Finishing & Advanced CustomFit online seminars

Hello good knitters! Lauren here.

Did you finish your holiday gift knitting? You’ll be happy to hear that I did, and even got it mailed in time to make it to my home state for Christmas! My Gift Sweater KAL recipient may have been spoiled by some photos I posted on our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but even if she has seen them, I hope she’s delighted. In the meantime, I’m trying to decide what knitting to bring on the plane for my Christmas travels… At least I have a lot of options?

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Amy loved teaching the first Make. Wear. Love. series for new sweater knitters — and I loved helping out too. Now, we’re excited to bring you some brand new online classes! The more advanced sweater knitters have spoken, and they want online classes too. And so we’re closing out 2014 with two Advanced Seminars with Amy.

First, finishing! Knitting sweaters is the fun part, but many of us dread putting them together. Let Amy help you set in sleeves, pick up buttonbands, and match mattress stitch seams. Amy will fully customize the class to the students’ questions and interests. The Finishing Knits Seminar will take place on December 27, from 11 am – 1 pm EST. The cost is $40To sign up, fill out this form.


Next, Advanced CustomFit. This class might be for you if you’ve made your first CustomFit sweater and you’re ready to take it to the next level. Do you want to add cables to your sweater, but you’re not sure how many stitches to add? Maybe you have a favorite pattern by another designer that you’re dying to adapt using CustomFit. Or if you just want an overview of the steps beyond basic custom sweaters. The Advanced CustomFit Seminar will take place on January 3, from 11 am – 1 pm EST. The cost is $40To sign up, fill out this form.

We know the holidays are upon us, and you may be busy at these times. Not to worry — we’ll run these seminars again soon. Since it’s such a busy time of year, each class will only run if we get 8 students or more. We’ll send confirmation with 1 business day, unless we don’t get enough students — in which case, we’ll let you know as soon as we decide.


Finally, you may notice a bit of a delay in our response time over the Christmas holidays, as most of the team will be traveling, spending time with our families, and snuggling up with a mug of tea (like Jackie below, from last year!). Thanks for your patience, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we’re back in the office! We’re so thankful to be part of your sweater journeys every day. ❤noanet-peak-finals-smaller-5

Practical tips on Swatching

I’ve talked before about why we swatch, the importance of fabric, and the things that can sometimes go wrong. I’ve even talked about how to accurately measure your swatch (and provided videos, for CustomFit!).

But I don’t think I’ve spoken practically before about how to keep your swatches from lying to you. Which should definitely be fixed. So:


Practical tips for making your swatches tell the truth about your gauge:

  1. Swatch “normally”. Your swatching goal should be to predict, rather than match, your gauge. So be predictive in your swatching! If your knitting time comes between 8:30 and 10:00pm, while you’re watching Sherlock and having a glass of wine, that’s when your swatching time should come, too.
  2. Make your rows long enough so that you ‘knit normally’. Many of us have different knitting motions when we’re faced with 75 or 100 stitches on the needle, vs. 20. Cast on enough stitches that you’re knitting the way you’ll knit a garment. I always cast on 42 stitches, because I am a big ol’ dork, but you can use whatever number you want. Just make sure it’s over 35, okay?
  3. Swatch for long enough to ‘get into your groove’. None of us get into our regular knitting motion within the first inch or two, so you should knit your swatch until it’s tall enough to give you good data. You’ll need at least 5” / 12.5 cm, and I recommend between 6 – 8” (15 – 20.5 cm).
  4. Don’t “block” your swatch. Wash it. It doesn’t matter what gauge you can pin your swatch to. What matters is the gauge your swatch has when it’s been washed and laid flat to dry, because that’s how you’re going to treat your sweater. So don’t pin your swatch. Wash it, and lay it flat to dry. Really dry.
  5. Measure the “good data” parts of your swatch. You went to so much trouble to get into your knitting motion thoroughly and truthfully – don’t pull your gauge sample from the bad part of your swatch. Measure your stitch gauge and row gauge closer to the top of your swatch than the bottom (though not all the way to the edge), and you’ll be sampling from data that’s more likely to match the way you knit your sweater.

