Holiday knitting

Happy Friday, and happy holiday weekend to those of you in the US!

I’ll be knitting this weekend (I know, you’re shocked), but while knitting is my job, don’t feel too sorry for me for having to work! In some ways I’m on a little bit of a holiday because the sweater I’m knitting at this very moment isn’t actually for the book – it’s my Summer Sweater KAL sweater:

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The yarn is Rowan Handknit Cotton in “Slate”**, which is one of my absolute favorite summer staples. It’s smooth, it has a beautiful sheen and hand, and I can’t wait to wear this pullover tank. It’ll be the perfect thing for layering over my favorite acid jean skirt (don’t judge) or some crisp white linen pants.

If all goes well, it will be finished up this weekend, and available for your own summer knitting shortly thereafter!

**The picture above is from Instagram, and so has been filtered to within an inch of its life. The color is substantially more accurate in the pictures below. The way it looks on the end is the fabric when light hits it; the way it looks in the middle is when the fabric is in shadow or indirect light.


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What will you be knitting this weekend?

CustomFit “Mash-Ups”

Well hello, there!

Squam was a glorious oasis of stillness and joy:

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(Photo courtesy the amazing Clara Parkes.)

…before coming back home to the gauntlet that is the final week of school when you have elementary-aged children. Things have settled down into “summer vacation” now, and we’re all enjoying a few days of lazy mornings and coffee-until-11am before summer camp starts.

I’m working fast and furious on the next book and a couple of other really exciting projects for fall, which doesn’t make for great blogging!

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So I thought I’d take today and write about something that’s been rattling around in my head for awhile:

CustomFit Mash-Ups

Once someone has knit up one of the designs built directly into CustomFit, they often want to use CustomFit to recreate a design they love, but that isn’t built into the site – whether the design is mine, or someone else’s. We call this “mashing up” the original design with CustomFit.

Here are some of our favorites from the past year:


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(Jenn’s Vika, Kelly’s Gakusei, Lauren’s Acer, and Mollie’s Hitch.)

For some of my designs, we’ve released files called recipes to help with this mash-up process. But most of the time, you’ll be on your own. With that in mind, here’s a step-by-step guide, along with a downloadable worksheet, for mashing up a CustomFit pattern with another design.

Step 1: Purchase the original pattern.

You like that sweater enough to want to make it – and you’ll need information from the pattern to do so. Show the designer that you like their work and purchase the original.

Step 2: Identify the CustomFit options for the design’s silhouette.

You’ll be using the Custom Sweater Wizard to create your core CustomFit pattern, and it’s a good idea to specify as much of the design in CustomFit terms as possible. Using the pattern’s photo, schematic, and actual text in combination, write down the following on your mashup worksheet:

  • Basic Garment Type and Info: Is it a cardigan or a pullover? Sleeved or sleeveless? (You can tell these things simply by looking at the photos.)
  • Sleeve Info: How long are the sleeves, and what shape are they (tapered? straight? belled?)? What stitch pattern trims them, and how much trim is there? (The sleeve length & shape should be easy to tell from the photo and schematic, but you’ll need to look at the pattern itself for the trim info.)
  • Neck Info: What shape is the neckline itself, and how wide and deep is it? What trims it, and how much trim is there? (Again, the pattern schematic and instructions are the best places to find this info.)
  • Length and Cardigan Options: Look at the picture to determine the length, and the pattern to determine what the hem and cardigan plackets (if any) are trimmed with.

You’ll use this information to generate your basic CustomFit pattern.

Step 3: Identify changes you’ll make to the CustomFit pattern, and write them down.

For most sweaters, you’re not done yet! You’ll be making changes to the basic CustomFit pattern to achieve the look of the original design. Usually, these changes involve either adding stitch patterning to one or more pieces, or doing something unusual trim-wise during finishing.

Stitch patterning. If you’re adding either a textured stitch or a lace panel to your CustomFit pattern, you likely don’t have to adjust the stitch count. Simply make a note of which stitches you’ll be marking and what stitch pattern you’ll be working on the marked stitches.

