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!

Rhinebeck!

Rhinebeck was, naturally, glorious.

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The trees were beautiful, our CustomFit meet-ups were super fun, I signed some books (which still gives me a thrill), and I spent some fantastic down time with dearly-missed friends.

…And since karmic balance is a real thing, I came home with one of the worst colds I’ve had in years. I don’t remember the last time when a simple cold caused me this much grief! I’ve spent a couple of days looking groggily at the people around me, sipping tea, and knitting. (I finished the pieces for that #FFKAL sweater, by the way, and immediately cast on for another garment which is now almost finished. I love that my fingers know what to do even when I’m not coherent enough to string 2 words together.)

And today I’m headed to Chicago, for Vogue Knitting Live. I love these teaching weekends, and it’s always a bonus to go somewhere I haven’t spent a lot of time, so I’m especially looking forward to this one. I’ll be bringing the one secret project I’m working on, to finish, and I’ll also be plugging away on this:

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My Tern (in color Barnacle) arrived for my Featherweight, and I had to take a half-hour or so and get started. Isn’t it a lovely color? I’m working the Tern at about 6.5 stitches to the inch, which is about as loose as I can ever imagine going with this yarn, and I can’t wait to be wearing this thing.

Sweater Week: Featherweight

It’s no secret that I love the process of helping knitters achieve sweater nirvana – i.e., a garment that fits well, and that they love to wear. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I do.

And it always gives me a particular thrill when I’m helping them start with someone else’s design, and identifying the modifications they’ll need to make to get a sweater that they love. It’s fun when we’re doing it with pencil and paper; it’s been even more fun to help people “mash up” a CustomFit pattern with a traditional design they’ve purchased.

For today’s Sweater Week installment, just in time for Rhinebeck, we’re taking it one step further.

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Hannah Fettig’s wildly popular Featherweight Cardigan is now built directly into the CustomFit site.

What does this mean?

Each new CustomFit Featherweight pattern is created specifically for you. You’ll get a finished sweater with the same gorgeous look and versatility as the original, but the pattern is crafted on the spot exclusively to your exact specifications:

  • We create the pattern specifically for your gauge. This means you can knit Featherweight at any gauge you like – the only thing that matters is whether you like your fabric!
  • We create the pattern specifically for your body. This means you don’t have to worry about choosing the right size, adjusting for differently-sized hips, busts, waists, shoulders, and arms. The set-in sleeve construction of this version of CustomFit Featherweight allows us to make a Featherweight pattern that will fit you everywhere.
  • You get to choose whether you’d like the original ¾-sleeve and shorter-length Featherweight pictured, or whether you’d like to adjust the sleeve and sweater length. The pattern will be built to your exact choices.

Excited? We sure are!

To celebrate, we’re running a KAL!

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We hope you’ll knit along with Hannah and I, here in the CustomFit Featherweight KAL group on Ravelry. Let us and the community support you as you choose your yarn, cast on and knit your Featherweight! Make sure to check out the Nitty Gritty KAL details on this page.

(Also: Many, many beautiful Featherweight cardigans have been knit from the original pattern. And if you have this version and want to participate in the KAL, you’re more than welcome to! We’d love to have you. A CustomFit Featherweight opens up a bunch of new possibilities, though, so we hope you’ll check it out!)

The KAL is sponsored by the amazing Quince and Co:

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If you’d like to knit a fingering weight version, take advantage of our sponsor’s special offer: Buy 4 or mores skeins of Quince & Co. Tern and receive 10% off! Offer good 10/16 & 10/17 ONLY, coupon code FEATHERWEIGHT.

I’m so thrilled about this new step in CustomFit’s evolution. (Not to mention being excited about knitting my own Featherweight, which I’ve wanted to do for years now! I’ll be using Tern, which is one of my all-time favorite yarns.)

I feel strongly about the importance of marrying wonderful design with well-fitting sweaters, and am beyond thrilled to be working with Hannah, who I admire very much. Sweater Week will continue throughout the weekend, and I’ll be back on Sunday with a post about fabric, specifically focused on Featherweight in different gauges and blends.

Until then: Here’s to fantastic and fully-customizable sweaters!

Sweater Week: Rhinebeck Plans, and Amy’s #FFKAL sweater(s?)

Today in Sweater Week news, I wanted to share some of my own #FFKAL plans, and give you all a heads-up about where we’ll be & what we’ll be doing at the New York Sheep and Wool festival this weekend.

