Thursday, December 31, 2009

Knitting Travels: Philadelphia

I was in Philadelphia earlier this week for the MLA conference—a huge gathering of scholars who specialize in literature, rhetoric, and modern languages. If you read our other Knitting Travels posts, you’ll see that Katie and I both love to scout out yarn shops as a way to get to know a new city. (I guess other people use similar tactics—a guy on the panel I chaired mentioned that he looks for anarchist book stores when he travels). I had some extra time on Tuesday morning, so I walked in the blistering wind to two different stores.

First, I found Rosie’s Yarn Cellar, located in a basement on Locust St.


It was great to step out of the wind and into this cozy store, which stocks all kinds of great yarns, such as Alchemy, tons of Manos del Uruguay, the Fibre Company, Road to China, and many more. It was a little hard to figure out how the yarns were organized, but it was fun to browze through them—I almost left with a single skein of Dream in Color Classy (marked down to $12), but talked myself out of it… I have too many single skeins as it is, and would rather save up for enough to make a sweater.


Next, I walked down to South St. to Loop, where I ran into another escapee from the MLA conference (who happens to be from another university in my state).


Loop also carries a fabulous selection of yarns, especially Blue Sky Alpacas, Spud & Chloe, and Imperial Stock Ranch. I bought a book here (many of their hardcover books were on sale), but left without the Jade Sapphire (marked down to $28.99!) that I was petting longingly.


Of course, I’m regretting both of the purchases that I so self-righteously talked myself out of. (You can see the Jade Sapphire in the foreground, above). However, the Loop does have a full online shop. Hmm……..

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Husband's Christmas Sweater 2009

I try to knit him a sweater each year.

Okay, this is only sweater #2, because it's only year of marriage #2. But it seems I should be able to maintain this tradition.

This year's sweater is another Gamekeeper [Ravelry], this time in dark green.

This time around, I added some short rows at the back of the neck so the neck lies higher in the back than in the front. It was kind of a duh-moment for me, when I realize that boat-neck tops just don't look so awesome on men.

The raglan shaping still does wonderful things for the husband's shoulders, though.

If you are interested in knitting Gamekeeper for your gentleman, a PDF download of the pattern can be purchased for $6.00.

How Did I Not Know About This??

Petite Purls.

An online free knit mag for babies and kids patterns? And so elegant looking too? I'm in love!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Knitting and Writing

I just came across this article published in Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, which is a case study of the Yarn Harlot’s blog.

In particular, the author examines Stephanie Pearl McPhee’s own language, or what Katie and I would call her rhetoric: her effective use of language for specific purposes. In particular, McPhee uses language (and knitting) to build a community. Here’s a quote:

Yarn Harlot is an accomplished writer who not only has a facility with language but also manages to deploy images on her blog in ways that add to the humour. These features are an important characteristic of the blog and its appeal. It should not be read as a judgement on those blogs that are ‘less’ accomplished in their writing. But it is one of the reasons why this blog has become popular over many other blogs written on similar material. The writer of this blog is creative and a communicator who writes in ways that move people – to laugh and to participate. That these qualities have attracted enough people to create a critical mass means that this particular community is different (but not better or worse) from some of the smaller audiences of other knitting blogs.

This analysis seems to hold true, in part. But I know that the blogs I like best combine interesting writing with other elements, such as good photography, or projects that I might like to knit myself, such as top-down sweaters.

We’d like to know what you think. What are your favorite knitting blogs? Do you favor blogs for the quality of the writing, or for other factors?

Citation: Sal Humphreys, “Grassroots creativity and community in new media environments: Yarn Harlot and the 4000 knitting Olympians,” Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 22.3 (2008): 419-433.

Note: You may need an institutional subscription to access the article!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some Awesomeness for my Knit Library

I took all of my old knit mag issues up to "Fedex Office"--formerly Kinko's, a far cooler name--and had them nip off the spines of the magazines and bind them into books, each year's issues as one book.

I love how these feel in my hands! And so much easier to read when they lie flat. I haven't put them back on the bookshelf yet. I just want to leave them on the coffee table.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Things I learned from EZ in 12 minutes

I opened up Knitting Workshop the other day and started reading. In the first few minutes of simply reading the lessons--the hat and the yoke sweater--I learned so many seemingly obvious things that have escaped my knitting knowledge. It was humbling.

