19 December 2011

Pattern: JOY garland

JOY garland

A little something for the holidays! I dubbed this garland "JOY" because it came out even better than I thought it might. You see, I had this idea of using i-cord, and then it all fell into place. This is knit in one piece (oh, joy!), and I didn't even weave in the ends, just trimmed them to an even length so they could be used to hang the garland.

It comes in two sizes, and the pattern includes templates to cut out felt letters to spell JOY, PEACE, MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HANUKKAH, and HAPPY NEW YEAR, large and small.

My JOY garland hangs on our front door, makes me smile every time I see it (I seek out peace and joy all year round), and gently jingles when the door opens or closes (and we all know what happens every time a bell rings, don't we?*).

JOY garland
Our door, which does not photograph well for patterns
So, share some joy this holiday season (or work it up in other colors for festive bunting any time). If you can knit, increase, and decrease, you can have some joy in your life. I've included instructions for making i-cord, if you've never done it.

I chose Plymouth's Encore Worsted, since it was in the stash, cheery, and sturdy. You could use just about any yarn you like (I'm contemplating some teeny garlands in fingering weight yarn because I'm twee like that), though I'd save the cashmere for something else. And then you'll need to visit the craft store (unless you have a five and dime - I'm sure they would have had felt and bells at the 5 & 10 I visited when I was little) for some jingle bells and felt. I went classic here, but I saw glittered bells in various colors *and* sparkly felt. You could really bling this one up, if you were so inclined. I may have to go back to the craft store...

The pattern may be purchased through Ravelry or on Etsy, or you can use the handy button below to buy instantly.

May the coming year bring you peace and joy and lots of yarn. xoxo, Kathleen

*"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets it's wings," according to It's a Wonderful Life. Whether you believe in angels or not, jingle bells are a merry sound.

12 December 2011

Craft Fair 2011 and Etsy

Goodness, how the time has flown! I've been busy knitting up items for the kids' school craft fair, and anything that didn't sell is now available on my Etsy shop (see the sidebar). The craft fair, as always, was lots of fun, and again I was impressed with all the creativity in the room.

I've also been coping with turning forty and having a seven-year-old daughter. How did all that happen?!

I need to get back into the blogging habit, so I hope to show up here more often. There is a holiday decoration pattern in the works, so come back soon!

14 October 2011

An Aran for Frederick

Designers have started uploading photos to Ravelry for Jane Austen Knits 2011 [link], so I realized it was time to add mine. If you can't wait for the print versions to show up at your LYS next month, you can purchase the digital edition from Interweave's site [link]. My contribution is called An Aran for Frederick [link] - a men's cabled pullover knit in the round with an EZ-style hybrid yoke to show off all those amazing cables.

© Christa Tippmann
© Christa Tippmann
© Christa Tippmann
You can also see a little of the sweater in Catherine Shields's Fitz fingerless mitts [link].

This bundle of cable-y goodness was knit up in Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter, which I really enjoyed working with. Most of the time I work with Worsted-spun yarn, like tosh dk, so working with a Woolen-spun yarn was interesting. There is a fluffiness to it, and yet the cables really pop. Plus, it spit-splices like a dream, which is perfect for a sweater knit in the round. I only had to weave in the cast-on and bind-off ends, as well as the underarm Kitchener-ed ends.

Ever since I read Elizabeth Zimmermann's description of the hybrid yoke, I've wanted to see what would happen if you tossed cables in there, winding up the arms and shoulders, climbing up the back. So, when submissions for Jane Austen Knits were called, it seemed like the right time to explore this idea.

Persuasion is my favorite of Austen's novels, closest to my own story, and I thought a sweater inspired by Captain Wentworth was a great idea. Happily, clever editor Amy Clarke Moore agreed, and I was able to work some Frederick-themed cables into a handsome, strong-shouldered sweater.

I hope you like it! And the best news is that Interweave is already planning another edition for 2012 - call for submissions may be found here.

10 October 2011


So, that happened. Now, I'm 40. How did that happen?

I can't really believe my "big" birthday has come and gone. It was a fairly low-key day, with phone calls from family, kisses from little people (and big ones), and macarons from Ladurée. And a surprise breakfast the following day with some of my mommy friends, since I was the working parent at Penelope's school on my birthday.
Celebrating 40 the Laduree way
Birthday treats with the cuties

Now that I'm a grown-up, I have finally gotten my proper New York State driver's license, which means I can drive myself to Rhinebeck this weekend! Hope to see some of you there, though I missed the Rhinebeck Bingo deadline.

And I've applied for some jobs, which is properly grown-up. I mean, my less-than-thrilled feelings about this birthday mainly stem from wanting to accomplish more, professionally. I love my husband and kids and feel so blessed to be at such a good place in my life in that regard. Yes, I managed to avoid the whole When Harry Met Sally... breakdown ("And I'm going to be forty! ... Some day."). But I want to contribute more. I've been brushing up my resumé, which has reminded me of how much I enjoyed working. I know, going to an office, interacting with co-workers, coping with deadlines, all that stuff can be tough. But producing things, hanging out with the smart/cool co-workers, and wearing grown-up clothes (I have had some work wardrobe fantasies after applying for jobs) are pretty great, as is that whole getting paid thing.

In regards to my birthday wish list, some yummy things did make their way into my life, in addition to the aforementioned macarons (fleur de sel caramel were my favorite). Some shiny red Hunter boots have been keeping my feet dry, though, luckily we haven't had much rain since my birthday. Blue and white striped espadrilles arrived from my besty - so "me" that it's almost funny. And my sister tracked down some Wollmeise, sending me a lovely, giant (300g) skein of the stuff in a beautiful kelp forest colorway (teal, greens, black). It's one of those one-of-a-kind dealies, so I don't know the name of the colorway, but I'm sure going to have fun figuring out what to do with it. Then, I may have acquired a sweater's worth of tosh dk in Baltic during the NYC Yarn Crawl. Oops!
Birthday shoes!
Tres chic espadrilles!
Yarn photos will have to wait for daylight.

26 September 2011

August Trip Report

I'd better write this up before October arrives!

