Designer Spotlight: Janelle Martin

laura wrote this around lunchtime:

Hope you are all doing flawlessly.

Let me just say – I think you’re in for a treat!

Janelle Martin’s Interwoven Blanket made in Bare Naked Wools Stone Soup Fingering

Janelle first met Anne in 2009 when she invited her to guest judge for her local knitter’s guild show.  She had just started designing, so you can imagine that having the opportunity to spend time with a designer that she really admired was the chance of a lifetime.   It was during this visit that Anne mentioned a new endeavour; one featuring all natural yarns.  Hence, the creation of Fall in Full Color and Bare Naked Knitspot.



Janelle Martin’s Every Which Way in Bare Naked Wools Confection



The first designs Janelle ever created using Bare Naked Wools, were the Every Which Way Collection.

“The first time I touched Bare Naked Wools ‘Confection’ I knew two things: 1) I wanted to wrap myself in the yarn and 2) the amount of “spring” in the yarn would make it a dream to knit with.”


Janelle is graciously offering not only an Every Which Way Set ebook but ALSO an Interwoven Blanket pattern to all of our blog readers!  Winning is easy; go to Janelle’s designer page and check out all of the beautiful pieces she’s designed since 2009!  Won’t you tell us what pattern you love!?  Winners will be selected Tuesday May 19th at midnight, (so getchur comments in!)  We’ll announce the winner on Wednesday! Happy commenting!




This past summer, Janelle traveled to New Foundland, specifically, the arctic coastal tundra region where the Vikings had the first European Settlement in North America.  This stunning landscape inspired her upcoming collection.  “I find the remote and stark landscapes inspiring – nature has such beautiful lines and movement.”

Janelle’s collection will offer 30-40 pieces (shawls/stoles, scarves, hats, cowls, blankets, and possibly socks.)  If she can squeeze them in!  I mean, that’s A LOT of knitted goodness!

“I knew right away that the beautiful, natural colours and textures of Bare Naked Wools paired perfectly with this landscape. The collection also features indie dyers, focusing on colours drawn from New Foundland and it’s geographical cousins in Iceland and coastal Ireland.”



The collection is being offered in three parts.  Part One will be released this August.  Part Two comes out at the end of this year and Part Three will be available in Spring of 2016.  Each part of the collection will be offered as an ebook or individual patterns.

Secret Society by Janelle Martin, coming in July 2015

Secret Society is a “teaser” pattern from the upcoming book.  The pattern calls for either Stone Soup Fingering or Mrs. Lincoln’s Lace.  It’s a bottom up, triangular shawl inspired by rocks found in The Burren, Ireland.



Janelle described her design process to me.  I find this aspect of knitted garments extremely interesting.  All too often, I’m wondering how a designer envisions a concept and thus, turns it into art:

My favourite items to design are shawls and stoles.  The large amount of space allows me to incorporate multiple stitch patterns. I call my design aesthetic “organic”. I like there to be continuous lines in my work, for the stitch patterns to grow out of each other. Often this means I have to create transition charts to move from one stitch pattern into the other. My complex lace designs, such as Cartouche Shawloften have five or six charts to handle these transitions, but the result is worth it.


Cartouche Shawl by Janelle Martin Knitted by Mari AKA rapelleykset on Ravelry


Janelle offered Cartouch as a Knitty pattern in Knitty’s Winter 2011 edition.

I’m drawn to the complexity of Japanese stitch patterns. Their stitch dictionaries show stitches that are combinations of smaller elements joined together and there is such beauty and complexity in their presentations. These stitch dictionaries approach knitting with a different eye and that is what I’m drawn to. I tend to combine patterns that share elements and can build cohesive designs out of these stitch patterns. An example of this is my Flower Bell Stole.


The cohesive element in this design is the raised flower bud. It appears in the attached edging, the bottom border, two different sizes in the left/right borders and in large form in the centre panel. The use of this element in various sizes creates cohesiveness of design. Of course, these stitch patterns “eat” yarn just like cables do and so I had to work through several iterations of this design before I found a final version I liked that didn’t require excessive amounts of yarn.


Here at Knitspot HQ, we are so excited to see what Janelle has in store over the next few months!  Her 3 part series is sure to be a treat for the eyes and a joy to knit.  We’re thrilled to be in collaboration with her and we wish her incredible success!


She wishes to mention one last thing:

I owe a lot to the incredible support, encouragement and mentorship provided by fellow designers like Anne Hanson and Kate Atherley, indie dyers/designers such as Kim McBrien Evans (Indigodragonfly) and Tabi Ferguson (Sericin Silkworks), industry professionals such as Amy Singer (Knitty) and Sanguine Gryphon who included my early designs in their publications, and Karen Crouch, the amazing owner of my LYS Shall We Knit?  I would not be where I am today without the invaluable resource these incredible women have been and their excellent advice.


