27 July 2015

Wedding Sweater: #buttonhunt in my own button jar

I am happy to report that we are getting close to the end of my sister's wedding sweater adventure!

My goal all along has been to have it complete far(ish) in advance of the big day (22 August), in case of any problems. Luckily, everything seems to be going swimmingly (touch wood), and the knitting is complete. It's all finishing work from here on out.

Even better, I discovered the perfect buttons right in my own stash (actually, they were buttons Penelope had chosen for a sweater I am making for her, but we looked through the button jar and decided that some others I have are better for hers - and the correct quantity - so, we have buttons for two sweaters).

To my eyes the sweater looks on the tiny side, but I can tell that the yarn will relax, especially around the nosegays, when she has a bath. Sometimes I like to do all the finishing work before blocking the sweater, but with this one, I feel like the blocked stockinette stitch will be easier to seam.

Left to do:

  • block
  • sleeve seams
  • Kitchener stitch the underarms
  • sew on buttons
  • darn in the ends
So, how goes your summer knitting? I'm already knitting another sweater (this one for Isobel), since the weather over the weekend was so dreary that we spent a fair bit of time inside watching movies. Happily, the weather has turned. Let me know what you're up to in the comments below.

Previous steps: 1. Yarn choice. 2. Sketching. 3. Swatches 4. Math(s) 5. WIP 6. Yoke

Next step: All that finishing work.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

24 July 2015

survey: Do you have a favorite romantic couple?

Last month I asked my newsletter readers if they had a favorite romantic couple, and now it's your turn...

Do you have a favorite romantic couple? 

It may be obvious to you by now that I'm a Jane Austen-ophile. Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth's courtship in Persuasion always warms the cockles of my heart. But there is so much more romance to be found in books and onscreen!

Which lovers make you sigh and flutter your eyelashes at the closest creature? (I don't know about you, but sometimes it's just me and the cats.) Or more to the point: which couples would you love to see in knitted form?

Some answers from newsletter readers:
  • Rhett and Scarlett from Gone With the Wind
  • Princess Buttercup and Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride
  • Oliver and Jennifer from Love Story

Leave a comment below and let me know. Maybe your favorite lovers will inspire my next pattern collection.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

P.S. Want to be first to give me your input? Join my newsletter to get the good stuff first. You'll get a brief note from me every Thursday with the surveys, pattern releases, tips and tricks to improve your knitting skills, and coupon codes just for subscribers.

22 July 2015

Pattern: A Vest for Charles

A Vest for Charles $7 on Ravelry (no account necessary)

Charles Musgrove had the good taste to fall for Anne Elliot, but ended up marrying her sister Mary. Doesn’t he deserve a handknit, too? Inspired by a knitted vest worn by Charles I to his execution in 1649 (and still in the Museum of London today), this vest should bring Charles Musgrove better luck.

Two stitch patterns from the original are used: the Diamonds and Crosses brocade border is separated by welting and topped by King Charles Brocade (a.k.a., Double Diamond). The King’s vest was knit in silk by a master knitter at 21 stitches per inch! A more manageable gauge and rustic woolen-spun yarn make this vest au courant for the  Everyman (or woman).

What you'll love about knitting A Vest for Charles:
  • Worked all in one piece from the bottom up to the underarms, then the fronts and back are worked separately, finally joined with a three-needle bind-off
  • Integrated button bands and Seed stitch edgings make for a handsome, virtually finish-free project.
  • Historic knit-purl patterns, one above the hem and the other over the rest of the body, will pique and keep your interest while knitting
  • Bonus: A vest means no sleeves! You will still create a handsome, fully-fashioned garment without having to knit sleeves.

What you'll love about wearing A Vest for Charles:
  • Subtle knit-purl patterns make this a special knit that whispers about how it was hand-crafted with love and talent
  • Button-up style means this is a versatile garment that you can dress up or down
  • You're wearing an item inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, as well as by a pivotal moment in British history

Finished Size
31¾ (36, 39¾, 44, 47¾, 51½)-inch/80.5 (91.5, 101, 112, 121.5, 131) cm chest circumference, buttoned, with 5-stitch front bands overlapped
Vest shown measures 36 inches (91.5 cm)

Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (100% Targhee-Columbia wool; 140 yds [128 m]/1.75 oz [50 g]): #08 truffle hunt, 5 (6, 6, 7, 8, 9) skeins. Size 6 (4 mm) 29-inch or longer circular (cir) needle (ndl).  Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge, and choose length close to desired chest circumference. 
Stitch holders or waste yarn
Spare cir ndl same size or smaller than main needle for three-needle bind-off
Tapestry needle 10 (11, 11, 11, 12, 12) ½-inch buttons

17 sts and 30 rows = 4 inches in St st

Skills Needed
Casting on
Binding off
Three-needle bind-off
Chart reading
Working flat
Sewing on buttons

Previously published in Jane Austen Knits, Fall 2013, and The Best of Jane Austen Knits


Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

P.S. Wish you knew about this last week when it was released? Join my newsletter to get the good stuff first, and you'll get a brief note from me once a week with pattern releases, tips and tricks to improve your knitting skills, and coupon codes just for subscribers.

17 July 2015

quick + purly: 5 summer scarves

Happy Summer to you! As you may know, I spent the Summer Solstice in Greece, where it was pretty darn hot, but I still wanted a little something to take my outfit to the next level. Finding a light scarf or shawl isn't always easy, but these five would be lovely in a linen or cotton yarn.

What about you - do you like to have a little something to throw around your neck in the summer? Let me know in the comments.

  1. Tiare Shawl and Scarf by Wendy Neal $6 USD 
    Scarf + triangle shawl options in one pretty pattern
  2. Lady Fern by Suzanne Middlebrooks $5 USD 
    Isn't the combination of colors lovely - what would you choose?
  3. Noro Herringbone Scarf by Kate Atherley $4 USD 
    Gorgeous way to show off a yarn with long color sequences
  4. Blaeberry by Susanna IC $7.50 USD 
    Scarf + stole option from the talented Susanna IC
  5. TRELLIS by Susan Morrell $5.99 USD 
    Elegant and lovely
All images from patterns' Ravelry pages. No copyright infringement intended. I just want to share the love!

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

16 July 2015

Wedding sweater: Getting to the yoke

Do you know how much I love you? I'm blogging from the beach, that's how much.  Of course, it's pretty sweet to knit to the sound of crashing waves and the sight of pine tree-encrusted islands. That's right, pine trees. We are in Maine now, so if you follow me on Instagram (link in sidebar), your feed will contain ferns, lobster, sandy and rocky beaches, ice cream, and all the wool I can find. But for the next few days I have to focus on this beauty:

Right there you have a body and two sleeves ready for joining (I neglected to bring waste yarn to the beach, so this is where I'm stopping me for the morning - it's a challenge to hold underarm stitches without holders or waste yarn). Then I'll get to do my favorite part of sweater construction: the yoke. How cool is it that working various decreases in certain spots will turn three tubes into a well-fitting sweater?

And just to show my darling sister how much I love her, here is sleeve #2 yesterday when we arrived at the beach:

I may have knit like a crazy lady. Don't worry! I still managed to jump around in the Atlantic. 

What about you? How is mid-July going and what are you knitting? Tell me all about your summer knitting adventures in the comments below. 

Previous steps: 1. Yarn choice. 2. Sketching. 3. Swatches 4. Math(s) 5. WIP

Next step: Going on a button hunt... #buttonhunt

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

15 July 2015

Pattern: Infinite


Infinite $7 on Ravelry (no account necessary)

Your very own mohair cloud! Just one skein of your favorite brushed mohair yarn will give you this perennially popular accessory: an infinity scarf. Wear it long like a super-drapey cowl, double it up for that casual scarf look, or pull the second wrap up over your head like a smoke ring.

What you'll love about knitting Infinite:
  • You get to use that luscious skein of Kidsilk Haze or any other mohair/silk blend yarn that's been hanging out in your stash or calling to you at your LYS.
  • Working in the round means you just knit, knit, knit (with a couple of super-simple rounds for variety).
  • Provisional cast-on means you'll bind off both ends in the same way - top and bottom of your cowl will match

What you'll love about wearing Infinite:
  • You get to wear that beautiful yarn right where it belongs - around your gorgeous face!
  • Surprise! Infinite squishes down to almost nothing at all yet keeps you warm and toasty on a cold day.
  • You can wear it three ways:
    • drapey long cowl
    • doubled-up scarf
    • dramatic smoke ring

Size/Finished Measurements
15 inches high x 38 inches around

Rowan Kidsilk Haze (70% Super Kid Mohair, 30% Silk; 229 yards/25 grams) in Majestic #589
US9/5.5mm 29-inch circular needle (ndl)
Waste yarn
Stitch marker
Tapestry needle

Gauge in Stockinette Stitch 
12 sts x 24 rows = 4 inches in Stockinette Stitch

Skills Needed
Casting on
Binding off
Knitting in the round
Increasing (yarnovers*)
Decreasing (knitting two together*)
*With these two moves under your belt, you're ready for lace!

