Designer Crush: Carina Spencer
A couple weeks ago Carina Spencer (knitter and knitwear designer out of Kansas City) put up an Instagram post of her posing in her newly finished Ondawa sweater. This heavily cabled, boxy pullover is on many knitters’ bucket lists, and Spencer looked flawless in her absolutely flawless sweater.
As beautiful and perfect as her sweater may be, her caption was incredibly honest and eloquent, and it reminded me of what a gift it is to be able to knit. Here’s a bit of her post:
‘Ondawa is done and she’s perfect. She’s perfect because I made her that way. Because I knit and ripped and re-knit. And blocked and knit and re-blocked. And seamed and ripped and re-knit and re-blocked and re-seamed. Knitting is a slow and forgiving craft that gives you every opportunity to get it just the way you want it. I appreciate that endlessly.
That quality is in stark contrast to the rest of life which I often experience in varying degrees of awkward and uncomfortable with migraines, anxiety, and a general amorphous darkness making my body into an ill-fitting sweater I can’t take off or “fix”.’
‘I embrace, even celebrate, the unpredictability and imperfection of life and who I am within it, but f*** it feels good to know that I can count on at least this one thing to turn out the way I want it to be.’
Forgive me for quoting her liberally, but I think she put it quite nicely: knitting is a forgiving craft and the end result is entirely in your hands.
Recognizing that Spencer is totally awesome, brave and honest, I decided to take a look back at her designs and share some of them with you! I highly encourage you to check out all of her patterns, as she has a huge variety of projects out there in the world, for people of all ages. And whether you pursue perfection or progress in your knitting, remember that it is all yours, and it’s wonderful because you made it by hand.
I love this clever cowl, which combines some twisted rib and some lace to add some texture and shape into a distinctive cowl. I also love that it’s knit up in an aran weight yarn, so the whole project requires anywhere from 250 to 500 yards of yarn (more is more, as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to scarves and cowls – but that’s me). Either way, it’s not a huge investment of time and yarn, and there’s some fun technique involved. I particularly like how the yarn-overs in the lace sections enlarge certain parts of the cowl, creating some cool lines in the cowl. Since I want knitting to feel good, always, I’d think about doing this in a really lovely yarn like Falkland or Iris from Pure Bliss. Someone who is really good to themselves should think about combining Shibui’s Maai with Birch or Staccato, and this would create a heavenly piece.
The Lucy Hat is one of Spencer’s most popular patterns. This little cloche is knit up in a worsted weight yarn, and it’s little flipped edge (produced with some short rows) seems to have universal appeal. Why wouldn’t it? It’s fun and feminine, and a quick and satisfying project. Try knitting up Lucy in something like Malabrigo’s Rios or HiKoo’s Sueno for a finished object similar to the pictured version. This hat is going to be fabulous no matter what you choose, so remember Shepherd’s Wool, Falkland, Iris, an Shelter all as wonderful possibilities for this project.
Capelets are on the brain thanks to a friend who planted a seed on this sort of project, and I love Spencer’s version here. Her Codex Capelet is worked in a worsted weight yarn and is reversible thanks to a clever reversible cable. I love how she wears it as a cape or a snood (yes, that’s a real thing – think scarf/hood combo), which just makes this cute and fun piece all the more versatile. All of the lovely yarns mentioned above for the Lucy Hat would be perfect for the Codex Capelet!
This piece is similar in shape and versatility to the Codex Capelet, but here Spencer uses 4 colors of fingering weight yarn to create an ombre effect. Also, for this piece, the shaping is created by changing needle size and adding additional strands of yarn. Once again, I love that this piece is worn as a cape, cowl and hood. It does it all with a lot of adventurous color.
This pattern must be Spencer’s most popular Ravelry download. It’s been around forever, and it’s super cute. Spencer wrote this pattern to accommodate sport weight or worsted weight yarns, and its required yardage is pretty minimal. Besides that this piece is lovely and distinctive, it’s a wonderful project for someone ready to dabble in lace. At a time when gift knitting is at a high, keep this project in mind for special people!!
Spencer has a bunch of patterns for babies and children – it’s hard to narrow it down, but this one is a lot of fun. The seamless kimono is written for kids of all ages – from babies up to size to a children’s size 12. Knit in a worsted weight yarn, there’s a lot of room for creativity here. Stripe it and/or create an inlaid “belt”, this whimsical project is going to be easy for your favorite little people to wear. Since this piece is for kids, I recommend a super wash yarn like Spud & Chloe Sweater, HiKoo’s Sueno or Malabrigo’s Rios!
I hope you’ll check out all of Spencer’s patterns! If you’re on Instagram and appreciate an authentic point of view, I recommend following her!