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!
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!
Happy Friday, and happy holiday weekend to those of you in the US!
I’ll be knitting this weekend (I know, you’re shocked), but while knitting is my job, don’t feel too sorry for me for having to work! In some ways I’m on a little bit of a holiday because the sweater I’m knitting at this very moment isn’t actually for the book – it’s my Summer Sweater KAL sweater:
The yarn is Rowan Handknit Cotton in “Slate”**, which is one of my absolute favorite summer staples. It’s smooth, it has a beautiful sheen and hand, and I can’t wait to wear this pullover tank. It’ll be the perfect thing for layering over my favorite acid jean skirt (don’t judge) or some crisp white linen pants.
If all goes well, it will be finished up this weekend, and available for your own summer knitting shortly thereafter!
**The picture above is from Instagram, and so has been filtered to within an inch of its life. The color is substantially more accurate in the pictures below. The way it looks on the end is the fabric when light hits it; the way it looks in the middle is when the fabric is in shadow or indirect light.
What will you be knitting this weekend?
Well hello, there!
Squam was a glorious oasis of stillness and joy:
…before coming back home to the gauntlet that is the final week of school when you have elementary-aged children. Things have settled down into “summer vacation” now, and we’re all enjoying a few days of lazy mornings and coffee-until-11am before summer camp starts.
I’m working fast and furious on the next book and a couple of other really exciting projects for fall, which doesn’t make for great blogging!
So I thought I’d take today and write about something that’s been rattling around in my head for awhile:
Once someone has knit up one of the designs built directly into CustomFit, they often want to use CustomFit to recreate a design they love, but that isn’t built into the site – whether the design is mine, or someone else’s. We call this “mashing up” the original design with CustomFit.
Here are some of our favorites from the past year:
For some of my designs, we’ve released files called recipes to help with this mash-up process. But most of the time, you’ll be on your own. With that in mind, here’s a step-by-step guide, along with a downloadable worksheet, for mashing up a CustomFit pattern with another design.
Step 1: Purchase the original pattern.
You like that sweater enough to want to make it – and you’ll need information from the pattern to do so. Show the designer that you like their work and purchase the original.
Step 2: Identify the CustomFit options for the design’s silhouette.
You’ll be using the Custom Sweater Wizard to create your core CustomFit pattern, and it’s a good idea to specify as much of the design in CustomFit terms as possible. Using the pattern’s photo, schematic, and actual text in combination, write down the following on your mashup worksheet:
You’ll use this information to generate your basic CustomFit pattern.
Step 3: Identify changes you’ll make to the CustomFit pattern, and write them down.
For most sweaters, you’re not done yet! You’ll be making changes to the basic CustomFit pattern to achieve the look of the original design. Usually, these changes involve either adding stitch patterning to one or more pieces, or doing something unusual trim-wise during finishing.
Stitch patterning. If you’re adding either a textured stitch or a lace panel to your CustomFit pattern, you likely don’t have to adjust the stitch count. Simply make a note of which stitches you’ll be marking and what stitch pattern you’ll be working on the marked stitches.
If you’re adding cables, you’ll need to adjust your CustomFit stitch count to account for the cable’s “suckage:” Add one stitch to your CustomFit stitch count for each stitch that gets put on a cable needle during your cable repeat. (For example, if you’re adding a single 2×2 cable to the front of a cardigan, add 2 stitches to your cardigan front. If you’re adding three 2×2 cables to your sweater back, add 6 stitches to your back stitch count.) You’ll then need to remove those extra stitches when you’re done with the cable – usually, this means working some decreases in your bind-off row to eliminate the stitches.
Trims. This is the other big place you’re likely to make changes – be they a shawl collar, a hood, an edging that’s picked up and worked during the finishing stage, etc. Read this portion of your original pattern carefully to determine what you’ll do. Usually the pattern’s instructions will translate well to your CustomFit version.
In both cases, you’ll be writing down the changes to the CustomFit pattern on the second page of your mashup worksheet.
Step 4: Generate your CustomFit pattern, put it and your mash-up worksheet together, and start knitting.