Photography: Nicholas Dames

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

13 July 2015

Wedding sweater: WIP

After a gauge issue (argh), we are on our way! One sleeve is complete and hanging out on a spare needle while I work on the body. 

A few little detail things popped up right away, like the stitch patterns beginning on a wrong side row. I called the preceding right side row "row zero", knit all the stitches along that row, and worked my first buttonhole there, which means subsequent buttonholes happen on row 20 (pretty easy to remember). 

I also decided to alternate the start point of the Marriage Lines pattern. It zigs one way for ten rows and the other way for the next ten rows. By starting one side on row one and the other side of the Nosegay pattern on row eleven, the patterns frame that show-stopper in the middle. 

So far I'm really enjoying this design. The elements all work together nicely (Nosegay is ten rows, Marriage Lines twenty, as are the buttonholes, so everything is in synch). There's plenty of stockinette to speed me along. And the yarn is so pretty (Neighborhood Yarn Studio Sock in Fells Point). 

Now it's just a matter of racing against the wedding clock. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Previous steps:
 1. Yarn choice. 2. Sketching. 3. Swatches 4. Math(s)

Next step: Knitting and more knitting. I plan to work the body up to the underarms, then the second sleeve, then join them all together for the best part: the yoke!

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

10 July 2015

Au revoir, Craftsy

Upgrades coming soon to a Ravelry store near you!

After a lot of number crunching and feelings consulting (with thanks for the moral support, +Tara Swiger and #starshipbiz), I have closed my pattern store on Craftsy. Those of you who purchased patterns there, thank you thank you thank you!!! I will be in touch shortly to make sure you have the pattern support you need. Patterns you purchased should remain available in "My Craftsy", but if you want to purchase more patterns, you should visit my Ravelry store, which is open to all.

Originally, I liked the idea of selling patterns to you on a few carefully selected sites to ensure you dear knitters could buy my patterns where you like to virtually hang out. But keeping everything up-to-date in multiple places has become a drain on my time, and I'd rather be designing and knitting new patterns for you!

For many designers, Craftsy is a great venue, but it just didn't work for me the way I wanted it to. There were little things, like the way my pattern photos were pixelated in Search view with no way to fix it and the fact that when you searched "Kathleen Dames" in patterns, other people's patterns came up, which just seemed weird to me. But the big thing was the way Craftsy decided to (not) handle VAT (let's not get started on that except to say that it's a headache for small businesses like mine).

What does this mean for you? Not much! You will still be able to purchase my patterns on Ravelry, which is where those little "buy now" buttons on every pattern page lead to. Since I won't have to worry about keeping pattern info up-to-date in multiple places (I closed my Etsy store in January for similar reasons), you might find me a little more cheerful and getting more done. Otherwise, it's all systems go.

My patterns are available exclusively on Ravelry (squee! all the patterns are starting to get matchy-matchy, thanks to the summer of upgrades!), but if you really don't want to join Ravelry (why not?! they treat crafters and designers with massive doses of awesome), you can always purchase my patterns by clicking the "buy now" buttons on individual pattern pages*.

So, what major decisions have you made lately? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

*Now that I have a little more time, you will soon find those "buy now" buttons on a handsome new Patterns page. I just have to talk to my web designer (me) and programmer (me).

08 July 2015

Pattern: Aphros

Aphros $7 on Ravelry (no account necessary)

Lace is a wonderful project for travel—one ball of yarn, one set of needles­—whether you’re flying across the country or washed up on a deserted island. And 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 lacy edging adds a graceful flourish to the ends.

