The Kate Swimsuit

SI Swimsuit_KateUpton_DerekKettela_KatePrestonHandknitsSports Illustrated Swimsuit 2013  |  Kate Upton photographed in Antarctica by Derek Kettela
Swimsuit by Kate Preston Handknits

It is Swimsuit‘s charge to feature gorgeous models in the latest swimwear and accessories, in the most picturesque settings around the globe.  For this year’s 50th anniversary issue, editor MJ Day lead supermodel Kate Upton, photographer Derek Kettela* and the crew on an expedition to Antarctica. Yes, ANTARCTICA – that massive, frozen land at the bottom of our planet.

The team made history – holding the first-ever fashion photo shoot on the continent, while completing the magazine’s mission of shooting on all seven continents in seven months.

It is really unbelievable when you think about it.  Right?

My design for the swimsuit was inspired by traditional Irish fishermen’s sweaters – those cream-colored, wool jumpers (as the Irish call them) with busy patterns you see Irish-Americans donning here in the U.S. on Saint Patrick’s Day.


Composed of cable motifs and various other stitches, the busy patterns have great significance, and traditionally, the sweaters were hand-knitted by women for the fishermen in their families.  The lofty cables add warmth, and each style signifies a different meaning, ranging from safety, good luck, and hard work to wealth and a successful catch.  The motifs and the placement of those motifs were distinct to each clan – each having its own individual design for its sweater.  And to be quite frank, the explicit design provided a way to identify the family of a man lost at sea!


For my swimsuit design, I chose the cable motifs for “fashion over function,” as we did not expect for supermodel Kate to go overboard.  I do hope that it kept her a tiny bit warmer while shooting in the sub-zero temps among penguins and Antarctic glaciers.

The Kate Swimsuit was designed and hand-knitted by Kate Preston in October-November 2012.  The garment took forty hours to complete.

Materials and supplies included:
Malabrigo Twist yarn composed of 100% baby merino wool in colorway #63-Natural
ChiaoGoo Red Lace circular knitting needles
Brittany double pointed knitting needles
Clover stitch markers

Many have asked, “How exactly do you knit a swimsuit?”
My reply, “From the crotch-up.  And that’s the truth!”


* See the beauty of Kettela’s photographs for yourself in the magazine, available on newsstands and in the app store.


Kate Preston Handknits | Custom, luxury knits
Custom knit sweaters, hats, scarves, blankets, pillows and baby items

Kate Preston Handknits logo design by the uber-talented Sarah Barr of Barr Creative

10 thoughts on “The Kate Swimsuit”

  1. Very beautiful work of art! Cable knitting is truly something that enhances the knitted swimsuit model’s body. Gorgeous work!

    Also If someone would like to see and/or get inspiration for future knit-works/crochet then please come and visit designer’s INGA DESIGN homepage

  2. Barbara Brussell said:

    Beautiful suit Katie, you are so talented. Kate Upton looked gorgeous in it…and I’m sure she was warm in Antarctica with a beautiful hand knit suit. Good luck with all your creations!

  3. Katie- I have to add my congratulations also!! How great to have your creation be part of such an iconic event ! [ I love it that she wore it in Antarctica!! ] Your design is really lovely. Good for you!!!!

  4. Wow !!!! Loved the design and the yarn!!! Beautiful work…. What a talented knitter. Love Mom

  5. Beth Stern said:

    Beautiful, just beautiful! Creativity, style and attention to every detail describes Katie’s work. So proud of her.

  6. I never knew how sexy knitting could be! I love it!

  7. Biggi Riley said:

    Amazing Swimsuit… wish it was for sale some place.

  8. Melanie Caron said:

    Such a talented knitter! Your eye for detail and dedication to a customized and beautiful finished product is hard to find. Wow!!!

  9. Jennifer Preller said:

    Congratulations Katie! The Kate Swimsuit is a classic. I am a huge fan!

  10. CONGRATULATIONS, Katie! The Kate Swimsuit is absolutely beautiful; a work of art. I am so excited for you xoxo

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