Friday, October 31, 2008

The Knitty Professors Holiday Gift Guide.

Part 1. Gifts for Knitters. That Aren’t Cheesy.

1. It would be great to print out gift tags or cards using this idea from someecards.


2. Aren’t these stitch markers cute? In a not too cute way?


They are from


3. These bookplates are cute.


4. And I love this Piggy Bank! I’d use it to save up for yarn though. Who needs lessons when there’s


5. Both Katie and I are sweating Wendy Bernard’s new book, Custom Knits. I’m sure the knitter on your gift list will like it, too.


6. When in doubt, though… there’s nothing better than yarn, glorious yarn. I’m partial to Malabrigo, as you can probably tell. Hint hint.

Although I’m sure Katie just wants a gigantic stocking full of raw wool for Christmas. ;) 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Our First Review

Check out the review of our Fall 2008 collection on Lime and Violet's Daily Chum, here. Thanks, Lime and Violet!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall 2008 Pattern Collection

Here it is, our latest project--the Knitty Professors Fall 2008 Pattern Collection.

The collection has six patterns: three sweaters, a vest, a scarf and hat set, and a sock pattern. The patterns are published in a .pdf e-book of 37 pages, packed with great pictures. Just $16.95.

All patterns are written for sizes XXS through XXXL, because everyone should get to wear great knitting. We also provide a variety of yarn suggestions, ranging from the super-gucci to the super-frugal, because we remember what it was like to be grad students.

Here is a quick preview of what you'll find in this collection.

Chrysomallos Scarf and Hat

Fossey chunky cardigan

George Sand fair-isle vest

Jane Goodall cardigan

Madame Wu cardigan

Simple Gull Socks

The Collection is available as a PDF download for $16.95.

ERRATA for this collection are available here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pattern: Simple Gull Socks

[Updated 14 Mar. 2010]

The Simple Gull Socks were originally published as part of our Fall 2008 Pattern Collection.

They are available for purchase as an individual pattern (an automatic PDF download) for $4.

These Simple Gull Socks are a nod to Elizabeth Zimmerman, who popularized the Gull Stitch for the knitting masses.

These are worked in a traditional top-down method with a gusset. The Gull Stitch pattern (which you might remember from the February sweater in Knitter's Almanac) marches down the front of the socks in two columns.

I have knitted samples in Lion Brand Sock-Ease (tall) and Berroco Comfort Sock (anklets)--bargain-priced yarns great for new sock knitters.

The lace pattern is very easy to memorize, so these are great TV knitting. Time to whip up some holiday gifts!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Patterns - Knotions and Popknits

We're psyched to have patterns coming out in some online knitting magazines. First, Jordynn's latest will be appearing in the winter issue of Knotions. Check out their Preview now!

I have a pattern appearing in the winter issue of Popknits. I believe it is going live December 1st.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Madame Wu Cardigan and 4 Days to Go

This cardigan was inspired by Chien-Shiung Wu, also known as the “First Lady of Physics.” Born in Shanghai, Wu studied physics in China before moving to the United States in 1936. After earning her PhD, she went to work on the Manhattan Project. She also helped to discover the law of parity in physics, but the Nobel Prize for this discovery went to two of her male colleagues. I think it is high time Wu gets a little credit, and this sweater is a tribute. The Mandarin collar is inspired by the traditional cheongsham Wu often wore, but the looser sleeves are more reminiscent of the older qípáo dress from which this more modern form of dress evolved.

empresswu 021

Madame Wu makes a great layering piece for winter. On warmer days, it can be worn with a simple tank or t-shirt underneath, or it can be layered over a long-sleeved shirt for a little extra warmth.

empresswu 009

Look for two more previews this week before we launch our pattern book on Monday!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pattern: George Sand Vest

[Updated 14 March. 2010]

George Sand was a writer of the French Romantic period. A prolific author of many novels, she was also known for dressing in men's clothing.

The George Sand vest, a men's-wear inspired design is worked in a worsted weight wool with stranded color worked in a variegated wool yarn--such as the Noro Kureyon shown here.

