14 December 2012

Falala 2012 #6: Sleeven

When I have some time to knit something for myself, I'm going to try a Contiguous Method sweater, like Sleeven. Top-down knitting has never really clicked for me, but I think I'd like this method, since I like the tailored look of set-in sleeves but don't like seaming. I know lots of people love knitting pieces and seaming and all that, and there are definitely advantages (you can work on one piece at a time without having to carry around a whole sweater, seams can add stability, etc.), but I love the physical flexibility of seamless sweaters. And even though I've advanced my seaming technique, I'd rather not when I don't have to. So check out Sleeven or one of Ankestrick's other lovely patterns that use the Contiguous Method. Sleeven pattern is $6.07 (4.50 EUR).

Sotherton download available

You can now purchase Sotherton as an individual download from the Interweave store! The individual pattern is $6, or you can purchase the entire issue of Jane Austen Knits, Summer 2012 for $8.99 (on sale - normally $14.99).
Sotherton by Kathleen Dames

Jane Austen Knits, Summer 2012

I'll let you know when An Aran for Anne will be released as soon as I know.

Apologies for not doing any Falala posts this week - I've been working at Penelope's school a few days a week while one of the teachers is out, so my limited "focus" time has been even more limited. I'll try to catch up this weekend.

07 December 2012

Falala 2012 #5: Ripley

This is one of my favorite patterns. Ripley is quick to knit in the called-for bulky weight yarn for an adult, and I've been able to adapt it to smaller heads in worsted for my girls*. Ysolda is a talented designer, and I always appreciate her new take on a technique (you begin with the lace edging for this one and then elegantly pick up the stitches and knit the hat). Ripley is 3.75GBP (a little over $6 at this time), but I recommend springing for the entire Whimsical Little Knits 2 ebook for 9GBP, which will give you a number of other patterns to choose from for gifts (hats, mitts, toys, etc.)

*I'll get a picture of the three of us this weekend for you - one of the little joys of having girls.

Falala 2012 #4: Wee Sheep

The fourth holiday pattern is beyond cute and comes from Susan B. Anderson, a great knitted toy designer. This little sheep (make a black one for that special person in your life) makes a great ornament or gift for the knitter or shepherd in your life. Wee Sheep pattern is $4.50.

04 December 2012

Falala 2012 #3: Armas

There may be time (if you're a quick knitter) to whip up a lovely pullover for the special man (or woman) in your life. Mari Muinonen/tikru designed Armas, which means "beloved" in Finnish, for a bulky weight yarn. When I was visiting my parents for Thanksgiving, I enjoyed using a blankie I knit up in Cascade's Eco Wool, so I highly recommend it as a yarn choice for this pullover. Armas is also part of Mari's pattern book Hold Your Needles, so you could knit something for just about everyone on your list.

Falala 2012 #2: Wee Tiny Elf Sock

Sometimes I try to resist the twee, but most of the time I embrace all its darling weensieness (that word is so misspelled, and you're just going to have to live with that). Falala #2 is the Wee Tiny Elf Sock courtesy of Meg Bakewell, and I love it! Curled up toe, bell, and all. Plus, it's a good way to use up all those sock yarn nuggets you have leftover. Make up a bunch for trimming the tree, as gift card holders, or an ersatz Advent calendar. Bonus: this one is free. And involves bells. Extra bonus: Meg sells adorable sock blockers in her Etsy shop.

03 December 2012

Falala 2012 #1: My Deer

I have a little catch up to do, here, so you will find three Falala posts today! In previous years I've had a theme (free, independent designers), but this year I'm just going with whatever strikes my fancy, so some patterns will be gift ideas and some will be to queue for a reward to yourself after the gift knitting is complete.

First up: My Deer - a deer trophy - an adorable, clever, free pattern for a knitted and fulled deer head trophy from the talented Claire Garland. This is perfect for the vegan OR hunter on your list, or anyone in between!

