Up and comings.

The photoshoot for my next book is over and the sweaters are done:


Which means it’s time to share our next big news!

We’re very excited to announce that we’ve got a big redesign of The CustomFit site coming on Monday. There are a bunch of new features we think you’ll love:

  • Simplified swatch and measurement creation
  • The ability to to copy measurements from CYCA standards and adjust for your body
  • A vastly improved ability to tweak fit and ease information before making your pattern
  • A cleaner, easier-to-use design
  • Our next Basics Collection
  • And more! :)

It takes a while for our server to upload the changes on the CustomFit site, so there is some planned downtime coming on Monday. We will have the site “down for maintenance” from about 11am – 3pm EDT on Monday. We’ll let you know here when it’s back up and running!

We’re so excited for these changes – we hope you’ll love everything as much as we do. Until Monday, happy knitting!

A lesson learned from our (amazing) beta-testers

(Before we get into the heart of this post, I just want to give a shout out to Lisa of Indie Untangled and the Rhinebeck Trunk Show she’s hosting in Kingston that weekend! We’re happy to be sponsoring the event this year, and as part of the event Lisa asks all the sponsors thoughtful questions about what they do & and how they do it. Last week Lisa posted her interview with Amy, and if you’ve ever wondered where Amy comes up with her ideas, you might want to check it out!)

As we begin beta-testing for some new CustomFit features (stay tuned this fall because we are so excited!), Amy and I have been having flashbacks reminded of the very first round of CustomFit beta-testing, two years back.


(The original CustomFit sweaters. We’ve come so far!)

When we put the call out for beta-testers, we were hoping for 10 extremely experienced sweater knitters to answer the call. A couple of hundred knitters responded instead – we were thrilled. We asked 100 of those knitters to join us to see how CustomFit worked (and give us their feedback on which parts could be improved).

Our beta testers were of every skill level from “I’ve knit countless beautiful sweaters for myself, my spouse, my adult children” to “Sweater? I’d like to try to knit one someday, but I have no idea where to start.”

We had no idea how it would go.

But what we learned — closely watching lots of knitters at so many experience levels  — is that you only need two skills to knit a sweater:

  1. Courage;
  2. The ability to produce a consistent tension with the same yarn & needles, over time

That’s it, to produce some of your best clothing ever. And the first isn’t even a knitting skill… it’s a life skill. But knitting is a great place to practice it, because hey, you can always rip out your knitting and try again.

Which means the second is the only true knitting skill that a knitter needs before he or she is ready to dive in.

That’s because if you can’t produce a consistent tension with the same yarn & needles, over time, your sweater won’t match what a pattern (even a custom one!) was designed to produce. It might be too big, or too small, or both. (Interestingly, we learned during the beta testing process that we couldn’t predict from a knitter’s experience level whether their gauge would be consistent.)

The cool thing is, as long as you can produce an even tension, over time, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never knit a sweater before, or seamed before, or if you’ve never picked up a neckline.

During beta testing, we watched maybe a dozen “I’ve never done this before, but I’d like to give it a try” knitters use CustomFit to knit their first sweaters, and saw them feel like rock stars when their sweaters came out so well.


It was probably our favorite part of the whole beta-testing process. And now, thousands of sweaters later, it still bears repeating. Because we build sweaters up to be a super scary thing in our minds, sometimes – and they really don’t have to be.

Knit Wear Love sweater profile: The Cardigan

Knit Wear Love is not a pattern collection.

I don’t really write books that are pattern collections. Instead, I want my books to be a great set of references that help you create garments you can’t wait to put on, and never want to take off.

Knit Wear Love approaches this from a super-practical standpoint: What kinds of clothes do you wear every day? How do you make your handknits work well with that?

The book is centered around 8 “meta patterns”: Pullover, Cardigan, Vest, Cowl, Wrap, Tunic, Tank, Bolero. Everything in the book helps you make sweaters from your choice of silhouette, out of materials and with detailing that you’ll immediately want to wear.