As you knit your CustomFit pattern, pay attention to page 2 of your mash-up worksheet (and anything you need from the original pattern, like charts). Make adjustments as you get to them.
Sound complicated? It’s not, really – once you have a specific design you’re working toward. Since I don’t have permission to build any of my book sweaters into CustomFit yet, let’s step through this process with one of my own designs that’s very popular in classes: The Cypress Cardigan.
Step 1. Cypress is in my first book, Knit to Flatter, on page 31.
Step 2. You can tell from the picture that Cypress is a mid-hip cardigan (though of course you could change this!), with tapered 3/4 sleeves and a narrow scoop neck that begins .5” (1.5 cm) above the armhole shaping. The trims are as follows:
Step 3. The non-standard bits of Cypress are the lace stitch patterning on the back and front. You’ll be making changes to your CustomFit pattern’s back and front to recreate it:
When you’re knitting, you’ll need both your CustomFit pattern and the charted or written instructions for the lace handy. (I’ve been told by many many knitters that Knit Companion is a great way to merge your PDFs and keep track of your stitch pattern charts.)
Make sense? You can download an example of the mash-up worksheet for Cypress here, and download a blank mash-up worksheet here. I hope you feel confident in using CustomFit to recreate the sweater you’ve been wanting to make, but not wanting to modify! So let us know:
What sweater do you most want to mash-up?
And if you have already mashed-up a CustomFit sweater with another design, how did it go?
I want to help you create practical, beautiful things that you actually love to wear. The crazy happy sweater face grin you get when you complete a sweater you want to wear all the time? Literally one of the best things in the world. Until now, the focus of my efforts has been to help every knitter get a tailored, fitted sweater that gets worn immediately, and often.
There’s good reason for this! A well-fitting tailored garment feels amazing. It’s one of the most basic, classic things you can make with your hands. But it’s not the be-all, end-all of clothing.
It’s time to talk about the raglan.
The name “raglan” comes from the the mid-18th century. When the Lord Raglan lost an arm in the Crimean war, his tailor made a simplified shirt construction to allow him better freedom of movement. This expanded range of movement (vs. a set-in sleeve) made raglans the darling of American sportswear – think baseball jerseys!
Compared to a tailored set-in sleeve, a raglan top has more fabric in the armholes and shoulder, so you can swing a bat or racquet, even when the shirt is made out of a woven fabric. Raglans are sporty and comfortable — you’ve probably got a bunch of them. Personally, I love a good raglan and wear them all the time.
And yet, many knitters have tried to make a raglan they loved, and failed. Why is that?
I think there are a couple of reasons. In my opinion, the first is that the most popular kind of raglan sweater right now is a top-down, seamless construction. This raglan is usually shaped using matched increases every other row until the full bust width is reached. Here’s one I made for myself several years ago:
This way of forming the raglan is really limiting. You can’t adjust the sleeves and body independently, even though bodies vary a lot! That means this style of raglan works really really well for a very specific bust/shoulder/armhole combination, and it doesn’t work at all well for others.
Contrast that with a seamed raglan, where the sleeves and body are knitted separately, allows for different shaping rates on the different pieces. As long as the row counts match, you can change how often you decrease to match your body better. And this works for lots of different shoulder/armhole/bust combinations. Just as importantly, the seams provide added structure when the sweater needs it.
Here’s an example of a raglan of this type that I knit for myself close to 15 years ago. I still wear it regularly:
Honestly, I wear a lot of raglans regularly. So when I was designing my own sweater of the make. wear. love. retreat: west coast collection, and thinking about what I wear on the beach, I knew it had to be a raglan.
Pescadero is a bottom-up, in-pieces raglan with compound shaping.
The raglan shaping changes from armhole up to shoulder – sometimes it’s steeper, sometimes it’s shallower — to better match the body. It’s worked with back waist shaping only, to give it a relaxed, but not boxy, feel. The front has a small, allover lace pattern, and I just love the way it worked out.
It’s the single best sweatshirt-y sweater I’ve ever had, and I’ve knit myself a lot of sweaters.
