Category Archives: Books

Caelius

The Caelius sweater from Dovestone Hills, travelled a lot with me; it started on the plane ride to Denver…then it made it to TNNA in Phoenix (being knit on the show floor) and finally it came home to Ireland.

I wanted this sweater to be a nice fast knit that was super wearable. It’s got a few key features that I love in an everyday sweater; a warm, easy to wear neckline, a long body with enough room that I can wear layers underneath but enough shape that it was flattering to wear.

The sweater begins with the neckline, you can knit it for as long or short as you like. It’s allowed to fold down into a cowl shape.

The yoke is shaped using raglan shoulder shaping that is worked on either side of double yarnover seam lines. These yarnovers continue into the body where the a-line shaping happens between them.

All the edges are designed to be allowed to casually roll so it ‘s easy to modify for your own length, adding or removing length for the sleeves and body.

I’m actually knitting a version for myself in green (Chevin) and grey (Coal) and I think I might add a little length for a super long body….if I ever get knitting time for me again!

Aventine

Aventine

Let’s take a look at the first pattern from Dovestone Hills, Aventine. This pattern idea started as a gift. Blue Moon Fibers sent me yarn a couple of years ago, a worsted weight ‘Worthy’ . This yarn in the heavier weight wasn’t made as a commercial yarn so I couldn’t use it for a published pattern. It was so wonderfully soft though that I thought it’d be beautiful to make a gift for my mother who adores green.

I began playing with ideas; I never like doing things the ordinary way (top down simple shawl!) so I began this from the bottom. I started with a standard shawl tab, with standard triangular shawl increases at the center and sides. But then when each diagonal of the shawl was as long as I wanted I separated them. From there I began knitting each shawl side separately; first straight and then angled to decrease. I also added a few buttonholes at the very end to allow the shawl to be wrapped around the front and buttoned at the back. (A common complaint of mine with shawls – it’s hard to hold them in place!).

Just because this shawl is buttoned though doesn’t stop you from using it as a standard wrap or scarf, its happy to do whatever you ask :-)

Baa Ram Ewe knit the second version in Dovestone that was a perfect match for my wrap!

TNNA recap

So a couple of weeks ago I went to Columbus, Ohio once again for TNNA (The national needlearts association). It’s an intense, full-on experience every year and this was no exception! I was sharing a room with two of my favourite knitting pals, Woolly Wormhead & Ann Kingstone, always fun when you can work and play on the same weekend :-)

I’ve got very few photos from the weekend so please forgive the very poor quality, grainy and fuzzy phone photos I’ve got to use.To add to the oddness of the weekend there was also a trumpet convention and a haunting/zombie convention. In fact I had the pleasure of being walked to the Crown Plaza on Saturday by a well dressed zombie before their zombie ball :-)IMG_0524

Also on Friday night I had my new cardigan, Rakuda, in the fashion show with Anzula yarns.You can see the cardigan in action here. (Yes I’ve eventually started using Instagram!)

My new US distributor is Fyberspates, so this year I shared a stand with them and Rachel Coopey.

They were just the most wonderful booth mates, it makes such a difference; it was definitely a weekend of fun more than work!

IMG_0522On the final night, when it was all over I did manage to take a few photos as we sat around the table eating:

IMG_0535Here we’ve got Jeni and Sean from Fyberspates, Rachel Coopey and Jennifer Wood (who I just met that night but is such a delight!).

While my photos are not the best Jeni did manage to bring (and use!) a much better camera so her Facebook feed is worth a look.

I do have some wonderful yarn and other goodies that I’ll be knitting with and reviewing in the coming weeks also….

Lorna's Laces 'Cloudgate' http://www.ravelry.com/yarns/library/lornas-laces-cloudgate

Lorna’s Laces ‘Cloudgate’

IMG_3604Spin Cycle ‘Dyed in the wool’

IMG_3599Anzula Croquet

IMG_1268And finally Fix-a-Stitch that I’ll try out in the next few weeks….hopefully on a ‘minor’ mistake :-0

At the end of this week I’m heading on holiday BUT when I come back I’ll have a little surprise for you that I’ve been working on with Baa Ram Ewe….

