A breather

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:

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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?

Cardipalooza pattern update: Mine Hill Cardigan

Welcome from the west coast! I’m writing this from lovely Pacific Grove CA, at the make wear love: west coast retreat. I have a new sweater for you today, but before I share it, I wanted to address your questions about when/if the Knitter’s Toolbox app will be available on Android devices.

I’m thrilled so many of you are excited for the Android version – and it has definitely been our plan from the very start to make one! We’re too small a team to develop multiple products at the same time, though. And while there are apps that are available on both platforms, behind the scenes two teams were working in parallel to create identical-looking, but totally different, versions of the same thing. (Think of it this way: One is built with Legos, the other with K’nex.) Since CustomFit has also languished during app development time, we’ve got some things to do there before we dive into Android.

We are so small – taken all together, the 3 of us who do development don’t add up to a full-time person – so I can’t promise a specific timeline, but we will release the Android version as soon as we can. If anyone wants more information, I gave a lot more detail in my answers to the comments.


And now, without further ado, the results of some of my Cardipalooza knitting and a brand-new sweater!


The Mine Hill Cardigan was my first Cardipalooza inspiration, and I’m so excited to be wearing it this season. It’s made out of, and centered around, one of my favorite lines of yarn: the merino – cashmere – silk yarns from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. Jennifer has an incredible way with color, and this one – Chimney Swift – stands to become one of my all-time favorites. Tons of different greens, from lighter to dusky, make a fabric that looks near-solid when you step back a few feet, but gets deliciously complex the closer your are.

This blend, which is offered in weights from lace to worsted, produces everything I love in clothing. The knitted fabric has heft, drape, fluidity, and an incredible sheen. I’ve been itching to get another sweater in the Birte since I released Alta, and this one couldn’t be more my style.

You can read more about the design specifics, and create your own Mine Hill, here on CustomFit. In this post, I wanted to talk about why I love to wear this design so much.

Before I started working in fiber arts full time, I was in a full-on, fairly formal, corporate environment. I mostly wore suits, or suiting separates, and though I tried to mix things up a little here and there, I was honestly pretty limited in what I felt comfortable doing.

I wondered, because I think about clothes more than is maybe healthy, how my style would change with this next phase of my career. My best guess was that I’d stay on the dressier side of things, but up the modern, funky, unusual aspects of my wardrobe.

That’s not what has happened.

You’re maybe expecting me to say that I work in my pajamas all the time, but that’s not what has happened either! Instead, left unconstrained, my style is becoming a very solid mix of casual and sporty. I’m not a yoga pants person (unless I’m doing yoga), but I do tend toward clothes that support the odd blend of work and life that I’m living these days.

My ability to go from meeting to kid-racing to cooking dinner to knitting on the couch is paramount, and it’s important to me to feel put together. So I seek out clothes that are hard-wearing, flexible, and comfortable, while still retaining some bit of interest or polish.

Mine Hill has fit right in.


The low-hip length is incredibly versatile – good for standing or sitting or crouching down to mess around in the garden. The pockets are patch pockets, to make them as strong as knit pockets can be. The fronts are wide enough to overlap, and the trim scrunches beautifully and softly against my neck. On a chilly evening walk, I can shawl-pin it closed.


It goes well with all of my jeans, 3 or 4 of my skirts, and half a dozen tops of different weights. It matches my favorite sassy shoes, my workhorse boots, and those Birkenstocks I’m lusting after this summer.

It’s everything I love about spring sweaters, in one silky package.

I hope you like it too. You can make one through CustomFit, in whichever weight of Jennifer’s MCS bases you like, and get a sweater that looks just like this one – in your gauge, for your body. Mine Hill was designed to look great in any weight yarn.

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Cardipalooza goes through May 31st, so there’s still time to make your own and join the fun. (This is the second cardi I’ve finished this Cardipalooza, and I’m set to finish at least 2 more before the KAL closes.)

Enjoy your weekend, and we’ll see you on the flip side!

