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Katie Berman and her textile adventures.

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A growing collection of my musings including collaborations, thoughts about textiles and more.

HOW TO ADJUST A KNITTING PATTERN TO WORK FOR YOU

Katie Berman

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Fun fact about me: I love puzzles. Love ‘em. Sit a 1,000 piece puzzle down in front of me and I’ll be glued to the table until it’s complete! It turns out that jigsaw puzzles aren’t the only puzzles that I enjoy. I also love a good knitting puzzle, as I like to call them. Knitting patterns that I adjust to my liking are just a big ole puzzle with a fabulous prize of a finished garment at the end!

With this year’s goal being to bust through my yarn stash, I’ve had to do a lot of knitting puzzles to use up what I have before buying new yarns. For those that are looking to make a pattern in a different yarn gauge, this post is for you! 

Here are some of my tips and tricks on what numbers I look to and maths that I do in order to adjust my knitting patterns to suite my fit or yarn needs!

** DISCLAIMER: Some of the tips in this post may seem a little vague. In order to protect the intellectual property of Jessie Mae’s pattern, I have not taken pictures of or given verbatim quotes from her pattern. If you would like to make this brallette-turned-tank, purchase her pattern and if you have any specific questions about adjusting the pattern you can contact me. I’d be happy to walk you through some steps!

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Things You Need to Know Before Starting Your Knitting Puzzle:

  • Your Body Measurements - Make sure you have measured and noted all of the body measurements that your pattern lists as reference points for determining your pattern size. This is usually your bust, waist and hip measurements. I also measure the length from my neckline to what I want my intended hemline to be (squatty torso problems….).

  • The Yarn You Want to Use and Its Gauge - Yep, this means you need to swatch the yarn you want to use! Yeah, it’s my least favorite part too, but this is the most crucial step to get your math right!

  • Your Desired Fit - What fit are you going for? Are you trying to make your finished garment a little bit boxier, slimmer, longer, shorter? Decide your dream garment and take note of what you want to adjust.

To bring a visual to working through the knitting puzzle process, I’ll use my latest make as an example-- Jessie Mae’s Ripple Bralette that I hacked into a tank. This is a great pattern for my knitting puzzle beginners!

Things that I knew going into this puzzle was that I wanted a more loose fitting, longer top than what the bralette was originally designed for. I also had yarn at a larger gauge than what the pattern called for. 

I first referred to the finished garment’s measurements to see if there was a size that most lined up with my fit needs. The fit that I wanted was more closely in line with a size 2XL. I found it helpful to go through my pattern instructions and highlight all numbers that referred to my chosen 2XL size. I’d be returning to these numbers later on.

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Next, I compared the original knitting gauge of the pattern to the new knitting gauge that I had swatched. I was mainly looking for how many stitches were in an inch. This is the foundation of adjusting a pattern for yarn gauge and is why your swatch is so, so important.  

For the yarn that I was using, I determined that my gauge was 4 st/inch and 5 st/row. 

For the Ripple Bralette (and for all patterns you adjust for yarn gauge), the number that required the most significant change was the initial number of stitches to cast on. I had a larger gauge of yarn which meant that I needed to cast on less stitches than what the pattern said. 

This is where I referred back to the finished measurements for a 2XL in the pattern and all of my need-to-know notes. This pattern is knit from the hem up. I wanted the hem to hit at my hip, not under my bust, so I knew that my initial number of cast on stitches needed to fit my hip measurement. For the 2XL, the hem circumference measurement was 39 inches which happened to be my hip measurement. Hooray! Time to break out those math skills!


39 (inches) x 4 (st/inch) = 156 cast on stitches

*Important Note*
Before moving forward, I had to double check that my number of cast on stitches would fit with the knitted pattern.
This pattern is knit in a 3x3 rib, so my cast on stitch number needed to be a number that was divisible by 3 in order to keep the pattern seamless.
When knitting up a garment that has a specific knitted pattern, you must make sure that your adjustments still flow seamlessly with that pattern. 