Dovestone Knits

 

A little peek into the future..

I’ll admit that the title sounds like I could give more away than I actually can :-)

I’m sitting here with the final round of edits for my Short Row Knits book…

book dummy

I can’t quite believe that it’s almost done. Plus I’m just bursting to show you all the book. At the start of next month my newest Craftsy class will be out though and you’ll even get to have a sneak peek at a few of the new knits in the class!

One thing I can show you though is a little look at a new spring KAL I’m working on. It’s in a lightweight yarn, and will be a sweater with lace stripes. I’m very excited at how this is working up, won’t be too long before I can share the finished product with you.

lace stripe

One of the downsides to working on so many big projects at once is that there is a lot less to share with you here. Not only is there this new book, I’m also finishing a big collection for a brand new yarn (you’re going to love it!!), many magazine patterns, Irish Yarn Club patterns and a few more little surprises. I’m not quite sure how I managed to take on so much work at once, but hopefully once I get through the next couple of months without collapsing I’ll have some rocking work to show you all :-) So bear with me while I go into a pattern writing coma.

From Mama, With Love – review and giveaway

A few weeks ago Tanis Gray (who I met in DC last month) asked me if I’d be interested in review a new book she was involved with, ‘From Mama, With Love’. This e-book is a collaboration between 5 amazing designers; Tanis Gray, Connie Chang Chinchio, Kate Gagnon Osborn, Margaux Hufnagel and Melissa LaBarre.

from mama, with love
All 5 of these designers have young children that they never find time to knit for. I can very much sympathize with this! When you design for a living all of you knitting time gets sucked into sample knitting so family knitting is a luxury that’s hard to find time for. The inventive solution these designers found was to design for their little ones. This makes the book extra special, the knits were designed specifically with their own children in mind, and they’re also modeled by their own children. Every designer has even added their own little parenting tip to the book.
There are a big variety of knits in this book; 2 blankets, 3 hats, a boppy cover and 9 garments.
If you’ve got young children it’s a great time to knit for them; they’re still young enough to wear what you give them (most of the time) and they are nice and small so you can knit them really quickly.

Sidscrappy hat

Sid Scrappy Hat

With small ones the most important thing to bear in mind is comfort. They hate tags, rough edges or scratches so make sure you pick a yarn that is comfortable next to the skin. Ideally it should be hard-wearing and easy to wash. As with adult garments make sure you take care with the size. The patterns in this book give finished measurements as well as suggested ages. Children come in a wide variety of sizes so check the measurements of favorite garments you already own and compare them to the schematics.
Most of the garments in this book have a size range from 6 months up to 4 or 5 years (although there is one that goes up to 10 years) so it’s a great book for the younger age set. The garments all have nice big neck openings so it’s easy to take them on and off. Wide button plackets (such as in Lulu vest, Ronan Pullover or Velvet Hoodie) and cardigans (Viviane Cardigan, Kyle Vest and Ferris Vest) make life very easy.
I think I must be obsessed with colorwork lately. While I love all the projects in this book the two that stood out for me were Isadora Lopapeysa and Ronan Pullover. Both have colorwork details that I just love, they are not specifically ‘child knits’ and both pattern would look great on an adult garment as well.

isadora-lopapeysa

Isadora Lopapeysa is a traditional Lopi Icelandic sweater, knit from the bottom up in the round. The sleeves and body are joined at the yoke and a subtle stranded colorwork is then worked. It is a simple sweater that looks great on kids and the color choices are just beautiful.

Ronan Pullover

Ronan Pullover  from Tanis also used colorwork but it’s a much more graphic bright design. This sweater is knit from the top down, the yoke is initially knit flat until the placket is finished and from that point it’s joined in the round. Again I just love the color choices; they’re bright but not overwhelming. Plus I just love orange in boy’s garments.