  6. swatches-batch-2-17 first-swatch-batch-2 first-swatch-batch-3 first-swatch-batch-1

    So there you have it: Five simple ways to make your swatches tell the truth. Let me know how they work for you – and share your own tips in the comments, if you have them.

    What am I swatching right now? Something for a project I’m pretty freaking excited about


    Stay warm, and happy knitting!

All things new and bright

The winter holidays are upon us again, and as the days get darker and colder we snuggle up and fill our lives with as much light and joy as it’s possible to soak in. (And a happy Hanukkah, to those who are celebrating tonight!)




And to those of you who are still gift knitting, hang in there! You’ll totally make it. No panicking – take some deep breaths and solace in the fact that Lauren’s there with you:


(She’s almost there on the Featherweight gift sweater!)

I’m celebrating two things in particular today. The first is that I finally got around to weaving in those final ends and wore my own CustomFit Featherweight out tonight:


I love it fiercely – the set-in sleeves help keep this worn-open style anchored on my body, the fabric is wonderful (I used Quince and Co. Tern in “Barnacle”), and I just adore the design. Hannah did such an amazing job of pulling together simple elements to make an incredibly classic piece, with this sweater.

The second celebration is that this site has gotten a much-needed overhaul! If you’re reading via a feed reader or your email, please click on through and poke around. We’ve re-organized things around here to make key posts and design info easier to find, and to be (much) prettier. We’ll be making more additions to the site throughout the next couple of months, too, but I’m already so thrilled with how things are looking.

A new sweater, a new look, light, and warmth. Bring it on, winter!

Comings and Goings

I’m writing this in the midst of our very first “AHD Summit”, which is our fancy way of saying that this usually bi-coastal company is working together for a whole week.


It’s been pretty glorious, I gotta say! And in between working like crazy on lots of sweater-related goodness, the team has been unwinding and chit-chatting over yummy baked goods and football. It doesn’t get much better, truly.


(I’ve been so thrilled to get back into baking since we moved. It’s one of the many passions I just couldn’t reliably keep up in the bustle of our Boston life. I feel so grateful that I’m able to manage it, again.)

The prizes for the FFKAL have been mailed, Thanksgiving was a glorious mix of family and warmth and music and laughter, and knitting has been plentiful. I have a number of sweaters I’m dying to share with you all…

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…but until they’re a bit further along, I wanted to give you an update on the CustomFit Featherweight KAL – remember that? It was theoretically supposed to end on November 30. I had my sweater pretty much finished by the deadline:


But that one-month time period wasn’t really sufficient for a “featherweight” sweater! So we’ve extended the deadline for the KAL through the end of the month – join us in the Rav group if you’d still like to participate! Hannah just completed a lovely version in Quince Owl, and Lauren’s joined the fun, too:

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I’m working on some modeled shots for my own Featherweight, which I hope to share with you before the week is out — along with some practical tips on swatching for gauge.

Until then, the entire AHD team says: Happy knitting!


Wow, what a year it’s been.

In the year since I’ve been on board, Amy Herzog Designs has changed and grown and blossomed. We all pinch ourselves daily that this is what we get to do for work. It can be hard sometimes, working for a tiny startup, but the sweaters are worth it, in the end.

As you may know, this weekend is a holiday here, where we pause to celebrate and give thanks. The CustomFit staff is taking some time this week to enjoy Thanksgiving with our families. If you email us, post on Ravelry, or tweet at us between Wednesday and Sunday, your response time will be longer than usual. We’ll monitor for urgent issues, but won’t be back fully online until December 1.

In the meantime, let me show off our three winners of the Fall Festival KAL swatch packs!

Julie's DC Cardigan

Julie’s DC Cardigan

Patty's Triangled

Patty’s Triangled

Joanna's Ode to Lettuce

Joanna’s Ode to Lettuce

Enjoy over 100 other sweaters finished in the last three months in this thread in the CustomFit group.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. We hope you get lots of knitting done!

The Gift Sweater KAL

Today, a new phase of our “Year of Sweaters” opens:

Gift Sweater KAL

Holiday season is here, and for many of us gift-knitting season is as also upon us. So for this part of our “Year of Sweaters KAL”, we wanted to take a close look at, and celebrate, sweaters as gifts.