My designs are available through Ravelry, Patternfish and LoveKnitting, as well as on my website (

danger—spring cleaning site

anne wrote this in the early evening:


when i was growing up, the mention of spring and fall cleaning made me grain inwardly—it wasn’t so much the work (spring cleaning always coincided with easter break from school), but the complete upset to the house that got to me.

my mom left no stone unturned as she made her way through every room in the house, turning out drawers and closets, polishing glass and windows, scrubbing wood floors, doors, and furniture to prepare for rewaxing, washing walls and ceilings, stripping off seasonal bedding, drapery, and slipcovers to replace with its opposite, and finally, tossing out anything damaged, worn out, too small for anyone to wear, or otherwise unfit to keep (some day i’ll tell you about her weekly cleaning routine, haha).

i don’t remember why, but all that disturbance made me feel insecure and at odds with the world.

which is why i never EVER did any of that in an organized way. sure i did big cleanings every six months or so, especially when i moved house (which was frequently for many years). i just never called it spring cleaning and i never did it at the same time each year.

but now that we live in a house—and one that we’ve inhabited for almost thirteen years (gosh, where did that time go??)—i see the point and i wish we could work out some sort of time warp once a year that allowed us a two-week bubble to tackle this place with the fervor it—and we—deserve.

the best i can do is to make sure that certain things are attended to seasonally—the care of our precious woolens, sorting out closets and drawers, a whole-house changeover of textiles (which has the added bonus of providing a change of scenery), cleaning and storing away out-of-season items, and a little extra tidying up.

this week, since i was washing all of my personal wool sweaters to put away for summer,  i took on the added task of washing and refreshing every single one of our (numerous) shop samples. it hasn’t ever been done and they really needed it.


(washing a ton of wool garments may seem daunting but the resulting fluffy freshness of the clean fabric is totally worth it) 


since i work at the house and not in the office, i figured i could put in loads to wash while i worked at my desk. i created three different staging areas (one on each floor of the house) for drying them.

what i hadn’t counted on was running low on wool soap—by yesterday i was dipping into the last bottle of my personal stash of meadows patchouli wool wash. hmmm . . . i though about ordering a large quantity of the unicorn soap we sell in the shop, but realized that i didn’t want to wait til it arrived (ok, i was afraid if the washing came to a halt, i might lose steam or get distracted and not finish it).

i had been exploring the idea of making some solid lotions recently and in the process was introduced to the soap making culture (pretty big). i wondered if i could find a family simple recipe for making wool soap and sure enough, there are several options. and we already had everything i needed in the house. so last night when david went out for a few hours, i decided to try my hand at it.


these are the ingredients i used. the only one i wasn’t sure about was the denatured alcohol (harmful if swallowed). but almost every recipe i found listed it as an ingredient; from what i can tell, it keeps the soap and any essential oil solvent (in a liquid or semi-liquid state). so i figured that as long as no one drank my wool soap, it would be ok for one batch and that i can search for a better alternative if i plan to make more.


making wool soap is incredibly easy. first, you grate some soap; i used an old bar of homemade olive oil soap that was gifted to me by a very old woman we met years ago in spain, who makes all her own soap from her family’s olives (i saved it too long and it got hard). this was plenty for my first batch, but in the future i will probably use a commercial olive oil (castile) soap. if you shave the soap very finely, it will dissolve instantly and completely. you can also used commercial soap flakes.


put it in a bowl and add the same quantity of boiling water; i also added a dab (maybe a couple teaspoons?) of lanolin here, to help protect my woolens. whisk the soap and water together—it will get thick and stretchy, kind of like a caramel mixture. when all the soap is dissolved add the denatured alcohol (1/4 of the water quantity) and optional essential oil (.5  ounce).

i like scent in my wool soap, especially natural ones like cedar, patchouli, eucalyptus, or lavender—they also do double duty to add a layer of moth repellent (not enough to kill moths on its own, but every little bit helps).


the alcohol thinned and cleared the mixture, making it pourable. the one i used did not have the nicest smell, but the odor dissipated as the mixture stood and cooled. by morning, the soap had a clean fresh scent plus the smell added by the essential oil.


but i was anxious to test drive it immediately so i rinsed out the mixing bowl and utensils into a washtub and got my most-worn scarf out of the closet to clean. this soap made suds, though less than i am used to, which is fine; it dissolved well in cold water. i used about a teaspoon of soap for this three gallon tub.


my scarf came out of the wash sparkling clean and fresh smelling—the recipe recommended a vinegar rinse afterward, which i would do in the washer, but did not do in this hand wash test. this soap can be left in without rinsing if desired, but i always rinse my washed fabrics to remove any residues (why not?).


