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A Kindness of Knitters

During our closing ceremonies at the make, wear, love retreat this weekend, someone shared a wonderful quote from the wonderful Cat Bordhi: That the word for a collection of knitters is “a kindness”.

I couldn’t agree more, and feel so incredibly lucky to have spent the weekend with such amazing people. I’m looking forward to sharing more of it with you. For the moment I’m still unpacking here, and diving back into the craziness of life with the boys with passion and excitement…

…but I’m pausing as I do so, to smell the last bits of salt air in my clothes, and remember the feeling of being surrounded by a wonderful and warm group who share my passions.

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A kindness, indeed.

make, wear, love: the sweater class

I’ve heard it often from former students:

“It all made so much sense at the time, but now that I’ve got a sweater on the needles I’m not sure: What did you say about this, again?”

It’s one of the most wonderful things about taking a sweater class through a local yarn store. And if you’re near one of our wonderful CustomFit stores, I strongly encourage you to take such a class.

But CustomFit LYS isn’t everywhere. And although teaching is one of my favorite things in the world, I can’t be everywhere either.

This fall, I’m addressing those challenges by trying something new:

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Starting next week, I’ll be running a live, online class that will help you make a phenomenal sweater with CustomFit – give you the skills you’ll need to make fantastic future garments, as well.

Through six one-hour group class sessions plus two individual one-on-one sessions, I’ll guide you through your sweater knitting process from measurements to swatching to finishing and beyond. This isn’t a webinar, or a pre-recorded set of lectures. It’s a live, interactive class with me, online. Having multiple live sessions will give us the time and flexibility to help you through your actual sweater knitting in real time. I’ll help you make great choices, answer the questions you have along the way, and see you through to the end.

Each class session will have both a specific topic and time for your questions and discussion. We’ll cover the following topics in addition to your questions:

  • CustomFit itself – what the site can do, what it can’t, and how to use it to get a sweater you love
  • Body measurements and Fit to Flatter principles – learn how to best fit and flatter your own beautiful bod
  • Sweater fabric – matching materials to design, what constitutes a good sweater fabric, and (optionally) how to match fiber to stitch pattern choices
  • Finishing – how to properly finish your sweater pieces for professional results
  • Advanced CustomFit design topics – how to use the custom sweater wizard to design the sweater of your dreams
  • One-on-one instruction – You’ll have two 15-minute personal sessions with Amy as part of your course fee.

There will be two sessions of this class: A Monday evening class that meets weekly at 8pm EST, and a Sunday class that meets roughly bi-weekly, at 12pm EST. The class sessions will be run as group video-teleconferences; the one-on-one sessions will also be run as video calls. Class dates for the Monday session are: 9/29, 10/6, 10/13, 10/20, 10/27, 11/3. Sunday session: 10/5, 10/12, 11/2, 11/16, 11/30, 12/7.

The cost for the entire class, which includes the class sessions, one-on-one instruction, and a CustomFit pattern, is $125.

You can find out more information on this page, and you can sign up here. (Space is limited and sign-ups will be first-come, first-served. You’ll receive confirmation within 24 hours of sign-up.)

Are you ready for a fantastic fall sweater? I’m really excited about this chance to work with students in a more intimate and ongoing way than my marathon teaching weekends allow. I hope you’ll join me!

Fall Festival KAL – Our Plans

It goes nearly without saying that a sweater knitter’s favorite season is fall. Whether you’re still sweltering in late summer heat, or wearing tall boots in pumpkin spice latte weather, you’re probably thinking about or working on your fall sweater.

This is my favorite knitalong of our Year of Sweaters — Seattle’s fall is truly enviable! — and so I’m going big or going home. The Fall Festival KAL runs from August 15 to November 15; that’s three months, for those of you keeping track. I’m going to knit three sweaters — one per month!

