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Pin it on us

As you may have noticed from my iPAd sketching entry a while back, I am a bit of a gadget girl. The excitement of learning something new propels me through work, and almost invariably opens up new avenues of thought and inspiration. When it comes to discovering the newest tools and destinations on the web, I rely on Cirilia to keep me up to date. So, it went with Pinterst – as the site defines itself:  Pin· terest (pĭn’trĭst): n. a social catalog to collect and share things you love 

Participants add links to thinks they love and organize them into themed boards. I find the organization easy and pretty intuitive. While we can’t figure out how it’s possible, Pinterest is so very beautiful, and so, so nice.  Cirilia and I are keeping board on things we love , some tangentaly affect our work and some more directly, like  Cirilia’s “color” board and my “geeky nice” board.  I am finding it very inspiring and uplifting.  Time will tell how it affects my work, but I am sure it will.


Yoking Around

Looks like I am on a little design jag here. Due to demand, I’ve been dreaming up more sweaters to be knit in the round. At the same time, cables are worming their way back into my brain as well, resulting in two cabled yoked sweaters in magazines this Fall.

From the Holiday issue of Vogue Knitting:

#8 Cable Pullover knit in Berroco Blackstone Tweed. Photograph by Rose Callahan

…and  on the cover of the UK magazine Knitting:

I’ve seen this magazine in larger bookstores like Borders, so it is available in the states.  It’s Knitting Magazine #81, October 2010.  The pullover is knit in Ultra Alpaca.

I am such a firm believer in cable charts and both of these charts make easy work of cabling and decreasing at the same time.  One small chart is repeated around each yoke.  For me it’s a bit addictive, and I find myself going faster and faster as the number of stitches diminishes and sweater completion looms ever nearer.

As I look at my most recent Ravelry design page, I wonder if I may be a bit addicted to orange these days too!


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):


iPad sketching

Like (how many) millions of folks, I just HAD to have an iPad. I told myself it would be useful but I am not sure I totally believed it, not  100% anyway. Sure , I read what the the naysayers had to say.  It didn’t deter me. I really WANTED it.

Now, I happily and productively use my device , every single day! One of the most productive things I do with it is draw sketches.  To keep organized here in the design office, we sketch everything we are making and put them all together on sheets we call croquis. I used to draw these with pencil on white paper held over a drawing of a model, so I could easily draw in the same scale and from the same viewpoint every time.  That’s my model on the left.  I’ve used her for a while.  Years ago I used to print the sweater drawings on self stick paper and paste them over her, like paper dolls.  I transitioned to just using the sweater.  You may recognize the sweaters from our Blackstone booklet (#298).

I can still draw over the same model if I want to,  its easy to get a scan of her into the iPad, but while trolling for new apps I tripped across the following method of making a sketch:

1 – I use teen targeted fashion app FashionSketch to make a model and outfit to serve as a base.

2 – Next I apply  the photo editing program Photogene to transform the image into a black and white “drawing” and crop the image.

3 – And then I use SketchBook  to draw a sweater and add a layer of white to erase the lines “under” the sweater.


Just so you know, no one aked me to review my iPad or the programs and I paid for them all.

A useful gift

A few years ago I ran into the folks who make the Nantucket Diddy Bagg.  They make a really cool, versatile canvas tote. The tool pockets can be on the inside or the outside.. You can use it as a backpack OR a tote OR unzip it and hang it flat on the wall. Originally designed for carpenters, someone cleverly realized that knitters and crocheters would love it too.

So, I instantly bought up 2 of them. One for John, since he was building our house, and one for me, because I needed something to wrangle a variety of needles, scissors and other paraphernalia along with a project or too and have it all easily portable.

the house

The resulting house.

Well, those nice folks who make the Nantucket Diddy Bagg caught wind that was a fan and comped me the newest model I admired the most. It’s made from the super sturdy canvas, like my first one, but it’s shorter and has longer handles, making it convenient and comfortable to carry.  I’m a little embarrassed that my longing look begged it off of them, but so glad to have it. Here it is in use:

Mo Rocca itchy sweater saga goes mainstream

As many of you may recall, I was all worked up a year ago when Mo Rocca declared, on National Public Radio no less, that he didn’t like homemade sweaters because they are “always itchy.” Several fellow ravelers and I took quick action and that’s all documented in my earlier post here.

Read more


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