One of the perks of this job (and perks of being a PostStitcher, too!) is discovering new designers. This month we had the privilege of getting to know sweater and accessory designer, Kathleen Dames. Her designs feature playful texture with a touch of femininity, for knits that become wardrobe favorites.
This month, we gave Kathleen a tough task: design an accessory using a mini skein set.
She transformed Backyard Fiberworks’ Six Pack of Sock – six, 133 yard skeins of fingering weight yarn – into an on-trend cowl that combines stripes, texture, and exciting lacework.
It’s not everyday someone can be inspired in such a way, so we knew that we had to get to know Kathleen better. So, we asked her our favorite 9 questions to learn more about her design inspirations, what’s she’s knitting, and more!
1. How long have you been knitting?
In earnest since 2003, though I originally learned when I was young. And from my first large-scale project, I was designing. It was a poncho from Melanie Falick’s Weekend Knitting, and I wanted to use a different yarn and was too intimidated to do the baby cable stitch. The lady at the LYS who helped me buy the yarn looked at me like I was crazy, but I knew what I wanted (and my limitations).
2. Who taught you how to knit?
My grandmother, originally, then my friend Emily re-taught me when we worked together at a publishing house in Boston.
3. What is currently on your needles?
Designs for I Knit New York, a collection of patterns I’ve curated with fellow New York designers in Backyard Fiberworks yarns to be published in January 2018. Plus a scarf for Mr. Met – I tweeted a photo of my knitting at a Mets game last summer, and he asked for a sweater.
— Kathleen Dames 🏙 (@kathleendames) May 20, 2017
I don’t see how he could get one over that noggin of his, so a scarf seems like a better idea. My friends at KFI/Juniper Moon saw the tweet (I was working on a design collection for them at the time), got excited, and sent me some perfect yarn (Cumulus in the perfect Mets blue, white, and orange). After a few false starts, I finally came up with a design I love. Now to finish and get it to the best mascot in baseball.
4. Where is the strangest place you have ever knitted?
On the slow ferry to Santorini, though I kept putting down my work to stare at the Aegean. That trip led to the aforementioned pattern collection for Juniper Moon Farm.
Strangest NYC place would probably be the subway or the Staten Island Ferry – I highly recommend using a circular needle, so you don’t drop a DPN or anything (ask me how I know). Well, some might say CitiField during a Mets game is strange, but that seems pretty normal to me!
5. Where is your favorite place to knit?
On the beach in Maine with the waves crashing on the shore. Otherwise in my spot on the couch at home.
6. What is your favorite thing in your notions bag?
My tapestry needle case from the Suffolk Shaker Shop purchased at Rhinebeck a few years ago – it’s this clever hinged case with a tiny magnet to make sure it stays shut, and it is composed of two beautiful woods, so it makes weaving in ends slightly less tedious. And my sheep-y stitch markers from Ann Tudor – they are so cute! The black sheep is my favorite. Oh, and my black sheep tape measure – there’s only one in every flock of white sheep tape measures that your LYS gets, so I feel lucky to have mine. I love having good notions, I guess!
7. What do you do when you’re not knitting?
Raise our kids (9, 12, and 14) with my husband, read books, watch movies – I do all those while knitting, though. Explore New York City, especially places like Grand Central Terminal and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And eat delicious food from around the world (Japanese, Greek, Mexican, and Ukrainian are at the top of my list at the moment), which is fun and doable here.
8. What is on your knitting bucket list?
Probably something like steeking, which I have managed to avoid up until now. Taking scissors to your knitting? Yikes! Before designing Urchin Plumes I would have said, “Coming up with a design that really shows off all those yarn packs I’m obsessed with”. I love how Urchin Plumes turned out, so I can check that off the list. But of course now those design wheels are turning, so I’ll have to see what else I can come up with!
9. Who is your favorite knitting buddy?
For pure knitting companionship, my cat George. He curls up next to me (or on the sofa table just over my shoulder) and keeps an eye on the wool – he can’t be left alone with unsecured yarn, or it gets festooned all over the apartment. Wool pig.
For yarn acquisition, my neighbor Liz and my former roommate Annie – I have done excellent wallet damage over the years with them at places like Rhinebeck and Vogue Knitting Live. I love hunting for the perfect yarns with friends, then coming up with just the right design to show off those treasures.
For on-the-ground knitwear design, my dyeing friends and business partners, Alice/Backyard Fiberworks/I Knit New York http://www.onemorerowpress.com and Anne/Wooly Wonka Fiber/Filament http://www.knitfilament.com – by turns they encourage the blossoming of good ideas and rein in my crazy ones.