Designing Women

While we're no Sugarbakers, Cassandra and I are, officially, knitwear designers and we're women so... well... we'll feel free to co-opt the name for the purposes of this blog post.


As you've probably heard (because we won't stop talking about it), we're being published in What (Else) Would Madame Defarge Knit?. What we haven't shared with you yet is the fact that we had TWO patterns picked to go into the next installment of Heather Ordover's series, What Would Madame Defarge Knit: Shakespeare Edition. Cassandra and I are over the moon and infinitely grateful for the opportunity to be included in such a fun project and in the company of such talented knitters.

While we can't divulge any details of our patterns, we can give you some insight into the process of designing - which can be both wonderful and frustrating at the same time.

For WWMDfK? the process goes like this: Heather puts out a call for designs; you write up a description of what you want to do, including a sketch (if you can) or photos of potential stitch patterns - anything that will help the board get a sense of what your finished object will look like; the board reviews the submissions; you find out if you got picked. Once your pattern is chosen, it's time to get down to business.

Cassandra and I sourced our yarn from Knit Picks ( for our last WWMDfK? pattern and were so pleased with the quality of the yarn, we went back to Knit Picks this time around.For pattern #1, we wanted something that would provide an ethereal look so we tried the Aloft Kid Mohair. What an exceptional yarn this is! It's lace weight so, basically, it's like knitting with a hair but it is the softest and prettiest mohair I've ever seen. For pattern #2, we wanted something that would provide some weight but also color depth and variation. We choose Swish Tonal which is, possibly, the most gorgeous yarn I've ever seen. It knits up so beautifully, I can't even explain it. So, there's our shameless plug for Knit Picks. I had no idea they carried such exceptional yarn (and at reasonable prices) but I'm a total convert now and will continue to try their yarns going forward.

Various needle sizes and single vs double yarn

Knit Picks Swish Tonal - my new fave yarn
Next, we had to start testing our idea. At this point, nothing is written down - it's just an idea of how the finished object should look. Pattern #1 required some swatching to get the right needle size and "look" for our concept. Pattern #2 required some test knitting of various stitch patterns to decide which combination of stitches would achieve the look we were going for. I'm working on the main part of pattern #1 and Cassandra is working on the main part of pattern #2. We continuously check in with each other to ensure that the direction we're going is agreeable to both of us.

Our next step will be putting some instruction on paper and engaging a test knitter (this is happening tomorrow, actually). Then, the three of us will start frantically knitting the draft patterns and looking for mistakes which, we hope, will all be corrected by the time we turn the pattern in at the end of next month. (!) Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Truth be told, I really, really, really enjoy this process. It's a little nerve wracking but it's SO satisfying to think up an idea and have it develop into something that others can take away and use. I can't wait to be able to tell you all more about our WWMDfK? projects. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I've enjoyed creating them!

- Alex


  1. Looking forward to being able to see the designs! Thanks for the insight into the designing process :)

    Knit Picks do have some lovely yarns. I love the feel of the Felici you sent me, and I was sent some City Tweed in a swap that is gorgeous too ;)

  2. @pinkundine - I'm so ready to share them with the world, you can't imagine. We worked on the first one for months and are just weeks away from being able to share it. I'm not sure what the target publishing date is for the Shakespeare book but I can tell you that keeping a secret for months on end is really hard for me. LOL I'll have to check out the City Tweed. Thanks for the tip. :)