Category Archives: design

Urban Collection: Water Street Cardigan

Since mid-March is upon us, it’s time for the March releases in the Urban Collection to begin, and the first of these is now available! The Water St. Cardigan can be found here on Ravelry, (once the collection is complete, all patterns will also be available individually or as a set on Patternfish.) and well as part of the collection. (If you’ve already purchased the collection – or do so at any time – you’ll receive all the new patterns as they are uploaded). I’m so pleased to show this one off to you, as it is the very first one of the collection that I started on! In fact, it’s been finished for a year, and I’ve been sitting on it waiting for the rest of the collection to catch up. I think it was worth it, though, because this is a light and comfortable cardigan just perfect for that point when Spring is just peeking around the corner.

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In keeping with the Urban Collection theme, the patterns are all named for streets in towns I have lived in as a knitter. March’s patterns are all named for Peterborough, Ontario, which is where I not only spent my years as an undergraduate student, but came back to teach for a short stint last year. When I did so I was very pleased to discover Needles in the Hay, a local yarn shop which had opened not long before I arrived there for my year of teaching. I made some great friends through the knitters in town, and dearly miss being able to stop in one or two afternoons a week for a knit and chat. It was really really great being in walking distance to a yarn shop, nevermind such a friendly one, and I miss it.

Needles in the Hay is situated on Water St, one of the main streets running north-south through the downtown, so it was a pretty easy decision for me to figure out what to name this one! It is a light and comfortable cardigan that is relatively simple to knit and easy to wear. I recommend this to be worn with some positive ease, 2-4 ins, depending on preference (I.e. the garment when closed, measures larger than your bust), but the open nature of the cardigan means that fit is quite flexible.

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I enjoy how current knitting trends are becoming more inclusive of light knitted fabrics, and fingering weight yarns (or even laceweight!) are not an uncommon selection for sweater patterns. This cardigan uses Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label fingering weight – a blend of superwash wool/cashmere/nylon – worked at a looser gauge of 5 sts/inch to allow for a very lofty and drapey fabric.

The hint of cashmere content in the yarn also doesn’t hurt, let me tell you! When we did the original photos (the lovely detailed shots) for these back in the fall, at one point we were paused while Jane (photographer) changed camera lenses, and (model) Emily turned to me and said, “this is really warm,” in pleased surprise. Now, I wouldn’t recommend it as a cold-weather outer layer (as secondary model Austen can attest, when I stuck it on her quickly during our January photoshoot to grab a couple more full shots as backup), but really, it does quite well as a transitional piece, and it’s pretty comfortable. I actually have a couple of large skeins of Verb For Keeping Warm wool/silk blend fingering weight that I’ve been wanting to pull out to make myself another one, but I’m betting the wool/cashmere sock yarns out there now will offer quite a few other yarn options as well. I certainly enjoyed working with the TFA Purple Label on this one!

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Water Street Cardi

This piece uses only knit and purl stitches (well, and some increases and decreases, hee.) At first glance, this might look like just a regular stockinette cardigan, but actually there are one or two detailed elements that add a bit of interest and personalization, while still keeping it simple. I’ve made use of garter ridges placed around the lower portion of the sleeve, and the upper portion of the torso, inside the raglan decreases for the yoke. I really enjoy the way these add a simple amount of detail, and you can personalize for yourself how frequently you place the garter ridges – every 3-10 rows how you choose. I did them in a slightly random sequence.

The collar extends from the edges of the cardigan fronts, and is then grafted in the centre and then sewn down to the back of neck, at the top of the cardigan back. This allows for a small amount of seaming and stability in an otherwise seamless piece, and also means that there are no picked up stitches – none whatsoever! Work the sleeves in the round, work the cardigan body back and forth, then join for the raglan yoke and away you go.

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Thank you again to Emily and Austen for modelling, Jane for photography, Tanis for the yarn, and Stephannie for the technical editing. I hope you’ll enjoy, and I’ll be sure to keep you updated as more March patterns are added to the collection!