In this diagram, the circle represents my total circumference (156 st). I split the circumference in half (78 st) then split the back of my circle in half again (39 st). I then evenly distribute my straps along the back stitches.

In this diagram, the circle represents my total circumference (156 st). I split the circumference in half (78 st) then split the back of my circle in half again (39 st). I then evenly distribute my straps along the back stitches.

156 is divisible by 3 (phew!), so I was good to go! Everything flowed from there on out. Jessie’s pattern is so lovely to follow, with the instructions based on length measurements than specific number of rows (i.e. work in pattern established for 9” or desired length…). This made it easy to adjust measurements as I went along like the length of my torso or the length of my straps.

Another major part of the pattern that needed some significant adjusting was where to place the straps. I found it helpful to draw things out in order to understand where things should land.


Welp, those are my notes for how I hack my knitting patterns to fit my needs.
I hope this helps you along in your knitting puzzles! If you hit a bump in a pattern
you’re trying to adjust, don’t hesitate to reach out! I’d love to try and help! 

Cheers,
-KB

ON TRYING AGAIN

Katie Berman

My friends, it’s been one of those weeks. I feel like I’m in a creative slump and everywhere I turn I keep hitting a wall. This happens every time I finish a body of work. I’m on a roll, cooking up designs left and right and feeling good about by choices. And when I complete a collection and I shift gears to begin something new, I can’t seem to get it right. The ideas and visions that look amazing in my dreams don’t seem to measure up when the morning comes.

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I’ve spent most of this week ripping out stitches which has led me to meditate a lot on starting over. On trying again. On not giving up.

One of things that I love most about punch needle is that it can be, at times, quite forgiving. To be honest, I think that’s what drew me to textiles in the first place so many years ago. I originally planned on studying graphic design, but quickly changed my tune within my first semester of university. The forgiveness I experience in textiles is different than that of digital design. Sure, graphic design is extremely forgiving (praise the good Lord for Ctrl+Z….) but almost too forgiving. There’s no sense of permanency with my graphic design work. But with textiles, it’s different. I take things that are existing and somewhat more permanent and I shape them into something else. And the fact that I can take that solid material and morph it and change my mind and morph it again… and again… aaaand maybe just one more time is a fascinating concept to me.

In graphic design, my process can be erased completely— never to be thought of again. In textiles, there can still exist shadows of the journey. Memory of the path that led me to my final work.

My textile practice is a tangible, real-time experience of maturing. And not maturing from gathering a wealth of knowledge and fact. But a maturing grown through grace and forgiveness and hope. This textile practice teaches me forgiveness. It teaches me the inevitability of change. It teaches me patience even in the times when I just want the work. to. be. done. already. It teaches me gentleness with myself and my thoughts. It’s okay to have a not super great first idea. It’s okay to change it. It’s okay to try again.

Today I was struck by the beauty in the ghost of my original idea. The foundation cloth has such a great way of showing you the constellations of what it held. The beauty is that I can still use this piece of material and punch new ideas into it. The materials were not wasted. The original idea was not wasted. It was not a reflection of utter failure. It was just a first step and I needed to change directions.

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I’m not sure how many times I’ll have to go through this ripping out process before my new collection takes shape, but I’m learning to live with it. For those out there in a creative rut— your time in the slump is not wasted. We’re all gonna make it out and have new work to share with the world soon. I promise. And until then, I’m here for ya. If you need a cheerleader to tell you how awesome you are, come chat with your friend Katie.

To new things on the horizon.
- KB

ME-MADE-MAY 2019

Katie Berman

I think it’s safe to say that May is one of my favorite months. It’s usually beautiful weather here in NC and I get all crazy excited about planting flowers and gearing up for the warm summer months. It’s also the month dedicated to #memademay!

Me-Made-May is a movement started by Zoe Edwards which challenges makers to “wear hand-created clothing every day for a month. The aim is to encourage people to bring the DIY and handmade ethos into their everyday lives, and to develop a better relationship with your handmade wardrobe.”

