Posted on | March 22, 2010 | 14 Comments

It’s up and available on Ravelry. I’ll do a proper post later today, but for now, I just wanted to announce that it’s available.

Photo courtesy of and copyright property of Parikha and Hemal Mehta. Please do not distribute.

A kit for the cardigan is also available at One Planet Yarn and Fiber.

Preview Time

Posted on | February 26, 2010 | 29 Comments

Inspired by Ysolda’s recent post featuring snippets of designs to come, I wanted to share a little preview of my next indie design, the Alexandria Cardigan. It’s worked in Fleece Artist’s Woolie Silk, one of my favorite workhorse sweater yarns – it has lovely sheen, works up to a great gauge, and is soft for next to skin wear. You’ll have to use your imagination a little bit…this is a photo of the sweater still unblocked and with the ends hanging out:
alexandria 002

I’m really excited about this one. It’s worked in one piece; and the sleeves are picked up from the armholes and then worked down to the cuff to minimize seaming and finishing. The pattern is with my brother for the layout treatment and my model is taking photos of it right now.

Last quick trip before the job – Arizona

Posted on | February 26, 2010 | 5 Comments

Last weekend, Maurizio and I took one last quick trip before I start work next week. We went to Arizona which, despite my having grown up in the next state, I’ve never been to. We spent one day in Scottsdale visiting my friends, Lisa and Jody, who I’ve only known over email and through my design work with their yarn company, One Planet Yarn and Fiber. They’re both great and we fell into easy conversation. It was like we’ve known each other for years – which, I guess in a way, we have. I first started working with them about three years ago when they put out an open call for design submissions for their exclusive yarn line, Lanas Puras. My Hexagon Bag came out of that call. Since then, I’ve done several more patterns with them.

Lisa showed me the room o’ yarn and in my overwhelmed state, I managed to forget to take a photo. But trust me guys, I had to be dragged out. My favorites were the Handmaiden Casbah (I think I’ll need to design a shawl with that yarn very very soon!) and the Handmaiden Lady Godiva – a more luxurious version of the Fleece Artist Woolie Silk that I knit the Varese Hoodie in.

We also spent one day in Sedona, a small (albeit touristy) town built among some of the most gorgeous geological structures I’ve ever seen – the Red Rocks. This was the view from our hotel window:

I love the layers of red sandstone. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Lisa also recommended that we go to Oak Creek Canyon, a mere 10 miles from Sedona. So, we drove up along the Canyon and saw this:
Yup, somehow just 10 minutes north a snow and hail storm was raging. It was almost like there was a curtain between the sandstones and the canyon with two very different climates on either side.

Needless to say, we very much enjoyed our trip out west and were sorry to leave. I’m sure we’ll be back soon!

Mary Jane Mucklestone!

Posted on | January 26, 2010 | 7 Comments

I’ve been wanting to meet Mary Jane for a while now. I came close in June when my sister-in-law came to the US to visit us. We managed to get up to Maine, but an hour long stop in Freeport turned into 6 hours and we didn’t have enough time to make it up to MJ’s neck of the (Maine) woods.

Yesterday, Mary Jane was in NYC unexpectedly and luckily for me, I was free to meet her. We decided to meet at School Products. I haven’t been there in a while, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get anything. My stash is embarrassing as it is and I’m busy enough with design projects that I was fairly certain I could resist the siren call of new yarn. But this came home with me:

I hadn’t factored in the enabling influence the presence of another knitwear designer would have. We both left with some cashmere. Me with a tweedy yellow laceweight cashmere that I’m hoping will work for the Geodesic Cardigan, my newest Knitscene design; and Mary Jane with some deliciously cheery and soft fingering weight cashmere that she was already winding into balls on the subway:

By the time we made our way to McNally-Jackson in SOHO for some caffeine fortification, she had already cast on for a pair of mitts.

I’m afraid I gushed on a little too much about MJ’s work. I hope I didn’t come across too fan-girlish – even though I’m a total fan! I’ve long been an admirer of her fearless and fun sense of color. And I’ve been in love with her Super Soul Cardigan since I saw it in Veronik Avery’s inaugural issue of St Denis magazine. I’m hoping to be able to tackle it someday. I’m a timid color knitter and my fair isle tends to be too tight.

Mary Jane is as vivacious and friendly in real life as she is in her blog and work. Her passion for knitting, design, and style is plainly evident. Not content to rest on her already remarkable design achievements, she constantly pushes herself to learn new techniques and skills. I was so happy to have finally met her and hope to see her again soon!