In this ongoing series, I take in-depth looks at each meta-pattern. For each, I share the three samples and styles, talk a little bit about the silhouette itself and what materials can make it shine (or would be tragic), and do a candid photo of how I’d personally style one of the samples. In my first post for this series, I chose The Pullover. Now I’m talking cardis.

The Cardigan.


Everybody loves a good cardi. They’re comfortable, they’re easy-on, easy-off, they go with lots of different outfits. For many knitters, cardigan is synonymous with “first sweater”.

The KWL Cardigans

The book showcases three very different-looking garments that are fundamentally all the same design:

  • A soft, cozy, open cardigan for chilly and casual fall days;
  • A professional, quick-to-knit classic cardigan with subtle texture and some great buttons;
  • A sweeter, vintage style out of some luscious yarn with dainty lace.

Like all of the chapters in this book, these three sweaters were made from the same pattern. When knitting your own cardigan, you could go with one of the variations here – or go further toward your own style! Mix and match detailing (I think lace cuffs would look fantastic in a larger-gauge, super-smooth wool with the worn-open styling), swap out yarn (the pattern is written for sport, worsted, and bulky gauges), really choose detailing that speaks to you.

Personally, I’m looking forward to making the classic variation in a lighter-weight, nubby silk blend next spring. I already have the sea glass-colored buttons picked out… …but you get the idea, right? The choices are completely up to you.

Cardigan Tips & Tricks

Whatever variation you’re making, I have just a few tips to ensure your cardigans will be hugely successful:

  • Make sure your fabric has structure. Cardigans may be more forgiving in terms of fit than pullovers, but they have much less structure: The open nature of the front, combined with the weight of most hand-knits, means that they’re more likely to droop, sag, and have other issues. The solution is a very structured hand-knit fabric – not tight, but strong and with a lot of integrity. Check back here later this month for a video on this topic, or watch Lesson 2 in my most recent Craftsy class.
  • Make sure your fabric matches the way you’ll wear the sweater. Quite aside from how sturdy your fabric is, consider the materials you’re using and whether they’ll stand up to how you wear your cardigans. If this cardi needs to be hard-wearing – it’s your dog-walking sweater, or the one you’ll throw on to head to the park every afternoon, that ultra-soft merino blend that pills when you rub the swatch might not be the best choice. If you’re after something to layer with your work separates, the worsted-weight variegated hand-dye might not be the best match – think crisp linen, instead. To make sure your materials match the context you expect, play around with your swatch! Rub it, shove it in a purse, lay it out on the outfits you’re imagining.
  • Consider closures. You’ll want to keep that cardigan closed somehow, unless you’re going for a worn-open style. You’ve got tons of options, from zippers to tie-fronts (a la the vintage variation) to the classic buttons. There are also movable, removable, screw-in style closures available – super neat for people like me, who like to change their minds!

Amy’s Fave

Although this sample is decidedly not sized for me, I’ve caught myself wearing the casual cardigan a bunch:

yay-book-2 amy-cardigan-kwl-1

This past winter, with its record-smashing snows and super cold days, I wore it regularly – usually over a t-shirt, like on the left. But as I look forward to this fall, I can’t help but get excited about dressing this casual cardi up a bit – maybe with my favorite pair of cords, and that super-cute shirt I found on sale?

(Full disclosure: I have not actually worn the outfit on the right yet. Just taking these pictures in 90+ degree weather was enough to send me scrambling for my cut-offs!)

How about you – what are your feelings on cardis? Do you have a favorite? If so, what’s it made from?

As always, happy knitting!

In Real Life: Cushing Isle

We’re starting a new series over at my Instagram account today called “In Real Life”. Each month, we’ll highlight one particular design and how several truly awesome knitters have made it their own.

Today’s design is Cushing Isle, which is built directly into CustomFit (meaning you can work it in any yarn, at any gauge). Brenda, Melistocrat, Pam, and Rita made four different, and absolutely stunning, sweaters from this design.

Don’t you agree?

Online sweater seminars with Amy!

Happy Tuesday that feels like a Monday, knitters!

As Amy said last week, one of her favorite things about her job is teaching. Live online classes, which we started offering this past winter, are a great opportunity to bring Amy right to your living room.