It’s made out of Indigodragonfly Wingenhooven, a lustrous fingering-weight blend of superwash merino, yak, and silk. I worked it up at 7.5 stitches to the inch, and the fabric is beyond amazing. It’s soft, has an incredible soft sheen, and has lovely drape thanks to the silk.
…which brings me to the number two reason that many knitters haven’t been happy with their raglans: The fabric.
Hand-knit fabric just isn’t like store-bought fabric.
It has structure, a mind of its own, and doesn’t conform well to the body. The heavier the yarn, and the more tightly it’s knit (which is necessary for well-wearing sweaters), the less any sweater is going to move with you and be comfortable.
With a properly-fitting set-in construction, this doesn’t matter. The garment anchors itself to your body well and your movement exercises the basic stretch that even hand-knit fabric has. No problems.
But with a raglan sweater, which by design isn’t anchored in the same way, it’s a different story. Heavy, stiff, hand-knit can feel uncomfortable, bunch, and otherwise keep you from the sweater of your dreams.
Working Pescadero in a drapey fingering weight yarn gave me a sweater fabric that breathes and moves with me. It’s a little scrunchy, a little fluid, and moves with me well.
So there you have it. My first raglan design, and a sweater that I love to wear – and that shows the best of what this construction can be. You can purchase it by buy now“>clicking here, or by downloading it in my Ravelry store, for $7.00.
I’ll talk in later posts about how to choose a size and modify a raglan pattern. Until then, happy knitting! I look forward to seeing lots of great sporty sweaters in the future.
Each year, I create a design mini-collection for our fall retreat in Maine. Some of my favorite sweaters come from these little collections, and so when we decided to run our first west coast retreat, my brain immediately went to sweaters.
Drawing on my own knowledge of the Monterey Peninsula, which is both soaked in sunshine and often quite cool, I decided to create a collection of sweaters that would make great beach-wear.
The actual release of these patterns will span two days, since Pescadero is a little different than what you’ve seen from me before! So for today, I’m going to start off with the two designs that are built directly into CustomFit: Spanish Bay and Sunset Drive.
Ask any knitter what sweater she prefers to wear in warm-again-cold-again weather, and a cardigan will top the list. And there’s lots of truth to those preferences!
Cardigans are easy to take on and off, forgiving in terms of fit, and flattering to all.
And I’ve personally always loved the slightly thicker, cotton store-bought cardigans that I wore on the beach, growing up. Spanish Bay is a nod to that nostalgia.
It’s made in Rowan’s Purelife Revive, which seems to have taken the place of the old Summer Tweed in their yarn line-up. I love this yarn. (For that matter, in terms of summer yarns in general? Rowan’s seriously got it going on.) It’s a lovely, heathered tweedy yarn made out of recycled cotton, silk, and viscose, so you get all of the nuance of color as from a traditional tweed… …but it’s smoother on the hands, less grabby when you knit with it, and all around a pleasure. I knit this sample in a week, and it wasn’t even a chore.
Spanish Bay is built right into CustomFit, so to get your very own, all you need to is fall in love with a yarn – we’ll craft the pattern numbers directly from your gauge. Want a little more detail? Check out Spanish Bay’s pattern page here, or on Ravelry.
Contrary to popular opinion, pullovers make great warm-weather sweaters too! Though it’s absolutely helpful to knit them out of a lighter weight yarn. I’ve stayed away from fingering-weight designs, since I started pursuing a career in the fiber arts – the sad truth is that fingering patterns just don’t sell as well. But many of my pre-design-days sweaters are fingering and I love them all fiercely. Lucky for me (and hopefully you too), designing for CustomFit frees me up design-wise, in this way. As long as the design will look great in other weights as well, I can give fingering sweaters some time in the spotlight! And that’s good, because they deserve it.
You’ll never wear a hand-knit as comfortable as a fingering-weight sweater.
They’re light, they’re comfortable, and their fabric tends to be much, much closer to the kinds of fabric you can find in the store than that which we typically make with our hands. This means that the sweater will move against your body, and feel, more like a store-bought fabric. Except better, because now it fits you perfectly too! With this design, I went the tiniest bit funkier with my stitch patterning. I chose a shaping-on-the-back-only crew neck silhouette, with a super-wide lace panel on the (straight) front. I then added a lace panel on the roll-em-up sleeves, but only to a little bit above the elbow, giving some shape and style to this more relaxed silhouette. I love the result, and I hope you do too.
