Mandy Kordal Wants to Help You Make a Chain-Stitch Necklace

You can do it. Really.

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Though the sleek knitted tanks and dresses from Mandy Kordal’s line are a little (ok, a lot) daunting for us to take on ourselves, the Brooklyn-based designer is all about encouraging others to get their yarn on. So grab a crochet hook and get cracking: This handmade necklace, a riff on one Mandy creates on her knitting machine, is super fresh—and looks especially rad layered. —koun bae

Materials:
+ Sport-weight yarn (1 skein will be more than enough)
+ A few metal bugle beads (available at craft and beading stores)
+ Sport-weight yarn crochet hook

Instructions:

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Step 1: Taking one end of the yarn, make a slipknot by creating a loop with your yarn, making sure that the tail of the yarn is behind your loop. Then, create a second loop and pull it under and through your first loop. A super easy-to-follow video can be viewed here.

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Step 2: Insert the crochet needle into the slipknot and tighten by pulling on the ends of the yarn. Make sure it’s not too tight, though, since you have to continue to pull yarn through your knot in the next step.

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Step 3: Begin a crochet chain stitch by sliding the slipknot lower on the needle. Move the needle under and then over the yarn and then use the needle hook to pull it through the slipknot. Here is a video that shows you how to do the chain stitch. Try and keep the tension tight but consistent!

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Step 4: Continue to repeat the chain stitch until the piece reaches your desired length. I made this one 35 inches.

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Step 5: Cut the yarn, leaving a tail a few inches long and make a small knot at the end of the piece as close to the knitted section as possible. Add any decorative bugle beads you’d like by just stringing them through. I added one right in the middle.

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Step 6: To make a finished closure, take both tails of the necklace and thread them through one bugle bead. Make a few simple, thick knots to hold the bead in place. (These should be hidden by the bugle bead.) Remember to create a thick enough knot so that the bugle bead is held and doesn’t slip out!

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Step 7: Your piece is complete! Happy knitting!

Mandy knit us one amazing edition—get it before it’s gone!

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See Exactly How Lindsay Degen Knit Her Of a Kind Edition

Watch this tank come together like magic.

Making a tank top on a knitting machine? That’s no easy task. But Lindsay Degen is an old pro who knows exactly what it takes to turn out a hit. Here, she breaks it down, step-by-step. —carlye wisel

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“My all-in-one-piece Jordana Tank Top is named after one of my best friends, Jordana Martin. I wanted to do something where you could knit everything in one piece to limit the finishing. This is the first time I’ve knit something only in one piece! I cast on 146 stitches. This will be the very bottom of the tank. I knit 259 rows in the main color. I decrease 1 stitch every 2 rows for the arm hole.”

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“I cast off the neck hole and begin the left shoulder. The knitting machine has to be in the ‘hold’ position, and I have to knit one strap at a time.”

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“After the second strap is finished, I cast on the middle again to form the back of the neck hole. Because I am knitting all in one piece, I have now gone over the shoulders and am working my way back down. Yay, halfway!”

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“I increase back out 1 stitch every 2 rows until I have the original 146 stitches.”

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“I knit the main color again for 259 rows.”

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“Cast off!”

Itching to see what the tank looks like once Lindsay stitches up the sides? Well, get it now!

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Degen

Lindsay Degen did learn to knit from her grams at the age of three, but that’s the only old-lady thing about her work. Majoring in textiles at RISD and diving right into her own line in 2011, Lindsay quickly secured her spot as a member of the knitwear illuminati with her gallery-worthy installations and splashy wearable designs. “People are more accepting of knitting as an art form instead of a craft, so there are even more outlets for knitting now,” she explains.

On the clothing side of things, she and her trusty knitting machine inject crop tops, leggings, hats, socks, and (yes!) sweaters with energetic patterns and colorful motifs that make pulling on a turtleneck more fun than it ever should be. And Lindsay also finds time to teach classes at the Textile Arts Center in Gowanus—“I love that there’s that kind of interest, that people my age are interested in doing my thing”—collaborates with cool peeps like Todd Selby, and outfits her littlest fans in Degen Baby. As she puts it, “I’m just trying to explore knitting everywhere that I can.” —carlye wisel

degen-nyc.com

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Degen’s Guide to the Coolest Knitters Around

This is Lindsay Degen’s clan.

