Want more information? Check out the pattern page.
Until next time, Happy Knitting! To my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving!
As with much of the US, I've gone through some very cold temperatures in the last couple of weeks. I finished my new pattern not a moment too soon! Let me introduce Sunshine & Rain Henley...
Sunshine & Rain Henley is a fitted top-down raglan pullover worked in two colors of sock yarn. I originally bought the yarns for two separate projects, but suddenly realized how great they look together. This is my first project using two-color fisherman's rib. It is a bit time-consuming to work, since you are essentially working each row twice, but I think the effect of the contrasting colors is lovely. Stripes are my favorite- I think I could live in stripes every day- and the colors changes make the endless sea of stockinette stitch more interesting to me.
Want more information? Check out the pattern page.
Until next time, Happy Knitting! To my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving!
I'm so excited to be part of Ravelry's Indie Design Gift-A-Long this year!! What is the Gift-A-Long (GAL)? It is a two-month long KAL/CAL (knit-along and crochet-along) of holiday gifts made from patterns designed by independent designers.
From November 13-21st a very extensive list of designers are offering 25% off between 4-20 of their patterns. Designers will have a featured bundle at the top of their designer page where you can view the patterns that are eligible for the Gift-A-Long discount.
Be sure to use coupon code giftalong2014 during checkout. If you'd like an easy way to sift through all the patterns, you can see Pinterest boards by category, created by the awesome GAL team.
After buying your patterns, knitters and crocheters are encouraged to join KALs and CALs in the Indie Design Gift-A-Long group, which will run through the holiday season all the way to December 31st. You get to save some money, make presents for all the people on your holiday list, plus you can enjoy some camaraderie with other gift-knitters and crocheters. Did I mention there are games and prizes as well? All the relevant information about the Gift-A-Long can be found in the group page.
What is my role in all of this? Well, I'm offering a discount on 14 of my patterns that I thought would be 'gift worthy'. Here is a link to the bundle page showing the available patterns. I tried to make a nice mix of hats, cowls, and shawls, plus a couple of sweaters for the people who are 'sweater worthy'. Or consider it a holiday gift to yourself!
I haven't even begun to write a list of holiday gifts to make, so I am clearly behind schedule!
Below is a collage of the patterns that will be eligible for the GAL discount.
I hope you will join us for this amazing event!
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I would be getting married again. To the same guy. Yes, it did happen, and I am just now getting around to posting about it. You see, I had an elaborate plan to takes photos with my husband before we went off to church, so I could show you all my lovely handmade dress and the matching sash I made for him. But as with most plans, it all went awry. He got stuck at work, and ended up hurriedly changing his clothes in the deacon's office.
So I ended up taking a few photos by myself. (A bridal portrait perhaps? haha.) When I tried to photograph my dress for my previous posting, I found that as a result of using a side zipper, I wasn't able to get the dress over the top of my dress form. Luckily I am much more squishy than my dress form and the dress fit perfectly and the zipper blended in seamlessly.
I had a bit of trouble with the lighting; my camera really doesn't like it when I wear something with white or ivory while standing in front of a white wall.
I had some tulle leftover, so I fashioned a sash and a fascinator of sorts. I love having short hair, but it is sometimes difficult to come up with a formal hairstyle, so a fancy hair clip seemed to be a good solution.
I was surprised how easy the fascinator was to make. I used some of the leftover lining fabric to cut out flower shapes in varying sizes and laid them on top of each other. I sewed a very small circle in the center of the flower layers and pulled it tightly to give the flower some depth. For the tulle part, I cut a small rectangle about 7" long and 5" wide. On one end I trimmed the corners off into a curved edge. The other end I tightly gathered and sewed beneath the flower. Both pieces were then sewn together to an alligator clip.
And here we are, flustered and rushed but very happy.
Frequently I get emails from knitters asking me what size to choose on my patterns. This is a really tough question to answer through email with very little information. I try to answer the best I can, but without knowing all your measurements and the way your body is shaped, my answer might not be worth much. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a size:
Don’t choose a size solely on the finished bust circumference. So many times, over and over, I have seen people do this and it frequently leads to disappointment. Bust circumference might be one of the easier measurements to take, but it is not the most relevant. The most relevant measurement (in my humble opinion) is the shoulder to shoulder width. More on that topic later on in the post.
