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.

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.

Vampire Knits: A Bloody Good Read!

Say Hello To Vampire Knits!

When Genevieve Miller invited me to design a project for her upcoming book, Vampire Knits, I couldn’t refuse. My daughter is an ardent Twilight fan, to the point of lining up for the midnight premieres of the first movies in the series. And I enjoyed Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles books tremendously when they came out years ago.

Vampire Knits’ release date is just a couple of weeks away, and my project is called the “Under Cover of Midnight Cowl.” Genevieve previewed it on her Vampire Knits blog so I don’t think I’m spoiling the surprise by giving you a sneak preview here:

Copyright 2010 Potter Craft

Genevieve is running a series of designer spotlights similar to mine, featuring each of the designers who contributed a project to Vampire Knits. I’m pleased to share mine with you here. Enjoy!

Versatile and Flattering: The Habu Goddess Tunic

Habu Goddess Tunic = Knitterly Happiness

If I look absurdly happy in the photo below, it’s for two reasons:  1) the Habu Goddess Tunic is finished, blocked, and seamed, and who wouldn’t be happy to wear a garment as comfortable as this? And 2) my husband took these photos, and he has a knack for making me laugh (one of the many reasons I married him!).

Babydoll or Blouson? You Decide!

While threading lengths of 1 mm elastic cord in two rows under the bustline of the tunic, I had an epiphany: this garment is even more versatile than I had first imagined.

I realized that for a knitter who prefers a blouson style that is full on top and gathered at the hips instead of under the bust, it would be just as simple to thread the elastic in two rows just above the 6″ border. This small modification would give the tunic an entirely different appearance and feel.

Although the gathered shoulders are completely secure and create that wonderful soft drapiness down the front, another embellishment would be to tie narrow ribbon or I-cord around the shoulder gathers, tightening them up just a bit more.

3 Simple Ways to Change the Look

Another easy modification would camouflage the elastic cord, which is virtually unnoticeable anyway due to the gathers in the knitted fabric.

Here are a few different options; 1) ribbon, as I showed in the last post about this garment, 2) long I-cord ties that wrap around the tunic and knot in front, or 3) a belt. I tried a narrow, metallic gold leather belt that immediately made the tunic feel dressed up, but a braided fabric or leather belt would also work beautifully. 

Here’s a shot of the back view; I made the center seam about 2 inches higher in back than in front, and it still goes on easily over the head. Although it’s not really obvious from the photos, there is no edging around the neck or armhole edges. The Habu Tsumugi Silk drapes so beautifully on its own that it rolls neatly to the inside and eliminates any need for that extra step.

Short or Long? Hmmm….

I made the tunic quite long, and because I am short, it is really long enough to wear as a mini-dress if I were a mini-dress wearing sort. Although I had on white jeans for the photo shoot, I would totally wear this with leggings because it hits me at mid-thigh; well past any jiggles that might make me self-conscious.

I’m actually tempted to make a shorter version that hits just at the bottom of my hips – and, yes, I’m enough of a crazed Habu fan  mortified to admit that I do have enough Habu in my stash to make a second one.

I got a lot of vacation reading done while working all the Stockinette for this tunic, and could definitely be persuaded to make another! Not that I have another vacation coming up any time soon, more’s the pity….

Cool Comfort for Hot Weather

The fine Habu Tsumugi Silk knits up with a lovely translucent quality on US Size 6 needles, so the Goddess Tunic will take me through the rest of the summer barbeques on my calendar. It is sheer enough that I felt most comfortable wearing a light cotton camisole underneath.

 If I write up the pattern, which version will you make: Wrap-front or straight? Babydoll or blouson? Hip-length or tunic? Belted, beribboned, or bare? I think I need to sit down now – the options are making me dizzy!

Habu Goddess Tunic, Part 2

Habu Goddess Tunic: Versatility is her middle name.

When we left off at the last post, the Habu Goddess Tunic’s possibilities were beginning to reveal themselves.

We saw what a bit of pinning, ruching, and draping could accomplish. Transparent became translucent. Flat became dimensional. Loose became fitted. And Blah became Wow.

And now, plain-and-simple becomes simple-but-versatile. These Habu yarns are a delight to work with, creating fabric that is light as air, yet allows itself to be molded to suit any knitterly purpose. The Goddess Tunic can be draped and seamed more than one way, as demonstrated below.

Again, strategic pinning and draping reveal a new way every knitter can become the Goddess. Panels that start out sheer at the shoulder cross over to form a double layer over the bust. The even bordered hem in Version #1 becomes pleasingly asymmetrical in Version #2 below.

Which Goddess are you? Which version do you prefer?

Habu Goddess Tunic

Earlier in the week, we took a look at the unassuming beginning of the Habu Goddess Tunic. Two long pieces of stockinette in Habu‘s Tsumugi Silk, bordered at each end with deep swaths of Wool Stainless Steel carried with Kusaki Zome Silk. Each length measuring 60″ long by 18″ wide when blocked, they could easily be repurposed as a pair of ephemeral scarves.

