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Best-Laid Plans

We had the summer all mapped out, my family and I. We’d move just after school let out, and then have a couple of weeks at our new home before I left for the super-awesome Super Summer KniTogether and a visit to my family in Maine.

Nothing too close together, a busy summer for sure, but manageable too. At least, that was the theory!

The practice turned out to be somewhat different, after a problem on our sellers’ end meant that we were unexpectedly without a home for some time… …and then the move and all of the travel squished together into one big logistical blob.


It’s all over but our time in Maine now, though, and we’re thrilled with our new digs. Everyone is looking forward to an August full of lazy summer days, unpacking, and knitting.


(Okay, that last part might just be me.)

Because after all that, I haven’t even finished a single sweater this last month. (When was the last time that happened?!) My SSKAL tank is languishing, a different bit of lusciousness is waiting for my attention, and there are at least 5 more sweaters I want before fall.

How has your summer been, and what have you been knitting?

Summer Sweater KAL: Time for a FO!

Happy Monday! I’ve got a finished summer sweater to show off!


Here’s my Saco Stripes and CustomFit mashup tank, knit from Quince and Co. Sparrow. After my last post, I finally got down to business and wove in those pesky ends. For those who have asked, yes, I did carry the main color up the sides! But I didn’t want to carry the contrast for 6 rows, and thus got myself into the mess of having many, many ends to weave.


I’m quite taken with the linen, which makes a more opaque fabric than I was expecting, and feels soft in a way that is very different than wool. I don’t have much experience with non-wool fibers, but I was able to get a very consistent gauge in Sparrow, and the resulting sweater is so light and swingy.


You can’t quite tell in these photos (and that’s on purpose!), but the tank is quite long on me — it hits just about at my widest point, also known as my booty. As Amy has taught us, this isn’t the most flattering choice for a bottom-heavy figure such as mine. It’s not a gauge problem — the tank is exactly as long as the pattern said it would be — but I do think I need to re-evaluate my CustomFit measurements and move my low-hip up a bit. It’s been a learning process for me to see where exactly I like sweaters to end, and I’m enjoying every bit of it!

It’s a toss-up at this point whether I’ll use TECHknitter’s method to remove some of the length. I’ll likely wear the tank as-is, but I know it would be more flattering if it were just a few inches shorter. If it were you, what would you do?

Here’s a link to my Ravelry project if you’d like to see some more photos!

photo (2)When I tallied the votes in my sweater poll on Friday, Effervescent won by one single vote! I’ve swatched, blocked and measured, now just need to generate my pattern. So far, I loved swatching the inventive stitch pattern on the fronts — I’m very impressed with the designer, as I never would have thought of it! I’ve yet to finish a CustomFit cardigan (though who can forget the one I struggled through during Cardipalooza?), but I think this will be the one!

Do you think I can finish before #sskal ends? I’ve got a bit under a month, but no stripey ends to weave in this time, so that’s on my side!


Lauren’s Summer Knitting

Oh hey! Remember me?

Things have been a little crazy at Amy Herzog Designs recently, and we’ve been quieter on this front than we’d like to be. I’ll let Amy tell that story when she returns to the land of the internet, and instead bring you an update on what I’ve been knitting this summer!

The Summer Sweater KAL is well underway. I’ve made good progress, depending on how you like to measure progress! Thanks to a few plane rides and a road trip, the two pieces of my Saco Stripes + CustomFit mashup were finished in just over a week.

… and that was nearly a month ago. Since then, I’ve been working on a few things.

1. Avoiding weaving in the ends on my #SSKAL tank.

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Exhibit A. There are 14 stripes on the front and 14 on the back. 28 ends per side, 56 ends total — and that doesn’t even include the main color! Ordinarily I love finishing work, but for some reason I haven’t been able to face it yet. Do you blame me?

2. Knitting baby sweaters.

A number of my family members and friends are bringing new babies into the world this fall. What better way to procrastinate on my own knitting than to whip up a couple of super-adorable, super-quick sweaters? I can’t let future babies, especially those born in prime sweater weather (we’re talking October and November due dates, y’all) go un-sweatered. So here’s the first and the makings of a second:

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The pattern is Small Things by Carina Spencer. I highly recommend it — so sophisticated. A good sophisticated sweater is an important part of any newborn’s wardrobe. (Actually, I think the maroon one is a 6-month size, or maybe even 9-month! I don’t have kids, so when I don’t manage to get gauge I just work on the fly, figuring it will fit a baby at some point! They grow quickly, right?)

3. Deciding what to knit for my next #SSKAL!

Here’s where I need your help. I have a couple of good ideas floating around, but I’m not sure which to pursue next. Our first contender is with some beautiful Mrs. Crosby Train Case that Amy gifted me. It’s got a gorgeous sheen to it, AND it’s my favorite color. I’m trying to decide between a CustomFit version of Berenice (for my adult self, not kid-sized), or maybe Amy’s own Afterlight. I think this yarn would be a great fit for the latter, but I am also very drawn to Berenice’s delicate styling.