Take a look at a pattern. Somewhere near the end you’ll see a schematic. The schematic is not just a reference for blocking. Make the schematic your best friend, it is the best tool for picking the correct size.
Once you have made an informed decision on a size, don’t assume that all the measurements in that size will fit you. Designers use a ‘standard measurements’ chart to determine the sizing in all the various parts of a sweater, and very few people actually fit perfectly into one standard size. Anyone who has made clothes from home sewing patterns will tell you (myself included) that they don’t fit into a single size—my bust, waist and hip measurements fall into three different sizes. Take a look at the sizing charts on the Craft Yarn Council website. Pick the size you think you are, then compare them to your actual measurements. How well did they match up? Here is a brief example with my measurements vs the standard measurements.
Don’t be afraid to do some math to create the best fit for you. Whenever I utter the words ‘math’ or ‘calculate’ to a knitter, they seem to shudder with fear. Adjusting a pattern is usually not difficult, and is nothing to be afraid of. You want a sweater that fits well, don’t you? It is much better to spend an hour or two doing some simple math then spend months on a sweater that doesn’t fit. As you can see from my example above, my waist is about 1 1/2" larger than the standard size. While knitted fabric stretches and I wouldn't have to worry about a sweater fitting over my middle, depending on the design I might want to add a few more stitches in the waist.
Do keep in mind the recommended amount of ease in the pattern. Ease is one of those subjects that seems to really confuse knitters. Negative ease means the circumference of the sweater will be smaller than your body circumference and will be very fitted. Positive ease means the circumference of the sweater will be larger than your body circumference and will be a looser fit.
I designed my Sunburst Tee to have a couple inches of positive ease in the bust. Without my knowledge, one of my test knitters chose a size with several inches of negative ease because she liked tighter fitting sweaters, and then complained to me that the armhole was too short and tight. Well… yeah. Of course it is too tight, you chose a size designed for someone with a bust about 6” smaller than yours. If you are going to stray that far from the recommended ease because you want something tighter or looser, double check the lengthwise measurements, such as armhole length, body length, and neck depth. You don’t want to be swimming in your beautiful sweater or feel like a stuffed sausage.
Back to the schematic and choosing a size. Why is the shoulder to shoulder width so important? For set-in sleeves, the proper fit in the shoulder will make or break a sweater. If it is too narrow, the top of the sleeve cap will pull in, feel tight and uncomfortable, and look awkward. Your sweater will continually ride up in an annoying way and you will probably be constantly pulling down on it. If the shoulder width is too wide, the shoulder seam will drop down onto the arms and the excess fabric in the sleeve cap will droop.
Another reason that the shoulder width is important, any time you start changing the shoulder width, it affects the armhole circumference as well. And when you change the armhole circumference, you have to adjust the sleeve cap too. Let me tell you, friends, sleeve cap math can be confusing. Make things easier for yourself and pick a size where you don’t have to change the shoulder width. To measure your shoulder width, measure from shoulder bone to shoulder bone. Wearing a well-fitting tee shirt with armhole seams that go straight up from your armpit while measuring might make things easier.
When you are looking at your schematic, if you don't see the complete shoulder to shoulder measurement, you might have to add both shoulder widths plus the neckline. Take a look at the schematic above. The shoulder to shoulder measurement for the smallest size would be: 4 + 4 + 6= 14".
Look at the schematic in your pattern and choose the shoulder to shoulder width closest to yours. Now, compare the rest of the measurements. Widthwise: Bust, waist, hip, and bicep circumference. Lengthwise: body length, armhole length, neck depth. How do they compare with your actual body measurements? Be sure to take into account the recommended ease.
If you need to make adjustments, your methods will vary from pattern to pattern. It might mean adding or subtracting stitches at the cast on, making fewer waist decreases, or shortening the length of the body up to the armhole. Methods of shaping, stitch patterns, and design elements all come into play, so it isn’t something I can make a general statement about. Looking at finished projects on Ravelry is a great resource for seeing how other people have modified a pattern to fit themselves.
If you need to add or subtract inches, you will need to convert the inches into stitches. Here is where your gauge comes into action. You did knit a gauge swatch, correct? Use the gauge from your swatch, and not the pattern. It is difficult to replicate the pattern gauge in both stitches and rows exactly, so work off your gauge.