This is strictly a gentle, personal challenge and not a photo challenge which I have to say I really appreciate. This year, I wanted to see how many days I could wear a me-made item without repeating an outfit. That in itself was a challenge as I repeat outfits all. the. time (sometimes in the same week, oops!). I was able to make it… 10 days.

Not too shabby, but I thought I had more me-mades! Where did they go?! I quickly realized that a lot of my me-mades are sweaters which are waaaay too warm for this time of year in NC. I also realized a few others things about my habits and wardrobe, so let’s head to the lessons-I’ve-learned-about-myself-and-life-and-stuff portion of this post (queue hyper speed whizzing noises):

Things I learned about myself:

I have a type.
The reason I repeat so many outfits is that I know what I like and what I feel good in. I’ve honed in on what cuts, styles and colors I like best and I’ve filled my wardrobe with those things. I tend to gravitate toward boxier tops and dresses and slim fit bottoms usually in a neutral and/or subtle stripe or polka dot.

I don’t have that many articles of clothing… and I don’t feel the need for more.
Now don’t get me wrong. I have my eye on a few new patterns that I definitely plan on making this year (I’m lookin’ at you, Wiksten Shift Dress). But as I examined my closet over the course of this month, I didn’t feel that I was truly lacking in any particular area. If I’m okay with repeating outfits, then I don’t need more things. I’ll just use what I have. As someone always looking for an excuse to make more things, I found this really refreshing.

I don’t do laundry all that much.
This is just another point to why I repeat outfits so often as items are always in my closet and not hiding in my laundry basket. That and I don’t always have the best memory. If I didn’t keep notes of my outfits this month for Me-Made-May tracking purposes, I would have repeated an outfit almost immediately. Did I already wear you this week? Ah, who cares! (convo with myself almost daily…)

So what do I wear? A list of my favorite go-tos:

Here’s a collection of my fave patterns:

 

Self-drafted boxy crop tops

I can’t link to a pattern on this one. I literally traced a favorite boxy top I had in my drawer several years ago and made a pattern for myself. No sleeves inset. No funny business. Just the way I like it.

Top is made with an organic cotton knit I snagged years ago from Spoonflower. Print designer unknown. Ps. I work part-time there, so snagging discounted, flawed Marketplace fabric is way too easy. So thankful that one of my job benefits is a monthly stipend to purchase fabric. #blessed

 
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Anything from In the Folds + Peppermint Magazine
I’m thankful every day for the collab between In the Folds + Peppermint that provides the best free (yeah, you heard me— FREE) sewing patterns to the maker community. My favorites are the Peplum Top and the Jumpsuit. I have multiples of each. I’ve got their Wide Leg Pants on my #makenine list this year too.

Peplum top is made from Spoonflower’s Retired Kona® Cotton featuring Micklyn’s Evening Proteas in Indigo Denim Blue.

Jumpsuit is made with a cotton sateen I scored from a closing sale at a local store (RIP Lumina….). I made some adjustments to the pattern by adding pockets and elastic ankle cuffs.

 

Sew Liberated Arenite Pants

Easy, breezy, beatiful… Arenite Pants. Plus, they’re created by a Durham resident, so I feel a sense of local pride when I wear them.

Pants are made with a cotton I picked up from one of my LYS, Downtown Knits. I can’t remember who makes it… It’s got some great texture though, with a subtle white stripe woven into the fabric. They are the most comfortable pants I own.

 
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Seamwork Aster

This is my ultimate go-to for a short-sleeved button up, though I’m also going to give the Closet Case Kalle Shirt a whirl this year.

Top is made from a Robert Kaufman Linen Cotton blend.

 

Grainline Studio Archer Button Up
My go-to for a long-sleeved button up. Solid and sturdy.

Top is made with Spoonflower’s Retired Kona® Cotton featuring Dina Ramay’s Handful small.

 
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Did you take part in #memademay? What did you learn this year?

 

CONFESSIONS OF A FASHION REVOLUTIONARY

Katie Berman

I have a confession. Two weeks before Fashion Revolution Week… I bought a new pair of shoes.

