Category Archives: design

Skein Theory: New Designs and a Giveaway!

Now that fall is here, I am starting to be able to show off some of the things on my “what I did this summer” list! The inaugural issue of Skein Theory is out for fall, and I’m pleased to say that I have two sweater designs in the issue. Both are lovely worsted-weight cabled pieces that will be warm and classic items in your wardrobe.

The Ravine Pullover (also seen on the cover!) uses Galway Highland Heathers and shows off a combination of structural cable motifs down the front and back of the sweater. I actually really want to make another one of these for myself, because sometimes it’s just too much of a bummer to part with the sample!

Ravine Pullover

And secondly, the Dundurn Cardigan uses a slightly dressier, symmetrical combination of cables and ribbing and a slightly lower scoop neck. It uses Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed, which is very lovely to work with. Like Ravine, a number of worsted weight yarns would be suitable substitutes.

Dundurn Cardigan 2

These were both a real pleasure to knit and may actually be my two favourite things that I’ve knitted all year.

The whole issue contains a number of versatile fall patterns including shawls and accessories, and I’ve been granted the ability to host a giveaway for the full issue and all its patterns. Hurray!

To be entered to win, please leave a comment here on this post before noon EST on Monday, telling me your favourite thing about knitting in the fall. (So easy, I know! I’ll try to make the next giveaway question a bit more challenging. ;) )

Enjoy browsing the issue, and enjoy knitting this weekend! Happy Friday.

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Filed under design, sweaters

A zero sum game

Every so often when I’m at a knit night or teaching a class or in some kind of group knitting scenario, a newer knitter has something happen to them that causes them to choose to rip out and re-knit knitting they’ve already done. (I say ‘choose’, because in the grand scheme of things, this is knitting, and in knitting you get to choose what comes off of your needles. Granted, some ‘choices’ are probably more adviseable in some circumstances than others, but there’s nobody stopping you from ignoring them if you so desire). And it’s generally met with visible sympathy by the group, because dudes, we have all been there. We understand what it’s like to experience a fairly intense existential crisis inside your head for the five seconds or so it took for you to realize the problem and the solution, before you ripped the work off the needles and started pulling.

June13-Swatching

The other thing that I have seen happen, often in tandem with the above, is an expression something along the lines of “oh I can’t wait until I’m a better knitter and I don’t make these stupid mistakes any more.” Well let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, if you are under the presumption that being a more experienced or skilled knitter is in some way related to making fewer mistakes, I am here to divest you of that assumption. (There are some people who would divest you of that assumption by laughing a lot. I may or may not be one of those people.) I’ve been knitting pretty hard core for about a decade and the projects on my needles come from my own brain as often as not, and dude, if there’s a way to do this and be perfect at the same time, I am still waiting for that moment to arrive.

This week I am in the trenches of a fairly heavy amount of design prep, and since the only way to get out of it is through, I’ve been making good use of my swatching, measuring, calculating, and generally all of the brain-related knitting skills I can, to try to head off as much of the potential mistake-making as possible. What ends up happening of course, is that the insanity happens all at once at the beginning rather than being neatly dispersed throughout. (I’m still not sure which is preferable, actually).

June15-Swatches

Sometimes it’s awesome and flows like a zen-filled river: I make a nice generous swatch, wash it and lay it out to dry, and when I check it the next day it comes out at a nice predictable gauge for the needle I used, and I sally forth and write up all the notes. Other days are like yesterday, when after working through a portion of the knitted piece, something niggled at me and I double (quadruple) checked my gauge swatch and realized I was off by one stitch. So, I dutifully went back and changed all my numbers – grudgingly, but it had to be done and so I did it. Then, later, when I was wrestling with a portion of ribbing and after re-casting on a second time that it still wasn’t doing what I wanted it to…and I realized with a sinking feeling that this was because I had mis-calculated the number of stitches in one of the cable panels that the ribbing was setting up..and I had to change all my numbers again.