But look what happens when we begin adding definition to these simple lengths of stockinette by pinning them strategically together. Gathers at the shoulders add delicate ruching and lend a hint of modesty to the fabric’s sheerness. Flattering shapeliness and drape begin to take form. Our curiosity is aroused; how else will these two pieces of fabric come together?

Suddenly it becomes clear. The gathers and pins work together to create a classic silhouette. The deeper-toned border gives the design a bit of weight, a feeling of substance that plays nicely off of the body’s transparency.

A delicate ribbon tie under the bust provides just the right touch of embellishment to make this tunic appropriate for dinner out, or an evening at the theater. Greek tragedy, anyone?

New Project Preview: The Knitting While Reading Tunic

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I accomplished a lot of vacation knitting in Mexico as I whiled away the hours between pitchers of margaritas and tall glasses of a frozen drink called the “Miami Vice” (a sweet concoction that seems to be a combination of daiquiri and pina colada that my daughter gleefully introduced us to. Although in the U.S. she is too young to drink *legally,* in Mexico she was “of age.”).

Remember those miles of stockinette I promised would allow you to read a book and knit simultaneously? I’m here to tell you it works. And the margaritas I consumed had nothing to do with it. Here is a first glimpse of the Habu Goddess Tunic, which is perhaps the most versatile garment I have ever created. Over the next few posts, you’ll see why!

It doesn’t look like much, draped over Grayce (my accommodating dressmaker form), and stuck full of pins. But just wait; it gets better. Much better.

A Little Reading With Your Knitting?

A few posts ago, I posed this question: Are you a knitter who enjoys reading while you knit? Do you take your knitting to the movies and click away in the dark while the film rolls? When you go out for a meal with friends, are you knitting even as you wait for your food to arrive?

Stockinette Rules For Knitterly Multi-Tasking

For knitting under these circumstances, I’ve always preferred an easy project that doesn’t require too much of my attention. Stockinette is in many ways ideal; on its own with no multi-tasking, it can be the ultimate bore. But when my attention is divided and I need to focus visually on something else, stockinette is just the thing.

Habu Love

These gorgeous fibers from Habu entered my stash at Stitches West this February. Tsumugi Silk with its slubbed perfection, Wool Stainless Steel in all its tensile glory, and Kusaki Zome  with its gorgeous sheen and dry, crunchy hand. Oh, how I love them. The clean orchidacious colors are the icing on the cake.

The fibers themselves are so interesting that I didn’t want to use them in a project with complicated stitches or texture, although they would certainly work well enough for those pursuits. As I thought more about my Knitting-While-Reading project, the Habu yarns captured my imagination and wouldn’t let go. I decided to work with them on a larger needle than their fine gauge might suggest; in this case, a US size 6. With yarn so fine, the airy openness of the Stockinette stitch is lovely.

Simple But Effective

Elegant Simplicity became my mantra. I wanted a simple project, but not quite as straightforward as a scarf. The photo below might suggest that this is exactly what I wound up making, but that assumption would be wrong. With enough of the Habu yarns to make a garment, I set my sights a bit higher. Taking advantage of the knitted fabric’s wonderful soft drape, I settled on the idea of gathers. Simple construction to be sure; the tunic will be made up of only two pieces cleverly assembled with seaming and ruching that takes advantage of the fabric’s best qualities.

Stay tuned! This is a vacation project that I’m knitting while reading, and it will be completed upon my return next week!

Knitting While Reading

Or should that be reading while knitting?

A group of us were sitting around the other evening talking about knitting (what else?), and one member of the group asked if anybody had figured out how to read a book while knitting. Now, most of us already watch TV while we knit and don’t think anything of it. Easy-peasy, right? But reading seems to require a whole new level of multi-tasking proficiency. It turned out that I was the only person sitting around that table who has been known to read and knit simultaneously.

Here’s my secret:

In a word: Stockinette. In another word: Garter. If the knitting project on my needles is worked predominantly in either Stockinette or Garter stitch, I am perfectly capable of reading a book at the same time – probably because I could do those two stitches in my sleep, so reading doesn’t feel like much of a stretch. Anything more complicated or demanding such as cables or lace, however, and I have to close the book and concentrate on the knitting.

The miraculous thing about knitting a long stretch of Stockinette or Garter while reading a good book is that by the time I finish a chapter and take a look back down at my knitting, a huge amount of progress has been made. It always astonishes me that the muscle memory in my hands can take over like that. Makes me wonder what else my hands might get into while my attention is elsewhere… such as the cookie jar, the chocolate stash, etc.

The Single Most Important Tool for Reading-While-Knitting Success:

In my opinion, this simple hands-free bookmark is your insurance policy against books that seem hell-bent on slamming shut all by themselves, thereby losing your place just when you were getting to the good part. A friend gave me one of these years ago and it is still my favorite bookmark ever. Yes, you do have to stop knitting momentarily to turn the page, but it’s worth it.

A Project To Facilitate Reading While Knitting:

We all want them; those projects requiring so little attention that we can focus without worry on our favorite TV program, or keep our hands busy on a long car trip but still be able to make conversation with the driver, or occupy us during a long flight (but allow us to ignore a snoring seatmate).

