Jul 24, 2016

Pattern | Graefen Cloth & Towel Set

Graefen is a fast and easy pattern for a set of reversible cloths and towels. Ideal for kitchen or bath, they're the perfect way to extend a warm, knitterly welcome to visitors, thank a friend or brighten someone's day.

The name, an Old English word for flutes, furrows and ridges, echoes the pleasing texture that appears on both sides. The fluted ridge stitch is fully reversible, easy to execute, and equally easy to memorize. It also delivers on every front, creating charming results in one color, tonal effects in closely related hues, and stripes in high-contrast shades. 

This versatile design can be tailored to suit every taste. Try organic neutrals for a spa feel, nautical navy and gray for your favorite fella, or saturated shades for a cheerful splash of color. 

Several factors add to the appeal. Briefly, the:

  • Slip stitch is easy to execute and produces a reversible fabric with the same texture on both sides.
  • Colorwork is a cinch. Only one color is worked on a row, so you can create solid and striped versions with equal ease.
  • Pieces are compact, so they're ideal for knitting on the go. 
  • Pattern is simple enough for any moderately experienced beginner. Concise but complete, it includes schematics plus directions, yardage and dimensions for five sizes.
  • Quick Reference guide makes yardage calculations easy, and useful tips and tricks support knitters of all skill levels.
  • Yarn choice is yours. The set shown is worked in DK weight, but the design adapts to everything from fingering to bulky weight, lends itself to multi-stranding, and accommodates virtually any fiber you might choose. 
  • Design is highly adaptable and completely unisex for unlimited potential. Go bright and vivid, choose muted colors, adopt a tone-on-tone strategy, mix solid and variegated yarns, or use your favorite handspun.
Skill Level 1:  Very Easy
Yarn: DK
Shown: Brilla (Filatura Di Crosa), Imagine (Classic Elite), Mystik (GGH)
Needles: US 6 (4 mm)
Cloth Sizes: SML

Towel Sizes: SML
Yardage (approx.): 45 to 220 yards

The pattern includes cloths and towels in three sizes each with directions for solid, striped and narrow border versions. Written for DK weight yarn, the pattern accommodates any weight from lace to bulky and lends itself to multi-stranding.

The pattern also includes a helpful Quick Reference guide with detailed yardage breakouts, tips and tricks, and quick modification ideas. The towels, for instance, work equally well as placemats and serving mats for your table or buffet.

To celebrate the pattern release, Graefen is available at a special introductory rate for just a few days (through midnight July 28 DST). Whether you're ready to cast on, looking ahead to fall or planning for the holidays, grab it now and save 30%.

Find fresh fiber at your favorite yarn store or select something suitable from stash. Either way, this design is a fast, fun way to turn almost any yarn into something pretty and productive. 

Shopping at your LYS? All patterns are activated for in-store sales.

For more about Graefen, read FO: Springtime Towel Set.

To see how versatile this stitch is, read Little Big.

Jul 17, 2016

Blue Streak

Lately, I've been on something of a blue streak.

In America, we use this expression to describe something that happens quickly or strikes like lightning (which is how the phrase originated). We all know speed isn't my strongest suit where knitting's concerned, so I'm using the alternate meaning, something that occurs repeatedly within a short timeframe.

This trend completely escaped my notice until I did the update on the power of Might Could. Once I spotted it, of course, I started seeing it everywhere.

There's the Angletyn afghan, which quite literally has a vivid blue streak:

The Alaris wrap, with variegated blue-green stripes:

The Graefen cloth and towel set, with plenty of solid turquoise blue:

This rainbow afghan, which has flashes of blue (upper right corner):

This soft, chenille Christmas tree in vivid turquoise:

And this shawl, which somehow jumped onto my needles in a moment of distraction:

As you also know, blue is my go-to solution when I knit for others. Among friends and family, it's either an all-time favorite or it works well with their physical coloring, home decor or both.

Their collective love of blue explains why so many shades of lake, sea and sky have found their way into my stash, and why my own personal rule is "when in doubt, make it blue." In fact, every yarn pictured below was purchased to make gifts for family and friends (and this is just the tip of the blue yarn iceberg :)

How long this streak will last, I can't say. Whether you're madly making mitts or passionate about purple, what kind of streak are you having?

