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Designer Spotlight: Nancy Eiseman

January 14, 2015

Winter’s chill has finally arrived, and sweater knitting is all we can think about! Nancy Eiseman’s Aster Cardigan, knit in Spud & Chloë Sweater yarn, recently caught our eye over on Ravelry. This classic design features textured stitches and some interesting design elements which all come together to create a wearable garment. This month, we caught up with Nancy to chat about this new design. She gave us an inside peek into her design process and also shares some great tips for knitters. Enjoy!

1. What was the design process like for the Aster Cardigan?
I wanted to make a warmer spring/summer cardigan that would look nice with skirts and dresses, so for this design I started with the yarn. I was looking for a heavier-weight cotton yarn and found Spud & Chloë Sweater.

I had an image in my head of the length and general shape that would work for this cardigan when I started to play with stitch ideas with the Sweater yarn. I liked the stitch definition that the yarn gave me and I knit swatches of a few different texture stitches.

At the same time, I began sketching ideas in my sketchbook. This is my typical process. I knit a swatch, then I sketch ideas, which then gives me more ideas about swatches to knit, which then gives me more ideas to sketch. At that point I typically have several swatches piled up and several pages of sketches in my sketchbook, and then I have to decide what I want to make most. Which idea will make the best design and best sweater?

For the Aster Cardigan, I liked the contrast of the texture of the Roman Rib stitch against a smooth stockinette stitch and worked on ideas to combine those stitches and create the simple, slightly boxy, sweater shape that I had in mind. It seemed easy to make inset pockets fit into this design, and as I was knitting I thought how fun to work the pocket linings in a contrasting color so that the color would peek out a little bit.

2. How did you arrive at choosing Spud & Chloë Sweater yarn for this design?
I was looking for a heavier cotton yarn and Spud & Chloë Sweater really fit the bill. I liked that it is partly wool, which would give a little extra warmth while the cotton component creates a drier feel which is nice in warmer weather.

Color also influences my decision about yarn choice, and I like the Spud & Chloë palette for this yarn. The grey that I chose for the Aster Cardigan is a lovely, fresh shade that can be paired with almost any color.

3. Do you find that there is any crossover from your day job as a textile designer to your knitwear designing?
I am sure that my experience and training as a textile designer strengthens my ability to design knits. As a textile designer, I design jacquard-woven fabric that is mass produced for use as upholstery and then used in public spaces (office furniture, healthcare settings, hotels, restaurants, retail spaces, etc), so in a way it is very different than designing for hand knitters.

However, at the same time, in my work as a textile designer, I am very tuned into color, texture, proportions and basic design principles. So the skill set translates very well to knitting design. Like knit design, designing jacquard-woven fabric is very technical and creative at the same time. Learning to knit, read and write stitch charts, calculate and grade patterns, seemed like a natural jump to me as a weave designer.

4. What is your best tip for anyone who is new to knitting sweaters?
Read the patterns very carefully! Always read ahead a little in a pattern, but then take the pattern line by line and just be careful that you understand the directions. Make a copy of the pattern that you can write on so that you can mark it up and keep track of exactly where you are in the pattern.

Additional Advice:
• Always knit a gauge swatch and be sure that it really comes out to correct gauge. If it is just ¼ inch too small or too large, your sweater will be many inches too small or large.
• Always measure gauge on a swatch that has been blocked.
• If you are not sure about how to do a technique, look it up in a book or Google it and watch a video.
• Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges in knitting (You can always Google techniques if you don’t already know them).
• Don’t be afraid to rip out if you notice a mistake that will always bother you. Ripping out is part of knitting, so just consider it part of the process.

The Aster Cardigan is available here on Ravelry.
You can visit nancyeiseman.com to see more of Nancy’s work and read her blog.

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