In Real Life: Stonington

Our “In Real Life” series on Instagram highlights one of my designs and how several truly awesome knitters have made it their own.

This time, we’re highlighting the Stonington cardigan, which is built directly into CustomFit – which means that you can work it in any yarn, at any gauge. I used the gorgeous Harrisville Watershed in “Monarch” for my sample:


Check out these completely fantastic versions of this sweater! They make me want to knit another one. :) Sheepwell, rd97132, Nancy, and Eliza made for lovely versions of this super-versatile cardi. Take a peek!

And with that, we leave you for the long holiday weekend (here in the US). We hope that wherever you are, you’re surrounded by joy and those you love most.

Happy knitting!

Waist Shaping for the Options KAL (and all sweaters)

At this point in the Options KAL, many of us are in the long stretch of knitting the body pieces. I know I’m there! I’ve juuuust started the neck shaping on the front of my pullover:


And so I thought this would be a great point to touch on why I wrote the waist shaping the way I did – with vertical darts located away from the side seams of the sweater.

Why Waist Shaping?

Particularly if you’re straighter through the waist, like me, you might be tempted to skip waist shaping altogether. When done the traditional way, at the side seams:

Waist-Shaping-Picture-1 (Typical decrease row: Knit 1, ssk, knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, knit 1.)

The garment can wind up looking a little odd. Slightly too snug at the sides of your body, too loose on your back and in the front. But the answer isn’t to skip shaping entirely!

Rather, waist shaping is one of the single most important things you can do to get a fabulous-looking sweater. Whatever your shape. Hand-knit fabric is strong and sturdy, and in most sweaters, if your fabric is rectangular, you’ll look rectangular too. So regardless of your shaping, your sweaters will benefit from a bit of shaping!

A Different Way to Shape

To get better shaping options, I recommend taking advantage of the fact that knitting is sculptural – create a 3-D piece of fabric by working your waist shaping in the center of the piece. It’s worked exactly the same as the traditional way, but in a different spot:

Waist-Shaping-Picture-2(Typical decrease row: Knit to 2 stitches before first marker, ssk, sm, knit to next marker, sm, k2tog, knit to end.)

The Options KAL pattern is written with this kind of waist shaping, and if you squint, you can see the lines in my own sweater:


Here are some close-ups of other sweaters with the waist shaped in this way:

harrogate-final-8 tucci-second-pass-10 courant-final-6 aislinn-second-pass-9

For very little work, you get a garment that’s shaped the way your body is shaped – any volume removed from the sweater is done where you actually get smaller. But there are other advantages!

Other Cool Things about Dart Shaping

In addition to a more flattering fit generally, shaping in this way gives you a lot more choice about how your garments look – because it opens up an important degree of freedom:

The front and back of your sweater can be shaped differently.

You read that right! Your sweater’s front and back shaping don’t need to match, because the shaping is located away from where you’ll have to seam. You get more power to fit your body well:

  • Need extra width for a bust? Work more increases from waist to bust on the front of your sweater than you did on the back.
  • Have a bodaciously awesome backside? More decreases from CO to waist on the back of your sweater than the front.
  • Carry more volume on your front in general? Shape the back, and work your front straight to the armholes.

And you get the power to play around with different shaping to achieve different looks, too. I’ve done several designs now where the waist shaping is located on the back only:

cushing-isle-5 pescadero-final-print-1 foyle-pullover-candidate-finals-1 coracle-pullover-final-1

This lets me work an allover pattern on the front, straight to the armholes. When worked with a fitted sweater (the first and the third, above) you can barely even tell there is no shaping! The bit of negative ease in the bust and the hips, combined with the back shaping, keeps me looking curvy. When worked on a relaxed sweater (the second and fourth, above), you get the wonderful sweatshirt-like fit, without looking like a box. Pretty cool!

I’ve also experimented a bit with working shaping on the front only – check out my tank Fia, worked in Rowan’s Truesilk yarn:

Fia-main Fia_5_medium2

I wanted a tank where the back was worked in an allover lace – with the heavy drape of the silk letting it move beautifully. I didn’t want to shape in lace pattern, though, so I added some vertical darts to the front. That kept this tank trim, while letting the back remain a loose, shimmery fall of lace.

See you next time!

I hope you’re giving this kind of waist shaping a try in the Options KAL sweater, and that you can see how to use it in other sweaters to improve your fit or achieve a certain look, too!

Until next time, happy knitting!

make. wear. love. west retreat, 2016: Registration is open!

Registration is now open for the make. wear. love. west retreat for 2016!


Click here to register!

