Choices, Choices….Yarn Selection

My big 2013 knitting book project is complete. Well, let me amend that. My initial responsibilities are complete, meaning that I:

~designed twelve – yes, twelve! – flattering and comfortable new garments (I can’t reveal much, but here’s a sneak peek of one cardi with a vintage mother-of-pearl button from my collection):













~chose a lovely palette of fantastic yarns for them,

~wrote up all the patterns.

The physical book layout, photography, and production are starting in mid-January, and the file will go to the printer by early March. The book’s target release date is early June, 2014.

With a three-week window wide open before me, I’ve begun selecting yarns for a new book project because god forbid I should have nothing to do between now and mid-January. This new secret project has an exciting theme, a gorgeous color palette, and a bit of a bias toward luxury yarns in small, affordable quantities (although many of the featured yarns will have user-friendly price points). I’m stoked!

Here’s a peek at the prototype for one of the projects already nearing completion:

















I haven’t seen much of this lacy cable design out there, and really wanted to try something new to me that would be easily memorized but would also develop a satisfying pattern reveal as it grows on the needles.

I’ll leave you with a few images of Chicago’s holiday attire:

















For a couple of frigid days, new snow covered every surface, and holiday lights were the only things warming the view at night.













A little dusting of icy “confectioner’s sugar” on the rooftops:













Even the river began to ice over, but as soon as it warmed up ju-u-st slightly, these mini ice floes broke free and skimmed down-river.


















Is Anybody Out There?

They say that if one doesn’t write and post regularly on a blog, the audience drops off precipitously. Guilty as charged.

But what happens when life finally calms down and gets compelling enough that blogging begins to seem like a good idea again? Do formerly loyal readers slowly make their way back, becoming part of the blogger’s community with renewed interest? I guess I’ll just have to find out.


Hello. Is this thing on?


Is anybody out there?

It’s me. A Californian no longer, living city life in Chicago for a little more than two years.













Knitting more than ever, and designing collections of creative, fun-to-knit new patterns (all of which are test-knitted and tech edited from heading to footer, from charts to schematics).




























Gardening exclusively in balcony containers…although that’s over until next spring.

Shadow is still the household’s feline companion, never shy about letting us know when she needs a belly rub.

Happy to be back, and hoping you’ll come along for the ride!

Handwork Mitts, Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2011

I received a copy of Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2011 last week. Lo and behold, my ongoing desire to design fingerless mitts patterns continues to bear fruit.

Designed to fit into the section titled “A House With Gables” theme (for the projects’ ornate embellishments), I LOVED creating the Handwork Mitts design. Not only do these mitts include a feminine picot bind-off, but they feature a simple but effective lace cuff as well.

Add to that the knitted and appliqued blooms that adorn the back of the hand. And, there are two options for those pretty little leaves that anchor the blossoms in place. IK shows both – very nice of them!

My original prototype (seen above) had tiny knitted leaves, worked on US Size 1 needles. The version of this project that made it into the magazine features wired-edge ribbon leaves, snipped into 3″ lengths and folded the long way, then stitched to create a center seam, as shown below. Charts for the knitted leaves are also included.

Below are the photos showing how IK modeled the mitts. So delicate and pretty, no? I’m always thrilled by how they photograph and style my projects.

The mitts themselves are easily a weekend project, and the knitted flowers work up, literally, in minutes (and are a fantastic way to use up those little remnant lengths of luxury fiber that we can’t bear to throw away). The leaves take a bit longer, but not much. So if you have a girly-girl on your holiday gift list this year, these Handwork Mitts should elicit the appropriately joyful squeal of happiness~!

Early Fall: Introducing the Fan-cy Fingerless Mitts

This design has been incubating in my pattern file for a while, just waiting for the first cool evening of early fall to make its debut.

The Fan-cy Fingerless Mitts take their name from the fan-like lace and bobble motif that graces the back of each mitt, as well as the dressed-up picot edging that gives them a little extra touch of elegance.

Ribbing on the inside of each cuff ensures a snug fit, and flows organically up from the picot cast-on. Malabrigo’s Super Rosa DK was a great choice for the test project (love, love, LOVE the semi-solid rosy colorway here), and on US size 4 dpns, they went quickly – this is really a weekend project if you have a couple of TV shows to catch up on.

I love mitts that feel warm and cozy on my hands yet have a light, non-bulky appearance – lace motifs without too much openwork usually do that for me! I’ll wear these in my office while I work on the computer this fall and winter – it gets chilly in here. And once we relocate to Chicago (as soon as we sell our house in California), I’ll get even more use out of them.

