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cathedral cables

I’m in Italy looking for new yarns. They can make cables from anything here:

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo) 

Back to my book list:
5 & 6, The Mary Thomas books are real gems. Want to know how to knit a circle? Mary Thomas tells you at least 3 different ways. Want to know how to incorporate welts or pleats or or other dress making details into your designs? Mary Thomas is your woman. Written in the 1940’s, the techniques described span from those popular in Victorian times to post WWII, but all of it is useful for modern knitting. Her attitude is very funny and relaxed too. I would have liked to have met her.

Astrid and Ruffle owe a debt to MT:

ng1_astrid_d_lg.jpg ng2_ruffle_op.jpg

The Next 3 Volumes…

The next 3 volumes on my influential book list are the first 3 stitch dictionaries by Barbara Walker. Yes, I know there’s a fourth, but somehow I missed that one in my design upbringing. I learned so much from these books, I’m sure I can’t fully do them justice. I learned textural stitches, mosaic knitting and cable charts. I learned about repeats and half drops and drawing with stitches. I learned by knitting. At one point, if someone mentioned a certain kind of stitch I could go right to the volume, right to the page where it was found. Even after I began designing with pattern stitches I made up myself, an occasional refresher course in the old standards livened up my repertoire. I have to admit that volume III is my favorite because I would so much rather follow a chart than lose my place in words any day.

deflated hearts


I knit some hearts out of tomato red Peruvia last night. The plan is to stuff the the little things, then toss them in the washer to felt. If all goes as planned the hearts will show up as a free pattern in Knitbits in early February. I can’t resist the pun – they’ll be called “Heartfelt”:)

I’ll be posting a second list of books sometime in the future – probably titled something like 10 books you should have in your library. Meanwhile I thought it might be nice to start explaining my “indispensable to me” list:

1. I’ve told this story many times before, so forgive me if it’s a repeat for you. My friend Grace Judson taught me how to knit the summer I was 14. When I returned home I promptly bought some lovely locally grown wool at the county fair, found a nice pattern in a magazine and started going at it. Sometimes the instructions frustrated me. I didn’t speak the speak yet and if there is a way of misinterpreting over interpreting directions, well, I did just that. (I had the same problem with my English homework, but that’s another story). My Mom is left handed and didn’t knit at the time, but she was (and still is) great at calmly sitting down, reading carefully and figuring things out. Still, my perfectionist streak got the best of me more than once – resulting in full-on crying jags. How could Mom resist buying Knitting without Tears when she tripped across it in the book store? It was perfect! This is the book that gave me the tools to knit things “my way”. 

New Note: The instructions for Heartfelt are ready on our web site – here.

10 books


I love books. I especially love knitting books. Here are 10 books that have been indispensible to me in my knitting life:

  1. Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmerman
  2. A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker
  3. A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker
  4. and … you guessed it   A Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker
  5. Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book
  6. Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns 
  7. Knitting from the Netherlands, Traditional Dutch Fishermen’s Sweaters by Henriette Van Der Klift-Tellegen
  8. Vogue Knitting Book
  9. The New Knitting Stitch Library by Leslie Stanfield
  10. Pingouin Stitch Dictionary

I’ll fill in some of the whys and hows during this next week.

    yarn, yarn everywhere

    We’re home, we’re home! Berroco participated in a trade show last weekend – TNNA  (The National Needlework Association).  Held twice yearly, this exhibition is the place for yarn, accessory, needlecraft and book importers to display all their new exciting products. Yarn shops come to buy and bring the best home to YOU. We showed all of the patterns and yarns for Spring 08 – the same ones we just put up on our web site last week too.

    Here’s a snapshot of our booth taken from the aisle (so it’s the back of the sweaters, but you get the idea) :



    Now’s when I tell a little story on myself:  I thought I knit up a bit o’ sock and really get to know the Lang Jawoll Cotton (49% new wool superwash, 35% cotton, 16% nylon) We import it. So, while I’m  talking to customers and editors I’m  sailing along at a quick pace and not looking down at what I have going… until about a few inches were complete. Look – 4 knits all glombed up together – but I had been trying for 2/2 rib. I miscounted! The thought of ripping back stopped me for the day. Geez. I do like the yarn though, and I love the little 5″ needles (they were great for the dodecahedron too).

    Jess and Casey, the Ravelry folks were at their first show. I scored a very cool “Bob” sticker.  I love it so much I put in on my laptop. 



    Back In October, I posted a sketch and picture of cropped official joyella, our hexagon pullover, Joyella. One reader (Jenna) asked an interesting question: I’ve been daydreaming of knitting a garment and intentionally fulling it. My inspiration is the classic ‘boiled wool’ jacket. But my pal Lisa says that won’t work: It would shrink unevenly. The seams would pull. I’d have to knit blocks and trim/cut out the pieces, like a regular sewing project. I know fulling shrinks more in length than width, so my stubborn imagination insists that abundant swatching would allow me to re-calculate the knitting schematics. Since Joyella is not tailored AND the modular pieces are plain stitch, would fulling the completed garment be a less cavalier enterprise? 

    Well, in my experience Lisa is correct. It’s difficult to felt a completed garment. The edges get very ruffly and felting a swatch tells you little about how much a garment will shrink. The weight of of all the pieces pulls the fabric in uneven ways. 

    Now, in a strange coincidence, about the time Jenna asked this question, Margery and I had just decided to rebuild a Joyella garment into a chair seat cover.I know that sounds like I’m joking, but I’m not! Margery removed the sleeves, sewed up the armholes and the neckline, and threw it in the wash to felt. You can see the results on the leftp1020339.jpg. Most of the piece looks fantastic and the edges ruffle A LOT. For our purposes this is not a problem. You can trim away the excess points and baste the end together with sewing thread to complete the chair cover. If the top side becomes soiled or worn you can undo the basting then put the underside up and re-baste for many more years of wear.

    About Jenna’s question – I think you COULD make a successful jacket from Joyella. You’ll want to:

    • Replace the center front hexagon  with 2 half hexagons so the garment becomes a cardigan
    • Test the shrinkage as best you can with a full hexagon swatch. 
    • Take great care to pull up all open edges prior to felting. I like to thread a piece of
    • situate.jpg matching yarn through the edge and pull it up to about 1/2 the edges current length. I use a back stitch at the beg and end and sometimes in between.  After felting if the edge is pulled up too much, just pull to break the thread.  Meanwhile, the ruffling should be held in check.
    • Check the piece often during the felting process.  I have to admit that I felt in a front loading machine (which can’t be opened mid-cycle).  I don’t think I’d attempt to felt a jacket with that machine.

    Keep in mind that this is a big experiment and a big investment.  I’d also probably make a Peruvia version before I made a Jasper version.  You have a friend you would enjoy a nice boiled jacket, don’t you? I’ve got a saga to tell about how Margery and I “vigorously discussed” how to best make this chair cover, but that’s a story for next time…


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