In August we went up to Massachusetts so Isobel could spend some time with her father and a bunch of his relatives. We stayed in Cambridge while they went up to Burlington. Conveniently, this was the same weekend as the Fiber Revival in Newburyport (yay! if you know me even a little, you know that the combination of knitting supplies, old friends, and an antique farm in the summer in New England is pretty close to perfect). Inconveniently, the traffic out of Boston was ridiculously awful (and Penelope gets carsick in stop-and-go traffic), so we almost bailed. I am so glad that we didn't! In addition to seeing my Yarns in the Farms ladies (hi, Carolyn, Jill, Joanne, and Suzanne!), I got to meet Amy King, Ms. Spunky Eclectic herself. I also had a chance to catch up with Leslie Wind who made the beautiful C-pin on Turn of the Glass and who lives on Cape Ann.

Outfield of corn
Stephen watching; beards, beer, and baseball

But the best part was that Nick, Stephen, and Penelope came with me, and they had fun! There was a triple-header of antique rules baseball (1861 - no gloves, balls caught on one bounce are an out, underhand pitching, sideburns and charming uniforms) played in a grass paddock with a field of corn for an outfield. Nick had seemed ... not terribly enthusiastic when I mentioned this beforehand. But once we got there, it turned out to be really neat for all of us to watch. And there was a beer truck from Ipswich Ale (yum!) with hot dogs and whatnot. Penelope discovered the popcorn popper (and an adorable cast iron toy stove in the gift shop). Stephen found some other kids to play soccer and baseball with. And I came away with a bag of The Woolen Rabbit's Sporty that is destined for greatness (well, that's the vague plan, anyway) in Storm and Midas. I haven't even tried to take a picture because I'm not sure I can do these colors justice. I'll try at some point, but today is not picture day.

The rest of the weekend was nice, too. It was as if New England was on its best behavior (except for the traffic Saturday morning and the lack of a Red Sox game in town). The weather was lovely - sunny and warm during the day, cooling off at night. New England in the summer can be so delightful. We had dinner at Farnham's in Essex where I realized that I have a painting of this house:
Essex marsh house
Essex marsh house painting
Painting of the Essex marsh house
Why, yes, dinner at Farnham's was good. Thanks for asking!

After a long weekend in Massachusetts, we high-tailed it back to New York for lots of laundry, showering the cats with affection, and repacking before we headed to Chicago. Nick's parents live within walking distance of Loopy Yarns, so I got to visit there (with Nick - his first time), though I couldn't find yarn I wanted to buy (that Woolen Rabbit yarn was still on my mind, and I kicked myself for not bringing it along, even though I was working on another sweater, which I finished). I have some gorgeous yarn in my stash that I need to knit up before I invest in something new.

And then we made the great migration North to Door County, Wisconsin. My sister came from Berlin (via Paris and Detroit), and my brother and his family came up, too. It's tons of fun for the kids, and the grown-ups have a good time, though with six kids things get a little crazy. We even made it up to Washington Island, where I got to visit the famous Sievers School shop. Again (is something wrong with me?), I didn't buy any yarn, but my sister came away with some lovely, dark grey alpaca. Of course, the stop caused us to miss the ferry, but we caught the next one. My sister and I also checked out Whitefish Bay Farm and Spin in Sturgeon Bay. I was tempted by the hand-dyed yarns at Whitefish Bay Farm but couldn't decide what I wanted, especially as I still have a sweater in various shades of their undyed yarns OTN (I think I have a gauge issue - it's biiiig - and can't really face how much work I've put into it already).

Of course, the end of our week saw Miss Hurricane Irene pop up on everyone's radar, and we started to panic that we wouldn't get back to the East Coast. A phone call to the airlines had some nice lady in India talking about flying back in September, which would not do at all. We even reserved a car and started gearing up for driving the kids back from Chicago to New York. Luckily, our flight was one of the first to land at La Guardia on Monday. Whew!

Somewhere in there I also finished a shawlette (pattern TK) and a sweater I can't wait to wear and show you. I also reviewed the edited pattern for Jane Austen Knits and saw photographs of the sweater on a model. So cool! Publication date is 8 November, so you've got a little time to wrap up your current projects ;)

07 September 2011


I know you're dying for the August trip report (ha!), but I just shoved my superego out of the way and created a group on Ravelry for people interested in my designs. So, if you read this here blog and are a member of Ravelry, come join us (me) here! Don't leave me all by myself over there, people. Mwah.

06 September 2011

Wish List, Birthday 2011

Yeah, so you're going to have to wait for the trip report from August. Life has been busy. And today is one week before the big four-oh for me, so it's time for a birthday wish list. Yippee!

  • Madeline Tosh yarn - any, all. [link]
  • The new edition of Maggie Righetti's Sweater Design in Plain English. [link]
  • Anything from my Etsy wish list - Seriously? There are amazing things over there! [link
  • Rainboots - rain is forecast all week long, and I threw out my leaking boots in the spring. I'm between Bogs, which Isobel has and loves, and some Hunter boots. Any advice would be much appreciated.
  • A job and some clothes to wear to it. I applied for the Director of Communications position at the kids' school and have had occasional work wardrobe fantasies ever since, mostly J. Crew.
  • Bill Cunningham New York - this documentary was so delightful, and it's being released on my birthday. [link]
  • Pampering - massage, manicure, pedicure, stuff like that. Sadly, I don't really know where to go in the city (ridiculous, I know), since all the well-known ones seem very spendy. I feel like there must be secret, cool places that don't charge and arm and a leg to work on your arms and legs. I'm probably delusional.
  • A new laundry basket, preferably not plastic. I know. But I'm a Virgo, and mine is falling apart. And nice tools make the job slightly less onerous. There is a gorgeous Shaker one... [link]
  • Wolff cage-bottom dress form - there's one in my Etsy wish list for $1400, which is crazy (crazier than a $100 laundry basket, even), but there must be a way for me to get one of these here in New York City...
  • A new bike - not sure which one, though. Actually, I'd love a Vespa, since this is a *wish* list, but it's extremely impractical with the little ones. Maybe in ten years - then I could be the cool mom dropping Penelope off at her new high school. (OMG, panic attack.)
  • Whatever one needs to run away with one's husband for a romantic weekend in Paris (in early November).
  • A sleeve for my laptop. I like the Moleskine one but feel it's too cheap (plastic) for the price. So, something cool but, you know, not flimsy. [link]
  • Alternatively, a new computer/laptop bag that can also hold my DSLR. The one I have is a Timbuk2, and it's fine, but sometimes you want something new, especially when you're wishing. Maybe an Epiphanie? Clover or Paris, but I hesitate over the braided handle or studding - not really me, but maybe I'd like it. [link]
  • Macarons. Love them. Laduree just opened an outpost on the UES. I'm sure they will be featured on Gossip Girl in a matter of weeks. [link]
I'm sure I could come up with more cool, fun (OK, a laundry basket isn't exactly fun. For you.) things, but there is much laundry (see!) to be done to get ready for the first day of school tomorrow.

