elm leaves

Posted on 24 CommentsPosted in patterns

somewhere in the back of our minds, we know we have left an important person off of the holiday knitting list. hard as we might try, we cannot for the life of us remember who it is. we know it will come to us—oh yes—with about three days to go before the gift exchange is to take place. it happens every year.

or maybe you have a fussy person on your list, one that you have difficulty figuring out. you’ve already knit her an elm row scarf, which was a hit. what can you possibly follow that up with?

well, here’s an idea . . . how about a matching pair of lace cuffs? you probably even have the yarn on hand—they take a seriously small amount of yardage (and time!!) to knit. in two sizes and lengths, to suit any taste. they are a breeze to knit and completely portable.

as it happens, they also make a great accessory to the pea vines shawlette or potager lace stole . . .

shown here, size small in louet mooi laceweight, a delectable blend of bison, bamboo, and cashmere, in colorway amber.

so heavenly to knit with, it is a gift unto itself for the knitter.

to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the product page in the knitspot pattern shop.

progress is good

Posted on 21 CommentsPosted in designing, lace/shawls, projects

i love my new study; it’s a great place to knit. i’ve completely vacated the living room space that i used to use, in favor of the new workroom. the light is so much better at night and the coziness factor is way higher. not mention how much more beautiful it is . . . thank you david!

(the living room will eventually be beautiful too, once that renovation is done)

i’m surprised by the amount of knitting i’ve accomplished since my last post—i haven’t had a whole lot more time to devote to it, but working with bigger yarn and needles has its benefits . . .

my cardigan is growing by leaps and bounds. i picked it up while i was chatting with my mom the other night and added about six more inches to it; now i’m almost to the underarm on this front piece. i just love the yarn—briar rose pilgrim—sooo squishy and lofty.

i’m glad i decided not to knit this first one in the round though; the fabric will be a bit stiff until it’s washed and i can see that wrangling a bulkier piece of this fabric would make it far less attractive to work on, especially once the sleeves are attached.

i cast on the whitfield shorty for my nephew the other night, too, and knit the hem portion, thinking i’d set it aside to work on during my trip next week. then yesterday, i had a sewing lesson with my friend helena and i grabbed it on the way out the door to have something mindless to knit. while she set in a sleeve and finished up a blouse, i added about five inches to the front.

i love this yarn too—another briar rose creation (a superwash merino worsted). i’m not sure what chris is calling it, or if/when it will be available on her site, but you might find it in her booth if you see her at a show. it’s just gorgeous—saturated in color and with a soft sheen, it shows off the stitch definition of this piece really well. it’s light in weight, but it has great substance, too.

beckie is coming over to knit tonight and i’ll work on one of these two pieces while we talk—i’m really looking forward to ending the week with a visit from her.

i’ve been slowly adding rows to wasp and rose too—this project moves along a little less quickly, since the yarn is much thinner, but is no less enjoyable. i’m about sixteen rows into the trellis pattern and the new motif is just beginning to take shape. the more i work with it, the more i love this yarn (fibre isle kami bison in colorway rose petale); it has a nice silky feeling but is substantial, despite it’s fine weight. it’s very good to knit with. these qualities especially stand out when i move from a heavier project to this one—the adjustment is effortless, if you know what i mean.

i have a lot of knitting time planned for the weekend and i want to focus most of it on this project. i’d like to get at least halfway through the trellis section (which is 96 rows, i think??) by sunday night. wish me luck.

i also have a bunch of pattern writing to work on, but i’ve tried to keep that for week day hours; even though it’s all channeled toward the same goal, the weekend just doesn’t seem as fun if i’m chained to the computer instead of nestled among yarns . . .

i’m almost done with my second bougainvillea mitt; i got through the thumb gusset last night, i think—i stopped because it couldn’t remember how many thumb sts i needed and the other mitt was all the way downstairs in my office (it was late and i felt lazy).

i’ve been working on the pattern for it, which i’m hoping to have ready for release very soon. i decided to name it crossings.

i’m enthralled with the color of this yarn—such a rich blue/lavender, vivid, but not too. this is knit from dirty water dyeworks lucia, a smooth, 3-ply sock weight yarn that shows beautiful stitch definition and will be easy to take care of. it would be equally nice in their bertha or julia yarns.

and finally . . .

aria delicato is OTN, yay!
i need to block and photograph it and i’m not sure when i’ll get to that, but hopefully today or tomorrow. it’s the first sunny day this week and i don’t want to spend it all indoors if i can help it. i’m getting my hair cut and after that, i plan to go for a bike ride before i commit to any other work.