My fabulous test knitter, Glenna, worked up a pair of these mitts in Sundara Sport Merino in the colorway Harvest Festivities, which to me makes the fan motif resemble Gingko leaves as they turn golden in the fall. See what I mean?

These mitts are made from an earlier version of the yarn; the current batch on Sundara’s website is called Sport Merino II.

Glenna agreed that the fan-like lace and bobble motif is easily memorized. Directions for this motif are both written out AND charted in the pattern, so you’ll have easy-to-follow instructions whichever is your preference.

For now, the pattern is up and available for $4.00 in my Ravelry pattern store.

I will try to get it up into the pattern store on this site within the next week or so, but with realtors bringing their clients over to see our house at unpredictable hours, my time is hardly my own at the moment.

Hope you enjoy this little fall surprise. Following my design inspirations keeps me from dwelling too obsessively on the big changes ahead!

Quercus Correction

Thanks to those of you who pointed out the fact that something looked a little wonky on the Quercus Body Chart. You were right, and the correction was promptly made by the diligent folks at Knitty (thank you, Knitty!). 

The problem is in the cable crosses of the small side cables in the Body Chart (these have now been separated into Chart A, Chart B, and Chart C). Those crosses are supposed to occur every 4th row to create the side cables, but in the final repeat (Row 18) of the original Body Chart, there is an extra row that would place the cross on the 5th row.

Here is the link to Knitty’s new revised chart:

For those of you who are not “seeing” how the centers of the large Body cables take shape, I recommend that you try working up a swatch (I know it’s the knitting world equivalent of being nagged to go clean up your room, but there really is a reason for swatching). If you still have questions then, I will be glad to try and explain further. Happy Knitting!

Introducing the Quercus Cardigan

This has been a hard secret to keep. Really, really hard. I’m not known for my patience, nor for my love of delayed gratification. But for Knitty’s First Fall Surprise issue, it was worth it.

Say hello to the Quercus Cardigan, featured in the new First Fall and Holiday Headstart Surprise issue of

I’ve submitted design ideas to Amy Singer, Editor of Knitty, for years – to no avail. But the pain of rejection was always tempered by my love for the magazine and by my feeling as each issue went live that I’d just have to step up my game if I ever wanted to join such illustrious company. In other words, Knitty always inspired me to do better.

The Quercus Cardigan is the first of my efforts to be accepted by Knitty. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Although I live in California where the weather is mild, if not downright hot, most of the year, I nonetheless love to wear sweaters. It has a lot to do with the fact that my little house was built in 1948 and is poorly insulated. As a result, during the winter months it is almost as chilly indoors as it is outside.

The Quercus is my answer to late summer breezes, crisp evenings, a sudden pick up in the wind, and every sort of changeable weather; elbow-length sleeves (which could easily be made full-length if desired), an open front that can be secured with a favorite shawl pin, and a collar that can be gathered around the neck for warmth when needed but left to lie flat otherwise.

Quercus’s cable pattern is easily memorized. It is just challenging enough to keep the knitting interesting, but not so demanding as to require constant, undivided attention. In other words, on US Size 8 needles it’s a pretty quick knit that looks far more complex than it actually is.

Jared Flood’s Shelter yarn was a pleasure to work with. It shows off the cable stitches wonderfully, and softens considerably with blocking.

It has a nice elasticity as well, and loosens up after blocking – which is why the pattern recommends checking your gauge on a BLOCKED swatch. It’s worth taking that extra step to ensure the best fit in the final product, trust me.

Knit in one piece to the underarms, where it is divided for the front panels and the back, the garment has very few seams. The cardigan’s back cable motif goes just as far as the waist, from which point the cardigan flows gently and flatteringly over the hips.

Sized to fit from a 34″ to a 54″ bust, this is a cardi that will suit just about everyone. For the tiniest among us, I suggest making those open fronts perhaps an inch narrower on each side – as written, they overlap generously.

The sleeves are knitted in and shaped with short rows from the shoulder to the underarm, and are then worked down to the ribbed cuff. Since I love any technique that eliminates seams, this is one of my favorites.

Among other designers, Wendy Bernard of Knit and Tonic fame devotes a lot of ink to this technique in her book, Custom Knits.

I enjoy the method because it eliminates all the effort required to painstakingly fit a separately-made sleeve into the armscye as in typical sweater construction.

