Category Archives: design

Edgewater Cardigan

I can’t tell you how happy I am that it is finally cold enough to not only wear hand-knits, but to enjoy wearing hand-knits. I admit I am not at all the sort of person who rejoices over +17C temperatures in November. I’m a knitter, darn it, and I like being able to snuggle down into the yarny results of my labours. With that said, I’m pleased to have been wearing this sweater the last week – the sweater which I am happy to show off to you today as a new design. It’s what I wore on the Saturday at Rhinebeck this year and it’s a cozy cardigan for sure. Edgewater is available on Patternfish and my Ravelry store, and debuts at a slight sale price for the month of November.

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This is a sweater that I designed as I went along, starting with some deliciously soft wool (Manos Maxima – very similar to Malabrigo Worsted), and a wide looping cable running up along the sleeves. By the time I got to the body I had the rest of it figured out – the cables repeat up the back, and are joined by some tinier cable twists up alongside the edge of the button-band. I also threw on some pockets, which I think may well be my favourite detail of the whole thing. I like having that little extra spot to hide things I’m carrying with me – or even just to slide in my iPod while sitting at the cafe.

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The sweater is worked from the bottom-up, and the sleeves and body are joined in one piece for raglan shaping at the yoke. There is shaping at the waist, and a slight shawl collar for just a touch more comfort – however, in the instructions I note that a plain button-band could easily be worked and the shawl collar omitted. Because this is worked on a field of ‘reverse stockinette’ – i.e. the purl side of the stockinette shows on the Right Side of the work – all of the decreases on the body are worked on the Wrong Side, or the knit side. I’d much rather ask you to do k2tog and ssk than p2tog and ssp. Those ssp decreases can be fiddly, and I have no shame in admitting I like to avoid them if I can.

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I am extremely grateful to Melissa Jaarsma, who took the beautiful modelled shots you see here, while we were at Rhinebeck. It was a gorgeous sunny fall day, and she went snap-snap-snap and before you knew it we had these lovely pictures you see here. I think this might be the most I’ve ever liked myself in photos. I also owe a note of thanks to Jaya Purswani for the technical editing on this pattern. Thank you, ladies, for your helpful work!

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I’ll offer one last note on the yarn selection for this pattern, for any eager would-be knitters! Manos Maxima (and Malabrigo Worsted, the nearest substitute for this) are wonderfully soft and a joy to work with. They are single-spun ultra-fine merino that is pretty much like knitting with kittens. However, when a yarn gives so much in comfort and softness, it tends to neglect sturdiness and hard wearing. So, feel free to choose accordingly and go with a plied yarn or hardier wool, if that would serve you better! This is worked at a pattern gauge of 18 sts/4 ins, so a variety of worsted or Aran yarns would be suitable.

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And if you are a sweater knitter or no, I wish you a happy Monday (that’s also known as Happy Castle Day, if you’re me), with possibly a refreshing beverage also. I’ll catch up with you again later in the week, with more knitting to be done.
Happy knitting!

23 Comments

Filed under cables, design, finished object: sweater, sweaters

Gateway

[ETA]: Gateway is now available on both Patternfish and in my Ravelry store!

This past summer I travelled to San Francisco for several days following Sock Summit – you know, since I was already on the west coast and all. It was a great city to visit and I look forward to going back. One thing that did strike me (as I am sure with all tourists in that city), was how much one does really depend on knitwear even in the summer months. I spent most days with a light commercial-knit sweater, and, most gratefully, my Tibetan Dreams stole. I got used to slinging it around my neck and shoulders and thereafter attempted to achieve that “oh I just threw this elegance together” sort of look that one always wishes for when wearing lacy stoles.

On my second day there, I visited the Exploratorium/Palais de Beaux Arts, then walked all the way across Crissy Fields to the Golden Gate bridge, and back. It was a solid day of walking. (I finished at the Ghiradelli ice cream cafe, and did not care that I was surrounded by tourists doing the same thing. I regret nothing about that peanut butter sundae.) Being on my own as I was, I naturally made many attempts at self-photography in front of the bridge, trying to get a decent shot of myself. The best I came up with was this. (People tell me it’s a good shot. I rather think it was just lucky that the wind was blowing my hair in a way that obscured only half of my face instead of all of it.)