isn’t the yarn just scrumptious looking in this photo? that’s slackford studio nimbus cloud in colorway lilac frost. it makes me want to bury my face in it, sitting there like that, unattached to any needles for once.

the pattern is all set to go; we just need some photos of the blocked scarf. i have about one-third of the skein left over and i’m planning to see if it’s enough to knit a pair of delicato mitts (i have reserves in case it doesn’t make it, but it would be cool to know for the pattern release if it can be done).

classes this week were a lot of fun with several people showing up in finished knits.

janet wore her finished butternut scarf, knit in a very fine, duck blue alpaca lace yarn (i can’t remember what, darn it—something tells me it’s fearless fibers alpaca lace). it looks great on her and she’s very proud of it (rightly so; it’s lovely).

barb looks absolutely stunning in her bel air sweater, knit in spirit trail sunna, colorway rosewood. she’s had this finished for a couple of weeks, but was waiting for the buttons, which arrived last week from moving mud. it’s her second one; barb knit that beautiful sample that jennifer is showing in her booth in colorway ancient stones.

based on how the first sample fit her, barb decided knit this one size smaller with negative ease—about 1.5 inches and she’s super-happy with the fit. the first one fit well too, through the shoulders, but was a little looser in the body (barb is smaller below the waist than above and has thin limbs). because the yarn and stitch pattern provide plenty of stretchiness, she feels comfortable with the snugger fit around her bust.

barb also brought along her inky dinky test knit in progress—we have been steadily preparing this design for release behind the scenes and though it’s taken a while, we finally have it in test knitting. agnes and theresa are done, actually; catherine and barb are almost there.

i’m going to save this pattern for release in january; i think we’re all focused on christmas knitting for the next little bit and this will be a good one to put out before my january travels, when we’re all looking for something to do while the snow flies.

i think that’s all i’ve got for today—time to get ready to go for my haircut (i love haircut days, don’t you??). have a good weekend!

getting an early start this year

Posted on 27 CommentsPosted in designing, lace/shawls, projects

before i get going on today’s post, i just want to say THANK YOU! for all the kind and enthusiastic comments you sent along about the leaving sweater in twist—it’s been a trilling week, thanks to you.

most years, i don’t even think about christmas knitting til thanksgiving (or later), but for some reason, this year is different; i’m actually getting organized a little early—and i’m excited. because i recently had returned to me a box of samples from a LYS that closed and in it, there are a couple of items that will make perfect gifts.

like that sweater above—i knit that a number of years ago, for our own “baby trousseau”, but we never had kids, so i lent it out to the yarn shop as a sample. it’s knit in delicious natural wool from green mountain spinnery, one of my all-time favorite yarn producers (i have a soft spot for producers i discovered back in the 80s, when good wool yarns were just beginning to make a comeback). i have fond memories of pouring over sample cards and shop newsletters, trying to choose which colors to order by mail (if i was really torn, i could call and chat with someone to get advice). between 1988 and 1990, i knit a sweater for each member of my family from their yarns, many of which are still in use.

the sweater needed a bath pretty badly, so i washed it the other day and it came out wonderfully soft and glowing; now it smells like clean wool with a hint of patchouli. it should fit our 16-month-old nephew this year and probably next year too, so it’s going to him. my SIL nan has taken up knitting with a passion since our visit last summer, when micah was a newborn (he has since grown at an astounding rate and is quite large for his age). she will love this yarn.

we have twelve thirteen nieces and nephews now and i don’t knit for all of them every year any more—it’s too much. but they do love and appreciate their handknit gifts, so i enjoy thinking of items that they’ll be able to use for a couple of years, til their next turn in the rotation.

i might try to knit a similar raglan pullover for our 3-year-old nephew; better to do it now when he’s smaller, right? that shouldn’t take too long, once i know his chest measurement.

arjun asked my mom for mittens and i told her i’d make some (haven’t started them yet, but the yarn is wound).

i thought anika, who wears only dresses, would like some legwarmers—it’s very cold where they live. she loves pink and purple, so my eyes lit on a skein of STR mediumweight in colorway ST-2 that i received in my goody bag at sock summit last year. these jewel tones are right up her alley; they are colors she wears a lot of.

i’ve never knit legwarmers, but how hard can they be? i wanted a pattern that was fairly solid, but i don’t think knit/purl textures are her style—she seems to be attracted to fancier motifs. she also has extremely thin legs, so i wanted something a bit ribby, but not too stiff (in case she wants to slouch them down). i swatched the motif in the keukenhof sok and decided it was perfect.

