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

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

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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?

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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.


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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:

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Click for the cardigan!

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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!

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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:

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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:

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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.

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(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!!!

Swapping out Shaping

One of the benefits of the interstate move I mentioned is that I now live just a few doors down from my best friend. Obviously this is awesome for about a million every day reasons, but since this is a knitting blog let’s talk about the knitting-related ones. Beth was an occasional knitter for about a year, and she’s certainly kicked things into high gear since we moved.

In fact, she’s now knitting her first sweater!

One of the great things about that is that I’m getting to see, first-hand, in a context where I can pester her with questions, what it’s like to approach sweater knitting as a relative newbie. (Because let’s face it, it’s been a long time since I (or any other designer you’re likely to meet) were in that stage of our sweater-knitting journey.)

I’m fascinated by the fresh slate with which she approaches patterns themselves. I had no understanding of how much context and custom we (pattern writers) assume on the part of the knitter – she’s mentioned several times how vague knitting patterns are. In most cases when a pattern is vague, there’s a reason – different choices exist that you can make entirely based on your own taste, and will probably want to make differently for different sweaters.

So today, I’m starting a series of posts on the options and freedoms you have when you’re knitting any sweater pattern. Things you can do this way, or that way, and still get a great sweater. The first topic is edge shaping.

When shaping on an edge, you have a variety of options that will all produce different looks.

The actual pattern instructions for edge shaping often look something like this:

“Decrease 1 st at each edge every RS row 7 times.”

And as long as you’ve gotten rid of those 14 stitches over the 14 rows specified, you’re pretty much good. So what are your options, and what look will they produce? There are two different parts to how you’ll work your shaping, and they’re independent of each other. So let’s break things down that way.

The first thing to decide is where you’ll work your shaping.

Shaping Placement

Edge shaping should typically be carried out within the 4 or 5 stitches at the edge of the piece, but you can work the shaping wherever you want within that range: Either right at the edge, one stitch in, or more than one stitch in.

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Shaping at the edge means that the shaping itself is going to be hidden within the finishing you’ll do – whether you’re going to be seaming that edge, or picking up stitches within it.

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Shaping one stitch in means that the shaping will be just outside the seam of whatever finishing you’ll do. It will be visible, but fairly unobtrusive.

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Shaping more than one stitch in from the edge means that the shaping itself will become a visual element in the piece. This is sometimes called “fully fashioned shaping”.

Shaping Slant

Wherever your performing the shaping, you can either choose to have it slant with the edge being shaped, or slant against the edge being shaped. All of the images above have shaping that slants with the edge being shaped:

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Slanting the shaping with the edge, for example using left-leaning decreases on the right edge and right-leaning decreases on the left edge of the armholes of a sweater back, will make the shaping slightly less eye-catching.

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Slanting the shaping against the edge, for example using right-leaning decreases on the right edge and left-leaning decreases on the left edge of the same armholes, will make the shaping slightly more eye-catching.

Putting them together

Putting them together, you’ve got a range of shaping options from completely unobtrusive (shaped at the edge itself, slanting with the edge being shaped):

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To fashionably eye-catching (shaped 3 stitches away from the edge, slanting against the edge being shaped):

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Which should you choose?

Truly, it’s up to you.

I personally prefer a clean look on sleeve caps most of the time, and on necklines when the yarn itself is somewhat busy, and fully fashioned shaping on neck edges when the yarn and design are more plain – as seen in the new CustomFit Basics sweater Firth:

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…but really, truly, it’s a matter of taste. What look do you like, given the rest of what’s going on in the sweater?

We have a winner – and a new KAL!

You all did such a wonderful job commenting in the contest to win Knit Wear Love – thank you!!! I always love reading comments, but this time especially I had such a great time hearing about your style challenges and loves. Thank you for such an excellent and thought-provoking group of observations.