Knitter’s Toolbox: Now Available

Thanks to all of you, so much, for your lovely comments and questions about our preview of Knitter’s Toolbox. I’m now very very excited to share that it’s available in the iTunes App Store for just $4.99:


I hope you’re as excited as we are! We’ll be releasing videos on how to use Knitter’s Toolbox to simplify your knitting life over the next couple of weeks, but today I thought I’d just share some quotes from the people who have had preview access to the app:

“This app simplifies everyday knitting calculations. Saves tons of time manually calculating buttonhole placement and number of stitches to pick up. The shaping calculator is my favorite. I find I often have to adjust the sleeves of sweaters I knit. The shaping calculator makes it so much faster. I enter the number of stitches I want at the wrist, the number of stitches I want at the armhole, and the number of rows in my sleeve and the app calculates the spacing of all of my sleeve increases. So much faster than using an ordinary calculator. Since it calculates both increases or decreases, it will also be amazing for calculating waist shaping. I am very happy to have this handy tool in my pocket!” –Kelly

“Great app! 4 calculators in one is crazy valuable.” –Hannah

“Such a beautiful and handy app to have at my fingertips! I love to knit and this app lets me spend more time doing just that: knitting instead of doing knitting math. The buttonhole spacer takes all my second guessing about button placement away. Perfect buttonhole placement every time. The shaping calculator lets me make sweater mods confidently on the fly and even helps me check my math on new design ideas. Also use it to calculate gauge or how many stitches to pick up for perfect edges.” –Kim

“The app is great. The buttonhole calculator is very handy! And everything works like a charm.” –Kirsten

Really, no matter what kind of project you’re working on, Knitter’s Toolbox can help.

So tell us: Which calculator will you use most often?



Is it still Cardipalooza if we’re not knitting cardigans?

It’s a busy time at AHD! In addition to the Knitter’s Toolbox app coming out very, very soon, we’ve got a lot going on behind the scenes. Amy is traveling for a few big events in a row and meeting a lot of knitters. Jackie and I (Lauren) are nailing down final details for the Make. Wear. Love. Retreat next week. And everyone is knitting, of course!

But despite the fact that it’s Cardipalooza right now, both Amy and I are madly knitting away to finish pullovers. Amy’s got a very full design plate this spring, and it started with a whole slew of pullovers. She’s into cardis now, though — and here’s a sneak preview. (And if you’re at Yarnover this weekend, ask her about the sweater on the needles!)


As for me, I’m kind of a mint green aficionado. I acquire items in mint green like they’re going out of style: a rain jacket, my favorite pair of shoes, 5 colors of nail polish… and of course, yarn:


Lucky me, I’m knitting this Anzula Squishy (in Minty Unicorn, the Yarnover Truck’s exclusive colorway) up into a lacy pullover you’ll see very soon. Unlucky for me, it’s at 7.5 stitches per inch on size 2 needles. With a deadline.


(Now you see why it’s been so quiet around here!)

Amy’s working on a lacy pullover as well, as part of the same collection. I haven’t seen it in person yet, but here’s a little sneak preview to share:


This design will be released around the same time as the one I’m knitting. I think most of you will be very surprised by this design … it’s something new from Amy that you haven’t seen before. Look for both of these sweaters plus one more in mid-May!

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a new Amy sweater to knit and you simply can’t wait, you’re in luck! The most recent Twist Collective features Seawillow, a boatneck. The yarn is delightful — Manos del Uruguay’s blend of cotton and alpaca, in a springy light pink that’s perfect for layering over a sundress. (Or under a raincoat, if your weather is anything like mine right now…)


Are you playing by the #cardipalooza rules? Or are you a #pulloverpalooza rebel like us? Share with us in the KAL thread on Ravelry!

Coming Soon, to an App Store near you

This weekend, I’m teaching at Vogue Knitting Live Pasadena (will I see you here?). So I’ve traded my barely-there crocuses and thinking-about-budding trees for the relatively lush Southern California landscape.

These teaching weekends are wonderful and frenetic and jam-packed. And some of the best things I’ve done have been born from spending a few hours getting personal with a couple dozen knitters. It’s especially wonderful to be able to get a sense of where knitters get hung up – their descriptions of that point where they just decided to give up, and knit something else. Or put down their knitting entirely.

As some of you may know, but many probably don’t, before I quit my day job to launch and run this small business, I worked in tech for more than 15 years.