As it happens, I am working on one of those right now, made out of this gorgeous laceweight slubbed tsumugi silk from the geniuses at Habu:

I’m picturing something drapey and fluid, a tunic perhaps. Knit on large-ish needles (US size 6 or 7?) to render the finished garment translucent and cool. Gathers or ruching or smocking; whatever the fabric demands to create a sense of movement and simple elegance. Let’s see what I come up with.

I’ll be on vacation next week, and have already warned my family that I might not join them for every single activity: the zipline tour/swim with dolphins/sunset cruise (well, maybe just not the zipline tour…) kinds of things, so that I can simply relax (now there’s a novel concept). Lie around, free up my imagination, play with this silk, and see what happens.


Love Bites Up

Love Bites Neckwarmer and Fingerless Gloves

If you’ve been on my Ravelry Designer page within the last 48 hours, you may have noticed that these patterns are up for sale. As promised, you can purchase them as a set for $7.00, or individually for $4.00 apiece.

In addition, way past my bedtime two nights ago I uploaded them to my Pattern Store on this site. The link routes you to PayPal to complete the purchase. I hope you’ll enjoy these projects – because even if you are not a fan of the Twilight books/movies, or the True Blood TV series, this is a project to love for its own sake.

Do Vampires Have A Sense of Humor?

And did you notice those brilliant red “drop of blood” buttons to fasten the neckwarmer? Resistance was futile, but they were selected with tongue firmly in cheek. Equally true for the toothsome (OK, a fang is a fang is a fang) “Shark’s Tooth” lace border that edges both the neckwarmer and the fingerless gloves.

This craze for all things vampire-ish seems to me to demand a sense of humor! That’s also the inspiration behind my cable choice for both projects; the X-O-X-O represents that strange attraction that humans seem to feel for vampires, and vice versa (at least according to the movies and TV shows that feature them).


Do Vampires Knit?

If you are an intermediate skilled knitter, or even an adventurous beginner, the Love Bites ensemble is designed to be only moderately challenging but provides a relatively quick reward for taking your knitting skills to the next level.

And just a reminder; the 1st, 13th, and 25th purchasers of one or both of these patterns will receive a skein (of my choosing) of indie dyed yarn. I’ll PM you so I can get your mailing details! Actually, Christina C. was the very first knitter to bite (hehehe!) when she purchased the neckwarmer two days ago, so she will receive a skein of luscious merino wool from Fearless Fibers.

Love Bites

Just in time for the release of the third installment of the Twilight movie series (wow, is that ever a franchise!), here is my contribution to the ever-growing library of Twilight-inspired knitting projects. Please say hello to “Love Bites,” a pair of projects that includes a cozy side-buttoned neckwarmer and a pair of practical yet pretty fingerless mitts. The cynical among my readers should feel free to emphasize the “Bites”, while Twilight fans will no doubt prefer to come down on the “Love.” Both groups will undoubtedly pick up on the pun – we have X-O-X-O cables winding around the length of the neckwarmer and running up the back of each mitt, and both projects are embellished with a deliberately fang-like lace edging. 

Each project requires less than one skein of Sundara’s lovely Silky Merino; I used roughly one and a half skeins to complete both. If your own personal Twilight fan wears mitts but not neckwarmers, or the other way around, it’s easy enough to make just one of the projects. Some may consider the set a bit too matchy-matchy; others will love the idea of creating a set that – despite the odds – simply belongs together, just like Bella and Edward. 

The combination of X-O-X-O central cables and an easy sawtooth (ok, yes, ‘fangs’) edging makes this a wonderful pair of projects for the knitter who really wants to master cable and lace skills by tackling an intermediate project. I-cord button loops (and if my choice of little round, red, ‘drop-of-blood’ buttons doesn’t work for you, feel free to choose alternative ones you really love) secure the buttons that run vertically up the edge of the neckwarmer.

Readers of my blog already know that I have a real thing for Sundara’s glorious yarns. The semi-solid colors in this silk and merino blend were the real inspiration for the projects. Her wonderfully subtle palette of dusky reds, purples, and pinks spoke to me of mystery, romance, and forbidden love; this was definitely a project where the yarn itself told me what it wanted to be!

I will release the patterns for the two projects next week. Each pattern will be available separately, either through my blog or from Ravelry, for $4.00. If you prefer to buy the set, there will be a separate link to purchase both together for $7.00. The 1st, 13th, and 25th readers to purchase patterns for either the neckwarmer or the mitts, or for the two combined, will win a skein of fabulous yarn by the indie dyer of my choosing. I’ll PM the winners so you can send me your mailing information.

During the summer months, when I just can’t bear the thought of a pile of heavy knitting making my lap sweat, I love little projects like Love Bites. And even though it’s hard to think about what I want to knit for my holiday gift-giving when both the temperature and the humidity are hovering around 100, the fact remains that I still want to be knitting no matter how hot it gets. And this is just the sort of project I am happy to work on… hope you’ll agree!