I was glad to have the random number generator to help me choose a winner, for sure! And out of 402 comments, it chose Deb’s:

I love cables, textures and color knits with a scoop or vneck or henley and i like raglan. comfort is the key. I love textures that evoke nature. I really love a sweater with a beautiful lace pattern as well.

Deb and everyone, thanks again for commenting! As soon as my own copies of the book arrive, one will be on its way to you.

*****

Even though it’s tough to tell from today’s weather, winter is winding down, and with the warmer (?!) temperatures comes the end of the Deep Winter KAL.

As I mentioned when we kicked it off, Deep Winter is my favorite sweater time. And I’ve been heartily enjoying my favorite of the 6 sweaters I knit during this KAL:

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…but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a hint of spring fever around here. And let’s be honest, those of us in the Northeast still have a couple-three months of wool-weather before we pack it away until fall.

So it’s time to come full-circle in the Year of Sweaters KAL, and once again get a little punchy with the thought of wearing sweaters-as-outerwear:

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So many beautiful sweaters were finished during the first Cardipalooza that we kicked off a whole series of Year of Sweaters KALs. Let’s do it again! The rules are as usual for these KALs – knit a cardigan, and finish it before May 31 for a chance to win a prize (beyond your fab sweater, of course!).

Want to play along? There are a number of ways:

  • Our CustomFit Ravelry group is a great place for inspiration and sweater-y chatter.
  • Use the hashtag #cardipalooza on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest so that we can all keep in touch. As usual, we’ll set up inspiration boards and share our own cardi progress with you.
  • Comment here on the blog! We always love to see and hear about what you’re knitting.

We’ll be setting up an FO thread for the Deep Winter KAL in our Ravelry group early this week to choose the Deep Winter winner, and I’ll be kicking Cardipalooza off with a bang early next week with a brand-spanking-new cardi pattern.

Until then, grab some yarn you love, see if any of CustomFit’s cardigans strike your fancy, and stay warm!

Catching up: The book (and a chance to win it!)

So in addition to an inter-state move, running my own small business for the first full year, many many teaching trips, and trying to spend as much time with my family as possible…

…I wrote a book in 2014.

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And I haven’t really had much time to tell you about it yet! Knit Wear Love has an official release date of March 17, so you’ll be hearing and seeing more about it as the month goes on, but I didn’t want to get too much further without at least introducing it – and giving you a chance to win a copy!

Knit Wear Love grew out of the same place that birthed CustomFit:

I want to help you use your knitting skill to make your own favorite clothes.

Wearing garments that are made for us is such an amazing feeling. It’s something we hardly ever get to experience anymore, in this quick-fashion, ready-to-wear world. And it’s an amazing enough feeling that I want to help make the whole shebang as easy as possible for you. The first step is knowing what kind of silhouette you like on your own fabulous self. That’s what Knit to Flatter was all about.

But even once you’ve got the silhouette down, how do you create a sweater that matches your life? That looks good with the clothes you already have? That’s practical for the things you need to do each day?

As a designer, I’ve got dozens of sweaters that fit me well, with flattering silhouette. Why do I wear 4 of them, and leave the rest on the shelf?

Knit Wear Love answers those questions. This book, CustomFit, and Knit to Flatter work together to give you a great set of sweater resources:

  1. Knit to Flatter tells you what kinds of silhouettes you are most likely to love.
  2. Knit Wear Love tells you what kinds of materials and flair you’d like to add to that basic shape.
  3. CustomFit creates a pattern where all the numbers match your gauge and body.

In addition to having patterns (I’ll write more about those later), I wanted Knit Wear Love to be a great reference book for the kinds of changes and alterations you should feel empowered to make to a pattern so that the sweater is uniquely you. So there’s a whole chapter on things like how to swap out stitch patterning, yarn choice, and basic silhouette pieces to create a look that’s very you, rather than one that’s like the model.

Want a sneak peek at some of the samples?


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(24 sweaters is a lot of knitting!)

Giveaway time!