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ANYway, back to the knitting. I liked having that bit of lace to keep comfy with on breezy tourist adventures, and I remembered it long enough to want a similar piece of knitwear to bundle up with in actual cold temperatures – not just a lacy scarf, but a nice practical piece of insulation as well. It gets cold in Ontario, but that doesn’t mean a gal doesn’t want to look a little pretty while she’s getting dressed for it. This scarf pattern is the result. Presenting Gateway, my latest accessory pattern.

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I’ve written this up as a scarf in 2 sizes – a smaller, slimmer, version more typical of simple scarves, and a larger, wider version which is the one I’m modelling here. I reached for Ultra Alpaca, which is one of my favourite yarns for the fall and winter. It’s 50% wool and 50% alpaca, which means that even with a few lacy yarnovers in mix, you’re still getting a pretty warm little knit out of it. However, a variety of worsted weight yarns in wool or wool/alpaca blends – ooh, heck, even wool/silk might be a nice option – would be suitable.

The lacy stitch pattern involves yarnovers and decreases on Right Side rows only, and would be workable enough for a knitter with a little bit of lace experience and chart-reading under their belts. Once you’ve done a few pattern repeats, it’s likely you’ll have started to memorize it. This was certainly my experience! I love how the little swooshy twisted ribs and stockinette angles stack up together, slightly disjointed but also elegant. Even a bit reminiscent of the Golden Gate, one might even say.

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I’ve been wearing this all week while here in Edmonton, where the temperatures have actually been cold. (In Southern Ontario we are only just starting to recall this “cold” of which people speak.) In fact, I am led to believe it is rare for there to not be snow on the ground already by this point in November, so that’s a pretty solid reminder that winter is coming. I think I’m going to have to work up some kind of hat to complement it, so I’ll be fully kitted up in Ultra Alpaca warmth.

In any event, the week marches on as do a few more days of family activity here. I’m continuing to sneak in bits of knitting and internet time while I can, and the pace of things continues one day at a time.

Keep your knitting handy, and stay warm!

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15 Comments

Filed under accessories, design, finished object: accessories

Fall Socks

Although it’s been a hectic couple of weeks around here, and the month of October seems to be passing by at a startling pace, I’ve got another pattern up my sleeve that I haven’t gotten the chance to show off to you properly yet! Allow me to present to the blog my Phellogen socks (available on Ravelry here, and on Patternfish here).

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I designed this pattern as a donation to the Tour de Sock (Ravelry link) knitting competition group, where participant fees are donated to charity and knitters get patterns along with the chance to finish quickly and compete for prizes. Sarah, the group organizer, asked me back in the summer if I’d like to contribute a pattern, and the only stipulation was “something with cables.” Heh. And since I do know my way around a cabled sock, and since I am a fan of charitable things, I went to my sock yarn stash and pulled out some yarn and got to work.

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When I was designing my Staked socks, I offered folks a modification to eliminate the swooshy angle across the foot, if desired, and simply continue the cables down the instep in a more classic fashion. I did this on a 3rd pair of my own Staked socks, and really liked how it looked – the result was a pair of matching but not identical socks, and the twisted cables feel so sleek and elegant once they’re on your feet. So, I decided to work with that general approach for this pair.

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On these socks, a slightly more prominent motif is featured at the outer edge of the leg and foot, combined with more modest, repeating twists towards the centre and inside of the foot. I left the heels and toes relatively plain, with twisted ribbing continuing out of the pattern motifs from the foot and leg. I like ‘em. I used Madelinetosh Tosh Sock at a typical stockinette gauge of 8 sts/inch, but a variety of solid or semi-solid plied sock yarns would work nicely.

Guys, I don’t think I had a full appreciation of what I was asking these competition knitters to do, by handing down this pattern to them. In my head I thought, “Hey, pretty cabled socks for fall! Fun times.” But the things is, in order for these folks to finish one round of the Tour de Sock before starting the next one, they need to finish a pair of socks in a week or less. Heh. Tour-de-Sock-ers, you are all AWESOME. Some of them finished these in less than two days. There are already almost 60 completed Ravelry projects for these socks, and many more WIPs, and they are all so impressive. I think it is one of those magical things where, given the pressure of a deadline, you don’t worry about whether or not you can do something, you just go ahead and do it.

