And She Comes Up For Air…

Thought I’d forgotten all about blogging, eh?

No, nothing attributable to absent-mindedness here. Just too much life getting in the way and too little blogging as a result. Between caring for elderly parents, wrapping up Brave New Knits book promotions for this year, the random ant infestation:

secret projects, oh yes and Thanksgiving, knitting in general, and preparations for more holiday festivities, blogging fell by the wayside.

Haven’t been checking in regularly on Facebook or Twitter lately, either.

And you know what? Despite missing my community, it has been kind of a relief not to think about it. It has been wonderful to spend my limited free time actually knitting, rather than writing blog posts or scrolling through Ravelry, or poking around with camera in hand to find print-worthy photos.

Maybe I just overthink the blogging. It’s possible. But when I have something to say, I believe in saying it as well as I can. That means writing posts that are both interesting and, if at all possible, grammatically correct.

And lately, that has all seemed like too great an effort given everything else that’s going on here.

But then the urge to share kicked in anew, and here I am. More to follow soon!

Orchid Thief Stole My Heart

The Orchid Thief Shawlette  pattern stole my heart from the moment Ysolda Teague proposed it for my book, Brave New Knits. Eventually, I knew, I would have to make one of my own.

There were exactly two skeins of Sundara Yarn’s (sadly discontinued) Silk Sport in my stash, with 225 yards in each – just enough to complete the project. The Basil Over Buttercup colorway is a glowing, vibrant green so rich it’s almost iridescent. I’ve seen some gorgeous orchids that are close to this shade of green, so although it may not be the first color one thinks of when contemplating orchids, it definitely worked for me.

I’m glad I didn’t attempt this project sooner, because the transition from Chart #3 to #4 would definitely have stumped me without Ysolda’s corrections. But now it works – and so beautifully! Thankfully, both friends and Ravelers with more courage than I were kind enough to post their experiences to help the rest of us overcome our trepidation.

Given how quickly the project went (I’m not an especially fast knitter, so less than two weeks from start to finish is pretty speedy for me) I think I’ll have to make another.

Wow! Just… Wow!

I learned yesterday (thank you, Shannon, for passing along the link) that Brave New Knits made it into the Top Ten Craft books category in’s Best Books of 2010. If you could see me now, you’d be laughing, because I’m doing a very, very, very happy dance!

More Fabulous Places to Knit

Tacoma, Washington is home to Yorkshire Yarns, where I had the pleasure of spending an evening recently to do a signing and trunk show for Brave New Knits. I love the wire mannequin on the far left of the photo below; so Victorian looking, and so perfect for modeling the Silke Jacket.

Sonya Acord is Yorkshire Yarn’s owner; she organized a very fun evening for the book signing event complete with snacks and refreshments.

Yorkshire Yarns is also the LYS of my new friend, Jen Hagan (far right in the photo below), who introduced me to Sonya and facilitated the event. Jen hosted me during my visit to the Pacific Northwest; one more example of how the knitters’ community has grown because of the Internet. I never would have met Jen (and her sweet husband, Fred) if it weren’t for Ravelry and knitting blogs!

A good friend of Jen’s did a fantastic job modeling many of the garments from Brave New Knits. Here she is in the Krookus Cardigan:

And here she is in Jen’s own Global Cable Coat (with one of the pretty little Lace Flower Pins on the lapel). Jen is making a second Global Cable Coat to try out a different yarn… it’s gorgeous already, and I saw only the first six inches or so.

Next stop on my whirlwind tour was Seattle’s Tricoter. I confess that it has been one of the biggest goals in my knitting life to visit Tricoter, which has been one of the premier yarn shops in the U.S. for many years, and whose owners have published a few knitting books of their own.

Below is the staff of Tricoter, from left to right: Jason, Beryl, Julie, Ola, and Lindy. I spent a lovely afternoon there signing copies of Brave New Knits and meeting some of the knitters who are lucky to call this wonderful shop their LYS.

Jen met me at Tricoter for the afternoon to see the shop for herself after hearing so much about it over the years, and to introduce her amazing pattern line, Figheadh Yarnworks, to the owners. Below you see her working on that second Global Cable Coat… thanks for the company, Jen!