i cast one on in the smallest size with 2.5 mm needles and knit some ribbing, then changed to 3.0 mm needle to knit the leg in pattern pattern (i’ll switch back to the small needle to work some ribbing at the top, too). and omigish, it’s knitting up faster than fast—in just a couple of hours it was eight inches long. i took it to a meeting on monday night and nearly doubled it again.

i think maybe an 18-inch length will be good; long enough that she can pull them up over her knees and short enough to wear below. i’m sure there’s enough yarn for that length, if not longer. they should fit for a few years, too.

since i’ll be traveling next week to teach over the holiday weekend at the montreal knitting guild (click here to see class offerings and registration info), projects like this will be just the thing to take along. i’m going to try to get those mittens on the needles next—if i can figure out what size to make (arjun is 6, i think).

another thing i’m tackling for christmas is a jacket for 6-year-old amad. since he adores uncle david, i thought it would be fun to knit a whitfield jacket in his size (and i think it’ll be very handsome on him). i’ve been wanting to knit this for a while, but didn’t have time to do it last year.

chris from briar rose recently sent me a new superwash merino yarn that she’s thinking about carrying—it’s not in her shop yet, but you might see it at her shows. it’s an incredibly smooshy 4-ply worsted yarn with a soft sheen a great color saturation (as you can see!). good yardage too, with 700 yards per 8 ounces. this deep, dark colorway is so whitfield.

i’ve knit a couple of swatches with the same number of stitches and rows on size 4.5mm and 5mm needles and guess what?? when i finished knitting them, they were nearly identical in gauge and size. then i soaked them and it’s just like they say—it all comes out in the wash. they are each showing their true characters now.

they’re not the same size any more (mostly in the row gauge) and the tighter one seems to pop right back to shape no matter what i do to it, while the other one has less spring and recovery. the looser one is lighter, which is nice in a jacket. and it will grow with the boy a bit, though it’s hard to predict how, so that may not be a plus.

considering the time this garment may spend on the playground, riding a bike, or playing ball, and the fact that there is a brother waiting in the wings to inherit it some day, i think i’ll go with more fabric stability.

the winner is needle size 4.5mm. the pieces for this jacket knit should be quite portable in boy size, so i can cast on and gather everything i need to take it along on our trip next week as well.

my second bougainvillea mitt is also progressing too, though i need to get back to it tonight, i think (i haven’t touched it since sunday).

i started the hand and gusset section, so it should go pretty fast from here, with more stockinette in the mix. if it’s not done before we leave, i’ll throw it in my bag, too. these will be another gift for my oldest niece, along with the curling mitts.

if i can come home from our thanksgiving trip with three or four gifts finished, i’ll be a very happy camper (not that we’re camping—not my thing anymore, really).

speaking of gifts and yarn, deb at fearless fibers is offering a simple value yarn club subscription that might make a great gift for a special friend or a dear, knitterly relative—or even to add to your own wishlist. the colors are a secret (not the ones shown here, for instnace) but will be in deb’s signature dye style. i’ve used deb’s yarns many times and the ones offered in this club are terrific—soft, yet strong, and beautifully dyed, they are perfect for socks and accessories of all types. to purchase or view more information, please click here

meanwhile, i’m still working on wasp and rose a little bit every night. the rows are getting longer, so visible progress is harder to detect. i think this weekend i should set aside one day to just work on that all afternoon. with all we have in the freezer and the fact that we are leaving mid-week, i could skip the weekend cooking and do knitting instead.

last night i sat down with my own sweater and made great progress in just a few hours. honestly, there’s nothing like knitting with worsted weight yarn—the briar rose pilgrim knits up so fast and smooth that the inches stack up quickly. mmm, aren’t the colors warm and inviting?

i went with the tighter fabric on this one as well, which makes it a little stiff during construction. it’s hard to get used to on the needles, but this yarn grows like crazy once it’s soaked, so i know it will be very soft and light after washing. and i can keep my laundered swatch nearby to remind me of its future snuggliness.

my delicato scarf is almost done—just a couple more repeats and it’ll be finished. i just couldn’t stay awake any longer last night this morning to do them. soon i’ll be blocking it, yay.

i decided to name it aria delicato because it’s a long and beautiful extension of another design, the way an aria is a tangent to an opera story.

as if enough things weren’t going on here this week

our new railings and fencing arrived on a big truck on monday. david has been unpacking everything and preparing the holes for the fence posts, to get those in while the ground is still warm. but he discovered they sent the wrong posts for the fence. arrggghh.

but, maybe that means our porch railings will go up first . . .

i consumed the absolute, very last garden tomato today for lunch, a cherokee purple i saved from going into the weekend pot of pizza sauce.

i’m so glad i did.