The good news is, I’ve already got my first one finished, so I’m ahead of schedule. I’ll show you a quick teaser shot from our Instagram:

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I’d love to show the whole thing off now, but I think I’m going to wait until the Make. Wear. Love. Retreat … hopefully I can get Amy to take some photos! This is a CustomFit adaptation of Peabody by Leila Raabe in Miss Babs Heartland Worsted, and I’m very happy with it. I made a few modifications to the look of the initial pattern and let CustomFit do the rest. It’s an average-fit crew neck pullover, one of my favorite styles to wear.

My next sweater also needs to be finished before the retreat. One problem: the yarn’s not quite here yet.

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This is a little teaser of the yarns the whole AHD team will be sporting at the retreat. Can you guess which one I’ll be wearing? I’m excited to start knitting, especially since it needs to be done in just a couple weeks!

I got in touch with Amy and Jackie to ask what they’re making. Amy knits about a sweater a week these days (is that crazy, or what?!) but so much of it is secret until publication — I wish I could show you everything! She’s got fall fever just like everyone else, though, and she’s planning 5 sweaters for this KAL. For now, here’s a shot of the yarns she’ll be using:

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She’s starting with a deep turtleneck pullover in some gorgeous blue Spirit Trail Fiberworks Verdande; it’ll have 3/4 sleeves, a longer length and some fun stitch patterning.

Jackie’s got a lot on her plate at this time of year, but she’s very excited to make a squishy pullover from this lovely yarn. It’s Stonehenge Fiber Mill’s Shepherd’s Wool — an AHD team favorite. It’s a fluffy, smooth worsted weight wool that’s reasonably priced and makes a great sweater fabric. Jackie’s working a second sample of a sweater she designed last fall — look for that release soon!

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What are you knitting for the Fall Festival KAL? Share with us on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #ffkal, or post in the thread on Ravelry!

Seguin! (and a contest winner)

First things first: Thank you all so much for your suggestions regarding the blue SSKAL sweater! Here’s what it looks like now:

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Your comments really helped me decide what to do with the sweater. Many of you voted sleeves, and the more I thought about them the more I liked them. Many of you who voted tank mentioned that I could wear it in the other seasons as a layering piece – and the more I thought of that, the more I realized that I couldn’t envision it layering well in cooler weather. I started daydreaming about a slightly-slouchy fall piece, and then it was all over but the knitting.

On to the winner of our little contest! The random number generator chose Annie, who said:

A tank in that luscious shade of blue silk would pair beautifully with a summer skirt. The tank would also look striking and flattering over a white cotton blouse or knit top paired with jeans, pants or shorts. Keep it as a tank!

So some lovely sweater yarn will be headed her way! And I’ll be wearing my own fall sweater (and sharing it with you) very soon.

But wait! There’s more! Because in the meantime, with the chilly mornings and evenings around here, I’ve been wearing this:

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I’m very excited to share my first design of the fall, Seguin.

Seguin is inspired, like so many of my designs, by the beautiful place I grew up on the coast of Maine. Not only in terms of the weather – though we definitely wear lots of sweaters there! But also in terms of the scenery. I spent a good chunk of my childhood on the water, and Seguin lighthouse features prominently in some of my best memories. It seemed a great match for this perfect early-fall sweater.

The stripes make this sweater both simple to knit but engaging too, and offer lots of fun opportunity for color play. A simple scoop neck, 1×1 ribbed trim, and contrast-color hem and sleeve cuffs complete a look that’s unfussy and timeless.

I knit the sweater in Blue Sky Alpacas “Royal”, which certainly lives up to its name. It’s a fingering-weight, luscious alpaca and is light, warm, and smoother than anything you’ve ever felt in your fingers. It elevates this simple pullover into an incredible luxury. I highly recommend it, but Seguin will also work in many other materials and gauges, depending on the look you’d like to achieve.

But here’s the best part about Seguin:


In addition to creating it with a traditional pattern and your own modification math, Seguin has been released directly into CustomFit.

