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Posts by ciriliarose

Moving On

Cirilia here! I am simultaneously excited and reluctant to announce a bit of personal news…I will be moving on from my duties at Berroco this spring!! It has been a dream to work alongside Norah and the whole team, but I am feeling the need to put my Read more

Mod Squad

Is a sweater ever truly finished? If you’re like me, the answer is no! I’ve been known to turn sweater failures into lower lumbar pillows, and to change buttons half a dozen times before I settle on a set. “Mod,” short for Read more

Knitting in NYC!

I can scarcely believe it has been a week since I boarded a bus to NYC, bound for the inaugural Vogue Knitting LIVE! It was a magical weekend, and I certainly hope it won’t be the last in New York, a city with undeniable draw Read more

Cardigan and again and again…

Cardigans are enjoying a prolonged reign at the top of our knitting baskets. I came of age in the grunge years where beautiful long haired Kurt Cobain messed with our idea of what a rock star should look like:

It was his cool cardigan that drove me to pick up knitting needles and attempt to make a slouchy black sweater of my own. Today I watch as cardigans beat out all the other patterns we put out in a season time and time again. In 2009, people couldn’t get enough of flyaway shapes that only closed at the top. 2010 was all about cozy draped fronts and grandpa cardigans not unlike the thrift store score sweaters of the 1990s.

They remain one of my favorite items to knit and wear and I thought I’d offer a few tips for successful cardigan knitting.

  • First things first: when knitting two cardigan fronts you’ll often run into a direction that says “Knit as Right (or Left) Front, reversing all shaping.” This can throw a lot of knitters off! We don’t do it to be tricky, we usually have to do it to save space. I came across a wonderful answer to this stumper on Bonne Marie Burns’ blog.
  • Seaming is easy! Really! It just takes patience and know-how. You should never rush the finishing just because you’re eager to wear the sweater (unless you’re me and you’re finishing a sweater moments before it’s about to be photographed…). While you’re slogging through the boring parts, watch our video tutorials:

Mattress Stitch

Shoulder Seam

Seaming a Set-in Sleeve

  • Consider your closures. Do you like the pattern as is, or do you want to change it up? This is an area that can always be improved and personalized, and I am always on a mission to improve the button bands. I’ve finally settled on a favorite buttonhole (the one-row buttonhole) and I’ve been favoring Norah’s standard, the sewn-on ribbed buttonband. It requires a bit of extra work, but the neat look is very, very worth it. Here are some videos that cover closures:

Installing a Zipper

Sewn-on Buttonband

Button Loop

  • Buttons! One of the very best parts of a cardigan are the buttons! Buying the perfect buttons, super fun, sewing them on? Not as much fun. I have some tips for that too! My first tip is to pick a button before you finish your sweater. You’ll need to coordinate the size of your buttonholes with the size of your buttons. Seems obvious, but is easily forgotten. Try to pick buttons that aren’t too heavy. They might be gorgeous, but heavy buttons will quickly pull your sweater out of shape. If you’re using a heavy button, use a flat plastic button as a backing button: sandwich the sweater fabric between the two buttons and sew through the buttons. This will keep the strain on the backing button and not the fabric. A row of grosgrain ribbon can also serve as a supportive backing.
  • As for sewing the buttons on, debate rages on what to use. Often the yarn you’ve knit with will be too thick to pass through a regular needle eye or a button. Some people suggest using sewing thread, but others feel that this can eventually cut through the  yarn. Using yarn to attach the buttons might work but a rough button might eventually cut through the yarn! My favorite compromise is using a sock yarn, or a thin yarn that contains silk, mohair or nylon. These are naturally strong fibers and will stand up to lots of wear. UPDATE: Kathleen left a brilliant suggestion in the comments–she uses embroidery floss!
  • Which reminds me! Buy an extra button!! Buy two!  And have fun with them! Buttons are a delightful adornment and thoughtful buttons will set your sweater apart from mass produced garments. Use a contrasting thread color to sew them on, or make your own buttons using fabric and inexpensive button cover kits(this is a favorite trick of mine: Americano, Miroux and Double Decker all feature homemade buttons).