02 September 2011


Wow, it's my favorite time of year again. I do love September, and it's not just because my birthday is this month (13th for those of you worried about getting my present here on time ;) I love the still-warm days and cool nights, that hint of crispness in the air, and, as a parent, that the kids are heading back to school.

To celebrate the anniversary of my birth and all the lovely things September brings, you can get 20% off anything in my Ravelry and Etsy stores all month long. Just use the code "September20" on either site.

We were all over the place in the month of August, so once I get my new pattern off to the tech editor, I'll be able to write up a "trip report". Hope you had a great August - I'll let you know all about mine tomorrow.

08 August 2011


And the living is ... hot. Due to a variety of unforeseen (and unfortunate) circumstances, we've been in New York all summer. No Maine for us. Sigh.

We've spent most mornings at the playground enjoying the sprinklers. Well, the girls have enjoyed them, while I've sat on various benches knitting up sleeves (conveniently small enough to fit in my purse). And in the afternoon during Penelope's naptime in the air conditioning, Isobel and I have watched movies, read books, and knit sweater bodies. I've been working on a Knitty submission and a pattern to be self-published once Jane Austen Knits comes out. Sadly, both are not ready for their close-ups (and Knitty gets upset if you show things pre-publication).

Night watch cap (summer version)
Guess who is ready for her close-up?
I've also worked a version of my Night Watch Cap pattern in Rowan Calmer that, hopefully, will make a good chemo cap for a friend's sister. Penelope modeled it for me at the aforementioned playground. That Calmer is an interesting yarn - very squishy and stretchy. Perfect for a chemo cap, since it's soft and machine-washable. Makes a great ribbed hat.

And Isobel has been working on a blanket and pillow set for her doll. Yes, she's finally gotten on the knitting train! Not quite obsessive yet, but definitely working on her knit stitch. I've outfitted her with a bag of Malabrigo leftovers. What? It's not like I'm piling my cashmere and KSH in her lap :)

So, we're off to Boston this weekend. Isobel will get to spend some time with my ex and some of his extended family. I will get to at least one North Shore beach and hit up the Fiber Revival on Saturday. And we may tour Fenway Park on Sunday morning - what else are you going to do when the Sox are on a road trip? There will also be a burger and shake taste-off at Mr. Bartley's (we'll compare to our Friday Family Date spot, Mel's Burger Bar).

I'm on the second sleeve of both sweaters so hope to finish at least one (if not both) of them before we go. I always like to start a new project when I hit the road - less anxiety about having nothing to do that way. I mean, what if I finished a project on the way UP there? What a disaster that would be!

21 July 2011

Pattern: Deckhand (Knitpicks version)

Isobel wearing her Deckhand

So, I've done my first project with Knitpicks' Independent Designers' Program (IDP), and a second version of Deckhand is the result. It has the same sizing range as the one in Avast No. 1 but is worked in Knitpicks' Comfy Worsted.

I enjoyed working with Knitpicks the company and have some more ideas brewing for future projects. Perhaps a Deckhand with some shaping for me?

And I really liked Comfy (75% Pima cotton, 25% Acrylic microfiber) - silky with a nice drape often missing from straight-up cotton, and it's machine-washable - so important for the small set.

You can find my KP IDP profile here, and the KP version of Deckhand here.

05 July 2011

eBook: Avast No. 1


Yo, ho ho and a ... new pattern booklet.

Now available on Ravelry and Etsy, my first pattern ebook! Avast No. 1 contains patterns with notes and charts (where necessary) for eight piratical knits suitable for summer (or any) time knitting.

Aphros - a laceweight shawl - one skein, one needle
Babe in the Mist - baby blanket that is pretty to look at and fun to work
Captain Austen's Scarf - seaweed scarf with hand-knotted fringe
Deckhand - child's boatneck sweater worked in cool and easy-care cotton
Mermaid's Mitts - pretty little bits of lace
Night Watch Cap - Turn of the Glass twisted ribs make a cozy hat
Walk the Plank - worsted weight socks worked from the toe up
Wench - linen pullover perfect for summer

Fibers like linen and cotton are great for summer knitting, as is laceweight wool. And if you don't want to give up worsted weight yarns, there are smaller accessory patterns so you don't end up with a pile of wool in your lap - I can't tell you how happy I was to finish my Austen Knits project at the end of May, just a things were starting to heat up here in New York.

I've done my best to describe things clearly, providing both charts and written out patterns where I can, and including lots of helpful notes in every pattern. If you can knit and purl, I am confident you can create any and all of these projects, and if you get stuck, I'm always available to help!

There are 24 pages for all eight patterns, letter size, and, as always, I've set things up so that you don't have to print the cover pages with all the "pretty" pictures, just the notes and pattern pages (sometimes the same page) to take with you in your project bag. There is a list of abbreviations at the beginning, but I've also included them in each pattern as needed, so you don't have to refer to the entire booklet. While the booklet is full-color, the patterns can be printed in black-and-white without losing any valuable information.

To be of even more help, I'm going to set up a Group on Ravelry to help with my 17 (seventeen? when did that happen?!) patterns, perhaps start a KAL or two, and generally get to know more knitters. I'll post the details once I know them and hope you'll join me.

Avast No. 1: eight patterns for piratical knitters
buy now

Pattern: Wench


A saucy lass deserves an easy-to-knit and easy-to-wear pullover for warmer weather: Wench fits the bill. The drape of the finished linen fabric will win you over, keeping you cool yet covered. This sweater was inspired by the shifts that all women used to wear, but now you can show it off. With picot edgings and drawstrings at neck and wrists, you’ll look just a bit fancy while feeling supremely comfortable.