Example: say you have chosen your size based on the shoulder measurement, but your hips are a bit wider than the pattern size, and you need to add 2” in circumference. Let’s say your gauge is 20 sts= 4”. Divide 20 by 4 to get the stitches per inch, which in this case is 5. We need to add 2”, so 2 x 5= 10 sts. But, it is 10 sts overall, and you will need to add half to the front and half to the back. 10/2= 5 sts to add for the front, and 5 sts for the back. Hmm…odd numbers aren’t really friendly to symmetry. You might need to adjust to an even number on each side, so either 8 or 12 sts overall.
What about other types of sweaters that are not set-in sleeves, such as raglans or round yokes? Good question, since there isn’t a definite shoulder width on those types of sweaters. Still compare your measurements with the measurements on the schematic and see which size will work best for you. In general, it is good to know how your body shape is different from the standard measurements so you will know proactively where to make adjustments. It takes time and experience to learn how to best fit your body, but it is worth the extra effort.
Still have more questions about choosing a size? Please leave comments below, and I’ll be happy to answer them.
I’m getting married again, and to the same guy! Confused? This time we’re getting married in the church, and I made a special dress for the occasion. Last time I wore a traditional white wedding dress, so this time around I wanted a dress that wasn’t too over the top, but still somewhat fancy. Today I finished sewing, and I have never been so relieved to complete a project. I have fought with this dress every step of the way, and am glad to say that I finally won the war. I learned a few lessons along the way and wanted to share them.
Lesson 1: Always make a muslin. I began this project with a completely different pattern and design idea. The sewing turned out to be very difficult and the fit was absolutely horrible. I don’t know who thinks 4” of positive ease is a good idea for a fitted bodice, but it certainly wasn’t me. The fit was so bad that I decided to give up on that idea altogether and use another pattern. I decided to go back to a pattern I’d used in the past with a princess seam bodice that fit really well. The problem? It was a sleeveless dress, and I really wanted something with elbow length sleeves. I decided to take a shot in the dark, and used the sleeve from the horrible pattern and added it into the pattern that I knew would fit well.
Now I had to come up with a new design. The idea was to use up 3 yards of ivory lace from my stash and create something with a vintage feel and a certain degree of modesty. I didn’t even have the main fabric yet, but I was hoping for crepe in a soft pastel color. I came up with a few ideas and sketched them out in Illustrator. My previous wedding dress was a surprise for my husband, so this time around I let him see my design options and give me some input.
I trudged off to Hancock Fabrics determined to find some crepe in a nice color. Of course, all they had was white and black. But, they did have crepe back satin in a few nice pastels that didn’t look like obnoxious Easter eggs. I decided to go with a light periwinkle blue. The lady cutting the fabric exclaimed “Oooo Cinderella!” as she unrolled the fabric. Um… sure… I guess I can be Cinderella in this dress. The fabric info on the bolt said, plain as day, machine wash cold and tumble dry low. So, after I came home I put the satin and the lace in the washing machine and went about my day.
Lesson 2: ‘Machine washable’ doesn’t always mean machine washable. I was more than a little horrified when I took my fabrics out of the dryer. I don’t know what they snagged on, but the crepe back satin had snags and pilling all over it. I was about to cry, but decided that since the lace would cover the entire dress it wouldn’t be noticeable. Proceed anyway!
Lesson 3: Hand basting is your friend. I basted by hand all the self and contrast layers together after cutting out all the pieces. If the fabrics had been the same width, I would have basted before I even cut, but it would have been too wasteful here since the satin was 60” and the lace 45”. The pieces were much easier to sew with the lace and satin already stuck together.
Lesson 4: Not all lining fabrics are created equal. I bought the lining that was sitting next to the satin in the Special Occasion section, and it is probably the worst fabric I have ever worked with. It didn’t want to be cut with a rotary cutter (even a new blade wouldn’t cut all the way through), it didn’t want to be sewn (a new needle punched holes it in and made puckers), and it didn’t want to be ironed (not even a tumble dry got out the wrinkles). I didn’t like polyester before, and I absolutely despise it now. Next time I’ll shell out money for a nicer lining and not be so concerned with it matching perfectly.