We had no idea how astonishingly rad and creative knitting had become until Lindsay Degen—the woman behind a top-notch knit line herself—broke it all down for us. Here’s a helpful guide to the players who are earning the art form the respect it deserves. —carlye wisel

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Sam Jaffe is one of my favorite knitters out there. She’s in Chicago, and she does installation-based work. She makes everything from really large-scale knit sculptures to two-foot, 3D wall hangings that kind of look like mandalas. We collaborated on the set for my spring/summer 2013 fashion show together, and we just really enjoyed each other”

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Liz Collins was my knitting professor in college, and she has this group called Knitting Nation that performs at places like MoMA and the Contemporary Art Museum in Boston. Her work is awesome. It attacks issues about the knitting world and the fashion world in different ways.”

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Jessie Hemmons is one of the more prominent yarn bombers out there—she covers massive areas overnight in knitting. I don’t even know if she has licenses to do it sometimes, but she’s one of the best. She even knitted a bikini for a statue of the Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo.”

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Joe Segal is playful with colors and likes things that are kind of crafty. But at the same time, he knows the most modern, complicated knitting technology out there today—he can program a knitting machine, which is rare. He was actually on Project Runway, which was amazing! His playful line is called Pretty Snake—he does this design of these crazy cats with 3D eyeballs that’s awesome.”

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"I really like Of a Kind favorite Annie Larson's work. We've never met—and I've never felt her work—but we have an intern in common whose name is Ann Larson. I know. She's also an awesome knitter!”

Like what you see? You’re going to love Lindsay’s creation: a super-fly hand-knit tank!

Liz Collins photo by Arthi Sundaresh, Title: KNITTING NATION Phase 7: Darkness Descends, Year: 2011, Artist: Liz Collins; Jesse Hemmons photo courtesy of Conrad Benner.

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Get Your Knit on with Ryan DeBonville

A 101 to dive on in.

Ryan DeBonville, who makes exceedingly cozy scarves and hats, wasn’t a knitting natural—despite his grandmother’s best efforts. “I took an official class about 10 years ago, but I am basically self-taught,” he says. And as a result, his methods are a little, er, unconventional. Here, he shows us how to cast on—knitting-speak for “get the party started.” —jessie pascoe

Step 1: Watch These YouTube Videos.
“What I didn’t have growing up that would have saved me a few years of trial and error are these YouTube videos. These are two clips [Ed: here and here!] I’ve been sending to people for years.”

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Step 2: Make a Chain.
“Casting on was always the hardest part about learning how to knit for me, and I would have to wait until I saw my Grandma again for her to start another scarf. I decided to try myself and the quick, easy solution I came up with was to first make a chain out of the yarn either using my fingers or a crochet hook.”

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Step 3: Thread the Needle.
“The second step is to thread the knitting needle through the chain.

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Step 4: Get Knitting.
“The final step in casting on is to begin knitting! Anytime I get stuck on a stitch or can’t get a piece quite right, I check back to YouTube.”

Get your hands on Ryan’s cozy-as-hell knit beanie now! Your ears will thank you profusely.

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Ryan DeBonville

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It’s hardly rare for designers to hold down odd jobs to pursue their fashion goals, but Ryan DeBonville’s current gig takes the cake. “In 2009, I quit my men’s personal shopper job at J.Crew so I could work at my friend’s tanning salon and knit more,” chuckles the San Francisco native. “I was so embarrassed to tell J.Crew.”

But the time had come to focus more on his work—Ryan had been perfecting his craft for 25 years. “My Grandma used to pick me up from pre-school, and there wasn’t anything to play with other than my mom’s old dolls,” Ryan explains. “She tried to teach me to knit a few times. But that didn’t work out too well, so I made up a way.” This eventually led to his first apparel creation: an oversized sweater inspired by one of his mother’s Neiman Marcus pieces from the eighties.

Ryan’s current collection of infinity scarves and beanies is more timeless but just as thoughtful. “It is an amazing amount of work. About 100 to 200 hours goes into the design and development of each piece,” he notes. “I’d love to start doing sweaters and bags…and to start using knitting machines!” —jessie pascoe

etsy.com/shop/ryandebonville

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Liz Hobin Spins a Yarn About Her 5 Favorite Weaves

All in stitches.

You’d think designing—and hand-knitting—scarves could get a little repetitive (translation: blah), but not for Liz Hobin, the woman behind the cozy cowl-focused label Jimmy + Maeve. “I feel so close to each piece that it doesn’t really get boring for me. But to keep it interesting for other people, I am always messing around with different stitches and colorways,” she explains. These are five ways she helps keep the romance alive. —alisha prakash


“This is a classic rib stitch, just jumbo-sized. I love using this stitch to really bring out the piece’s color. I also like how the distinctive folds give it the appearance of a hand-held fan or accordion.”




“This is a classic stockinette stitch—it gives a nice flat look. It is commonly done on a machine, and most garments are made from this stitch. I like it because it’s clean.”


“I like this moss stitch because it appears a little wilder and more natural than others. It gives the illusion of an escalator with its diagonal lines.”