Yarn: Shown in Paton's Classic Wool in Dark Gray Heather with colorwork in Noro Kureyon. Cascade 220 will also work for the main color; Noro Silk Garden will work for the color, as will Plymouth Yarns Boku.

The vest is worked from the top down in one piece with no seaming. The collar and armholes are picked up last and worked in a rib stitch.

Sizes to fit XS through 2X.

George Sand is available for purchase as an automatic PDF download for $6.

The pattern is also available as part of The Knitty Professors Fall 2008 Pattern Collection.

Monday, October 20, 2008

So Much Going on around here

So much happening here at the Knitty Professors. Jordynn has a pattern coming out in the next issue of an online knitting magazine, and I have one coming out next year in another one.

Plus, we're putting together an e-book of our own! We have envisioned a small .pdf pattern book that we'll release quarterly, with our latest patterns. If you've been watching us on Ravelry, you'll see that there are a lot of "top secret" projects that we're working on--these patterns will be released in the first issue of our pattern e-book series, sometime before Christmas.

(Here that, J? BEFORE Christmas.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fiber Facts: Viscose (aka Rayon)

Viscose, or rayon, was first developed in 1855, by George Audemars. Commercial production didn’t begin until 1891, and wasn’t practicable until 1894, when Charles Frederick Cross, Edward John Bevan, and Clayton Beadle determined that treating plant fibers (cellulose) with carbon disulphide created a viscous liquid (they called viscose) that could be spun into filaments and then woven into fabric or spun into yarn; it was the spun textile that was called rayon. In Europe, the terms “viscose” and “rayon” are used interchangeably to refer to the yarn/textile.
In brief, the process begins with plant fibers—wood pulp, bamboo, or the like. In the case of wood, the pulp is boiled and treated with chemicals, then kneaded into “crumbs.” These crumbs are churned with carbon disuplhide, which is how they turn into the viscous liquid called viscose. This liquid can then be stun into staple fibers. Here’s a visual overview of the process, courtesy of

Here’s an image of viscose staple fiber:
The staple fiber can then be woven into fabric or yarn. For more on the process of rayon production, check out this great website.
Rayon became popular as a textile in the 1920s:
(Courtesy of
As environmental concerns become increasingly important for knitters, we are likely to see even more yarns made from plant fibers—bamboo, wood pulp, corn, hemp, and the like. Cellulose-based fibers familiar to knitters include bamboo, viscose, rayon, and the trade names Tencel and Modal. While they tend to stretch out more than some other fibers, their advantages are many. Cellulose fibers tend to be lustrous, smooth, cool and comfortable, making them ideal for summer and spring-weight sweaters. But are these fibers really as environmentally friendly as we think?
On the one hand, plant fibers are renewable resources. The fibers used for yarns tend to grow quickly.
Yet, the production process for rayon and other plant fiber still entails some environmental damage. Most rayon factories treat cellulose with chemicals including sulhpuric acid, carbone disulphide, chlorine, and/or caustic soda. The carbon disulphide used in the process released into the environment as a gas. (1)  According to the Government of Australia, the effects of high exposure to carbon disulphide include:
Acute effects: At very high levels, carbon disulfide may be life-threatening because of its effects on the nervous system or heart. Exposure can be through inhalation, absorption through the skin, ingestion, or skin or eye contact. In acute poisoning, early excitation of the central nervous system resembling alcoholic intoxication occurs, followed by depression, stupor, restlessness, unconsciousness, and possible death. If recovery occurs, narcosis, nausea, vomiting, and headache can occur.
Chronic effects: In chronic poisoning, there are sensory changes such as a crawling sensation in the skin, sensations of heaviness and coldness, and "veiling" of objects so that they appear indistinct. Exposure can cause changes in breathing, chest pains, muscle pain, weakness, loss of feeling in the hands or feet, eye problems, skin blisters, chronic fatigue, loss of memory, personality changes, irritability, dizziness, anorexia, weight loss, psychosis, polyneuropathy, gastritis, kidney and liver damage, dermatitis, mental deterioration, Parkinsonian paralysis, and insanity.
Ouch. While we probably don’t need to worry about our own exposure when knitting with this yarn, we should consider whether workers are exposed to unsafe levels of this chemical.
We might also worry about environmental effects:
Acute (short-term) ecological effects: Acute toxic effects may include the death of animals, birds, or fish, and death or low growth rate in plants. Acute effects are seen two to four days after animals or plants are exposed to a toxic chemical substance. Carbon disulfide has moderate acute toxicity to aquatic life. No data are available on the short-term effects of carbon disulfide to plants, birds, or land animals.
Chronic (long-term) ecological effects: Chronic toxic effects may include shortened lifespan, reproductive problems, lower fertility, and changes in appearance or behaviour. Chronic effects can be seen long after first exposure(s) to a toxic chemical. Carbon disulfide has high chronic toxicity to aquatic life. No data are available on the long-term effects of carbon disulfide to plants, birds, or land animals.
Fortunately, producers are developing organic solvents that may cause less environmental damage (1).
Seriously, who knew our yarn habits could have such serious environmental effects?
1. Environment friendly process for rayon. By: Narayan, Kudlip, Chemical Business, 09703136, Sep97, Vol. 11, Issue 2

