5/15/2014 – Pochette: Knits That Breathe Project Particulars

Pochette (poe – shėt, from the French for “little pocket”) has long, lean lines with gentle set-in waist shaping that accentuates, yet skims gently, over a woman’s curves. Its airy sheerness looks beautiful worn over a camisole, but maintains its cool breathability when knitted up on US Size 5 or 6 needles.

With elbow-length sleeves, a flattering V-neck and color-blocking to add visual interest, this tunic goes from the office to a night out with ease.

Pochette 2 155_KnitsThatBreathe

Although it’s elegant enough to wear with a long, minimalist necklace as shown here, Pochette would also be spectacular with a patterned silk scarf draped around the neck.

Curved pockets grow out of the color blocking, and are achieved with Short-Row shaping. To my eye, the colors “Apple” and “Tar” sang in perfect harmony when combined. I love this serious shade of gray next to the chartreuse; each color becomes its best self when edged with the other.

Pochette detail 3 156_KnitsThatBreathe

The lovely linen yarn used in this project is Shibui Linen. Softer than your average linen, it nonetheless has the lovely dry, crisp hand that we associate with linen fiber. Airy and light, this is a quintessential summer yarn, with a unique chain ply structure that is an absolute dream to work with. Never splitty or rough on the hands, it slides through the fingers and has just enough texture to stay put on the needles.

Pochette rear 1 153_KnitsThatBreathe

While the tunic is a natural over leggings or jeans, it would dress up beautifully worn belted over a long, floaty skirt.

Knits That Breathe – Yarn Substitution options

I’ve been asked to provide some cost-conscious yarn substitution options for the projects in Knits That Breathe, and am glad to do so with this caveat: whenever substituting different yarns for those used in a book’s samples, be sure to make a generous swatch, block the swatch, then – and only then – verify your gauge.

An 8″ x 8″ swatch would not be out of line in this situation, because you want to be absolutely certain that the yarn will behave and perform similarly, if not exactly, like the yarn used in the original sample.

Still Waters 3 017_KnitsThatBreathe Sirena 3 051_KnitsThatBreathe Pacific Coast 3 325_KnitsThatBreathe












Ok, now I’ll take off my schoolmarm hat 😉 and make the following suggestions (and please understand that I have not necessarily worked with these yarns – the suggestions are based on my research about their appearance, gauge, fiber content, and the success of similar projects):




Elann Lara is a 5-ply, 100% combed mercerized cotton (sport weight); 138 yds./skein @ $2.98. I’d try this as a substitute yarn in Still Waters, Sirena, or Pochette. Elann has a Bag Blowout sale on this yarn right now, @ $22.00/bag.

Elann Lustrado is a 4-ply, 100% mercerized gassed cotton (fingering wt.); 185 yds./skein @$3.48. Try this option for Flutterbye (for a less sheer version because of the slightly heavier weight), Still Waters, Sirena, Sail Away Shrug, Zephyr, or Iced Frappuccino.

Elann Sonata Soft is an 8-ply, 100% mercerized cotton (DK wt.); 115 yds./skein @ $2.98. Try this for the Pacific Coast tunic, Splash cardigan, Sail Away shrug, Breezy tunic, Haven.

Elann Ornaghi Filati United is 55% Bamboo/ 45% Cotton (Aran wt.); 92 yds/skein @ $2.98. Try this for the Splash cardigan, Breezy tunic, or Pacific Coast tunic, Haven.

KnitPicks CotLin is 70% Tanguis Cotton, 30% Linen (DK wt.); 123 yds./skein @ $2.99. An option for Breezy tunic, Pacific Coast tunic, Splash Cardigan, Haven, or Iced Frappuccino.

KnitPicks Shine Sport is 60% Pima Cotton, 40% Modal® natural beech wood fiber (Sport wt.); 110 yds./skein @ $2.99. An option for Pochette, Sirena, Still Waters, or Zephyr.

