Friday January 18th 2019

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Kristeen Griffin-Grimes: ‘Infuse whatever we do with love and kindness’

bookJacketHere it is—our third and last Spotlight in a series for our KAL for Knit A Square, each featuring a different designer who offers us a square design!

One short month after I began hand-knitting, I bought Kristeen Griffin-Grimes’s book, French Girl Knits, and embarked upon a remarkable journey of re-discovering, not only many things about the art and craft of knitting design, but how the beauty and loveliness of yarn, design, and crafting can spread itself to other parts of our lives.

Kristeen wrote that the typically French appreciation of “small, lovely moments in life” was important to cultivate in ourselves, that beauty was something we didn’t have to buy, it was something we had to find, to learn to see what was already there in our lives.

“Having lived in rural communities most of my life (in Mexico and the US) and traveled/worked in the hinterlands of France,” Kristeen explains, “I am often struck by the generosity of those who have so very little in life, yet are willing to share whatever they consider lovely—a simple bowl of olive oil and bread with homemade tapenade or a walk in their small vineyard.”

Kristeen explains that she began sewing and crafting as a girl, in order to express her own sense of style and beauty, and that designing gave her satisfaction on many levels, from tactile to to the visual.

“I’ve always been a bit of a practical creator; when I learned to sew stylish clothing for myself, it was as if a light bulb went off in my head!  So there was the gratification of creating something I could wear and also having aesthetic fulfillment as well—win/win!” she says.

3202838810_3c32e71e02The young Kristeen explored many crafts and arts. “I returned to knitting & crocheting because of the excitement of fashioning a beautiful, complex “fabric” that could be shaped and manipulated. And what is more gorgeous than a fluffy, dreamy skein of yarn?” Kristeen asks. “As needleworkers I think our minds spin with the limitless possibilities contained in a single skein, so this keeps designing with yarn very fresh for me.”

Helping and inspiring fellow knitting and crocheting enthusiasts remains central to Kristeen’s work.

“I have been especially touched by knitters who have been excited to return to knitting again (or learn to knit) after purchasing one of my patterns or my book – again, that is so gratifying, the feeling of helping someone become re-inspired,” she says. “In the end, this is what my work is all about—creating beauty—if I can inspire a knitter who has the desire, yet might be initially lacking the skills to knit a garment, to just boldly dive in, be willing to make mistakes, learn from them, make modifications to get the fit perfect, and then in the end succeed—honestly, that just makes my day!”


Kristeen always has a lot of balls up in the air, but it sounds like the upcoming year is going to be a remarkably busy one, even for her. She is creating the designs for her new book for Interweave, French Girl Knits: Accessories (Fall 2011), and French Girl Tours is planning new tours in addition to their popular knitting tours.

“There were many requests for a tour that would incorporate the unique experience we had on the knitting tours with something a husband, partner or friends who didn’t knit could share—and who doesn’t love French food and wine!  Cooking, crafting and music have been a constant trio in my life, so I can’t wait to share my love of the Southern French terroir with our tour guests – lots of visits to markets, winemakers, and of course, indulging in some of the best food in the world!”

parfumeThe new French Girl Knits website has just re-launched with a shopping cart and downloadable patterns.  ”It’s been wonderful to finally share my patterns with knitters and crocheters around the world and I am excited to see what they come up with as they work with them.”

Two new products from the French Girl Studio this year is a line of Luxuriously Organic Skincare, inspired by the South of France and developed with organic essential oils and naturally sourced ingredients, and Hand Dyed Luxury Yarn which will be arriving in late Spring. “Both the yarnFGO_Y_9815_alt and the body product line are crafted in small batches and custom made to order in our Studio.”

Last but not least, Kristeen will be writing a blog/inspiration journal on Knitting Daily called French Girl Style.  ”Hopefully this will give me a chance to share my dual passions of knitting and all things French—cuisine, gardens, perfume….such a lovely, endless list.”

These sorts of things would keep anyone busy enough, but Kristeen is just now starting to recover from an incident she calls “stick-blender-meets-French Girl”, which meant that hand injuries made it impossible to knit…but she calls it a blessing in disguise.

“I’ve been able to spend more time planning our tours in France and developing new cuisine recipes—yes, thankfully I was able to cook even though wearing my protective cast, so the fires of creativity were kept burning,” Kristeen explains.

3202021278_51bcaedd65“The time away from knitting has given me a renewed interest in creating more minimalist designs that rely on skillful use of draping and other techniques I’ve incorporated from my sewing years.  It will be exciting to delve into these as my knitting improves.  I will never be a speedy knitter—designing on the needles as I do—but I appreciate just being able to knit again and anticipate receiving lots of help from my knitting pals as I work on the second book!”