Thanks to a plethora of sock knitters in recent years, there are some stunning fingering-weight hand-dyes out there. I chose Anzula Squishy, in the Yarnover Truck-exclusive colorway “Minty Unicorn” (this sweater was for Lauren, after all, whose love of mint is well-documented). The tiny arrowhead lace pattern on this sweater is a snap to work, and looks great in Anzula’s wonderful colors.
Sunset Drive is also built right into CustomFit, so whether you’ll come along with me and knit fingering sweaters or not, it can still become your next favorite garment. (Did I mention Anzula also makes one of my favorite worsted-weight MCN blends?) For more detail as always, see either the Sunset Drive page here on my site, or within Ravelry.
The final sweater in this collection, Pescadero, isn’t built into CustomFit yet. And there’s good reason for that — it’s very different than other sweaters you’ve seen me design so far. So I’ll be back later this week with more detail about Pescadero’s release, and a little bit behind why I created the sweater this way. Until then, have a close-up!
The next summer sweater KAL is on its way, so get your needles ready – it’s time for warmer-weather knits!
(One final note: Jackie and Amy will be traveling to the TNNA summer show this weekend, so if you’re there, stop by booth #1215 to say hi!)
A sweater you’ve made yourself that also happens to be spectacular clothing is knitting nirvana.
But when looking at the latest pattern magazine or collection, it can be really hard to separate the aspirational (I want to be in that place, wearing that sweater!) from the practical (what will I wear with that?). Navigating our (often emotional, or sub-conscious) reactions to a pattern photo and helping knitters create garments that slip seamlessly into their daily life was my primary motivation for writing Knit Wear Love.
The book is centered around 8 “meta-patterns”: Pullover, Cardigan, Vest, Cowl, Wrap, Tunic, Tank, Bolero. Once the silhouette is identified, you can focus on making a sweater that’s truly your style – not in the fashion magazine way, but in the “what do I actually like to wear” way.
Each meta-pattern is written for three gauges, with two different style options (each of which work with all of the gauges) – so you can choose your own yarn, your own style, and get a sweater you really want to wear. I showed three very different samples for each silhouette in the book, to start to excite your imagination.
This is the inaugural post in a series of in-depth looks at each meta-pattern. For each, I’ll share the three samples and styles, talk a little bit about the silhouette itself and what materials can make it shine (or definitely will not work), and do a candid shot of how I’d personally style the sweater.
To start us off:
For me personally, pullovers are the quintessential sweater. They’re warm, they’re incredibly versatile… …and I feel like for many knitters, they’re pretty intimidating to knit. I’d like to help change that.
The KWL Pullovers
I wanted to start the book off by showing three radically different interpretations of the same meta-pattern:
And yes – all of these pullovers were made from the same pattern. But you could, of course go further – love the texture of the classic, but live in a warm climate? I think it would look great in a fingering-weight wool cotton blend. Like the look of the neckline and lace of the romantic version, but hate the ruffle? Leave it off and make the piece more modern in an aran-weight wool. We’re working the modern pullover we’re making for our hand-crafted garment exchange in a super-crisp silk.
Or depart from these samples even more, while keeping the numbers the same – imagine how the v-neck pullover (sans ruffle) would look in a crunchy fingering-weight linen, or the crew-neck pullover in something soft and fuzzy. It’s all up to you.
Pullover Tips & Tricks
Whatever pullover you’re making, I have just a few tips to ensure yours will be a huge success:
I have to say, pullovers are my favorite sweaters. I find them to be great layering pieces, and less fussy to wear than cardigans – no button bands to fuss with, no bits of the sweater flapping around with the breeze. Out of the three samples I made for the book, the modern is by far the best match to my own personal style.
