Designer Crush: Irina Poludnenko

One of my most favoritist designers is Irina Poludnenko. She’s been around the knitwear design world for about 20 years, before the interwebs and Ravelry, so I caught her in Vogue Knitting.

A few years ago I knit* her #07 Slant Rib Pullover from Fall 2002 (which I believe is one of the best issues they’ve ever published).

Rina—which is what I would call her if we toasted each other at the VK Christmas party in NYC—is now an in-house designer for the yarn company Tahki Stacy Charles, and while her designs for them are rather fabulous, she’s been swinging for the bleachers since the beginning.

My love for her is infinite, but I’ve chosen a few stand-outs from her extraordinary body of work.

Diagonal Slit Pullover

She took a mid-century funnel neck pullover and went Jetsons with the ridges and rips. (And is that Joan Severance?)

Cabled Pullover

All. Those. Cables.

Two-Button Jacket

An homage to Pop Art that uses a mosaic(!) technique to create a fitted(!), shawl collar(!) cardigan.

Allover Cabled Cardigan

A deep, deep, deep v-neck cabled pullover with a ribbed hem to hold it all together. (+1 for the magazine’s styling of this design. The belt closes the deal.)

Alyce Cardigan

The upside-down horseshoe cables on the peplum and bell sleeves that flow into waist shaping with XO cables that flow into ribbing that flow into plaited cables on the yoke and fitted sleeves. And the horseshoe placket that easily accommodates the buttons.

Natalie Tank

Unusual construction of a standard tank top that looks like a weatherman’s map of a cold front moving SE from the PNW.

Sundance Cardigan

A Nehru silhouette knit side-to-side with a zipper and semi-circle waist detail that forms a full circle when you sew everything together. It would be a great design without the circles, but that little detail… See? That’s why Rina rocks. And the colors.

Parma Ridge Poncho

A poncho that uses two yarn weights to create texture. And sleeves! My absolute favorite design by her that I’ve never knit for the simple reason that I haven’t ponied up $6 for the pattern.

Ethel Mesh Stripe Pullover

I’ve been working on a similar design that has been submitted and rejected several times because I’m not Irina Poludnenko. Or more probably because—aha—I continued the lace pattern too far into the yoke. Also, mine has a better name than Ethel. (-1 for the magazine styling. Really? A collared shirt?)

Rosslyn Cowl

If you can get past the Shrek colored yarn and obvious lack of blocking, this is a brilliant execution of multiple complex knitting and shaping techniques.

Geghard Cabled Pullover

Cables that look like cousins, and without a heavy reliance on filler stitches.

Victoria Top

First, the colors. And b) elongated entrelac in garter stitch.

A lot of Rina’s designs don’t have many projects on Ravelry, and I think it’s because she’s on an elevated plane. She’s one of those people whose designs you knit because they’re interesting or they’re going to develop your skills, and with the price of yarn these days knitters tend to knit wardrobe staples.

She mostly lets her designs speak for her, but if you’re interested in more about her or are curious about what she looks like when she travels to Europe with her family, you can read a rather serious interview she did in 2012 with another knitter named Robin.


*I didn’t put this project on Ravelry because the armscyes were too tight. My knitting hubris, however, prevented me from trying on the sweater before I blocked the whole thing, and when I finally admitted defeat and tried to unpiece it, I had done such a good job of weaving in my ends** that I couldn’t find the place to start unravelling***.

**Knitting hubris indeed.

***I can’t go Gordian on this because I’m out of yarn and need to tink to save every centimeter of yarn.

To Ponder: Your circumstances aren’t holding you back, your decisions are. |-John Assaraf-|

Voilà: Atomic Fingerless Mitts

I’ve waited six long years to see one of my designs on the pages of Knitty. I’ve told you about the submission and the acceptance, and now it’s time for the big reveal of my Atomic fingerless mitts.

Atomic Fingerless Mitts by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

This pattern is free for everyone throughout the land.

Pattern Details: Atomic by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

Ah, the 1950s—they gave us Velcro, Hula Hoops, Saran Wrap, Scotchgard, Liquid Paper, Mr. Potato Head, McDonald’s, and credit cards. Did all of that make the Atomic Era the best in recent history? Who knows. But its art and architecture are the bomb!