This is a really exciting step for our team. We’ve only recently been able to add designs into CustomFit’s sweater options; previous sweater designs needed to be created with a set of English instructions via CustomFit’s built-in custom sweater builder, and then knitted with both the CustomFit pattern and separate instructions. (Yuck!)

But Seguin is built right into the site from the get-go – so if you’d like a kicky stripey pullover of your own, swatch in whatever yarn you like and then click here to have us build a custom Seguin for your body, in your gauge, from scratch.

Want to see a few more details of the sweater?


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I’m really excited about this, and hope you are too. I’ll be wearing my own Seguin all fall, I’m sure. Will you share your versions with us, as well?

Happy knitting!

Updates for all!

The last sun-splashed days of summer are slipping by here in New England, complete with leaves falling and chilly nights. I’m soaking up knitting on the patio as often as humanly possible, which makes for good knitting progress but pretty mediocre updates here. So I have a bunch of updates to share with you today! To make the inevitable list less boring, read through to the end to get a chance to win some yummy yarn!

The first updates are to our Maker plans.

We got lots of great feedback right off the bat about the new Maker plans — thank you so much for all of your honest and thoughtful comments, and your patience as we worked to make these plans better match what you want from CustomFit. Thanks to your feedback, the plans have now changed!


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(From left to right: Screenshots of Maker Central, the recipes page, and the designs page.)

We definitely heard that people were interested both in:

  • Allowing everyone to knit all of the designs we build into the site, and
  • The Maker plans being a way to purchase patterns at a discount.

So, here are the new details for the maker plans:

  • All Makers will still get exclusive access to Maker Central
  • All Makers will still get free access to (all) AHD recipes

And the pattern details are now:

  • At $4.99/month, Makers now get 8 patterns per year (placed automatically in your account on the original Maker Plus dates), plus one free sweater credit at sign-up
  • At $7.99/month, those at the Maker Plus level will now enjoy unlimited patterns. (Please note that this is intended for personal and individual knitter use only.)

Everyone at any level (Basic, Maker, and Maker Plus) will have access both to the currently-featured designs and the full design archive. See the ever-growing list of sweaters that are built into the site on our designs page.

We hope you like the new Maker terms! We’re all really, really excited about CustomFit, the changes we have planned, and are definitely working very hard to make the site even better. Please also know that we’re also a tech startup in our first year, and CustomFit (at this point) is pretty far from being able to pay for itself. This means two things, really: First, thanks for your continued patience and support, and for inviting us along on your sweater journeys. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. Second, the best way you can help all of the fun CustomFit improvements happen is to tell others about the site, and become a Maker yourself if you’re so inclined.

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Second on the update front: Where’s Amy going to be this fall?

If I’m distracted from updates in general, I’m downright lousy about letting you all know where I’ll be, and when! Here’s a quick list of where I’ll be over the next couple of months:

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Third and finally, on the update front: My SSKAL sweater.

Despite plenty of knitting this summer, my poor SSKAL tank has languished!

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In fact… even though I’m still really excited about the concept (relaxed fit, casual silk tank with a mesh front), I’m clearly running out of hot, summer days on which to implement this whole wardrobe plan. So I’ve been thinking:

What if I added some sleeves?

I have the yarn, they’ll be quick to whip up in Stockinette, and will give me a piece I can wear further into the coming season. On the other hand, they change my original vision. So I thought I should ask you!

Should I keep the tank as originally envisioned, or make it into a sweater with sleeves? Which would you wear more?

Please leave a comment letting me know which option you’re more excited to see by Thursday August 28. On Friday, August 29, we’ll draw a random number out of a hat and send someone a fall sweater sampler pack:

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This is just a collection of one hank each of a number of different sweater yarns, to play around with. They range from fingering to bulky, include a variety of fibers and constructions, and should offer lots of fun sweater daydreams. Swatch them up and see what you think! Included are one hank each of: Rowan Felted Tweed Aran, Harrisville Designs WATERshed, Shibui linen, Blue Sky Alpacas Techno, Quince and Co Tern, and Green Mountain Spinnery Alpaca Elegance.

