Category Archives: Books

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.

Trunk Show in Sarasota

I’ve been quiet for the last 10 days as I’ve been on holiday in Sarasota, Florida with my family.  I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a holiday this much before! We’re not doing anything…beach and pool every day and lots of barbeques, but it’s so relaxing. I think it feels so good because this has been a crazy year. Knitwear design started slowly but this year was full on hard work. It’s all fun but there is just lots to do. These days my ‘to-do’ list and my ‘waiting in the wings’ list are both equally long…a good sign but busy!

So thanks to this holiday computer work has taken a back seat. I finished writing up several designs before I traveled so that all I have to do while I was away was knit :-)

I do however get to do the fun stuff, like visiting yarn stores. Sarasota has a great yarn store, A Good Yarn. Every year that I come here this shop has expanded. This year they’ve added a whole extra needlepoint room. Last week I dropped off all my samples from Among Stones plus a few extra. If you want to get your book signed or maybe to talk about yarn choices come along to the store next Saturday, 17th of August from 1-4 and I’ll be there.

Let me know if you’re living close by and can come on Saturday, I’m looking forward to it!

Tourmalite

I started knitting Tourmalite quite a while ago. When I started I wanted to combine the great color changes of the Noro yarn I had with a complementary solid color. I didn’t really know how it was going to turn out when I started, I wanted to work in short rows and garter with some accent panels. My first vision was for a baby blanket knit from side to side and joined at the end using a graft. But as I started working through the yarn I realized I didn’t have enough to join as a full circle. That’s when I stalled. (I’m sure I’m not the only one!) It sat in it’s knitting bag while it percolated in the back of my mind. A few months later I pulled it out and laid it flat. That’s when it occurred to me that it would make a perfect warm shawl or wrap. The accent panels and color changes would be just right to wrap around your shoulder.

You can see here when it’s opened out how each wedge works it’s way through a series of noro color changes and then the center of the panel has a solid color and st st triangle a the bottom corner.

Here you can see how that st st triangle creates a really interesting feature point as you work your way around the shawl. The shawl pin I’ve used to fasten the shawl is an exclusive design for This Is Knit, they’re really pretty! You can also probably see from the photo that the shawl is given a nice clean finish with an applied I-cord worked around the edge.

I also still think that if you had more yarn than I had this shawl would be amazing turned into a circular baby blanket. If you start with a provisional cast on, just continue working the wedges until you have a complete circle and then graft the start and end together. Anyone think they might try it out?

Plus a little reminder that the Among Stones KAL is starting in just a couple of days on the 1st of August, come join us!

Among Stones – KAL & Dolmite

I’ve only got a few more patterns to introduce to you from Among Stones. Today it’s going to be Dolmite. The knitters in my group are also gearing up to start an Among Stones KAL for August! There has been voting going on and it looks like both Dacite and Liathite are both evenly sharing the popularity with Gabbro coming up close behind! With such a mix of favorites we’re going to have a full book KAL so come and join us! I’ve even added a coupon code that’s valid for the next week (until the end of the month) that will give you 20% either the digital or print version of Among Stones. Just click ‘Add to Cart’ and then ‘Use a Coupon Code’ and enter STONEKAL to get your discount.

The KAL will begin on the 1st of August and will run to the end of September – one of the prizes I’m going to have will be a beautiful skein of Fleece Artist ‘Maiden Hair’ with the beads needed to make Serpentinite.

So now to take a look at Dolmite…I better warn you if you haven’t tried Blue Sky Alpaca ‘Brushed’ Suri’ before it’s like petting a kitten. Warm, soft, fluffy and as light as air. I really, really, didn’t want to take the sample off when we finished the photographs! I also discovered that taking photos of a light color is really difficult, the details either blend into the yarn fuzz or get blown out so I’ll add a few words to describe :-)

The photo above show the neck line, it starts with a provisional cast on and folded hem that forms the casing for the I-cord tie. Then a deep funnel collar is worked and allowed to slouch. From here the garment is worked as a standard top down raglan.

Here is the first photo of the hem detail. As I was working the sample I wanted to do something a little different at the hem. My first idea involved folding the front and seaming it together but it just didn’t quite work. As I was playing with the edge the simple but effective solution came to me. The back section is worked from the front and without much difficulty an interesting flared bottom edge emerged.