If you haven't already, you must buy this book. And read it. You don't have to knit the projects if they don't interest you.

But you can't presume that the wisdom of EZ and her compatriots has been passed down to every published designer out there. You need to arm yourself with this knitting knowledge.

Here are some tidbits, in no particularly order:

1. A k2, p2 rib trim is great, but you must decrease 10% from the stockinette body stitches before working the ribbing in order for it to "grab" nicely. (Or, if working bottom-up, increase 10% from the ribbing to the stockinette.) (page 15)

2. When working in the round, you must work short rows on the back of the neck so that the collar raises up in back. This many of us already knew. BUT when working these short rows, they must wrap around the neck on either side so that the extra rows actually are worked nearly 2/3 of the way around the neck. (page 47)

3. These aforementioned extra neck rows should be worked in k2, p2 rib, not in stockinette (and THEN switching to k2, p2 rib). This was very counter-intuitive to me at first (all that long ribbing in back, and short ribbing in front?) but actually (duh) it looks a lot better.

4. Don't use a blunt-tipped needle for weaving in ends. Blunt-tips are for seaming and grafting. Sharp-tips are for weaving--simply "skim through the back of the fabric" with it. (page 30)

5. Blocking is best done with a steam iron. YES. No more full-immersion blocking for me. What a waste of time. I blocked the husband's xmas sweater this year with steam only and it looks great. (page 31)

Now, these things might seem kind of complicated, and might not make much sense if you are a beginning knitter--which is my point. I think a lot of advanced knitters avoid Knitting Workshop because it seems like a knitting primer--which it is--and might not have much to offer an advanced knitter--which is totally wrong.

Go buy it, people. And just read it.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Free Tutorial: Bust Dart Shaping for Top-Down Sweaters

There are a number of bust dart tutorials out there, and many of them are wonderful. But it occurred to me that I might provide the instructions from my Celia Cruz pattern here. I find myself turning often the the worksheet I designed for that pattern. Most recently, I've been working on the Backward's Cable Pullover (only my cable is going in the front), and I'm just at the point of adding bust darts. So here's an adapted version of that worksheet, which you can use for any sweater where you'd like a better fit.

The Basics

There are two types of bust darts: vertical bust darts and horizontal bust darts. Vertical bust darts add width, and they start from the side seams (or close to the side seams). If you are working top down, you increase one stitch on each side, moving that stitch in towards the center of the sweater. You can see the vertical bust darts in the image below, which create a wedge shape on the side of the sweater.

Horizontal bust darts add length. For vertical bust darts, you will add short rows in the center of the sweater, working back and forth from side to side (usually beginning at or near the bust point).

For a fitted sweater, especially, both kinds of bust darts will help to ensure a good fit.

Sizing: Before you cast on for a sweater, measure your chest size at the narrowest part, above your bust. Choose the pattern size closest to that measurement, not your actual bust measurement. This will ensure that the sweater fits properly in the arms/neck area. You will create more room in the bust area using bust darts.

The Math

To plan out your bust darts, you will need to do a few calculations. (Ask a friend to help you take good measurements, and write them down. Keep these on hand for next time).

Vertical Bust Shaping Worksheet

Fill in the numbers for the following:

A: Size of garment you are knitting (according to pattern measurements): _____ (i.e. 36” size)

B: Your actual bust measurement at fullest point: ____ (i.e. 39”)

C: Difference between A and B: ____ (i.e. 3”)

D: C times the # of stitches per inch in your gauge (i.e. 4.5 stitches): _____. This is the total number of stitches to add in width. (If it’s an odd number, add 1).

E: D divided by 2=____. This is the number of stitches to add on each side.

For example, say I’m knitting a size medium (36”) pattern but my actual bust measurement is 39”. I need to add 3 inches of width. Using my gauge, I calculated that this meant I needed to add 13.5 stitches. I add 14 just to make it an even number, or 7 on each side of my side seam markers. That means 7 rounds of increases. These vertical bust darts will move out on a diagonal from the side seam, to create a pleasing dart line. If you prefer, you can line up the increases above and below each bust point, or simply do them near the side seams.

Work the Vertical Bust Darts into the Sweater Pattern

Work the sweater pattern until it reaches just above the fullest part of your bust. (Try on your sweater frequently so that you don’t start the increases too low).

