Handmade: Mom has two more reasons to design knitwear

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

Although she’s never been published, Soyon Kim is an amazingly talented knitwear pattern designer living in Oakland County. She creates unique garments for herself and soon-to-be 5-year-old twins, Ella and Harrison Heinzman.

Born in Korea, Kim came to the U.S. with her parents at age 12 and began learning basic knitting about five years later. “I didn’t know how to do anything except stockinette (stitch),” she says. “I didn’t know how to increase or decrease, or cast on or bind off. Basically, my mom was a knitter and she never used a pattern. She would just look at a picture and then knit it. She would say, ‘OK, knit straight for 4 inches,’ so I didn’t really start learning until probably 15 years ago.”

Ella shows off the back of her vest knitted by her mom, Soyon. The vest was inspired by a pinwheel blanket.


Once she got the hang of increasing and decreasing for shaping, the world of design was at her fingertips. The first thing she made was a sweater, which may explain why, until this day, she prefers “knitting garments, opposed to accessories.” She uses Addi Turbo circular needles, sometimes as small as size two, because she likes fine yarn, especially wool and silk blends. She says they have “give” which allows them to do “a lot more, as opposed to a linen or cotton, which are stiff.”

The stay-at-home mom also knits with yarn made of paper (Habu and Shibui brands), but more challenging are the stainless steel and copper she uses. “They have no memory whatsoever, so I have to use them with something like wool or silk held together,’ explains Kim. “It’s hard to make garments with them, but it has a really cool texture and wirey look.”

Twins Harrison, left, and Ella Heinzman wearing vests knitted by their mom, Soyon.

With a fondness for quality yarns, she’ll only purchase German-made Wollmeise brand online. “Everything else I try to buy in stores because I want to see and feel the yarn,” she says.

But no matter the yarn, it’s Kim’s love for fashion and strong sense of creativity that inspires her to design. “If I see something on a rack, I’ll say, ‘It’s really cute, but I can make it different and better.’ I like to add my twist or element, and now that I have kids, I’ve noticed with kids’ patterns it doesn’t fit the way I want it to fit, and it’s not as cute,” she says. “I like to put my kids in mini adult clothes and styles. I like minimalist designs, and I see kids’ patterns are too cutesy, ruffley and babyish.”

Here, Kim shares her original pattern for the adorable pinwheel vest she made for Ella, who may already be showing an interest in knitting. “She’s attracted to the colors of the yarn, but doesn’t understand the craft of it,” says Kim.

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, or

Girl’s Pinwheel Vest

Estimated time: 10-12 hours

Tools: four size 7 double points and circular knitting needles, stitch markers, scissors, sewing needle, tape measure

Supplies: 1 ball Berrocco Vintage Yarn in petunia-MC/main color, 1 ball in grey-CC/contrasting color (available at the Wool & The Floss in Grosse Pointe), matching thread, and small piece of ribbon or decorative button.

Gauge: 20 sts and 27 rows equal 4-inch square

Finished measurements: 24 inches (chest) by 24 inches (length). Should fit 4 to 5-year-old.

Abbreviations: K knit, CO cast on, YO yarn over, st(s) stitch(es), Rnd(s) round(s), Cont continue, BO bind off



CO 10 sts with MC to 3 double-point needles (3, 3 and 4 sts per needle), K around. Place marker to mark beginning of rnd.

(For center back, K 5 rounds in main color, then alternate colors every rnd.)

Rnd 1: Make 1 st in each st (20 sts)

Rnd 2: *k1, yo* around to marker (30 sts) Next row: K

Rnd 3: *k2, yo* around to marker. Next Row: K

Rnd 4: *k3, yo* around to marker. Next Row: K

Continue in pattern, adding a st in each round, until there are 200 sts per 12 inches.

(Switch to circular needles when large enough.)

Shape Armholes

Next rnd: K 25 sts, then BO 33 sts per 2.5 inches. K 84 sts, BO 33 sts per 2.5 inches. Then K 25 sts to marker.

Next row: K 25 sts, CO 33 sts. K 84 sts, CO 33 sts. Then K 25 sts to marker.


Continue in pattern of rnds until there are 400 sts per 24 inches rnd. BO.

Depending on desired size, cont knitting to make larger or smaller. BO.

Sew piece of ribbon on each side for tie closure, or K loop on one side, and sew button on opposite side for button closure.

Contact Soyon Kim at