That is it for now, I have gone on long enough! If you have any specific cardigan questions, leave them in the comments! Norah and I are headed off to TNNA this week, where the weather is in the 60s! I’ll still be wearing cardigans–lightweight and belted, maybe over a sundress. In January!


Winter Love

I was at the mall this weekend [GAH] and saw a window display that said “It is never too late to pick up a new spring look!” I DISAGREE!! We’re just now getting some truly cold temps, and we’re ALL really excited about it. We’re a winter loving office, I have to say. We’re sharing our favorite teas and casting on last minute winter knits and I thought it would be fun to share a few of my personal winter favorites.

1. New designs from Amy Christoffers! Last week we featured Amy in a table that showed off all the great designs that have been released in our yarns recently. Today, Amy launched another winner! It’s called Larch and I LARVE it! Sorry. She knit it in Tupelo, and amazing new shade of yellow Ultra Alpaca Light. Fun fact, Amy can knit and hula hoop at the same time. Awesome!!


2. Hot Toddies! To keep warm and relax, I’ve been concocting all sorts of delicious warm treats. If you need some recipes (and some amazing knitting inspiration) check out my friend Lee Meredith’s Bundle Up! post (scroll to the bottom for recipes). My personal variation is Good Earth Original Tea with a glug of Kraken Black Spiced Rum. Bonus points for gorgeous packaging:


3. My new Nook! After seeing our pattern writer swatch and read at the same time, I knew I had to have an e-reader. I’d been a little wary about them, I tend to be opposed to the increasing number of gadgets we humans tote around, and I really love the experience of reading a book, taking in the cover, the typeface, the paper, everything. That said, I end up watching a LOT of stuff while I knit, and I know my brain is getting mushy because of it. So I picked up a Nook and a fancy cover, downloaded 100 classics for a whopping 6 bucks and I haven’t looked back! I’m tempted to knit a Baobab while I wait for my Jack Spade cover to arrive…

4.  Winter movies! My favorites are It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, the Charlie Brown special and a new one, Rare Exports. This is bizarre movie from Finland that I absolutely loved. It was a taut and twisted little fairy tale, not for everyone but right up my alley. A bonus? There was some great knitwear on view (of course)!

5. Go-to recipes. This is a time of year when I do a lot of cooking and baking but I do have a few go-to favorites: Martha Stewart’s Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies and something my hairdresser told me about called BRICKLE. The Brickle is ridiculously addictive and easy to make, a total win-win.

Well, it is time for a tea break here. Maybe something with ginger…


Retro Knits!

What does it mean to “knit it old school?” This is a question explored and answered at length in Knitting it Old School, a fantastically fun new book by Stitchy McYarnpants (purveyor of all things kitschy and hilarious) and Caro Sheridan, an omnicraftual maker of highly collectible fabric goods. It’s a truly impressive collection of 43 (FORTY-THREE) knit and crochet patterns, with a few bonus sewing patterns as well. Check out Caro’s snapshots here.

Berroco makes an appearance, not once, not twice, but three times! First up we have Galileo, by Christy Varner. It’s handsome captain’s sweater knit in Pure Merino, with a really cool contrast color shawl collar.



Caro and Stitchy clearly had a blast setting a scene for their science fiction inspired chapter, Sci-Fiber! Norah and I are both big sci-fi nerds, so we were thrilled to see two Berroco sweaters in this chapter. This is the lovely Apocalypta, designed and knit in Seduce by Amy Herzog. (Caro has already made one! So pretty!)



Last but not least is the “twin set” I designed using Lustra, a shiny yarn that I just LOVE. It’s a teensy little jacket with lots of little details. Not for the finishing averse!! But so much fun to make and wear. I caught Miss Pamela Wynne herself wearing Double Decker (sans hat) at Rhinebeck!