Many thanks to my good friend Suzy for her expert modeling. She really got into the spirit of things, and was beyond patient as we scouted to find just the right location for our photo shoot.

As you may notice in these photos, there is a talented and unusually creative brick-worker in my town. His idiosyncratic brick sculptures can be found in several out-of-the-way locations in our downtown retail district, and he was kind enough to let us hold our photo shoot in the most unusual spot of all.

I hope you’ll enjoy making your own Quercus as much as I enjoyed designing it!

Tah-Daaah! Gyroscopic Cardigan Pattern…

Thank you for your patience! The Gyroscopic Cardigan pattern has been uploaded to my Ravelry Pattern Store and is now available for sale. I’ll also upload it to my Pattern Store on this site in a week or so.

I appreciate all the comments this design has already generated, including those that mention its generous range of sizes (up to a 56″ bust), and those expressing surprise to discover that a cardi worked in bulky weight yarn can still be so flattering and drapey.

The yarns used for the two samples have different properties. The Queensland Collection Uruguay Chunky (blue version) has a tighter twist. Although the recommended needle size for this yarn is a US #10.5, I worked the project on US #10 needles to achieve the gauge of 4 stitches to the inch. That made all the difference in adding depth and definition to the cable design.

The resulting fabric feels a bit denser and has slightly less drape (but is so soft and cozy that I won’t want to take it off this coming winter) than the yellow version worked in Lana Grossa’s Bingo.

Bingo is a looser ply and although the recommended needle size is smaller (US #9), the gauge on the label is the same 4 stitches to the inch. It has a loftier, lighter feel than the Uruguay Chunky, but shows off the cables equally well.

I’d love to see finished versions of Gyroscopic as readers complete theirs. Enjoy the pattern, and please feel free to share your results!

A Good Rant Is Hard To Find

But before I get all wound up, I’ve got to show you the second version of the Gyroscopic Cardigan, expertly modeled by my photogenic friend, Suzy:

Isn’t the color gorgeous? I adore how it shows off the Gyroscope Cable motif. My test knitter, Glenna, did a fabulous job with all the details.


The pattern is with my tech editor now, and should be ready for launch within the next week!

OK, ready for the rant? My daughter was home from college from mid-May to mid-June, during which time we scheduled her a series of personal health “tune-ups” — a cleaning at the dentist, a visit to her primary care doctor about that wonky hip that bothers her when she exercises, and finally an appointment to the optometrist at our local LensCrafters.

I come from a long line of squinty-eyed, glasses-wearing myopics and not surprisingly, my daughter has inherited my less-than-perfect vision. She gets her eyes checked annually, and her vision seems to change every time. What I have noticed about “our” LensCrafters is that it is impossible to get out of there in less than two and a half hours EVER.

Yes, it takes 15 minutes for the pupils to dilate after they put those drops in. I get that. And we’ve learned to schedule our family’s appointments first thing in the morning so they don’t have time to get backed up. That should help, right? Emphatically, that answer is – No.

No, this shop runs consistently behind schedule, EVERY time. This visit, my daughter brought a book and I brought my knitting, so we were prepared to settle in for the usual wait. But my daughter’s appointment time came and went, and half an hour later the optometrist with whom she had her appointment had not even shown up to work.

What is going on here? Does LensCrafters HQ never check on their individual stores to make sure they are being run efficiently? Do they seriously believe it’s ok to leave their customers milling around for hours, listlessly entertaining themselves by trying on one pair of frames after another as the day ticks by? Whatever happened to sticking to the schedule? Why are customers expected to be on time for their appointments, but LensCrafters’ (and many – if not most – doctors as well) employees are not? Do they not get that they are in a service business, and that their customers deserve that service in a timely manner? Is this any way to run a franchise? I could go on and on (and on), but I think I’ve made my point.

As we sat and fumed, I suddenly remembered that a new LensCrafters had opened recently in the next town. I stormed up to the counter, and (politely) demanded of the hapless store manager behind it that our entire family’s records be faxed over to the new store. Further, I stood over the poor guy (after all, it wasn’t his fault that the optometrist hadn’t appeared) while he phoned the other LensCrafters and scheduled an appointment for my daughter ASAP. I made it clear that we would never EVER be back (was that an expression of relief I saw flitter across the manager’s face…?), and that was that. We were outta there.

By the time we arrived at the new LensCrafters fifteen minutes later, they were ready for my daughter’s appointment. Our records were there, her appointment progressed speedily, and we were on our way with her new-prescription contacts in less than an hour. Sometimes taking one’s business down the road is the only answer.