#FFKAL – Amy edition

I’ve knit a few sweaters so far this fall, but I’m not sure whether any of them really count as FFKAL sweaters. They’re all sweaters I am enjoying greatly, they’re sweaters I’d enjoy wearing in “real life”, so perhaps they count…

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…but on the other hand, somehow I haven’t thought of them as KAL sweaters, in my head. I don’t know why, truly.

Maybe it’s because they weren’t imagined solely as part of the KAL. The ideas for them came from all over, and included more inspiration than just “What would I most like to wear this fall?”. Which is fine of course! But for whatever reason, I’ve felt like I haven’t been fully participating in this KAL so far despite the frantic pace of my needles.

That changed this week.

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As of this week, I have a plan that came from musing at my own closet, I have an absolutely incredible wool that I’m beyond excited about. I also have a dozen outfits I want to wear with this sweater. This sweater feels totally indulgent to me, and I can’t wait to share progress with you!

Where in the New York Sheep & Wool Festival are Amy and Jackie?!

Unlike the past few years, I’m planning on spending my Rhinebeck in my favorite of relaxed-crowd-ambling mode. For most of the festival, Jackie and I will simply be wandering the fairgrounds. I’m impatient for the whole weekend in the best way possible. So if you see us wandering about, come say hi! We’ll have a bag of CustomFit buttons to share, and I’d love to see your festival sweater.

But we’ll be doing a couple of more “official” things too, and I’d absolutely love it if you’d join us for them as well.

Buttons! A CustomFit button helps tell the world how you got the awesome sweater you’re wearing, what you intend to use to knit your next sweater, or just that you think CustomFit is cool. We’ll have them with us, and they’ll also be available at the incredible Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth.

Book signing! I’ll be signing copies of Knit to Flatter in the book tent on Sunday from 1-2pm.

CustomFit Meet-ups! We’ll be doing two this year, on Saturday from 1:30 – 2:30pm, and on Sunday from 11:00am – 12:00pm. We’ll meet in the grassy, fieldy, leaf-strewn bits across the path from the lost and found / building E overhang (kind of between the number 13 and the main gate in this picture of last year’s map). If you joined us last year too, we’ll do the meet-ups in the same place. We’ll do a group photo each day, and we’ll also do a group Q&A session. So bring your questions, sweaters, and your awesome self! I can’t wait to see you.

(For those who have asked, we won’t be doing measurements this time around. I’d like to change up the experience from last year’s rapid-fire one-on-ones (which were wonderful but totally crazy-pants), and spend the meet-up time talking to everyone as a group, instead. If you’re looking for help with measurements though, don’t despair! We’ve got a new measurements tips & tricks video up on our YouTube channel, and there is a fantastic collection of CustomFit LYSes who’ve been fully trained, too.)

For me at least, the meet-ups are about getting together and sharing the inspiring feeling of loving the garments you’re knitting. I really hope to see you there.

Free CustomFit patterns! One more bit of awesomeness from Spirit Trail: not only will they have CustomFit buttons in their booth, but they’re running an amazing show special – purchase a sweater quantity of yarn, and get a coupon for a free CustomFit sweater. (This is a good idea in general, by the way! Leaving with a sweater quantity is practically a yearly tradition for me, now.)With or without a CustomFit coupon, it’s a great idea to grab yourself some Spirit Trail. But a free pattern is definitely pretty cool!

Sweater Week continues tomorrow with another design…

That’s all for today, folks! What are you knitting for the #FFKAL? Will you be at Rhinebeck, and will we see you? What’s got you inspired, this year?

Sweater Week: Coracle

It’s the week before Rhinebeck, and all through the house, lots of wool is a-stirring…

…which is to say, we have a lot of very exciting things set to come your way these next 7 days! For those of us in the Northeast US (and many from further away, too), the New York Sheep and Wool Festival is an absolute mecca – for yarn, for inspiration, for wonderful knitters of all types. I can’t wait for it, every year. And every year, when it’s over, I return to my “regular life” inspired and energized.

So, Sweater Week. A (new) yearly tradition here at AHD, where we spend a whole week loving the sweater. Showing off the sweaters we’ll wear this year, sure, but also… sharing our hopes, our dreams, our plans for that next outstanding garment, too.