I’ve got a series of posts planned that will give you an inside look at the choices behind some of the samples I created for Knit Wear Love, and a few more about technical sweater topics – but I wanted to take few minutes for a quick introduction, first. Knit Wear Love forms the backbone of what I’m thinking, designing, and teaching right now. It informs the way I use and design for CustomFit, it gave rise to some of my most favorite classes, and I’m so tremendously pleased with the way STC’s wonderful team brought the whole thing together.

I hope you like it as much as I do. I’ll have more giveaways as release time gets closer, but since books are such special things, I’d love to kick off this introduction with one too. Knit Wear Love starts off with a question:

What’s your personal style?

So, for a chance to win a signed copy of the book, tell me something about your style. It can be anything: What kinds of colors, materials, fabrics, or shapes do you like to wear? What’s your very favorite piece of clothing? What thing have you made that you wear all the time, or that goes with nothing in your closet?

I’ll take comments until midnight EDT on Thursday, March 12, and choose a winner randomly on Friday morning. I can’t wait to read your comments!

CustomFit Basics: Winter/Spring 2015 Collection.

I’ve always felt that our knitting should be worn.

One of my great passions in life is to change the fact that sweaters suffer from the “closet curse” more than any other kind of knitting. That’s why I created CustomFit — to help all knitters make sweaters they love to knit and to wear. This fall, my inner restlessness and focus on great clothes combined into a somewhat-obsessive desire to re-imagine our “Classic” CustomFit silhouettes into something less static. Through the process, I kept coming back to this concept of basic wardrobe fundamentals.

You know the kind I mean, right? Those sweaters you wear all the time. That you want in 17 different colors. That go with everything in your wardrobe. That feel current, but that you also know you’ll wear for years to come.

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I thought about what those sweaters have in common. And decided that our “classic” CustomFit sweaters needed to be an evolving series of the most versatile things that will ever fly off your needles. I sketched, and chose sweater yarns that I believe in on a number of different levels, and I swatched. Then, the knitting began…

…and today, I’m presenting the first in a line of CustomFit Basics collections: twice-yearly presentations of the classics of our time. Those fundamental, wear-every-day sweaters we can’t wait to throw on. Ready for you to interpret – in your own materials, for your own wardrobe.

For Winter/Spring 2015, our inaugural collection, we’re presenting a mix of timeless, tried-and-trues and updated interpretations of the garments we wear every day.

CustomFit will create them in your own gauge, and your own size. So think about what you’d like to wear, grab your favorite yarn, and play around. See where your hands take you while you look through the collection.


And then, share with us! What styles appeal to you? What materials? What three things in your closet would you want to wear with your new sweater? When you’re ready, click here to get started on your very own wardrobe fundamentals.

Catching up: The Talcott Cardigan

It’s a week of catching up on sweaters here, and today I’d like to talk about a sweater I worked up as an exclusive design for the new website Kitterly.

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Do you know about Kitterly yet? It’s a website that helps you find a project that matches your tastes and skill level, and then packages up everything you need for that project, in one easy bundle. (I spent a fun time over coffee last week, clicking through all of the buttons on their project match tool.) Some months ago now, they were reaching out to designers to collaborate on exclusive kit designs.

I was super happy to be invited to play along, and then even happier when they sent me one of my very favorite yarns to work with – Rowan Felted Tweed Aran. I love this yarn – it’s delightful to knit with, it wears well over time, it comes in a wonderful selection of wearable colors, and it shows stitch patterning beautifully. I’ve worked with it many times over the years, and always enjoy designing for it.

This time, I knew I wanted to work it up into something cabled and cozy, but with a nod to more modern sensibilities. That, and a doodle of Jacob’s, was how Talcott started. I’m super pleased with how it turned out, and I hope you are too!

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Want one of your own? For now, it’s available exclusively through Kitterly. You can find out more details, and get your own, there. Happy knitting!