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Jul 9, 2016

Pattern | Alaris Wrap

Fast, easy and reversible, Alaris is an extraordinarily versatile wrap packed with possibilities.

Clean lines and a reversible stitch make it a pleasure to wear: Just grab it and go, there's no need to fuss with right and wrong sides. Pop it over your head or toss it around your shoulders, either way, it's the perfect chill-chasing accessory.

Wear it any way that suits your style and mood:
  • Eager to face the day? Wear it square like a cape or ruana. 
  • Craving cozy comfort? Wrap it like a shawl or stole. 
  • Feeling trendy? Wear it angled like a poncho. 

In all its forms, Alaris, a word that alludes to angles and alacrity, lives up to its name. It features flattering lines, a reversible fabric lighter and more refined than garter stitch, and diamond-shaped panels you can scale up or down to reflect your preferences. 

From bright and bold to subtle and sophisticated, it suits everyone from tweens and teens to beloved grandmothers. Choose neutral shades for a classic go-everywhere cape, or rainbow colors for a cheerful poncho. Combine lightweight yarn and soft shades for a fresh summer wrap, warm earth tones for a cozy fall coverup, or two closely related colors for a charming tone-on-tone effect.

The mitered panels are worked top down for maximum versatility and drape, and modular construction keeps your work compact and portable. 

This strategy also offers the luxury to work the panels and wait until assembly to choose your approach: Seam the panels closed for a slip-on poncho. Leave one open seam for a cape, ruana or shawl. Add a pin or closure and you can wear it all four ways.

A variety of factors add to the appeal. Quickly, the:

  • Mitered seed stitch is easy to execute and produces a reversible fabric with flattering lines and drape.
  • Colorwork is a cinch. Only one color is worked on a row, so you can create a solid, striped or color-block version with equal ease.
  • Panels are worked individually, so your project remains compact for knitting on the go. 
  • Modular approach means you can wait until the assembly stage to decide whether to seam it closed like a poncho, or leave it open like a cape, ruana, shawl or stole.
  • Pattern is simple enough for any moderately experienced beginner. Concise but complete, it includes schematics plus directions, yardage and dimensions for five sizes.
  • Quick Reference guide makes yardage calculations easy, and useful tips and tricks support knitters of all skill levels.
  • Yarn choice is yours. The version shown is worked in worsted weight, but the design adapts to everything from fingering to bulky weight, lends itself to multi-stranding, and accommodates virtually any fiber you might choose. 
  • Design is highly adaptable and offers unlimited potential. Opt for vivid or muted colors, adopt a tone-on-tone strategy, mix solid and variegated yarns, pair smooth and nubby textures, or add sparkle with a metallic blend.
Skill Level 2:  Easy
Yarn: Worsted weight
Shown: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep), RicRac (Blue Heron)
Needles: US 8 (5 mm)
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
Yardage (approx.): XS: 475, S: 600, M: 725, L: 850, XL: 975 yards

The pattern includes directions for solid, striped and banded versions in five sizes, so you can work it as written, or modify it to suit your yarn and personal preferences.  It also includes a helpful Quick Reference guide with yardage breakouts, schematics, tips and tricks, and quick modification ideas.

You're such talented and creative knitters, I truly can't wait to see your versions of Alaris. 

Shopping at your LYS? All patterns are activated for in-store sales.

For more about Alaris, read FO: It's a Wrap.

Jul 5, 2016

New Pattern Previews

Some of you have inquired when patterns for particular designs might be released. Your interest is always motivating and heartwarming, so while I've responded to individual inquiries, the time seems right to share an update.
A variety of patterns are in progress (PIPs as they're labeled on my to-do list), and like their siblings, they're fast and easy projects designed to work up quickly for knitters of all skill levels from beginner to advanced. 

With that in mind, let's take a preview tour of new patterns poised for release:

Alaris Wrap (cape, poncho, ruana, shawl)
This pattern has been released: 
Click here to buy it now.
Read more about it here.

Graefen Cloth & Towel Set
This pattern has been released: 
Click here to buy it now.
Read more about it here.