Then, when I was knitting away on it again (this time with a large mug of theoretically soothing tea), I realized with an even sinkier sinking feeling that actually because the gauge change I dealt with in Realization #1 would in fact account for a bit more cable suckage and I didn’t actually need to make all of the changes I did as a result of Realization #2…and after a day of all that, I was finishing pretty close to where I’d started in the first place.

I suppose the moral of the story is that sometimes, even if it seems like you’re playing a zero sum game, there is still forward movement to be found. But this afternoon I’m still stocking up on potato chips. They’re awfully supportive of me.

May your weekend have successful knitting in it!
Happy Friday.

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Royale revised

A little over two years ago I released Royale. It was one of my early sweater patterns, and one which still represents my great affection for twisted stitches and travelling cables. I designed the original sweater for a deep scoop neck and 3/4 sleeves as modern details at the time. After a time I realized a few folks were modifying it to their own preferences, for full-length sleeves and a higher neckline for more versatility and cold-weather comfort, and so I thought, hey, I can make that a bit easier for people. Why don’t I just update the pattern? And while I’m updating the pattern, why don’t I knit myself another one?

And so, I did.

Royale3

This new sample (nicely modelled by fellow knitter Lisa) shows off said full sleeves and a more modest scoop neck that, with the ribbing, ends a little above the beginning of the armholes. I asked Lisa to model for me for a fresh set of photos since she’s about the same size as me, and this one actually fit her so perfectly I told her she would have been totally justified in stealing it. (She didn’t, though, which I appreciate).

Royale1b

Royale is available here on Ravelry, and here on Patternfish. The new pattern contains not only two options for sleeve length and neckline depth, but also an additional size in the 3XL range, for a total of 7 sizes ranging from 31 to 53 inches at bust circumference. It uses your preferred worsted weight wool (shown in Cascade 220 heathers) at a gauge of 21 sts/4 ins over twisted moss stitch in the round (noted in pattern instructions), and I definitely recommend doing a swatch and gauge check before starting to make sure you’ll get the right fit. This is a sweater that works very well with a close fit, and zero ease or negative ease would be the ideal. As shown here, the sweater measures the same at bust circumference as the body of the wearer at the bust (in other words, it is being worn with “zero ease”), which is one reason it looks so awesome on Lisa. Negative ease would also be fantastic though, and show off the twisty cables even more.

Royale5

Even though this is more of a re-release than a regular release, admittedly I would normally choose to release a full length pullover like this a little closer to actual cold-weather time (speaking as a Northern Hemisphere resident, at least), rather than in the spring. But on the other hand, I always think it is one of the great ironies of knitting that we often knit items during the season we want to wear them – inevitably this ends with some projects being completed just as that perfect wearing season has ended. (Said the gal who just cast on a laceweight shawl that will probably take most of the summer.) So, at least if you start on a sweater in the spring or summer, you know it’ll be ready and waiting for you in the fall when you need it.

I’ve also heard tell that a couple of folks are planning to use this as a summer Olympics knitting project, which – go ahead with your mad skills, knitters. I salute and support you! Also why didn’t I think of that.

Royale6

Since this sweater does use quite a lot of those twisted stitches and travelling cables, as per usual I include in the pattern instructions some tips on how to work these without a cable needle. If you can get the hang of that technique, it will likely make your knitting proceed much more efficiently, and I’m a big fan. In fact, look for an updated photo tutorial from me soon on this technique as well – I’m planning a new one dedicated just to these little 2-stitch travelling cables so familiar to Bavarian twisted stitch work like in these motifs.

Other notes about this sweater – it is worked in the round up to the armholes, from the bottom up, then worked flat across the back and fronts separately. The sleeve caps are also worked flat, then the sleeves are sewn into the set-in armholes. All told there’s only small amounts of seaming involved, and working mostly in the round is a great approach for twisted stitch cables like these, because ktbl (knitting through the back loop) is a lot more fun that ptbl (purling through the back loop), I can tell you that.

