Archive for the ‘My Patterns’ Category

Soleus

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.

Named for the calf muscle, Soleus is the first in a series of patterns with an anatomical theme. The pattern is available for free on Ravelry.

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!

Forest Mushroom Mittens

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

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

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.

Exercise Before Knitting Gifts

Exercise Before Knitting Gifts? Yes, go out for a little jog before committing to that queen-sized afghan for your cousin’s child’s girlfriend’s dorm room! Or, use the coupon code EXERCISEBEFOREKNITTINGGIFTS in my Ravelry pattern shop to buy 2 patterns and receive the 3rd free! The promotion will end 12/31/2010.

Otherwise, check out the Holiday and Winter issues of Interweave Knits for some new Exercise Before Knitting designs. These two colorwork patterns for Interweave Knits Holiday were inspired by that old Latvian mitten book I found last year.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Copyright Interweave Knits

Slanted Peerie Mittens feature a more unusual stranded pattern, one that moves diagonally across the fabric. The design reminded me of ribbons and wrapping paper, a good motif for the holidays. Although these have three different colors of yarn, the little bits of red are actually duplicate stitched on once the knitting is completed.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Copyright Interweave Knits

Parallax Hat came about as I went looking for an easy stranded pattern to work at worsted weight into a pointy little elf-like cap. I am mad for the spiral top on hats in general, and I think it looks even better in colorwork. Consequently, I made the two-color spiral the heart of the design, then worked out the rest from there.

Tuckernuck Cardigan, a baby/child (3 mos – 5 yrs) pattern appearing in Interweave Knits Winter 2010, comes with a bit of history.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Copyright Interweave Knits

While we impatiently awaited the arrival of baby #2 this time last fall, I thought I would pass the time in part by knitting Beatrix a big sister sweater with lots of lovely cables. Intending to self-publish the finished product, I sketched out the design, set up a spreadsheet, planned a list of sizes, and then powered through the knitting. Baby Odysseus interrupted my seaming, so this sat untouched for a few months. I finished it just as I was packing away our winter woolens. When someone from Interweave asked if I had any children’s patterns for Winter 2010, I sent off my sketches.

Normally, I dread selecting buttons because I have an incredible knack for making extremely poor button choices. One of my coping strategies is to ask other shoppers in the store what they think of my button choice. Did you know most knitters and sewers love choosing buttons? They do. AND they’re usually quite good at it, don’t you think? These particular buttons pleased me very much. They look great with the gray yarn, and don’t detract from the cables at all.

I realize many people do not want to think about baby or kids’ patterns, but I maintain the set-in sleeve is worth the (small) trouble. Well fitting knits look great on children, don’t you think?

Stay tuned for some more gift ideas, namely a pair of Latvian-inspired mittens from Twist Collective!

Hallett’s Ledge

Didn’t I tell you twist collective’s Fall 2010 issue would be amazing? If you have not yet seen the 30 beautiful patterns, I encourage you to check them out! I feel so honored that my latest design, Hallett’s Ledge, is included among them. Allow me to share some of twist’s photos, taken by the talented Jane Heller. Hallett’s Ledge is a modern interpretation of a fisherman-style sweater. It takes its name from a shoal in Nantucket Sound, off the southern coast of Cape Cod.

Copyright Jane Heller

Copyright Jane Heller

Knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed Aran, Hallett’s Ledge is a tailored and textured women’s cardigan that will prove both interesting to knit and easy to wear. The garment employs ribbing below the empire waist, garter eyelet rows marking the empire waist and echoed at the elbow, and an interesting cable pattern at the bust, upper back, and upper arms. It is intended to be worn with about 2″ of positive ease at the bust.

Copyright Jane Heller

Copyright Jane Heller

The body is worked in one piece from the bottom to the armholes, after which point the fronts and back are treated separately. The close fitting sleeves are knitted in the round to the armhole, and then the sleeve cap is worked flat and sewn into the body. The neck band and button bands are picked up and knitted onto the body.