It was so worth it.

Gyroscopic Dreams

While my lovely test knitter, Glenna, works on a gorgeous, soft, and cheerful sunflower yellow version of the Gyroscopic Cardigan, (with 3/4-length sleeves), I am poring over the pattern.

My goal is to make it as user-friendly as possible, which is why I include not only a chart for the gyroscopic cable motif, but also a line-by-line option for those who prefer to work a pattern in that manner.

As soon as I receive Glenna’s version, off goes the pattern to my tech editor for a final fine-tooth-combing. Because of course, a second and equally important goal is to make my patterns as error-free as possible.

Please stay tuned; the pattern will be available for sale in my Pattern Store and on Ravelry within the next few weeks!

Gyroscopic Cardigan – Pattern Coming Soon!

The Gyroscopic Cardigan is on the blocking board (taking forever to dry, I might add), and I am writing up more notes on the pattern draft for my test knitter.

The pattern should be ready to launch by mid-to late-June. I still need to choose the perfect buttons for this project, which will actually snap closed. I will stitch the buttons to the front of the buttonband, but want the snaps to give extra stability to the weighty fabric that is the result of the heavy worsted weight project yarn.

The vibrant yarn color is most accurate above; the photo below, for some reason, is very washed-out.

The Gyroscopic will be a cozy cardi in which to greet fall; it will even work for chilly summer nights. I know we’re all about the linen, bamboo, and hemp now that summer is upon us, but I always think ahead to fall and my first project for cooler days.

With everything blooming insanely in the garden right now, fall seems far away. But this weird weather we’re having in the Bay area (barely 70 degrees even on the nicest days, and lots of drizzle and overcast skies most of May), makes me glad to know that I will soon have a warm new cardi at the front of my closet.

Ever since I cut loose on Mother’s Day with a huge and colorful bouquet, I’ve been raiding the garden regularly – and uncharacteristically bringing armsful of flowers indoors.

These are a couple of my latest efforts. Sometimes, just a few blooms do the trick.

Gyroscopic Cardi Part II

Making progress on the Gyroscopic Cardigan, having finished the sleeves and back last week, shaping and all… am absolutely loving the way two repeats of the charted motif create a third one up the center.

Here’s another view. The twisted stitches and minimal cable crossings create wonderful texture up the back, undulating from ribbed hem to neckline. The larger sizes will include widely-spaced ribbed borders that frame the central cable motif, adding interest to those side stitches that allow room for the waist and bust shaping.

One of the many things I love about this cable motif is how easily it is memorized. Once you get into the rhythm of the curves, it just flows off the needles.

While my pattern for the cardigan (being test-knit as I write) will include line-by-line directions for the cable motif, written out in meticulous detail for knitters who prefer that format, I am a chart fanatic myself, and find charts so much easier to work from.

Decided to keep the sleeves simple, referring to the widely-spaced ribbed outer swirls of the cable motif as a way to add interest but not let the sleeve design get too busy. Although you won’t hear me say this very often, sometimes the simplest solution is the most elegant.

And set-in sleeves are definitely the way to go with this cardi. The heavy worsted weight yarn creates a fabric that demands the structure of seaming.

Taking advantage of last week’s warmish weather, I was able to knit outside on the terrace quite often and keep up with the evolution of the garden.

Not that I accomplished any weeding (the Gyroscopic Cardi demands my complete attention, of course…) but I could still delude tell myself that I was making mental notes of the work that needs to be done outside, just as soon as there is a break in the knitting. Not that there are many of those.

The bouquet below features four different kinds of roses, as well as calla lilies and their leaves.

Introducing More Knitting In The Sun

Designer Kristi Porter’s brand-new sequel to her Knitting In the Sun is all about warm-weather knitted clothes for children. And I am honored to have a project included in it: the Matilda Tunic.

The projects are whimsical and fetching in all the ways that appeal most to the kids who wear our knits: colorful, comfortable, and loaded with cute details. For us knitters, they are also sized across a generous range and made of (mostly) easy-care fibers.

Here is my Matilda Tunic, modeled by a child who – with her blonde hair and red glasses – is a dead-ringer for me as a child (according to my husband). Only, I have to say that this child model is much cuter than I ever was…

…though no less inclined to mug for the camera, as you can see.