For regular sock knitters less inclined towards deadlines, though, the pattern is in wide release (see links at top of post), and you may feel free to knit it as quickly or slowly as you like.

Happy knitting, and stay tuned to the end of the week when I just might have a blog giveaway for you. Have a great Wednesday!

14 Comments

Filed under design, socks

Knit all the things

I know there are lots of people who welcome the return of fall, but I think if you’re a knitter you have a bit of an edge on that. It’s been pretty fun watching the knitters on my Twitter feed exclaim about the return of cool weather, or talk to other knitters who are saying things like “I can wear my socks again! And sweaters! this is so great!” I mean, I know there are some people who are probably agreeing with the weather guy on TV calling a 23C forecast for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend “really nice,” but in my head I’m thinking “are you kidding??? We want sweater weather! GIVE US BACK THE SWEATER WEATHER.”

We’ll all be eating these words round about Februrary when we have had just about enough of sweater weather thank you very much, but I digress. SWEATERS.

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I’ve been slower than I’d like to progress with my Gwendolyn cardigan (the hazard of working several projects at a time), but breaking into the second sleeve this past weekend gave me a bit of nice momentum. But I’ve got to turn my attention to my Rhinebeck cardigan over the next week and a half, because it turns out that’s all the time I’ve got left in between now and then. And you know, I don’t mean to brag about my progress or anything, but I’ve got both sleeves done. And the hem of the body. Yeah, so that’s totally almost done. Maybe another day or two and I’ll have it licked.

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Okay, so it’s going to be close, as per usual, but I’m loving the yarn. Manos Maxima is pretty close to Malabrigo worsted, and I don’t think I need to tell you how soft and squooshable THAT is. It’s like knitting with kitten purrs.

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I’m making this up in my head as I go, but I think I’ve got the plan for the body down. Going to throw in a few more cable details along the edge as well as down the back, and I think it’s going to work out nicely. And it’ll be so cozy. Once it’s done the only thing left will be to cross my fingers (along with 1,000s of others I am sure) for sweater weather at Rhinebeck. Here’s hoping!

Lots of great knitting weather to come. Goodbye summer! It’s time for wool season.

14 Comments

Filed under design, sweaters

Just in time for some colour

I think it’s safe to say that fall has arrived. The chill blew across Ontario this past weekend and I’m sure more than a few knitters were happily reaching for their knitted socks and sweaters. I know I was! Uh, how quickly do you suppose I can knit five more sweaters?

Last week several of you were asking about the hat pattern I was working on, and I’m pleased to announce it’s here and available for sale! The instructions give you not just a hat but a hat and mitten set, and the option of working the hat as a plain cap or with earflaps. (And also the option of the pompom. I know people have very strong opinions about pompoms.)

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The Frostbite set is available for download through Patternfish, or in my Ravelry store. Let me tell you, this is a pretty quick little undertaking. The plain hat took me about an afternoon, so if you’re new to colour-work and want something to ease you in slowly, this would still be a project you could have done in short time! In the pattern notes I also offer resource suggestions if you are new to the technique. If you’re already familiar with colour-work, though, you’ll easily have this done in a weekend. And once you’ve got the hat, then, well, of course you need the option of matching mittens, right?

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This is worked up in bulky yarn – here, Mirasol Kutama, a 50% wool/50% alpaca blend that is pretty delicious to work with – and a variety of yarns suitable for 14-16 sts/4 ins would work well, like Araucania Nature Wool Chunky, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky, Cascade Eco, and probably many more that I’m forgetting at the moment.

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I need to thank Bridget at Needles in the Hay for her hat modelling turn when I was up in Peterborough this past Saturday. I must have done a good job of getting her used to being accosted for knitwear photography when I lived there last year, because this time she didn’t bat an eyelash.

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I was there this past Saturday for a fabulous all-day teaching extravaganza, with colour-work in the morning and then steeking in the afternoon. It was a ton of fun and we practiced lots of technique, talked about colour, and then cut up some knitting at the end. All in a day’s work.

