's gorgeous Domestic Worsted thanks to the encouragement of Magpie owner Dami Hunter, and also due to some serious peer pressure from one of my designer idols Amy Christoffers who literally stacked most of these skeins into my arms and told me I had to. How could I argue with that?

I also picked up some Magpie Swanky Sock and Solstice on my own volition because they were just too delicious to put down.

I'm so excited about this absolutely amazing skein of Tidal Yarns I bought. I know it looks like a messy pile of gray yarn, but trust me, it's special stuff. It's rustic, and bouncy, and somehow still quite soft. I also picked up some beautiful skeins of YOTH Daughter and Best Friend. I've been hearing people rave about YOTH yarn, so I wanted to see what all the fuss is about.

I wasn't sure how I was going to get all this home from the festival because I had done such a terrible packing job in the first place, almost entirely filling my small bag with unnecessary shoes and WAY too many pants. Fortunately, I also picked up this super cool tote bag from Fringe Supply Co., which saved me from hauling this yarn home in a trash bag on the train. I just love all the cute illustrations. I already caught a gawker on the subway trying to read all the little notes.

Speaking of huge quantities of yarn—there is only 1 more day to pre-order my new book, Homage. Pre-order the book or ebook and you could win free yarn to knit your favorite design from the collection!