Classic Elite Firefly is 25% linen, 75% viscose (Sport wt.); 155 yds./skein.
Classic Elite Provence is 100% mercerized Egyptian cotton; 102 yds./skein.
Classic Elite Cerro is 85% pima cotton, 15% alpaca; 150 yds./skein.
Classic Elite Classic Silk is 50% Cotton, 30% Silk, 20% Nylon; 135 yds./skein.
(See retailers for pricing; Classic Elite yarns are not as cost-conscious as those listed above, but are nonetheless a good value for lovely product.

Flutterbye on Ashley 098_KnitsThatBreathe

Haven 2 161_KnitsThatBreathe

Sorbet 1 298_KnitsThatBreathe












I hope these suggestions are enough to get you thinking, swatching, and making your own beautiful versions of the projects in Knits That Breathe! Please show me your finished projects!

5/10/2014 – Knits That Breathe Project Particulars: Sorbet Cardi

I’ve noticed on Ravelry that the little Sorbet Cardi from Knits That Breathe is not getting the love enjoyed by many of the book’s other projects, and I’m not sure why that is.

Sorbet 1 298_KnitsThatBreathe

It can’t be the design, because who doesn’t love a straightforward top-down design with minimal seams plus adorable lace borders and cuffs?

Sorbet 3 178_KnitsThatBreathe

It definitely can’t be the yarn, because Blue Moon Fiber Arts’ Marine Silk Worsted is heaven in a skein. It feels like cashmere, offers lovely stitch definition, and the Buttah colorway I chose for the sample really reminds me of an icy lemon sorbet.

The blend of silk, SeaCell, and wool gives the fibers an exquisite soft shimmer, fantastic drape, and the perfect amount of shape retention from that small percentage of wool. 

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It can’t be the length, which looks great over a tunic, tee, or summer dress.  

So I think it’s just possibly because we haven’t considered all its options, all its versatility.

Perhaps my clowning around in this fun, comfortable, flattering cardi will help you see its possibilities.

5/8/2014 – TNNA

A few more things to share about TNNA last weekend. The funny thing about being surrounded by fiber, and knitting, and other knitters, is that by the end of the day I was almost too tired to do any actual knitting. Almost. But not quite… managed to fall asleep one night with needles in hand!

This gorgeous tunic by Brooke Nico, designer, yarn shop owner, and now the author of the absolutely amazing new book,  Lovely Knitted Lace (this particular pattern is available in Knitters magazine, Spring 2014 issue) was on the event floor, and just blew me away!

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Running into some of the designers whose work is featured in my first book, Brave New Knits, was an extra treat at the show. I saw Hilary Smith Callis, whose Yarniad designs are so fun and hip and continue to wow me:

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Also met up with Kirsten Kapur of Through The Loops, whose designs have been among my favorites ever since I first started reading her blog way back in 2009. Her color sensibility is subtle but rich, and always lovely.

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Also spent time with fellow Visionaries and indy publishers Hunter Hammersen (author of the marvelous Knitters Curiosity Cabinet series as well as several other pattern collections), Betty Salpeker (author of Solefull Socks), and Jill Wolcott (author of the Goddess Collection, among other sophisticated and elegant pattern collections), both amazing designers. A productive weekend!

5/6/2014 – TNNA

Spent a successful weekend at TNNA, one of the fiber industry’s main events every year. This year, it was held 6 weeks earlier than usual, and due to scheduling conflicts it was in a different venue (Indianapolis rather than the usual Columbus), which made a few folks cranky.

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The date change meant that I had to have a case of advance copies of Knits That Breathe expressed to my hotel  because the paperback version won’t be here until early June. FedEx came through for me, but the hotel (Omni Severin) then tried to charge me a $20 “receiving fee” for holding the box until my arrival. What’s up with that?