For some this may not seem like a big deal. But for someone like me who strives to add to my wardrobe ethically and responsibly, this is a deal of sorts. I don’t do that anymore, I think to myself. Let’s back up and give a lil’ context…

Rana Plaza collapse in April 2013. Photo: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

Rana Plaza collapse in April 2013. Photo: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

Fashion Revolution Week is a social media campaign that centers around demanding transparency in fashion supply chains around the globe. After the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory on April 24, 2013 that killed 1,138 people and injured many more, much of the world’s eyes were open to the horrific working conditions of the factories that make our clothes. My eyes were one of the pairs that were opened that year and I haven’t been able to unsee. Not only does this movement demand transparency, but it demands that we do better in manufacturing and consuming.

Since gaining this awareness, I made a pact with myself about how I added to my wardrobe. Items that I added to my wardrobe had to be: made ethically to the best of my knowledge, handmade by me, or secondhand. And I’ve stuck to that pact…mostly.

This pact comes with difficulty. I’m not sure about my other conscious consumers, but things that I find hard to shop for are undergarments and shoes. “Ethical” undies are usually super basic and boring and expensive. And I find that shoes can be extremely pricey too. What’s a sister to do? I want to support ethical brands, but I have trouble wrapping my brain and budget around spending $30 on a single, nude pair of organic panties that are nooot. cuttte.

And that’s when it hits me— I still walk this line between selflessness and utter selfishness. This conversation comes down to being about… me. My look, my style, what I want. Don’t get me wrong— I think our clothing can be an amazing avenue to display our personalities and individuality and I love that about fashion. But how much am I willing to sacrifice for that? It’s not just about sacrificing money, it’s about what my money means. When I use my money to buy fast fashion items, what I’m ultimately doing is creating demand for a way of manufacturing that comes, in some cases, at the cost of human life. I’m saying exploiting other humans for my own wants and cheaper fashions are okay. And it’s not.

Dress is a me-made  In the Folds + Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top  made into a dress. The shoes I speak of are from  Naturalizer .

Dress is a me-made In the Folds + Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top made into a dress. The shoes I speak of are from Naturalizer.

So back to these shoes. I love them. I wear them. I want to wear them for years to come. And yet, I didn’t do my homework. In the end I cared more about myself and my style than about the possible conditions of the person who made them. I took a peek at Good On You, an organization that rates brands on their transparency and ethics, and found that this brand scored a “Not Good Enough”. Ooof.

So where do we go from here? We learn. I learn. Let’s do more research and do better next time. Let’s weigh what the true cost of a garment may be before I purchase it. One of the first in-depth talks I heard on this topic was from Josh Porter out in Portland. He shared that when it comes to responsibly consuming, it comes down to caring more deeply about the people that make our stuff than our stuff (paraphrased).

That has stuck with me ever since I heard it the first time. And for those that know me well, you know that people are at the center of my heart. I yearn to spend my days caring more deeply about others. And the folks that make our clothes and shoes count as others in my life.

I am grateful for this awareness, but some days I feel that I am tortured by it. Why can’t I just buy a cute pair of shoes and be done with it?? Sigh… So I want to hear from you, my fellow conscious consumers. Is there anyone else out there that feels tortured or has a moment of guilty shopping? What do you do about it?

And if you have any sources on where I can get ethically made, cute panties and bras— please do share.

Thanks for listening, my loves.
Talk soon,
- KB

ONE ACRE EXCHANGE HEMP ART SHOW

Katie Berman

The different stages of hemp. Photo by  Anna Carson Dewitt.

The different stages of hemp. Photo by Anna Carson Dewitt.

April 26-May 12

This week is the opening of a project I’ve been helping to curate for many months— a gallery show celebrating community built through a shared hemp fiber supply chain!

In this show, we have gathered together a group of artists (including yours truly), given them Durham-grown hemp fiber and asked them run with it. The show is sure to be diverse in content and show off the amazing possibilities that can come when farmers and artisans are brought together by a shared love.