Monday, October 13, 2008

Etsy Shop is Live

Check out my Etsy shop. I have fiber, patterns, and accessories listed--all eco-friendly, useful, and fun.

Here's a taste of some of the handspun I have listed--all in super-useful lots.
Colorado - 3.jpg

Amazon - 3.jpg

Rhododendron - 1.jpg

Sunday, October 12, 2008


So, we've all experienced the phenomenon of knitters approaching knitters in public. That's cool. And how our friends tried to hook us up with other knitters. Also cool.

But then there's folks who are needlepointing or cross-stitching and they think that we're sisters because we're both playing with string or something.

And that's when my latent fiber snobbery kicks in. Because needlepointing is NOT knitting, not at all. Neither is cross-stitch. I'm making a shawl, sweater, mitts--real, practical stuff that will get worn and used and abused--you're making a wall-hanging, a useless piece of schmackle to collect dust.

I know I've offended needlepointers and cross-stitchers. Snobbery is an ugly thing.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bryher FO and a WIP

I know I haven’t posted forever, mostly because this semester has been super busy, and because I’m mainly working on some secret projects. But I did finish my Bryher scarf:

bryher 005

I used 2 skeins of Classic Elite Studio, which I got from a Craigslist purchase, and 1 skein of Rowan Kidsilk Night.

I like the somewhat sparkly effect, although I’m not sure if you can tell from the pictures.

bryher 001

I’m also *actually following someone else’s pattern*… sort of. I’m making the White Ribbed Cardigan from the Fall 2008 Vogue Knitting. If you make it, make sure to check the errata because there were quite a few errors. (Personally, I was shocked to see that practically every pattern in that issue had a ton of corrections… ).

Here’s what mine looks like so far:

drop collar 003

I’m using Malabrigo Chunky in Applewood, which I totally love knitting with. But I’ve already used up 2 skeins and I just set up the raglan increase rows. So this is going to be a costly sweater. I think I have 10 skeins total, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m thinking that I might make it cropped, with short sleeves, depending on how much yarn I have. I saw a WIP photo from Rhino’s Ravelry page and kind of love how it looks.

I’ve decided to use garter stitch instead of seed stitch for the body, basically because seed stitch is a pain in the ass in large quantities. So hopefully it will turn out!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Free Pattern: Covalence Skinny Scarf

[updated 14 Mar. 10]

I bought a skein of yarn from a friend who recycles old fibers into bulky weight art yarns. Check her yarn out here.

I sat with it for a few days to figure out what it wanted to become, and I came up with this simple pattern to let the yarn do the talking.