We’ll be finalizing our Rhinebeck meet-up plans very shortly, but today I wanted to start by sharing a new sweater design that’s built right into the CustomFit site.

We’ve got so many sweaters coming up this week that I’d planned on starting with something that evokes a crisp fall New England day. But then I thought: Waaaaait a minute. I never followed up with the progress on my own SSKAL sweater! Remember the sleeve dilemma?

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Well, I added sleeves, and have been wearing this thing non-stop.

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I love this sweater with a fiery passion. I’m calling it Coracle, and it’s the first design that I’m releasing exclusively through the CustomFit site. It’s built right in – choose your materials, swatch until you get a fabric you love, and get a pattern that’s as easy to knit as a blanket, with gorgeous custom clothing results.

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When the #SSKAL started, I knew I wanted to do a sweater that really departed from my typical woolly-wools. So I began by using a new yarn I found very exciting: Truesilk by Rowan. This is a 100% silk yarn, which is glorious for drape, sheen, and color. But it’s also chainette construction, which means it’s wonderfully elastic to work with. It produced a fabric that’s closer to what I can buy in the store than anything I’ve ever created with my needles.

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Now, for the nitty-gritty: This is a mid-hip, wide scoop neck pullover with tapered 3/4 sleeves. It’s trimmed with 2×2 ribbing, and the back is knit in plain Stockinette. The front is in an allover open mesh lace pattern (which has a gauge that’s essentially equivalent to Stockinette), and the sweater is written with waist shaping on the back only for ease of knitting and a more slouchy, relaxed feel to the garment.

The result is pretty much my most favorite sweater I’ve ever knit for myself. Want to make one for you, too? Click here to get started!

(Of course, later this week I’m going to get started giving Coracle a run for its money. I’m out to create a new wardrobe staple for myself, and I’m so excited about this one that I can’t even stand it. I hope you will be, too. Want a hint?

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See you soon!)

#FFKAL Progress

Now that I’ve been back from the Retreat for a week, I’ve settled in enough to tell you about all the knitting I’ve been up to for the Fall Festival KAL. I promised pictures of my Peabody Pullover after the retreat, and boy oh boy, did Amy deliver. I’m lucky to have such a talented photographer for a boss.

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Here I am laughing at a RIDICULOUS dance Jackie was doing.

As you may remember, this is a CustomFit adaptation of Peabody by Leila Raabe. I made a few changes to the pattern as written (besides running it through CustomFit!):

  • Shortened the hem ribbing to 2″. The original has very long ribbing as a design element, but I knew that wouldn’t work for my hips. (Though my hips are definitely wider than my bust, you could say I’m a proportional shape due to my linebacker shoulders! Nevertheless, stretching a vast expanse of ribbing over my hips isn’t a flattering look for my shape.)
  • Changed the sleeves to 3/4 instead of long. This was entirely motivated by lack of yarn: I finished with a swatch and a half left, so I think I did a good job of maximizing the yarn I had!

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This is me trying to look cool. #dork

I was very happy with my yarn choice — Miss Babs Heartland. I think it would be a great option for a knitter who’s had trouble with their sweaters growing due to using superwash wool. It’s hand-dyed, but not treated to be superwash, so it has the great depth of color so many knitters crave, while retaining the “scales” wool uses to hold its shape.

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Just hangin’ on a dock in Maine, NBD.

If you’re a CustomFit Maker, look for more coming soon about how to adapt a traditional pattern like Peabody using CustomFit in the “Amy’s Tip” section of Maker Central. This sweater will be featured as the example — I’m finally famous!

Remember when I said I was going to knit three sweaters in three months for the Fall Festival KAL? So far it’s going swimmingly. After finishing Peabody, I dropped everything to knit a sample of one of Amy’s designs to be released at the Make. Wear. Love. Retreat. Thirteen days, size four needles, sportweight yarn … let’s just say it was a close one, but I’m so happy with the result. We’re releasing the patterns very soon, but here’s a quick preview for you …

Getting this 4x4 ribbing to line up was a pain, but truly worth it in the end!

Getting this 4×4 ribbing to line up was a pain, but truly worth it in the end.

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Here’s the three sweaters you’ll see coming soon… how tantalizing!

The good news is, I’m well on my way through the third sweater, and should finish all three with no problem at all. If you follow us on Instagram, you saw my ingenious swatch-drying machine (it involved a mesh office chair, bobby pins, and a fan…) and my progress thus far:

I love this color. Gold for days.

