I don’t know about you, but this time of year makes me only want to knit hats and mittens. I have four sweaters, all nearly completed, stewing in my progress basket for now, having been utterly and completely abandoned for hats and mittens. Looking back through my archive, it appears I write this same thing year after year. Now that my mind has been thoroughly overrun with medical facts, jargon, and clinical vignettes, perhaps this year’s accessory fever post will read somewhat differently.
The patient, a knitter of 11 years, presents today with a chief complaint of knitted accessory fever of four weeks’ duration. Physical exam is significant for a high grade fever related to stashbusting hats and mittens, general malaise regarding non-accessory knits, and deep somnolence with respect to hand knitted sweaters. The patient reports experiencing similar episodes annually beginning in mid-November, lasting approximately nine weeks, and breaking by late January. Symptoms are exacerbated by Ravelry, pinterest, and Twitter; ameliorated by complete disconnection from the internet. Patient experiences grave lack of focus, and is unable to concentrate on work. She denies fatigue, reports boundless energy, dreams of wool, and urgent desire to knit all the things.
While I come to terms with my mitten frenzy, have a look at my newest accessory designs, the Moody House set. Knitted in The Plucky Knitter’s Primo! Worsted, these are a dream to both knit and wear. Sarah’s dyes are stunning, both in depth and saturation. I cannot wait to plan some more projects with her yarns!
Until this fever breaks, stay tuned for more obsessively knitted winter accessories!
About a year ago, Amy Herzog, Kirsten Kapur, and I began kicking around the idea of working together on a joint design venture. After all, we share a similar design aesthetic, one marked by clean lines, bright and saturated colors, and flattering, wearable styles. Many people who knit my patterns knit Amy and Kirsten’s patterns too, so we even share an audience. It made so much sense to work together on a collection that distilled our related styles into a basic essence. With that intention in mind, we founded BHK Cooperative, an independent knitwear design group. The Charles Collection is our first collaborative effort – we hope you enjoy it! The e-book is available for purchase online from the BHK Cooperative. Buy now!
The Charles Collection, a 50-page e-book containing 10 knitting patterns, was designed to please the knitter both in craft and in daily life. The pieces in this collection were inspired by the gorgeous landscape of Boston, a true knitter’s town. We wanted to capture the look and feel of Boston, so all garments were shot on location in the city by the incomparably talented Caro Sheridan. An ever patient Jenn Jarvis served as technical editor, and if you think tech editing is hard with one designer, try working with three!
The three of us feel very strongly that all sweater patterns should come in a wide range of sizes, with reasonable gaps between sizes; furthermore, sweaters should look good in all sizes, not just in the sample size. Consequently, sweaters are offered in 10 sizes ranging from 30 – 54″ in the bust; all include flattering shaping and tailored details.
We have included patterns for every skill level and style. You will find garments ranging from small to large, from practical to luxurious, from soothing and simple to more rigorous and challenging.
A collection like this would not have been possible without the encouragement of dyers and yarn companies dedicated to supporting independent design work. We would especially like to thank Alisha Goes Around, Berroco, Blue Sky Alpacas, Lorna’s Laces, Madelinetosh, Malabrigo Yarns, The Plucky Knitter, Shelridge Farm, and The Woolen Rabbit for generously donating their beautiful yarns for us to work with. These pieces, knitted with yarns we love, and in colors that evoke the rich autumn of New England, these pieces are lovely to knit, give, keep, and wear. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
May the next 6 months of your life be filled with woollen goodness!
Hey! Are you still there? Well, so am I. Do you still knit? What do you know? Me too! My first year of medical school took me away from this space too much; I hope things will be different this next year. Nevertheless, would you believe I knitted 12 sweaters, 5 pairs of socks, 4 pairs of mittens, 2 hats, 3 lace stoles, and a blanket since we last spoke? I just haven’t had much time to post about them. All in time, of course.
I thought my first post back should reflect how I’ve spent my time lately, so I’d like to share a sock pattern I worked up while studying.
In addition to playing around with a new naming scheme, I’ve had the pleasure to collaborate with two fabulous designers on a collection coming out this fall. Amy Herzog and Kirsten Kapur, and I have joined forces as the BHK Cooperative. Our first project, the Charles Collection, will be appearing in a few weeks. Inspired by and set in the knitterly city of Boston, the collection features flattering sweaters and accessories in classic styles, all photographed by the talented Caro Sheridan. Here is a little preview!
All of my favorite knitting books follow the people’s history of the craft. Michael Pearson’s Traditional Knitting is, as far as I’m concerned, the best social history of knitting ever written. Nearly all the others on my list of top knitting books are primarily concerned with mittens: Latvian Mittens by Lizbeth Upitis, Folk Knitting in Estonia by Nancy Bush, Selbuvotter by Terri Shea, Mostly Mittens by Charlene Schurch, Folk Mittens by Marcia Lewandowski, Magnificent Mittens & Socks by Anna Zilboorg, Favorite Mittens by Robin Hansen. And what about the Ukrainian folk story, The Mitten?
I love mittens with a story, don’t you? Mittens are the most fascinating article of knitted apparel because no matter where they come from, they always seem to reflect the cultural and religious values of those who wore them. As contemporary knitters, we have lost track of the tradition of our craft. We knit for enjoyment, for fashion, to make gifts for friends and family; we drift from stockinette to cables to fair isle and back again, dabbling in all sorts of styles and techniques along the way with little regard to those who came before us. People like Lizbeth Upitis and Nancy Bush bring us back to the roots of our craft with their research in the folk art of the humble mitten.
Last winter, while rereading Lizbeth Upitis’ book, I followed a footnote to the text Latviesu cimdu raksti. Ornaments in Latvian gloves and mittens, by Irma Lesina, a text Upitis noted had many wonderful plates of mitten designs. Published by a small Nebraskan press in 1969, the book was long out-of-print. In fact, there were so few copies left in circulation that it took my university’s inter-library loan service a month to track down a Canadian copy for me; needless to say, it was most certainly worth the wait!
I pored over hundreds of traditional designs from Kurzeme, Latgale, Vidzeme, and Zemgale, recharting many stitch patterns that interested me. I created a large Excel file of stitch patterns, mixing and matching different ones as I went along. I remained faithful to regional distinctions, trying only to pair up patterns originating in the same region.
Copyright Jane Heller
My Forest Mushroom design in Twist Collective Winter 2010 (Ravelry link) is one of the fruits of this lovely labor, combining several different motifs from the Kurzeme region of Latvia to be knitted with more contemporary colors at modern gauges.
Copyright Jane Heller
The cuff is elaborately detailed and includes three distinctive brown and white braids before breaking into the mushroom-like pattern of the upper mitten. Unlike a traditional Latvian mitten, the top rounds off instead of coming to a hard point.
The peasant thumb is placed with waste yarn and knitted in the mushroom pattern to blend in with the mitten body.
Some designs you love more than others and these are one of my favorites; they combine everything I love about knitting: gorgeous colors, Latvian braids, long mitten cuffs, and old, complex, crafting traditions. Every knitter needs to make a pair of Latvian mittens in his or her knitting life, perhaps these will be yours!
The pattern is available at Twist Collective for $6.00.