My tunic (made in the requested sample size 6) was a snap to work up with 5 skeins of KFI’s Sublime Bamboo and Pearls DK, even though it is knit on relatively small US Size 5 needles. I had such fun working out the details of the side panels, which give the tunic its flare.  And that sweatshirt pocket – what kid doesn’t love a pocket for stashing treasures collected over the course of an average day?

This project can definitely be made longer and worn as a jumper over a tee shirt, or as a sleeveless dress on a really hot day.

There are lots of other projects in More Knitting In the Sun that I’d love to make, and I’ll share some of those in my next post.

Baby Caps – On An (Endless?) Roll

I’ve been on a lot of car trips lately, and I’ve been watching Lark Rise To Candleford among other long-running BBC television series. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. There’s something satisfying about completing one of these:

… while a passenger on various trips hither and yon, or while watching some very fine actors on tv as they maneuver through Victorian daily life. And since the girls’ baby caps were so well received, I decided I’d better get busy making some for boys, too, because a couple of my friends have recently become parents of sons.

And now that Upstairs Downstairs is on – for one more week, at least – I foresee a couple more of these little stash-busters in my near future.

How many people realize that Claire Foy, the actress playing impetuous and headstrong Lady Persie:

is the same person who played Little Dorrit with such heartbreaking sensitivity and intensity?

Some Choices Are Harder Than Others

But we have a winner nonetheless.

Down to two options (nobody seemed to care for the clear cut glass buttons), the brass bunches of cherries or these green resin ones, I finally settled on the green.

The brass ones seemed like overkill once I decided to applique the little crocheted bunches of cherries to the fronts of this cardigan. And the green ones, in their simplicity, do not detract from the crocheted appliques in any way. In addition, I really like the way they pull the green out of the variegated yarn; they keep the pinks and lilac colors from overwhelming the knitted fabric.

So thanks to all who weighed in with their choices. It helped, it really did!

In and around the garden over the weekend, the ranunculus continued to glow in that amazing saturated golden color, catching my eye every time I pass them.

To my amazement, the first of the artichokes are already up in the vegetable garden. They seem really early this year! Because we have so few of the plants (they take up a LOT of space in the raised beds, and I had room to plant only 5 of them), and they seldom ripen all at once, there are never enough of the large globe ones for everyone, and often just a handful of the secondary babies. Rather than fight over them, I buy a package from Trader Joe’s to supplement those from the garden, and that way everybody is happy at dinner time.

Of all the old-fashioned flowers planted in the garden, I confess that these bleeding hearts are among my favorites. Not only are they gorgeous in a delicate way, bu they return year after year.

And now to plot out my evening, the highlight of which will be the first episode of the new Upstairs Downstairs (yes, I miss that comma from the original series, too.) Having watched all of The Cazalets (based on a wonderful series of 4 novels by Elizabeth Jane Howard), and now working my way through the DVDs of Lark Rise to Candleford – both charming period drama series that serve to enhance an evening’s knitting – I am ready for a fresh, new series to begin.

Blue Pleated Cardigan

Every once in a while, I remember something I forgot. The Blue Pleated Cardigan is one of those.

After I finished making it in 2009, I wore it to death for at least a year. Then, for reasons I no longer remember, I consigned it to the top shelf of my closet. That is to say, the shelf I can reach only if I stand on the kitchen step stool and reach up as high as my arms will go because that damned shelf is really high. The things that wind up there often don’t see the light of day ever again, or at least not often.

But the other day, I was fishing around up there looking for something else, and I rediscovered my old friend the Blue Pleated Cardigan. Tried it on and wondered what I could have been thinking when I put it up there, because I still love it, it fits me just fine, and the yarn (which I’m pretty sure is Shaefer) is so soft and warm – perfect for this time of year.

As detailed on Ravelry, this project evolved out of my desire to create a classic button front cardigan that combines supreme comfort with stylish design details.

Seed stitch ruffled “pleats” fall gracefully over the hips and taper up into a bobble, from which point they carry up into the body of the sweater as widely spaced ribs. These pleats result in a feminine and flattering peplum effect that eliminates the need for any additional waist shaping.

It is knit in pieces from the bottom up, with set-in sleeves that bell out at the ends due to the pleat detail. The seed stitch collar and button placket add texture that does not compete with the lovely shades of teal, green, and purple in the yarn.

Gleaming art glass buttons were the finishing touch of which I was most proud; the colors in the glass are dead-on against the colors in the yarn.

Not intending to self-publish this design, I never wrote up the pattern from my notes. I could probably recreate the notes now and devise a pattern, but I kind of like the idea that this cardigan is one-of-a-kind!