Monday, November 28, 2016

What ever happened to...

Last spring, when I was interviewed by Andrea for her Fruity Knitting Podcast, I indicated that I would soon be publishing my Fusion cardigan. 

I had the pattern all written up, and a version made up for myself,

but I was waiting for Isabel to come back home in the summer for photos. Then we put our house up for sale and I got bogged down with all the cleaning and house showings and more cleaning, and to make a long story short, I never did get those photos. Finally, I'm getting on with this project, but the publication will probably be closer to Xmas. You see, I'm knitting up a whole new colourway for Isabel, who is now back home and job hunting.

You'd be right if you think I can't seem to get enough of this terrific fairisle motif. The pattern is coming, I promise.
P.S. If you happen to be in the Portsmouth area of Kingston, be sure to swing by this knock-your-socks-off example of yarn bombing on the fence at the corner of Francis and Churchill.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016


I've always had a thing for red shoes. There's an old photo of me, age 3, in a photo album buried away in a trunk, wearing a smocked dress and red shoes. I look pretty pleased with myself. I still love red, especially at this time of the year as we count down the last month to the winter solstice.

The schoolhouse wall, as seen from the back of our house.

Crabapple tree a couple of weeks ago.

Procession entering Grant Halll at Queen's University last week during Convocation.
So yesterday evening I reached for a basket full of skeins from Philosopher's Wool. I had purchased the skeins as part of a kit at the last Rhinebeck Festival attended by Ann and Eugene and I had meant to make Ann's Kilim Jacket. Problem is, I've changed my mind since then. The Kilim is really too boxy and oversized for 2016. This, below, is more the silhouette I favour for this cardigan/jacket. (There might be a little disagreement with Isabel about the collar. She favours no collar, the better to wear with shirts/blouses with collars, while I prefer the face-framing character of a wide shawl collar.)

It's inspired by the shape of this, below, from Vogue, 2011. OK, the hair is a bit much, as it often is in Vogue Knitting, but I love the cardigan silhouette and also the styling, with the layered, but flowing, pieces.

So, now I'm playing...

P.S. That's actually red at the bottom of the swatch, even though here it's taken on a distinctly pink overtone. The camera lies. And now I need red even more, after this happened two days ago. Winter isn't just coming. It's here!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


In advance of my workshops on the 19th of this month, I am releasing Yule, suitable as a first stranded knitting project.

Detail of corrugated ribbing.

Blocking on a dinner plate.

On the head (obviously!)
Here's what the pattern blurb says:

This easy tam was designed as a first project for students in my stranded knitting classes. The stitch pattern is adapted from the “Snowstar” mitten in Inger and Ingrid Gottfridsson’s delightful little gem, “The Mitten Book”, translated from the Swedish and first published by Lark Books in 1984.

The tam has a few rounds of corrugated ribbing, only one round with carries long enough to require weaving in, and no colourwork at all in the crown shaping. The colour changes are taken care of by the yarn, Noro’s Silk Garden. Be sure to select a solid background colour with a good degree of contrast. Choose a wool that is not superwash treated to allow the hat to be blocked into the classic tam shape. You can probably complete this project in a weekend, making it perfect for holiday gifting.

And it's free as of now on Ravelry here

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Day of Workshops

It's time to get ready for the gift season. While I try to avoid last minute knitting for gifts (knitting to a deadline seems to suck the joy out of the process for me), I know that lots of you put on a push to make a few items for family and friends. And even I usually end up doing a little of this no matter how much I try not to. What are my favourite gift items? Hats. No need to make a pair, as is the case with mitts and socks, and great for using up odds and ends from the stash. Join me on November 19 for a day of skill-boosting just in time for the holidays.

When: Saturday, November 19, 2016

Where: 420 Regent St. (Barriefield), Kingston, ON (Unlike our current location, there's plenty of parking!)

Workshop 1 (9-12): All About Stranded Knitting (Fair Isle)
 I'll cover techniques for both one-handed and two-handed methods for stranding, how to weave the carried yarn in at the back of the work, how to work corrugated ribbing, read charts, and make yarn and colour choices. I'll also talk about types of fair isle patterns and designing your own. You'll get a copy of the pattern for this easy tam to try out just in time for gift season.

Workshop 2 (1-4): Dare to Cut! Taking the Mystery Out of Steeking (Cutting)
No knowledge of stranded knitting is required for this class. Learn why cutting is a useful skill to have in your knitting toolbox and why it's not just for fair isle enthusiasts. I'll go over four different methods of creating a steek, or bridge of stitches for cutting, how to work shaping around steeked edges, how to secure the steek, cut, and finish it. By the end of the workshop you'll have lost your
fear of cutting, and opened up new avenues for your passion.
Cost: Half day--$30
          Full day--$50
Bring your own lunch. Coffee and tea provided.
How to Register: Send me a message at I'll contact you with information about course materials, which are minimal and how to pay in advance via Paypal.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tutorial: A New All-in-One Shawl Collar

This tutorial demonstrates a deeper shawl collar than the one in the original Buttonbox Waistcoat from Knitty, Spring 2013. I've been thinking about this for a while. My previous tutorial on shawl collars presented a two-step format, with the front bands being completed first (laying the base for the collar), and the collar being completed separately. The advantage of that format, as a designer, was that it allowed for some playing around with the collar while leaving the front bands undisturbed. This one-step version involves partial completion of the front bands, then partial completion of the collar, followed by a long cast-off of the whole works in one smooth step. This new version can be adapted for any of my shawl collar garments (Zora, Wakefield Redux, Buttonbox, and Harriet), but for the purposes of this exercise I'm going to set out how to do it for the Buttonbox Waistcoat. Here goes...