twist and shout

Posted on 97 CommentsPosted in designing, lace/shawls, projects

you can imagine how excited i was for today to get here—finally a chance to share the big secret project we worked on all summer for the winter issue of twist collective—the leaving sweater, to knit as a pullover or cardigan.

when i say “we” i mean lots of people—my friend kim, the brilliant dyer, AKA the woolen rabbit, my friend karolyn whose knitting you marvel over here and on ravelry, my husband david, whose photography and filmmaking we enjoy so much, my friend tana, our inveterate tech editor and mistress of sizing, my friends ronni and anne marie who work so hard to dot the Ts and cross the Is (yes, i really did type that, which is why i don’t do proofreading . . .), and the editors at twist collective, who have shown great faith in my designs by publishing them frequently.

the story of this sweater goes back a ways (as my stories tend to do . . .), but is typical of my more complex designs. last november after the frost, while walking around my yard, i saw that the leaves of the hostas dying back had formed a really interesting arrangement and had taken on a beautiful coloring. i took a photo.

i loved it so much and wondered if it could become a yarn color (i didn’t know what for, just that i liked the color). let’s face it, there are very few people you can go to and say, hey can you make yarn that looks like these dead leaves??

fortunately, i do know a couple of dyers who would not think me completely off my gourd to ask, and i know at least one dyer who seems to thrive on just this kind of opportunity.

kim loves to create colors and she’s a spectacular collaborator. within a day or two of seeing my photo, she sent an email with a yarn picture. and within a week or so, actual dead hosta leaf yarn arrived at my house.

she dyed up a sock yarn to start, but then we started talking about creating a sweater in her oasis camel/silk blend, new to her shop at the time. i thought that yarn would be awesome in this new colorway, which she named birch beer. before long, a sweater-sized batch was in my hands.

it’s such a soft, comfy yarn that my first inclination was to design some sort of sweatshirt with it—casual, but elegant. but i couldn’t pull that together somehow. i wanted a big, bold, organic thing to happen with this yarn.

and i really don’t remember when it hit me, but i think it may have been the twist collective winter boards that nudged my designer focus into place, with their little pictures of victorian and edwardian skating costumes, stylized with swirls of braid. eureka—this was a way to use a large, voluptuous stitch pattern in a very structured garment shape. i loved the contrast. i started swatching and before i knew it, i had a sweater back, which i photographed for my submission materials.

at this point, i didn’t even care if it got into the magazine; i just wanted to make this sweater. i thought you would like it, even if it didn’t get in.

so i rallied karolyn and together we worked in secret on the cardigan— we wanted to be ready with a pattern either way. she knit her first one in woolen rabbit opulence, which she had on hand (it worked a treat BTW, in case you prefer a silk/wool blend).

ETA: whoa, kim ran out of oasis yarn yesterday (she says thanks, you guys!), but more supplies are on the way and she can take orders for batches to knit this sweater if you email her with a request. this is a great way to get exactly the color you want in the quantity you need. let her know it’s for a sweater and she will make sure the skeins are dyed as closely as possible.

then twist said they wanted the sweater for the winter issue—AND they wanted it as both a cardigan and a pullover, yippee!

we all got busy once again; kim generously supplied yarn for the pullover in moroccan spice, which karolyn offered to knit

and a batch of chocolate chambord for a second cardigan, one knit exactly to the pattern specs (the birch beer prototype has tiny variations; this is normal when developing a design). this is the copy i kept here at home, to wear to my winter and spring teaching gigs.

for buttons, i wanted something truly special, that looked almost like drops of dew or nectar down the front of the sweater

and my favorite button source, moving mud, more than came through with these incredible round glass buttons, sooo beautiful.

each set is very different but perfect for the sweater. sarina is another artist i am very lucky to know.

things were pulling together nicely and we were doing well on time; knitting this sweater was the most fun and relaxing thing i’d had on the needles in a long time. the only thing that slowed me down was stopping to admire the buttery hand of this lovely yarn. sooo luxurious.

as if all that wasn’t enough, kate asked if she could include this sweater in a layout about designers knitting for themselves—one that would require david and i to do the photoshoot here in my studio (which wasn’t even done yet, hee-hee!). well, of course i said yes; we were thrilled to do it.

david busted a move during august to get my study finished and during a very hot week in early september, we took photos. lots and lots of them.

some were obviously posed as usual, but some were relaxed pictures of me performing normal tasks at my desk and in my workrooms

and there was knitting, too

we just played around and got whatever we could that we thought everyone might like.

it was truly stifling, haha; i’m always surprised it doesn’t show more

so there you have it—our big secret. to purchase the pattern or see more information about the sweater details, please visit the pattern page in the twist collective shop.

ok, time for me to go teach a class . .