Pam Allen: Knitting Icon

The FlutterSleeve Cardigan by Pam Allen

Pam Allen's Flutter Sleeve Cardigan has been on my wish list since it debuted in spring 2008 in Interweave Knits. I love the waistline, and the sleeves are knitted as part of the body—no separate pieces to knit. The shoulder shaping is done with short-rows to give a nice curve, which is a really important bit of design work.

Many sweaters with sleeves knit as part of the body end up with the sleeves sticking straight out from the body, which creates loose fabric under the arms. I'm not a fan of the bunched up extra in the armpits—how about you?

Pam, who was the editor of Interweave Knits for many years, is truly a knitting icon. She's been up to something really special lately—creating a new yarn company!—and I thought you'd like to catch up with her.

Designer Profile: Pam Allen
Pam Allen has been designing for handknitters for over twenty years. Bethany Lyttle chronicled her latest adventures in "Taking Flight" in the Winter 2010 issue of Interweave Knits.

Soon after her fledgling yarn company,  Quince & Co., was up and going, Pam Allen and photographer/designer Carrie Bostick Hoge set up a photo shoot. The subject? A pair of socks that would be featured on the company's website. Well, as anyone who has ever attended a photo shoot knows, the process can be arduous, and some days the outcome is naught. After hours of disappointing results, they decided to call it a day. In response, the model, still wearing the socks and a vintage cotton dress, leaped into the air with glee. Pam looked at Carrie and Carrie at Pam. That was the shot! It appeared soon after on the company blog.

That response typifies Pam Allen's approach to almost everything. She has an uncanny ability to identify beauty and to connect with what is real. Getting things right is more important to her than merely getting things done. Over the course of her professional life, this approach has resulted in knitwear patterns that echo her gentle aesthetic, books that are as open and encouraging as she is, and articles that inspire and guide. Impressions and instincts, more than facts and figures, are her guide.

Pam has been observing and interacting with a new generation of knitters for years, first as a freelance designer, then as editor of Interweave Knits, and most recently as creative director at Classic Elite Yarns. "Over the past decade, knitters have become much younger. These knitters want more from a yarn than beautiful colors and sensual textures," she says.

As for showing up at warehouses or sorting through paperwork for a yarn company of her own: "Even three years ago, that was the furthest thing from my mind!" But for years, as she knitted, her eyes tracked the tiny V-shaped stitches that lined up on the needles like birds on a wire. To the casual eye, her work may have looked like a sweater in progress. But to Pam, each wave of garter stitch and wing of stockinette was the distinct expression of the yarn itself. "I have always been drawn to the unique quality and texture of each individual stitch," she says. "And I'm fascinated by the role that yarns play in a stitch's formation."

The eye has a way of insisting itself, of memorizing impressions, amassing observations, and eventually tugging us toward home.

—Bethany Lyttle, "Taking Flight"
Interweave Knits Winter 2010

I hope you enjoyed this peek behind the curtains into one of knitting's VIPs. To celebrate Pam's contribution to the knitting community, we've gathered some of her most popular patterns into one eBook, 6 Knitting Patterns by Pam Allen, and the Flutter Sleeve Cardigan is part of the collection. Take a look, I think you'll like it!




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