Happy knitting this Thursday!
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Filed under design, finished object: sweater

Urban Collection: Aberdeen Ave. Mittens and Hat

One of my goals as I began putting together ideas for my Urban Collection was to offer a set of patterns with balance; In theory, I wanted a person who might knit all of these items to have a knitted object for any occasion. In other words, if you had all these knitted items, you could get dressed in something knitted no matter what the weather or wardrobe requires. I also wanted a balance of items in terms of required execution time and effort, and as I stagger the releases over a few months, each month’s release will have one larger, more time consuming item, and one or more smaller or less time consuming items. Some times you just need the instant gratification! (Well, or at least, instant-er.)

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Some times, like right now around these parts, you also need a few quick and warm things, and that is where the Aberdeen Ave. mittens and hat patterns come in. I knew the Locke St. cardigan would be first up in February, and these likewise take their name from a Hamilton street name – Aberdeen Ave. and Locke St. intersect with each other, and with such Scottish place names to work with as inspiration, how could I resist working with cables? I loved the knotty twists and turns on these so much I couldn’t keep them to just one item, and just had to spread the cabled awesomeness to both a hat and a pair of mittens.

In a collection of knitted items, it would be a crying, crying shame to overlook the winter accessories, don’t you think? And it’s especially pleasing to have a matching pair. There is something very satisfying about feeling put together like that when you leave your front door, even if it’s a blustery chilly day that makes you need to bundle up. I reached for the heavy worsted/Aran weight yarn for both of these, to help with both warmth and speed.  A single skein of Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label Aran is all that’s needed for either the hat or the mittens, and either one would be great for that single skein of worsted or Aran yarn you’ve got hanging around waiting for a project!

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If you have more than a passing familiarity with a cable needle, you’ll have this hat finished in a snap. There’s just enough interest for you on the central cable panel running along one side to keep you from getting bored, and before you know it you’ll be decreasing and finishing up the top and reaching for another skein of yarn to make the mittens to match. If you’re still new to cables, these will be small canvases to practice on while you prep yourself for larger cabled projects.

As with all items in the Urban Collection (currently available on Ravelry – will be made available on Patternfish as an e-book and individual patterns once the collection is complete), both the Mitts and the Hat are available to be purchased individually in my Ravelry store, or as part of the collection. Once you’ve purchased the collection, you’ll receive all patterns that are added to it with each update, until it is complete.

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I am grateful once again to my friends Austen (for modelling) and Jane (for photography), and to Jaya Purswani for the technical editing on these two projects. I hope you’ll enjoy them!

Now that I’ve introduced you to all three February releases in the collection, I”ll be happy to report back on some other ongoing knits next time. I hate to jinx things, but I might just be getting close to finishing my Gwendolyn cardigan after all – and possibly even a pair of socks. Dare I say it, I may get some more warm knits finished in time to wear them in the chilly season after all.

Happy knitting this Wednesday!

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Filed under cables, design, finished object: accessories

Urban Collection: Locke St.

What can I say, folks, but that it’s a great relief to finally get to show off a few designs to you after keeping them under wraps for so long. February marks the first wave of releases of my Urban Collection, which will be a collection of eight knitting patterns in total. Between February and April I’ll add 2-3 more patterns to the collection each month until it is complete. (My previous post gives a good visual snapshot of the first five designs – the rest are in the works!) My goal for this collection was a set of patterns that would sit well in the “urban classic” realm – designs that will be comfortable and wearable now as well as a few years from now.

Locke Street Cardi

Rather than overwhelm you all at once with the whole sha-bang, I’ll be staggering the releases so that they are a bit more seasonally appropriate – as a result, the warmest patterns are the first ones out of the gate in February. Closer to April, you can predict a few lighter accessories and lace pieces to make an appearance. The complete collection will contain two sweaters, two lace items, and four smaller accessories. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do! All of the patterns feature Tanis Fiber Arts yarn, in a variety of yarn weights from Aran to laceweight.