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Option two is a CustomFit cardigan using the stitch pattern from the beautiful Effervescence Cardigan. The version in my head looks a little different, but I love the stitch pattern the designer used. I’m planning this using some absolutely gorgeous Sweet Fiber Cashmerino Sock I brought home from Stitches West.



And finally, I’d like to make a lighter-weight version of my color block pullover. I have some fingering weight Swan’s Island that would make a lovely casual sweater. I’ve even knit about five and a half rows of a swatch! Or maybe I’ll go back to my Colorblock Pinterest board and see if I want to try something new with colorblocking.

Whew, that was a laundry list of options! Vote in my poll on Ravelry here — I’d love your opinion.

How’s your summer sweater coming? What else are you knitting to beat the heat?

Surreal, in two flavors

Squam was every bit as magical as I had imagined.

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It was so glorious, everything felt a little surreal. We breathed deep, and sank into peace, quiet, and the presence of fellow makers. My students were amazing, and the whole weekend was such a lovely island in time.

And then it was back to a totally different extreme. Life got surreal in its frenzy, with the last day of school and all that comes with prepping for a big move and oh my god the movers canceled and let’s hire more and did you get the teacher’s notes and when’s the closing again? and have to pack and have to pack and have to pack and WHERE’S THAT YARN I NEED THAT YARN and oh man the car just died and hey look, another home-all-day-day let’s go to the museum!


(The boys say hi.)

And there’s a little something else going on, too.


And through it all, because I don’t want to kill anyone, there’s been knitting.


So that’s what’s happening here. How about in your neck of the woods?

Sweater Tech Talk: Hips and Fit

Thanks for your enthusiastic response to the Summer Sweater KAL, here and on Ravelry! I’m crazy excited to get started on my tank, but first I need to finish this:


Luckily, the schedule at Squam seems to build in a lot of down time, so I’ll have some nice quiet hours this weekend to work on the stripes when I’m not teaching.

But before I head off for the weekend, I wanted to talk a little bit about a question I get a lot, in classes and email. Many of you might know that I recommend a smidge of negative ease in the hips. When I say so, in class, I frequently get this in response:

I’m nervous about having any negative ease in my hips. Won’t that just look too tight, or be uncomfortable?

The answer is: No, at least not in the amount that I recommend. Let’s take a closer look.

What is negative ease?

Ease refers to the difference (if any) between what your body measures and what a garment measures, somewhere on your body. The overall ease of a sweater doesn’t exist, because well-fitting sweaters fit you one way in your shoulders, another in your bust, a different way in your waist, etc.

How much do you recommend?

For an average-length sweater (i.e., one that doesn’t go below the curve of your bum), I recommend an ease range of -3” to +2”. That means the sweater will measure somewhere in between 3” smaller than your hips, and 2” larger than your hips.

What does that look like?

Let’s start with the negative end of the range. Truly, a little bit of negative ease is a really attractive look. It doesn’t look too tight, it isn’t uncomfortable to wear, it just looks like it fits:

aislinn-second-pass-5 courant-final-6 acorn-trail-3 shore-ledges-fave-1

All of these garments have between 3” of negative ease, and zero ease, in the hips. This negative ease represents far less than 10% stretch for most people, which is literally nothing when you’re talking about a hand knit fabric. And yet, this amount of negative ease is functional: It helps keep the garment in place on your hips, letting you move your arms and torso without the sweater slipping all around on your body.

Some sweaters want to look more relaxed than this, of course. If you’d like a roomier look, I’d suggest between 0” ease in the hips and just 2” of positive ease in the hips. Here’s what that looks like:

cushing-isle-3 ff-triangled-5 amy-custom-fit-1-2 nantasket-final-9

Why shouldn’t I make a sweater even roomier than that?

If you go beyond 2” of positive ease in the hips of an average-length sweater, it will float, UFO-like, outside your body. This is a fairly strong visual cue that your sweater doesn’t fit, and most people react poorly to it when they see the sweater on them. (And note: All of this goes out the window for long sweaters that go down to or past the bottom of your bum. You need positive ease in those sweaters, to ensure the garment doesn’t cup underneath your bum!)

Whatever look you prefer, to ensure that the sweater looks like it fits you well, I definitely recommend a -2” to +2” range. I hope these pictures have helped make things a little more visually clear – and that your knitting is going well and you’re excited about summer. See you on the flip side of Squam!