I loved contributing this mod cardi to the book, probably because I’ve been mainlining Mad Men for the past 4 years! Little 60s style jackets are looking really good to me right now. What era would you like to revisit with your next knitting project?


Vampire Knits!

I have some exciting news to share. This week marks the debut of a book called Vampire Knits, and I just happen to have a sweater in it. Actually…I happen to have the COVER!!

My contribution, the Lore Hoodie was a last minute one, and it had to be knit twice because the first one got lost in the mail (d’oh!). I was actually pleased to get the chance to reknit it because I made a few improvements to the closures, switching from buttons and snaps to toggles with slightly felted crochet loops.

Genevieve Miller, the editor of the gorgeous book gave a great interview at Comic Con that you can watch here. She’s also blogging about the book here. She graciously accepted my very last minute proposal, which was inspired by the long winter walks I was talking in between devouring Twilight and episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The hoodie is knit in wonderfully light Peruvia Quick in a color that I have personally banned myself from using for awhile. Almost every Berroco yarn comes in this elusive purply-brown shade and I find it irresistible!! It goes with everything and it  warm, unique and flattering. I highly recommend it…if I can’t knit or design with it, YOU should!


P.S. The winner of the Remix/Acer cardigan kit is Seanna Lea! Congrats Seanna, and thanks to everyone who entered!

Remix is ACE

You may have heard that Berroco has debuted its first ecologically minded yarn. While I’m absolutely thrilled that this yarn is made of 100% recycled fibers (you can read more about this yarn here), I’m even more happy to report that it is a fabulous yarn. I had a bit of Remix moment this summer! I was lucky enough to take in the third installment of the Twilight saga with my little sister Jovon. I fell in love with the slouchy, striped hat Bella wore in the camping scenes, so I immediately whipped one up for the both of us. I’m modeling mine here:

I didn’t use a pattern but there are many variations available on Ravelry.

The next sweater is a garment I’m absolutely thrilled with. I knit Amy Christoffer’s Acer Cardigan in Bittersweet, a rich brown that looks just like dark chocolate!

I shortened the sleeves and fussed a bit with the finishing–I changed the button band to a sewn-on button band, used a one-row buttonhole (WHICH ROCKS) and changed my mind twice about the buttons themselves. I started with minty green vintage plastic, thinking of mint chocolate chip ice cream the whole time.

After ignoring the sweater for a few days I realized I’d be much happier with a more covert, sorta steampunk button, a thin bronzey number. I experimented with using a different color thread for each one, but then I just switched to tomato red on all of them (the rainbow gradient was looking a bit grade school). And now, it’s perfect. The yarn is so so soft, and because it has no wool in it, I was able to wear it all day in August! It has a lovely worn-in t-shirt feel, and a soft tweedy look.

NOTE: Contest is now closed. Comments are closed. A winner will be posted later today, and comments reopened. Have you read this far? I’d love to repay the kindness by offering one Acer Cardigan sweater kit (1 pattern + Remix to knit it) to one randomly chosen commenter! Please comment below with your thoughts on the trend of greening your knitting. Have you tried any “green” yarns? Have you recycled any old sweaters? I’d love to hear about it.

New England Knits!

Read on to hear some behind the scenes scoop from the authors of New England Knits, Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre.

CR: Hey ladies! Why don’t we start by explaining how you know each other?

We first met many years ago through mutual friends, but because we lived in different places, we lost touch. When Ravelry came into the picture we found each other again and discovered that we had both become a bit knitting-obsessed. The rest is history because we’ve been hanging out ever since!

CR: I know firsthand how much a garment can change from sketch to final piece. Were there any garments in New England Knits that morphed or surprised you?

Melissa: The Montague vest actually started as a belted sweater, but when I was about to sew in the sleeves I realized that I really loved it without them. After trying it on, it was officially a vest!
Cecily: We actually had included a couple designs for men’s sweaters in the original proposal, but then decided it was more cohesive as a collection of women’s garments only. The Augusta Cardigan is a revised version of one of the men’s designs.
CR: Time to play favorites! Which garment in the book is at the top of your daydream queue?