As the patterns are released, you’ll be able to purchase them individually at any time in my Ravelry store, but if you’d like to take the plunge for the whole set, the collection may be purchased now for a few dollars cheaper than the final collection price, and I’ll keep that ‘preview price’ available until the March patterns are posted (around March 12th, a month later than today.) Once you’ve purchased the collection, you’ll receive updates as patterns are added.
(I’m working on making these available on Patternfish as well, as an e-book, for non-Ravelry users – stay tuned for updates there!)

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Since I was working with the aesthetic of “urban classic” in mind, when thinking about pattern names I decided to draw on the cities in which I have lived as a knitter. The patterns are all named after streets that I am familiar with in these cities. The first pattern I’d like to introduce you to is the Locke St. Cardigan. This is named for a favourite street of mine in my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario (if I’m hanging at a cafe or heading off in search of poutine or organic chocolate bars, or even a run to the bank – chances are, this is where I’m doing that.) This is a buttoned cardigan in the style of a classic cabled knit, including modern details like waist shaping and v-neck collar. Using DK-weight Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label yarn at 5.5 sts/inch, it is also a little lighter than a traditional Aran cardi might be, which means you’ll be able to get good wear out of this as a layer underneath your jacket in the cold seasons, or wear it as a layer itself when it’s a bit warmer.

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Friends Austen (above) and Emily (in the detailed shots) helped me out with modelling this, and both were pretty comfortable in it. In fact, I think it fit Austen so nicely that I am a little surprised she didn’t try the “hey! look over there!” trick, only to have me turn around and discover she was missing.

How about the cables? Let’s talk about the cables. You want cables, hoo boy, this sweater has cables!

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I like using symmetry and structure in my designs when I can, and the big show piece of this sweater is the way the cables lend vertical focus and visual appeal, especially down the back of the piece. Two diamond cables twist down the centre and are flanked by a few smaller twists and claw cables, for accent and delicate appeal. There is a blend here of cables and twisted stitches (mostly sneaking in in the ribbing and in between the cable placements – I just can’t give up my precious twisted stitches entirely, it seems!).

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Sizing for this pattern runs between 35-55 ins around at bust (when closed), and is intended for slight positive ease between 2-4 ins or so, according to preference. As usual, I provide some suggestions in the pattern notes about how to work cables without a cable needle, if you’re interested in that method as a potential way of building speed and efficiency. (Having said that, though, I know there are knitters who are speed demons with cable needles, so choose whatever method floats your boat!)
And also as usual, feel free to consult the pattern schematic and gauge if you prefer to modify your patterns for a more customized fit for yourself.

Thank you again to Jane D. for the photography on this project, and Stephannie Tallent for the technical editing, and to friends Tammy and Kelly for providing test-knitting feedback during the knitting process!

Now that I’ve said a mouthful, I’m looking forward to taking a break for a couple of days to knit and let these February projects be out in the world a little bit. When next we meet I’ll formally introduce you to the Locke St. cardi’s companions – the Aberdeen Ave. hat and mittens. They are just as warm and toasty, and the weather seems to agree – we finally have snow around these parts!

Happy knitting this fine Sunday!
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Filed under cables, design, sweaters

Worth the wait

Knitting friends, over the course of the last several months (well, almost the last year, actually), I’ve been working away on a big project for myself. It’s finally ready to start getting revealed, a few pieces at a time, and I’m so eager to be able to share it with you.

In my next post I’ll reveal more details about the first patterns out of the gate in this, my first true collection, but for now I want to leave you with a few delicious preview shots of the first five (out of a final eight) patterns in The Urban Collection (winter-to-spring 2012).

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Water Street Cardi

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Because you can’t say thank you too many times, and because I want to make sure I do, thank you to Tanis Fiber Arts for the beautiful and generous yarn support, Stephannie Tallent and Jaya Purswani for technical editing,

Jane for the lovely photographs, friends Diana, Kelly, Tammy, Abbie, and Rebecca who have done test-knitting, Austen and Emily for modelling…and probably several more folks who will be recruited before the entire project is complete ;) Thank you, ladies!