I constructed these mitts around a Scandinavian snowflake motif that looks both futuristic and modern. I chose the popular Atomic combination of blue and green for an outdoor cocktail party, but you might pair aqua with orange and enjoy a dinner of fried clams at Howard Johnson. Or switch out the green for red and hang out at the Tastee-Freez. Or Google the word Googie and let the results inspire your colors and venue.

Wherever you wear these, you’ll be coolest cat around.

Atomic Fingerless Mitts by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

Not Neil Gaiman’s* hands.

Features:
* Knit in the round
* Seamless
* Minimal finishing
* Charted and written instructions

Skills: Knitting, purling, stranded knitting, working in the round, working from a chart, researching techniques you’re unfamiliar with.

Finished Measurements:
Hand circumference, excluding thumb: 8″/20.25cm, stretches to 8.5″/21.5cm
Cuff edge to top of mitt: 10″/25.5 cm

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport (100% Peruvian Highland wool; 137yd/125m per 50g skein); MC Avocado, 1 skein; CC Winter Night, 1 skein.

Needles: US 4/3.5mm needles for small circumference knitting in the round, either DPNs, 1 long circular, or 2 short circulars

Notions: Stich markers, yarn needle

Gauge: 24 sts/31 rnds = 4″ in stranded stockinette stitch in the round, blocked
22 sts/30 rnds = 4″ in stockinette stitch in the round, blocked

Atomic Fingerless Mitts by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

*I kind of, sort of, maybe hoped I might make the cover of Knitty, but was prepared to see someone else’s design. I wasn’t, however, prepared to see Neil Gaiman. Wow. I’m in the issue with Neil Gaiman on the cover!

To Ponder: If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it. |-William James-|

Submission: Sweater to Green Mountain Spinnery

Green Mountain Spinnery is a small, sustainable family-owned yarn company located in one of the states my alter (richer) ego has dreamed of living—Vermont.

They put out a call for submissions for sweater designs using their Mountain Mohair yarn. It’s a mostly wool blend yarn with 30% mohair “sourced from Angora Goats from various herds across the country from Vermont to Texas.” And it has cool color names like Alpenglo, Blue Gentian, Edelweiss, and Vincent’s Gold.

Being that my Icelandic sweater design would be perfect for this yarn, and being that it was available for submission, I sent it in—a full 11 days ahead of the deadline.

Wrong side out to preserve secrecy.

While the stranded yoke would look good in just about any three of Green Mountain Spinnery’s colors, I proposed ones similar to the swatch because a) that color combo works, and b) you never know about another person’s ability to envision.

Beautiful subtleties in each color.

They notify in three weeks from the submission deadline, so please send up prayers for good news on June 12th.

To Ponder: If you find something that feels right but doesn’t seem to fit into your master plan, take a chance, and commit to it by working hard. You shouldn’t be afraid to let passion get behind the wheel.You might really love where you end up. |-Jerry Yang-|

Submission: Hat and Sweater to Knitscene

Last month was the deadline for Knitscene’s Spring 2016 issue.

They had only two stories:

Checks and Balances – Gingham, checks, and plaids. Imagine ways to work with the season’s most popular fabric in texture and color for simple but fun garments and accessories.

Retro Fashion – Sweet details make the difference in retro-inspired knitwear. We’re seeking garments and accessories that could have come from the 1940s or 1950s—or have been inspired by those classic looks.

I ignored the first one because plaids usually involves the intarsia knitting technique, which makes my eyeballs itch.

The second one for retro-inspired knitwear, however, could be done. I threw myself into the briar patch of Pinterest, researching looks for both decades, and found a 50s dress design by Anne Fogarty that could be translated into a sweater.

Fabulous photo, too.

Knitscene hasn’t followed in their sister magazine‘s footsteps and switched to online proposals, so I mailed a swatch for the sweater and also sent them a hat with a design that could be from any era.

Wish me luck, eh?

To Ponder: Successful people form the habit of doing what failures don’t like to do. They like the results they get by doing what they don’t necessarily enjoy. |-Earl Nightingale-|

Decisions: Stuff by Publications

I’ve sent out so many proposals lately, I had to create a spreadsheet to keep track of them all. Keeping track of the rejections is easy, though, because that’s mostly what I get.