Participating in conversations and practices around responsibly grown/made textiles is at the heart of my personal studio practice. My connection with the One Acre Exchange crew was kismet and I am beyond thrilled that I get to come alongside this team and navigate the new waters of what it means to grow and use industrial hemp in our county.

Final prepping for my piece  Hemp Texture Study #1  which will be featured in the show.

Final prepping for my piece Hemp Texture Study #1 which will be featured in the show.

The show opens this Friday, April 26 at The Carrack in Durham, NC. We’ll also be hosting a couple of additional events including a Piedmont Fibershed meeutp and a round table meeting for farmers and artists. Head to the Carrack’s website to get all the dets. I hope you can join us!

Curators:

Katie Berman
Tyler Jenkins
Courtney Lockemer

Featured Fiber Artists:

Nicole Asselin
Katie Berman
Alexandra Burchette
Janie Kimmel
Kelly Walsh

Events:

Artist Talk + Opening Reception:
Friday, Apr. 26 | 6:30-9:30p

Piedmont Fibershed Meetup:
Thursday, May 2 | 7-8:30p

Farmers + Artisans Meeting:
Sunday, May 5 | 5:30-7:30p

LAYERS OF DIGNITY BENEFIT SHOW

Katie Berman

To Find a Quiet Place  Wool and cotton, 23in x 11in

To Find a Quiet Place
Wool and cotton, 23in x 11in

This year I’ve made it a goal to invest more time in creating fine art work. It’s crazy to think that it’s been almost 7 years since I submitted work into a gallery show. After graduating art school and in the throes of trying to figure out how to merge my art with a sustainable income, I immersed myself in trying to create a retail line and fit into the handmade maker/market community. I spent the next few years hauling my wares to local markets, trying to figure out a world I didn’t know and in the end didn’t fit into. Though I was having a blast getting to know folks in the community and talking to people about my process, my business was ultimately failing. The work I was producing was not what the local, handmade consumer wanted.

To Find a Quiet Place  in progress.

To Find a Quiet Place in progress.

But what did I want? I wanted to create functional art— heavy on the art part. So I closed the business and spent a year reflecting, researching and opening myself up to creating fine art once again. I wanted to return to creating from deep places with broad, organic, gestural, abstract strokes. To make for the sake of making.

Art serves a purpose. It’s necessary. And that’s something I didn’t quite believe once I left school. Who would ever want my art?

So this year, I’m saying yes. Yes to gallery shows. Yes to putting my self out there. Yes to putting my work out there. Yes to being open minded about future businesses and endeavors. Yes.

I’ve said yes to not one, but two(!), shows so far this year— one that I’m helping to curate! And it’s only April. Who knows what the rest of the year may hold.

The work pictured at the top of this post is a piece I submitted to my first show this year. It was donated to a benefit show for Layers of Dignity. Created by two nurses, the gals at Layers of Dignity strive to support and clothe the sexually assaulted in our local community— layering them in their dignity. What an honor it was to donate a piece to their show. And, along with all of the other amazing submissions, it sold! They raised over $2,000 in art sales through our show. I don’t know where my works’ forever home is, but I’m so thankful.

SPOONFLOWER COLLAB - VISIBLE MENDING

Katie Berman

The knees of my much loved  Raleigh Denims  patched over and over. The colorful patch is made with  Spoonflower’s Dogwood Denim . Design is   Protea flannel flowers and wattle on dark polka dot  by mabouk.

The knees of my much loved Raleigh Denims patched over and over. The colorful patch is made with Spoonflower’s Dogwood Denim. Design is Protea flannel flowers and wattle on dark polka dot by mabouk.

Visible Mending 101: How to Extend the Life of Your Wardrobe

For those that know me well, you know that I am passionate about loving my clothes well, making them last and keeping unnecessary textile waste out of our landfills. I was so stoked when Spoonflower invited me to chat about just that on their blog this month! Check out our conversation and a quick tutorial on visible mending. Give your clothes a second (or third or fourth life in my case) with little mending TLC!