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We went to visit relatives for Thanksgiving. 16 hrs in the car each way. While I stocked up on dvds and audiobooks for the kids, I knew I would need a knitting project to help keep my sanity. After hunting around, I came upon the Rickenbacker Shawl pattern by Kate Atherley. Perfect!

© Lauren Ogilvie

© Lauren Ogilvie

I used a sport weight yarn I had on hand instead of fingering, and upped the needle size. It was the perfect travel knitting. Since I’m a combination knitter, I used a slightly different right-leaning decrease that twisted the stitches. All in all I’m very pleased.

My finished shawl

My finished shawl

I’ve also decided that a Rickenbacker should be a new unit of measure. How long was your trip? 1 Rickenbacker long.

I enjoyed it so much, that I asked designer Kate Atherley if she’d be up for a short interview.  As the Managing Technical Editor for as well as tech editing for Annie Modesitt, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Laura Nelkin, Interweave magazines, Cooperative Press and Potter Craft, Kate has edited literally thousands of patterns for designers, yarn companies and publishers. She also teaches knitting regularly across North America and is also the author of Beyond Knit and Purl, Knit Accessories: Essential and Variations, and a regular contributor to knitting books and magazines, including Interweave’s Sockupied.

What’s your favorite travel knitting project?

I always have a sock project and a medium-challenging shawl project. The shawl project is for when I need entertaining – on long flights, for example — and the sock project is for times when I can’t necessarily pay full attention but I want to keep my hands busy – while waiting at the baggage carousel, for example.

This pattern was my first time using the lifted increase. Do you have a favorite increase or decrease?

Fave increase the backwards loop make 1 – I call it M1Z as I was reminded about it by reading one of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books. I love it because it’s easy and entirely neutral – doesn’t have a particular right or left lean, or a particular allegiance to knit or purl. Suitable for most situations, and you don’t have to remember M1R & M1L. I used the Lifted increase in this shawl as I liked how it looked, but M1Z works just as well!

How do you balance your design and tech editing work?

It can be challenging, I’ll be honest. Tech editing I do in the daylight, and designing I do after dark. Mostly!

As a tech editor, what’s your biggest pet peeve? (Mine is when designers leave out stitch counts.)

This question makes me laugh… in fact, it was a similar question that kicked me off on a six month odyssey to write a book! There are a few things that frustrate me as an editor, but to some extent that’s not material: I can usually figure out what’s going on! My biggest frustration is patterns that are written so poorly that knitters can’t figure them out.

Tell us a little about the new book you have coming out.

It’s a guide to writing knitting patterns, aimed at both experienced designers and those just starting out. It became clear to me that the skillset needed to be a good pattern writer isn’t one that’s naturally paired with the skillset needed to be a knit designer. My hope is to help designers help knitters by producing better, clearer, easier-to-knit from patterns, with a higher chance of successful outcome. It’s available  from, for $25.

Check out Kate’s new book (I know I will) or cast on a Rickenbacker of your very own!