Lesson 5: Always have a definite plan when straying from the pattern. I wanted to make the skirt pouf, so I bought some tulle to sew to the skirt lining. I didn’t really have a good idea how to do it, or even how much tulle I needed. I just decided to wing it, and it was very difficult and frustrating. The awful stitching and haphazard ruffles will never see the light of day.
Lesson 6: Hand sewing a zipper is far easier than machine sewing, especially in a curved side seam. My pattern actually had a centered back seam, but I wanted the zipper to be more hidden, so I thought I’d just put it in the side seam. I already have trouble installing zippers into straight seams, so how was I going to sew one into a curved seam? I asked Mom (the expert sewist) and she said she always sewed the zippers in my formal dresses by hand. So I took my time, used a lot of pins and very carefully sewed it in. It is probably the best looking zipper installation that I’ve done yet. I might just hand sew all my zippers!
So many lessons learned. I hope I will be able to sew more consistently from now on so I can hone my skills and not get so frustrated with every sewing project. Time to put together a birdcage veil!
Josleyn Cowl, one of my most popular (and personal favorite) patterns, was published two years ago this month. To celebrate the anniversary, I thought I'd share the story of her creation and offer a coupon code for my readers.
The yarn, Alpaca Silk by Blue Sky Alpacas, had been sitting in my stash for the longest time, just waiting for inspiration to strike. I would frequently pick it up and feel its luscious softness and admire the color that looked like liquid gold.
After much debating, I decided that this yarn would become a cowl. It was going to be my first winter in North Cardolina, and I wanted a snuggly cowl to keep my neck warm in the cold (and possibly snowy!) air.
I have an entire bookshelf of stitch dictionaries, but my most favorite is a Japanese stitch dictionary I bought in LA's Little Tokyo, called Knitting Patterns Book 250. I cannot read any Japanese, but luckily for me every stitch pattern is charted very clearly. I came across a stitch pattern that contained everything I love about knitting: cables, lace, and garter stitch. I had never seen any other stitch pattern like it, and knew that it would be perfect for my cowl.
The process for charting this pattern was a lengthy one. While the Japanese chart was very clear, some of the symbols used were much different than what I was accustomed to. I began to draw the long chart by hand. Usually that isn't a problem, but this one was 48 rows long, and needed two pieces of graph paper.
I began knitting my cowl at my weekly knit night, and was asked all sorts of questions about it. The usual: What pattern are you using? What do you mean you designed it yourself? How can you read a Japanese knitting book? Etc, etc. I think the other knitters were amused to watch me work off this long and narrow chart that looked like a ticker tape on my lap. The next week I had made substantial progress, so I happily passed around my project to show off the lovely stitch pattern.
Joselyn was an instant success for me, and it didn't take long before all sorts of beautiful projects started to show up on Ravelry. If you like to knit gifts, I think this cowl would be my number one choice for 3 reasons:
To celebrate her anniverary (or birthday?) I'm offering a 25% discount on the Joselyn Cowl until October 31st when you use coupon code anniversary during checkout.
I thought I'd start writing up styling posts for some of my designs. I was never really thrilled with the original photos of my Lancero Vest, so this is the perfect opportunity to show off the different ways it can be worn.
I love vests, especially for fall. It all started with an olive green wool cabled vest I purchased years ago from a boutique. I wore that thing year-round, with chiffon tops in the spring and button-up shirts in the winter. That vest inspired me to start knitting my own vests in various styles.
I originally published my Lancero Vest pattern in April, so I styled it simply with a tank top and jeans for warm weather.
But cool weather is so much more fun for vests because they are the perfect layering piece. They can go over shirts and dresses and under jackets without restricting movement or adding a whole lot of bulk.
The first outfit is a floral button-up shirt and jeans. This is probably how I wear my vests most often, as a casual outfit with a vest for warmth.
Here, the vest is paired with a thermal top, tiered skirt, and textured tights. When the weather is cool, I usually wimp out and stop wearing skirts. I'm going to try to invest in some tights this year, because I really love seeing vests and sweaters paired with full skirts.
Next up, Lancero is paired with my favorite dress. I usually don't think about wearing vests over dresses, but since Lancero isn't overly long, I think it pairs really well with this full-skirted dress. Using a gold metal zipper makes this vest easier to dress up, especially when paired with gold jewelry or shoes.