Year of Sweaters, Installment 1: The Summer Sweater KAL

Cardipalooza is officially over today, with many incredible new (perfectly-fitting!) cardigans making their way through the world. Our own progress was more varied; Amy finished, Lauren got bogged down in miles of fingering weight black Stockinette (Amy here – I’m wincing just typing that), and Jackie is plowing through her sweater after some slow starts.

We’ll do an official wrap-up post with prizes shortly, but want to take today to launch our next KAL, and talk sweaters.

I think sometimes, as knitters, we get too caught up in the notion that sweaters mean crisp fall days, icy edgings to delicate leaves, hands wrapping around a steaming mug of tea.


Certainly, sweaters are an essential part of cold weather – nothing keeps you warm like a great sweater. But as we were preparing for Cardipalooza, we realized that if you take a broader clothing perspective? Sweaters are an essential part of our daily lives, year-round.

The sweater I wear in July might not look the same as the sweater I wear in October, but it’s a sweater nonetheless. I probably have almost a dozen store-bought summer sweaters, in fact – none of which fit as well as my favorite fall hand-knits. It’s time to remedy that.

So please, join us in collectively and consciously expanding our notion of the hand-knit.

Summer Sweater KAL Fall Festival KAL Gift Sweater KAL Deep Winter KAL cardipalooza

Cardipalooza got us thinking about a whole year of sweater knit-a-longs, all focused on the quintessential look/experience of the season. The classic fall sweater is there, to be sure. But so are all of the other ways sweaters enrich our wardrobes.

To celebrate the season, we’ll begin with the Summer Sweater KAL:

Summer Sweater KAL

What makes a quintessential summer sweater? Most often, I’m reaching for an allover lacey sweater, a tank, or a vest of some kind. Other good choices for summer include lighter weight yarns, short or no sleeves, lace patterned edging…

…Now’s the time to dream about what you want to wear this summer. We’ll get started swatching and dreaming today, and give ourselves until August 15 to finish our shells, tanks, or vests. Take a dive in your stash and find a wool-silk blend, a good fingering weight, or maybe give a new fiber like linen or Outlast a try.

Just like with Cardipalooza, keep an eye on the blog for posts about what we’re knitting, how to wear your finished summer sweaters, and prizes once we finish up!

Use the hashtag #sskal on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, or join us on Ravelry!

Cardipalooza: One Week to Go!

We’re wrapping up Cardipalooza on May 31 … how’s your sweater coming along? We’ve got updates on our cardigans for you! All three are in wildly different states — put three knitters in a room with the same inspiration, and you’ll never get the same sweater. It’s amazing!

We also have information on how to enter your lovely cardigan to win a prize! Take a look at the end of the post for all the details.


I may have overestimated my knitting fortitude when I chose black, lightweight, low-hip cardigan with full-length sleeves to knit in the beautiful Seattle spring. Cardipalooza, I love you, but you’re bringing me down! I still have a sleeve and a half plus everything above the armhole shaping to go … with my track record on buttonbands, let’s just say you can’t win em all, right?

Our instagram followers may have noticed that I cheated on Cardipalooza with a worsted weight color-blocked pullover. I regret nothing! Sure, it’s not a cardigan, but I’ll show you a picture anyway — it’s my favorite sweater ever and I am showing it off to everyone.

photo (1)


I always find it ironic that sometimes working in the knitting industry actually means less time to knit! This spring has been particularly busy, with travel and the growth of our CustomFit LYS program (can I get a wooHOO!)  This means that picking up the needles happens far less often than I’d like, even though it relaxes me after a long day in front of the computer. My cardigan is progressing, and I’m really loving how it’s turning out, but I’m not sure if it will be done by the deadline. I’m brainstorming how to make a stand-up collar like the one in my inspiration photo … any thoughts?


I’ve been wearing my Cushing Isle every day the Boston weather allows for it. The Clara Yarn Cormo 1.0 is still deliciously soft and has worn beautifully in the weeks since I’ve finished the sweater. You’ve already heard about my inspiration for the pattern (in my last post), but the actual experience of wearing it is divine. I can’t recommend the yarn enough!

I’m already thinking about what to knit next for myself.  My family and I are moving this summer, which means I’ll be spending too much of my knitting time packing!



And now what you’ve all been waiting for… prizes!

The grand prize this time around is a CustomFit recipe for Dopamine, by Kim McBrien Evans of indigodragonfly! This is one of the first CustomFit recipes released by another designer. We’re very excited for more designers to start publishing their work this way, and Kim has blazed a trail with her awesome striped, asymmetrical cardigan. We’ll also throw in a CustomFit gift code, so that all you need to do to make this sweater is start swatching!


And the runner up will receive a one-of-a-kind, limited edition coffee mug with the Cardipalooza logo printed on it — because who doesn’t love a coffee mug?! There’s nothing better than relaxing with your needles and a hot, caffeinated beverage.