My Deer knitted trophy
My Deer (pattern by Claire Garland)
I knit mine up in one day with some Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Taupe from the good people at Three Bags Full, and then threw it in with the towels in the wash (I tried it with the "warm" wash, but it really needed "hot" to full). I think I will make a second and stuff the antlers before fulling, which wasn't specified originally. The antlers look good but are not as robust as Claire's original. I think I have enough Taupe for the head and ears and will do the antlers in some Natura I have left over from Isobel's set of Matryoshka dolls.

02 December 2012

Pattern: Castaway Shawlette

Castaway cover
Castaway shawlette by Kathleen Dames

I have a new shawlette pattern to share with you: Castaway. Worked from a tab start at the neck down to a ruffled edge, this is perfect for that skein of Malabrigo Lace that you couldn't resist. The stickiness of the yarn works to your advantage to keep the ladders from pulling at their neighbor stitches.

Castaway back
Castaway shawlette by Kathleen Dames
If you can cast on, bind off, knit, purl, and work basic increases and decreases, you can create this lovely, soft shawlette. This is a "wide" triangle shawl, which means you increase at four points on the front and two on the back. A friend of mine, who also is an LYSO, thought this was cashmere when I showed it to her.
Castaway 3/4
Castaway shawlette by Kathleen Dames
One skein of yarn, one circular needle, and one pattern are all you need to make your own Castaway - perfect for desert island knitting (or when you want to get away from it all!).

One skein of Malabrigo Lace (or 470yds/430m of a similar laceweight yarn)
One US4/3.5mm 29" circular needle (or size needed to obtain gauge)
stitch markers
tapestry needle

Skills Needed
Casting on
Binding off

Technical editing by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud
Test knitting by Elizabeth Hutchison and Annie Rota
Photographed on the bank of the Kennebec River, Bath, Maine, by Nicholas Dames

Pattern available for $6 on CraftsyEtsy, and Ravelry or by using the button below.

19 November 2012

Deckhand: Annie's Alternative Version

Almost forgot to show you Annie's version! She wanted to do red and white, an we agreed that it would be good to have a version where the hems and collar are in the MC. You have choices!

Annie's Deckhand
Annie's Deckhand

Pattern: Deckhand - Women's

Kathleen's Deckhand
Deckhand - Women's by Kathleen Dames
Now that your little scallywags have their own Deckhand sweaters, it’s time to get yours. But how about a bit of shaping for a woman’s curves, ¾ sleeves, and a raglan yoke with button detail? This one is also just right for cool summer evenings on deck. And working it up in Cascade’s Ultra Pima makes it a bit more refined. Let those little scallywags climb the rigging—you’re going to loll on the deck!
Jogless stripes allow you to work this sweater in the round without your stripes spiraling out of control. A double-knitting trick keeps your placket happening all at once. Just sew on your buttons and weave your underarms, and you’ll be ready to set sail.
Women’s XS [S, M, L, 1X, 2X, 3X] sample shown in size M) 
Chest: 31 [34, 38, 41, 45, 48, 51] inches
Traditional version 
Natural (MC) 3 [4, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7] skeins; 
Indigo Blue (CC) 1 [1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3] skeins
Annie’s alternative version 
Wine (MC) 3 [4, 5, 5, 6, 7, 8] skeins; 
Natural (CC) 1 [1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2] skeins
US6/4.0mm 29-inch circular needle and set of five DPNs (or longer circular needle if using Magic Loop for sleeves) Cable needle or spare DPN 
Stitch holders or waste yarn 
Stitch markers 
Coil-less safety pins 
Three 1-inch Buttons 
Matching thread, if yarn will not fit through buttonholes
Skills Needed 
Casting on 
Binding off 
Working flat 
Working in the round
Technical editing by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud. 
Sample knitting by Annie Rota.
Pattern available on Ravelry, Etsy, and Craftsy, or by using the button below.

13 November 2012

Pattern: Hap-py

Hap-py Shawl
Hap-py shawl by Kathleen Dames
A new-world homage to the Shetland Hap shawls of old. Worked all in one piece with one needle and one skein of yarn, this makes a perfect travel project, whether you’re waiting on a park bench, soaring above the clouds, or sailing the high seas. Plus, the Crest of the Wave pattern (written out and charted), an interesting variant on the traditional Feather and Fan, is easy to master with spectacular results. What are you waiting for? It’s time to get Hap-py!