A live online class is a great way for Amy to connect directly with you. They’re very much like Amy’s live in-person classes: They allow you to control what we cover. You can direct the content, show Amy your work in person, and ask her your burning knitting questions – all live.

(The flip-side to this awesome liveness is that, unlike Amy’s Craftsy classes, the classes are not recorded – the participatory nature of the class makes doing so pretty impractical! So please make sure you’re available at the specified hour.)

These classes have gotten rave reviews in the past – here is our first set of offerings for this fall:

Advanced CustomFit

This class is for you if you’ve made your first CustomFit sweater (or three) and you’re ready to take it to the next level.

Want to add cables to your sweaters, but not sure how many stitches to add? Maybe you have a favorite pattern by another designer that you’re dying to adapt using CustomFit, mash-up style. Or maybe you have some other question about how to bend CustomFit to your will. This is the class for you! We’re offering two sessions of the Advanced CustomFit Seminar this fall. The cost is $40.

Sunday, September 27 9am-11am PDT/noon-2pm EDT: Register Here!

Saturday, October 24 9am-11am PDT/noon-2pm EDT: Register Here!


Put off finishing sweaters because you dread it, or make everything seamless?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Let Amy help you set in sleeves, pick up buttonbands, and match mattress stitch like a pro. Amy will fully customize the class to your questions and interests. If your set-in sleeves and picked up stitches don’t make you sigh with the beautiful simplicity of it all, then this class is for you! The cost is $40.

Monday, October 12 5pm-7pm PDT/8pm-10pm EDT: Register Here!


We hope to see you in class!

This sweater looks great in the picture. It’s not.

Howdy everyone! Jackie here. :)

Today I’d like to share a sweater with you, from way back to winter 2013 / 2014. I worked really hard on it — agonizing over the consistency of my fabric, re-knitting the collar THREE times — determined that it would be a sweater I’d actually wear and love.


It looks good, yeah? This picture is one that I would be pretty psyched to post in my Ravelry projects. It fits beautifully. The yarn is divine. I love the outfit, and I’m wearing a necklace that was a gift from one of my most favorite and oldest knitting friends. It’s a pretty good picture.

But the picture alone would give you the wrong idea.

Because the truth is, it’s not a good sweater. And I think it’s really important to share that with you all.

Ninety-nine percent of the time on this site, we’re showing you examples of beautiful, and beautifully executed, sweaters. (And there are about thirty more in Amy’s studio that you haven’t even seen yet. So. Many. Sweaters.) I think it can be disheartening to look all around you and see (seemingly) everyone knocking out perfect sweaters left and right, wondering if you’re the only one struggling.

If I’ve just described you, I’m here to say that you are definitely not the only one. And further, it’s okay to struggle sometimes! Becoming a sweater knitter is a process, and each sweater we tackle – success or not – makes us better at it, as long as we take it as an opportunity to learn.


So! What did I learn from this sweater that looks good in a picture, but that I never wear?

What you can’t see from the picture is that I was so afraid that my gauge would start to change, or that I would start rowing out, that I knit this fabric so tight it’s like iron. Amy, in her gentle way, kept warning me about this as I knit it. She was that little knitterly voice in your head that tells you the truth about your project, that you ignore: la la la la la it’s going to be fine.

It was not fine.

The problem with very tightly knit fabric is that the sweater doesn’t move with you like it should. This particular sweater sort of feels like I’m wearing a piece of sculpture – it almost stands up on its own. Just like Amy told me it would.


Lesson 1 of this sweater: Tight gauge isn’t a solution for inconsistency or rowing out. Instead, I needed to work on improving my knitting technique. (And I did! You can read about it here.)

Lesson 2 of this sweater: Conduct the Fabric Test on your swatch. What’s the Fabric Test? It’s a 3-step process we came up with last year where you place a swatch — or sweater — on a table to evaluate whether it’s good fabric for a sweater. Amy demonstrates it in Lesson 2 of her new class, and we’ll post a video of it here on the site this month too. (To be fair, when I knit this sweater we hadn’t developed the Fabric Test yet, and this particular sweater was part of the reason we did so.)

