christmas kraken story behind the sweater blog post

"How do you make your ugly Christmas sweaters?" That's a question we get asked a lot, so we wanted to take you behind the scenes to show you how we go from initial concept to fully produced Christmas sweater. Today we're going to be looking at Christmas Kraken.


We keep a running list of Ugly Christmas Sweater ideas easily accessible on our phones and computers that we add to throughout the year. Inspiration can strike at the oddest moments, so while we do have hours-long brainstorming sessions, we also get ideas while we're falling asleep, stepping out of the shower, or out to dinner, and we want to be able to add those ideas to our list immediately so we don't forget them. This list has one-word ideas that need to be developed further all the way to fully realized concepts with reference images and detailed descriptions.

Like I said when I described our new Animals Collection, we really loved brainstorming on mythical creatures this year. The Kraken stood out to us as a mythical creature that everyone loved but  Our initial concept was Santa delivering a boat to a Kraken, who comes out of the water to receive it. We thought maybe it was a present that was clearly wrapped in the shape of a ship, or maybe a cargo ship full of containers (and this was before the Suez canal when we all became oh so familiar with the image of the Ever Given). I did a messy Photoshop edit of what we were thinking, wrote up some notes, and passed it along to our designer.

christmas kraken design instructions


The first step in the design process is to create a sketch. This way we can make adjustments before we get too far down the road. In the case of the Christmas Kraken, the initial sketch looked like this:

As you can tell, the concept changed a bit from written to initial sketch. The boat wrapped like a present was too complicated a design to look good on a sweater. Plus, the cargo ship needed too many colors to pull off correctly (knit sweaters are limited to a certain number of colors). While we loved the look of the Kraken here, we wanted something other than a present, since that doesn't really help show off the scale of the Kraken. So we revised it like this with a sleigh:

Now instead of the Kraken receiving his gift from Santa, he's more aggressive, actively pulling Santa's sleigh down into the depths. We really liked the look and feel of this, and proceeded to the next step in the design process.

Front Panel Design

After sketching, we move on to a full design for the front panel. This means that everything gets fully drawn out, colored in, text and texture added. First the front panel design looked like this:

We loved the initial design, but wanted to add more movement and some details to it. We adjusted the sleigh on an angle so that it looked more like the Kraken was pulling it into the water instead of holding it up above. We also added Santa's initials to the front of the sleigh and a couple presents floating around the water that seem to have fallen out. We landed on this for the front panel design:

Finalized Design

Once we've finished the front panel, we need to design the sleeves and the back of the sweater. For the sleeves, we really loved the idea of the Kraken's tentacles reaching up, so that it looked like he not only had the sleigh in his grasp, but the sweater wearer as well. We also designed the back of the sweater, which is a simple back panel that showcases the starry sky as well as the murky blackness of the sea at night.

Once we have these elements, we put everything together for a finished design.

And there you have it! That's the story behind our Christmas Kraken sweater.