My brother has an Etsy Shop!

Posted on | January 23, 2010 | 3 Comments

After some big sister needling by yours truly, my brother has finally opened an Etsy shop here.

So far he just has this print up:

It’s a bit of a departure for him because he’s using more colors than usual – he’s usually a brown aficionado – but it does feature his favorite animal – the cat – as a Chinese emperor.

On a different note, thank you all so much for your generosity and support concerning my little fundraising effort.  There are two weeks left in my pledge period. And soon I’ll be auctioning off a pair of Cayuga mittens knit by me in the color of the winner’s choice, 2 skeins of Kumara (I love this yarn! Check out Clara’s recent Knitter’s Review of the yarn here) for the winner to complete their own hat, and a hard copy and pdf copy of my Cayuga Set pattern. If the winner already owns a copy of the Cayuga Set, I’m happy to substitute any other pattern in my indie pattern line. 100% of the auction price will be donated to MSF/Doctors without Borders. More details soon!

Help for Haiti

Posted on | January 17, 2010 | 2 Comments

Edited to Add: I’ve just been told that my gallery doesn’t seem to be formatted properly (the captions are missing) when viewed through a blog reader like bloglines. To see the gallery, go directly to the post here. Sorry for the inconvenience; I’m trying to figure out how to fix this.

I think a lot of us in the knitting community and in the greater community at large have been moved to action by the devastation in Haiti and want to help. In addition to the horrifyingly large death toll the earthquake has already exacted, there are many more affected by the aftermath and who must face the practicalities of rebuilding. To help with this, designers on Ravelry and elsewhere have pledged a portion of their pattern sales to Haitian relief efforts. Casey, head geek at Ravelry, has facilitated this effort by creating a special tag to organize all such patterns. Moreover, you can further sort this list into patterns you’ve already queued or favorited.

I have pledged 50% of the sale price of each of the patterns below sold from January 16th through February 5th to MSF/Doctors Without Borders. The company my husband works for makes matching contributions, so at the end of the time period, I’ll make the donation through them.

If you’d like to contribute directly to MSF/Doctors Without Borders, you can do so here. Thank you so much for reading.

Donna Druchunas Blog Tour Stop

Posted on | January 16, 2010 | 2 Comments

Today I have the honor of hosting Donna Druchunas, author of the successful Arctic Lace and Ethnic Knitting series. I’ve been a part of Donna’s blog tours before here and here.

Donna has a couple of exciting releases and events coming up including her new book, Successful Lace Knitting, which delves deeper into the work of the Anchorage based cooperative that she researched in Arctic Lace and features patterns from some of today’s most sought after designers; an audio recording of Arctic Lace; and Musk Ox & Glaciers, an Alaskan knitting cruise with Lucy Neatby.

So, without further ado, my interview with Donna:

Question: How did your Alaska cruise with Lucy Neatby come about? Will you and Lucy Neatby, who’s known for her innovative knitting techniques, teach joint classes or meld your experiences for the participants?

Donna: I approached Craft Cruises about doing a knitting cruise to Alaska because I wanted to visit again and to teach workshops based on Arctic Lace. The cruise organizers chose the second teacher and I’m thrilled. I love Lucy’s work and I am very exited about getting to meet her. We will be teaching separate workshops, and the schedule is arranged so cruise participants can take classes with both of us.

Question: Your book, Arctic Lace, has obvious ties to Alaska and their handknitting traditions, such as your gorgeous Arctic Diamonds Stole, which was reprinted in IK Winter 2006, albeit in a less costly fiber than the originally called for qiviut. Are the cooperatives the cruise will be visiting cooperatives you’ve already worked with or consulted with in writing Arctic Lace?

Donna: The cruise itself is not going into Anchorage or any of the places I visited to do my research for Arctic Lace, but there is a pre-cruise tour that will be visiting the Oomingmak Co-op in Anchorage and the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer, about 50 miles away. The tour will also be going to Denali, as well as shopping for yarn. The tour is May 19-23, just before the cruise. More info is on the Craft Cruises website.

What do you hope knitters will get out of your Alaskan knitting cruise?

Fun and education. I wrote Arctic Lace to teach knitting techniques but also for readers who will never get to go to Alaska to experience what it is like there: the land, the culture, the people. I hope that there will be a bit of that on the cruise, although we will spend a lot of time on the ship. I also hope that the students in my classes will walk away with new confidence in their skills and be able to enjoy their knitting even more.

Question: What initially sparked your interest in the Alaskan knitting traditions?

