Make, Wear, Love: Online Sweater Class (spring session)

In conjunction with the Deep Winter KAL, I’ll be running another session of my make, wear, love online sweater class:

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I so enjoyed the first two sessions, and I’m thrilled to offer this course again. You can read a bunch more detail on this page – here are the basics:

  • The class is great for beginners and more advanced knitters alike, and covers:
    • CustomFit itself – what it can do, what it can’t, and how to use it
    • Body measurements and Fit to Flatter principles
    • Sweater fabric – how to get the best fabric for your sweater
    • Finishing – how to get professional finishing results
    • Advanced CustomFit topics – mash-ups, stitch patterns, and more
    • One-on-one instruction – You’ll have two 15-minute personal sessions with me as part of your course fee.
  • The sessions are run live by group video chat. Amy has multiple cameras and can draw on a whiteboard and/or share her screen with you – so everything is super visible and clear.
  • This session runs on Monday evenings at 8:00pm Eastern. The dates are 01/19, 02/02, 02/23, 03/09, 03/23, and 04/06.
  • The cost for the entire class, including one CustomFit pattern, class sessions, and the one-on-one sessions, is $125

I really hope you’ll join us! You can sign up by clicking here. You’ll get confirmation email right away, and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours with more information.

So: Are you ready to knit a fantastic sweater with me? Here’s a sneak peek of the one I knit during our last class sessions:

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Happy knitting!

Year of Sweaters: Deep Winter KAL

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome to 2015!

Congratulations, if appropriate, for making it through the knitter’s toughest season of the year. Gifts have been given (and a week of mopping up “loose ends” completed), to-do-lists have been placed aside for the next holiday season, and your needles are your own again.

So we think January 1 is the perfect time to begin the penultimate KAL in our first “Year of Sweaters”:

Deep Winter KAL

Knitters get very excited about fall knitting, that time of the year when the temperature first dips low enough to consider a long-sleeved garment. And I definitely love all of the other sweater seasons too! Transitional cardigans, a snuggly vest for my best friend, a sleek shell in a futuristic non-wool blend…

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…but my heart belongs to the winter sweater.

 

Winter is when we need our sweaters most.

 

It’s cold (or colder than usual anyway). It’s dark. The holidays are over and everything is quiet and still. The entire season begs for us to look inward, care for ourselves and our loved ones, and cuddle up until the spring warms our faces again.

It’s the perfect time to envelop yourself in the care and warmth of your own craft. But winter sweaters are my favorites for another reason, too:

 

The best winter sweaters are simple, functional, and wearable.

 

Winter is the time when we pull on our time-tested, tried-and-true favorites. The ones that might not be loaded with fancy stitch patterns, that might not have the most unique construction, but which snuggle us in cozy warmth and match our entire wardrobes.

So we’re packing this session of our KAL with a celebration of all things cozy, starting with a pretty jam-packed week:

  • With the start of the Deep Winter KAL, the Gift KAL has closed. We’ve got an FO thread on Ravelry here – post your gift sweater for a chance to win this KAL’s prize – a 30-minute private sweater consultation with me. Now that you’ve knit your gift sweater, it’s time to talk about what makes your sweater-loving heart sing. We’ll chat over an online meeting, and discuss anything you like. Afterwards, I’ll send off a grab bag to you of favorite yarns from my own stash.
  • Tomorrow, I’ll be posting sign-ups for a new session of the make wear love online sweater class to dovetail with the KAL.
  • I’ll be releasing a cozy new design on Monday.
  • Before Lauren and I head to the winter TNNA show, I’ll share tips on making sure your fabric and your sweater’s design live in perfect harmony.

The rest of this KAL will feature a series on creating the perfect cardigan, more single-session online classes, and the release of our first CustomFit collection.

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So grab a cup of something warm, snuggle yourself into your favorite knitting chair, and create something cozy with us. We’re excited to be knitting with you!

(Of course, as usual for these Knit-A-Longs, join us on Ravelry! And use the hashtag #wintersweaterkal on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest so that we can all keep in touch.)

In review, looking ahead

Happy holidays, from our little team!

We hope your knitting has been gifted, and you’re now luxuriating in family, friends, and a shorter to-do list than in early December. And while we’re still snuggling with our loved ones and enjoying a little family time of our own, I wanted to take a few minutes to thank you for being here, and reflect a bit on 2014.

My family experienced 2014 as a pretty tumultuous year, honestly. A good year in many ways, to be sure… …and a challenging one in others.

2014 was my first full year working for myself (and with an incredible team). It included more trips than I’d like to think about (16 before summer, which is when I stopped counting very carefully, even though I love teaching with all my heart). Our family made a huge move to a much less expensive place to live (but yay for continuing to be able to work on my passions!), with all that entails: new schools, new surroundings, exploration of this place we now call home. And more than that, it included a lot of introspection: What would we like our lives to be like? How much of that is under our control, and what can we change to bring ourselves closer to the family we want to be?

I feel incredibly lucky that we were in a position to make some big changes, and we’re ending the year in a place that (while still more tenuous than we’d like) is filled with light, and joy, and love. Even the bad days are easier, here.

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(Family out-take time!)

Ravelry tells me that I also knit 25 sweaters, though you can’t see most of them until the spring:

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(Knit Wear Love is coming this spring to a location near you!)

And lots of other work that has been keeping us busy this fall is under wraps until spring-time, too. All in all, 2014 left me feeling hopeful, more centered than I have in a long time, and very very excited about 2015.

How did you feel about 2014?

However your year went: Happy New Year, to you and yours. May this night be filled with light, knitting, and wonderful company. See you on the flip side!

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.

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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.

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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:

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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

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    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!)

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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:

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(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:

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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.

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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.

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(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:

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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!

Thankful

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

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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!

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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.

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(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?

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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:

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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!