Catching up: Harrisville

Well, hello there! Long time, no see…

2015 has been incredible in many ways, but not so much on the sitting-in-front-of-the-computer front. Between my travel, the snow days you’re almost certainly sick of hearing about (or experiencing, depending on where you live!), and school vacations, this is one of the first days I’ve been able to just… work… in forever. So there’s lots of catching up to do! For instance, I don’t think we’ve talked about any of these things:

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And I think I’ve knit 5 sweaters during the current KAL, none of which I’ve talked about…

…but first, let’s start with a few more sweaters I’ve been knitting that I don’t think I’ve mentioned. I want to start by talking about my design partnership with Harrisville Designs.

My own journey with Harrisville actually started when I was a kid – we mostly worked with the absolute least-expensive (acrylic) yarn that could be found when I was young. But my mom always had a little savings fund going for “the really good wool”, and every so often would make a very special garment out of it. Harrisville projects were my favorites of that smaller collection of items. While I think they’re gorgeous in the hank too, the true beauty of these yarns doesn’t fully come through until the items made with them are worn, day after day, and year after year.

Over time, the things you’ll make from these yarns will soften, bloom, meld, and relax, the way a really good pair of shoes will. (You know the ones I mean.) Except that unlike the shoes, they’ll continue to look just as good – if not better – than the day they were knit. Of all of the sweaters in the giant set I bring to my classes, Acorn Trail (out of Highland) gets the most love. It still looks as good as the pattern photo, and it feels even better.

So needless to say, when Harrisville first approached me to design for them I was thrilled.

I’ve done 3 sweaters with them now, the latest of which was released just last week. Can I show them to you? (By the way, Caro Sheridan gets the credit for all of these incredible photos.)

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Leatherleaf (here’s a Ravelry link, too) was released in Harrisville’s “Spring Thaw 2014″ collection. It’s a flirty little thing, knit out of their Silk and Wool blend, a wonderful, nubby yarn that I’ve used several times now. (I like it sooo much.)

While I originally intended for the sweater to be worn with a couple of inches of positive ease, I think it looks great when worn more fitted, too. It’s a fairly quick and simple knit, and I keep meaning to knit one for myself – it’s a nice blend of the classic and sporty styles I’m personally most comfortable in. I can imagine it with several of the skirts hanging in my closet that are just waiting for warmer weather.

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Bennington (here’s that Rav link) was my chance to design for Harrisville’s Autumn collection, using their glorious WATERshed yarn. WATERshed is a light, medium-twist woolenspun yarn, similar to Shelter but more structured and durable. I found it to be a joy to work with, and for an Autumn collection, knew that I wanted to work with some deliciously cabled pattern. The front of this cardi is quite plain, and intended to be worn open. (Be sure to choose a size that’s large enough to let the cardigan fronts hang nicely!)

In fact, Harrisville is running a KAL for Bennington – and I can’t wait to see the sweaters! (It’s okay to be dreaming of autumn before winter is even done, right?)

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And finally, there’s Hemingway, which has just been released as part of Harrisville’s winter collection. (Here’s a Ravelry link.) I can’t say enough good things about FLYwheel, the yarn I used for this cardigan. It’s a completely exquisite yarn – a sport-weight relative of WATERshed, except that description can’t convey how perfect a sweater yarn this is. It’s warm, it’s light, it’s the perfect size and tweediness for stitch patterns.

And so, I designed a sweater that I wanted to wear (badly). Cabled, relaxed, comfortable, with just a bit of shaping. The kind of thing that will work with my jeans, my cord skirts, my fall dresses. With boots, with clogs, with an old pair of converse. Know what I mean?

I hope you like it. I’m ridiculously excited about it.

Want to see another picture for good measure?

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(And is that sweet dog not the most adorable thing ever?) So that’s that – another stop in the line of pinch-me-experiences I’ve had since leaving my day job to pursue the fiber arts full-time. What’s on your needles these days – and what sweaters are you looking forward to making this year?