Sizes: 30 34, 38, 42, 46, 50, 54” bust

Skills Needed
Casting on
Binding off

Wench $7

Wench is also part of the new ebook Avast No. 1: eight patterns for piratical knitters
Avast No. 1 $25

Pattern: Walk the Plank


Though most sailors run barefoot on board a ship (easier to climb the rigging), sometimes socks are necessary. Walk the Plank are worked in worsted-weight from the toe up (with complete directions for a short-row heel), so you can quickly use up every last bit of your yarn. The Sailor’s Rib is attractive and easy-to-remember, so you’ll have a new pair of socks in no time.

Skills Needed
Casting on
Binding off
Working short rows

Walk the Plank $5

Walk the Plank is also part of the new ebook Avast No. 1: eight patterns for piratical knitters
Avast No. 1 $25
buy now

Pattern: Night Watch Cap


An essential part of any pirate’s kit, a watch cap keeps your head warm whether you’re hairy or not (pirates often shaved their heads to streamline their grooming routines). Wear your Night Watch Cap with brim folded in classic watch cap style or unfold the brim and push it back onto the crown of your head, letting the top flop back. With this rib pattern you can have the fancy side showing or go incognito with plain ribs. If you weave your ends carefully as you go, you can flip the hat from knit to purl side for four looks.

A note on sizing: The ribbing on this hat allows the circumference to stretch from 16-22 inches, making it a hat that will fit most adults (and some kids).

Skills Needed
Casting on
Binding off
Working stitches out of order

Night Watch Cap $4

Night Watch Cap is also part of the new ebook Avast No. 1: eight patterns for piratical knitters
Avast No. 1 $25

Pattern: Mermaid's Mitts


Even mermaids get cold hands, I imagine. They could use a pair of Mermaid's Mitts! And these little pretties are quick to knit, light and cozy, and require just a smidgen of laceweight yarn. If you are ready to move beyond the basics but not ready for the time commitment of a shawl, you’ll flap your tail for this pair in fishtail lace. You could even use the last ten grams from your Aphros for a matching pair of mitts!

Pattern is charted and written out and includes helpful tips to get you started.

Skills Needed
Casting on
Binding off

Mermaid's Mitts $5
buy now

Mermaid's Mitts is also part of the new ebook Avast No. 1: eight patterns for piratical knitters
Avast No. 1 $25
buy now

29 June 2011

Pattern: Deckhand


Does your little scallywag deserve a new sweater? How about a comfortable, easy-to-wear (and put on) pullover in easy-care cotton. Just right for cool summer evenings on deck. Worked flat with one-row stripes, the generous bateau neckline fits easily over squirming heads, while single button adds a little verve. Sleeves are “just right” at the young end of each size and will be 3/4 sleeves for the older wearer—perfect for keeping out of the way when climbing the rigging.

This version is worked in Mission Falls 1824 Cotton. You might surmise from the photographs that Penelope doesn't really like her sweater, but she has happily worn it before, with a grin even. Unfortunately, these pictures were taken at the end of our vacation, by which time she was quite cranky. I'm happy to report that she's in a better mood now, though still recovering from jetlag.

A version knit in Knitpicks Comfy Worsted will be released in July. And Isobel modeled that one, which was a hoot. Can't wait to show you some of the poses!

Skills Needed 
Casting on
Binding off

Deckhand $2.99

Deckhand is also part of the new ebook Avast No. 1: eight patterns for piratical knitters.
Avast No. 1 $25

Pattern: Captain Austen's Scarf (reissue)


A cozy scarf is a must for walking the deck of your ship, and what better way to dress it up than with a little of Frank Austen's fringe? He worked the very same fringe (on some curtains) while on shore leave with his sister Jane. Luscious, bulky Malabrigo Twist makes for a quick knit, and the reversible Seaweed stitch pattern will keep your interest until it's tie to tie that fringe and board your ship.

I originally released Captain Austen's Scarf last fall, but when putting together the collection Avast No. 1, I realized it belonged here and brought it to the photo shoot. Doesn't it look great on Stephen?

Captain Austen's Scarf $4

Captain Austen's Scarf is also part of the new ebook Avast No. 1: eight patterns for piratical knitters.
Avast No. 1 $25

Pattern: Babe in the Mist


Wrap your littlest buccaneer in a blanket of Mist Drops to keep baby safe from discovery, whether on board ship or tucked away on a desert island. Every edge of this cozy cover undulates so baby will become accustomed to the waves, and both sides of this pattern are beautiful, so no worries about which side is best. A washable wool blend makes this a practical, not-too-heavy, and easy-to-care for blanket for your babe.
Babe in the Mist uses approximately 500 yards of Berocco's Vintage
Pattern is charted and written out, and includes helpful notes to get you started.
Skills Needed 
Casting on 
Binding off 
Babe in the Mist $5 
buy now

Babe in the Mist is also part of the new ebook Avast No. 1: eight patterns for piratical knitters.
Avast No. 1 $25

Pattern: Aphros


Aphros (Greek for “sea foam”) is an airy and elegant stole that can serve as cover for your evening gown or over-sized scarf for your everyday ensemble. Gently undulating seafoam stitch, simple yet beautiful, forms the body, while a knitted-on lacy edging adds a graceful flourish to the ends.

Lace is a wonderful project for travel—one ball of yarn, one set of (or circular) needles —whether you’re flying across the country or washed up on a deserted island. Plus, it's not too heavy or woolly in your lap.

Pattern is written and charted, and includes helpful notes for getting started. If you can perform a yarnover and work two stitches together, you can produce this lovely stole.

Skills Needed Casting on
Binding off
Reading charts
Aphros $5

Aphros is also part of the new ebook Avast No. 1: eight patterns for piratical knitters.
Avast No. 1 $25
buy now

25 June 2011


Greetings from beautiful Maui! We've had a lovely week here, lots of swimming in the pool, enjoying the sun before it gets too intense (Isobel got a light sunburn on her nose and cheeks on day two - very mild, and we've been extra-vigilant everywhere/when else since). I do wish we could just buy a vat of zinc and titanium dioxide and dip everyone in it a few times a day.

As you may have seen on Ravelry the other day, I've released half of the patterns for my first booklet, Avast No. 1, and the other half should be ready to go next week (a couple are out for tech edit, and I need a few more photographs for the other two - my smallest model is proving somewhat recalcitrant, and there is no arguing with a two-year-old, however close to three). So, I will be blogging about Wench, Night Watch Cap, Aphros, and the reissue of Captain Austen's Scarf over the next few days.