What you'll love about knitting Aphros:
  • Gorgeous Seafoam pattern is a fancy-looking version of Garter Stitch, so it's easy-peasy knitting that only looks complicated
  • Quills edging is a fun bit of intermediate-level knitting that will expand your skill set and make the stole truly elegant
  • One skein of yarn + one needle + one pattern = perfect travel knitting!
  • This is the perfect pattern to begin your lace adventures: by beginning with the Seafoam pattern, you will get used to working with skinny yarn on larger needles, and once you've mastered that, you will be ready for the lace edging

What you'll love about wearing Aphros:
  • a lightweight stole is always useful
  • it will scrunch up to fit in your purse yet is large enough to wrap up your shoulders on a chilly evening
  • lightweight fabric also allows you to wrap around your neck without a lot of bulk - perfect for adding a pop of color to your outfit

Size/Finished Measurements
65 x 18 inches after blocking

madelinetosh tosh lace [100% superwash merino wool; 950 yards/868 meters per 120g skein]; color: Kelp; 1 skein
US3/3.25mm 24-inch circular needle (ndl)
Waste yarn
Tapestry needle

Gauge in Seafoam
46 sts x 24 rows = 7 x 4 inches

Skills Needed
Casting on
Binding off
Working lace from charted or written instructions

Tech Editing: Joeli Caparco
Photography: Nicholas Dames

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

07 July 2015

Pattern: Sotherton

Sotherton $7 on Ravelry (no account necessary)

“You have a very smiling scene before you,” [said Mr. Crawford.] 
“Do you mean literally or figuratively? Literally, I conclude. Yes, certainly, the sun shines, and the park looks very cheerful. But unluckily that iron gate, that ha-ha, give me a feeling of restraint and hardship. ‘I cannot get out,’ as the starling said.” As [Miss Bertram] spoke, and it was with expression, she walked to the gate: he followed her. “Mr. Rushworth is so long fetching this key!”
—Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Sotherton is inspired by the iron gates sprinkled, frustratingly, throughout the grounds at Mr. Rushworth’s estate of Sotherton. While they proved no match for Miss Bertram’s determination to trespass - with Mr. Crawford’s assistance - the Gothic Lattice pattern prettily constrain a knitter’s curves.

Worked in the round from the bottom up, the purl ground between left- and right-twists is the perfect place to tuck away decreases for some elegant waist shaping. The fit is close and elegant with the twist-stitch lines lengthening the wearer.

What you'll love about knitting Sotherton:
  • Worked in the round from the bottom up, so you can always see where you are in your work
  • Twisted stitches keep your interest but aren't hard to work
  • Shaping is worked in the purl ground between twisted ribs making it almost invisible, but your figure will be flattered all the same
  • Seamless construction means less finishing - weave together the underarms, sew in a few ends, and you're good to go

What you'll love about wearing Sotherton:
  • Close fit shows off your curves
  • Beautiful lattice pattern highlights your waist and is repeated on the cuffs
  • Waist shaping increases are all worked in the front to create more fabric for your bust - right where you need it
Size/Finished Measurements
Chest circumference: 27¾ [31¼, 34½, 38¼, 43¼] inches—shown in 34½" size with 4 inches negative ease


  • Madeline Tosh, Tosh DK (100% superwash Merino; 225 yds/ 110g): filigree, 4 [5, 5, 6, 7]
  • Size 6 (4 mm): 24-inch circular (cir) and set of five double-pointed needles (dpns)
  • Markers (m)
  • Stitch holders or waste yarn
  • Tapestry needle

22 sts and 29 rnds = 4 inches in Twisted 2 × 6 Ribbing

Skills needed
  • Casting on
  • Binding off
  • Knitting
  • Purling
  • Increasing
  • Decreasing
  • Working in the round
  • Working stitches out of order (cabling)
  • Working from charted instructions

Previously published in Jane Austen Knits, Summer 2012
Photography: Nicholas Dames

Everything you need to create your very own Sotherton has its place in this professionally formatted (by me!) pattern. Twisted stitches are provided in chart form only.

Lovely knitters who purchased this pattern when it was originally released should have received a message from Ravelry that the updated version is now in their libraries. Don't miss the special customer coupon code!

And don't forget that Sotherton is part of my Jane Austen Knits bundle. Use code jakbundle to purchase An Aran for Anne, An Aran for Frederick, and Sotherton for $15 ($21 value). Previous purchases from my Ravelry store will be credited towards the bundle price at checkout.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

06 July 2015

Wedding sweater: math(s)

Oh, mathematics. Where would a knitwear designer be without you? While it may not be the most fun for those of us who just want to knit, swatches, measurements, and calculations are vital elements to creating a sweater that fits the way we want. And if you like the fit, then you will love the sweater and wear it all the time. That's what we all want out of our craft, isn't it?

