designing · knitting


Sometimes things don’t end up exactly as we’ve planned. It’s true for all of us in our everyday lives and true for designing hand knit sweaters.


Margery whipped up these sketch while we were designing the Spring ’08 season. We planned sweaters in pairs, each a variation on each other. Lalo was a tailored stockinette stitch pullover with an interesting split neckline, while Latifa was going to maintain the neckline details and have severel godet inserts giving it a flared swing shape. I designed a fairly elaborate ribbed insert, then Brenda (our tech editor) wrote up the pattern and sent it off to be knit. Now, I do wish I had a photo of the ribbed insert or of the sweater as it was when it came back it came back from the knitter, but I wasn’t thinking “blog” back then. I promise to try to be better in the future 🙂 

So, there is nothing wrong with Margery’s sketch of Latifa and nothing wrong with Brenda’s original instruction for Latifa, yet Latifa just wasn’t working. The godets were too heavy and saggy and complicated. Margery and I took one look at each other and saw the same expression of dismay on each other’s faces. We SO wanted it to work and it SO didn’t. Then the awful feeling of “I should’ve known” came over me. Maybe we had both known on some level, but instincts don’t always win out. Anyway, after taking a few minutes to get over the frustration and a few more to think about it, One of us suggested that Latifa would look pretty darn cute if we cut off all of the flared bits, and kept it plain and tailored like Lalo. We both broke out into big grins and practically jumped up and down. YES!


I love this little sweater so much the way it is now it’s hard to remember that it started out as something different. I need one in dark brown, of course, to layer over my black batiste peasant blouse.

16 thoughts on “backstory

  1. is that not the way life goes, ‘keeping it simple’ often proves to be the correct way after all.
    thanks for weekly news bits


  2. I adore the finished products!!!! Just what I want and need in several colors. Where/when can I get the patterns???


    PS: SMALL godets don’t usually work for me either, generally dragging a garment down even in light weight yarns.

  3. Well nice to know even the experienced designers don’t hit the nail on the head every time! Thanks for sharing and not pretending to be perfect!….they are very cute indeed!

  4. I have to say that I love watching your knitterbrain work!

    Latifah is darling, I would love it but fear that it is for the young and thin. I am neither.

    Neither of those things have actually stopped me on many occasions so it is best to just wait and see!

  5. No, no, no, Contessa darling, it is NOT just for the young and thin. It’s great for the spreading and boobalicious. (have you not seen a picture of me?) The trick is a loose flowing blouse for underneath.

  6. I’m enjoying seeing some of the design process. My girls were amazed by the “cables” on the Duomo! I just was enjoying the audio slideshow of the new Bonsai booklet and thought immediately upon seeing the strappy tank shaped by decreases with the leaf/diamonds up the middle that it would do very well turned upside down with the upward point in the center front and two straps (that would not fall off the shoulder! coming off of that. Is that possible? (or, more importantly, is it a Very Bad Idea given the yarn, structure of the fabric, drape, etc., etc.?)

  7. Thx for sharing this story. I love both but I agree ~ I need a chocolate brown Latifa in my wardrobe too. Hmm…come to think about it, both won’t be too much either. Thx again and have a wonderful day!

  8. Okay,
    This is off topic but I just wanted to say how much of HUGE fan I am of your work! Your patterns seem to have this great organic/ cosmic feel, as if they were truly spawned from nature. Sorry to gush, but I feel that an artist must be always be honored for their work. Kudos! Thanks for being a knitting designer in my time.
    Sorry about being off topic-I just found the blog.

  9. Hi Norah! I was a guest host on the Stash and Burn podcast this week and shared a little design backstory that Andra shared with me…hoped that was okay, it was so interesting!! It was about the Tilted>Lotus>Currer family. While I want to knit all, ALL of your patterns I probably have the closest “knit-lationship” with those, having knit the Duster, modeled Lotus and tried on Currer at Stitches on million times.

    We love backstory!

  10. This is exactly why I cant display my beautiful yarn in a basket. Its been hijacked several times and ‘spun’ by my cats! On a more serious note, I LOVE your designs and absolutely have to make Latifa since its for the boobalicious. How about the hipalicious and buttalicious too? LOL.

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