If you can't wait until the booklet is released and buy a pattern now, I will be happy to send you a coupon for the pattern price off the book. But that offer will only be good for people who buy individual patterns before the booklet is available.

In the meantime, Aloha! from Isobel, Stephen, and me - Nick was behind the camera, and Penelope was sitting at on the steps down to the beach complaining about the sand.

17 June 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Bright and early tomorrow morning we're off to Hawaii. Hopefully the flights won't be too onerous, though I'm not holding my breath with three kids. Luckily, we're meeting up with the rest of Nick's family in SF and doing the second leg together - to a zone defense family, there is nothing like the prospect of man-to-man-plus (the plus being that there will be six adults to four kids while we're there).

I'm excited because I've planned a photo shoot during our trip for my first pattern booklet. All eight patterns have been knit (two need a quick tech edit), and they're tucked away in my carry-on. I'm still working on the layout of the booklet, which is the part I'm supposed to be good at. My goal is to have everything ready to drop by the end of the month, especially since I managed to snag a Ravelry Notebook ad spot (absolutely no idea how I managed that, since I was just checking possible ads, and there it was). Apologies in advance if you get tired of my ad ;)

The collection is called Avast and will contain Aphros (a stole that has been waiting it's turn for quite some time), a baby blanket like my nephew's, Captain Austen's Scarf, a unisex child's sweater, a pair of laceweight mitts, Night Watch Cap (as seen back in March), a pair of worsted weight socks, and Wench (a women's linen sweater from the old blog). I think it's a good mix, and the patterns are filled with my usual chatty (and hopefully helpful) pattern notes. I've chosen lightweight yarns (linen, cotton, some laceweight superwash wool) and/or small-ish projects - perfect for summer I hope. And I hope this will be the first of a number of collections I produce, though this will probably be the only one with a Hawaiian photoshoot!

Have a great week, and I'll try to get back to blogging more often this summer.

24 May 2011

Yay! And something for Father's Day

Finally, the sweater is in its bath. Goodness, has this been a labor. But I am very happy with the finished product and plan to be even happier with the blocked piece. The last few nights I've closed my eyes and seen various design elements behind my lids. This thing was like the knitting equivalent of Sudoku - lots of things to keep track of all at the same time. And that's just the knitting - the pattern is still a bunch of notes and charts and numbers - I plan to spend Thursday writing while the kiddies are at school. In the meantime it's taking its bath and getting ready to dry out, which may take a few days considering that the humidity was 100% this morning. Reminded me of Houston in August. I hope when it comes out that you like it!

Speaking of which, I had a nice comment the other day asking where to find Jane Austen Knits when it comes out. Pamela, silly blogger didn't pass along your email address, so I couldn't reply directly. To the best of my knowledge Jane Austen Knits will be available from your LYS and to order directly from Interweave. I will be sure to post more information once I know more.

Once the writing is complete, I'll be able to get back to some other projects that have been on hold. Actually, it's more like when I had to write a paper in college. I couldn't start right away. I would have to think on the subject then ignore it, put it in the back of my head and go about my business. A few days later, and only then, I could sit down and pour my thoughts out. So, I have two more small projects that I would like to do before releasing a pattern booklet.

Yup, this experience with working on deadline has reinforced my inclination to self-publish. There will be a couple of sweaters, something each for the head, hands/arms, legs/feet, a couple of lacy neck/shawl items, and a blanket. There's still a bit of work to be done, but I'll keep you posted.

And I mentioned Father's Day... It seems to sneak up on me, coming just a couple of weeks after my dad's birthday and often right after school gets out. But if you're looking for a good gift that could even be almost last minute, how about my Dennis pattern? I saw this bit in the Wall Street Journal Saturday pairing knitted ties with handsome checked shirts. Rather than handing your hard-earned money over to Ralph or the good people of Brioni ($195?!), why not make your own? I'm thinking of making one for myself (some day). Since the original was for my dad, I still have to come up with something for him.

11 May 2011

Mother's Day

I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day and/or made much of your mother on Sunday (if you're in the US - I know Mothering Sunday is different in the UK, and Mother's Day happens at the end of May in France; elsewhere, I am uninformed). I had a lovely day with Nick and the girls, including sleeping in (the best present!), french macarons from Bouchon Bakery, and sushi for dinner. Really, pretty great.

But the best part came yesterday, when Nick (who is done teaching for the semester) and I had to leave our apartment while some painters touched up cracks in the ceiling and some water damage in the corner of our bedroom. So, we hied over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see Savage Beauty. (Once when visiting New York in my twenties, I asked a cab driver to take me to "the Met", and he asked me if I meant the museum or the opera house - couldn't he tell that I was "arty"?)

The show, the whole museum, in fact, was crowded. But the show was amazing and completely worth it. My only beef was that some of the pieces were displayed so that you could only see one side, leaving me crazy to know what the front (or back) of the piece looked like. Other pieces were displayed on the fancy, art museum equivalent of lazy susans or displayed in mirror-backed cases so that you could see a reflection or peek around the back.

My favorite pieces included "Oyster", which I've always loved - it is also in my copy of 100 Dresses, the pieces made out of actual sea shells, and the gilded duck feather coat from McQueen's final collection. What was interesting to me was to see that his signature elements were there from the very beginning: the bumster pants, the high collars, the exaggerated hips and shoulders, really, the drama. Beautiful, repellant, thought-provoking, clever, weird.

To make the show complete, I brought home the catalog, which is also a little weird. I read about the production of it some time ago, and it is interesting, but I would have liked something a little less of an art piece, and a little more informative. All the pieces were photographed on live models covered in makeup. Then the photographs were altered to make the pieces look as if they were on mannequins (hinged wrists and waists). But there was only one view of all but a few pieces, and all the information about the pieces (title, show/season, materials, owner) is at the back. I still want to see the back of the buttoned-up jacket from Joan! There is an interesting history of McQueen at the front of the book, as well as an interview with Sarah Burton at the back. But I want moremoremore. I want a documentary or a DVD compilation of all his shows.