You can see the detail a little better here, it creates a very unique feature that’s still simple enough to be very wearable.
This yarn is knit at a loose gauge so that the top almost floats as you wear it – plus it uses very, very little yarn :-)

Dolmite Details:

SIZE
To fit actual bust circumference up to
: 32.5 (35.25, 37.75, 41.75, 44.5, 47.25, 51.25, 53.75)”/ 82.5 (89.5, 95.5, 106, 113, 119.6, 130.5, 136.5) cm.
0-1” / 0-2.5 cm suggested negative ease.

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS
Bust Circumference:
32 (34.75, 37.25, 41.25, 44, 46.75, 50.75, 53.25)”/ 81.5 (88.5, 94.5, 105, 112, 118.5, 129, 135.5) cm.
Length: 24.25 (24.25, 24.75, 25.25, 25.5, 26.5, 26.5, 27.25)”/ 61.5 (61.5, 63, 64, 65, 67.5, 67.5, 69) cm to longest point at back, not including collar.
Size 34.75” / 88.5cm modeled with no ease.

MATERIALS
Yarn

Blue Sky Alpacas ‘Brushed Suri’ (67% Baby Suri, 22% Merino, 11% Bamboo, 130 m/ 142 yds per 50g); color: Whipped Cream (900): 5 (6, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8) skeins.

Needles & Notions
1 US size 10.75 / 7mm circular needle, 16”/ 40cm long for collar
1 US size 10.75 / 7mm circular needle, 32”/ 80cm long (or longer for bigger sizes)
1 set US size 10.75 / 7mm double-point needles (if magic loop is not used for sleeves)

Stitch markers, waste yarn, tapestry needle, stitch holder, crochet hook for provisional cast on.

GAUGE
12 sts / 18 rows = 4”/ 10 cm in st st

Basanite Set

I want to tell you the story of my next Among Stones pattern, the Basanite Set (hat and mittens).

A couple of years ago I begin knitting with this yarn, Quince & Co ‘Puffin’. It’s a very distinctive yarn, very chunky with a light twist so it almost feels close to knitting roving. It’s so fat and bouncy as you’re knitting it creates beautiful chunky well rounded stitches. As you can see this is just amazing in garter stitch, the stitches are almost sculptural! I loved this particular slip stitch herringbone pattern. I began working a sleeveless vest using the same combination of patterns. The back was in garter stitch and the front edges had the herringbone pattern. I didn’t like it though, it just didn’t lie quite right. So it sat unfinished for a year! But I loved the yarn and stitches too much not to use it.

This time around though I used it to much better effect. The herringbone pattern has got a very ‘drawing in’ effect. I wanted to use this effectively. By knitting the hat and gloves from side to side the herringbone can form the wrist and head bands to create a snug fit and the sculptural effect of the garter can be seen in it’s full glory. Due to the bulky nature of the yarn you’ll find that these knit up really, really fast. So good for those speedy gifts when you need them. The buttons are decorative to close the flat panel and don’t use buttonholes.

Here are the full pattern details:

HAT SIZES

To fit head up to circumference: 22 (25)” / 56 (63.5) cm

2-3” / 5-7.5 cm negative ease recommended.

Length from crown to base: 7 (7.25)”  / 18 (18.5) cm

Finished Band Circumference: 19.25 (22.5)” / 49 (57) cm

MITTEN SIZE

Hand Circumference: 7.5”/19 cm

Wrist Circumference: 6.5” / 16.5 cm with 1” / 2.5cm flap

MATERIALS

Yarn

Hat: Quince & Co ‘Puffin’ (100% Wool; 112yds/102m per 100g skein); Color: Birds Egg (106); 1 (1) skein.

Mittens: Quince & Co ‘Puffin’ (100% Wool; 112yds/102m per 100g skein); Color: Birds Egg (106); 1 skein.

Needles & Notions

Size 11 US/8mm needles

Stitch markers, tapestry needle, waste yarn, crochet hook (approx. size of needle)

Hat: 2 buttons approx. 1” / 2.5 cm diam.

Mittens: 4 buttons approx. 1” / 2.5 cm diam.

GAUGE

11 sts and 26 rows = 4″/10cm in garter stitch

15 sts and 30 rows = 4″/10cm in slipped stitch pattern stitch

Do you want to join our Among Stones KAL next month? There’s voting on currently on my Stolen Stitches board to see what pattern we’ll start with. Go vote here!