Backshore Pullover

My newest design, the Backshore Pullover, is now available in the Fall 2019 issue of Knitscene magazine. This design was inspired by a family trip to the Great Lakes region, near where I grew up. The Great Lakes are dotted with lighthouses, and the colorwork motifs of the sweater were inspired by photographs of the Fresnel lens, which was utilized in many lighthouses around the world.

Backshore features a classic yoke contruction, knit from the bottom up in the round. Sleeves are knit in the round and joined to the body at the yoke. It’s sized from 36 1/2 – 51 3/4 inches and is knit in Rauma Garn Tumi, a lovely and soft sport weight blend of wool and alpaca. More details can be found on the Ravelry page.


A Bit of Visible Mending and Thoughts on Designing

Mended sweater with elbow patch

It’s that time of year when I’m been working on a few bits of mending – darning socks, fixing unraveling mitten cuffs, all the things that need repair after a winter of wear. I posted about this on Instagram awhile back but wanted to give a bit more detail on this particular mending project, and since it’s Fashion Revolution Week it seemed apropos.

This photo shows the hole in one of the sweater elbows.

I’ve had this sweater of my husband’s sitting in my mending pile since last spring, and I finally decided to get to it. It needed elbow patches and I decided I would knit some to sew on. My local yarn shop carries this Regia 4-ply Festival Color sock yarn, so I swung by and picked out a color that would coordinate with the sweater. Using US 0 (2mm) needles, I cast on 30 sts and knit two rectangles about 4 1/2 inches long. I then bound off and sewed the new patches on. Voilà!

If you’re looking for more sweater mending ideas, I highly recommend Tom of Holland’s blog. I also have a Pinterest board with visible mending inspiration. And of course Katrina Rodabaugh’s book Mending Matters is a good reference too.

I’ve been relatively quiet so far this year on the design front. I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on last year’s designs and where I want to go next as a designer. Sustainability and intentionality are core to what I do, and the best way to have a sustainable wardrobe is to wear quality garments and keep them around for a long time. So I want to design garments that are truly wearable, and whatever your price point for yarn, will be items that you want to keep around and take care of. Which for me right now means taking my time with the design process. I am hoping to design more sweaters and garments this year, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’m doing a lot of swatching; here is a sneak peak of something I’ve been playing around with.

Photo shows a knitted swatch with a textured pattern in light gray yarn.
I’ve been playing around with texture lately.

What are the most wearable knit pieces in your wardrobe?


Introducing the Helical Cowl

Helical Cowl

My newest pattern is now available on Ravelry. It was inspired by a technique for knitting a heel-less sock that first appeared in the 1938 edition of Mary Thomas’ Knitting Book. It involves knitting a staggered 3×3 rib, such that the fabric biases to form a helical structure. While knitting up my new socks it occurred to me that this would also be a great technique for a cowl – it would stretch to fit over the head but then twist up for a cozy close fit around the neck. And so the Helical Cowl was born. Unstretched, the cowl measures about 17″, but it stretches to around 28″, so one size can really fit nearly anybody! Being a ribbed structure, the cowl is also completely reversible, and is perfect for tucking in your bag or pocket for those chilly spring or fall mornings!

See? It fits almost anybody!

Suora Pattern Now Available on Ravelry

Photo by Ricarda Schüller, courtesy of Making Stories.

The Suora top, originally published in Making Stories: STRIPES, is now available in my Ravelry store as an individual download. Suora is a versatile striped tee knit in a linen yarn, Lino Muka from WOLLEN berlin.

I designed this top to replace a favorite summer wardrobe staple that had seen a bit too much wear. A simple boatneck design with minimal shaping and finishing makes this a good project for an advanced beginner, but I’ve included some nice finishing details to give it a clean, tailored look.

Photo by Ricarda Schüller, courtesy of Making Stories.


Spinning Gotland Wool and Some Natural Dyeing

I’ve been busy with some deadline knitting, so I haven’t posted in awhile. Which means I have a few new things to share.

Spinning-wise, I’ve been sampling some of the fibers that I bought at SAFF this year. The first one I decided to try was the Gotland wool fibers. I had purchased both roving and combed top, and I tried spinning the roving first – that’s the lighter gray one in the middle of the picture. I spun a 2-ply, as usual, using my best approximation of a woolen draw; this one was about 16 wpi.

Next came the darker gray combed top. I spun that to my usual fine(ish) 2-ply at ~15 wpi and also to a heavier ~10 wpi to see how that would feel. The swatch shown is knitted with the finer version. I didn’t love the heavier yarn – I think a garment with that yarn would feel too heavy.

A side note on my technique: I haven’t been trying to choose the amount of  twist I add ahead of time, but just going by what feels right when I’m spinning.

All in all I’m not sure I love the feel of spinning with a longwool, but I am quite fascinated with the Gotland. It has almost no give or springiness, unlike most wools I’ve encountered thus far. Even my Navajo-Churro fiber had some give. The finished yarn looks like it will be rough, but it has a silky feeling to it. I’m not a lover of yarns with a lot of halo, but if you like fibers like mohair this is definitely one to try. I also love the range of grays that I’ve found in Gotland – both of my samples are be cooler, silvery grays, whereas the Jacob and Finn I’ve found are warmer, beige-y grays (which I also love).

I’ve also been doing some natural dye experiments on my handspun Corriedale. My first attempt at dyeing with pokeberries, which I had found in the back of a parking lot, didn’t go well at all. I used the recipe from the book Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess, and I think I heated the dyepot too much. The yarn turned a pale pink color and then lost all its color. I then found another spot where I could harvest more pokeberries – the bushes were still producing into October this year – and I tried using a room-temperature vinegar dyebath. That produced the intense color I expected. As I understand it, this pokeberries aren’t very lightfast, so I don’t know how long this will last.

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Corriedale wool dyed with (L-R): pokeberries, lichen (acid and alkali baths), weld with alum mordant, and weld with alum mordant + iron afterbath

I’ve also tried dyeing with foraged lichen from my yard, and with dried weld, which I purchased from Echoview Fiber Mill. The lichen I tried with both acid and alkaline dyebaths, and didn’t see much difference. With the weld I tried with and without an iron aftermordant (I used an alum mordant on both). I also purchased some madder from Echoview, and I plan to use the rest of the Corriedale I have to see how many shades I can get from the madder using different mordants and modifiers.

Last but not least, I’ve spun up an ounce of the dyed BFL that I acquired at SAFF. And I even taught my brother to spin a bit with it!

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