“This is also a rib stitch, but because it’s a tighter knit, it appears to be a stockinette stitch. If you stretch the piece out, you will see the rib.”




“A seed stitch gives the piece a beautiful texture. I love using it for edging on sweaters…or covering a whole piece in it.”



Liz’s edition is coming first thing in the A.M.! Make sure you don’t miss it…

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How Annie Made our Hats

It’s a lot of work. Annie and her machine are no joke.



If you thought that machine knitting meant you could just press a few buttons and kick up your feet, you’ve got the wrong idea. Annie Larson’s device employs technology from the era of the floppy disk and Oregon Trail and requires a lot of personal attention. “To make a sweater, it takes about ten hours from start to finish,” she says. “And the design process can be frustrating—and long and cumbersome. There’s only one way to figure out if something will work, and that’s to actually make it.” Here, she shows us her machine and explains how she created the hats she made just for us.


“All of the yarns sit on the floor and run through the tension unit—that wire frame that extends from the center of the machine.”


“The machine consists of a keyboard-sized instrument that has 200 needles and then the ribbing attachment that has another set of 200 needles and is also the size of a keyboard. Once I cast on, those two different needle beds move close together so that the needles interact with each other to actually make the ribbing.”


“Once the ribbed section is completed, I transfer all of the stitches from the ribbing bed to the main bed by hand with a tiny needle.”


“Now I’m programming in the first pattern, the red and white dashes. The machine is scanning all the information and memorizing the different needle placements. The graph paper is pretty hard to come by. I ordered it from the U.K., and it’s not even made specifically for the machine. I should probably stock up, actually.”


“This next picture shows the second pattern being created. The white needles are extended outwards—that’s how the actual dashes being made.”


“I’m gathering all of stitches at the very top of the hat with a double-eyed tapestry needle. They’re still live stitches, so if I miss one the whole thing can unravel—you have to be very careful, and it’s especially hard with a black yarn because its harder to see.”


“After I finish that part, then I take it off the machine, I steam it, and I wet it down—it’s called blocking—to make sure that all the dimensions are proper. I let it dry that way. When that’s done, I put it back on the machine and match up the different patterns and do a single crochet stitch. If I have really severe color changes like I do in this hat, I use three different linking yarns so that when you stretch it out you don’t see a little red yarn pulling from a blue section.”


“It’s taking on more of a hat form, and now I’m cinching it together. I’m just pulling on the strings—pulling as hard as I can—and tying a knot.”


“You don’t ever see it, but there’s a tiny hole in the center of the hat. All the pompoms have waxed cotton strings that create their entire structure, and I use a hook tool to pull the tail of the pompom through that tiny hole in the top of the hat. Then I use a black button as an anchor—like a nut, I guess—to secure it. Because the string from the pompom is waxed, it sticks super tight. And then it’s all done! That’s it!”

The hat Annie Larson made just for Of a Kind is sold out! Check out (amazing) limited-edition exclusives by other designers here.

Photos courtesy of Annie Larson.

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ALL Knitwear

Annie Larson had never knit anything when she bought her Brother KH 910—a 1980s knitting machine—in January of 2009. “I was really attracted to it. I had never seen anything like it before,” says the Wisconsin native who moved to Minneapolis for college and has since made her way to Brooklyn. “After seeing how the machine knit patterns, the needles moving backward and forward selecting different yarns, I was completely sold! The first few things I ever knit were miniature stockings, dishtowels, and eventually a cardigan.”

Within a matter of months, Annie quit her job at Target HQ where she had worked on design for the juniors Xhilaration line and men’s sweaters—and where she first developed an interest in knits. Turning to her label ALL Knitwear full-time, she quickly developed an amazingly strong—and easily identifiable—point-of-view that has won her quite a fan base as she’s headed east, updated her knitting arsenal, and grown her business. “The patterns I use are often high-contrast, in classic primary and secondary colors and in motifs that have geometric qualities,” Annie explains. “And I use simple shapes like a classic crewneck or stocking hat to maintain a simple, clean appearance.” Another way to describe all of Annie’s pieces: They make you smile.

allknitwear.com

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Of a Kind

My mother is big into knitting. She’s no Yokoo or Tom Scott, but she whips ups some mean knock-offs (Stella McCartney and Oscar de la Renta most recently). She’s started doing this thing where whenever I pick up a sweater I like she tells me not to bother buying it because she’ll make it for me, and then covertly snaps a bevy of  iPhone pictures to send to her pattern maker. So, mom, if you’re reading: I’d like this…thing. Please. —claire

sarazucker:

let us all take a moment to revel in yokoo’s scarf with sleeves.

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