I love this color. Gold for days.

It’s going to be a simple cowl-neck pullover. I love the color of the yarn, but I’m not sure I’m sold on the fabric it makes… too bad I didn’t discover this until halfway through my fifth skein! More to come when I finish it, though sadly I won’t see Amy (and thus be able to coerce her into taking my photos) until after the KAL is over. My lazy iPhone shots will have to do!

How’s your progress coming? The KAL ends on November 15, so you still have plenty of time to knit a CustomFit sweater!

A Kindness of Knitters

During our closing ceremonies at the make, wear, love retreat this weekend, someone shared a wonderful quote from the wonderful Cat Bordhi: That the word for a collection of knitters is “a kindness”.

I couldn’t agree more, and feel so incredibly lucky to have spent the weekend with such amazing people. I’m looking forward to sharing more of it with you. For the moment I’m still unpacking here, and diving back into the craziness of life with the boys with passion and excitement…

…but I’m pausing as I do so, to smell the last bits of salt air in my clothes, and remember the feeling of being surrounded by a wonderful and warm group who share my passions.

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A kindness, indeed.

Surreal, in two flavors

Squam was every bit as magical as I had imagined.


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It was so glorious, everything felt a little surreal. We breathed deep, and sank into peace, quiet, and the presence of fellow makers. My students were amazing, and the whole weekend was such a lovely island in time.

And then it was back to a totally different extreme. Life got surreal in its frenzy, with the last day of school and all that comes with prepping for a big move and oh my god the movers canceled and let’s hire more and did you get the teacher’s notes and when’s the closing again? and have to pack and have to pack and have to pack and WHERE’S THAT YARN I NEED THAT YARN and oh man the car just died and hey look, another home-all-day-day let’s go to the museum!


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(The boys say hi.)

And there’s a little something else going on, too.

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And through it all, because I don’t want to kill anyone, there’s been knitting.

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So that’s what’s happening here. How about in your neck of the woods?

Year of Sweaters, Installment 1: The Summer Sweater KAL

Cardipalooza is officially over today, with many incredible new (perfectly-fitting!) cardigans making their way through the world. Our own progress was more varied; Amy finished, Lauren got bogged down in miles of fingering weight black Stockinette (Amy here – I’m wincing just typing that), and Jackie is plowing through her sweater after some slow starts.

We’ll do an official wrap-up post with prizes shortly, but want to take today to launch our next KAL, and talk sweaters.

I think sometimes, as knitters, we get too caught up in the notion that sweaters mean crisp fall days, icy edgings to delicate leaves, hands wrapping around a steaming mug of tea.

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Certainly, sweaters are an essential part of cold weather – nothing keeps you warm like a great sweater. But as we were preparing for Cardipalooza, we realized that if you take a broader clothing perspective? Sweaters are an essential part of our daily lives, year-round.

The sweater I wear in July might not look the same as the sweater I wear in October, but it’s a sweater nonetheless. I probably have almost a dozen store-bought summer sweaters, in fact – none of which fit as well as my favorite fall hand-knits. It’s time to remedy that.

So please, join us in collectively and consciously expanding our notion of the hand-knit.

Summer Sweater KAL Fall Festival KAL Gift Sweater KAL Deep Winter KAL cardipalooza

Cardipalooza got us thinking about a whole year of sweater knit-a-longs, all focused on the quintessential look/experience of the season. The classic fall sweater is there, to be sure. But so are all of the other ways sweaters enrich our wardrobes.

To celebrate the season, we’ll begin with the Summer Sweater KAL:

Summer Sweater KAL

What makes a quintessential summer sweater? Most often, I’m reaching for an allover lacey sweater, a tank, or a vest of some kind. Other good choices for summer include lighter weight yarns, short or no sleeves, lace patterned edging…

…Now’s the time to dream about what you want to wear this summer. We’ll get started swatching and dreaming today, and give ourselves until August 15 to finish our shells, tanks, or vests. Take a dive in your stash and find a wool-silk blend, a good fingering weight, or maybe give a new fiber like linen or Outlast a try.

Just like with Cardipalooza, keep an eye on the blog for posts about what we’re knitting, how to wear your finished summer sweaters, and prizes once we finish up!

Use the hashtag #sskal on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, or join us on Ravelry!