We can’t thank you enough for letting us be part of your knitting lives, and we hope to see many of you next April. We’re counting down the days – and until then, here’s a preview of what we’ll be enjoying:


As a refresher, the retreat will take place from April 7-10 2016 at the beautiful Asilomar Conference Grounds, with teachers Norah Gaughan, Clara Parkes, Julie Weisenberger, and myself. You’ve got two options for attending: Students take 4 3-hour classes (one with each instructor), and wayfarers and students both spend a weekend immersed in the best sweaters have to offer. (Here’s another link to the brochure, in case you’d like to have another peek!)

It’s going to be an incredibly special weekend, and we hope you’ll join us. Happy knitting!

The MWL Fall 2015 retreat returns: Small Point Pullover

As we here at AHD impatiently wait for tomorrow to come, I thought it was a great time to share the final retreat design from our fall 2015 retreat with you all:


The Small Point Pullover.

At last year’s Asilomar retreat, I decided to step outside my usual wheelhouse and play with a new type of sweater construction. Small Point continues this trend: This sweater is knit from hem-to-hem, all in one piece.


This construction perfectly matched the feel I wanted from the Small Point design. The coast of Maine is rocky and breezy, and Small Point beach in my hometown is definitely a representation of that. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the beach, you want something casual, and layer-friendly. Warm, but not so stiff you can’t throw a frisbee or chase the tide.


The hem-to-hem one-piece construction winds up producing a sweater with a feeling that’s somewhere between a drop-shoulder sweater and a dolman – the lines are that of a drop shoulder, with generous (but not ridiculous) armholes, but the movement and freedom inside the garment is great, like you’d experience with a dolman. The lack of seam in the shoulder area produces an incredibly comfortable, beautifully relaxed structure to the garment. It layers well, it wears well on its own, and looks utterly fantastic in a lightweight wool.

Add some kicky stripes in beautifully matched colors, and the sweater practically knits itself – it took me well under a week to work up this sample! And I’ve been wearing it since.

I used Eden Cottage Yarns Bowland DK for the sample – a luscious, luminous sport-weight Blue Faced Leicester. I used the colors “Pennine Mist” and “Steel” for this sample, but honestly, I had a hard time narrowing down my choices! I definitely recommend this yarn for this garment – and if you’re looking for a source here in the states, our retreat vendor Yarn Culture carries a great stock.


Ready for the technical specs?

This sweater is knit in a single piece from the front hem, up over the shoulders, and down toward the back hem. Sleeves are created with a line of cast-ons; they’re ended with a line of bind-offs. After you’ve worked the sweater and bound off, the side and sleeve seams are a quick job.

When choosing a size, please choose a size that’s at least 2 – 4” above your upper torso. I’m wearing this sweater with 3” of ease in the upper torso, and could have happily gone to the next size up as well. There’s waist shaping on the back of the sweater only to keep things from being too boxy – but fundamentally, you’ll be most comfortable in this construction style if you have plenty of room.

You can find the pattern in my Ravelry store for $7.00, or purchase by clicking here.

I hope you like it – and can’t wait to see the versions you create!

make. wear. love. west retreat 2016 – join us!

I have been waiting for so long to share this news with you!

Of all of the many favorite parts of this job, the make. wear. love. retreats have to be at the top. These intimate weekends in gorgeous places steep you in the best our craft has to offer: There’s lots of laughter. There’s great food, and great yarn, and amazing instructors who help you think about your craft in a new way. There are no strangers – just new friends. By the end of the weekend, you’re energized. Inspired. And ready to tackle anything.

Today, I’m happy to announce the details for our 2016 spring retreat in lovely Pacific Grove, CA.


Download the brochure

The retreats take on some of the character of their locations, and the result is that our west coast retreats, located at the beautiful Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove CA, are relaxed and festive. We hope you can join us in this gorgeous 107-acre refuge by the sea for an amazing weekend of knitting, festivities, and instruction.

Lodge-Exterior1-HiRes Asilomar-State-Beach3-HiRes Hearst-Social-Hall-Exterior-HiRes

The retreat will be held at Asilomar from April 7 – 10 2016. We’ll be joined by experts Norah Gaughan, Clara Parkes, and Julie Weisenberger of Coco Knits (in addition to Amy of course!).

We’ve changed things up a bit this year to let the Asilomar retreat evolve a bit, making the schedule a more even mix of smaller classes, and larger group events.