Here we finish off with the vest as a layering piece for some serious warmth. This would definitely be for a day spent outside. Lancero is paired with a leather motorcycle jacket, skinny jeans, beanie and scarf. I can usually handle cold weather, even snow, if my core is warm. I'd much rather wear a vest under my jacket than a sweater, so I can still move my arms around easily.
And that's it! I'll try to make Style Fridays a bi-weekly event. Stay tuned!
Lately it seems like both my sewing and knitting projects have been a steady stream of failures and disappointment. Occasionally this is to be expected when you're a designer, not everything works out on the first try. But it becomes very frustrating when EVERY project is a flop.
I've been working on a new knit collar necklace, and twice I've knit the whole thing only to hate how it looks. Ripping out a project with several hundred beads is not fun, and I've put it aside for now. I sewed a practice (muslin) dress, only to find that the fit is horrible. I should have listened to my inner voice warning me when I noticed on the finished measurements that there was 4" of ease in the bust, which is fine for some designs but not for a dressy, fitted A-line dress. I made the whole thing anyway, and I think two of me could have fit in the bodice.
So I put both aside and moved on to a sweater design I've had in my head for awhile. I always forget to try to design a couple months ahead of the current season, so even though we had a recent heat wave, I plowed ahead on a long sleeved henley. Finally, some success!
I love bright colors! For now I'm calling this project Sunshine and Rain. The yarn is lovely hand-painted sock yarn from keepinknitreal on Etsy. I originally bought the yarn with a cowl design in mind, but I realized that the colors paired together really well, and I'm much more likely to get more useage out of a sweater than a cowl.
I'm working this design as a top-down raglan, which means I can try it on as I go--yay! It doesn't look like much so far, but I've made lots of progress.
In fact, I've aggravated my carpal-tunnel-thing and ended up with eye strain. I think staring at the bright stripes for seven hours last Thursday wasn't the best idea. But it has helped me improve being able to knit without looking down at my project. I'd like to use some sort of two-color pattern for the cuffs and neckline. I'm debating between, fisherman's rib, brioche, and a pattern I read about in Knitting Daily called twig stitch. I'm sure lots of swatches will ensue. So, hopefully in a few weeks I'll have a lovely new sweater to share with you.
What do you do when you become frustrated with your projects? Take a break from everything? Focus on a different craft? I'd love to hear everyone's advice.
Today I am pleased to share a new pattern from my Dreaming of Egypt collection, Karnak Vest.
I love wearing vests during the cool fall weather. They keep your body nice and warm without being as stuffy as a sweater. Also your arms are able to move more freely, which is great for me since I usually find myself planting my fall garden, wrangling my dog during a walk, or attempting to chop wood (yeah that didn't work out so well).
Karnak is a relatively simple knit worked in one piece mostly in stockinette stitch. A unique ripple stitch pattern adds the interesting details to the bottom band, patch pockets and collar. There is patterning on every row, but it is pretty intuitive and fun to work.
You can read all the details about Karnak Vest here.
For me, fall knitting is all about cables. As soon as the weather shows the slightest hint of cooling down I want to start working on textured sweaters and hats. I am working on a commissioned project at the moment, so for now I'll just share with you some of my favorite cabled creations.
The Joselyn Cowl is one of my best selling patterns, and for good reason. The Japanese stitch pattern is as interesting to look at as it is to knit. Cables, lace, garter stitch- it's all there!
Sinai, part of the Louet Fall 2014 collection, has an interesting construction and a fun honeycomb pattern on a background of moss stitch. The lower section is worked side to side with short row sections to create a trapezoid shape. The upper body is picked up along the top edge and worked upwards.
Last winter I think I wore my Lava Rock Cardigan almost every day! The squishy yarn created a supremely soft fabric, and the sporty zip-front style paired perfectly with my usual daily attire of a t-shirt and jeans. Twisted stitches make the panels of zig-zag cables pop on a background of plain stockinette.
Last is the Alison Pullover, part of my collection for Knitscene Fall 2013. I didn't get to keep the sample, and I haven't yet had time to make myself one. It is really amazing for me to see projects from my patterns pop up on Ravelry, and this pattern seems to be one of those silhouettes that flatters everyone.