If you’re adding cables, you’ll need to adjust your CustomFit stitch count to account for the cable’s “suckage:” Add one stitch to your CustomFit stitch count for each stitch that gets put on a cable needle during your cable repeat. (For example, if you’re adding a single 2×2 cable to the front of a cardigan, add 2 stitches to your cardigan front. If you’re adding three 2×2 cables to your sweater back, add 6 stitches to your back stitch count.) You’ll then need to remove those extra stitches when you’re done with the cable – usually, this means working some decreases in your bind-off row to eliminate the stitches.

Trims. This is the other big place you’re likely to make changes – be they a shawl collar, a hood, an edging that’s picked up and worked during the finishing stage, etc. Read this portion of your original pattern carefully to determine what you’ll do. Usually the pattern’s instructions will translate well to your CustomFit version.

In both cases, you’ll be writing down the changes to the CustomFit pattern on the second page of your mashup worksheet.

Step 4: Generate your CustomFit pattern, put it and your mash-up worksheet together, and start knitting.

As you knit your CustomFit pattern, pay attention to page 2 of your mash-up worksheet (and anything you need from the original pattern, like charts). Make adjustments as you get to them.

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Sound complicated? It’s not, really – once you have a specific design you’re working toward. Since I don’t have permission to build any of my book sweaters into CustomFit yet, let’s step through this process with one of my own designs that’s very popular in classes: The Cypress Cardigan.


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For each step, I’ll go through the changes – and then you can download a sample, filled-out mash-up worksheet for Cypress here.

Step 1. Cypress is in my first book, Knit to Flatter, on page 31.

Step 2. You can tell from the picture that Cypress is a mid-hip cardigan (though of course you could change this!), with tapered 3/4 sleeves and a narrow scoop neck that begins .5” (1.5 cm) above the armhole shaping. The trims are as follows:

  • Hem: 2” (5 cm) Twisted 1×1 ribbing.
  • Sleeves: 3.5” (9 cm) Twisted 1×1 ribbing.
  • Neck: .75” (2 cm) Twisted 1×1 ribbing.
  • Button Band: 1” (2.5 cm) gap and trim height for Twisted 1×1 ribbing. Sample has 7 or 8 buttons depending on size.

Step 3. The non-standard bits of Cypress are the lace stitch patterning on the back and front. You’ll be making changes to your CustomFit pattern’s back and front to recreate it:

  • Back: The Shell Lace pattern written on page 31, and charted on page 32, is repeated as many times as possible within the neck bind-offs on your back. The lace repeat is a multiple of 11 sts plus 12; find the largest number of repeats below the number of stitches you bind off in the back neck, and place lace markers around those stitches after you complete your ribbing. Switch center-most marked stitches to Shell Lace for Back until neck bind-offs.
  • Fronts: Similarly, the Shell Lace pattern for Front (pages 31/32) are repeated as many times as possible in the number of neck stitches you have on each front. The repeat is a straight 12 stitches this time, plus 2 stitches of Stockinette on the edge for selvedge. Place a lace marker where appropriate and switch the edge stitches to lace and selvedge after the trim, until the neck bind-offs.

When you’re knitting, you’ll need both your CustomFit pattern and the charted or written instructions for the lace handy. (I’ve been told by many many knitters that Knit Companion is a great way to merge your PDFs and keep track of your stitch pattern charts.)

Make sense? You can download an example of the mash-up worksheet for Cypress here, and download a blank mash-up worksheet here. I hope you feel confident in using CustomFit to recreate the sweater you’ve been wanting to make, but not wanting to modify! So let us know:

What sweater do you most want to mash-up?

And if you have already mashed-up a CustomFit sweater with another design, how did it go?

make. wear. love. west coast: the retreat designs

Each year, I create a design mini-collection for our fall retreat in Maine. Some of my favorite sweaters come from these little collections, and so when we decided to run our first west coast retreat, my brain immediately went to sweaters.