In case you’re keeping track:

I received no response about the vest and pillow I submitted to Knit Now, so am assuming they don’t want them.

Knit Picks doesn’t want either of the hats I submitted for their 2016 Stashbusting Collection.

And Lisa Shroyer sent emails letting me know that she doesn’t want either of the sweaters I proposed to Interweave Knits Winter 2016.

I didn’t blog about submitting the same cabled capelet to the yarn company Louet and then to Pom Pom Quarterly. Both rejected it.

And you know what? I don’t care because KNITTY WANTS MY ATOMIC MITTS FOR FIRST FALL 2015!

To Ponder: Before you begin a thing, remind yourself that difficulties and delays quite impossible to foresee are ahead… You can only see one thing clearly, and that is your goal. Form a mental vision of that and cling to it through thick and thin. |-Kathleen Norris-|

Decision: Atomic Mitts by Knitty

My very first submission to the free online magazine Knitty was in 2009 with a mock turtleneck pullover. Interesting photos are important to them, and I did a fun photo shoot at my friend Liz’s horse farm.

One of the official photos taken with Shy Ann.

A couple of outtakes with Gabriel—nibbling my hand on the left and looking innocent on the right.

Knitty rejected that sweater, but I was writing books at the time, and didn’t submit again until 2012 when I got serious about designing knitwear.

Knitty is a king maker. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that every knitter in the world reads them, and millions of us have watched several indie designers who have been published by them go full-time and big time. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said, “I have to get into Knitty.”

I’ve submitted to just about every one of their calls for submission, and have been rejected every single time. I’d like to say that I’ve never given up on being published by them, but I can’t. I would submit to three or four calls in a row, then get frustrated and skip one or two, then try again and get rejected again.

But this time?

KNITTY WANTS MY ATOMIC MITTS FOR FIRST FALL 2015!

Ahem,

KNITTY WANTS MY ATOMIC MITTS FOR FIRST FALL 2015!

I didn’t even know I’d gotten in until Knitty’s tech editor asked me to review my edited pattern. Apparently my acceptance email had been sitting in the editor’s Drafts folder for a month.

However it happened, I’m just grateful that it did.

Finally!

To Ponder: Success is on the same road as failure. Success is just a little further down the road. |-Jack Hyles-|

Voilà: City Cowl

My City Cowl that was accepted by Knit Picks eons ago is now available on their website—and it’s free.

(c) Knit Picks

I do wish they had taken more time to style their photos (and maybe brush the model’s hair), but the cowl is worn the way it’s supposed to be.

Pattern Details: City Cowl by Robin Allen | A Texas Girl Knits

Soft and warm, this close-fitting cowl uses an easy stitch pattern to create an interesting textured rib. A rectangle is knit flat, then the edges are sewn off-center to create a cowl with a fold-over half collar that can be worn many ways—in the city and the suburbs.

(c) Knit Picks

Features:

  • No shaping
  • Knit flat, then seamed
  • Gauge not critical
  • Quick knit

Skills: Knitting, purling, seaming, researching techniques you’re unfamiliar with.

Finished Measurements: 8″ (20.5 cm) high x 18″ (45.5 cm) circumference.

Yarn: Knit Picks Andean Treasure (100% Baby Alpaca 110 yds/50 gm balls): Embers Heather 23486, 2 balls.

Needles: US 5 (3.75mm) straight or short circular needles, or size to obtain gauge.

Notions: Yarn needle, 2 split ring or other removable stitch markers.

Gauge: 26 sts and 28 rows = 4″ (10 cm) in ribbing pattern, lightly steam blocked.

To Ponder: Learning to separate “happiness” from “spending money” is the quickest and most reliable way to a better life. |-Mr. Money Mustache-|

Submission: Hats to Knit Picks

Magazines and yarn companies are thinking about next spring, which means that I am thinking about next spring.

Knit Picks put out a call for submissions for their Spring 2016 Stashbusting collection. From the call:

Small, cute, fun and quick to knit, these projects are purposefully made with stashbusting in mind! Colorwork, pom-poms, stripes, and colorblocking are perfect ways to use up those last few bits of yarn to make something warm and cozy. Clever and whimsical details make these projects must knit. The collection will be divided by weight into sections featuring 50g, 100g, and 150g of yarn.