I was, however, thrilled to see the pieces from the last collection (colloquially known as Angels and Demons). The aforementioned duck feather coat, as well as the printed angel gown. And I had forgotten about The Girl Who Lived in the Tree collection, which was beautiful and fairy-tale romantic. Again, there was a piece that I wanted to see the back of, but what can you do? The calendar, which has Oyster for May-August and then follows with 18 months of beauty, also came home with me.

To cap off the morning, I had a cupcake and salted caramel milkshake from a truck for lunch (what? the kids were at school) and bought some Madeline Tosh sock yarn (Window Pane and Tomato - awesome turquoise and red/orange - might even do something stranded with the two together) at Annie & Company, a yarn store at Madison and 93rd, which I hadn't managed to get to before now. All in all, a super day.

Work continues on my publication project (knitknitknit), and the pattern writing will commence soon (lots of notes, and the charts need to be edited). Now that I have this pretty new yarn, I'm looking forward to finishing this project and playing!

06 May 2011

Turn of the Glass FAQ (edited 10/19/11)

First of all, thanks to all of you who liked Turn of the Glass. I hope those of you who knit it like yours as much as I like mine (wearing it again today). Since its publication I've received some questions and thought I would reiterate my answers here in case other knitters had similar questions. But if I haven't answered yours, please ask.

Q. What other yarns might work?
A. Not everyone can use madeline tosh DK for whatever reason. If you are looking for a similar hand/kettle-dyed yarn, Malabrigo Rios would be a good choice and is also superwash. A knitter has already worked up the sweater in Malabrigo Merino Worsted, which must feel dreamy, but it certainly pills - the tradeoff you must accept when working with this yarn. Since tosh DK is something of a light worsted, Cascade 220 (regular or superwash) would work, as would Berocco's Vintage or Plymouth Encore. Goodness, there are lots of yarns in this range!

Q. Wait! I thought the yarn you used was a DK-weight, but you're talking about Worsted-weight. Which is it? And under materials it is listed as 50g/skein, but on Ravelry it looks like tosh DK is sold in 100g skeins.
A. It is a little confusing, but tosh DK is a heavy DK or light worsted yarn. It used to be called tosh Worsted, but the company renamed it to align some other yarn names. Tosh Worsted is now a single-ply yarn, and the yarn used to knit this sweater  (tosh DK) is a multiple ply, which will make it a little sturdier. The yarn comes in 100g skeins; the listing of 50g/skein is a typo.

Q. I'm having trouble getting started with the chart. Do I have to worry about mirroring the cables on the other half? Any advice?
A. Although these look like cables, technically they are twisted ribs; you don't need to use a cable needle to work them, since they only involve two stitches. The twisted ribs are set up so that you don't have to worry about mirroring. By working an odd number of ribs and adding a pair at each increase, all you have to do is remember which rib to work next.
Let's call Little Hourglass Rib "A" and Twisted Cross-Stitch Rib "B". In the first row of ribbing, after working Seed Stitch and Stockinette, work the ribs as follows: B, A, B, A, B. After working four rows bookend these ribs with a pair of A's.
For those who have trouble with charts, here are the rib patterns written out:

Little Hourglass Rib
Row 1 (WS): K2, *p2, k2; repeat from * to end.
Row 2: P2, *k2tog-b, then k2tog the same stitches again through the front loops, p2; repeat from * to end.
Row 3: K2, *p1, yo, p1, k2; repeat from * to end.
Row 4: P2, *ssk, k1, p2; repeat from * to end.
Reverse Cross-Stitch Rib
Row 1 (WS): K2, *p 2nd stitch and leave on left needle, p 1st stitch and slip both stitches to right needle, k2; repeat from * to end.
Row 2: P2, *k2, p2; repeat from * to end.

Q. How do I choose a size?
A. That depends upon your measurements, but it's probably best to go by your chest measurement, since the ribs are more elastic. The ribbed section can stretch quite a bit without looking stretched out and still, through the play of light and shadow on the purl and twisted sections of the ribs, give the illusion of a curvier figure than you may have. Can you tell that I'm a classic apple shape?

Q. At the Waistband, you say to work the Waistband Chart, but the charts are labeled A, B, and C. Which one?
A. Chart B is the Waistband Chart, although at this point in the sweater you probably don't need it, since you've been working the stitches in the twisted rib pattern. Just keep everything in their respective patterns: 10 stitches in Seed Stitch, the next whack of stitches in their respective twisted ribs, and the last 10 stitches in Seed Stitch.

Q. Right before the Neckline shaping begins, it looks like I'm supposed to work three WS rows, in a row. How can I do that?
A. I think there is a typo there, and the row where you place the underarm markers should be labelled RS (and should be one last repeat of chart B, row 4).

Q. Eep, the Joining Round! I'm confused. Something seems wrong with the numbers. And what's up with those held stitches?
A. If you've never knit a sweater "together" rather than in pieces, this will seem a little confusing, but it will be OK. I promise! On your sleeves set aside 'x' stitches at the beginning and end of each sleeve - these held stitches will, combined with the same number of stitches on the body, be your underarms when the sweater is complete. 

Start with the sweater body, work your way *in pattern* (Seed Stitches in Seed Stitch, Stockinette in Stockinette, twisted ribs in twisted rib) until you get to 'x' (as in pattern) stitches before the first marker. Place 'x' times two stitches from the body on waste yarn or a stitch holder, then get a sleeve. It doesn't matter which, since they should be identical. Place a marker on your right needle and, starting after your set-aside 'x' stitches on the sleeve, knit across until only the other 'x' stitches remain. The numbers for this sleeve should be 54[54, 54, 60, 66, 76, 82]. Add another marker, knit across the back stitches until you reach 'x' stitches before the other marker on the body. Repeat the setting-aside-body-stitches-and-sleeve thing with the second sleeve, using the same numbers. Work across the second front in pattern.

Now your entire sweater is on one needle. This is the fun part! You're going to magically set your sleeves into the body of your sweater.

I'm sure there will be more questions, so I will add to this post or post another.

02 May 2011

Red Cross

Well, my pattern and item sales donation period is over, so I made another donation to the Red Cross this morning. Many thanks to everyone who participated!

The Mother's Day promotions for 20% off in my Etsy and Ravelry stores will continue through next Sunday, 8 May 2011, if you use the code "mother20" at checkout.

I'm working away on a pattern and sample due 1 June. When that one is complete, I should be able to get back to more bloggable knitting. Plus, I need to take some photographs so I can release some new patterns. Soon!