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on what I should do with my sweater – and stay tuned later this week to see who won, and my first fall design release!

CustomFit Makers and Fall Festival KAL

Update, August 25:

Before you read this post, check out this update to the Maker program. Based on your feedback, we changed the way the Maker plans work! We’re happy to give you the CustomFit experience you want to have. Read more about your options for using CustomFit here.

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As of today, there’s a new way of using CustomFit.

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I’ve wanted for awhile now to to create a special island of CustomFit support, inspiration, and ideas. A way to partner with hand knitters to come along on their sweater journey in a fuller way. We’ve captured this partnership in the notion of a “maker”.

You can get full details here, but here’s a quick low-down:

  • Makers get credits auto-deposited to their account throughout the year. Each credit is good for one sweater – be it an Amy design, a classic, a custom, or any of the exciting things we’ll roll out over the next few months.
  • Makers get access to the full design archive – any of my designs (or anyone else’s!) that go into the site will always and forever be available to makers. (Basic account holders will only be able to make designs in the currently-featured set.)
  • Makers get lots of support. All of my recipes will be free for our makers to download, and they’ll also get access to a special “Maker Central” portion of the site with stitch pattern ideas and inspiration, special tips, and great sweater ideas.

We’ve added 5 new designs to the site, just for makers:

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And more will be added continuously, including some this week! (Note: The set of ‘featured designs’, which are available to everyone, will rotate every month or so.)

We can’t wait to work with our makers to bring a whole new slew of Happy Sweater Faces into the world. Join us here.

And boy, do we have the perfect way to kick off your maker journey:

Fall Festival KAL

While I’m definitely a year-round sweater kind of girl, there’s something incredibly special about fall knitting. We’re experiencing those first tastes of super-crisp weather here in New England – the kind where you reach for just a tiny bit of wool first thing in the morning to take the chill off.

Our thoughts are turning to the upcoming festival season: caramel apples and artichoke french, new yarns from our favorite local and independent producers, perfect layering pieces for cold days.

The Fall Festival Sweater KAL will take place from August 15 – November 15, and will work like our previous KALs: We’ll get started swatching and dreaming today, and give ourselves until November 15 to finish our sweaters.

Take a dive in your stash and find a gorgeous woolly wool, or recreate a favorite store-bought fall sweater. Just like with Cardipalooza and the Summer Sweater KAL, 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!

What am I knitting, do you ask? Well… that’s a good question.

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Hey, I never claimed to have an easy time making decisions when it comes to yarn!

The ins & outs of necklines

Teaching is absolutely one of my most favoritest things on the planet, but a long teaching weekend definitely requires some adjusting on the other end! Routines have been disrupted, the inbox gets unspeakable, and everything feels just a little bit on the crazy side for a few days once I’m back home.

(The nice news on that front is that while I have some local events, I’m not truly traveling again until my own retreat. Over a month of “regular life”! It feels unspeakably luxurious.)

Today, I wanted to get back into a more regular routine and share a little bit about one of the questions I get most often in my classes:

How does one work a (fill in the blank) neckline?

Though it may not seem like it:


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The answer is actually pretty simple! When it comes to removing those neckline stitches, there are relatively few actual neck shapes:

  • Vee necklines are the simplest, and remove the neck stitches evenly over the entire length of the neckline. Typical depths range between 1” (2.5 cm) above and 2” (5 cm) below armhole shaping.
  • Round necklines remove the neck stitches in three distinct areas: A BO section in the center, then two different rates of decrease. Typical depths range from around 3 – 3.5” (7.5 – 9 cm) for a crew neck and anywhere over 5” (12.5 cm) for a scoop.
    • All round necklines bind off between 40 – 55% of the neckline stitches.
    • Crew necklines then decrease half of the remaining stitches every row, and the rest every RS row.
    • Scoop necks decrease half of the remaining stitches every RS row, and the rest every 4th or 6th row.
  • Square necklines bind off all stitches at once. Typical depths range between 5 – 8” (12.5 – 21 cm).
  • Boat necklines bind off all but about 1” (2.5 cm) of stitches in the initial neck row, and then decrease at each end of every row or every RS row a few times. I prefer a typical depth of around 2” (5 cm) to ensure the boat neck ends just under my collarbone.