To reflect that change, this year there are two options for attendance:

  • Everyone comes together for meals and all non-class retreat events, both formal and informal. They include:
    • Lectures, meet & greets, and question & answer / demonstrations
    • Knitting with Amy
    • Fashion show / dessert gala including special retreat designs
    • Extensive marketplace party
    • Closing ceremonies with weekend-long secret ballot prizes
  • Come as a student, and get 4 classes over the course of the weekend
  • Come as a wayfarer, and enjoy your gorgeous surroundings during class time

The cost of the retreat is $945 for students, and $645 for wayfarers. (Attendees are responsible for arranging their own lodging with Asilomar due to the breadth of options. Please download a room information sheet here to get a sense of your choices!)

Registration will open Wednesday, November 11, at 12:00pm Eastern (we’ll announce that registration is open here on the blog). When you register, you’ll choose whether you want to be a student or a wayfarer, and rank your classes if applicable.

Sweaters_2 Knitting_Cozy Amy-Teaching Sweaters

We’ll confirm your attendance via email within a week or so of registration opening. A non-refundable $250 deposit is due at this time; your remaining balance will be due by January 30.

We absolutely can’t wait to see you there.

Options KAL, Part II: Sweater Modifications


Hello, lovely knitters!


This week, I’m sitting down at my desk with 5 straight days of non-traveling work ahead of me for the first time in ages. To say I’m in heaven would be an understatement. I’ve already spent some time looking at the gorgeous garments taking shape in the Options KAL, and I’m inspired to keep knitting my own.


(That’s a back and a bit of the front, along with a peek in the background of the reason I’ve been so slow completing my Options pullover!)

Today’s video installment for the Rowan Options KAL is due to go live any time now, and I hope you find it helpful! (You’ll be able to find it, along with all of the other videos as they come out, here on the Rowan Yarns YouTube Channel.)

In the first part of the video, I talk a little bit about how the KAL will progress (since it’s not a mystery, it may be a little different than some others you’ve done!). In the second portion of the video, I talk about the next step in getting a great-fitting sweater:

Making Modifications.

Video Installment 1, I covered how I recommend sweater knitters choose a traditional pattern size – to fit the shoulders. Choosing a “base size” that fits your shoulders well is the single most important thing you can do to improve the fit of your sweaters. But your fit-modification work isn’t quite done!

Ease and Target Garment Dimensions.

The next step in modifying any traditional sweater pattern is to compare the dimensions of the size you’re knitting against your own body’s measurements. Remember: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of your numbers. And your clothing will be more comfortable, and look better, if it fits you well.

When comparing your own numbers against the pattern, your goal is to come up with a the sweater’s finished dimensions. The dimensions shouldn’t be identical to your body – the goal is for the sweater to feel good and flattering when worn. Ease – the difference between your body and the sweater’s measurements – is what makes this magic happen.

For a sweater like the Options sweater, here are my ease guidelines for you:

  • Bust: Aim for a sweater that’s between 2” (5 cm) smaller, and 2” (5 cm) larger, than your full bust circumference.
  • Waist: Ideally, your sweater will be at least 2” (5 cm) larger than your waist circumference.
  • Hips: For a sweater this length, you should aim for a CO measurement that’s between 2” (5 cm) smaller, and 1” (2.5 cm) larger, than your own hips to help the sweater anchor to your body.

If the pattern’s dimensions in your size are in these ranges already, great! No modifications needed. If they’re not, cross off the garment’s dimension at that spot and write in what your own sweater piece should measure.

Here’s an example using my own numbers: I’m knitting the pullover, and my upper torso is 38”. So I’ve selected the 39 3/4” size for an average fit. That works for my hips and my waist, but my bust is 42” – and I’d like a fit that’s closer to my actual bust. Let’s work with a target sweater full bust of 41”, one inch smaller than my own bust.

The back bust should remain 19 3/4” as written – that’s not where I need extra room! So the front bust must equal 41” – 19 3/4” = 21.25”.

Making it Actionable.

To get instructions you can actually knit, you’ll need to turn the dimensions you’ve changed into stitch and row counts before you can move further. Use your stitch and row gauge, multiplied by the dimensions, to do this.

Again working my own example, my front bust should have 21.25” x 5.75 stitches per inch = 122.19 stitches which rounds nicely to 122 stitches. My front waist matches the pattern at 104 stitches. There are 62 rows between the waist and armhole shaping in my sweater.

Master Shaping Formula.

Once you know the stitch counts at the CO, waist, and bust of your sweater (and the rows between them), your knitting challenge turns into getting from one stitch count, to the next, over the correct number of rows. There’s one formula for this:

Rate of shaping = (total number of rows) / (number of shaping rows)

Round down to the nearest even number, and you’ve got your instructions. Congratulations! You’ve made a modification. It’s really that simple.