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If you’re interested in joining me in a class, I’ve got several more coming up this fall and my Teaching page is up to date with several in the Toronto area.

And finally, I hope your Monday is getting your week off to a good start – or at the very least not too painful a start. Keep the knitting close by!

17 Comments

Filed under accessories, colour-work, design, teaching

Just one more row

Like other specialized techniques in knitting, I know stranded colour-work often gets a reputation. It looks so impressive as a finished result that, if you’ve never done it before, it’s easy to hesitate. And I get that, I mean, it does take a bit of concentration to get into it, and if you’re only used to knitting with one colour at a time, knitting with two colours at once can be a little daunting.

But if you ask me, this isn’t the true challenge of stranded colour-work. Once you figure out how it goes and get a bit of practice at it, you’re all good to go and can start using it on projects as big as blankets or as small as mittens. You can go as fine as laceweight and knit yourself some Sanqhar gloves, or go chunky on a Cowichan style cardigan. No no, the real challenge isn’t learning how to do it.

The real challenge is figuring out how to put it down.

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I’m so sorry, Other Sweater That Is So Close to Being Finished. And Pair of Socks and Yarns Waiting Ever So Patiently To Be Swatched, I owe you an apology as well. Dearest Yarn Purchased At Sock Summit, well, I’m very sure I meant all those sweet things I said to you about all the good times we were about to have with each other. I’m going to get to you all really really soon.

I just have to knit a few more rows on this colour-work cardigan and then I’ll TOTALLY be right with you.

Really.

…Well okay. Probably.

(Relatedly: progress on the Longbottom cardigan is going well. More on the rest soon enough! Happy knitting today.)

25 Comments

Filed under colour-work, design, fair isle

Highness

I’ve been visiting Edmonton this weekend, spending some time with relatives and also taking in the Fringe festival (both plays and the street fair – lots of fun), and even a visit to the local drop-in knitting at River City Yarns. It’s been a diverting weekend, but also with very little online connection time. And I’ve been meaning to introduce my other recent sock pattern to you, and thankfully this morning I managed to score a whole minute or two at the local Safeway’s Starbucks, so, huzzah! Blog posting time.

Back in the spring, the folks at Lorna’s Laces were so kind enough to send me a skein of their new sock yarn, ‘Solemate,’ to work on a pattern for it. It is a 100% lovely yarn to work with – same fine fingering weight as their tried and true Shepherd Sock, same beautiful colours as their other lines, and with one exceptional twist. It’s not just a merino/nylon sock yarn, but a merino/nylon/Outlast sock yarn! Apparently Outlast is the same fibre used for things like astronaut clothing. It regulates body temperature as you wear it. Well, all I can say is I would be happy to work with this again, and i’m pretty sure it’s going to make some lovely socks. Even the wound-up skein sort of felt cool to the touch on a hot day.

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This beautiful pale colourway is called “Buckingham Fountain,” one of their new 2011 colourways. Based on that name, and the fact that the Royal Wedding was still fresh in my memory, I kept thinking, “royal, royal, royal…” and this sock was the result. The pattern is called Highness, and has the right kind of regal, delicate aesthetic I was going for. All the fancy work is in the front, down the instep of the sock…

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…with a relatively simple and stable pattern repeating down the back of the leg, for balance. This does feature a few more twisted stitches and small cables, as is my wont (it’s just so hard to put down the twisted stitches, I think they’re hardwired into my brain now), although actually in a more modest fashion than in some of my previous designs. I think the motif comes together sort of like a royal crest hanging outside the palace gates – or so I was thinking as I designed it.

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The pattern is available in my Ravelry store for $6, and also on Patternfish. I hope you enjoy it! I can tell that Solemate is going to be one of the new yarns to look out for (I may have to stash up a couple more skeins), and I look forward to working with it again. This is certainly a time for more sock knitting on the horizon, as fall creeps closer. I mean seriously, how did it get to be August 22nd? That’s almost a month since Sock Summit started! I’m not sure i’m ready for summer to be over.

Happy knitting until next time!

14 Comments

Filed under design, finished object: socks