Copyright Jane Heller

Copyright Jane Heller

This was another project I swatched last fall, hoping to create a modern, flattering interpretation of an aran sweater for women. As you may know, it is my firmly held opinion that heavily cabled garments should be trim fitting, with as little excess fabric as possible, due to the weight and bulk of the cabled stitch pattern. After all, there is nothing worse than a heavy, droopy, bag-shaped, boxy sweater. Nothing!

Copyright Jane Heller

Copyright Jane Heller

I received my yarn only days after learning we would be moving 800 miles away in less than a month’s time. Consequently, I did all of my math and worked out pattern sizing before we left, and knitted the bulk of the garment on the road between Kansas and Ohio. Let me tell you, this was the most compelling sight along the interminably dull trek!

The sweater itself knitted up quite quickly, although blocking took forever (DAYS!) because our washing machine had not yet been delivered to our new house. Who blocks the old-fashioned way? The spin cycle reduces drying time a hundred fold!

Of course, as with any ribbed garment, blocking is key. Look at the difference between the shriveled up in-progress body and the neatly blocked one.

Because the ribbing shrunk up so much on itself, I also aggressively pinned down the button bands.

The design element I love most about the garment is the centered cable running down the top of the sleeve. I love the symmetrical look of centered sleeve cables; consequently, I use them frequently.

As with the sleeves, the cabling on the upper back is also centered.

This requires a bit more math to set up the stitch pattern, but I feel it’s math worth doing. After all, I did not suffer through 7th grade algebra for nothing! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me algebra could be so handy?

Although I intended 2″ of positive ease at the bust for this cardigan, I had to try on my sample despite it being a size too small for me! As you can see, this is a much closer fit (roughly 1″ of negative ease at the bust) on me.

I do think the drape is better with positive ease, although your mileage may vary.

For more information about the pattern itself or to purchase a copy, please see the pattern page at twist collective. I hope you enjoy it! Please be sure to check out all the other lovely patterns, articles, and photos in the Fall 2010 issue. There are stunning works from many of my favorite designers in this issue!

New cowls: Mill Creek and Northumbria

Hello, there. Do you know you’re reading a knitting blog during the dog days of summer? What are you thinking??? If you are like me, you’re looking for some quick and easy projects to carry you through the remains of the summer before wool for fall sweaters lands with a thud on your doorstep.* I’d like to introduce two quick cowls to you, both made with lovely yarns, the first available in my pattern shop, and the second in the Fall 2010 issue of Knitscene. Perhaps they will do the trick. I hope you enjoy them!

Mill Creek Cowl is a simple lace cowl worked up with a 10-stitch lace repeat over 12 rounds. After ripping back once for not following my own instructions (it happens, I have trouble following directions), this knitted up quickly in a day or two. I used Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Sock, a 100% merino sock yarn that comes in delightful semi-solid shades. This is knitted in Sheridan Circle, which was a blue-green I just could not pass up. I cannot tell you how much I love it!

This is an excellent stashbusting project, for those of you with a spare 250 yards of sock yarn kicking around. What? No one has lonely sock yarns? Hmf! I don’t believe you.

Like most nice lace stitch patterns, this looks as good on the wrong side as it does on the right side, I think.

Beatrix definitely prefers the wrong side.

She likes to be contrary.

She also likes the cowl-as-snood look.

The second cowl, Northumbria Cowl, appears in Knitscene, Fall 2010 magazine.


Copyright Knitscene

The ribbed lace pattern is simple – very simple – but makes for a nice mindless project in an absolutely delightful yarn, madelinetosh pashmina.


Copyright Knitscene

Pashmina, a blend of 75% superwash merino wool, 15% silk, and 10% cashmere, produces a lovely knitted fabric; however, it is the dye that truly makes the yarn. I felt relieved that my cowl pattern was so simple, as I think a more complex stitch pattern would both be lost in and detract from the beautiful shading of the yarn.


This is shown in Ginger, a color that positively announces autumn! Track down some Pashmina for yourself, you will not regret it.

Finally, if you really are thinking about knitting at the peak of summer, be sure to check out my new sweater, Hallett’s Ledge, in the Fall 2010 issue of twist collective, which launches tomorrow! I cannot wait to see the whole issue! Judging from the list of contributors, I just know it will be a great one.

* Yes, I do patronize my LYSes, but the yarn I look forward to this fall is coming by truck, for better or worse.