Instructions are given for a swatch, which will make a perfect little shawl for an 18” doll, plus the full-size shawl, which measures 32” square. Swatch and shawl do use all of the skein of Madeline Tosh Prairie, so be aware that not achieving gauge may lead to your needing more yarn.
Hap-py shawl
Hap-py shawl by Kathleen Dames
Madeline Tosh Prairie 100% Superwash Merino; 840 yards/768 meters per 114 gram skein; color: Plaid Blanket; 1 skein 
Note: With swatch, entire skein was used. 
One US6/4.0mm 40-inch circular needle 
Stitch markers, including one different to mark end-of-round 
Tapestry needle
Skills Needed 
Casting on 
Binding off 
Picking up stitches 
Working in the round
Technical editing by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud.
Pattern available on Ravelry, Etsy, and Craftsy, or by using the button below.

05 November 2012

Test Knit: Castaway

Castaway by Kathleen Dames
In case you didn't see the post on Ravelry, I'm looking for one or two test knitters for my latest design. Please check it out and let me know via PM if you would like to try it out. I have one lovely test knitter and am working up a copy myself right now but would be excited to have another set of needles take this on. It is a wide triangle (four increases on the public side, two on the private) worked in Malabrigo Lace and involves dropped stitches. I have been wearing mine non-stop since the weather started to cool, and the fabric is like cashmere.

01 November 2012

Ghosts giveaway winner

Drumroll please....

The winner is Michelle and her scary story of almost being run over. Congratulations! Michelle, send me an email at kathleendames at gmail dot com or PM me on Ravelry, where I am Purly.

My ghost story isn't scary: When my now-ex-husband and I were first together in 1998, we flew to the Midwest for a summer vacation with my family. On the way up to Wisconsin we detoured to visit my grandmother in Western Illinois. She lived alone; my grandfather had passed away in 1989. In her hospitality, she let us sleep in her bed, and she slept in the next room. That night, laying in bed, I sensed my grandfather's presence in the room. I don't know if he normally visited Grandma, or if he stopped by to check on me and the future father of his first great-grandchild. Whatever the reason, I definitely felt his presence and in a way that I'd never sensed in the nine years I had visited my grandmother after he passed away.

Thanks to everyone else for participating. This certainly is the right time of year for ghost stories.

It also, it turned out, was the right time of year for a hurricane. We live in Manhattan but up near Columbia University, so we were spared the disaster that is lower Manhattan, the Rockaways, Long and Staten Islands, and so much of New Jersey. We had frightening levels of wind and some rain - the wind was so strong that it pushed rain under our closed and locked East-facing bedroom window. This wasn't my first hurricane. In 1996 I got to "enjoy" two hurricanes, Bertha while I was in Boston (mostly rain there but an oddly tropical feel, even for July) and Edouard down on Cape Cod. The latter was the real deal with power outages and concern that boats from the harbor might end up in the back yard. We all put on bathing suits and windbreakers and went down to the beach to experience the wind, rain, and sand. The ocean was amazing, even in the relatively protected beach by Barnstable Harbor.

I hope you and yours are well and that Mother Nature was kind to you. We feel very fortunate. Tomorrow I'll tell you about the sweater I knit, most of it over the past three days (!).

24 October 2012

Giveaway delay (Sorry!)

I will figure out the giveaway soon, but I'm bogged down in some school stuff, kind of ever since I made the last post about Teresa's book. So, so tired. I can't even think straight.

In addition to the Giveaway, I've got a brief Rhinebeck report and finishing work on a few patterns. I was so close! And now it's going to take me at least a day, once I get past the stuff I'm working on, to get my head back in that zone. Sigh.

Plus, today is Nick's and my anniversary.

I will be back. Soon. And I will share my (benign) ghost story. Promise!