Carrying my example further, I have 62 total rows over which I can work my shaping. I need to go from 104 stitches to 122 stitches – adding 18 stitches to the front between waist and bust. This will take me 9 increase rows, because each increase row adds two stitches.

Using the master shaping formula, I divide 62/9 and get a rate of 6.889. Rounding down to the nearest even number, I know that once I reach the waist on the front of my sweater, I’ll work an increase row every 6 rows 9 times.

I’ll then need to adjust the neck shaping in my pullover to get to the correct number of shoulder stitches, but that’s a topic for another post!

Keeping Track of Your Changes.

Make sense so far? Honestly, even though I’ve used the word ‘formula’ in this post it’s pretty simple once you’ve got your numbers in front of you. Like many things in sweater knitting, our nervousness over whether we’re doing the right thing is the most challenging hurdle to overcome. And trust me – the numbers don’t lie! Comparing your own body to your base size will highlight exactly what you need to do.

I’ve made a worksheet to help you keep track of your changes as you knit:

Download the shaping worksheet here!
Want to know a little more detail? I give an overview in my Craftsy Knit to Flatter class, and a much more thorough go-through in my Craftsy class on Sweater Modifications for a Custom Fit. (Click the links to get the classes for 50% off, if you’re not enrolled yet.)

And that’s this installment of the Options KAL! I can’t wait to see how your sweaters are coming along. Until next time, happy knitting!

Great sweater fabric

One of my very favorite questions about sweaters is also one that’s very basic, and cuts to the heart of every knitter’s relationship with their swatch:

Will my swatch fabric make a good sweater?

This video helps you answer that question:

Have a great weekend!

Rhinebeck, and Rhinebeck sweaters (meet Burnish!)

Rhinebeck, as always, was glorious.

rhinebeck-for-blog-8 rhinebeck-for-blog-7 rhinebeck-for-blog-2 rhinebeck-for-blog-1 rhinebeck-for-blog-3

Every year, I get to immerse myself in foliage, sweaters, wool, and some of my favorite people in the world. It’s rejuvenating, it’s hilarious, it’s spectacular. Every year. I feel so lucky that it’s part of my yearly knitting ritual.

And of course, every year I make at least one Rhinebeck sweater.

This year, between the book, the Basics, the retreat designs, and everything else that has been going on, I had time for just one. So I made the most of my chance. I’m very pleased to share Burnish with you:



Burnish is the product of a mind-meld, of sorts: The amazing Jennifer of Spirit Trail Fiberworks told me about a lovely new bulky wool she had coming out this fall, and an old, beloved cardigan she’d love to have a replacement for. (I love it when designs start that way, by the way.) The sweater in question was comfortable, warm, and the kind of thing you throw on every day, for every occasion.

From that basic idea, I dressed things up a bit with simple eyelets on the front (just in the center) and sleeves (just a little band, above the ribbing – nothing crazy). I made the trim twisted 1×1 ribbing, because I adored the way it looked in the yarn – plump, a little sharp, and allowing the depth of the color to shine through.


You can customize your own in CustomFit, but here are the details on my version: Burnish is a mid-hip cardigan with long sleeves, twisted 1×1 ribbed trim, and simple eyelet stripes. I’ve kept the fit more refined for this one, with waist shaping on the front and back, and Jackie is wearing the cardigan with an average fit.

Vesta is a new yarn Spirit Trail debuted this fall. It’s a quick-knitting bulkier yarn at 4 stitches to the inch, and is both soft and springy. Combine the yarn base with Jennifer’s beautiful colors, and you’ve got a lovely cardigan for sure. The sample is shown in the color “Red Tiger’s Eye”.


I wish I had a Burnish of my own – I think it’s the perfect cozy sweater to cuddle up in when the air is brisk and the leaves are turning. I hope you think so, too!

Rowan Options KAL

Rhinebeck was completely and utterly lovely, and I can’t wait to show you the pictures – but until tomorrow, let’s talk about the exciting thing waiting for me when I came home:

Options-KAL-Stripe-Hero-Final Options KAL Herzog Photos-Textured-Modeled-1

The Rowan Options KAL is officially live, and we’ve kicked off Week 1 with the pattern and a starter video on choosing a size to fit your shoulders well. You can see the video here, and download the free traditional pattern on the KAL’s official page.

For those who are interested in having CustomFit do the math for modifications and slight gauge changes, the sweaters are built in there as well! Click here to view the cardigan, and click here to view the pullover. CustomFit allows you to change things like sleeve length and sweater length automatically, but adding stripes and/or texture to the pieces is up to you – the CustomFit patterns will be written on a Stockinette base.