Add paper-thin walls and a largely unchaperoned group of high school students on the same floor (playing tag in the hallway, having intense adolescent confabulations late into the night outside their rooms, and generally whooping it up much later than I would have liked), and maybe, just maybe, I was one of those cranky folks.

But enough about the hotel already!

The Great Wall of Yarn was loaded with new yarns to sample from dozens of vendors:

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And on the show floor, all kinds of fibery gorgeousness, such as this lovely and unusual example from Alchemy:

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It was a great opportunity to catch up with knitting friends, colleagues, and acquaintances such as Melissa Leapman and Jocelyn Grayson:

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The biggest thrill for me was to share Knits That Breathe projects with the yarn company owners who were kind enough to provide support for the book, such as Susan Moraca holding Iced Frappuccino in Milky Whey from Kolláge Yarn:

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Best of all was seeing Knits That Breathe prominently displayed on the wall at my distributor’s booth:

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There it was, right at eye level. Gotta love that!

Indianapolis has many charms (in the food domain, Napolese Pizzeria and Bee Coffee  are two stellar examples), but after long days of sourcing new yarn for upcoming book projects and promoting my new book, I didn’t mind seeing them in the rear-view mirror as I headed back to Chicago. More soon!

5/1/14 – KNITS THAT BREATHE Project Particulars – Flutterbye

Flutterbye was, more than some of the other designs in Knits That Breathe, a true synthesis of design concept and yarn characteristics. Over the years I’ve made shawls and wraps from Sundara Yarn’s Silk Lace, and thus was already familiar with its behavior. I knew the finished design would have beautiful drape, that it would offer blissfully cool comfort to the wearer, and that it would gleam gently whenever light shone upon it.

Flutterbye resized 308_KnitsThatBreathe

As a fan of the handkerchief hem in other garments I own, the yarn seemed to cry out for this design element – it needed that fluttering, wispy, feminine quality that gives the tunic its wonderful movement and makes the knitter feel beautiful every time it floats over her body. And although I’m not prone to adding ruffles to my knitting (In fact, I’ve been known to call ruffles, along with puffed sleeves, “infantilizing”), Silk Lace seemed to warrant just the slightest waft of extra flutter.

Flutterbye detail 310_KnitsThatBreathe copy

The ideas I sketched for the project evolved slowly into Flutterbye, which incorporates all the elements I’ve mentioned above as well as its own ineffable grace.

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The word “scintillating” must have been invented to describe Sundara Yarn’s Silk Lace, because its delicate strength and shimmering lustre (or is that lustrous shimmer?) are the very embodiment of the word. Making Flutterbye with Silk Lace was the ultimate pleasure because every inch glides through the fingers like a sigh.

Rich color absorption by the silk renders a pleasing palette of semi-solids that range from bold to delicate. You can’t go wrong. Sundara is a color magician with such nuanced mastery of the dye-pot that she achieves amazing depth and brilliance in every skein. 

Flutterbye on Ashley 098_KnitsThatBreathe

If there’s one single tip I can pass along about Flutterbye and the Silk Lace yarn, it’s that a loose cast-on and an even looser bind-off will help you achieve the desired result for your finished garment. The silk fiber has no elasticity, so although the tunic itself has some horizontal give as well as plenty of drape and motion, this is not achieved with any assistance from the actual yarn.

I’ll be at TNNA in Indianapolis over the first weekend in May to promote Knits That Breathe. I hope to see some of you there, and look forward to reporting back upon my return!

Knits That Breathe – Haven Project Particulars

I designed Haven with multiple purposes in mind. There’s nothing like a “versatility challenge” to get me thinking, swatching, sketching, and swatching some more. One of the great things about living in Chicago is that in the summertime, several lakefront beaches are a mere 15-minute walk from my apartment. With a book and a cold drink in hand and my toes in the cool lake, I can’t think of a better way to laze away a weekend afternoon than on a sandy beach.