Begin vertical bust increases (to add width).

Refer to the worksheet, above.

First round: k1, m1, k to 1 sts before side marker, m1, k1.
Following round: k3, m1, k to 3sts before side marker, m1, k3
Round 3: k5, m1, k to 5 sts before side marker, m1, k5

Continue as above until you have added as many stitches as indicated in line E on your worksheet.

If you are working a stitch pattern other than stockinette, you can try to work the increases in somehow. You will decrease at the same point later on. For example, in Madame Wu, I added vertical bust darts by expanding and then decreasing the purl rows in the rib pattern:

empresswu 003

Once you are finished with the vertical bust shaping, you will begin the short row shaping. (Or, you can skip to vertical bust decreases, below).

Horizontal Bust Shaping Worksheet (Short Row Shaping)

A: Take your vertical measurement from shoulder to waist:
1. Front: ____”
2. Back: ____”

B: Subtract A2 from A1: ____” (This is how much extra you should add on the front.)

C: Multiply B by the number of rows/inch in your gauge (i.e. 6 rows/inch): ____

D: Divide C by 2: ____ . Add one: _____ This is the number of rows to add (or the number of “wraps”).

E: Try on garment and place markers at apex of each breast (i.e. bust point). These will be your side wrap markers. Take off garment and make sure bust point markers are equally
spaced from side seams.

Count the number of stitches from the side seam to the bust point marker: ____ sts

F: Divide E by D: ___ This is the number of stitches to do between wraps (approximately)—you’ll round up or down.

For example, say I need to add 3” to the length of my sweater. If my gauge has 7 rows per inch, that means I need to add around 10 rows. If I have 25 stitches on either side of my bust point marker, then I’ll work approximately 2 stitches between wraps.

Work the Horizontal Bust Darts into the Sweater

If you have not done short row shaping before, you can look at to see how to do a basic short row.

wrap and turn (W&T): Bring yarn to the front of the work, Sl the next st from the left hand needle, move your yarn to the back of the work, Sl the st back to the left hand needle.

Wrap 1: Work to left side wrap marker, wrap and turn (W&T), work back to right side wrap marker, W&T. This counts as one “wrap.”

Wrap 2: Work to F*1 sts before left SWM, W&T, work back to right SWM, W&T. (F is the number you filled in on the worksheet).

Wrap 3: Work to F*2 sts before left SWM, W&T, work back to right SWM, W&T

Continue as above, wrapping stitches in multiples of F (see your worksheet).

When you have completed 2/3rds of your wraps, simultaneously start decreasing to reverse the vertical bust darts (see below). Continue until all stitches have been wrapped.

Do Vertical Bust Decreases:

Here you will do the reverse of what you did above for the vertical bust darts. Here is an example:

Round 1: k13, ssk, k to 13 sts before side marker, k2tog, k13

Round 2: k11, ssk, k to 11 sts before side marker, k2tog, k11

Round 3: k9, ssk, k to 9 sts before side marker, k2tog, k9

Continue as above until you have finished decreasing to match the number of vertical bust increases you did before.

A few notes:

For patterns that include guidelines for bust darts, check out my Madame Wu and Celia Cruz patterns.

If you are knitting in the round from the bottom up, you would simply reverse the directions here, first increasing for the vertical bust darts from the side seam or so inwards, then beginning short row wraps (horizontal bust darts), and finally ending with vertical bust decreases moving from inwards out.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Inspired Knitting

Katie and I became friends while watching the TV show Bones. We both totally identify with the somewhat nerdy lead character, played by Emily Deschanel. So I was pumped to find this series of patterns, designed by Liz Abinante. (I can’t believe I just notice these now—these patterns have 1000s of hearts and tons of projects on Ravelry)!!!

First, there’s “Temperance” (named after Temperance Brennan, or “Bones”):

Next, there’s “Traveling Woman,” inspired by the character Angela:

And last, there’s “Saroyan,” inspired by Dr. Camille Saroyan:

These projects are a great testament to the strong female characters on the show. (We highly recommend it, in case you haven’t seen it!) Best of all, these patterns are all free!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Free Pattern: Grewyacke Mittens

After designing my Grewyacke Cowl, I wanted mittens to match, so I whipped up these quick, chunky mittens.