So if there are only four basic neck shapes, and many more things we think of as ‘necklines’, what gives? The answer lies in what you do with the neckline when you work the edging.

  • Round necklines form the basis for tons of different neckline shapes.
    • Turtlenecks are built off of crew necklines, and are between 7 – 9” (18 – 23 cm) in height. Thornes is a great example:
      thornes-final-2
    • Cowl necks are built off of scoop necklines, and are typically worked for 8 – 12” (20.5 – 30.5 cm) or more, depending on how luscious you want that cowl. The Trimmings cowl is 12” (30.5 cm):
      trimmings-cowl
    • Wide collars are also built off of crew necklines, whether on a cardigan or a pullover. Simply pick up stitches and then work for as long as desired. The collar on Tucci is around 8” (20.5 cm):
      tucci-second-pass-8
    • Finally, hoods are also built off of crew necklines. The simplest way to knit a hood is to pick up around the neck opening, knit until you clear your own head, then split your stitches between two needles and join them with a 3-needle bind-off. I worked a bit more shaping, but followed that basic procedure, for the hood on Dorica:
      Dorica-2
  • Vee necklines are the underlying shape for those shawl collars we love so much. A full description of the procedure is beyond this post (and will be coming soon!), but in short, the shawl part of the collar is shaped with short rows, to make the center back neckline twice as deep as the front edges of the neckline:
    shawl-collar
  • Finally, boat necklines are a great option if you want a slightly unusual twist on a more classic neckline, whether it’s a turtleneck, wide collar, or something else. These necklines were all worked like a variation above, but off of a boat neck shape instead of the usual:
    wintry-mix courant-turtle Holloway-1_medium2

And there you have it! Most of the necklines you’d like to make, demystified. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little spin around neckline design-land, and that it helps you both with the patterns you’re modifying by hand, and with the patterns you’re creating using CustomFit.

And on the CustomFit note – in conjunction with our next KAL announcement, we’ve got some SUPER exciting developments to share with you. So check back this weekend – and until then, happy knitting!

(Photo credits for this post: Knit to Flatterphotos courtesy Karen Pearson; Cornsilk, Trimmings, and Wintry Mix photos courtesy splityarn; Thornes, Courant, Alta, and Tucci courtesy Jonathan Herzog and/or me.)

Wrapping up the Summer Sweater KAL

Lauren here! It feels like summer just got here, yet fall is almost around the corner! Some days I’m convinced that fall is in the air, and other days I’m sweltering under 95 degree weather (no, we don’t have air conditioning, and yes, I keep knitting anyway).

Summer Sweater KAL

August is halfway over, and our Summer Sweater Knit-A-Long is wrapping up. I’m excited to note we’ll be announcing our next KAL this week, and it’s a good one. Have you finished a summer sweater, shell, or tank? We’d love to see what you’ve made!

I’ve posted already about my first finished “sweater” for this KAL. I still haven’t altered the final length, but I’m leaning towards that course of action. Though it may be a bit of a pain to have to weave in still more ends, I think it will be worth it in the end!

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And of course, I’m still working away on the Effervescent Cardigan knock-off that I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts. I’ve had to frog much more on this sweater than I’m used to — which I suppose is what happens when you forsake endless expanses of stockinette for more complex stitch patterns! There’s no way it will be finished by the end of the KAL — there’s more than a front and a half to go, plus the finishing — but I think it will be a fabulous sweater to wear no matter when it’s finished! Don’t worry, I’ll share it here on the blog when I’m done. I’ve got some extra special buttons I’m excited to use.