Donna: I read an article about the Musk Ox Producers’ Cooperative in Piecework Magazine years ago. It really grabbed my attention, and I started doing more research on the coop on the internet and by getting copies of other magazine articles on interlibrary loan. Then I started borrowing books on Musk Oxen, Alaska, and the Yup’ik and Inupiat peoples. Then I started buying books…. then I wanted qiviut yarn for myself! It all snowballed. I really wanted to read a book about the Oomingmak Coop but nothing was available, so I wrote the book I wanted to read.

Question: What types of projects would you recommend for qiviut? Are there any qiviut blends that might make it possible for knitters on a budget to experience this fiber?

Donna: Qiviut is said to be 8 times warmer than wool and although I have never found the study that definitively proves this, I believe it from wearing it! Unless you live in the arctic, I suggest small projects for qiviut — wrist warmers, fingerless gloves, scarves, hats and shawls. You’ll notice that no qiviut yarn is available in any weight heavier than sportweight, and most of it is sold in laceweight. That’s because it’s so warm AND so expensive! A little bit of lace goes a long way.


Question: What is the process of recording an audio knitting book like?

Donna: This was one of the most fun projects I’ve ever done. I was nervous at first because I’ve never recorded anything in a studio before, but I was confident in my reading skills. (Even though I hate hearing my own voice!) The first morning I was reading too quickly and my voice was squeaky, so I had to redo the beginning parts of the book later on, after I was warmed up. I will have a sample clip to post later in the blog tour. I haven’t heard the edited version yet.

Question: I think of audiobooks as mainly the province of areas like fiction or nonfiction where the written word is integral to the book. How do you translate a very visual book with patterns, techniques, photos, etc into an audio book?

Donna: Well, the patterns are not part of the audio book. Arctic Lace is unusual for a knitting book because more than half of the book is made up of stories. These stories tell what I learned through all of my research and traveling in Alaska. That’s the part that I recorded. I’m working with the publisher of the paperback to come out with a PDF version of just the patterns so when the audio book comes out, if any listeners also want to get the patterns, they won’t have to buy the whole book in paperback.

Your audio book will be launched on the Alaskan tour. What do you have planned for that?

Donna: It’s not planned yet but I know it will be fun! I am just very excited to be going back to Alaska again. I don’t know quite what to expect this time because I’ve never been on a cruise before. I’m working with the organizers on some ideas for how we can let everyone know about the audio book release and have a celebration on the ship. There’s nothing better than hanging out with a bunch of excited knitters!

Thanks for the interview, Donna!

Successful Lace Knitting will be released in May on the Musk Ox & Glaciers Knitting Cruise, where Donna will be teaching along with Lucy Neatby. The audio book edition of Arctic Lace will also be published at the same time, so cruise participants will be among the first to have a chance to see (and hear!) these two new releases.

To enter to win 2 balls of laceweight qiviut yarn, sign up for the cruise mailing list.

Happy New Year!

Posted on | January 11, 2010 | 7 Comments

I am composing a year end wrap up post, but it’s hard! My sense of knitting time is all turned around due to the nature of publishing lead times. I find myself knitting camisoles and short sleeved pullovers in the winter and heavy alpaca coats in the summer.

So, while I try to figure out what I did and when, I wanted to share something new my brother made. Brian, who crafts my indie pattern layouts, has been hard at work at school building his designer’s portfolio for his impending graduation and future job search. My favorite illustration among his newest is this one:


I love how most of it is in black and white except for the touches of yellow in the mouse’s cheese, the cat’s eyes, and the glow of the windows.

Happy new year everyone!

Twist Mid Issue Release – Sabbatical

Posted on | December 31, 2009 | 18 Comments

Some eagle eyed knitters noticed my bio clustered among the other contributors in the Winter issue of Twist. Some also noticed that the yarns in the Isles of Shoals story included the Fibre Company’s Road to China Light, but that no sweater or garment in that story used it. That’s because I used it for Sabbatical, a Twist Winter issue mid-release.

For this design, I was aiming for a cardigan with long, clean lines and a large scale lace motif. Originally, I thought a worsted weight yarn would be nice in order to emphasize the scale of the lace, but after a bit of consideration and swatching, I realized that a worsted weight yarn would allow only one or two repeats of the lace and might cut off the lace strangely. Since the lace repeat is 22 sts wide, a DK to sport weight yarn (and Road to China Light fell in between these gauges when knit with a size 6 needle), seemed more appropriate. One repeat would be around 4″, meaning that even the smallest size would have at least 2 repeats per front. Because it’s lace, the sweater zips along surprisingly quickly despite the relatively small gauge of the yarn.