But it would feel a bit odd to me to stroll around downtown among the business professionals and the tourists without some kind of cover over my bathing suit. And if I can also wear that cover as a casual top, or an oversized, comfortable layer over a camisole, so much the better.

Haven 1 256_KnitsThatBreathe

Haven began with a fetching zig-zag lace pattern in one of my Japanese stitch dictionaries. I was so taken with it that I swatched it ages ago, well before beginning the designs for Knits That Breathe. Ever since then, it has been pinned to my inspiration board where I could look at it every day until the right project came along.

Once I had sketched out a plan for Haven with an asymmetrical lace motif, sloping shoulders, and breezily open sides, the lace swatch started shouting (metaphorically, of course) “Pick me! Pick me!” It would have been cruel to refuse. Not to mention, it’s perfect.

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Berroco’s Linsey yarn, a 64% cotton and 36% linen blend that is soft to the touch yet offers wonderful stitch definition is also, as Berroco describes it, “colored in the sun-weathered shades of summertime.” That subtly tweedy color variegation    is part of its appeal.

An additional feature is how marvelously cool it feels against the skin. Cotton and linen are two stalwarts in terms of moisture wicking and absorbency. The linen content gives Linsey’s knitted fabric a judicious hint of the crispness we associate with that fiber, making it truly perfect for a hot day.

Haven 3 164_KnitsThatBreathe

See you at the beach!

Knits That Breathe – Still Waters Tee Project Particulars

For comfort, drape, and quintessential summer style, the Still Waters Tee is easy on the eyes and easy to love. Worked in crisp linen that softens with washing and wear, its strategically placed mesh lace side panels and sleeves give new relevance to the concept of air conditioned clothing.

Still Waters 3 017_KnitsThatBreathe

Knit in the round up to the armholes and then divided for the sleeves, front, and back, Still Waters offers easy construction and visually simple but highly effective texture. Two short seams at the top of the shoulders means that only minimal finishing is required before the tee is ready to wear. And with summer calling, what could be better than that?

Still Waters 2 005_KnitsThatBreathe

I can’t say enough good things about Claudia Hand Painted Yarns “Drama” – 100% Linen yarn. Gorgeous colors (I used Blue Fields for this project), lovely drape tempered by linen’s natural dry texture, and unparalleled stitch definition. As the linen softens with wear, I love this tee even more, and find myself reaching for it often to pair with everything from jeans to a linen skirt. I suspect you will, too!

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Knits That Breathe – Sirena Tunic Project Particulars

Silk, lace, and beading… a combination that automatically says “dressy” to me. As embodied in the Sirena tunic, this happy blend of elements results in a flowing top that thrills with understated elegance and special details.

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Hand Maiden Yarn’s Flaxen, a marriage of 65% silk and 35% linen, offers the knitter the delicious softness and color saturation of silk as well as the crisp stitch definition and subtle texture of linen, resulting in a yarn that glides dreamily through the fingers. The two fibers absorb dye differently, giving Flaxen a lovely semi-solid appearance with depth and quiet variegation. The tunic’s beautiful drape grows softer and more luscious with each washing, making Sirena a classic design that only gets better with time and wear.

The scoop neck and open sleeves (seamed only at the shoulders and at the edges) add as much to its cool appearance as the vertical allover lace.

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A lovely little vintage mother-of-pearl button closes the keyhole back at the neck.

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The beaded detail at the hem subtly accentuates the lace border. And if the beads seem like too much of a good thing, knitters should feel free to omit them – the lace points have sufficient appeal to stand on their own.

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Easing over the hips, Sirena can be worn a multitude of ways; belted or not, over a long floating skirt or sleek silk pants. With simple construction and just enough shaping to make the most of your assets, I hope this tunic will quickly become a staple in your wardrobe.

Sirena 2 433_KnitsThatBreathe

Knits That Breathe – Pacific Coast Tunic Project Particulars

While I await this year’s minuscule (i.e. I could buy myself and a friend fancy coffee drinks, maybe) tax refund, let’s start our discussion of the Knits That Breathe Project Particulars with the Pacific Coast Tunic. This design not only made the cover of the book, but was the first one I designed for it.