17 October 2012


In case you haven't seen Teresa Gregorio's new pattern collection on the internets or Rav, Ms. CanaryKnits herself has created a really lovely collection of eleven patterns plus interesting and scholarly pieces on ghosts, titled Ghosts: historiographies, cultural manifestations, and the knits they've inspired. It is, of course, the perfect time of year for releasing such patterns and writing. My favorites include:
Athenodorus by Teresa Gregorio
Ribbon always gets me! This skirt "wanes" from bulky weight to fingering yarn, just as the Greeks believed the spirit waned in forgetting its identity. I've started to consider knitted skirts and am always happy to see thoughtful patterns for them. Teresa graded this pattern from XS to XXL.

Feathers by Teresa Gregorio
This pretty little scarf in angora (I'm thinking that Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Alpaca might work nicely, too) has an interesting construction, and Teresa looks adorable and ethereal :)

There are also colorwork mittens, twisted stitch socks, and a flower-trimmed hat worked up in luscious tosh Vintage in Tart:

Calavera Catrina by Teresa Gregorio
I'm very happy to be a part of Teresa's blog tour and really excited for her latest publication. If you would like a chance to win your very own copy, leave a comment on this post by Monday, 22 October,  telling me which pattern you like best or a ghost story. For an additional entry, join my Ravelry group :)

Tomorrow I'll tell one of my ghost stories, but now I have to go pick up the kids.

14 October 2012

stash sale

Rowan CalmerCrystal Palace Splash PrintPlymouth Yarn Oh My!Handpaintedyarn.com Novelty BoucleMisti Alpaca Lace SolidsAlchemy Haiku
Madil Yarns Super Due Merino100purewool.com Merino LaceLane Cervinia Le Fibre Nobili ImperialeMisti Alpaca Lace SolidKnit One Crochet Too MeringueLion Brand Fun Fur Solid
Araucania AtacamaRowan Kidsilk Haze DewberryAraucania Nature Wool SolidsCherry Tree Hill Suri Lace AlpacaRegia Silk 4-ply sock yarnRowan Kidsilk Haze Toffee
South West Trading Company BambooMystery novelty yarnBerocco PlushAlpaca with a Twist Baby TwistFiltes King Australian MerinosBMFA sock yarn keychains
stash sale, a set on Flickr.
Last weekend in anticipation of the NYC Yarn Crawl, I spent a day airing/organizing/tossing the stash and found some goodies that I know I am not going to get around to knitting any time soon. So, they should go to a good home, where they will be appreciated. You may notice that there is quite a bit of Alpaca. Sadly, I've discovered that it irritates my annoyingly sensitive skin - my itchiness is your gain!

Check out the goodies and feel free to make me an offer.

On Ravelry, too!

12 October 2012

FO: Sotherton (P.S. Rhinebeck!)

Can't you see how excited I am?
Yay! I finished my Sotherton. Despite my bemused expression, I am really happy with this knit (self-portraiture with my D80's remote is, as yet, unperfected). There were a few modifications (I can't even knit my own pattern "straight"!), since I chose this beautiful tosh vintage, instead of the tosh dk called for in the pattern. My gauge was a little different, but since I was happy with the fabric I was creating I used the numbers for the 2nd size (I'm really a Medium/third size) for the body and ended up using the smallest size for the sleeves but knitting them much longer thanks to my lanky arms. And I raised the back of the neck about an inch by working a repeat of the twist pattern back-and-forth across the back stitches and then picking up a few stitches at each edge before working the collar ribbing.

Don't forget: There's an ongoing Sotherton KAL in my Ravelry group - join us!

And the back
Isn't that Byzantine colorway lovely? And aren't you proud of me for not knitting a blue sweater for once? After a skein disaster I had on an upcoming pattern, where one sleeve ended up looking more washed out than the rest of the sweater, I alternated skeins on the body of this one and chose the matching-est skeins for the sleeves. In case you're wondering, I ended up ripping out both sleeves on the other pattern, reknitting them alternating skeins, and then reknitting the yoke, also alternating skeins. That was a major bummer, but worth it. Hopefully, you'll see the final product of that agony next week. I'm sending the pattern off to my new tech editor today and hope to have good photos in the next few days, weather and "personnel" (Nick and the girls) permitting.