my gray garden shawlette was looking very pretty by morning, the wool was glossy and full of life. i really love the way the dry fabric feels. while i may make a few tweaks (i would love to find an alternative to the denatured alcohol), i think my soap is a keeper. yay.


today i did two large loads of woolens with it and i’m even happier now that i tried this approach—when i see the fabrics glowing like this, with that soft halo of fluffy fiber reaching out to me, i’m hooked.


oops, time for knit night to begin—i have to run. barb will be here in a few minutes!


for mother’s day or any day

anne wrote this mid-afternoon:


something new has been brewing across the street and i’ve been anxiously waiting for its opening day unveiling to share with you. finally last monday a sign went up that said, “pleasantry garden opens friday”.


and though bret was still adding final touches at 7 am, he was ready for customers at 9 o’clock sharp andi ran right over to make my contribution. by this morning the garden was filling up so when i went out for my run i snapped a few pictures


abby is just beside herself with all the visitors who stop by. what is a pleasantry garden, you ask?


it’s so sweet and something we should all remember to do each day—think kind thoughts and share them; so simple.


leave it to bret to make an event of it and and give it a place where passersby can stop and soak in some goodness.


can you tell which one is mine?

i hope if you live nearby or are passing through town later this month going to or from the wooster show, you’ll stop and plant a pleasantry flower. and while you’re there, it would be SO COOL if you came to visit the BNWs shop, right around the corner.

i don’t have much new news today; working on all the same projects as last time and swatching for new ones.


my explorations in argyle textures continued for a few days and i think i have all i need to make a decision now.


this one is probably the most faithful to the lines of an argyle pattern but sort of points out that in a single tone, there isn’t enough contrast to make the statement i’m going for—the lines form a much too regular pattern for my taste and they overshadow the negative space.


this one has a little more contrast, using the same shapes as the original with just a few lines added. still, it relies on the angle of the light being just right to see the argyle in the pattern.


still, i think i do like the original one the best—it’s stronger and has more contrast. with that decided, now i can move on to making a draft pattern for my prototype

i probably won’t begin the knitting right away, since i’ve just started the other sweater and i want to stay on track with that—i’ll hold off for a rainy day, when i need something new to jump start my motivation.


anyway, i’ve got this shawl project and another one to work on for times when i need variety. this is my triangle version of love me two times—which is worked top down for a change of pace. i think i’m going to name this one double happiness.

i’ve been ok’d to join our ravelry KAL for the LMTT design so i can play along and show progress—you should join us! we also have one going for the triticum cardigan; if you feel you’d like the support of a group around you while you knit either of these projects, please come over and participate.

alright, that’s all i have for now; it’s much too nice outside to be chained to the computer, even for the blog!

the ravell’d sleeve

anne wrote this late at night:


whenever i’ve been on a big push to meet a project deadline, it takes me a day or two to climb out of the black hole i got sucked into, adjust my eyes, and refocus on a normal work pace.

my two new sweaters sat on a far corner of our big communal dining table for a couple of days—i knew they were there awaiting a hot sudsy bath, but the fact that i could just do it now didn’t really click til wednesday.


and when it did, i turned it into an opportunity to begin the big seasonal sweater wash that officially launches summer for me each year. it is REALLY important to clean woolens before tucking away for the winter—insects just love to nest in dark, undisturbed places, preferably with nutrition nearby; unworn woolens with food particles, skin cells, and pet hair on them are ideal.

into the bath the mister’s and triticum went for a soak; this would be their first wet blocking and wash, so i soaked them separately to make sure i got the water hot enough; the hand wash cycle of the machine doesn’t do that.

then i went over to the shop to grab samples—everything we own needs a good bath; we want it all to be sparkling clean for the wooster show in a few weeks.


after an hour, i squeezed and rinsed the new pieces, loaded them into mesh bags along with several shop samples and put them all into the hand wash cycle of the washing machine.

if you’re washer doesn’t have a hand was cycle, you can do what my mom used to do and what i did before i had one: place garments or blankets into mesh bags. fill the washer with soapy water of the appropriate temperature (cold for most yarns), stop action and allow the knits to soak for twenty to sixty minutes, drain washer, fill with plain water to rinse, drain and spin. don’t use any agitation cycle; that is what felts wool.


while my sweaters were washing, i hauled out the rest of my garments and sorted them into stacks of similar colors. i can wash six or seven at a time which works out fine for making color batches. there are a few i’ll probably give away this year that i haven’t worn in a while—i need to make room for new pieces. but i’ll decide for sure later.


soon it was time to retrieve the sweaters from the wash and lay them out to dry.

the machine spin does a nice job of getting all that water out so you don’t end up with aching arms after a big wash day.


