2021 in Review – and My First Handspun Pattern!

Happy New Year!

I took some time off during the holidays to be with family, and since coming back I’ve been doing the work of closing out 2021 and planning for the upcoming year. In 2021, I published 6 new patterns and 15 blog posts, and taught my first ever online class! Teaching the class on breed-specific yarns was one of the highlights of the year for me, and I hope to do more teaching in the future – maybe even in person.

This year I have some new designs planned, of course, but I am also focusing on updating some old favorites. I’ve mentioned before in my newsletter or on Instagram that I want to update the Suora tee pattern to include larger sizes, and will hopefully be testing and releasing that in the coming months.

A cream-colored, handknit cabled hat rests on a wood surface next to an evergreen bough and pine cone.
The Towline Hat. Photo by Matt Graves for Spin Off Magazine

I’ve become confident enough in my spinning now to begin designing patterns from my handspun, and my first effort, the Towline Hat, was published as a subscriber exclusive on the Spin Off website just before New Year’s. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen a teaser there. It’s a cozy, squishy cabled hat knit in woolen-spun 3-ply yarn. (Spin Off subscribers can find the pattern here.) The pattern features Tunis lambswool fiber from Tarheelbilly Farm (she has just updated her shop with both fiber and yarn, so do have a look).

I will be publishing this as a downloadable pattern once this exclusivity period ends, and it will include a commercial yarn version for those who don’t want to spin their own.


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A red-haired model poses next to a plant wearing a colorblock cardigan in shades of gray with contrasting gold stripe.

New Fall Knitting Patterns

I’m delighted to have three new fall patterns just released as part of the Valley Yarns Designer Series. I designed these around the theme of Fall on Campus, with an eye on creating easy wardrobe pieces you’ll turn to again and again.

The first pattern is the Campus Cardigan (pictured above) – a modern take on the classic v-neck cardigan featuring a relaxed fit with straight shaping, colorblocking, and set-in pockets. Knit in Valley Yarns Northampton, this cardigan is sure to become a wardrobe staple.

The cardigan is knit in one piece from hem to underarm, then back and fronts are worked separately and joined with a 3-needle bind off. Sleeves are knit flat and seamed. The pattern is available as an individual download or a kit, and the finished chest size ranges from 34 – 66 inches with a suggested ease of 4-6 inches; see this post for my suggestions on choosing a sweater size.

The second pattern in the collection is a pair of Fair Isle mittens, also in Valley Yarns Northampton. The Snowbound mittens feature a long ribbed cuff to keep the snow out, and integrated thumb gusset. The colorwork motif occurs after the thumb shaping and uses only two colors, making it a perfect first Fair Isle project. The mittens can also be purchased as a kit, and the pattern is written for 3 sizes, so you can make a pair for the whole family.

A red-haired model poses wearing a pair of blue and gold Fair Isle mittens.
Photo courtesy of WEBS

Last but not least, you’ll need a cozy hat and cowl to go with those mittens, and what better way to add a pop of color and texture to your winter clothes. The Golden Hour hat and cowl feature squishy cables in Valley Yarns Valley Superwash DK. The hat is written for two sizes, the cowl for one generous size, and a kit is also available for this pattern.

A red-haired model poses wearing a gold cabled hat with foldover brim and matching cabled cowl.
Photo courtesy of WEBS

Subscribe to my Monthly Musings newsletter and receive a free cowl pattern! When you subscribe you will receive a free download of my Diagonal Rib Cowl. You’ll also be the first to hear about new releases and other fiber-related news.

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Close up of the raglan shoulder seam on the Sagebrush tee.

Considerations in Sweater Knitting: Seamless vs. Seamed

Recently in my Instagram stories, I posted a poll on knitting sweaters in pieces. Not surprisingly, there are some strong opinions on seamless vs. seamed sweaters. Now, I love a good seamless yoke as much as the next person, but I generally prefer to knit sweaters in pieces. Here are a few of the advantages of pieced sweaters:

  1. The project is more portable. It’s easier to carry around a piece of a sweater that you’re working on than a whole sweater. Personally, I think sleeves especially are an underrated on-the-go project. And you don’t have as much sweater in your hands and lap as you knit, which is a) less weight for your wrists to deal with, and b) less hot in the summer.
  2. You can use the sleeve as a gauge swatch! Of course I’m going to be a stickler and tell you to knit a proper gauge swatch, but there are times when my knitting changes between knitting a swatch and knitting an actual garment. Maybe I didn’t knit a big enough swatch, or maybe I’m simply more or less relaxed when knitting the swatch vs. the actual garment, but starting with a sleeve is a great way to double-check my gauge. The downside, of course, to using the sleeve as a swatch, is you may have a bigger chunk of knitting to rip out if your gauge is off or you don’t like the fabric you’re getting. And yes, you do need to stop and block the sleeve before measuring the gauge.
  3. Seams help add structure and may prevent bias in the fabric. This is especially true for fibers that have a lot of drape, or for plant fibers which will tend to bias (twist) when worn. Have you ever had a cotton top you knit twist around your body when you wear it?
  4. This is more particular to top-down seamless sweaters, but in my experience trying on as you go works better in theory than in reality. I know lots of folks will argue with me on this point, but hear me out. First, you usually won’t have blocked the sweater if you’re trying on as you knit, so if your gauge is going to change with blocking, you won’t get an accurate sense of the fit. Better to knit an accurate swatch (see above) and do a bit of math. Second, I’ve found that it’s easy to overestimate the length of a piece that’s on the needles – I think maybe there’s some wishful thinking at play when I want to get the piece done!

On the flip side, there are some distinct advantages to seamless sweaters. The most obvious one is that once the knitting is done, there is less finishing standing between me and wearing my new garment! And one time I do appreciate a seamless sweater is when I’m playing yarn chicken. If the sweater is knit top-down, or if the sleeves are picked up and knit down from the completed garment, I can make adjustments to the body or sleeve length (or both) according to how much yarn I have. If I don’t have enough, I can maybe live with a slightly shorter hem or a 3/4 sleeve.

What is your favorite way to knit a sweater? Are there any advantages or disadvantages I haven’t covered here?


To get the latest updates subscribe to my Monthly Musings on Knitting and Fiber. You will receive a free cowl pattern as well as additional subscriber-only offers.

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