There are several more stops on this blog tour, so follow along with the remainder of the tour:

Monday, April 21, Kate Chioccio of Dragonfly Fibers
Wednesday, April 23, Julie Crawford of Knitted Bliss
Friday, April 25, Katie & Kara of Nice & Knit
Monday, April 28th, Ysolda Teague Guest Blog Post
Tuesday, April 29th, Karida Collins of Neighborhood Fiber Co.
Friday, May 2nd, Cecily Glowik McaDonald of Winged Knits
Monday, May 5 – Carrie Bostick Hoge of Maddermade
Wednesday, May 7th – Thea Colman of Baby Cocktails
Friday, May 9th – Kate & Courtney, of Kelbourne Woolens
Tuesday, May 13, Jessica Correa, of Dream in Color Yarn Co.
Thursday, May 15, Kristen Kapur of Through the Loops
Tuesday, May 20, Tanis Lavalee of Tanis Fiber Arts
Friday, May 22, Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting

Would you like to win your own copy of this book? Let me know your favourite pattern from the booklet and your rav name in the comments below and you’ll be entered in the raffle!

Raffle prize will be drawn on Sunday 20th April so get your name down by then!

Among Stones KAL prizes!

Have you been busy working on one of my Among Stones patterns?

There are some really pretty finished pieces appearing over on my ravelry group! If you’ve finished go put your photo up in the FO thread here, I’ll be drawing the prizes on the first of October.

I’ve got some pretty yarn to give away as prizes. The first prize is a skein of Hand Maiden Maiden Hair in the same color (Nova Scotia) as Serpentinite is knit from. I’ll even add enough beads for you to complete the scarf!

The second prize was a special collection of yarn that was given to me by Donegal Yarns. It is a beautiful vibrant red yarn but I wasn’t able to use it as it was seconds and spun slightly thicker than it should have been. This means that it wouldn’t be suitable for me to use in a pattern. But all 6 skeins will go to my second winner!

Great Little Gifts to Knit

Over the last year I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jean Moss several times when teaching on her Irish tours. I’m always a little jealous of the knitters on those tours, they seem to be having a great time and they have wonderful hosts!

I jumped at the chance of joining the blog tour for Jean’s new book ‘Great Little Gifts to Knit‘. For my stop on the blog tour I wanted t ask Jean a few questions about her design process and how this book came together for her. Read on to hear all about it!

In the introduction to your new book ‘Great Little Gifts to Knit’ you talk about how this book is a departure from your normal subject matter as it is your first book of accessories. Why did you decide to do a book of smaller knits and why did it make you nervous?

Some people plan their lives and some people meander along following their nose, making many small decisions that collectively shape their lives.  I happen to be one of the latter, so in answer to your question, Carol, I didn’t decide to do a book of small projects until Taunton, my publisher, asked me to. They know the market and had obviously noticed a gap.

The main reason I was anxious about it was that I knew it was to be a full length book and every single project was going to be different, so it wasn’t a case of looking up my favourite spec for a particular sweater shape and then crunching the numbers, it was a whole new ball game for every piece.  With garments I feel confident, but baby cocoons, toys, backpacks, dog jackets, socks etc were new challenges. Would I get it right?

As it happens I found it hugely interesting to be able to explore all these other shapes and consequently sometimes went a little too far down the road with some of them.  That’s the reason that many of the projects have extra colourways, some have choice of stitch (for intermediate or beginner knitters), or I’ve given a choice of two different weights of yarn.

The book is divided into four sections; Baby, Hers, His and Home. Did that division happen organically as you were working or was that division there before you started?

Although, as I’ve mentioned, I tend not to plan my life, I do plan my books before I ever knit a stitch. Once I had the overall concept of a book of gifts, I started to make an outline of the four chapters, the type of projects in each chapter, and the distribution of yarn weights, colours and techniques – to make the book as wide-ranging as possible whilst maintaining some sort of coherence.

Which section did you find the easiest to design?

Hers of course.  I love to design for me!

Do you have a favourite design in the book?

Not really. I’m a self-confessed tech freak and get a real buzz out of exploring the stitch, yarn and form of each design in turn.  However if you press me I’d have to say it’s the Welcome Toran. I love the playful colours and that knitters can adapt the concept to fit their own skills, lives and interiors.  Also the Hindu/Buddhist idea of a door-hanging which blesses everyone who walks beneath it really appeals to the old hippie in me.

