Kristin Omdahl: Designing in Two Worlds

Note from Sandi: It's not as easy as you think to be a proficient designer in both of the two sister crafts, knitting and crochet. Yes, the two crafts are similar, but each has its own architecture of style that has to be mastered before a design–a successful, beautiful design–can be created.

So when I meet a designer fluent in both knitting and crochet, I'm fascinated by her approach to these similar-but-different crafts. Kristin Omdahl is one such designer, prolific and proficient in producing graceful, beautiful garments with both hook and needles. Today's interview is a look inside Kristin's "bi-craftual," and extremely creative, mind.

Kristin's new book, Wrapped in Crochet, published by Interweave, is available at your local yarn shop, or you can order it here.


Q&A with Kristin Omdahl: Designing in Both Worlds
Sandi: I think many people have seen your beautiful crochet designs in Interweave Crochet (including the cover of Spring 2009!) and may not realize that you're a very talented knitting designer as well. In fact, in the Spring issue of Interweave Knits, we featured a lovely knitted lace shawl that you designed, the Sweet Lily Shawl.

Kristin: Thank you, Sandi! I taught myself to knit 1 month after I taught myself to crochet, 7 years ago. I have been knitting and crocheting interchangeably ever since. I feel very fortunate that I am able to design as much as I do in both crafts.

S: Do you keep a design notebook? At what point do you decide whether it will be knitted or crocheted?

K: I have several volumes of design notebooks with sketches, charts, notes, schematics and lists. I don’t always get the opportunity to knit them when the inspiration strikes. I would like to go back through them one day. Inside, there are many designs I think should be knit and crocheted! Sometimes a design concept that I originally created for knitting ends up being crocheted, and vice versa. Occasionally, I enjoy replicating a design in both knit and crochet.



















S: I've noticed that you design a lot of spiral and circular shawls, both in knitting and in crochet. What are the similarities for you in designing for both crafts, and what are some of the differences?

K: Textures in nature heavily inspire my work. The spirals in sea shells are very intriguing to me. Flowers and the various shapes of different flowers are also very fascinating to me.  Sometimes I think of a shawl as a canvas, where I can “draw” a geometric design with my stitches. In crochet, it is pretty easy for me to just pick up my hook and some yarn and manipulate the stitches as I wish – no chart, sketch or swatch first. Plus, if there is a mistake, it is incredibly easy to unravel back to the point in question. In knitting, especially lace, you can’t see what your stitches look like until the end, and I really don’t like unraveling knit stitches, so I check my designs with charts and swatches first. And, I usually don’t make lifelines. I prefer to count every row. But, I should make life lines.
S: Is there anything you've learned from crochet that carries over to your knitting? How about the other direction?

K: Absolutely! I learn from both crafts every day. I began creating my own stitch patterns in crochet first, because I was inspired by some of the textures of knitting that I didn’t see in crochet. And, now that I have so many original crochet lace edgings, it encourages me and inspires me to create new knit lace edgings that look more like the crochet floral lace I like so much.

Join us Wednesday for a video where Kristin walks us step-by-step through the pretty–and amazingly easy–star design of her Stella Shawl. We'll also have the Stella crochet pattern as our free download this week!



Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? I did it! I finished a pair of socks! My husband is very happy about this, since they are HIS socks. I also worked a bit on a lace shawl and did some spinning.



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12 thoughts on “Kristin Omdahl: Designing in Two Worlds

  1. I am sure that the free lace patterns are lovely. However, since I am unable to download these, I will never know personally. I have tried several times on different days, to see the patterns, however, my computer tells me there is a error and won’t cooperate any further. Is there help for people like me? Thanks for all you do for us, Kathy

  2. Beautiful designs. I too knit and crochet and don’t favour one over the other. I am intrigued with the term, “lifeline”. What does it mean? I aways count my rows or keep track of where I am in a pattern by writing it down in a small notebook. But I’ve never heard of “lifeline”. Barb Z

  3. BarbaraZ: a lifeline in knitting is like a stitch holder. You run a thinner piece of yarn (or even dental floss) through the stitches on your needle (don’t run it through the stitch markers). As your knitting progresses, move the lifeline, or add new ones. If you have to rip out your knitting, the lifeline will stop the unraveling process, saving all your work below it.

    I love the Mother Nature Shawl. I’ll have to check out Wrapped in Crochet.

  4. I’m curious to know whether Kristin has training in art, textile design or graphics that preceded the autodidact accomplishment of proficient knitting and crochet…? The designs are beautiful and I admire them greatly.

  5. Kristin Is my kind of knitter/crocheter I think I do most of all my sweaters, shawl, accessories, etc.. in both knit and crochet. I love the flow of knit, and the easy, fancy edges of crochet. I made a simular sweater as yours (in a circle) but I knit the body in a circle then trimed the sleves and edges in crochet, I happened to be with my daughter (who gets all my creations) and couldn’t believe all the comments she received on her coat/jacket. I just took it all in and got this warm feeling. Keep up your beautiful designs. Judie from Lombard, Il.

  6. If there is a way to have any crochet offerings removed from my email listing, I would appreciate it – I despise crochet both from the creating and from the having of it – tacky, tacky, tacky!!!!! Please send more knitting patterns NOT CROCHET!

  7. Unlike Diana, I don’t despise crochet. I’m just not interested. Nor am I interested in spinning. Is there some way you can just keep the Knitting Daily about just knitting with reference to the other crafts for those who may be interested? Also, is there a way I can access the website by telling it in the beginning that I am already a subscriber to IK? It gets really irritating to go through 3+ screens to get the free downloads when I already subscribe to your terrific magazine.
    Do you actually read these comments? Just curious.
    Thanks for listening, MaryS

  8. I both knit and crochet and I am delighted to see articles such as the one about Kristin Omdahl. Crochet designs are often vey old fashioned looking and anything that can bring them up to the standards of some of the beautiful modern knitting designs is to be welcomed wholeheartedly.
    The big frustration for me, and it would be nice if someone could raise this with publishers – like yourselves! – is that there never seems to be a “translation” available into English terminology. If you’ve learned using the English names (like a treble is a double etc) it makes it SO hard to follow an American pattern without making mistakes. In these days of computers, it must be possible – have pity on we poor UK folk

  9. to the whiners–you are too funny! oh, you were trying to be funny, right? you couldn’t possibly be grown women and be serious about those comments.

    To Kristen & Sandi–you both rock!

  10. Wow, Diana! For a 3 year old you have such an excellent command of the language and computer skills to post such a comment, but I think your mother needs to remind you that if you can’t say anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

  11. KathrynS, Please email us at and we will help you get your access problem figured out. Fliss, I am passing on your issues with the translations to the proper folks. We appreciate your comments, and your patience. MaryS, As far as logging on, Knitting Daily is a free site, but you do have to be a registered user to access the free patterns. The registration here is completely separate from your Knits subscription. We hope you understand. We have to keep these two things separate. I know if can be frustrating at times, but when you log onto Knitting Daily, if you will check the “remember me” box right under your username and password before you click “Sign in” then you should not have to log on again while you are surfing. Diana & MaryS, We do understand that you would prefer to only have knitting items in the Knitting Daily newsletters. In order to continue providing the newsletters at no cost to you, we need to do some marketing for our other products as well. When you see an email from Knitting Daily that has something you are not interested in, simply delete it from your inbox. That way, you don’t have to deal with it, but yet still receive the knitting emails you enjoy. Thank you for all the comments. Please know that we are reading them and need them to continue so we can continually improve our products and service! Shay Black Interweave Customer Support Manager