The bulky yarn (I used Cascade 128 held double-stranded) protects you from the elements. I’m home in Canada for the holidays, and these really do the trick. Thanks to our new stray (who needs a name!) for modeling with me. (My parents live on a farm, where there’s a large harem of kitties to keep the mice at bay).



Yarn: Approximately 150 yards of bulky weight yarn, held double-stranded. Shown in Cascade 128 (100% wool; 100g/128yd per skein) in natural (#8010).

Other options: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, Rowan Big Wool, or Brown Sheep Burly Spun (held single-stranded)

Needles: Size 13 circular needles (two pairs) (for double circular method)

Size 11 circular needles (two pairs) (for double circular method)

OR DPNs in sizes 11 and 13 if you prefer.

Notions: stitch markers (3), yarn needle for weaving in ends, cat for modeling photos (optional)

Gauge: 3t/inch in Greywacke stitch pattern.

Sizing: S/M [M/L]



Using size 11 needles, cast on 15[18] sts. Distribute across two sets of size 11 circulars for double circular methods (or DPNs if you prefer).

Begin working in k1, p2 rib for 11 rounds.

On the next round, expand 3 stitches as follows: kfb, p2, *k1, p2: rep from * to last 3 stitches, k1, pfb, kfb. 18[21] sts total.

Begin pattern as follows:

Round 1: p1, *k1, p2; repeat from * to 2sts before end of round; end k1, p1.

Round 2: set up thumb gusset shaping: k1, pm, *knit to 2 sts before end of round, pm, k2.

Round 3: Begin thumb gusset increases: kfb, sm, *p2, k1; rep from * to marker, sm, pfb, kfb.

Note: The thumb gusset stitches may not really follow the Greywacke stitch pattern—I tried my best. Once you separate the thumb, you can resume the Greywacke pattern. No one will notice if it's a bit wonky).

Round 4: Knit.

Round 5: k1, pfb, sm, p1, *k1, p2; repeat from * to end of round (you'll end with a k1, p1); sm, kfb, p1, kfb, p1.

Round 6: Knit.

For size S/M: Knit to end of round, then place 9 thumb stitches onto scrap yarn. Move to Work Hand, below.

For size L/XL:

Do one more increase row, as follows: p1, k1, pfb, sm, *k1, p2; repeat from * to 2 sts before marker, end k1, p1; sm; end pfb, k1, p2, k1, p1, kfb.

Knit one round, then place 12 thumb stitches onto scrap yarn.

Work Hand:

For all sizes: Work hand portion in Grewyacke pattern until mittens just covers the fingertips.

Size S/M will begin on Round 1; size L/XL will begin on round 3.

Round 1: *k1, p2; repeat from * to end of round

Round 2, 4, and 6: knit

Round 3: p2, *k1, p2; repeat from * to end of round; end k1.

Round 5: p1, *k1, p2; repeat from * to end of round (you'll end with a k1, p1).

Try to finish on an odd-numbered row.

On the next even round, ktog across row (size L/XL will have on extra stitch).

Then, p2tog across row (size S/M will have one extra stitch).

Cut yarn, then place on a darning needle and draw end through the remaining live stitches. Push needle through to the wrong side of the mitten and weave in the end.


Place thumb stitches onto two size 11 circular needles (or DPNs, if desired).

Begin working in Grewyacke pattern (try to figure out the best row to start on, or just restart the pattern—it's no big deal), as follows:

Round 1: *k1, p2; repeat from * to end of round

Round 2, 4, and 6: knit

Round 3: p2, *k1, p2; repeat from * to end of round; end k1.

Round 5: p1, *k1, p2; repeat from * to end of round (you'll end with a k1, p1).

Continue until it is just long enough to cover the thumb. Try to end on an odd-numbered round.

Next round: k2tog across round (you may have one lonely stitch left over).

On the following round, p2tog across round (you may have one lonely stitch left over).

Cut yarn, then place on a darning needle and draw end through the remaining live stitches. Push needle through to the wrong side of the mitten and weave in the end.


Weave in all ends. To fluff up the yarn, spritz the mittens with water and toss in the dryer for a few minutes.