So, math(s). I found that my swatch on US4 needles gives me 6spi and 8rpi or 24 sts x 32 rows = 4", which is pretty much what I was aiming for (yay!). I'm going to create a sweater with a 38" bust, giving me 1" positive ease, which means I should cast on 228 sts (38 * 6 = 228). Since I also plan to work an integrated button band, I'm going to add six more stitches to account for the button band overlap, giving us a grand total of 234 stitches. 

It may be all banged up, but my gauge tool is one of my best friends

The original plan was for a deep, ribbed hem, with the ribbing contracting the fabric nicely to provide waist-shaping without a lot of extra work - see how the ribbing at the bottom of the swatch draws it in? (I like waist shaping, but sometimes you just want to knit a tube/rectangle without keeping track of things beyond length to underarm.) However, since the original sketch, my sister and I have mulled things over and decided to have a more standard body to the sweater, so I'm going to work a garter stitch hem. I think this will make for a sweater that is easier to wear unbuttoned. A deep ribbed hem would look cute buttoned up but may not hit exactly right with the dress, so we've decided to make that change. 

With our bust/hip number, what Elizabeth Zimmermann called "K" or the key number, we can calculate the other numbers needed for our raglan yoke. The numbers we will need include:
  • cast-on for sleeves - approx. 1/4 of stitches, though we are working 3/4 sleeves, so will start with a slightly larger number, since our cuff will begin at a wider part of the arm
  • stitches needed for upper arm circumference - approx. 1/3
  • how many stitches to be held for the underarms - 8%
  • and our neckband goal stitches or how many stitches will remain after the raglan shaping of the yoke - approx. 40%, since we have decided to make a reasonably high yoke that will then fall open nicely when buttoned up most of the way

The other important thing to determine is the buttonhole rate. We have approximately eight rows per inch on the swatch. Since I do not yet have buttons, I am not constrained in how many buttonholes I can have, but something like every two inches seems about right. To get an exact number, I do have to figure out the approximate length of the sweater from hem to neck before I begin - something that can be ignored if you knit on your button bands after knitting the sweater. ... spreadsheets ... math ... double-check ... hold measuring tape up to self and be grateful my sister and I have similar measurements ... Looks like I will be able to do ten tiny buttons up the front of the sweater - I'd better go on a button hunt before we head up to Maine!

Previous steps: 1. Yarn choice. 2. Sketching. 3. Swatches

Next step: Knit knit knit. With all the numbers in my spreadsheet, I should be able to happily knit away on this. Cross your fingers for me that I can knit like the wind. with wool. in July. Luckily, it's fingering weight, so I don't have three pounds of wool in my lap. Hopefully I will have lots of progress to show you next week.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!

03 July 2015

quick + purly: 5 gloves

Now that Summer is firmly upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, the notion of knitting something that would fill your lap is, um, repugnant, isn't it? Unless you're safely tucked away in the AC, you'll want something small (or something in linen). How about some gloves? Sure, they may be a little fiddly with all those fingers, but don't your lovely, clever hands deserve something special? This week I found five glove patterns that each have some element that makes them truly spectacular. Take your pick!

  1. Opus 300 by Linda OCarroll and Mel Browne £3 GBP (~ $4.80 USD) 
    Such a clever use of beads! Be sure to note the ring on the pointer finger.
  2. Snapdragon Gloves by The Rainey Sisters $6 USD 
    Wouldn't you want a pair with colorful flowers AND a pair all in one yarn?
  3. FINLAY by Alexandra Brinck £2.50 GBP (~ $4 USD)
    You wanted to figure out what to do with that awesome stripey yarn you fell for, right?
  4. Texel Gloves by Dagmar Mora $4 USD 
    Such a clever use of color and stitch pattern - there's a ribbed option for the cuff, too!
  5. Lady Wannabe (Den dama) by Tara Frøseth Design kr.35.00 NOK (~$4.53 USD) 
    A chance to paw through your button jar...
All images from patterns' Ravelry pages. No copyright infringement intended. I just want to share the love!

Special note: The über-talented Julia Mueller has, sadly, stopped designing gloves. Lucky for you, she has decided to make all her existing designs free (to avoid the VAT mess). There are so many lovelies to choose from that you should just go and pick your favorite(s) and then come back and tell me about them.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!