I confess to being kind of a geek for garment construction techniques that look rather complicated, but are actually quite straightforward in execution. The Pacific Coast Tunic is a perfect example of this. It’s made of four pieces, but not in the way you might expect.

Raised seams certainly focus the eye on the tunic’s front and back center panels, but they also add wonderfully flattering vertical lines to this garment. That distinction is important because the tunic’s fabric is worked in a stitch pattern that includes subtle, graduated horizontal “stripes,” as you can see below:

Pacific Coast 3 325_KnitsThatBreathe

Short-Row shaping at the hem of the side panels serves two functions; while the curving hem gracefully covers what some wearers might consider a surplus of generous hip, it also provides soft drape and movement with every sway of those hips.

Pacific Coast Tunic Rear Smocking detail

Pacific Coast Tunic Rear Smocking detail

The smocking detail at the top of each center panel is both a stylish detail (and one that calls for some really special buttons!) and a subtle technique to accentuate the A-line shape of the tunic – another way for those important vertical seams to provide flattering lines where we need them the most.

The yarn used in this project is the wonderful Tencel Tape by Prism Yarn. 100% Tencel (a lovely fiber with origins in wood pulp, but definitely no splinters here!), it glides smoothly through the fingers and is a pleasure to work with. Easy to care for, it’s got plenty of shape-holding body AND a soft hand, and absorbs dye well for beautiful color saturation and retention. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Prism Yarn Tencel Tape

Prism Yarn Tencel Tape

I adore this tunic, and can’t wait to wear it this summer (although after last night’s snowfall and this morning’s temperature of 32 degrees, I’m seriously wondering if summer will ever come to Chicago this year!).

I’ll also wear it with a tissue-weight white tee shirt underneath. When I wore it that way to Chicago’s YarnCon, I couldn’t take ten steps without being stopped by someone asking where she could find the pattern. The good news is, the pattern is in Knits That Breathe, and the book is available for purchase now. Make one of your own and soon you, too, will be getting stopped everywhere you go by knitters wanting to make their own Pacific Coast Tunic.

4/21/2014 – Knits That Breathe – Iced Frappuccino Project Particulars

Time for a detailed look at Iced Frappuccino made from Kolláge’s Milky Whey, one of the most popular designs in Knits That Breathe according to Ravelry. And I can understand why; not only does it share the cooling properties of the book’s other eleven projects, but it has elements of grace and softness that give it an extra-special quality.

Let’s take a closer look at the mesh lace yoke, worked in a simple lace repeat that achieves excellent fit by decreasing towards the neckline, allowing it to settle delicately upon the shoulders:

Iced Frap 1 020_KnitsThatBreathe

A reader who likes to keep the tops of her arms covered asked me if it would be possible to extend the yoke over the shoulders to create cap sleeves, a modification that should work nicely for her without detracting in any way from the design. I think I’d probably make that modification using the Short-Row shaping technique to “build” a curved cap over each shoulder, but there are probably other ways to achieve a similar result.

What do you think?

Notice the subtle waist shaping (below) that defines the figure without clinging, and the lace motif that meanders its way vertically up the body without ever revealing too much. When I found this lace motif in one of my stitch dictionaries, I knew it was right for Iced Frappuccino.

I was on a quest for an undulating and graceful lace design that could easily be memorized, because as much as we knitters like a challenge, there are other times when we want to be able to knit while Downton Abbey, or Scandal, or Game of Thrones is on without fear of losing track of the row or repeat. 

Iced Frap 2 026_KnitsThatBreathe

Have I mentioned how much I loved working with Kolláge Yarn’s Milky Whey? The blend of 50% milk and 50% soy protein fibers feels like the most divine cashmere. And if it feels that good in the skein, just imagine how much softer and more luxurious it feels post-blocking, worn right next to the skin. 