More next time! Happy knitting this fine Wednesday.
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What ever did I do before

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been knitting for a little less than a third of my life – which in the grand scheme of things isn’t very much, but in the scheme of hobbies is relatively huge. Sure, I was gangbusters for cross-stitch needlepoint before I took up knitting, but that didn’t last nearly as long as my love of knitting has. How many hobbies have we all taken up that didn’t quite stick? I mean, the universe seeks balance, and so forth, which means there’s got to be scads of crafters out there who took up knitting for like, a month or two, or long enough to churn out a baby blanket or a few scarves as gifts, and then discovered quilting or sketching or glass-blowing or something and decided to ditch knitting forever – and that’s totally groovy. Do as pleases you, crafters, because goodness knows knitters hate too much competition at the yarn sales. (I kid. Sort of. ::cough::) But man, I cannot even remember what I did to fill my time before knitting came along. Like, are there people who go through the world without a portable knitting project stuffed in their handbag/backpack/briefcase? How do they manage?

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I take a great deal of pleasure in having knitting around at home, but also in those little gaps of time when I’m out and about. I rediscovered this in full force the other night, when I sat in the first session of a photography course that I’m taking this term through the local college continuing education program. (Up until about a month and a half ago, every single photo I have taken for this blog was with a $200 point-and-shoot camera. I recently finally collected enough cash for a proper DSLR, and I love it. Now the trick is just to learn how to use it.) Turns out the class is going to yield plenty of sitting-and-listening time along with practical instructional time, and combined with the waiting around at the beginning of class, I got a decent amount of my Malabrigo sock knitted. The instructor doesn’t mind me knitting, I can listen and focus better if my hands are busy, and I have knitting and knowledge to show for my time. This is a win on all counts.

Although I fully expect I have now been mentally labelled as ‘that weird knitting girl’, I also don’t care, because dude, nobody else in that class is going to get a pair or two of socks after sitting there for 10 weeks. (I bet they’re all jealous.) I hadn’t thought of officially going for a “12 in 2012″ project this year, but unofficially I was thinking that 12 pairs of socks would be nice, and now I think it would be absolutely do-able. Hurray for portable knitting projects in the handbag!

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In other sock news, I’m pleased to announce that the sock pattern I contributed for the Tanis Fiber Arts 2011 ‘Year in Colour’ yarn club is now available in wide release. These were the offering for March of last year, and the colourway Tanis produced for it (Clover) is just gorgeous. I don’t know if she’ll be including it in her roster of regular yarn colours, but I may or may not have already tried to peer pressure her to do so. It’s a wonderful leafy green, and even on a snowy day like today is a nice glimpse of spring ahead.

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You can find the Marching On sock pattern here in my Ravelry store, and on Patternfish as well. It’s worked up with a single skein of Purple Label Cashmere Sock, and would be lovely for a variety of sock yarns that are comfortable at 8 sts/inch. There are a few twisting cables in there, and I sort of fell in love with the little knotty bobble pattern running down the front of the leg and instep. My mother knitted a pair of these as well, and said “you know, it looks hard but it really isn’t, once you get into it!” So there you go. ;)

Happy knitting, this Thursday! I’ll have more adventures to report on next time.

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Filed under design, socks

For Winter

Hat knitting season tends to come upon me a bit later on, after winter has already gotten started. I think my first impulse is always towards sweaters, once fall gets going, and then by late December and early January it eventually occurs to me that, hang on a second, there are three more months of cold weather still ahead. I might need some hats.

Happily enough for these purposes, earlier in the fall the folks at Lorna’s Laces sent me some single skeins to work with, and after a bit of brainstorming and stitch perusal and playing around, I came up with the two hat designs you see here. Both yarns were a joy to work with.

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A bright cranberry red skein of Shepherd Worsted – a wonderfully soft yet wooly 100% wool worsted yarn – became the Union Station beret. (Available here in my Ravelry store, and here on Patternfish.) I confess this might be my favourite recent design, and I may have trouble holding myself back from making another one in a different colour. A cabled beret is one of my favourite winter accessories.