The pattern is inspired by covalent bonding. For those of you who aren't organic chemistry geeks, here's a diagram:



  • Materials: One skein (approx 100 yards) of any funky colorway from Re-Yarn. Colorway shown: Kids in the Swimming Pool.
  • One 6.00mm crochet hook
  • An ounce of sassiness


Row 1: Chain about 7-8 feet of chain stitches. Mine is 8 feet long.

What you need is multiples of 3. Or you can choose not to worry about counting and make the count work as you get near the end of the first row. I highly recommend the “make-it-work” technique. That’s a lot of chain sts to count.

When you are finished chaining, begin the “molecule” shaping.

Work into last chain st: 15 dc sts. This will make a round molecule on the end of the scarf.

Row 2: Work down the chain as foll: Skip 2 sts on chain; Work 1sc into next st, skip 2 sts on chain, work 5 dc into next stitch, skip 2 sts on chain, work 1 sc into next stitch, etc. until you reach the end of the chain.

Row 3: Work 15 dc into last st in chain. Yep, just like the end of Row 1. Now, matching up with the row you just worked, skip 2 sts, work the sc, skip 2, 5 dc, skip 2, etc. Make sure you work the sc sts into the SAME HOLE as the sts of the prior row. Make sure you work the 5 dc sts into the SAME HOLE as the sts in the prior row. This means you will end up with TEN dc in each hole, which will make the nifty round shape.

Here's a close-up:

Web Site Frenzy

Here we are at yet another new home, due to our former home crashing.

This site is still a WIP--we were able to save some text, but the pictures have to be re-added. We're working on it.

Think of this transition as a metaphor for the housing market crash.

We had a nice home at fibersmarts, and then we wanted something bigger, so we moved to But then things crashed. Like everything.

So here we are, back at a modest blogspot address,

We've updated our blogger navigation. We hope you like it. Any suggestions?

Free: Crochetastic Tote

First of all, new word: Crochetastic. Crocheting with plastic bags. And it's fantastic.

Here's a more specific pattern for a purse/bag, with more detailed numbers than the general bag recipe in the last post on this subject. That post also has instructions for making yarn out of plastic bags.

Free Pattern: Crochetastic Tote

Crochet hook, size P
Brown/Tan grocery bags, XXX grams. This works out to be 3 basketball-ball sized balls of yarn--WAY more than you think.
Note on yarn thickness: Cut the plastic bags into loops that are between 2 and 2.5 inches wide. See my earlier post for instructions on making the yarn.
Optional: White grocery bags, if you want stripes. About a softball sized ball of yarn.

Skills Required
Chain crochet stitch
Single crochet stitch, worked flat
Single crochet stitch, worked in the round
Single crochet decreases.


Bottom of bag: Chain 20, turn. Work flat in sc for 8 rows. Down forget your turning stitch.

At end of 8th row, turn, and work down short side for 8 sts. Turn again, work down long side for 20 sts, then turn once more and work 8 sts along the second short side. You are now back at the beginning of the round.

**Base of my bag is 14" long by 5" deep.

Work Body: Work bag in the round for 17 inches, for a tall tote like mine. Add stripes if you want--I put in 2 rows of a white bag yarn to create the stripe near the top of my bag.

Decreases: 5 rows before the start of your handles, you need to add a few decreases. As you can see from my bag, the decreases don't look like decreases--the bag tends to fan out, though, and the decreases make it look straight on the sides.

Work a one stitch decrease at each end of the bag (on the "short" sides), 2 dec per round. Decreases work like this: sc, skip 1 st, sc. The next round, sc as normal. Then work one more dec round. 4 total sts decreased. Work 2 more rounds in regular sc, then start the handles.

Work handles: At start of next round, beginning on a long side, work 7 sc sts. Then, chain 6 sts. Skip 6 sts on fabric, reconnect and work to the end of the long side--7 sts--then across the short side--8 sts--then 7 sts down the second long side. Chain 6 sts, skip 6 sts on fabric, reconnect, and work sc to end of round.

Work regular sc for 3 more rounds. Break yarn. Weave in ends.