Almost every knitter is a gift knitter at some point in their life. Many of us have also struggled with that decision, at one point or another. So much time, energy, and love are involved in using our hands to create a gift for our loved ones. (And often substantial funds, as well!) It’s nearly impossible not to have expectations and daydreams about the reaction the gift will elicit.

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(Some of my own gift-giving history.)

We imagine them swearing off commercial socks forever; immediately putting on the hat and not taking it off until April; exclaiming with unfeigned delight that they’ve never seen anything so beautiful.

I think, at the heart of it, we imagine them seeing the gift not just for the physical object it is, but as the combination of all that went into it.

And since the thing we have made is useful, we expect to see it used, throughout their lives.

That’s a lot of oomph to place on a gift recipient, and so sometimes as gift knitters we get disappointed. But there are those magical few, those knitworthy gift recipients, who meet our secret expectations and then some. And those wonderful people get gifts forever. Including, sometimes, sweaters.

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Sweaters are never the first thing we knit for someone, since any expectations or secret hopes we have about smaller items? Are tenfold with a sweater.

Sweaters are harder to receive, too. We all have store-bought sweaters we love to wear, so the bar is substantially higher for them as gifts. It’s all too easy (both for us and the recipients) to notice, on a sweater, when this pinches a little bit or that flaps just a bit too much. We have too crisp a frame of reference for what “good” is to let “almost there” slip by.

And yet, there are those special few in our lives for whom we want to knit the ultimate hand-knitted gift. And for those loved ones, CustomFit is a beautiful thing. Because CustomFit lets you create a gift for someone with laser focus on their own taste, in the perfect size, in materials they’ll love.

Forget finding the perfect pattern, the perfect yarn, and then hoping the pairing of the two will work out well. For your most wonderful hand-knit recipients, you can do better. So we hope you’ll join us as we knit-a-long for the holidays, creating sweaters worthy of our dearest and closest.

  • Jackie will be taking on the challenge of recreating one of her own sweaters for an admiring, and high-stakes, recipient.
  • Amy will be creating something new for a very dear friend. (And showing bits and pieces here, due to the very-public nature of the blog!)
  • Lauren will be doing plenty of gift knitting, but joining the KAL only in a “research” capacity this time around. (Her gift sweater is outside the realm of what CustomFit can currently do… …but well within the realm of what we hope it will do within the next year.)

The KAL will run from today, November 16, through December 31. As usual, there will be prizes, a thread in our Ravelry group, and posts & discussions on topics related to gift-sweater-knitting. And also as usual, we can’t wait to see what you create.

So are you ready for a different kind of gift knitting? Grab some needles, and let’s go!

Fall Festival KAL: We’re Almost There!

It’s been nearly three months since we launched our Fall Festival Knitalong! And we’ve knit many sweaters in the meantime. We’re excited to see yours, and draw for a few fun prizes, after the KAL ends on Saturday!

Jackie’s been busy growing a human, and that means worn-open cardigans are her friend. She’s almost finished with her Shepherd’s Wool FFKAL sweater (which is a relaxed fit, low hip, mostly-open cardigan in the tradition of Morning Coffee) and is looking forward to casting on with this beautiful Shibui mix for her CustomFit Featherweight next!

Jackie's Yarn


I (Lauren!) have knit a bunch, but also frogged a bunch. Remember the status update where I said she only had to rework a cowl, and then would be finished with a whole sweater? Well…

That sweater has undergone some major re-envisioning. The cowl was a problem, yes, but that was more down to the neckline shape (too deep, too wide) and the yarn characteristics (heavy and smooth, not nearly as lofty as another cowl I worked with the exact same neckline in January).

After doing some hard thinking about how to fix it, I’m ripping out the front of the sweater. The back and sleeves will stay stockinette, but a textured front with a higher neckline and smaller cowl will result in a sweater I’m happier with! I should have known better than to copy Amy directly!



Amy’s needles have been busy with several sweaters (plus swatches for many more), but the one she considers her “true” FFKAL sweater is still sadly lacking a button band.


(Can you see it? It’s the gray one, third in from the right.) She’s teaching on Saturday, at the Metro West Knitters Guild of Boston, and so if she doesn’t finish by tomorrow it’s not happening. Will she make it?