Happy holidays everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Knitting in Miniature, Part II

You may recognize this sweater from Vogue Knitting, Fall 2008. It’s the very popular Green Gable hoodie (below), only this one is knit in size xxxxxxxxxxxS by IrinaOnno, who knits in Moscow, Russia.

I stumbled across this while looking at Green Gable projects. Turns out there’s a whole community on Ravelry of people who knit these intricate garments for dolls. (I guess “small” and “miniature” are two different categories here—miniature knitting is 1/14th scale, while small is more like 1/4th). Check out these Fair Isle sweaters by Oddstitch.

(Knitting in Miniature, part 1)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Free Pattern: Greywacke Cowl


Greywacke is a thick, chunky cowl inspired by sedimentary rocks composed of feldspar, quartz, and clay. They are commonly found in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and England, where a cowl like this would usefully shield you from the wind and rain.


Yarn: Approximately 300 yards of bulky weight yarn, held triple-stranded. Shown in Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky (85% wool/15% alpaca; 100g/141yd per skein) in Grey (above) and Cascade 128 (100% wool; 100g/128yd per skein) in natural (#8010) – below.

Other options: Cascade Magnum, Twinkle Soft Chunky, Classic Elite Aspen or any super-bulky yarn, held single-stranded.

Needles: Size 19 circular

Notions: stitch marker, yarn needle for weaving in ends.

Gauge: Not crucial, but approximately 1.5-2st/inch in Greywacke stitch pattern.



Greywacke is knit in the round, using a simple pattern.

Cast on 48 stitches using long-tail method.

Optional: To make the twist (shown in the cream colored version), rotate the first stitch one full turn around the needle.

Place marker, and join to work in the round.

Knit 1 row, then begin pattern, which is a 6 row repeat:

Row 1: *k1, p2; repeat from * to end of round

Row 2, 4, and 6: knit

Row 3: p2, *k1, p2; repeat from * to end of round; end k1.

Row 5: p1, *k1, p2; repeat from * to end of round (you'll end with a k1, p1).

Repeat Rows 1-6 until cowl measures approximately 8” in length.

Bind off.


Weave in ends. You may also spritz the cowl with water and toss it in the dryer for a few minutes to make it softer and denser.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fiber Facts: Yarn made from corn?

Adventurous knitters may have noticed that several manufacturers now offer yarns made from corn, such as Kollage yarn’s Corntastic or Bernat’s Cot’n Corn (a blend of corn and cotton fibers). But how is it that corn can turn into something soft enough to knit with?

To turn corn into yarn, manufacturers extract a plant sugar called dextrose from the plant fibers. (The image below is of a model of dextrose)

Next, they ferment the corn sugar and distil it, using the same process used to make beer, and then extract the lactic acid that is produced. The lactic acid forms a long chain, or polymer,called PolylacticAcid (PLA) (below)

Once it is spun into yarn, PLA has a texture similar to cotton or even silk, depending on how it is spun, and it is less dense than cotton or wool, so it can be used for lighter weight garments.

Corntastic - Copper picture

Kollage Yarns Corntastic

When woven into a fabric, it can be used for a range of garments (socks, shirts, underwear, even dresses and jackets) or home products such as comforters.

Since corn is not the only plant that contains dextrose, manufacturers expect that they can use a similar process in the future to make fibers from rice, sugar beets, wheat, or rice.

The polymer used to make yarn can also be used to create plastic-like materials—you may notice corn- or potato-based “plastic” cups, disposable utensils, and the like at your local organic co-op or restaurant. You might also find PLA-based pens, containers, toothbrushes, or almost anything that is typically made of regular plastic.

PLA is biodegradable and requires less carbon to produce, so we should look forward to using these new plant-based products whenever we can!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Free Pattern: Felted Patchwork Tree Skirt

I made this tree skirt the other day, of recycled felted sweaters sewn in a patchwork. This was a fast project, completed while my husband purchased the tree and hung the lights.

This pattern is both recycled and handmade, so it makes me feel double-good. I thought I'd share the pattern so you can feel double-good, too.


3 spools of neutral-toned thread
Sewing machine
4 or 5 wool sweaters to destroy
Fabric Scissors
Measuring tape

1. Felt the sweaters. Use a top-loader if you have one with some dish detergent like Palmolive. Throw them in the dryer, too.