Here is my submission sketch, with the swatch worked in Plymouth Silk Merino:New Image

I wanted the focus to be on the large lace motif, so other than a k3p3 rib along the sleeve cuffs and hems which flows into the lace, nothing else distracts from it. Simple waist decreases and increases help define the shape in what might be otherwise an overly boxy garment. The sweater is finished off with a plain, stockinette band which is picked up along the fronts and neck; and to keep it from rolling, a very short doubled hem is turned at the very edge. In additon, I’d recommend a shot of heavy steam to flatten out the band.

One of the things I love about designing is the opportunity to experiment with different yarns. And the Fibre Company’s Road to China Light certainly does not disappoint. It’s a wonderful combination of alpaca, cashmere, silk, and camel; and comes in subtle, kettle dyed colors.


For the sample, I worked a tubular cast on for the hems. To work a 3×3 tubular cast on, it’s very important that the cast on has the same number of knit stitches as it does purl stitches. If it doesn’t, then the resulting edge will slant — not a very attractive look. For those sizes where the knits don’t equal the purls, work a regular long tail cast on. Otherwise, a 3×3 tubular cast on is worked by provisionally casting on half the number of stitches needed. Next, work 4 rows in stockinette with the 1st row worked a purl row. Then, unzip the provisional cast on and put the resultant live stitches on another needle; you now have both ends of the fabric on needles:
tubular 001
Fold the fabric up so the right sides (the knit sides) are facing out and the needles are parallel to each other:
tubular 002
With a third needle, k3 stitches from the front needle (silver needle) and then p3 stitches from the back needle (gold needle). Proceed until all stitches are worked. You then have a nice, rounded edge:
tubular 003

On a parting note, I am hopeless with naming my designs. Fortunately, Julia is a lot more creative with naming than I am. She was also the one who named my Uhura in the Summer issue. As a die hard science fiction aficionado, the name delighted me. For this cardigan, she said it had an Edwardian feel about it and suggested a list of names adhering to that general theme. I liked Sabbatical because it connotes rest and lounging around to me; and at the same time reminds me of academia. So, Sabbatical it is then. I hope some of you decide to either knit it, wear it, or both, on your Sabbaticals, however long they may last.

Milan, Steve McCurry Photo Exhibit

Posted on | December 29, 2009 | 2 Comments

On Sunday, Maurizio and I took advantage of the fact that it stopped snowing and raining and took the train to Milan. We met up with Maurizio’s high school friend Elia and his wife, Ester, who live in the city. Maurizio’s mother had told us about a photo exhibit of Steve McCurry’s works at the Palazzo della Ragione, a gorgeous medieval building very close to the duomo where courts of law were once housed.

This is us just outside of the exhibit entrance:
italy 005

Steve McCurry’s most famous photo is that of an Afghan girl first published in National Geographic. But his other photos are equally stunning. He’s traveled extensively and his photos capture the beauty of everyday life in far off locales. Some of the subject matter is quite tough – scenes of war and suffering and extreme poverty. But there’s joy in his photos too – children playing, animals and people in repose. I was really enchanted by the colors in his photos – how quotidian objects when set against a monotonic background acquire an unusual beauty.

I also really love the way the exhibit was set up. The space was kept quite dark and the photos were set in gossamer curtains with light shining down to illuminate each individual piece so they seemed to be suspended in midair. The photos were roughly grouped into various themes – war, joy, portraits, beauty, etc.
italy 003
italy 004

The exhibit runs until the end of January so if you’re anywhere near Milan, I highly recommend going.

After the exhibit, we went to Rinascente, an upscale department store near the center of Milan and went to the food court on the top floor…though food court is a bit of a misnomer. It’s actually a large space with several restaurants and a gourmet food market. We went to Obika, a mozzarella bar specializing in the fresh cheese. I forgot to take a picture of our appetizer, a sampler of four kinds of mozzarella, including an intriguing smoked one. But it was good.

The city was a lot more crowded than I expected given that it was just 2 days after Christmas. As expected, a lot of stores were closed, but some were open, including this yarn shop on Via Dante – Mani Di Fata:

italy 007

I know, doesn’t look much like a yarn shop. Italian yarn shops sell yarn, underwear, baby items, and embroidery supplies – a sort of mish mash of crafts and intimate apparel. I believe shops dedicated just to knitting and crocheting are rare.

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