…Actually, I should say I worked only in tech for that time, pursuing knitting as an ever-growing hobby and then side business. Because in this new phase of my life, I get to combine those passions. I still work in tech – CustomFit makes us a small tech company, even if we don’t look like one in some ways – but the blending of my passion for knitting and my understanding of what can be solved with computers is more personally rewarding than anything else I’ve done.

Into every knitter’s life, a little math must fall.

It’s a fact, even if you’re knitting a scarf or baby blanket. And even if math doesn’t make you shudder, your hobby isn’t math, it’s knitting.

As someone who has been solving problems with computers for decades, it gives me great pleasure to be able to take some of the pencil-and-paper out of that math, and help knitters spend more time knitting, and less time calculating.

Soon, in the Apple App Store**, you’ll be able to get another tool in that arsenal:


The Knitter’s Toolbox is exactly what the picture says – an app we’ve written that contains four super-useful, general-purpose knitting calculators:

  • A buttonhole spacer, which will space a number of buttons easily over a number of stitches;
  • A multi-purpose gauge widget, which will take any two of the following, and tell you what the third must be: row/stitch gauge, row/stitch count, and length;
  • A shaping placer, which will tell you how you must space your increases or decreases to get as smooth a line of shaping as possible while keeping the number of “even” rows the same;
  • A pick-up calculator, which will tell you not only the total number of stitches to pick up along a vertical edge, but what that translates into as a ratio.

Want to see it in action? I made a short video:

Naturally, I’m crazy excited about this. I hope you will be too. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing some videos on how to use Knitter’s Toolbox to make your knitting life easier, and we’ll definitely let you know when release date comes, too!

**(In the interest of transparency: Yes, for the moment the app will only be available on Apple devices. We absolutely plan to make an Android version too – it just isn’t as simple as clicking a “make it available everywhere!” button. We’ll need to rewrite the whole thing from scratch to support Android. It’s in our plans, but since we’re a one-developer shop, and CustomFit will need a little attention first, I can’t promise a specific timeline yet.)

But I felt like VKL was the perfect weekend to let you know about it, since the app grew directly out of me being able to sit with knitters, and ask them about their least favorite parts of knitting.

Happy weekend to you & yours!


Book Review and Awesome Thursday: Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns

I’ve been following Alabama Chanin for years. It’s a small, cottage-industry-based studio that makes exquisite hand-made garments. Their pieces always grab my attention and fashion daydreams.

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(The pictures above are credit Alabama Chanin and used with permission.)

More than anything else, I’m enchanted by the way Natalie Chanin pursues her vocation. She has done an extraordinary thing by bringing us all into a reverence of our maker roots, and then turning that passion into an incredibly successful business. And she’s at the forefront of our growing sense that sustainable materials, crafted with care by artisans we compensate and respect, produce the best that clothing has to offer. Garments that not only look great and last well, but which also wrap and nurture and enfold us in good things.

(It doesn’t hurt that her garments, while on the fringes of my own personal style, are absolutely stunning.)

Her ready-to-wear pieces are totally out of my reach, but I snapped up all of her books with alacrity the second they came out. And when I saw that she was offering DIY kits a few years back? I grabbed some of those, too.


If you don’t own Natalie’s previous 3 books: The Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, and Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, you should. They’re fantastic books to read in and of themselves, they’re incredibly visually inspiring, and they give a wonderful introduction to her techniques.

…that said, despite regularly poring over them and fondling my kits, I haven’t actually ever made anything from them beyond the basic home-type projects.

Don’t get me wrong! I grew up a decent seamstress, stitching at my grandmother’s knees. But that was a long time ago. Alabama Chanin’s garments are so exquisite – I really wanted to “do it right”. And while I’m comfortable making modifications while knitting — inserting darts to fit my bust, waist, and hips, and lengthening sweaters as I go — modifying a sewn garment is a different matter. Accommodating my long torso and short legs, as well as my bust, in a dress? Daunting!

Kind of ironic, isn’t it, coming from someone who spends their life helping others get over their fear of fitting?

The new book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, solves my hesitance.

It’s easily as gorgeous and inspiring as the others, but is also full of action.