20 April 2011


As you probably noticed, I'm experimenting with the coupon code features on Etsy and Ravelry. Virtual shopkeeping is interesting. I have a lot to learn about turning my personal passion into a "proper" career.

In other news, my pattern proposal for Jane Austen Knits, an Interweave "bookazine" to be published in November, was accepted! I'm anxiously awaiting my contract and yarn, so I can get knitting on the sample garment. This is exciting for me on a number of levels. First, it's Jane Austen. And my proposal is based upon my favorite of her novels, Persuasion. No more on that, or I'll give it away! Second, of course, is that this is an Interweave publication, and I am beyond happy to be working with Amy Moore and the Interweave staff. I think very highly of the Interweave needlework publications (Knits, KnitScene, Crochet, PieceWork, Spin-off). As far as I'm concerned, this is the "big leagues" of print publications.

And I just finished my re-knit for KnitPicks in their Comfy yarn, which was a pleasure to knit. Can't wait to show it to you, but we must find a day with some sunlight for pictures. Isobel will be my model, and we all know how she loves the camera. The weather forecast for tomorrow looks promising.

I'm working on some other things "behind the scenes", so I'm afraid there are no pictures in this post. Exciting to work on but boring blog fodder. I'm sorry! I'd like to do a little knitting soon that's just for fun.

Mother's Day (Ravelry)

Continuing the Mother's Day love, use the code "mother20" on Ravelry to receive 20% off all patterns. Now through 8 May, so you can even wait until the last minute!


Through 30 April, 50% of all purchase prices in my Etsy and Ravelry shops will be donated to the Red Cross to aid Japan in their time of need, as well as everyone else who ever needs help from the Red Cross.

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is coming up, and what better occasion to offer a coupon in my Etsy shop than that? Now through May 8th use the code "mother20" (no quotes) and receive 20% off any purchase, including my handknitted Matryoshka doll sets. As always, shipping is free.

04 April 2011

Fell off the wagon

Well, I kind of lost my momentum at the end of the month of March, didn't I? I thought signing up for the Knit & Crochet Blog Week would give me the chance to spring to the finish line and then keep going, but I got distracted by the Infinite Variety quilt show, and then my parents came to visit Thursday through Sunday. We had a great time with them, but between grandparents and kids there wasn't much time to blog.

I also finished writing up (and charting) a pattern. Now I just need to find a baby to photograph (it's a blankie), since the pictures I took of my nephew with the blanket, using my cameraphone, just won't cut it.

29 March 2011

Skill + 1UP (2KCBWDAY2)

This post is part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

The past year has been more about gaining skills and confidence in knitwear design and pattern writing than about gaining any one knitting skill (I'm pretty good with cables, lace, and my stranded work improves, but I have yet to tackle entrelac, and socks just don't drive me wild). And I think it's safe to say I hit my big goal of getting published. Having Knitty publish Turn of the Glass hasn't changed my life in an obvious way (no one is beating at my door with a big contract to sign, hehe), but it affirmed my decision (alright, my falling into this) to pursue knitwear design, to even think it was an option. It's also so exciting to know other people like your work, and I love seeing everyone else's version of the sweater, since knitting is such a personal hobby.

This was pretty huge for me. For years and years I introduced myself as a whatever-my-current-title-in-publishing was, and then for a while it was as a "temporarily retired person". Since reaching adulthood I've worked, and worked hard, to make things (and make them more appealing). I've liked doing it, and it was difficult to let that go when I had to. But knitting was a saving grace there.

And now I usually say I'm a knitwear designer and waggle a shawl in their face!

As for my skills, pattern writing has been an interesting challenge. The other day I was working on the hat that's coming soon and just before I sent it off to my tech editor I realized that I hadn't mentioned the two different needles called for in the materials list at all. So, what would a new knitter do? "Why did she make me get those two different kinds of needles? I've never used one of those before. Ack!" These are the kinds of things I have to remember. An experienced knitter would probably know to cast on with the circular needle and then switch to the DPNs as decreases make it difficult to move the stitches around. But a newer knitter, perhaps one who had never knit anything in the round before, would be stumped. Just as in my days in academic publishing I had to learn about the different ways people take in information (fascinating stuff, seriously), now I have to remember that knitters may come to my patterns from all different levels of experience and skills.

I've also become more willing to rip things out (see my recent frogging post) when they're not right, re-knit, drop stitches and repair things on the needles, and just plain being confident that I can manipulate the stitches and fabric to become what I envision. I'm also working on my vision being realistic as far as what the yarn/fabric can do.

28 March 2011

A Take of Two Yarns* (2KCBWDAY1)

This post is part of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011.

Have you ever knit with linen yarn? The first time I tried knitting up some Louet Linen I broke a favorite needle. Granted, it was a plastic Bryspun, not a metal needle, but still, it was a disheartening experience. On top of that, as a fairly new knitter, it was difficult to handle this yarn, so wiry, so rough, nothing like the soft merinos I had grown fond of with their bounce and sheen. I put the three skeins in the back of my stash and did my best to forget about them.

However, a few years later, continuing to hear about what a great yarn this Louet Linen is, I tried again. This time I was more prepared for the hand, and I grabbed a Hiya Hiya metal needle - no chance of breakage there, unless I ran the needle over with a tractor. I re-swatched, and the knitting wasn't terrible. I think my additional experience as a knitter helped. Then I washed the swatch, as Louet recommends, in the washing machine and threw it in the dryer. Holy smokes! It went from crispy and rough to soft and drapey. Now I understood what everyone had been talking about. From the swatch I worked up a pattern (coming soon) and knit up a sweater that I wore all last summer. It only gets better with washing! I have some more, and I'm debating whether to wash the skeins before working with them. It's still a tough, strong yarn, and I kind of enjoyed the magic of putting the finished item through the washing machine. We'll see.

Just goes to show that sometimes you should give yarn a second chance.

*I guess this ended up being a tale of the same yarn at two different times.

Froggy went a-courtin' (Sunday's post - am I caught up yet?)

Sweater frogging
I finally admitted to myself that the Ditto sweater I knit last summer, with ribbing at the bottom hem and no waist-shaping, just didn't flatter my figure. And it was time to reclaim the six skeins of Berocco Vintage that went into it (along with some pretty mother-of-pearl buttons). Above you can see me, mid-frog. The balls of yarn behind my knit kit are from the front bands.