Fabulous Places to Knit

The last two weeks of October took me to some amazing yarn shops and introduced me to some amazing knitters. One was based on the ground floor of a beautiful Victorian house, complete with charming cottage garden. Mona Rummel, long-time owner of this shop, Eugene, Oregon’s wonderful Soft Horizons Fibre (which does not, by choice, have an internet presence, hence the Yelp link for information about the shop), decided she had to make Shannon Okey’s Silke Jacket for herself:

Customer Sara, who pre-ordered her copy of Brave New Knits, was enamored with Melissa Wehrle’s Origami Shrug:

Another customer, whose name I didn’t get (sorry!), fell in love with Ann Weaver’s Johnny Rotten Jacket:

Kate, a Soft Horizons Fibre employee (and such a willing model that she tried on most of the book’s projects!), was particularly fond of Teresa Gregorio’s Milk Maiden Pullover:

And staffer Sydney was very excited to try on Ysolda Teague’s Orchid Thief Shawlette before casting on for one of her own:

At Portland, Oregon’s Knit Purl, the walls of color were a total feast for the eyes, though I didn’t manage to catch those stealthy staffers trying on the garments from Brave New Knits.

Finally… An Ishbel To Call My Own

Although it seems that lately I don’t have much time to knit other designers’ patterns, Ysolda Teague’s Ishbel shawl made a great plane project a few weeks ago.

Everywhere I go, I run into a knitter who tells me with great excitement that she has knit up four Ishbels, or sometimes five, or maybe even as many as eight, no lie! So finally, I just had to try it for myself.

And I have to admit it is a very satifsying project; simple stockinette concluded with a simple lace border repeat. Great for a long plane or car ride. A wonderful way to show off a beautiful skein of laceweight or sock yarn.

Mine is in Malabrigo Sock, color #809, Solis. Mmmm… the scrumptious yarn in that divine colorway was as lovely to work as the project itself. I even had quite a bit left over of the single skein, leading me to believe I should have made the large version after all. Next time. I guess I might just become one of those serial Ishbel knitters….


When the fun folks at Interweave Knits gave me a creative challenge, I did my best to rise to the occasion. And now that the Holiday 2010 issue is on its way to your mailbox and local yarn shop, I can share what they asked me to do.

It was a fun little project; knitted embellishments that are suitable for holiday gift-giving. Four different little leaves, to be precise, with the designs charted out to make them really easy-peasy. And oh, the magical ways in which to use them:

Little Pleated Clutch, Hana Jason, Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2010

I can see them tied to holiday packages, topping a length of I-cord for use as a bookmark, or lots of them gathered to make a wreath, or bulky weight versions pressed into service as coasters…

Looking through all the great projects in this issue, it is clear that the IK editors had a blast putting it together. I was happy to be included, as this project gave me a great excuse to browse again through a photography book by Karl Blossfeldt, a truly fabulous little book of inspiration that features sharply-detailed black and white photos of seed pods, leaves, and flowers.

So Behind It Looks Caught Up To Me

The latest radio silence is attributable to nothing more serious than travel and then more time needed to catch up on life.

But I couldn’t let my new pattern release go entirely unheralded.

Please say hello to Sonja, a rectangular stole and bonus scarf pattern in a total of three sizes. After much test knitting and pattern tweaking, she is finally ready for her close-up. Two simple but satisfying lace patterns are combined to create a wonderfully soft and warm wrap that will keep you cozy on a winter day.

Should you desire a Sonja of your own (and why wouldn’t you, she said in a shameless plug), you have the option of making her in one of three sizes: Large – 17″ wide x 84″ long for a truly sumptuous wrap, Small – 17″wide x 66″ long for those of us who tend to get warm a bit too quickly and often these days, and Scarf – 8 3/4″ wide x 66″ long, for anyone who just wants a wrap around her neck rather than her entire torso.



Fingering or laceweight yarns are recommended for Sonja; the large red version is worked in about 2 2/3 skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh Sock; the small teal version is knit up in slightly less than two 400-yd. skeins of Fearless Fibers Laceweight Merino Wool, and the scarf is made from less than one skein – 500 yds. – of Sundara Yarn Fingering Silky Merino.

Whichever yarn you choose, all were made on US Size 6 needles. Obviously, in the laceweight the resulting wrap is a more open, airier lace than in the fingering weight choices.

Sonja is offered for sale in my Pattern Store right here on this site, and on my Ravelry Designer page.

Knit-One-One and Nine Rubies Knitting…

If I’m behind on posting photos of the latest Brave New Knits signings, it’s because I’m in transit yet again. But last week was a welcome respite because I got to do a few signings in the Bay area. What a treat to be able to get into my car, drive to the event, and then drive back home!

In addition to the fabulous San Francisco shop ImagiKnit, I had the great good fortune to hold a trunk show at Sile Convery’s premier crafts space Knit-One-One in Berkeley. Joining me there was Julie Weisenberger of Cocoknits fame. Her adorable child’s tunic, Button, is one of the book’s many popular projects.

Julie, when you gonna write up the pattern for that sweater you’re wearing? I want it bad!

Judi (a new transplant to San Francisco) really rocked Stefanie Japel’s Waves Pullover.