We’ll open a thread on our Ravelry group on Wednesday, May 28 and pick winners on Tuesday, June 4. All you need to do to be eligible to win is post a photo in the thread of your completed sweater. We’ll choose winners by random number generator and announce them here on the blog and on Ravelry as well.


And finally, just because summer is almost here doesn’t mean we’re going to stop knitting sweaters. We have exciting plans for June and July — another seasonal knitalong is on tap! Stay tuned to the blog for more information!

Cardipalooza pattern: Cushing Isle

After the madness of knitting all of the book sweaters, and the travel of this spring, I was looking forward to cardipalooza like nobody’s business. A sweater just for me? Sign me up!

Of course, it didn’t hurt that I had a sweater’s worth of Clara Parkes’ new Cormo 1.0 colors waiting for my needles. I took time out from the production knitting schedule to swatch it as soon as it arrived, of course! So all through the end rush of the book I knew I had a beautiful textured cable stitch cardigan waiting for me.

The yarn lived up to its promise.


Buy the full Cushing Isle pattern for $7.00
Buy the Cushing Isle CustomFit recipe for $2.50

Clara said, about this yarn:

My goal was to produce an ideal sweater yarn, the kind of yarn that almost leaps off the skein and onto your needles while you aren’t looking. I chose a heavier gauge to let Cormo’s innate thick sponginess shine through. In fabric, I can’t think of anything else I’d want to wrap around my body.

Me either, really. It’s both comforting and lovely to look at.


Of course the yarn is all gone now, but the pattern is still available for your cardipalooza pleasure. You can find all of the details on the project page, but here are a few of my favorite things about this cardigan:

  • I eliminated the waist shaping on the front of this cardigan (but kept it on the back), giving a nice relaxed fit through the tummy while keeping the essential shaped look of the sweater. That, combined with the super-deep V neck, give this sweater a real “boyfriend” feel, in the best possible way. (By which I mean, I get all of the comfort while still looking shapely.)
  • The textured stitch pattern gives a beautiful weight to the front panels of the cardigan. The little 1×1 cabled stitches don’t pull the gauge in perceptibly, but they do give the fronts a wonderful stability and structure.
  • The back and sleeves are in plain Stockinette and the edges are trimmed with 2×2 ribbing, all of which combine with the larger gauge to make the sweater a nice, easy knit. It’s as relaxing to create as it is to wear!


As with all of my patterns now, Cushing Isle is available in one of two formats.

If you’d like a traditional pattern in 12 sizes and plan to work the modification math yourself, choose the full Cushing Isle pattern for $7.00. (Note: You’ll also get the CustomFit recipe for completeness’ sake.)

If you’d like to use CustomFit to create Cushing Isle, choose the Cushing Isle Recipe E-book for only $2.50. It will tell you how to create a pattern within CustomFit’s custom sweater wizard that with a silhouette like Cushing Isle, how to eliminate the shaping on the fronts of your cardigan if desired, and how to work the Cabled Check pattern.


Jackie and Lauren will update you on their progress soon – but until then, thanks for your support! How is your cardipalooza sweater coming?

Travel-o-rama (TNNA!)

The whole team is freshly returned from TNNA’s summer show, the largest industry trade show for the needle arts. It’s always an exciting show, full of new things and fantastic people and great ideas – and this year was no exception. There’s no photography on the show floor, but since we were there exhibiting CustomFit LYS, we can share a few snapshots of our own booth!




We were thrilled to have the chance to connect with so many of our existing stores, and bring so many new ones onto the team! We’ll be updating our list of CustomFit stores over the next couple of weeks, so please check back to see if yours is listed. (And if they’re not, the best way to help them become a CustomFit stores is to let them know about us and have them write!) You can also see in the middle picture that we were recognized with a TNNA Business Innovation award. We feel so strongly about helping the LYS thrive, and we were honored to be recognized as part of that larger movement.



(We definitely had a lot of fun crafting for the booth.)

The weekend was such a whirlwind that we don’t have many other pictures, but our heads are full to the brim with excitement, plans, and hopes. We can’t wait to share more of them with you. Until then, though, here’s a picture of the three of us in our booth. It’s so rare for us all to be in the same place at the same time!


We’re all looking forward to settling back into a more sane schedule around here. So you’ll definitely be hearing more from us soon. (How is your Cardipalooza cardigan coming along? Ours are getting there – Lauren is trying valiantly to persevere in the face of black fingering weight Stockinette, Amy’s is nearly ready for release, and Jackie’s is well underway.)

make. wear. love. 2014 registration

Registration is now full for the second annual make. wear. love. retreat. If you would like to join the wait list, please click the link below. We’d be happy to have you!

Click here to join the wait list!

Excited? We sure are! Here are some pictures to tide you over till September:

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(Not sure what the make. wear. love. retreat is all about? Click here for the event brochure.)