Royale2

Finally, if you’re just tuning in here this week and would like a chance to win a fabulous little zippered notions purse from Pog Totes, check out my previous post which also holds a book review of Circular Knitting Workshop by Margaret Radcliffe. I’ll post a winner sometime after noon tomorrow.

Happy knitting this Wednesday! May you have a refreshing beverage waiting for you at the end of it.

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Filed under cables, design, finished object: sweater

Always in progress

I’ve reached that nice sweet spot of knitting where I have put a couple of finished projects behind me and have the freedom to cast on for something new, and am enjoying this prospect muchly. Granted, the approximately seven thousand new things I am likely to cast on in the next month will probably not seem so exciting a month from now when I am wishing I didn’t have seven thousand things all in progress, but still – for the moment I have some new projects to ponder.

May23-Royale

My new Royale is finished and blocking (updated pattern will be made available soon – options ahoy for two sleeve lengths AND two neckline depths), and I did make the bargain with myself that lace could happen next, so.

May23-Lace

I had been planning to put something together with these two things – my Tanis Fiber Arts laceweight purchased at the Knitter’s Frolic was going to be a Miralda’s Triangle from Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia, but when I finally sat down to actually start it I realized that this is a pattern that actually calls for fingering weight, not laceweight. And while I could modify that sucker for laceweight by changing the number of pattern repeats on it (many Ravelry knitters have done so simply to get a larger shawl than what is written), I decided that I will save this hot pink awesomeness for something else.

I’ve got a few fingering weight options in the stash that would be great for the Miralda’s triangle shawl, but I am pretty sure they are mostly in the purple colour scheme, and (since taking out my shawls for show and tell at Lace 101+ up in Collingwood in March and realizing I own a big pile of handknitted purple shawls) I promised myself the next shawl project I started would be something not-purple, I reached for something else instead. I’ve got this beautiful skein of Willow St. silk from Shall We Knit up on deck (it is one of their in-house yarns), and have started playing around with it for a scarf-sized shawl (I do like the look of wearing them bandit-style during the spring and summer), so this will become something fun. Also relatively quick, I think, since it’s one 475 yd skein. (Or so I say now. Further bulletins as events occur).

May23-WillowSt

Since it’s just about summer, though, I feel like more lace on the needles is a good thing, so don’t be surprised if I get back to my lace stash and start something else. I’ll try to keep it on the modest side, though – two more shawls in progress at most.

Happy knitting this Wednesday!

PS – if you’re in the Toronto/southern Ontario area and want to come to the TTC Knitalong, signups are now open for this July event! Spots are going quickly and some teams are full or almost full, so definitely keep many options in mind for your signup. All the teams visit four awesome stores in Toronto and everyone gets a fab tote bag to stuff with yarn for the day. Visit this page for more information.

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Filed under design, lace

Urban Collection: Lakeshore Shawl

Knitting friends, I’m so pleased to announce that the final piece of the Urban Collection is here and ready! (Available now on Ravelry, as well as on Patternfish along with all other collection pieces). This last pattern took me a little longer to finalize than originally planned, but I have to admit I’m pretty happy with it. And now that spring has firmly established itself around these parts in Southern Ontario, the timing could not be better for shawls.

Lakeshore1

When I was started planning this collection a while back, my goal was that if a knitter were to knit and/or own all of the items in this set, she would be ready for any occasion with a piece of knitwear. That includes sweaters and accessories to be sure, but I knew I wanted to finish with a nice shawl. Shawls are pretty welcome from spring through fall, either as the main attraction atop a dressy outfit, or wrapped over your shoulders while going about your day through the city. There are so many ways to wear them, and so many fabulous colours of yarn available to show off your lace handiwork!