I wasnt' sure how well the yarn would frog, since I had put the sweater through the washing machine a few times - Vintage is a blend of acrylic, wool, and nylon - but it went smoothly. There was an occasional, tenacious pill of wool fibers, but nothing that a little tug wouldn't fix, and the yarn still feels "whole" as I'm reknitting.

What am I knitting? It's a new pattern for my first collection. I knit this one before but gave it to my nephew (and don't think it's quite fair to ask a baby to give back his blankie), so I need a new one. It's going fairly quickly and, hopefully, will be finished by the time the Knitpicks yarn arrives for my first IDP pattern.

27 March 2011

Kittehs (Saturday's post)

When you run out of things to blog about, blog about your creatures, right? Well, not really. I probably have other things I could blog about, but a comment from Ellen on Isobel's Pipit sweater (and the cat in one of the photos) made me realize that I hadn't properly introduced our kittens to the blog. I'd uploaded a twitpic  (I'll wait while you go see them as kittens - George was so little!) back in October after they came home with us, but they hadn't actually appeared here. Without further ado, meet George and Henry!

George behind the couch

Henry lounging

After mourning Riley we decided we'd better get some new furballs to liven up the place, and, boy, do these two deliver! George was only eight weeks old when we brought him home mid-October, and Henry was about five months old. We were all attracted to George at the adoption site but were told that we had to take both. I was a little worried when the adoption coordinator told us not to leave George alone with Henry for a while, since he was bigger and didn't know his own strength

But it turns out that red-headed Georgis is the savage beasty of the two, while Henry is just a big sweetie. I joke that George is the looker, and Henry the lover. But Henry is a handsome boy, just a little unconventional, whereas there is a kitten on a t-shirt in the copier place window that Penelope points out as "Georgie" every time we walk by - he's more "standard". Henry will just stare sweetly at you with those eyelinered eyes until you start petting him, at which point he'll flop over on his side and drool. Loverboy.

George is a bit more of a wild child, though he's the one who sleeps ON my neck most every night. He purrs like a lawnmower every time you get near him, which I've come to believe is some sort of disarm-the-human defense mechanism. George, it also seems, is a woolpig. I can't leave any knitting or even a skein of yarn unprotected anywhere or he will attack it, drag it around, and chew on it. Totally bad for feline digestive tracts, I know! Luckily, he doesn't seem to have ingested more than a bite here or there, and I am now much more careful about the yarn.

I still miss Riley (and Penelope is going through a phase where, whenever she's upset, she says she misses Riley, rather than saying what has really upset her), but these two fuzzy heads have worked their way into our hearts. And, as you can see from the above photos, settling in to Riley's old spots, particularly George who is in the Riley evening locale on the table behind my spot on the couch.

Blogger of the Day: Robin Hunter (Friday's post)

[Yes, I've slacked the last few days but am making up for it before this week's extravaganza.]

If you're interested in the business of knitwear design, particularly in the perspectives of a wide variety of today's knitterati (not sure how I got in there, but let's go with it), be sure to bookmark Robin Hunter's How to become a Professional Knitter. And don't forget to go back through her archives. Annie Modesitt, Teva Durham, Nancy Bush, Shirley Paden, Jared Flood, Stefanie Japel, and many more! On top of all these great interviews, Robin also touches on all sorts of topics related to the biz, from creativity to bust darts to feeling good about your own unique shape and making the most of it. I'm always learning things from Robin's blog, and it makes me think.

24 March 2011

So very tired

Wow, who knew that going to the Museum of Natural History could make for such an exhausting day? It was fun to go with Isobel, a couple of her friends, and their moms (who are my friends, too), and I finally got to visit the Hall of Minerals and Hall of Gems (not quite Hope Diamond, but sparkly and minerally and cool, nonetheless).

Lunch at Shake Shack UWS only made things better, as did the sun coming out. Errands and whatnot in the afternoon until it was time to go to the dance studio, at which point I realized that I was getting really tired and had spent the entire day on my feet in my beloved-but-heavy LL Bean Shearling boots (I have the gumshoes but may have to give these moccasins a try). Have I mentioned these before? They are brilliant and warm and this is the second winter I have worn them just about every day. No slipping, they come high enough up on the foot to keep slushy puddles out, fantastic. Just wish they weren't lace-ups, but I do know how to tie my shoes.

But very little knitting happened today, except while waiting at Isobel's tap and ballet classes (she has to choose one after this semester - we're not doing both after this). It's a re-knit of my nephew's baby blanket as a test for a pattern. I really like the pattern because it is so symmetrical, and if you read your knitting just a little, the stitches basically tell you what to do, and I'm pretty sure that's not just because I'm knitting this a second time.

Hope this goes quickly, as I'm itching to knit a sweater. Hehe.

Dilemma (Wednesday's post)

So, there is a job posting on the boards right now for an Assistant Editor at Vogue Knitting:

Company:SoHo Publishing Company
New York, New York
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: $30,000 to $35,000
Ad Expires: 
April 22, 2011
Job ID:1241551


Publisher of knitting magazines seeks a creative, responsible full-time, in-house assistant editor to perform myriad editorial duties. Candidate must possess superior editing, reporting, writing and knitting skills. Responsibilities include conceiving story ideas and design concepts and working on photo shoots. Genuine interest in the knitting industry essential. One to three years of experience at a magazine or book publisher required. IF YOU ARE NOT AN EXPERIENCED KNITTER OR CROCHETER, PLEASE DO NOT APPLY.

Well, it's not really a dilemma, since the pay is far below what makes economic sense for our family, and VK's offices are pretty far away from Morningside Heights. I wonder if it would even make sense for a younger person living near the office.

It's pretty funny that they require knitting/crochet experience and yet, as Julie points out every issue, they can't even bother to swatch up the yarns they profile - perhaps it's a stylistic choice in the magazine, but it doesn't convey much information about a yarn to show a picture of a ball/skein when a little time would give a swatch that shows how it looks when knit up, which is what we knitters, ultimately, are interested in. Also, I think they are expecting an awful lot of experience for fairly low compensation. I would love the experience of working at a magazine, especially one focussed on knitting, but I guess I'll have to wait until I start my own ;)