Angletyn Afghan
In the test knitting and tech editing stage.
Read more about it here.

Afghan (to be named)
Hot off the needles and unblocked, this pattern is now in development.
Read more about it here.

Christmas Trees
These too are unblocked, but the pattern is in development.
Read more about them here.

You have, of course, noticed there are no specific release dates listed. Invariably, if I announce them too far in advance, the cosmos feels compelled to chuck boulders onto the path, so I've learned to take a more restrained approach.

This I can promise: These patterns are my current top priorities, and if all goes well (fingers crossed), they'll be steadily released over the coming weeks.

PS: I'll continue adding updates as individual patterns are released.

PPS: From shawls and afghans to baby and holiday themes, several new designs are on the needles and in the pipeline, but we'll talk about those another day.

Jun 29, 2016

Spotlight | Red, White & Blue Holidays

In the US, we'll soon be enjoying an extended holiday weekend in honor of America's Independence Day (July 4). I'm also sharing a list of red, white and blue holidays, which I hope you'll find useful. 

Many of us enjoy brightening these occasions with our handcrafted items, so this list of patriotic US holidays will help all of us get the maximum enjoyment from the things we make:


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Third Monday: Recognizes his contributions to American society

National Freedom Day. Feb 1: Celebrates the law that abolished slavery
Lincoln's Birthday. Feb 12: Celebrates Abraham Lincoln
Washington's Birthday. Feb 22: Washington was born Feb 22, 1732 (or Feb 11, 1731 using the Julian calendar in effect at that time)
President's Day. Third Monday: A joint holiday to recognize Washington and Lincoln

Loyalty Day. May 1: A time to reaffirm loyalty and celebrate American freedoms
Armed Forces Day. Third Saturday: Recognizes our Armed Forces
Memorial Day. Last Monday: Honors those who've died protecting our freedoms


D-Day. Jun 6: Commemorates the 1944 Normandy landings, the beginning of the end of World War II
Flag Day. Jun 14: Celebrates the adoption of the US flag in 1777


Independence Day. Jul 4: Celebrates the US Declaration of Independence in 1776


Labor Day. First Monday: Recognizes all American workers
Patriot Day. Sep 11: Remembers the 2996 people who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks
Constitution Day. Sep 17: Celebrates the signing of the Constitution in 1787
Citizenship Day. Sep 17: Recognizes the rights and responsibilities of US citizenship
Gold Star Mother's Day. Last Sunday: Honors the mothers of those who've died serving in the US Armed Forces


Veteran's Day. Nov 11: Celebrates all veterans on the anniversary of the World War I Armistice in 1918


Pearl Harbor Day. Dec 7: Honors those who died in the 1941 Pearl Harbor attacks

    With so many opportunities to celebrate, perhaps you'll feel inspired to make something in red, white and blue.

    Have a relaxing and enjoyable weekend one and all, whether or not you're celebrating Independence Day or Canada Day. Meanwhile, if you're seeking inspiration, you might enjoy these posts:

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    Jun 26, 2016

    WIP | Making Rainbows

    This design has been nestled in my portfolio for quite some time. There it might have remained, but our discussion on rainbow color combos triggered the realization it was time to translate this concept into action. Let's take a quick look.

    The last time you saw this afghan, it was rather unprepossessing:

    But within a very short time, it began to grow:

    Gradually, the pile of strips grew, too:

    Until one day, all of them were finished:

    Seaming is moving forward at a steady pace, and I'm fighting the same battle I always fight. I'm eager to see this come together, but I'm forcing myself to work patiently. Experience has taught me rushing might get me to the finish line faster, but the end result tends to fall short of my expectations.

    So far, I'm delighted with how things are shaping up. This design pairs one of my all-time favorite stitches with one of my go-to yarns (Cotton Fleece), and together they've produced a textured fabric that's light, drapey, and versatile enough for year-round use. Add in the rainbow shades, and it's the ideal antidote to the grey, rainy weather we've been having.

    It's been fun working this afghan in tandem with Angletyn, because the contrast couldn't be more striking: Angletyn is bold and dramatic, this design is light, cheerful and summery. Both are satisfying knits, but at this moment I'm relishing the undeniable magic of making rainbows.