One of the nicest things about this KAL (aside from working with all of you, of course!) is that I actually get to make one for myself. I’m ridiculously excited about that – making a sweater solely for my own pleasure and wear is a rare thing around here.

And of course, I’m not going to be making one exactly like the pattern photos! I’m choosing a V-neck pullover out of the fantastic green, #109 grit:


I’ll make it with long sleeves and a textured body. I’m on the fence about waist shaping on the front of the sweater – on the one hand, I’m into a more relaxed, sweatshirt-y feel this fall. But on the other hand, I know that I really like the way the shaping looks on me. Maybe I’ll go for a more relaxed fit all over, instead?

What do you think? And which version will you be making? Leave your comment here, join us in the Ravelry group, or if you’re on Instagram (or etc.), use the hashtag #optionskal to show us your swatches and choices.

Happy knitting!

Sweater Week, Round 3: The make. wear. love. fall 2015 retreat designs.

For round three of this year’s sweater week, I want to share the sweaters I designed for the fall 2015 make. wear. love. retreat in mid-coast Maine.


I love designing sweaters for our retreats each year. Coming up with a theme (this year: chilly-beach-walk clothes), playing around with the colors of the yarns our fabulous vendors will have, and seeing the transition from sketch to swatch to finished garment. This year, I decided to build two of the sweaters directly into CustomFit, and design one pattern in a construction I’ve been obsessed with lately.

I loved the freedom it gave me to devise three very different pullovers – and I’m thrilled to share them with you today.

Popham Beach


Popham Beach is an incredibly special place to me. I grew up clambering around the fort there, played in the water until my lips turned blue all summer long, every summer, and showed best friends from college the Milky Way in its breezy starlit nights. Now that I’m a slightly-less-hardy adult, a sweater of some sort is pretty much always necessary. This is the one I always wish for when I’m there.

You can customize your own right here in CustomFit, but are the details on my version: A low-hip pullover with comfy long sleeves, patch pockets, a wide scoop neckline. I’ve kept the fit relaxed and sweat-shirt-y by placing the waist shaping on the back only, giving a slouchier look than if the waist shaping were everywhere. (I’m wearing the pullover with an average fit.) Broken rib trims the whole thing up and is fun to work.

The sample is knit in The Fibre Company Cumbria, a new yarn I can’t say enough good things about. It’s a gorgeous wool blend with just a touch of mohair, which gives the fabric strength and a slight glow. It’s warm, it’s wooly, it’s everything you want your fall beach sweater to be. Create one for yourself by clicking here.

Popham-Beach-Pocket-Detail Popham-Beach-Neck-Detail

Parker Head


Parker Head is a tiny little sub-village of Phippsburg, with a road that hugs the water and is barely one lane wide and gorgeous views of the end of the Kennebec River from most of the houses. My mother’s parents lived there when I was very young, and I have so many great memories of walking down the road to the wharf where my grandfather’s boat docked. I can still smell the water if I think of it.

For my memories of that gentler wharf, I wanted practical 3/4 sleeves (the cuffs don’t drag in everything), an easygoing stitch pattern, and a relaxed fit. This sweater, too, has waist shaping on the back only – and the front and sleeves are worked in a simple Dot Texture pattern. (The back is worked in Stockinette to facilitate shaping.) The wide mock turtleneck is versatile, layering-wise, and unfussy – but stylish, too. Jackie is wearing the sample in an average fit.

The sample is worked in The Woolen Rabbit Emma, in the color “Grey Goose”. This is a polwarth-silk blend – warm, with a slight sheen and drape from the silk. It’s an incredible material and I loved working with it. You can customize your own Parker Head pullover right in CustomFit by clicking here.

Parker-Head-Neck-Detail Parker-Head-Hem-Detail

Small Point Pullover.


I hope you’ll forgive me a bit of a tease with this one – Small Point is a traditional pattern, with a construction worked in one piece from hem to hem. The pattern is being edited, and I expect to be able to release it some time in the next week. Until then, here’s a bit of a taste!

It’s worked in Eden Cottage Bowland DK, in the “Steel” and “Pennine Mist” colorways. And I can’t wait to tell you the rest. :)


It’s hard for me to believe the retreat is over, honestly – and that I’ll have to wait a whole year before I can go back and talk sweaters in my favorite place on earth. To keep the spirit alive, let’s share our projects in one central place?

Whether you joined us or not, share your swatches and projects with us with the hashtag #makewearloveretreat – it will be so amazing to see them all together. Until next time, happy knitting!