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Milky Whey is the ultimate in heavenly, wearable, and gorgeous-to-knit-with yarn! It is available in a lovely palette of soft pastel shades that are sophisticated rather than childish (my choice of Latte is one of those) as well as a handful of luscious brights. You really can’t go wrong.


It’s great to be back after a long absence while my site was offline being updated. Now that it’s new and improved, I’m so ready to roll up my sleeves and let the fun begin!

First up is the release of Knits That Breathe: 12 Breezy Projects To Keep You Cool, otherwise known as the book I’ve been working on for the last year. It’s very much a labor of love.

Knits That Breathe

I look forward to sharing the details of each design over the next several weeks. You can pre-order the paperback now on the SHOP page of this site. The bonus? Doing so gets you an instant download of the e-book version for free. There’s something so magical about that word “free,” n’est-ce pas?

back cover image

January 24, 2014

A recent trip to work on my book, including a mini-hiatus to see old friends, is over. With a week-long visit to San Francisco in my rearview mirror, I’ve resumed knitting (and more knitting). While this gorgeousness:












was plenty distracting, the purpose of my trip was definitely knitting-related. Over two days, the projects for my next knitting book were styled, primped, and positioned to best advantage during the photo shoot, some of which took place outdoors.












While I created the designs and wrote the patterns, and the ultimate product (The book! The book!) is my responsibility, hiring a fantastic team gives me confidence that the end result will be all I could wish.















From tech editing the twelve patterns, to design and layout of the book format, to photography of the knitted sample garments, the end result will be the work of many.















And while overseeing the details has entailed many checklists, spreadsheets, and emails back and forth, at the end of the day it’s so worth it!

Farewell, 2013

Still shocked at how quickly this year has flown by, but now I’m looking ahead to an exciting 2014, when not one, but TWO of my self-published knitting books will be released. A shiver goes up my spine just reading those words!

Had a wonderful visit with my daughter when she spent a week here over Christmas…

















The weather was appropriately wintry and festive with holiday lights.

















We ate lots of excellent food, much of which we cooked ourselves, but which also included a return visit to Eataly (so much for my vow not to set foot in that temple of all foods Italian again until after New Year’s).

















And a trip to Black Dog Gelato.













Mostly, we goofed around and enjoyed each other’s company.













There’s a lot to be said for having adult children. And although I’m most definitely biased, I think mine has turned out to be a pretty spectacular human being.













Pitter Patter

Friends of ours had a baby last week – a little boy. As if I needed an excuse, I whipped up a little something because, well,  I love knitting baby gifts. They work up so quickly!













They’re so adorable! So tiny! Ergo, they use so little yarn… making them perfect stash-busters.

And this yarn from Black Bunny Fibers, a hand-dyed worsted weight from my friend Carol Sulcoski, is the perfect mix of cheerful but not too sweet. The most accurate color example is in the top photo; a true crimson with bits of burgundy scattered throughout.













I’m a sucker for that little I-cord fillip at the top of baby hats. It’s cute, but not as gimmicky as hats with ears (although they can be mighty cute, too!).













Most of all, knitting baby gifts reminds me to be grateful that I’m not the sleep-depraved deprived one changing diapers and trying to function through the fog of baby-brain (Although, secretly, it does make me just a tidge nostalgic for my daughter’s own infancy. She was such a little peanut.).

Do you have a favorite baby gift to knit? What is your go-to hat pattern, bootees, or baby blanket? The bootees you see above are from 50 Baby Bootees to Knit, by Zoë Mellor. There are some wonderful, quick patterns in her book – well worth adding to your knitting library shelf if you don’t already own it. The hat is probably one of the most basic designs in existence, and I love it for two solid reasons:

~ it never fails to please the recipients, and

~ it can be embellished and modified in limitless ways, so it’s really never the same hat twice.

I worked it up using Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns for the template.