2. Cut the sweaters. Turn them inside-out and cut along the seams. Be sure to remove the felted seam ridges so you have smooth pieces of fabric. I chose to leave on the ribbed edging to add texture to my skirt, but you can remove yours if you wish. You will end up with fronts and backs that are relatively square, and long sleeve pieces.

3. Thread your machine and make 4-5 full bobbins of thread. This takes a LOT of thread.

4. Measure around your tree. You need two numbers: the inside diameter of the skirt and the outside diameter of the skirt. If you are unsure what a "diameter" is, read this. Divide each number in half, and you have the radius. Subtract the little radius from the big radius, and you have, TA-DA--the width of your tree skirt, what we'll call "W." Mine was 18" wide, that is, it stuck out 18" from my tree stand.

5. Do the math. You need to figure out what size "pie pieces" to make; there is some flexibility here, which is good, because most of us don't like math, and some of us (me) don't like super-rigid patterns. First thing, you need to figure out your "magic number": divide the inside diameter by the outside diameter. My magic number was 0.16, meaning that the inside diameter was 16% of the outside diameter. This number (e.g. 0.16) is "M."

6. Start sewing. Set your machine to the largest zig-zag stitch it will make--the longest length-wise and the widest width-wise. This is not the time for detail work. Start piecing the sweaters together. Avoid piecing together the same colors. Once you have a largish piece of fabric, set it aside, and piece together other parts of sweaters. You should end up with 4 or 5 large pieces of fabric of all sorts of strange shapes. You will cut out your pie-pieces from this parts.

Sewing tip: Don't bother pinning--that takes too long. Just hold the sweater pieces together and let fly. You'll have to raise your presser-foot and readjust as things slip and slide. That's okay--your wacky stitchery is part of the design. Your goal is to create a zig-zag that holds the fabric together relatively smoothly, and for me, that meant I had to make TWO passes at each seam. The first pass held it together, the second pass smoothed out the connecting point. If you are awesome, you can do it in one pass, I suppose.

7. Start cutting. Using your pie formula, cut pie-pieces from what you have sewn. Some can be wider and some narrower, so long as you maintain the ratio you devised in step 5. To maintain this ratio, use your M. The width of the bottom (the inside edge) of the pie must be M times the size of the top (outside edge).

The distance between the top and bottom edges should be the length of your W.

This gets a LOT easier once you get going.

8. Lay out your pieces in a manner that pleases you. Seam the pie pieces together, leaving one seam un-sewn, to slip around the tree.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Knitting Travels: Richmond & Alexandria, Virginia

This weekend I traveled to Alexandria with my BF to visit his family, stroll around DC and some surrounding cities, and enjoy some good food.

On the way, we stopped in Richmond for lunch and a little bit of shopping. After a lovely lunch at a French cafe, we happened across the Yarn Lounge in Carytown (a fabulous shopping area!). This store is super cozy, with a beautiful selection of great yarn: Jo Sharp, Rowan, and Malabrigo, to name a few.

The Yarn Lounge outside by jerdlngr.

Once in the DC area, I made friends with this guy at Mount Vernon:


And then stumbled upon the Fibre Space in Alexandria. Another great store! The yarn is organized by weight, which is rather helpful, and they offer many beautiful yarns, including Louet, Neighborhood Fiber Company, and Stonehedge Fiber Mill (to mention a few of the rarer ones).

Plus, the Fibre Space features an awesome retro space-age aesthetic—check out their logo, below, for an idea:

I didn’t buy a whole lot at either space (my stash is overflowing), but now I’m really coveting some of the Miss Babs “Yowza What a Skein” yarn that I saw at Fibre Space. I’m definitely going back when I can!

Monday, December 14, 2009

F.O.: Amazon Marian

Katie gave me this lovely handspun yarn ages ago, and I just now figured out what I wanted to do with it. I’ve been making thick, cozy cowls like crazy (and I’ll have my own free pattern coming soon), but this was my first one:


The pattern is Marian, and it makes a quick and easy holiday gift. I held the PryalSpun Amazon yarn triple-stranded. I also cast on more stitches than the pattern required—59 in total. The cowl turned out super long, so I’ve been wearing it doubled. This will be perfect when I go home to Canada and need a warm scarf substitute.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Girls Just Wanna Have a Dress Form

I've had a yen for a dress form for a while now. I like how you can photograph knits on a mannequin, or use it to fit designs. But they are EXPENSIVE. Even the crappy ones at Joann's are two hundred bucks. No way dude.