This little angel was especially fetching in Anne Hanson’s Hydrangea Neckwarmer.

And some visitors just couldn’t try on too many items at one time!

Nine Rubies Knitting in San Mateo hosted me last Sunday, and had a great group of knitters there for their regular Sunday afternoon gathering. Saloni and her mom Sudha run the shop and had knit up a few of the book’s projects as store samples. They made me feel so welcome!

While I was there, it was really fun to discuss internet resources for knitters; some members of the group were more comfortable than others with all the options that are out there for our community, so it felt good to spread the word!

Fellow Bay area designer Brenda Patipa also stopped by – we were already friends on Ravelry, so it was really nice to meet her in person.

Nine Rubies employee Hannah (Hannahart on Ravelry) proved once again that when you include an informal “Project Runway” as part of a signing, you just might sell more books!

She looked great in everything she tried on, and Jordana Paige’s Delysia (above) and Shannon Okey’s Silke (below) were just two examples from the many she wore.

Both venues were fabulous. And did I mention how great it was not to have to get on a plane in order to do them (I guess this means the rock star/road warrior life is not for me – too much of a homebody)?

Let There Be Knitting

Lest you suspect that all this book promotion stuff has kept me from my own knitting, let me reassure you that is not the case.

Please allow me to introduce the Sonja Stole, named for record-breaking Norwegian Olympic figure skater Sonja Henie. After her incredible first career as a skater in the 1920s and 1930s, she spent several more years as one of Hollywood’s highest paid actresses. Talk about reinvention!

The stole’s easily memorized lace stitch pattern throughout the body is interspersed with narrow sections of ruching (and these are spaced progressively closer together for added warmth where it wraps around the neck). Each end is finished with a lovely lace border.

Version #1 shown above (17″ wide x 68″ long, blocked) is a rich semisolid teal, made up with lightening speed by Glenna from less than two 400 yd. skeins of Fearless Fibers Laceweight 100% Merino Wool (you can also purchase Deb’s beautiful yarns in larger skeins, which is perfect for this project).

Version #2 is significantly longer (17″ wide x 84″ long), the better to wrap luxuriously around your shoulders on a cold night when moonlight skating is on the agenda. Worked up in just under three skeins of Madeline Tosh Sock (approximately 1,050 yards), it is sumptuously soft and warm.

Both versions of the stole are knit on US Size 6/ 4.0 mm needles, which means that the laceweight merino (Version #1) knits up with open stitches that are light as air, and the fingering weight wool (Version #2) has more substance.

The pattern will be added within the next week or so to both my Ravelry store and to the Pattern page on this site. It will also include directions for a bonus scarf version of Sonja, just because.

Imagiknit Signing and Trunk Show

Last night was the Brave New Knits signing and trunk show at ImagiKnit in San Francisco. Allison was a most gracious hostess – she and her staff (thanks, Jonah and Jocelyn!) cleared a table and stripped display forms for me so quickly you’d think they had a lot of practice.

Can you believe all the yarn behind my trunk show? The entire shop is packed with gorgeous yarn just like what you see in those cubes behind the BNK display!

Hilary Smith Callis (The Yarniad) was really the star of the evening. Here she is modeling her own Koukla project. I love, love, LOVE those pockets!

And below is another view of all that amazing yarn stocked by ImagiKnit – it’s truly staggering when you see it in person! In fact, a couple of skeins of Madeline Tosh Sock yarn jumped into my bag when I wasn’t looking, and insisted upon coming home with me. Don’t know quite how that happened, but I’m sure it has something (or maybe everything?) to do with my terminal lack of willpower. Thanks for enabling me, Allison…

Some people get to be both tall & beautiful, and some of us make do with short & sassy.

Hilary brought her posse with her to the event, and they had a field day trying on projects from the book.

Rocking the Johnny Rotten Jacket. How sharp is that?

ImagiKnit is located at:

3897 18th St. (at Sanchez)
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-6642
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11-6:30, Sunday 11-4

Knitty City Signing – Rain Or Shine

The weather in NYC was absolutely bizarre last Thursday, when I was due to appear at Knitty City on the Upper West Side for a Brave New Knits signing. Outside, it was cool but humid, threatening rain all day but not making good on the threat. From the surrounding suburbs came reports of tornado-strength winds and downpours.

(Standing) Knitty City owner Pearl Chin, me, Kirsten Kapur, (Seated) Connie Chang Chinchio, Melissa Wehrle

My fears that this strange weather would keep knitters away from the event proved unfounded – Pearl’s charming, packed-to-the-rafters shop was equally packed with knitters who lobbed questions at me and at the super-special guest designers who also came to the event; Kirsten Kapur of Through The Loops, Melissa Wehrle of Neoknits, and Connie Chang Chinchio of Physicsknits!