Amy would love to share her finished summer sweater, but she didn’t quite make it. She’s been too busy knitting these other sweaters…

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… which are designs to be released over the next several months. Though she managed to finish four (!) sweaters during the SSKAL, this is the sad state of the one she knit for herself:

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But once it’s finished, we’ll see some photos of this one too! And keep your eyes peeled for the four sweaters above — they’ll be dropping soon.

As for Jackie, she’s living on the edge. It’s coming down to the wire for the tank she showed off in her last post, but she just may make it! Poor Jackie — she’s been at her computer all day and night working on details for the upcoming retreat. She has barely had time to knit!

Now we want to see your sweaters! We’ve opened a thread in our Ravelry group to post photos. You’ll have until August 20 to post your photo — at that time, we’ll draw a winning name. This time around, the prize is our favorite one yet.

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Six skeins of Harrisville Silk & Wool, a lovely DK weight 50/50 blend. You might want to put it good use for our next KAL, which the three of us agree is our favorite. Fire up the size 7 needles and the worsted-weight woolly wool … we’ll be back with more details soon!

Fall Festival KAL

How & Why

I’m making slow, but steady, progress on my Summer Sweater. The days here have been an odd mix of super busy (as we’ve been working on some exciting CustomFit features that you’ll be seeing over the next few months) and peacefully quiet (as long summer days out in the sticks tend to be).

I’m particularly pleased with how this one is turning out so far:

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What is it going to be, you ask? It’s a sleeveless version of an as-yet-unreleased Amy design, worked in Mrs. Crosby Hat Box. The yarn is a joy to knit with, and is creating a fantastic fabric for this top. I’m really happy with it so far.

But it’s not just the yarn that is making me happy (though it is, to be sure). This is the first sweater I’ve knit after taking Patty Lyons’ Improve Your Knitting Craftsy class. As some of you may remember, I’ve been on a quest for some time now to improve my own knitting — not only do I want to create even stitches, without rowing out, and a good fabric that doesn’t grow mysteriously, and for my gauge to stay consistent from piece to piece, and from sweater to sweater…

…I want to know why that happens, and how to control it. Even with CustomFit, I would be nervous knitting my sweaters because I wasn’t sure if my gauge was changing as I knit. Or I’d start rowing out halfway through and I didn’t know why. I didn’t have a good reason for most of my knitting technique – it was just the way I figured it out from reading Stitch N Bitch, with adjustments made here or there based on isolated tips and tricks from different classes and people.

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Patty is pretty fantastic.

Patty’s class turned out to be just what I was looking for, that I didn’t even know existed. It was revelational. (And clearly, it’s one of the reasons we asked her to teach at our retreat this year, and are so excited to share it with you all as well.) In it, Patty covers many different types of knitting techniques, and by that, I mean how you hold and move your yarn around, as well as the pros and cons of each. But perhaps even more importantly, Patty discusses the proper way to size your stitch using your needles, without distorting it or the stitches around it — regardless of which technique you use. She thoughtfully breaks down the most basic motions of knitting technique, explains what is happening, and why it’s important.

My knitting technique didn’t change drastically, but it changed fundamentally, in a way that now makes me completely confident and consistent in the formation of my stitches. And my fabric reflects that.

I strongly believe that knitting is best taught and learned in-person. While I learned a lot from the Craftsy videos, but I’m really looking forward to being in Patty’s class this September and benefitting from her being able to *look* at my technique and make individualized suggestions. That being said, I think every single knitter would benefit from what Patty teaches in this class, and if you don’t have the ability to take it with Patty in person, the Craftsy class is (significantly) better than not taking it at all.

I learned to knit from a book. Amy learned to knit from her Gram, who clearly knew what she was about, because Amy’s fabric looks machine made in the best possible way. But even Amy didn’t know why her knit fabric was so good until we really started delving into this subject over the past year. I wonder how many of us really think about our knitting in this way?

So, how did you learn to knit? Were you taught the “why” as well as the “how”? We’re really curious — please do share your knitting story with us!

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.

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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.

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(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?