Drawing on my own knowledge of the Monterey Peninsula, which is both soaked in sunshine and often quite cool, I decided to create a collection of sweaters that would make great beach-wear.


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(From left to right: Spanish Bay, Sunset Drive, Pescadero.)

The actual release of these patterns will span two days, since Pescadero is a little different than what you’ve seen from me before! So for today, I’m going to start off with the two designs that are built directly into CustomFit: Spanish Bay and Sunset Drive.

Spanish Bay

Ask any knitter what sweater she prefers to wear in warm-again-cold-again weather, and a cardigan will top the list. And there’s lots of truth to those preferences!

Cardigans are easy to take on and off, forgiving in terms of fit, and flattering to all.

And I’ve personally always loved the slightly thicker, cotton store-bought cardigans that I wore on the beach, growing up. Spanish Bay is a nod to that nostalgia.

It’s made in Rowan’s Purelife Revive, which seems to have taken the place of the old Summer Tweed in their yarn line-up. I love this yarn. (For that matter, in terms of summer yarns in general? Rowan’s seriously got it going on.) It’s a lovely, heathered tweedy yarn made out of recycled cotton, silk, and viscose, so you get all of the nuance of color as from a traditional tweed… …but it’s smoother on the hands, less grabby when you knit with it, and all around a pleasure. I knit this sample in a week, and it wasn’t even a chore.

Spanish Bay is built right into CustomFit, so to get your very own, all you need to is fall in love with a yarn – we’ll craft the pattern numbers directly from your gauge. Want a little more detail? Check out Spanish Bay’s pattern page here, or on Ravelry.


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Sunset Drive

Contrary to popular opinion, pullovers make great warm-weather sweaters too! Though it’s absolutely helpful to knit them out of a lighter weight yarn. I’ve stayed away from fingering-weight designs, since I started pursuing a career in the fiber arts – the sad truth is that fingering patterns just don’t sell as well. But many of my pre-design-days sweaters are fingering and I love them all fiercely. Lucky for me (and hopefully you too), designing for CustomFit frees me up design-wise, in this way. As long as the design will look great in other weights as well, I can give fingering sweaters some time in the spotlight! And that’s good, because they deserve it.

You’ll never wear a hand-knit as comfortable as a fingering-weight sweater.

They’re light, they’re comfortable, and their fabric tends to be much, much closer to the kinds of fabric you can find in the store than that which we typically make with our hands. This means that the sweater will move against your body, and feel, more like a store-bought fabric. Except better, because now it fits you perfectly too! With this design, I went the tiniest bit funkier with my stitch patterning. I chose a shaping-on-the-back-only crew neck silhouette, with a super-wide lace panel on the (straight) front. I then added a lace panel on the roll-em-up sleeves, but only to a little bit above the elbow, giving some shape and style to this more relaxed silhouette. I love the result, and I hope you do too.

Thanks to a plethora of sock knitters in recent years, there are some stunning fingering-weight hand-dyes out there. I chose Anzula Squishy, in the Yarnover Truck-exclusive colorway “Minty Unicorn” (this sweater was for Lauren, after all, whose love of mint is well-documented). The tiny arrowhead lace pattern on this sweater is a snap to work, and looks great in Anzula’s wonderful colors.

Sunset Drive is also built right into CustomFit, so whether you’ll come along with me and knit fingering sweaters or not, it can still become your next favorite garment. (Did I mention Anzula also makes one of my favorite worsted-weight MCN blends?) For more detail as always, see either the Sunset Drive page here on my site, or within Ravelry.


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Pescadero

The final sweater in this collection, Pescadero, isn’t built into CustomFit yet. And there’s good reason for that — it’s very different than other sweaters you’ve seen me design so far. So I’ll be back later this week with more detail about Pescadero’s release, and a little bit behind why I created the sweater this way. Until then, have a close-up!

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The next summer sweater KAL is on its way, so get your needles ready – it’s time for warmer-weather knits!

(One final note: Jackie and Amy will be traveling to the TNNA summer show this weekend, so if you’re there, stop by booth #1215 to say hi!)

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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!!!

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!