1. Using a size 4 mm 32" circ (one size smaller needle than that used for the body), and starting at the bottom of the right front, pick up sts along the right front band, around the collar, and down the left front band. Do so using the same ratios I presented earlier:
- for vertical sections (front bands and the upper V-neck), pick up 3 sts for every 4 rows,
- for diagonal bits (the  V-neck and the short slopes on either side of the back neck) pick up one st for every row,
- in the tiny gaps between the back neck slopes and the centre back neck, work M1s into the horizontal strand in the gap; make the M1s lean toward the centre back neck, i.e. M1L on the right hand side, and M1R on the left hand side.

2. Knit one row. Insert locking st markers where you want your buttonholes to be. The top one should be 3 stitches below the V-neck, and I like the bottom one to be about an inch from the bottom. Space the others accordingly. Place them BETWEEN the two stitches where you want each buttonhole to go. Use locking stitch markers of a different colour to mark where the V-neck begins and ends.

3. Buttonhole row  AND beginning of short rows for collar(RS): *Knit to 2 sts before buttonhole marker, k2tog, YO, k2tog, rep from * until last buttonhole is completed, knit around collar to 2 sts before left side V-neck marker (the second one), SWR (see below), turn.
4. (WS row): Knit to 2 sts before right side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.

5. Knit to 4 sts before left side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.
6. Knit to 4 sts before right side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.

7. Knit to 6 sts before left side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.
8. Knit to 6 sts before right side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.

Cont to work pairs of short rows, working the wraps 2 sts apart until there are 22 wraps on ea side in total (total desired number of garter st ridges minus 3). In this case, I wanted 25 ridges in total (remember that in garter st, it takes 2 rows to make one ridge.)
AT SAME TIME, after 12 ridges (about half the total desired number of ridges) counted from the RS of the waistcoat back (don't count the first ridge which is actually the ridge from Row 8 of the charted pattern), inc approx 3" worth of sts (14 in this example) by the kfb method in the centre back between the shoulders. The increase row must be worked on the side that will become the RS when the collar is flipped over into its position when worn.
After the last SWR and turn, knit to end, ignoring wraps, i.e. don't bother to neaten them (see note below).

Next Row (WS): Knit to end, ignoring wraps, and working (k1, p1) into each YO to complete the buttonholes.

Last Row: Knit.

BO knitwise from the WS, using a 4 mm dpn in your right hand for the front borders (which should be worked rather firmly) and a 5 mm dpn (one size larger needle than for the body) for the collar (which needs to be done in a more relaxed manner). When casting off, work the last 2 sts tog for a neat corner.
Ta da!

General notes on garter stitch short rows: I've used Lucy Neatby's abbreviation SWR for slip, wrap, replace. Slip next st purlwise, bring yarn to opposite side of work, replace the slipped st, turn, and continue. Make the wraps fairly snug. In fact, Lucy talks about "strangling" the wrapped stitch! In garter st there is no need to to do anything more to neaten the wraps. Neither should you slip the first st of the next row as you would do in stocking stitch.

So, here's what the completed deeper shawl collar looks like:

Beautiful fall morning here, but...

chilly. Winter is coming!

P.S. In the course of re-knitting the waistcoat, I uncovered an error in the upper back regarding the placement of the knot pattern. See here for the correct numbers.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Better Buttonbox

For a long time I've sensed that a lot of knitters would prefer a Buttonbox Waistcoat with a deeper collar. Some knitters have had trouble getting their collar to stay put, usually because they've used superwash wool or they haven't wet blocked their vest. My notes on the Ravelry page for this design have for a long time pointed to my tutorial on how to knit a deeper shawl collar. Well, at long last I'm making my own Buttonbox with just such a collar, and what's more, I'm getting ready to write up the details so anyone can do it without having to go through all their own calculations. Even better, the collar has a new all-in-one methodology, with the final cast-off covering the button bands and collar all in one smooth closing act. Here's a glimpse:

Everything you need to know to re-create this look in a couple of days (plus a small correction for a set of numbers in the upper back of the Knitty pattern). See you then...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Frostfern Returns!

I've had a lot of queries from Ravelry knitters about when this cardigan would return to my shop. Well, here it is at last. I'm really pleased with the fit of the kimono-style collar. I'll probably get around soon to doing a tutorial on how to design your own kimono collar--it's not as easy as you'd think. The updated version of the design calls for Hikoo's Kenzie, a luscious blend of merino, angora, alpaca, nylon, and silk noils. It's absolutely perfect for this sweater, and I'll be using it again for sure.

For those of you wondering, our current house has not yet sold, but we are in possession of (although not yet occupying) the new house. Here are some pics of where we'll be going eventually.

These are the good bits. There's a lot that needs some TLC. But that's actually going to be fun to solve!