Knowing how busy she is, I hesitated to ask Kristeen to design a square for Knit A Square, but decided that, heck, she could always say “no!” But Kristeen hardly let thirty seconds lapse after my email query, responding with an immediate “yes!”

She explained why, recently. “We have a connected global community that can extend a hand to those that need aid; and why not infuse whatever we do with love and kindness, be it knitting up a square or making a meal? To me that is so rewarding—being mindful of the power we have to make change, even if it is in a small way. I am honored to be part of this wonderful project!”

Kristeen has chosen a very old stitch pattern to incorporate into her square.

The square is easy to knit, yet intricate-looking, and it only takes a repeat or two before finding the rhythm of the rows. Enjoy!

frenchbrocadeFrench Brocade Square (PDF download)
By Kristeen Griffin-Grimes
French Girl Knits

Square Measurement:

Aran or Worsted weight yarn
Color A – main color
Color B – contrast color

wyif sl 1             with yarn in front, slip 1 stitch purl-wise
wyib sl 1             with yarn in back, slip 1 stitch purl-wise

This pattern is based on a heirloom slip stitch pattern (using 2 different colors of yarn) that must have been fashioned to imitate the fancy French woven brocades that only the nobles could afford! Makes one happy that we knitters have the skills to create something equally lovely.

Cast on 32 + 3 sts with yarn A (main color)

Knit 3 rows for set up, then begin pattern.

Row 1 (RS): using B (secondary color), k1, wyif sl 1, k1, *wyib sl 1, k1, wyif sl 1, k1; repeat from * to end.

Row 2: with B, * p 3, wyif sl 1, rep from * , end p3.

Row 3: With A, k1, wyif sl 1, k1, * k 2, wyif sl1, k1; rep from * to end.

Row 4: With A, purl.

Row 5: With B, k 1, wyib sl1, k1, *wyif sl 1, k1, wyib sl1, k1; rep from * to end.

Row 6: With B, *p1, wyif sl 1, p2; rep from *, end with p1, wyif sl 1, p1.

Row 7: With A, k3, *wyib sl 1, k3; rep from * to end.

Row 8: With A, purl.

Work 8 repeats of 8 row pattern, taking care not to hold the working yarn too tightly as you create the slipped stitches. Twist yarn not being used together with the working yarn in the selvedge area and carry both yarns up the side of the work.

To work border: On 8th repeat of pattern, work row 8 in knit st, then knit last 2 rows and bind off loosely.

Bon Tricot!

Copyright © 2010 Kristeen Griffin-Grimes

Reader Feedback

9 Responses to “Kristeen Griffin-Grimes: ‘Infuse whatever we do with love and kindness’”

  1. Dawne says:

    Zina, thanks for this beautifully written article. I was not familiar with Ms. Griffin-Grimes prior to reading this. You did a good job of introducing her for those of us who hadn’t seen her work yet.

    I especially loved when she said:
    “To me that is so rewarding—being mindful of the power we have to make change, even if it is in a small way. I am honored to be part of this wonderful project!”

    • Zina says:

      If you don’t like seaming at the end of your project, Kristeen’s book is a must-have! I’m a bit A-R where it comes to fit, too, and that’s something Kristeen’s patterns make very easy to do. (and thanks!)

  2. I echo Dawne’s sentiments. Zina it is a great article of introduction.

    As well I am humbled by so much creativity and thought and power packed into one little 8″ square. Apart from the richness of the design – it does looks exactly like lavish brocade that could easily grace the person of a French king – there is something about the density and intricacy of the stitches that mirror the connectivity of this community of ours working so hard to make a difference in an orphan’s life.

    Thank you Kristeen, we are very grateful for this wonderful contribution. Sandy

    • Zina says:

      The stitch pattern that Kristeen used is a lot of fun to knit; it’s really quick to knit up (I’m a slow knitter and had it done in half a day), but as you say, it’s very complicated looking. The great part is that in the aran weight yarn I used, which is rather rustic in feel, the fabric has a batik or mud cloth feel to it, or perhaps a bit like the indigo damasks. In silky, smooth yarns, it has more of a luxurious, refined feel to it, like an actual brocade.

      So a very useful sort of stitch pattern to know, that can teach a lot of things about knitting and looking at stitch patterns effectively.

  3. Melanie says:

    Oooh, I like that, very nice design. I will have to try it. And very interesting article, too. Makes me want to have a look at her book. :)

  4. I am even more eager to get a cop of Kristeen’s book. And what a beautiful square!
    I am working on a package of blocks to be sent in April (when my first big pattern check comes from a distributer).
    What a joy to have this pattern to add to them!

  5. Hippie says:

    That’s really shrdwe! Good to see the logic set out so well.

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