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    Jun 19, 2016

    FO | Angletyn Vivid

    For most of us, knitting is about many things: color, texture, the need to create, and the soothing sensation of fiber flowing through our fingers.

    Angletyn has been an extraordinarily satisfying project because it hit those buttons and more. Forgive the lumps and bumps, but even in its current unblocked state, I freely confess I love everything about it:

    The vivid colors and contrasting lines of the seams and trim.

    The subtle texture on the front and the plush texture on the back.

    The large-scale angled bands that transform into mega chevrons once the strips are joined.

    I'll try to get better images once it's blocked, but for now these will have to suffice.

    Angletyn Afghan
    Pattern: In testing
    Yarn: Bulky weight
       Black & Red: Korall (Laines du Nord)
       Purple: Torino (Tahki)
       Turquoise: Valley Superwash Merino (Valley Yarns)
    Needles: US 11 (8 mm); US 13 (9 mm)
    Size: Lapghan
    Yardage: 600 yards (approx.)

    This was a fast knit in terms of actual time, about six weeks in all. Calendar-wise, it's a very different story. This project has been on the needles since early spring, but knitting time has been so scarce entire weeks have passed and I've not worked a single stitch (a true rarity for me).

    Luckily, the strip strategy made it possible to pick it up and work a few quick rows whenever time permitted. The bulky merino yarn helped the project grow steadily and produced a finished afghan that's light, lofty and pleasantly substantial. As an added plus, the bold colors and clean lines are appealing and completely unisex.

    Angletyn was such a fun, easy knit, you don't have to be psychic to predict what's coming next: Yep, another version in rainbow hues is already on the needles.

    Wishing you all a Happy Father's Day!

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    Jun 12, 2016

    Stashbusting Strategies (Part I)

    Not all knitters have stashes, but most of us do.

    This means stashbusting strategies are an essential part of our lives as makers, and heaven knows, they're a big part of mine. Now, truthfully, almost any project can with planning and care be adapted to serve as a stashbuster, but we all know some fulfill that purpose better than others.

    Examples are always helpful, so let's look at a few projects and explore specific ways to leverage the stashbusting potential they offer.

    Alaris Shawl (coming soon)

    This modular cape-poncho-ruana-shawl offers infinite stashbusting possibilities. You could:
    • Do something comparable to the version above and pair a single solid color with variegated yarns or a smooth yarn with a nubby one. (I did both.) 
    • Use up singletons by working each panel in a different shade, or create tone-on-tone stripes with closely related colors. 
    • Work the top, middle and bottom thirds in different shades to create appealing broad color bands.
    • Move lots of yardage out of stash with multi-stranding. (See this conversion chart for general guidelines.)

    Dojeling Shawl
    This easy triangular shawl readily adapts to a stash-based strategy. You could:
    • Select two precious skeins with equal yardage and work two-row stripes and solid wings to make the most of every single yard. 
    • Adopt a color block approach and work the center panel in one color and each wing in a different one.
    • Subdue a wayward variegated by pairing it with a closely related solid shade worked in alternating stripes.
    • Pair a single MC with CC leftovers and work an ever-changing series of contrasting stripes.
    • Choose mix-and-match skeins that appeal to your eye, take the plunge and start knitting.

    Breidan Afghan

    Breidan's simple design and classic stitch accommodate yarns in any weight. To burn through stash:
    • Pick a rainbow array of solids with similar weights and use a different color for each strip.
    • Or choose assorted neutrals and do the same.
    • Take an afghan quantity of matching yarn, use it for the strips and seams, or use a contrasting orphan skein for the seams.
    • Compile an afghan quantity by selecting three complementary yarns, then working three strips in one, two strips in another, and the seams in the third.

    Someday, I'd like to knit this as a classic nine-patch (three strips with three blocks each). Until that day comes, here are options to consider:

    • Scale it up by adding more blocks to a strip or more strips to the layout, or scale it down to suit yarn on hand by working fewer blocks/strips.
    • Opt for a traditional color block strategy, choosing one MC and two CCs to create a checkerboard pattern.
    • Use up variegated yarns by selecting a unifying MC and working each block (or strip) in a different one.
    • Use a similar strategy if you have lots of yarn in one color family: Pick a unifying MC and work each block/strip in a different CC.