Lesson 3 of this sweater: Listen to that little knitterly voice in your head, always. (A thousand-fold if that knitterly voice is actually Amy, as she looks at your project.)

If you’re not sure what that knitterly voice is saying, but it’s whispering vague nothings in your ear, ask for help! Call your LYS and see if they have a drop-in help class, or see if you can schedule 30 minute private lessons with their sweater person on staff.

Do you know what the cool thing is though? The more sweaters you knit, successful or not, the better that little voice gets. The first several sweaters that voice is vague and speaks softly. But then, after several sweaters, that voice becomes more confident, and speaks up more clearly.

So, if you’re still working your way toward consistently good sweaters, keep heart, and keep knitting! It’s okay. Remember: Every excellent knitter had to knit a lot of things to become that excellent knitter they are today.

Sweater Modifications for a Custom Fit – Final Giveaway!

Edit: Marie is our winner! She had some great thoughts:

I’d like to learn to not be scared & wait for my ideal shape (that probably won’t happen) & to go for it. To learn to knit for me now, to enjoy it and be proud of my attempt/creation!

As my book deadline approaches, the sweaters are piling up …


But I was able to take a few breaks this week to give away copies of my new Craftsy class! I’d like to share a few of my favorite things I heard from students this week.

On Tuesday, we gave away a copy of the class on our Instagram. The topic of the day was Fabric. One of the lessons in the class discusses fabric: how to make a good fabric, what yarns make great fabric for sweaters, how to tell if your fabric will perform the way you expect. Here’s a link to all the lovely photos knitters shared with us on Instagram – there are some great swatches there!

Our winner was @langwidere, who showed off a beautiful tray of swatches overseen by her (not-very-interested) pooch. I loved seeing the many different types and colors of fabric lined up — I save all my swatches, too!

dog plus swatches!

Next, we headed over to Ravelry for a discussion on ease. One of the lessons in my new class focuses on ease: what it is, where you need it, how much to assign where. We asked Ravelers to share stories about ease with us, and the results were amazing! Check out the full thread here. Our winner, reapergirl, shared this with us:

I’ve knitted several sweaters for myself, but I still seem to get into trouble sometimes. Or as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee says experienced knitters just make bigger mistakes, faster.

I wanted a lightweight, loose cardigan that I could wear to ward off office air conditioning. I picked a pattern that was a top-down, increase as you go affair. … Rather than the flowy cardigan that I envisioned, I wound up with a shrug as the fabric stretched width-wise to fit over my chest (part of that was my fault, over compensating for a short torso). It simultaneously had too much positive ease in the back and too much negative ease in the front. I think I’ve worn it twice, once to take a picture for my projects page, and once to figure out that the combination of problems mentioned above means that I wind up adjusting it every 5 seconds.

We’ve all been there! Finally, yesterday we talked about setting in sleeves on Facebook. Jane L. had some great thoughts to share:

Set in sleeves still make me nervous, I admit, for many reasons: because they are crucial to fit and look, and because I don’t feel like I have developed good strategies to fall back on when I run into problems. Glad you are offering a class on this.

I hope the lesson on set-in sleeves and seams can help Jane with some strategies in case she runs into problems … or even better, prevent the problems in the first place!


To win today, tell us what you hope to learn from my new Craftsy class! Leave a comment here, and we’ll pick a winner on Tuesday – meet you back here then. Have a great weekend, and work hard on your Fall Festival sweaters … Rhinebeck approaches!

(If you just can’t wait, or missed your chance to win – again, here’s the link for 50% off the class. Thank you all so much! You’re the best knitters I know.)


Sweater Modifications for a Custom Fit

Update, 08/31: The class is live! You can find it here for 50% off! We’ll also give away a copy of the class on the blog on Friday.

One of my favorite things about my job is teaching. I love teaching the love of sweaters to knitters all over the country, and I wish I could do it more often! Unfortunately, one of the biggest frustrations in this new career is that I simply can’t be everywhere, all the time.

(Scratch that. It’s one of the biggest frustrations of my life, not just in this career!)

