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Hello, dear knitters! Today marks the debut of a new series on MDK, in which we’ll check in with MDK Field Guide designers and see what they’ve been up to recently. We hope you’ll enjoy Allison Volek Shelton’s e-conversation with famed sweaterista Isabell Kraemer, whose designs for MDK Field Guide No. 10: Downtown continue to inspire easygoing, chic pullover dreams (and our as-yet-unfulfilled wish for cool jeans). 

—Ann and Kay

Have you found your style shifting at all during the pandemic—in both your personal style with the clothes you reach for and in your knitting preferences?

Both my personal style with clothes and my knitting preferences seem to have shifted, at least a tiny bit. I lately had a funny conversation with my brother-in-law and his husband about … laundry (yes, laundry) and I realized (while the two tried to give me tips how to treat white laundry) that most of my current clothing is … sportswear.

I had some serious problems last year with a slipped disc in the neck area which led to countless doctors appointments, and later to an increasing number of hours spent with physiotherapy and sports therapy in general. And I think, although my latest designs still look much like the older ones (stylewise), I see myself longing for more relaxed (mindless) knitting, which could be visible in future patterns.

Tiberius. Pattern names link to

Have you pursued any new crafts or knitting techniques in the past year that stand out to you?

No, unfortunately the health issues “ate up” a lot of my energy (in addition to the struggles with the pandemic situation in general), but I had bought a sewing pattern for leather boots a few weeks ago … we may or may not see some handsewn shoes in my future.


Do you design seasonally? If yes, what is your favorite season to design for?

No, though I am of course not able to “ignore” the weather outside and color schemes and/or the used pattern stitches may show off some kind of a seasonal mood—but I do not have any big problems with working on a heavyweight colorwork sweater in dark colors in the beginning of summer. When inspiration hits me, there is not much I can do other than following the ideas, no matter if these ideas match the current season or not.


Can you tell us your favorite features about some of your most recently published designs?

My latest published pattern was Emsworth, a vest/slip-over/Pullunder (that’s the German word for this kind of garment) with a lovely textured lace pattern on the front and at the back. 


I love vests and always wanted to design one that would look a bit more modern than the ones I have in my closet. Then there were quite a few colorwork sweaters (Jingle, Snedronningen, Clapton and Tiberius) … and I have to confess: I looove them all to pieces. And then there is the Don’t Ask cardigan … I love everything about it, the tailored look (though it is worked seamless from the top down), the lovely fit at the shoulders, the cute button band, the pockets … I may have to think about a lighter weight version of this at some point.

Don’t Ask (also pictured at the top of the article).

Do you have any big plans for this year that you can share with us?

Not really, I had hoped to be able to go on holidays in summer (which would count as a big plan, at least for me) because somehow work always tries to get into my way when I plan such things. Regarding my work, the big plans are to finally make up for the time I wasn’t able to work (the slipped disc made me stop working for about 3 months) and get things back in line.


Are there any knitwear designers that you currently find inspiration from or that stand out to you?

There are so many genius designers out there … but I’d like to mention Teti (Nutsknitwear), Hiromi (Plain Needle Works), Tamy (Narrow Path Designs) and Tif (Tif Handknits).

All photos by Isabell Kraemer.

About The Author

Allison Volek Shelton joined the MDK team in 2020. She is a knitter, weaver, sewist, designer—and the fun-enhancing shenaniganist of the Lounge.


  • Loved this interview (athough sorry about the disc problem). Although I have yet to knit an Isabell Kraemer sweater (coming soon, I hope!) I have loved them from the start. And was thrilled to come upon one in the wild recently on a yarn dyer displaying her goods in an out-of-the-way place (one of the thrills of being a knitter-you go for the scenery and come back with yarn). Her sweater, in a fingering-weight speckled yarn, was so elegant and hung so beautifully on the body. An Isabell Kraemer design certainly does not disappoint. (My current favorite is that Jingle with the pink).

    • A don’t ask in a lighter weight she asks. Yes please!
      I’ve knit two, don’t ask and don’t ask again, cardigans.
      The pattern is genius and the contiguous sleeves fit beautifully.
      Asking for a don’t ask lite! -xx

  • I have Emsworth (Pullunder) lust this morning. What is not to love about an amazing vest? So, the vest and a pair of those jeans!

    • Same same! REALLY looking forward to knitting Emsworth 🙂

  • Love her classic designs….deb

  • I’ve knit Humulus, Ready for Fall, Arwen, Paris Toujours, and Abulon. I find her patterns to be impeccably engineered, never needing mods. Stylewise, when choosing a pattern my standard is “could this item be sold in Bergdorf’s?” Isabell’s designs always get a resounding yes.

  • I’ve made several of Isabelle’s designs, most recently the tee shirt style, Streams. Also love Against All Odds. Love the construction and fit of all her designs. About to purchase her latest top down color work pattern. Generally work them in Brooklyn Tweed Loft for year round wearability. It’s never a risk to go with an Isabelle Kraemer pattern.

    • I’m trying to knit a Isabell grad flecked and getting very confused

  • Thanks for this terrific interview. Wishing Isabell all of the positive vibes for neck disc healing!

  • Love Love Love

  • I just cast on for Don’t Ask after wrestling with gauge. I adjusted the way I wrap the yarn around my fingers to make it with the yarn that I wanted to use. It’s a beautiful sweater; I hope I do it justice considering my stubbornness.

  • I’ve loved Isabell Kraemer’s style for years. Now I applaud her for her support of excellent Black and Asian designers who don’t often get the chance at a spotlight of this proportion. Reread the end of the interview if you missed them.

  • You started with the best! She is my favorite designer…can’t wait to start Emsworth!

  • Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Please stop spotlighting designers whose work is not size inclusive. Thanks.
    • or highlight their more recent, more size inclusive work. Thanks

  • I’m trying to knit a grasflecken pattern that my daughter bought me for Christmas which I love but I’m very confused

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