BTW, i know some people were concerned that triticum is on the short side (and it is shorter than some of my designs), but it hadn’t been washed before the photo shoot and it did grow a bit after its bath—probably and inch or two; i think you can tell from this photo that the proportions different now (it was too wet to put on and snap a photo, but maybe tomorrow).


once i had it laid out flat to dry i had to figure out a way to arrange the collar so it wouldn’t end up wrinkled.  i wanted a super simple solution that anyone could do—a rolled hand towel did the trick, supporting the collar without disturbing the rest of the garment at all.


i used the support to pleat the back neck area a bit so the lapel would form those lovely folds as it falls down the front. it worked a treat—the collar and lapel sit perfectly yet feel weightless on my neck. love.


the sturdy, dense mister’s design just pops out of the wash and takes the right shape immediately—no fussing at all with this one to shape it, post wash.

nothing to do afterward but leave them to dry (and the BNWs dry so fast, due to their excellent wicking qualities).

oh, speaking of bare naked wools, have you seen lara smoot’s new design in confection sport? the marshwood shawl so pretty and simple; just the kind of thing you’ll want to keep handy through the transition of seasons.

a solid, textured fabric and an unusual shape set it apart—along with the yarn, of course! erica has put together a marshwood shawl kit including yarn and pattern to make it an easy mother’s day gift.

feeling full of new freedom to knit whatever i want, i very quickly succumbed to a round of startitis and swatchapalooza.


i started this simple little shawl on wednesday—it’s the triangle version of the love me two times crescent. but where that one is worked from the hem up, this one is worked from the top down. and since the lace repeat for the hem is only six rows, you can pretty much knit til your yarn runs out if you like.


i’m working again with better breakfast fingering yarn in mocha—yum! i love the gold highlights in this colorway—i love all the colors i see when i look up close, sigh.


the start of a shawl like this is so gratifying because it grows so fast. i pick it up to add a few rows here and there, while i’m waiting for a pot to boil or sipping morning coffee. it could be done very soon or not; it all depends on how my other projects shape up.


you might have noticed amongst the drying sweaters in the photo above, my dear old bathrobe sweater, a little worse for wear.


i have been wearing this workhorse garment for over twenty years and the fabric remains quite beautiful—it has yet to develop a single pill that i can see.


i wore though the edges of the cuffs many years ago and never got around to reknitting them, though each year i swear it’s a project i’ll accomplish.


and while most of the sweater is in remarkably great shape, it has finally sprung a large leak in one elbow, as well as a couple of other wear points.

it is well past time for a new one. i’ve been saying that for years too, but now i’m serious. and to prove it i have this to show.


i’ve been meaning to swatch for it with one of our yarns for ages, but i didn’t dare hope for such great results. i got exactly the right stitch and row gauge using our stone soup fingering yarn and size 5 (3.75 mm) needles, just like i used for the original, knit in morehouse merino sport yarn.


i was so excited, in fact that i started on a sleeve right away using my original handwritten pattern. i figured this was way better than swatching any more squares. i didn’t get further than the cuff before deciding i should make sure the sleeve shaping is right. so i spent last evening putting together a draft pattern for the prototype.


and while watching a bit of TV afterward, i launched into the patterned portion of the sleeve. so far, so good; everything seems to be on track as far as the gauge . . . i think it’s going to be as faithful a recreation of the original as i could expect.


i may even knit two of them; i have this batch of denim blue (it’s much more gray-blue IRL) morehouse 2-ply that i purchased for that purpose seven or eight years ago on one of our rhineneck trips.

i’m so excited to be working on this project; i’ve been talking about it for years. i don’t know why i’ve skipped over this one in order to do others, but every project has its time. if i had knit it several years ago, there wouldn’t have been stone soup to work with.


another swatch, this time for a fingering weight boyfriend sweater—i love my mister’s so much i want a lightweight one for the spring and fall seasons.


the ivar that cherie knit me us as a sample is so delicious (i wore it for three days straight after it arrived here) that i want a similar type pullover in the same yarn.

this time i’m going argyle with the stitch pattern—i’m still playing around with the exact fabric design, but i think it’s going to be slightly more complex—more on that next time.


and finally a pair of swatches in airy, bulky weight yarn—big in diameter, but light as a feather due to their considerable loft. the green is briar rose sonoma and the gray is our chebris worsted in the carbon shade—coming soon.

here i’m thinking about something with a cable feature—in this size yarn they will be gigantic and i’m loving the images swirling around in my head for a straight-cut car coat with bold details (can details be bold or are they small by definition?).

i’m trying not to get carried away with too many plans for the immediate future, as i also need to write up patterns for my ENVY club designs—the time is drawing closer when we will cast on in GREEN (do you love green and want to know more? click here to join us for our green immersion club).


hope you have a wonderful weekend planned; the weather here is as fine as i’ve ever seen it and i hope that’s true where you are, too. for me, some running, some work, some biking, some knitting, some yoga, and oh yeah—six more loads of sweaters to go.