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The Union Station beret is written in one size, to comfortably fit a head circumference of 20-22 ins. It uses a single skein of worsted wool yarn, worked in the round on 4.5mm needles for the main portion of the hat, changing to double-points as the crown becomes smaller. The magical part, of course, comes when you wash and block the final product over a dinner plate (usually the nearest circular, flat object), and then once dried the little thing transforms into a stylish cabled thing that makes you feel suddenly extremely elegant even if you’re just waiting in an interminable Starbucks queue. I love it, and hope you will too.

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As a companion, I wanted to work up a relatively simple, slouchy hat pattern to accompany the lovely, drapey skein of Lorna’s Laces Honor (an alpaca/silk blend that is soft like kittens), which lends itself very easily to less structured knits. The Steeltown Slouch here, is the result – it uses a simple knit-and-purl pattern and works up relatively quickly in the round. (Also available here on Ravelry, and here on Patternfish.)

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The colour here is ‘Blackberry’, which often appears quite a bit darker in the woolier lines of Lorna’s Laces. The colours in the alpaca/silk have a paler, shinier quality to it, leading me to the Steeltown moniker. It’s also a small homage to my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario.

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It is seen here in the larger of two sizes, which may also be easily modified by adding or subtracting pattern repeats from the main portion of the hat. Peggy, who models both hats here wonderfully, is quite a petite gal, so you may use that as a basis for comparison and size estimates.

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I am grateful to Peggy for the impromptu modelling near the Purple Purl earlier this month, and to Dan Petre (a knitter himself, as well as a knitter’s husband) for the beautiful photographs. (I learned after the fact that Dan spent 2 hours browsing hat patterns on Ravelry to get a good sense of good hat photography. That is dedication, man.)

I think I could get into hats – i’m so sorry, hats, for the neglect I’ve shown you in the past. You were right all along, the socks and sweaters don’t need all the attention!. It impresses me not just how relatively quick hats are to work up, but also how fully a person can transform their look just by changing the style of hat they toss on when heading out the door. That is darned cool.

Happy knitting! And stay warm and cozy, where ever you are as the year winds down.
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Filed under design, finished object: accessories, hats

Chilly Podsters

[Note from the future: The most current pattern file version is as of February 28/2012. Please feel free to re-download as needed! Enjoy!]

Knitters, I promised you a free pattern this month, and since I am alarmed to discover that it is very soon going to be next month and not this month (ahahahahhaha let’s not even talk about how much I haven’t started planning for Christmas), I had better get cracking and do a proper introduction between you and these Chilly Podsters!

In the process of giving my regular Podster mitts a refresher earlier this fall, I said to myself, “self, these need to be warmer. These need a sister in worsted weight.” And my self agreed, and wouldn’t you know it, less than a week later I had a pair of these. I give you the Chilly Podsters, available for free in my Ravelry store, or here as a PDF download.

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This pattern is everything the original Podsters are – convertible, flip-top mitten/gloves, with a modified thumb that allows you to sneak your own thumb in and out, for access to your iPod or cell phone or camera buttons, or anything else you might want easier access to without having to rip the whole mitten off your hand to do it – but in worsted weight instead of fingering weight. True story. They also come in 2 sizes.

I used some of my remaining Ultra Alpaca to make mine, so that I’d have a matching pair of mitts to go with my Gateway Scarf, but these are essentially knittable in almost any worsted or DK yarn you’ve got stashed. They are knitted at a relatively snug 6 sts/inch, which means they will be nice and warm. The small size will use 1 skein of Ultra Alpaca or similar 100g worsteds like Cascade 220 or Plymouth Galway, and the larger skein uses just slightly more than 1 skein (I could tell you it’s a 1 skein project for both sizes, but your mileage may vary and it’s just too close to call. If you buy 2 skeins and don’t use most of the 2nd one…well, didn’t you need to make yourself a matching hat, anyway?)

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Enjoy, my knitter friends! I daresay these would make a practical knit for you and a few Christmas gift recipients. A word to the wise, though – take a pause between pairs. The only downside of knitting at a snug gauge is that it does add some strain to your hands, so be kind to them.

And happy knitting this fine (or rainy, if you’re where I am) Tuesday.

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Filed under accessories, design, free pattern