Now, the best part! We’ve opened a FO thread on Ravelry, and we’ll leave it open until November 20. Post your finished Fall Festival Sweaters knit using CustomFit there for a chance to win one of our awesome prizes:


We’re giving away three Swatch Kits, all with full hanks of some of Amy’s favorite sweater yarns: Swans Island Organic Merino, Blue Sky Alpacas Melange, Shibui Maai, Rowan Felted Tweed Aran, and a sampling of indigodragonfly yarns! As a bonus, you’ll also receive a make. wear. love. water bottle — because staying hydrated while swatching is key.

Stay tuned for more info about our next KAL, coming soon!

make. wear. love. retreat: west coast registration is OPEN.

The Knitter’s Review Retreat is over once more, and Jackie and I are en route back home as you read these words, happy and inspired but ready for some family-time, too.

We had a wonderful event at the utterly fantastic Yarn Culture in Fairport, NY after the retreat ended. (No seriously, utterly fantastic.)


But you don’t care about that at all today, right? You care about this:


So here you go! A registration form, just for you. (By the way – if you didn’t see this post instantly, and you want to come to the retreat, don’t despair! Even if the retreat happens to be full when you contact us, the wait list is definitely not pointless – plans can and do change, and spots open up.)

As a quick reminder, after submitting your registration you’ll next hear from us on November 19, when we’ll contact everyone and take the next steps.

We hope you can join us, but either way – have a wonderful Monday, and we’ll be back shortly for more yummy knitting goodness.

make, wear, love retreat: west coast edition

Of all the things I love about my job (and there are many many things I love about my job), our annual retreats have to be right up at the top of the list.

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They’re an oasis in time, not only for the attendees, but for us as well. Because something special happens when a whole bunch of kindness of knitters come together: We let the rest of the world go, and soak up gorgeous surroundings, beautiful materials, and the inspiration of being around 80 other people who are our people.

We learn. We try new things and new ideas. I’ve felt privileged to be a part of that for the retreats we’ve run on the coast of Maine these past two years. At the same time, I understand that coastal Maine is just too far for some to travel, even for knitting.

So there was really only one thing for it: I knew we needed to add a retreat to our list in 2015, on the West Coast, in another beautiful coastal location I was lucky enough to call home, once: Pacific Grove, CA.

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We hope you’ll join us at the first make. wear. love retreat: west coast edition. It will be held on May 1 – 4, 2015, at the Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds.

The festivities will begin with dinner on Friday, followed by an evening welcome reception. The rest of your time will be a combination of traditional classes, intimate focus sessions, personal consultations, lectures, a curated marketplace… …and of course, quiet downtime to knit with friends old and new.

We’re very lucky to have three special teachers joining me to be your knitting guides for the weekend:

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(Fiona Ellis, Clara Parkes, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.)

Excited? We sure are. Stephanie, Fiona, and Clara 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 the weekend with!) Combined with an exciting – but not exhausting – curriculum in a stunning setting with tons of great yarn near at hand?

A heady thought, for sure. Get more specifics by downloading our brochure, and here’s a quick timeline:

  • Registration will open at 12pm Eastern on Monday, November 10. We’ll link to a google form here on the blog. At that time, you’ll need to give us basic information like your name and email, tell us which classes you’d most like to take, and tell us a little bit about your knitting skill level. (Are you a newsletter subscriber? Check your mail, because subscribers will receive advanced access to the sign-up form starting at 9am Eastern.)
  • Attendance confirmation, class assignments, and schedule will be sent on Wednesday, November 19. A non-refundable deposit of $250 will be due at this time (we’ll send you a Paypal invoice when we send your confirmation).
  • In mid-January, we’ll finalize the remaining details of your retreat weekend (including meal preferences and personal consults) – and start counting down the days to the beach bonfire!

We hope you can join us. We can’t wait to pull up a chair in one of the most gorgeous places on earth, and dive into all things sweater.

Three yarns, three women, three sweaters.

Vogue Knitting Live was, of course, bundles of fun – even if I did spend every non-class moment curled up with some Sudafed. Teaching is one of my most favorite of things, and it’s always wonderful to see fellow teachers and exhibitors at these large events.