Lakeshore3

This pattern is worked in the classic top-down triangle shape, beginning from the top of the centre of the triangle at the back of neck, increasing outwards with yarnovers at edge and either side of the centre stitch. There are two main charts in the triangle portion, and the shawl is finished with a knitted-on picot lace border. It’s a shawl that will expect you to have a little bit of lace practice going into it (or at the very least be comfortable with the basics), but won’t tax you so much as to grow weary of complicated charts. I wanted this to be a piece in the lighter end of the intermediate range, that would ask a bit of attention of you but not so much that you can’t still get on with the rest of your day. I quite like the way it turned out, and I know I’m going to enjoy wearing this sample during the coming spring and summer!

Lakeshore5

I think every knitter deserves a silk shawl in their life. This is worked with Tanis Fiber Arts Silver Label 100% mulberry silk, in Garnet. (Garnet continues to be one of my favourite colours, though I have to say I do not think there is a bad colour when it comes to the silk.) It uses 2 skeins of the TFA silk, or approx. 850 yds of your preferred laceweight or light fingering weight yarn, on 3.5mm needles. Finished size is a comfortable 72 inches across the top “wingspan”, and size is best altered by altering needle size and gauge.

Lakeshore4

I’d like to once again thank Tanis Fiber Arts for yarn support for this and the other pieces in the Urban Collection, Bridget at Needles in the Hay for obliging me with a few photos of the modelled piece, and Kate Atherley for technical editing.

Happy knitting on this fine Tuesday! May there be delicious lace shawls in your future.

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Filed under design, finished object: shawl, lace

Urban Collection: Queen St. Mitts

I think I’ve officially lost track of the weather around here. Afternoons are starting to get warm and sunny, but overnight the temperature still plunges towards freezing, which makes getting dressed in the morning a bit of a challenge. It occurred to me that, you know what? This is exactly the time of year that fingerless mitts are meant for. Some days you need that extra bit of insulation around your hands, only to tuck them away in your purse or pocket later on on the day.

On that note, I’m pleased to present the seventh pattern of eight in the Urban Collection (Ravelry link), the Queen St. Mitts.

Mitts1a

Since I wanted the pattern collection to be versatile both in garments and in yarn selection, I decided to use sock-weight yarn for something that wasn’t socks. After all, many of us are frequently tempted by that single skein of sock yarn purchase in a shop or at a knitter’s fair, and some times you want something to do with it that isn’t socks. At the same time, I was having a hard time putting away the aran-style cables that appear in several other pieces in the collection and thought, you know? Let’s just do that on a pair of mitts. Aran sweater styling in miniature, but with the chance to let loose with some crazy colour, too.

Mitts6a

These mitts are worked in Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label fingering weight (superwash merino/nylon), in the bold ‘Lemongrass’ colour. I’ve been wanting to do something with this colour for so long, and decided to break it out for this project. You can get away with bright colours like this more easily with small accessories, since it’s less of a risk than something that might cover your whole upper body like a sweater. (But man, if any of you knit up a full sweater in Lemongrass, call me. I want to know what that looks like.)

The main pattern along the back of the hand is a spring-like combination of cables, bobbles, and texture, while the palms are more modest with a cable and rib combination. I’m quite pleased with how these turned out, and might have to go back for a second pair in another colour.

Mitts4a

I enjoy the way fingerless mitts offer a small and relatively quick canvas to explore various techniques – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how fast these will knit up – and am going to keep it in mind for future projects. More fingerless mitts, fewer cold hands!

Also, it’s fitting that I post about these today, since it’s Tanis‘ birthday, from whom the yarn comes. Have a great day, Tanis!

Happy knitting this weekend, everyone!

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Filed under accessories, cables, design

The Urban Collection: Armour Road Socks and Hunter Street Cowl

As March continues to, well, march on, it’s time to update you on the full complement of March patterns in the Urban Collection! (Ravelry link) the Water Street Cardigan got things off to a good start earlier in the month, and I’m pleased to add a couple of spring accessories to the mix as well. As always, these patterns take their names from cities I’ve spent time in as a knitter, and Peterborough, Ontario streets are up this month.