Melissa: Oh boy, this changes almost daily for me. I think I need to knit myself a Hampton Cardigan. I love the construction, and I keep trying it on and dreaming about not giving it back to C.
Cecily: I agree, I keep finding a new favorite! From the sweaters though, I always seem to come back to the Salem Hooded Jacket, a hood, ribbon detail, and pockets!
CR: Melissa, you just used Peruvia Quick and Vintage for your Acorns hat. Any other Berroco favorites?

Melissa: Peruvia Quick is my absolute favorite right now. I’ve been daydreaming about a starting a new design in it. I am wool girl to the core.
CR: Cecily, I just knit myself a Goodale because I needed a break from constant designing! Do either of you have any “cheat” knits that you sneak in between designing? If you weren’t a professional designer, what would you be working on right now?

Cecily: Can I put a big disclaimer on this? I am not saying this to be nice, it is absolutely true- I bought the pattern for Kiloran [Ed: Kiloran is a dress I designed for Twist Collective in Ultra Alpaca], just so I can just have it at the ready for when my workload slows down. I have been dreaming about it since the new issue of Twist came out!
CR: Summer in New England is coming to an end. What is your favorite part of New England summers? What are you looking forward to in autumn?

Melissa: I really enjoy knitting on the beach, and just being near the ocean, but I can’t wait for SWEATER WEATHER!
Cecily: Definitely being able to spend time by the ocean is my favorite part of New England summers. However, after this particularly hot summer, I am really looking forward to the cool, crisp fall air.

From left: Gudrun/Shetland Trader, Melissa/Knitting School Dropout and Cirilia/Skrilla Knits

CR: What’s next for Cecily and Melissa?

We plan on working together again. That’s all we’re saying! :)

Twist and shout!

Twist Fall 2010 is UP! Norah and I both have designs in this issue. It’s my first design for Twist and I couldn’t be more excited about it! Norah designed a pullover called Orange Pop, a really fun turtleneck with quirky details. Using Mary-Heather’s exact measurements and fun personality as inspiration, Norah designed a figure-flattering Ultra Alpaca sweater with lots of waist shaping, reverse Fair Isle and a unique pointed turtleneck collar.

I designed a dress called Kiloran. It was an absolute joy to work on from the initial inception to the agonizing wait for the debut issue.

In the past couple of years I have really tried to figure myself out as a designer. One item or shape I return to again and again is the dress. I think I like the design challenge of making something that won’t stretch out of shape or look shapeless and unflattering. Two things that are vitally important are yarn choice and the judicious use of seams. I am all in favor of knitting things in the round and avoiding seams when possible, but in certain situations, a seam or a bound-off edge can add much-needed structure. Kiloran features several seams and where it makes sense, easy circular stockinette.

I was first inspired by dramatic open necklines seen on the runway and on Princess Anne of Battenberg of all people. The loose, elbow-length sleeves and fitted empire waistlines gave way to full skirts, sometimes with generous bustles. Precisely the kind of dress I’d want to wear in early fall! Here is my mood board for the dress:

The knitting seemed to zip along, I’m not sure if it was because I was working with the very well-behaved 3-ply Ultra Alpaca in a new shade that I adore (Candy Floss Mix is a strange, evocative dusty pink) or if it was because I had discovered my new favorite film while working on the dress. “I Know Where I’m Going!”, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in 1945 is funny, wistful, gorgeous and endlessly entertaining–I finished the dress in under two weeks time, unusual speed for me that I completely attribute to Powell and Pressburger’s masterpiece.

The front lace insert is knit in Ultra Alpaca Light:

I’m really hoping to knit a Kiloran for myself this fall, perhaps in romantic Flannery Red…though I do love the Candy Floss colorway I used (this is a back view of the bustled skirt):



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