I pair it with clothing differently, since my own style is a little more casual and sporty than we wanted for the book. Today, I wore it with a simple jean skirt, some chunky jewelry, and a pair of Converse:
How about you – what are your feelings on pullovers? Do you have a favorite? If so, what’s it made from?
As always, happy knitting!
Update: Registration is now closed. We’re happy to add you to the wait list! Folks always drop out at the last minute, and there’s a good chance we’ll be able to take you closer to the date. If you’d like to be on the wait list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Monday, everyone, and thanks for reading! We hope your week is full of relaxing times and lovely yarn.
We’re pleased to say that registration for the make. wear. love retreat: fall 2015 is now open.
Please click here to register. You’ll go to a Google form you can use to register. The information we’d like is pretty straightforward – contact info, class preferences, and a little bit about your knitting skills. (Want another glance at the class descriptions? Here’s the brochure!)
The only major change from prior years is the materials fee section, if you’re taking one of the dyeing classes. But don’t worry, all the information you need is in the registration form!
As a reminder, we’ll be in touch in a week or so with confirmation either of attendance (in which case your $250 deposit will be due shortly thereafter) or of wait-list (in which case don’t despair, as spots definitely do tend to open up).
Amy, Jackie, & Lauren
Hi everyone! Just a quick post today before I head off to pack the car for my weekend teaching gig. If you’re going to be in or near Kent, come on by! At the same time as the retreat registration opens on Monday, 12pm EST, I’ll be chatting with Beth Moriarty of Planet Purl about Knit Wear Love, and other things. But don’t fret if you can’t make it – the show will be on YouTube, too!
I’m so grateful for the lovely response that has greeted Knitter’s Toolbox, and thank you all for your kind messages and comments about it. I wanted to follow up on our initial post on the app with a little more detail.
It’s a well-kept secret that I knit things other than sweaters.
But I do! We live in a fairly chilly place, and have a moral objection to turning the heat up too high. So I knit indoor caps for the husband, and hand-knit socks and sweaters for the boys, and wraps and fingerless mitts to keep myself warm.
And I knit for babies, of course. (Who doesn’t knit for babies?) Here’s the yarn that I’m going to use to make Jackie’s new baby Eleanor a summer sweater:
…but somehow I don’t really blog about this stuff anymore. So someone could be forgiven in thinking that Knitter’s Toolbox was designed primarily for use with sweaters. Nothing could be further from the truth! (Actually, I do envision a sweater-focused version of the app in the future – something with dart and neckline calculations, sleeve cap generators, and such…)
So today, before we all head out into a glorious weekend, I want to talk a little bit about how I hope it will be useful in your knitting life – beyond sweaters.
Okay, you’ve got me. Mostly, buttons happen on sweaters. But they happen on all sweaters – even those adorable baby ones we churn out the second someone we know is expecting. And I don’t know anybody who truly picks up the number of stitches specified in the pattern, every time.
But occasionally, something else does come along with buttons – buttoned cowls come to mind – or buttoned mitts, or a hat. Or maybe you’re improvising something on your own!
This handy little gadget is good for everything.
I do, personally, tend to use this guy more for sweaters – changing a sleeve from long to short (or vice-versa), making a V-neck deeper than the one specified in the pattern, altering the shaping on a baby wrap sweater to account for an infant’s long body – but that says more about me than the calculator, I think! It can be used to help space shaping rows wherever you need to increase or decrease – be it on a shawl or shawlette, a shaped funky scarf, or for the top of a mitten.
It’s true, most button bands need you to pick up stitches along their edges. But I’m likely to find this most useful when I’m putting an edging on something else – a scarf, stole, or blanket, for example. Or if I got funky and did a log cabin blanket in differently-sized yarns. Or adding a chunky lace trim to a shrug that was knit in a floaty sport-weight. Or… well. You get the idea.
Whatever you’re knitting, I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you all bright and early on Monday. Happy knitting!
I’m so excited that the time has finally come for us to talk fall retreat. Knowing that we had lovely mid-coast Maine to look forward to definitely helped make re-entry after leaving Asilomar a little less harsh!