I returned home to the kind of Halloween fervor only ninja- and monster-obsessed little boys can muster, but I’ve still managed to get a fair amount of work done. In fact, I can finally share three more fall sweaters with you! The sweaters have been done for some time, but we haven’t been able to add them to CustomFit until this week. (It’s not really interesting to explain why – maybe I should just leave it by saying that sometimes even the programmers themselves have a hard time estimating the difficulty of programming tasks?)

So to everyone who saw these sweaters in person, a month agothanks for your patience. I’m very pleased to say that the make, wear, love retreat sweaters for 2014 are now available within CustomFit.

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The Harbor Island Cardigan.

The Harbor Island Cardigan is relaxed, friendly, and warm – just the ticket for chilly nights in front of a fire or for a walk along the coastline. Its long sleeves, longer length, and deep V neckline layer beautifully. A textured stitch pattern is fun to knit and subtly showcases a beautiful yarn.

The sample is shown in Indigodragonfly’s Sad Lester DK, an utterly gorgeous 100% BFL yarn that knits like a dream. It’s wooly, a little on the gruff side, and glorious to wear. We used the color “The New Black”, but Kim produces gorgeous, saturated shades – so find a color that speaks to you!

While the design was originally conceived with stitch patterning only on the bottom of the sweater. Lauren changed things a bit to balance her shape and make the sweater her own. Her extra-long sleeves are super snuggly, and the ribbing at the top of her sweater as well as at the bottom adds interest to the shoulder area and balances the stitch patterning at the cardigan hem. I like the way it looks so much, I’ve included instructions for both in the CustomFit patterns.

You can adjust fit, sleeve length and sweater length to suit your own preferences as usual; Harbor Island is shown here in a relaxed fit, low-hip length, and full-length sleeves. You can create your own Harbor Island directly within CustomFit.

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The Pilot House Pullover.

The make, wear, love fall retreats are always held in a beautiful spot in coastal Maine where I grew up, and I try to create sweaters that would be at home in the region. The Pilot House Pullover is definitely “dressing up” fare, in my hometown, but who doesn’t like to be a bit fancy every now and again? It’s a comfortable, simple pullover to knit, with a diamond lace panel and simple scoop neckline. The lace adds a nice visual touch without fighting with the gorgeously-shaded colors of a hand-painted yarn. It also provides interest for the knitter in an otherwise-simple design.

For this sample, I used The Woolen Rabbit’s Sporty Kashmir in the colorway “Forever in Blue Jeans”. This yarn is an incredibly soft, 3-ply Sport Weight and is made from 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon. I highly recommend it! If you’re using this yarn, you should aim for a stitch gauge of around 6 stitches to the inch to get a fabric like the one shown.

I recommend choosing either a ‘close’ or ‘average’ fit for this pullover, which looks best when worn either next to the skin or with a thin layer. I’m wearing it with a close fit. You can make your own Pilot House Pullover right here in CustomFit.

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The Round Cove Cardigan.

The Roundcove Cardigan is as classic as it gets. Elbow sleeves, tiny buttons, and 1×1 ribbing pair with a gorgeous yarn and tailored shaping to create a piece you’ll wear day in, and day out, for years to come.

Of the three make, wear, love retreat designs, this is the simplest – and an excellent showcase of how utterly classic a simple sweater can be. If you’re nervous about dipping your toes into sweater knitting, this would make a gorgeous first garment.

This design will work beautifully in absolutely any gauge. I have a special place in my heart for fingering weight sweaters, though – and so the sample is worked in The Uncommon Thread’s Posh Fingering. It’s a delight both to knit and to wear – a lovely, light yarn in beautifully shaded tones made from 70% Superwash Bluefaced Leicester, 20% Silk and 10% Cashmere. (Yum.) It’s shown in color Plata.

Stateside, you can find Posh Fingering at the wonderful shop Yarn Culture (both brick-and-mortar, and online.)

This cardigan will look lovely at any fit. As shown, the cardigan was generated with an average fit – but as you can see, Jackie’s measurements have changed since she’s expecting! In these pictures, I think it looks more like a close fit in the shoulders and bust. You can create your very own Round Cove Cardigan here in CustomFit.

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I hope you love all of the sweaters as much as we do! Just looking at them reminds me of the wonderful time we all had, and makes me homesick. Happy Halloween to all who celebrate, and we’ll see you soon!