The yarns used in the book are all from Rowan, what do you like about their yarns and why were they a good match for the book?

I have a confession to make. Much as I love Rowan yarns and have designed many pieces for their magazines over the years, it would have been great to include some lesser known indie spinners and dyers.  I like to promote interesting yarns and get a huge kick out of knitting with gorgeous new fibres – their contribution to our whole knit experience is vital.

However, the time frame of the book didn’t allow me to do the necessary research and so I fell back on what I know best.  Ideally I would have loved to have designed at least half the book with new yarns, so if there are any indie folks out there reading this, please get in touch for next time.

From having met you in person I know that you love bright, vibrant colours. This shines through in your book. Do you think your yarn color choices reflect your own personal style?

I’m so pleased you think it shines through in the book. Colour makes me happy, it makes me smile. I’m a synaesthete, seeing every letter of every word as a colour, which in turn makes up the overall colour of every word. For me, there are no nasty colours, it’s just the way some colourways are put together which doesn’t appeal to me.

I am perplexed when I hear people say they have no sense of colour, what I think they mean is they have no colour confidence. We all make mistakes, nothing is foolproof, it’s just a matter of taking the time to find out what makes things pop for you, then you’ve cracked it.

Not sure I’ve answered your question here, Carol, so I’ll just add that although I would agree that my colour choices do reflect my personal style, my choices for a book are restricted by the storyboard, availability of yarn, and getting a good balance in the book.

As a fellow designer I always find balancing work, travel and family can be difficult. You work on so many full length books and travel so much how do you manage to keep everything together and organised?

I suppose my early work in the eighties, designing for high-profile US designers, taught me to have a structured approach to design. I can’t say that I’m the most organized person in my personal life, but I know in my working life there is a path I always follow for every design: sketch, graded specification sheet, yarns and colours, chart and/or stitches, swatching, and finally the pattern.

Recently I’ve tried writing a pattern after I’ve knitted the project, but I don’t feel comfortable doing it this way as I can sometimes forget what I’ve done. For me, it’s far better to write the graded pattern in one go, then get the sample size knitted by a test knitter, ironing out any problems as they come up.

The lives of working women are never easy, and in freelance knit design there’s the added difficulty that if you don’t have your own yarn line, you’re only as good as your last book or project. On the personal front, there’s always going to be something that suffers, there’s no way around it. I feel you just have to teach yourself to be aware of the potential pitfalls, find a way of coping through yoga, meditation, long walks or whatever suits you and duck and dive your way through. I’m still working on it.

Do you want to get your hands on the book? You can try Amazon in the UK or Amazon in the US.

Jean has generously offered for one lucky reader to win a digital copy of the book! if you want to put your name in the hat, please leave a comment at the end of this post by 9 pm EST on wednesday, 11th of September.

To find out more about Jean and here newest book follow along for the rest of the blog tour:
Blog Tour Itinerary

Blog Tour Itinerary

Knittedbliss Julie Crawford Wed 11 Sep     

Black Bunny Fibers Carol Sulcoski Thur 12 Sep     

Rhythm of the Needles Joanne Conklin Fri 13 Sep        

Tiny Owl Knits Stephanie Dosen Mon 16 Sep     

Just Call Me Ruby Susan Crawford Tues 17 Sep     

Zeneedle Margene Smith Wed 18 Sep     

Redshirt Knitting Erika Barcott Thur 19 Sep

A Friend to Knit With Leslie Friend Fri 20 Sep        

Craft Sanity Jennifer Ackerman Haywood Mon 23 Sep   

Connieleneknits Connie Lene Tues 24 Sep     

Knitsofacto Annie Cholewa Wed 25 Sep

Ulla Bella Anita Tormoen Thur 26 Sep     

A Really Good Yarn Julie Schilthuis Fri 27 Sep        

Urban Yarns Alexa Ludeman Sat 28 Sep

Linda Marveng Linda Marveng Mon 30 Sep     

Yarnings Jen Tues 1 Oct       

Tentenknits Margaux Hufnagel

Among Stones Blog Tour

This year I’m kicking off September with a bang, I’m starting both a blog tour and trunk show tour for my latest book, Among Stones.