It was wonderful to see all of them again and catch up on the last year of their lives. All continue to knock out fabulous designs, not surprisingly.

Knitters who frequent Pearl’s Upper West Side shop are a dedicated group; all were knitting away on their individual projects throughout the event, and it was fun to see what everybody was working on.

Knitty City has a friendly, homey vibe that makes it a great place to visit. When I arrived (dragging my steamer trunk-sized suitcase full of Brave New Knits projects behind me) there was a group of knitters sitting at a round table working on their projects, looking as if they had been there all day and had no intention of going home. It’s the kind of shop you discover and then never want to leave. The fact that it is well-stocked with many of my favorite yarns made it all the more inviting.

Loop Signing

I’ve been hearing about Loop in Philadelphia for years, so it was a distinct thrill when owner Craig Rosenfeld invited me to do a signing and trunk show for Brave New Knits there. And I confess to feeling a shiver down my spine when I saw that his shop windows were full of neatly arrayed copies of the book, welcoming knitters inside for the event.

And what a beautiful, bright and airy shop it is! All those pristine cubes stocked in a color-coordinated rainbow of luscious yarn… I sigh with pleasure just thinking about it. It’s no wonder that Craig’s shop won Philadelphia Magazine’s 2010 award for Best Way To Get Crafty.

Here I am with Craig AND one of my all-time favorite knit-blog idols, Carol Sulcoski of Black Bunny Fibers fame, (and writer, and designer) who is even funnier and more charming in person than she is in her blog, goknitinyourhat. Carol drove in from the ‘burbs for the event and oh my, I was all verklempt!

Craig had the display table stocked with more copies of Brave New Knits as well as a beautiful autumnal color story featuring yarns used in the book’s projects – WOW! He wrote a lovely post (with additional photos) about the event here: if you want to read more.

Fibre Space Signing

One of the many things I need to do better is post-event posting! A visit to the east coast at the end of September brought me to some fabulous local yarn shops, the first of which was Fibre Space, in Alexandria, Virginia. What a great space!

And although I was sorry not to be able to meet Danielle Romanetti, the owner of Fibre Space, I was very well cared for by Veronica and staff. Here’s Veronica modeling Jen Hagan’s Global Cable Coat  from the book- she really rocked it! 

I absolutely loved Fibre Space’s Jetson-like vibe, with funky light fixtures and funny-faced mannequins to display the projects from Brave New Knits.

Oh, and did I mention all the yummy yarn? Located in charming Old Town Alexandria right outside of Washington, DC, Fibre space is a gorgeous and friendly shop all round.

Since my signing was scheduled for one of the shop’s regular Thursday night Knit Nights, we had a great crowd. I was busy the entire evening signing copies of the book! Not only did the shop run out, but they took orders for another dozen copies. Thank you, Fibre Space!

Koukla Cardigan by Hilary Smith Callis, and Lace Flower Pin by Kat Coyle

The icing on the cake was that I got to stay with a dear friend who lives in Washington; we go back a long way, but don’t get to see one another very often.

Bobbin’s Nest Studio

How lovely to have a local stop next up on my Brave New Knits tour! Bobbin’s Nest Studio is a fabric and yarn store located just an hour south of me, in Santa Clara.

And owner Erin McGee’s shop is wonderfully diversified, selling both gorgeous yarn AND amazing fabrics and patterns for sewing everything from clothing to home accessories. What a great mix! Colorful, touchable, and a feast of eye candy in every corner.

Take a look at the skirts in the photo above; they are shop samples that just happened to coordinate perfectly with Mari Muinonen’s Krookus Cardigan and with Teresa Gregorio’s Milk Maiden Pullover from the book!

Erin is a tall drink of water, and I guess the beverage that most closely describes me is a single shot of espresso; you can’t tell from the photo above, but she is bending at the knees, and I am standing on my tip-toes to bring us to a similar height.

Jordana Paige, above, whose lovely and delicate Delysia Camisole is one of the Brave New Knits projects, is introducing a new collection of knitting bags to her product line. It was great to have her at Bobbin’s Nest for the afternoon, too. Customers were very excited to have a two-for-one!

And speaking of customers, I met both a Facebook Friend (Hi, Diane!) AND a Ravelry acquaintance (That’s you, Ien!) for the first time in person because both came to the signing. The internet is responsible for all sorts of meet ups these days.

With its carefully edited selection of yarn, books, fabrics, and patterns, all of which are artfully displayed in vintage cabinets, with cozy sofas and overstuffed chairs tucked into corners for customers who just have to sit and knit a while, Bobbin’s Nest Studio would definitely be my go-to shop if it were located closer to home.