I had the perfect thing for them. When designing the Icelandic sweater I submitted to Interweave Knits a couple of weeks ago, I had taken a day trip into Norwegian territory. I used a hat to test the design, and it looked pretty good, so I knit a couple more hats to tweak the particulars.

A hat called Norge.

I submitted that hat a week early, and since I was flush with extra time, I worked on another hat design, this one using a cable that didn’t make the final cut for The Sweater.

I spent quite a few hours perfecting, what else?—the crown decreases. And I have three more hats to sell at the farmer’s market next fall.

And please don’t worry that my position as a procrastination super star is in jeopardy. I submitted the hat very late the night of the deadline.

A hat called Othello.

A hat called Othello.

Knit Picks sends out yays and nays by this Friday, so won’t you please send up prayers that they both earn a yay?

To Ponder: I am telling you to make a choice based on your passions and interests, not what everyone else is telling you to do. It doesn’t work that way. You wind up living a life for the wrong reasons, and you never get the most out of it. Just always think about why you are doing what you are doing. |-Jeff Hoffman-|

Counting My Blessings: March 2015

My car is running great, my yoga classes are filling with students, and the water continues to run in my little red cabin. This month, I’m specifically grateful for these things:

1. My sister had surgery to remove a tumor on the inside of her skull, and not only was the surgery a success and the doctors let her go home the next day, they didn’t shave her head. That’s a blessing for her, but I was blessed that we didn’t have to do as my brother suggested, which is shave our heads in solidarity.

2. I love being self-employed, and am always looking for new ways to earn money that will work with my yoga schedule and still allow me to design knitwear. It looks like house- and pet-sitting is going to be one of those ways. I pet-sat for my friend Kate in February, and casually mentioned it in another yoga class, and someone asked if I did that, and I thought, well, yes, I guess I do.

I had my second gig this month, sitting two sweet Schnauzers, living in a house with this view from the back porch:

Surrounded by beauty.

3. As mentioned in my last post, I took an intro to sailing class at the local yacht club. The cost was only $30 for two full weekends of classroom instruction and sailing.

Rigging the J-22.

Catching the wind.

I don’t really get sailing, and I certainly can’t afford it as a hobby, but I feel blessed to have the time and money to take the class and to spend a few days with people who know everything there is to know about sailing.

4. Mountain laurels are in bloom.

Making my world smell lovely.

What are you grateful for lately?

p.s. I’m wearing The Sweater in the sailing photos (taken by my friend Sylvie).

To Ponder: Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. |-Howard Thurman-|

How a Giant Ball of Yarn Came Out of a Sailing Class

The first thing that happened is that I read a post on the Classic Elite blog about making a magic ball of yarn.

The idea is to make your own variegated yarn by tying different yarns together. They suggest that you get a bunch of friends together who bring their yarn leftovers and odd balls—they called it a “magic ball party”—and swap out yarns.

Introverts don’t need parties or believe in magic, but I liked the idea.

The second thing that happened is that I had bunches of lengths of yarn from the zillion projects I’ve knit over the past few months. I snip them off, then pile them on the table next to my knitting loveseat with the intention of walking them over to my kitchen trash can at some point.*

The third thing that happened is that I took an intro to sailing class at the local yacht club. I’m not very good at sailing, so we’ll skip over that part.

After all the talk of sheets and lines, jibs and jibes, and tacks and booms, we learned how to tie a few knots—a cleat knot, a figure eight, a bowline, and a square knot. I was especially interested in the last one because you can join two balls of yarn using a square knot.

Well, most people can join two balls of yarn that way. I tried a few times, but could never get the hang of it, so I usually do a spit splice.

After the class, though, I’m a master square knot tyer (tie-er?).

And 1+2+3=

200g of yarn.

After crossing and re-crossing my left and right brains while designing my Icelandic sweater, I needed something mindless to knit, so I picked up some US9 needles, cast on 50 stitches, and started the most mindless of all knitting: a garter stitch scarf.

I hope this looks better when I’m finished.

I’ll have to leave the ends poking out for the simple reason that there’s no way I’m going to weave them all in.


*See? Sometimes good things come from procrastination.

To Ponder: We waste so many days waiting for the weekend. So many nights wanting morning. Our lust for future comfort is the biggest thief of life. |-Joshua Glenn Clark-|