This will be our third annual make. wear. love. retreat in Maine, and we feel like the luckiest people in the world. We can’t wait to spend the weekend in Sebasco’s lovely surroundings again, welcoming new faces and reconnecting with old. Steeping ourselves in the best our craft has to offer.
These retreats are an oasis in time, not only for the attendees, but for us as well. It’s tough to describe the magic that happens each time as we let the rest of the world go and immerse ourselves in our people – but magic it is.
We hope you’ll join us at the third annual make. wear. love retreat: east coast edition. We’ll congregate in mid-coast Maine on October 1 – 4, 2015, at the Sebasco Harbor Resort. For more detailed information, please click here to download the brochure.
The festivities will begin with an evening nosh-and-welcome reception on Thursday evening. The rest of your time will be a combination of full-day and shorter classes, lectures, evening events, a fantastic marketplace… …and of course, quiet downtime to knit with friends old and new.
We’re changing up the learning format a little bit this year! We know that you like both in-depth learning and time to sit an knit in gorgeous surroundings. So this fall we’re extending the schedule through Sunday evening, and offering a mix of one full-day session and three shorter classes. We’re very lucky to have four special teachers joining me to be your knitting guides for the weekend:
The setting is stunning, and intimate. There will be great food, great people, and all of the best kinds of learning.
Excited yet? We are! Fiona, Kim, Courtney, and Kate represent an incredible powerhouse of knitting information and are wonderful teachers, all. (Not to mention the fact that they’re awesome people and fantastic to spend a weekend with.) We’ve made the curriculum engaging but not exhausting – in addition to more traditional classes, you’ll participate in lectures, evening festivities, and get an intimate, conversation-filled weekend with our wonderful instructors. You’ll get access to a carefully-curated marketplace and special retreat designs. All against a backdrop of one of the most gorgeous places on earth.
For more specifics, get the brochure! Here’s a quick timeline for registration:
We hope you can join us. We can’t wait to pull up a chair next to you, breathe in the ocean air, and dive into all things sweater.
Well hello there! It’s nice to see you again.
I travel a lot — mostly to events where I get to teach knitters about sweaters. (Related: I love my job.)
I enjoy the travel, and I have a pretty good system for it at this point! But somehow, the coming home part is much harder than the traveling part. When I returned from our west coast retreat last week, jet-lag from three cross-country trips in three weeks hit. It sometimes takes me a few days to figure out what time zone it is! I woke up on Saturday morning wondering where I was and how I got there.
My camera was unfortunately under-used while we were in Monterey, but the event itself was utterly magical. The setting helped, of course:
And Asilomar itself is stunning, too – this was our main meeting hall:
But more than the beautiful views around us, the knitters were the truly magical piece. 90 avid, curious, engaged, interested, happy knitters. We had three incredibly amazing instructors, and a perfect mix of formal and more-relaxed learning times. Magical. I have no other word for it.
I wish every day was filled with such celebration of our craft.
(Want to see more candids of the retreat experience? Check these out!.)
And now I’m home! And I’m slowly catching up on everything I couldn’t get to during the last month while I’ve been away.
I have lots to share with you this week! More about Knitter’s Toolbox, the brochure & registration details for the fall make, wear, love retreat in Maine, and at least three new designs. I’ve also got some in-depth posts on the silhouettes I explored in Knit Wear Love on deck, and some teasers for the next book, which I’ve just started writing.
But just for the moment, let me share something non-knitting. A breather, if you will.
When we bought our first home, a condo back in Boston, we got the advice: “Purchase the ugliest house in the nicest neighborhood you can afford.” That went really well for us the first time, so when we moved last summer we did it again.
The bones of our house and yard are great… …and it was all pretty ugly when we moved in, honestly. I spent all non-working hours last summer painting the interior, and this year it was the yard’s turn. Until now, we’ve had a single (dying) tree and 50 plain green hostas. Back in March, when I thought I just couldn’t take another snow storm, I spent
my whole life a little bit of time on nursery websites, ordering plants to ship after danger of last frost.
They were all waiting for me when I got home from my travel, and I spent the weekend getting good and dirty. And now we have this:
And I couldn’t be happier. We all need a bit of a breather now and again, right?
What did you spend your weekend doing?