First, allow me to introduce the Armour Road socks (Ravelry link):

Socks5

I have a confession to make. When I first started planning this collection, I gave myself a rule: no socks. I figured, heck, I’ve done a lot of sock designs in the past, so why not push myself towards other ideas? But then I got to thinking and couldn’t resist a pair of quick ones. I’ve lately been enjoying reaching for the DK or sport-weight yarns for socks every so often, since they make for relatively quick and very comfortable socks indeed.

This pair uses 1-2 skeins of Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK (the line between 1 and 2 skeins is around a Size 10 Ladies’ foot, with ankle circumference of 9″ or less. Those knitting for a longer foot or wider foot/ankle circumference should grab a second skein for safety), and also shows off a lovely and simple twisted stitch pattern running down the instep and the back of the leg. They are shown here in the ‘Dove’ colourway, but would be beautiful in just about any colour you like, I think.

Socks3

These are worked in the round from the cuff down, on 3.25mm needles or your preferred needle size for 6 sts/inch. I quite like the way these show off the twisted stitch motifs, because they look sleek and elegant enough that you’d hardly know they are a slightly bulkier sock than normal. I could see these becoming an easy pair to reach for instead of slippers, on a chilly morning, or worn inside clogs or boots when out and about.

Socks2

One of my goals in for the Urban Collection was a set of garments that would give the knitter a diverse enough wardrobe of knitwear to dress for any occasion. I also wanted to use a variety of yarn weights, since Tanis has several beautiful yarn lines to choose from. (There are one or two yarns that haven’t popped up yet – you might take a guess from there as to what you’ll see in the April patterns! ;) ) So, this meant taking a crack at something using laceweight yarn.

Laceweight wool yarn is, no doubt about it, one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ yarns you can get. A skein of TFA Pink Label laceweight costs less than a skein of sock yarn and has yardage for days. On the other hand, I wanted to avoid using this for a shawl pattern, since I know laceweight shawls can often be intimidating, and since I’ve pulled out several cabled patterns already in this collection, I wanted to make sure I left one or two towards the simple end of the spectrum. And last year I remembered seeing all these girls on campus wearing these loose lacy cowl/scarf things, and thought heck, that’s what I want to do with this yarn.

HunterStCowl9b

Worn ‘single’, the Hunter Street Cowl (Ravelry link) has the appearance of a loose scarf, and worn ‘double’ wrapped around the neck it collapses and scrunches a bit into a comfier and easy accessory. Once again, this piece is shown in the ‘Dove’ colourway, but I could see it being pretty fantastic in a lot of colours. In fact, I might just snap up another skein of Pink Label for just this purpose when I cruise Tanis’ booth at the Knitter’s Frolic next month.

HunterStCowl4b

In thinking this pattern though, I played around for a bit with some all-over lace patterns, but in the end I decided to simplify it even further than that. What resulted was the light and lofty accessory you see here. Worked in the round with a few vertical lace panels placed on a field of stockinette, this is believe it or not a pretty speedy pattern. Completing this one (to a height of 8 inches) took me about a week, and before I’d cast it off I knew I was going to start a second one. It turned out about how I wanted, but I definitely had some leftover yarn. I thought to myself, “dude, why didn’t you just use the whole skein? So I’ve started another one (what with a fit of start-itis this past weekend), and man, this time I’m not stopping until that whole 1000-yd skein is used up. (And I include notes in the pattern about how you can do this to, and still make sure you’ve got enough to use in the final edge and bind-off.)

HunterStCowl5b

Thanks to Bridget for obliging me with cowl photos this past Saturday “on location” in Peterborough, and to Austen (model) and Jane (photographer) for photography help once more with the socks. Thanks also to Kate Atherley for technical editing and to Tanis once more for the collection yarn support.

And thank you, knitting friends, for your interest in these patterns! Working on this collection has been a great project and I will almost be sad to unveil the final 2 patterns in April. (Well, except I will also be happy to show them off, heh).

Happy knitting this fine Tuesday! I hope spring is treating you well so far.

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Filed under accessories, design