And there are three other patterns with the tech editor. I've been dying to share them, but I've decided that "you never get a second chance to make a first impression" and I love when I release a pattern on Ravelry once it's all ready to go. That way you don't have to wait to buy it, and I don't have to create additional documents like a pre-sell version with specs and swatch information. I like it all in one place, tidy and ready to knit. I hope you agree.

OK. Off to work on the other photographed pattern so I can get it to the tech editor ASAP. It's in Bartlett Yarns, who will be at Rhinebeck next weekend, so I'd love to release the pattern before I head upstate. But it's a cable doozy, so there are a lot of i's to dot and t's to cross, plus it's the first pattern I've written with a hood. You're going to love it!

Will I see you at New York Sheep & Wool on Sunday (10/21)? I'll be there just for the day and have to decide which sweater to wear, since there is an embarassment of riches this year :)

05 October 2012

Test knitting?

So, I spent my summer knitting up shawls and sweaters, and right now they are sitting in a pretty stack in my bedroom. Some have been photographed already, and there are more to do once I find a good location and figure out when we can do it (Nick is my photographer, usually, and we either have to bring the kids or find a time when they are all at school and he's not trapped in endless meetings). I've been busy writing up the patterns between the volunteer work I do at Penelope's preschool and at Isobel and Stephen's school, which has taken up a lot of time and mental space for the past month. Plus, doing Penelope's application to go to the big kids' school (can you believe she'll be in Kindergarten next fall?), which has been stressful. Now that the two shawls are written up (love them! they turned out just the way I wanted and only one required reknitting :) , along with one of the sweaters (stripey goodness graded for seven sizes), while the other three sweaters (cables and interesting hood construction, a little lace, alternative construction) are in various stages of notes, instructions, and spreadsheets (ah, grading for seven sizes - I love spreadsheets!), I'm looking for a new tech editor, which takes up more time.

The question for me is do I also add test knitters into the process? I know a lot of self-publishing designers do, but if I'm waiting until a pattern has been tech edited, what do test knitters add to the proposition? By the time I've knit a sample, usually from a bare-bones pattern, refined then graded it, photographed it, and sent it to a tech editor, I'm ready to release it to the world! I'm excited and dying to share what I've been working on. When I create patterns for publications, there aren't any test knitters, just me. But the reach of a publication provides its own publicity, right? So, test knitters are not just helping a designer figure out if the pattern is clearly written and correctly sized/graded/proportioned, especially since that is the tech editor's job, but they are also part of your publicity team.

Plus, I like the big reveal. It's sort of frustrating to see a great new pattern on Ravelry only to discover that you won't be able to buy it immediately. Some designers offer a specs page in that case that gives yarn and gauge information so knitters can get started. But I'm into that instant gratification.

What do you think?

13 September 2012

It's that time of year again!

Today is my birthday. Where does the time go? Sadly, I'm feeling a little old, as I seem to have pinched a nerve on Tuesday. Luckily, I had already sent off my submissions for the next Jane Austen Knits, so I could afford to spend some time with the couch and the ibuprofen bottle. I'm feeling a little better and hope to be recovered by the weekend. The weather is so beautiful right now that it's a shame to be in the house, but park benches are not kind to the achy lower back.

In addition to the JAK submissions, I have a number of patterns that are close to being ready for publication. But until then, I'm celebrating my birthday by giving you all a present: 20% off in my Ravelry and Etsy shops. The discount is automatic on Ravelry, but on Etsy you will need to use the code BIRTHDAY2012.

10 August 2012

Sotherton KAL

Sotherton is proving to be a popular pattern. I am, of course, deeply gratified and very humbled. It is very exciting when other people think something you came up with is worthwhile.

Anyway, I've started a KAL over on my Ravelry group, so please join us! I will be starting my own near the end of August with some lovely tosh dk in Byzantine. Can't wait! But until then I am happy to answer questions as best I can, and there is already a nice little gang working their way through the pattern. Until the Summer 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits sells out, that's the only place to get the pattern. But once the issue is out of print, JAK will begin selling the individual patterns on Interweave's site.