So I’ve really really enjoyed working with Craftsy these past couple of years, to offer my very popular Knit to Flatter class through their platform. (Click that link for $20 off if you haven’t taken it yet, by the way.) It allows me to work directly with students, whenever and wherever they are. I’ve loved the interactions I’ve had with the 13,000+ students enrolled in the course.

So I was absolutely delighted when they asked me to do another class.

It’s called “Sweater Modifications for a Custom Fit”, and it goes live this coming Monday, August 31!


The class was super fun to film, and covers a lot of sweater topics that I’ve been teaching these last couple of years. While my first Craftsy class included a little bit on fit, I kept things pretty general! Knit to Flatter was focused mostly on the visual elements in enjoying your sweaters, instead: Why you might like V- or scoop-necks instead of crew necks, for example, and tips on how to branch out from there.

This class leaves body shape and visual elements behind, and focuses instead on everything else that goes into a successful sweater – and there’s lots to cover, there, from fabric, to stitch patterning, to fit specifics, and beyond. Want a little more detail? In the 7 lessons, I’ve included:

  • A class pattern. I wrote up a choose-your-own-adventure style pattern specifically for the class. It’s worked in two yarns – the budget-friendly Naturespun Sport and the pricier but oh-so-luscious Rowan Lima. There are cardigan and pullover options, and two sleeve lengths, and two necklines. So you get the benefits of working through a class pattern, without being constrained to one specific look.
  • Detailed Fit Modifications. In this class, I get nitty-gritty about how to make all of the modifications you need in a sweater – from measuring to choosing a size to working modifications within the super-easy system and formula I’ve streamlined over the past 5 years. I even talk about those pesky sleeve caps!
  • Fabric and Style choices. I talk about what sweaters need, fabric-wise, and how to tell if your fabric has it. I talk about fiber, and how it affects fabric in the context of a sweater, and when you might want one thing vs. another. I talk about where you might place stitch patterning in a “blank slate” sweater, and what considerations you might make around that.
  • Finishing things off. I give a quick crash-course in blocking, pinning together, and seaming your sweater to round off the course.

I had a wonderful time filming it, and I hope you enjoy it too! The class goes live on Monday, and if you’d like a chance to win a free copy from Craftsy, click here!

Since book knitting is still in full-on crazypants mode, I’ll sign off for now, and catch up with you again on Monday. Until then, here are some pictures from the shoot:

craftsy-class-smaller-3 craftsy-class-smaller-1 craftsy-class-smaller-8 craftsy-class-smaller-7
Have a great weekend!

Fall Festival KAL: Our favorite time of year!

Hey there knitters!

Talk about a blog hiatus! We’re cooking up some awesome stuff for this fall, but as Amy mentioned a couple weeks ago, it’s got us so busy that we barely have time to write about it. There are something like 30 sweaters that need to get done between now and October … so we’re all knitting our fingers off over here.

In the meantime, we’re thrilled to announce the next KAL in our year of sweaters! It’s everyone’s favorite time: The Fall Festival Sweater KAL.

Fall-KALThere’s no chill in the air yet where I live, but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about fall sweaters. An classic, relaxed, cream-colored pullover with the perfect shade of red lipstick …

cream raglan

… or a luxuriously wooly cabled coat …


… or the perfect slouchy cardigan with patch pockets. There are just so many sweaters running through my head!

slouchy cardi

Whether you’re attending a fall festival, or you just want to celebrate every sweater knitter’s favorite season, come join with us and knit CustomFit sweaters for the next three months. We’ll begin sweaters on August 15 and knit right on through until November 15.

Here’s a thread on Ravelry to discuss your sweaters, and use the hashtag #ffkal on Instagram to share photos!

If you knit a summer sweater or two for the #sskal, post it in this thread on Ravelry for your chance to win 2 free months of a CustomFit Maker Plus subscription and a 30-minute sweater consultation with Amy. We can’t wait to see what you made!

Missive from the Field

I am 6 weeks away from deadline for my next book, and while I can’t spare a lot of time to type these days, I wanted to give you a little flavor of life around here right now.

See you in September!