Come  follow along; either virtually on the blogs or at your Local Yarn store if you can. Learn more about the design process, the different projects and find the perfect project match for you!

Among Stones Blog Tour Itinerary

2nd of September         Anne Hanson                   http://knitspot.com/

5th of September           Laura Nelkin                   http://nelkindesigns.blogspot.com/

12th of September         Jean Moss                        http://jeanmosshandknits.blogspot.co.uk

19th of September         Karen Kelty                      http://www.craftsy.com/blog/

4th of October                Ann Kingstone                http://annkingstone.com/blog/

17th of October              Rachel Coopey                http://www.coopknits.co.uk/

21st of October              Woolly Wormhead           http://www.woollywormhead.com/blog/

24th of October             Ruth Garcia-Alcantud     http://www.rockandpurl.com/blog/

28th of October            Aplayfulday                      http://aplayfulday.blogspot.co.uk/

US Trunk Show Itinerary

(Note there are more dates to be added later – there may be a spot for your LYS so if you want to see the samples get in contact with them!).

This trunk show is being organised by my US distributor, Deep South Fibers, so please contact them for further details.

Coop Knits Socks

Last June I shared a room with Rachel Coopey at TNNA. We hadn’t met before but we got along really well and at the end of the stay we did a book swap. I’ve wanted to do a blog post on her book since then but thanks to a hectic summer it’s taken me until the end of the August!

Rachel is a sock designer that lives in the UK and she shares my love of bright vivid yarn colours. Her most recent self-published book, Coop Knits Socks, is a collection of 10 sock patterns in wonderful yarns with a variety of colourwork, lace and cables. I don’t design an awful lot of socks so it was very interesting to hear Rachel’s thoughts on different design topics from a sock perspective. How do you present gauge when the finished product is always stretched? Should sock photography show the model or just the sock? Which direction should the sock be knit from?

So how does Rachel answer these questions in her book? Well, she gives a big variety of gauges in st st and unstretched pattern in the book so you can have the best chance possible to match gauge. She likes photographs when at least one from the spread shows the model in full length. I hadn’t thought too much about this before and especially when the book is completely about socks it gives you a bit more context I think. It’s a bit disconcerting to never see a models face!

Rachel’s design preference is for top down so that’s the construction type you’ll find in this book. This is my personal favourite also, having a high arch I find that it’s easier to adjust the gusset length this way.

As an added bonus all of the patterns in the book are both fully written out and charted. So no matter how you take your patterns you’ll love using the book!

So now lets take a little peek at the book….I’m going to start with a couple of my favourites:

Dawlish

These socks are my complete favourites, wonderful colour, cables in socks which I love and they’re even photographed with Converse….

Willowherb

These socks use a combination of lace and twisted stitches to create very wearable socks. Just look at that great vibrant Fyberspates yarn!

Here is a taste of a few more socks:

Saxifrage

Paignton

If you want to see all the socks go check out the ravelry page here.

The electronic version of the book is available there also. To get a print copy of the book you can find it here. Each of her paper versions also comes with a free electronic copy.

A Good Yarn trunk show

I’m coming to the last few days now of my holiday in Florida. I’ve had a great time but I’m such a workaholic I’m really itching to get back to work!

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon at A Good Yarn. This store has got a fantastic selection and such a supportive group of knitters. I suspect if I lived close by I’d never leave the store.

They also have some of their own exclusive colorways dyed for them by different yarn companies, I got to take home a few skeins of Madelintosh ‘Tosh Light’ in their exclusive ‘Midnight Pass’ colorway. As we are staying close by Midnight Pass it seems like a fitting yarn to take home with me. Now I just need to finish my little stack of commissions and I’ll get to knit with it.


A lovely knitter who came to the book signing brought me the most beautiful bag that she makes and sells on her Etsy store. Thank you so much, I’ll get lots of use out of it :-)

This time next week normal service should resume once I’m back home again. Looking forward to seeing my dog again, I miss him sleeping him n the corner of the sofa.