It provides proper sewing patterns that are much more explicit than previous guidance/sketches, not only for the garments from all previous books, but also for three new patterns: Their A-line dress/tunic/top, their Classic coat/jacket/cardigan, and (most excitingly to me) their Wrap Skirt. All of them can be extended with any of the embellishment techniques Alabama Chanin is known for, in a wide range of colors and patterning styles.

But what’s better is that after the patterns, Natalie includes an entire chapter on fit and customization. It’s meaty and wonderful, covering everything from darts to princess seams to perimeter vs. internal alterations to mix-and-match sizing and more. Everything is discussed clearly, with great illustrations, and the book even comes with a CD of all of the patterns, in all of the sizes. It’s incredibly helpful and thoughtfully put together.

My own personal issue with garments like these, especially pants and skirts, is that I have extremely short legs – my inseam is just 27” despite my 5’6″ height. And although I’ve definitely gotten used to it over the years, hemming ready-to-wear is often a problem! The easiest way to alter – simply cutting length off of the bottom – tends to change the proportions of patterning and silhouette. So I was especially grateful for the detailed guidance on different ways to approach length alterations.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Although I didn’t create this garment (major thanks go to the incredibly talented Alabama Chanin team), it was created to fit my own unique body, using the techniques described in the book. And I can’t even tell you how excited I am about it.



This is the gored skirt, with paisley reverse applique, shortened properly to my preferred knee length of 20”. The patterning is intact and lovely, and I think it looks fantastic. In Knit Wear Love parlance, I’d say my style is fairly Sporty – though I have a few fave Classic and Bohemian pieces I wear a lot too. The pictures above show how I’ll wear the skirt in my daily life.

…But I couldn’t help playing around with the Knit Wear Love sweaters, and I noticed that the skirt looked phenomenal with the Avant-Garde bolero too! So I pulled a very-unlike-me outfit together to show you:


(Custom buttons by Jennie the Potter, yarn by Sweet Georgia, bolero pattern is my own.)

In short: This book is a fantastic resource. Clearly and thoughtfully written by someone who has lots to teach us about dressing ourselves, actionable and useful, and visually inspiring. What more could a maker want?

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Pattern (and yarn!) Release: Foyle’s Sweaters

So if you head on over to Clara Yarn today, you’ll notice a breathtaking new offering:


This is Shetland 1.0, a naturally-colored Shetland woolen-spun yarn. DK weight, blooms like nobody’s business, a sweater yarn to end all sweater yarns. As Clara herself said:

“Don a sweater out of this yarn and you’ll be driving a World War II ambulance in no time.”

To say that I was excited about working with this yarn is something of an understatement. I was lucky enough to have time to luxuriate in my swatches, and let me tell you – EVERYTHING looked great. Cables? Stunning. Texture? Perfect. Small-scale lace?


There we had my winner. The crazy bloom of this yarn made the lace look almost like a texture. I was instantly in love. I came up with the notion of offering two variations on the same sweater pattern – something for pullover people, something for cardigan people. I wanted allover texture on the front, but plain sleeves and back to facilitate shaping. Keeping the front straight meant that the sweater could have an old-school, comfortable, slightly-slouchy feel while not being super boxy.


Foyle’s Cardigan and Pullover will take you to the grocery store, on a hike, to work, to the library, all while making you feel as though you’re surrounded by the heather of a Scottish moor. Knit up in Shetland 1.0, they’re the kind of sweaters that turn people into sweater people. They wrap you up in woolly comfort, and remind you of what clothes can do for us when they’re made from thoughtful materials and created with care and pride.

Both designs feature an allover-patterned front and Stockinette back and sleeves. The pullover sports a wide, slightly-deep crew neck; the cardigan, a comfy deep V. Waist shaping is located on the back only for the ultimate in casual comfort. Want some more pics? Of course you do!

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You can get the yarn here, at least till it’s gone – and I urge you to do so. It’s like the culmination of all of my yarny dreams, in 3 great colors.

(I may have tripped and fallen on a sweaters’ worth in each of the other colors, too.)

Once you’ve gotten your yarn, head here to create your own Foyle’s sweater:


Click for the cardigan!


Click for the pullover!

And tell us about your sweater nirvana. Are you a cardigan or a pullover person? Average fit, like my sweater – or relaxed, like Clara’s? Where would you wear your Foyle’s, and what will you wear it with?