And I'm hard at work on ideas for the 2013 call for entries!

09 August 2012

Mentioned by the Yarn Harlot

Yes, that was me that Stephanie mentioned about ten days ago in her Karmic Balancing post. I offered up a print/digital copy of Avast No. 1, which I sent to my new friend Carol, but Stephanie was really gracious in saying that I offered "what she does best". I'm going to go swan around Bath for a little while with a puffed up ego.

If you would like your very own copy, digital versions can be purchased on Ravelry. And I have a few copies of the print version with me and would be happy to send you one for $25 (includes digital copy and shipping) - shoot me an email at kathleendames at gmail dot com, so I can Paypal you an invoice.

01 August 2012

Maine: The Way Life Should Be

So, we've been here in Bath for about ten days, and aside from some marathon cleaning sessions (the caretaker wasn't the cleanest person, but you get what you pay for), it has been heaven. Moderate days, cool nights, beach time, knitting time, concerts on the green, lobster at the dock. Seriously, I should keep this place a secret, but it's too wonderful. Bath is particularly lovely IMO, since it's not overrun by tourists and t-shirt shops. There is a farmer's market here every Saturday, a farmstand just up the road, and they finally opened an ice cream parlor downtown (I've been saying they should for the past five years - next on my list is an old-fashioned penny candy store).

And there are yarn stores! Halcyon in Bath (I can walk there), Purl Diva in Brunswick (my friend Ellen stocks a great shop - she's even carrying Quince & Co. now), The Cashmere Goat in Camden (new and airy, right near the harbor), and all the way up to Heavenly Socks Yarns in Belfast, where I ended up modeling a shawl for their latest newsletter and "revealing" my Ravelry designer status.

Being a moderately shy person, I often feel weird just randomly introducing myself in a yarn store, but when talk turns to Ravelry and designs, I feel I have something to say. And it is fun talking to people about what I do (and since I didn't get that job I was interviewing for, knitwear design is what I will continue to focus on). I think my next task is to start teaching classes.

Anyway, I'm enjoying my time here and feel lucky to be able to come up for a month. I'm finishing up a submission for the Winter Knitty (keep your fingers crossed that it comes out the way I want it to, and that Amy & Co. like it), then there are some other knits that need final tweaks and photo shoots. I'm scouting locations and pondering outfits, so there will be a handful or so of new designs for Fall.

And I may have already acquired some yarn...

More to come next time we visit the library (free wi-fi)!

14 July 2012

Bixby blocking photos

There have been some questions about the photos and schematic in the magazine...

I'm a little bigger than the average model, so I didn't photograph myself in Bixby before it went off to Knitscene, but here are some blocking shots (NOT pretty - sorry!), which may convey a better idea of the neckline situation/structure. The schematic is trying to convey how the pieces appear before seaming, but it is a little confusing, so hopefully these shots will clarify a little.

I would wear it with at least one of the zippers undone a bit for a sort of punky, Flashdance-esque vibe.

06 July 2012

Bixby--Knitscene, Fall 2012

© Interweave
I have a new pattern in the Fall 2012 issue of Knitscene: Bixby Pullover. This is a dolman-sleeved pullover with massive zipper detail. The yarn used is Takhi Yarns Donegal Tweed, which is a delightfully rustic wool in Aran weight, which makes this a quick knit. And the zipper adds a sleek toughness to the mix. There are some short rows on the front sleeves to drop the neckline, as well as on the back of the yoke to raise the back of the neck.
© Interweave
 For more information, check out the Knitting Daily blog and Ravelry. And if you're the kind of knitter who prefers buying individual patterns to entire issues (but have you checked out the issue? lots of pretty stuff here), be sure to follow the blog - I'll announce when the pattern is available individually.
© Interweave
Thought you might enjoy seeing one of my sketches from the submission. Clearly, I am not a fashion illustrator, but this will give you an idea of my idea. I was going for a bit of a punky, Flashdance vibe. Try unzipping one side and letting it slip off your shoulder!