Then I learned you could make them out of duct tape. There's a demo in this video:

The thing is, I'd want a stand, and something quite rigid (for pinning and manipulating designs) and also something slightly (only slightly) more enticing to look at. I'll have to think about the mods I'm going to make to this basic duct-tape-mannequin concept. I'll share what I come up with.

Meanwhile, anyone else have any experience making one of these? Wanna share advice?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday a pot

Here's a small gift to our dear readers: spiced holiday wine.

We make this is a kettle on the stove during the holidays. It keeps in the fridge for a few days, too. There's nothing like putting the baby to bed, curling up on the couch with a hot mug of this wine, and watching reruns of Arrested Development with your honey.

Katie Rose's Cheap and Easy Holiday Spiced Wine

1.5 L bottle of cheap red wine
.5 L orange juice
1 c sugar
2 tbsp each of: ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves

Put the wine, orange juice, sugar, and spices into a big pot. Simmer on the stove for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ladle into mugs. Add a shot of vodka for extra excitement.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm NOT Fishing

I'm knitting mittens. Lots of mittens. Cold just snapped and I realized I gave all of my knitted mittens away. I'm revising an early pattern of mine, Chopin (to increase its awesome quotient), and making some holiday gifts as well.

Here's the real deal, though: I HATE how I look in my sweaters. I had my baby 7 months ago. Weaned him two weeks ago, and I look......lumpy. In my knits. I can't stand it. There were tears. A knitter who can't wear her knits? Is there anything more tragic?

So, mittens.

I had my sister model my sweaters for me for our Winter Collection, and they look fabulous, so I know the knits don't suck. I just can't wear them right now. Since it's 30 degrees outside, that makes me really sad.

So, I'm knitting mittens to wear on my walks in the morning and hopefully the lumpy will turn into luscious lady lumps.

We'll see.

Reminder--I'm NOT fishing for "you look great!" or "don't worry about it!" I'm a realist. And a pragmatist.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pattern: Vagabonde Wrap Cardigan

[revised 13 Mar. 10]

Vagabonde can also be purchased online for $6.

The name of this cardigan is taken from French author Colette's famous novel, La Vagabonde, published in 1910.

The narrator, Renee, is a dance-hall performer in early 20th-century Paris. This sweater evokes the wispy and translucent garments worn by Renee both onstage and when she meets her admirer, Maxime, offstage.

Vagabonde is knit from the top-down using raglan shaping and requires only minimal seaming.
It is available in sizes XS-XXL, requires 500-800 yards of your favorite mohair yarn, and is worked on size 10 needles at a gauge of 3 sts per inch--really fast knitting.

Vagabonde can be purchased for $6.

It can also purchased as part of our Winter 2009-2010 Pattern Collection.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lillooet Deep-V Pullover

Lillooet is part of the Knitty Professors Winter 2009/2010 Collection.


Lillooet is inspired by the Lillooet ice field in British Columbia, Canada. Ice fields are large areas of interconnected glacial valleys, formed over hundreds of years when snow accumulates, freezes, and turns to ice. The Lillooet ice field surrounds a river of the same name, and it measures over 19 miles from east to west. Viewed from above, the Lilooet ice field is breathtaking. This sweater echoes the swirls, ripples, and crevasses visible in aerial views of the ice field.

Lillooet is knit from the top-down, with minimal seaming. You will cast on for the neck and work back and forth until the garment reaches to the waist. The cable and lace pattern begins at the neck and continues down both sides of the placket. Then, you will join and work in the round to finish the bottom of the sweater. Later, you will add crochet edging and buttonholes to the placket.


The sleeves also feature edging in the same cable and lace pattern.


For this sweater, I used Manos del Uruguay silk blend (70% wool, 30% silk; 150 in color 300C “Powder.” Other suitable yarns would be Malabrigo Silky Merino, Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca & Silk, or any DK weight yarn.

Sizes: XS[S,M,L,XL]

Finished Chest Measurements: 30[33,36,40,42]

Check out my Ravelry page for more details.

You can buy Lillooet separately for $6.00 . . .

Or as part of the Winter 2009-2010 Collection, which features 7 great patterns for just $21.00.