Happy knitting!

The best kind of Monday

I know that Mondays are some people’s least favorite day. But I love them – they always fill me with promise and excitement for the week ahead. This week, there’s a little more than usual to be excited about!


The handy knitting calculators app we’ve been writing is finally almost ready to submit for approval. So be looking for videos and more fun stuff in the weeks ahead – in addition to posting here about them, I’ll be updating this page with screenshots, details, and other fun stuff.

Tomorrow, at noon(ish) Eastern, something pretty spectacular is going to happen. It’s a great idea to be near a computer then.

Thursday, I’ll be sharing a bit about what’s at the bottom of that pile – and how I love it with all my fierce fashiony heart.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep knitting, finalizing retreat details, and preparing for all of the travel I have coming up later this month. Speaking of – there are actually a few spots open in a couple of my Vogue Knitting Live classes. I believe there’s still room in the short Knit to Flatter class, my Sweaters, Deconstructed class (which is an excellent class all about fabric, stitch patterning, style, and other sweater considerations), and my Modifications class. You can view all classes and sign up here – I hope to see you there!

(Or at Yarnover, where I’m speaking and teaching.)

(Or in this gorgeous place, where I CANNOT WAIT TO BE, although the weather has been giving us a much-loved break here in New England lately.)

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What will your week hold?

Drumlin Cardigan

How is your Cardipalooza cardi coming along? I’m pretty excited about the one I just cast on, but I’ve actually already got a couple of cardigans to share with you!

The first is the Drumlin Cardigan:


Cardigans are such essential sweaters for most of us, aren’t they? The design for this one started when Clara Parkes and I were discussing what makes for a quintessential cardigan. I’d just received a sweater quantity of her (then-new) Cormo 2.0**, which is such a fantastic sweater yarn. We started bouncing around thoughts and descriptors:

Great indoors and out. Comfortable, but not baggy. Shaped, but not tight. Versatile in terms of layering. Pockets a plus.

I spent some time sketching, and swatching, and fiddling with my sketches a bit. The design is pretty simple:




But I’m also finding the sweater to be pretty much infinitely wearable. Our weather has warmed up a bit this week, and I’ve been wearing this every day instead of a jacket. I’ve worn it with a long-sleeved T-shirt, as in the pattern photos. I’ve worn it over a thin henley store-bought sweater that I love. I’ve worn it over a giant cowl-neck tunic, and over a button-down. And it’s risen to the challenge most admirably. (Also, the fabric is looking lovely even after so much hard wear – a little fuzzed, but not a pill in sight.) And by the way – I worked the edge shaping on this sample 3 stitches in from the edge, slanting against the edge being shaped – but of course, you can shape however you’d like.

I’ve built Drumlin right into CustomFit, so you can get your own perfectly-suited cardigan without having to worry about fit modifications or matching anyone else’s gauge.

If you were not able to purchase Cormo 2.0 while it existed, any worsted-spun, traditional wool yarn will make a great substitute. For a commercially-available yarn that will produce an extremely similar final product, try Imperial Yarns Tracie Too.

The exquisite buttons on this sweater were created by Melissa Jean Handknit Design and are highly recommended.

Are you cardi-inspired? What will you use to make your own Drumlin?

**(P.S. – in re: another sweater I’ll be sharing with you shortly, you probably want to sign up to be notified when Clara releases new yarn. Link here. Just sayin’.)

Knit Wear Love – Release Day!!!

There seriously aren’t enough exclamation points in the world for how I feel today.

Knit Wear Love is finally available!

The patterns are described on Ravelry and here on this site, the blank pattern worksheets are available to help make your sweater knitting more brainless and easy, and I can finally start wearing the sweaters.


(The cozy in today’s studio brought to you by: The Casual Cardigan.)

You can get the book from Amazon, directly from my publisher, or from your favorite independent bookstore. Or better still: Visit one of our wonderful CustomFit yarn stores to pick up your copy.

As you knit from the book, or daydream about knitting from the book, we’d love to keep track of what you’re doing! Use the hashtag #knitwearlove so that we can see all of your sweater awesomeness.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more sweater talk, but for today – I’m going to celebrate, and knit, and breathe a huge sigh of relief. It’s here!!!