    Drumlin Afghan

    This fast, easy knit readily lends itself to stashbusting. You could:

    • Do what I did for the Bright version above, and work each strip with two closely related colors for muted stripes.
    • Make solid strips in widths tailored to the amount of yarn you have (a strategy I used for both Gemtones and Almost Neutral).
    • Create high contrast stripes by pairing a very light shade with a very deep one for a striking effect.

    Flashpoint Afghan

    This pattern is infinitely scalable, so it's very easy to adjust the triangular modules up or down to suit yarn on hand. To put stubborn stash to good use:

    • Try working each triangle in a different color, fiber or a mix of both.
    • Add a touch of whimsy, and work each seam and border in a different shade as well. 
    • If you have a large quantity of one or two colors, use them for the modules and choose a contrasting color for seams and trim.

    Twegen Afghan

    As the first afghan pattern I released, Twegen holds a special place in my knitterly heart. From the beginning, it was conceived as a stashbusting design, and it's achieved that goal admirably. To accomplish the same:

    • Scale the width and/or length up or down to accommodate yarn on hand.
    • Use a rainbow assortment of singletons to create something pretty and productive.
    • Choose a handful of neutrals and make solid or two-tone strips similar to Twegen Coffee.
    • Pair closely related tones to transform ugly yarns into something lovely.
    • Subdue variegated skeins and prevent pooling by pairing a closely related solid shade with the variegated yarn.

    These are easy strategies that work with almost any project, so mix and match them in any way that works for you. My hope is they'll inspire you to examine your stash with fresh eyes and come up with creative ways to tame your own yarny hoard. Not only is it remarkably rewarding to convert stagnant stash into something pretty and purposeful, but once you've pared things down, it seems only reasonable to reward your diligence. 

    Perhaps a fresh infusion of new yarn would do the trick?

    For more on stashes and stashbusting:

    Stashbusting? 3 Reasons to Buy More Yarn
    Yarn Logic
    Room to Spare
    Stashbusting Strategies (Part II - coming soon)

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    Jun 5, 2016

    Why Make? Readers Reply

    A few months ago, I was wrestling with the eternal question: Why do I feel compelled to knit? What makes this particular fiber art so fascinating? I shared 10 simple reasons that partially explain this unshakable compulsion, and you were kind enough to share your own insights. 

    Here's what you had to say.

    Some of you love the fact the fiber in your hands represents an unbroken thread that spans centuries to connect you with makers past, present and future:
    MichelleI agree with so many points on your list, and would like to humbly add one of my own: I love the connection it gives me with women (and men) who throughout the last 500 years or so also picked up two (or four or five) needles to create something beautiful and keep their families warm. It taps into my love of history.

    Some of you love the countless rewards of making, which range from finished objects and the powerful sense of accomplishment they bring to the strong connection that comes from being part of a making community: 
    Laura ElizabethI love to be productive, to have something to do with my hands. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I make something beautiful. I love giving a handmade gift to a family member or friend. I also love the knitting community!

    Some of you find keeping your hands busy fights the fidgets and helps you listen better:
    JennyI read number 4 out to my boyfriend to reinforce that I AM still listening while knitting or crocheting. He laughed at me but I maintain I listen way better when I'm occupied with yarn.
    Mimi @ Sweet SassafrasI identify with all these, especially 2 and 4. Knitting keeps me patient when teaching my children to read, especially. Great post! 


    Some of you know fiber is the best therapy:
    NecapricornSo many friends say, "Oh, I don't have the patience for that kind of thing." I tell them I don't have the patience to NOT! LOL

    And some of you relish the mysterious alchemy that occurs when you pick up needles and fiber:
    JennyI love that with two needles and some string I can make something useful and beautiful, it makes me feel like I'm doing magic!

    The urge to make is a powerful motivator driven by forces great and small, practical and magical, tangible and ethereal. Often, we simply make because we must.

    Feel free to chime in and add your voice to the conversation. From knitting and crochet to sewing, weaving, dying, quilting and beading, why do you feel compelled to make?

    Other posts about makers and making:

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