Posted on | December 25, 2009 | 4 Comments

Two of the best things about Italy:

Their cappuccino, drained to the dregs while standing up at the bar. The cappuccino is a drink to be had quickly and usually in the morning (though, as a foreigner, I can be forgiven to indulge in it in the afternoon too).

And my mother in law’s dog, Macchiolina (little spot), belly up for the requisite affection:

Happy holidays all!

Buon Natale e Buon Anno.c

Alpaca Pleats Jacket – IK Winter

Posted on | December 8, 2009 | 6 Comments

The Winter IK issue is out and I have a short sleeved cardigan in it, the Alpaca Pleats Jacket. Unfortunately, this is one of those projects that came down to the wire for me, so I didn’t have a chance to take any proper modeled photos. The best I did was a photo of it lying flat on my couch on a hanger.

I really should have shown it modeled with the front left open. One of the unanticipated issues I had with this design was that the pleats flip out a bit when the clasps are closed. The stress placed on the front bands when the cardigan is closed tends to flip up the pleats. When the cardigan is left open, the flipping is minimized. But there are potential fixes. One is to orient the pleats in towards the direction of the side seams rather than out towards the center.

I put together a small tutorial outlining how to do this. In the original instructions, the pleats fold at the turning ridge and are tacked back to the wrong side of the garment. The pleat at the edge of the front bands (at the center of the cardigan) is the bottom pleat, with the other pleats (that are picked up at staggered points along the band) overlapping it. In the new instructions, the pleat at the edge of the front bands overlap the other pleats; and the pleats fold at the turning ridge and are tacked to the right side of the garment (the attachment point is hidden since the pleats overlap and cover it). Following the tutorial, I have a few photos of a swatch I worked up with the pleats down and up (to make the construction more clear). I hope this method works for those of you who might want the pleats to be less flippy (Click image for a bigger view).

I’d also recommend giving the pleats a good dose of steam to help them lie flat. Steam also brings out the shine in alpaca and silk. Just be sure to not touch the iron directly on the fabric. I’ve burned Alpaca Silk once when I inadvertently set an iron down on a blocking sweater!

Paper goods

Posted on | December 4, 2009 | 4 Comments

I’m currently under a mountain of deadline knitting – some for self publication, some not.

Yesterday, I took a little break and went to the Union Square Holiday Market and picked up some paper goods:


One is a set of holiday cards for Maurizio and me. We’ll see if we’re actually good about sending them out this year. The other is a present for a friend I’m seeing soon – a set of 4 season themed notebooks by Bailey Doesn’t Bark. The vendor is new to me, but she has some really cute stuff including stationary, ceramics, ornaments, and household goodies like pillows and tablecloths.

Maurizio and I recently went to the Morgan Library’s exhibit on Jane Austen and we were both charmed by it. Among the items were detailed notebooks Jane kept on everything from how much each of her novels made to their start and end dates to carefully tallied accounts of her yearly expenses. I think the seasons notebooks purchase was prompted by that exhibit. It’s a little sad that the personality and character of handwritten exchanges and records have been replaced by modern conveniences like email and blackberries. Don’t get me wrong. I love email, but nothing is quite like a handwritten letter.

Lovely Sunday at the Museum of Art and Design

Posted on | November 23, 2009 | 3 Comments

This Sunday, Maurizio and I spent a very lovely Sunday with our next door neighbors at the Museum of Art and Design, site of the Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting exhibit a few years back.

I really liked the Museum’s special exhibits on the whimsical furniture and design of Nendo and the art of paper. The art of paper exhibit especially was quite interesting. An extensive list of the exhibit can be found online, but I was particularly enchanted by a series of tunnel books by Andrea Dezso.


The tunnel book series were charmingly rendered scenes with layers of perspective and background; some with a nightmarish quality…very fairy-tale like and reminiscent of the sometimes shocking violence in folk tales.

Because of the inherent delicacy of paper, some of the art pieces were site specific, made especially for the Museum’s special exhibit, and slated to be disassembled once the exhibit ends. A large number of pieces involved paper cutting and reminded me a lot of lace, creating images through manipulation of negative and positive space. I highly recommend a visit if you happen to be around NYC.

I also started on a pair of Cayuga Mitts for Jess on the subway. Because I loved working with the Kumara for the sample, I couldn’t resist using it again (this time in red) for this pair. It’s such a soft and cuddly yarn with great loft so it’s warm and light!


Meeting Madelinetosh, er, I mean Amy!

Posted on | November 16, 2009 | 3 Comments

A month ago, Amy, the creative force behind Madelinetosh Yarns, gave a talk at Knitty City and I was lucky enough to be able to attend.

She talked about what inspires her, the evolution of her company, as well as the origins of some of her most popular colorways.

At the talk, Megan showed me her lovely version of Peyton:

That’s Amy’s husband, John, in the background. He’s so supportive of her work and has had a hand in creating some of Madelinestosh’s most sought after colors. Oxblood anyone?

After the talk, Amy, John, and I went to nearby Patsy’s for some pizza. It was such a treat to get to talk to them both further.

I’m currently in the process of working up an indie design using a new Madelinetosh yarn, Tosh Light. It’s a single ply, fingering weight, superwash merino dyed in Amy’s gorgeous, subtle colorways. It reminds me a bit of Malabrigo Lace, but sturdier; without Malabrigo’s tendency to felt on sight; while retaining the lovely roundness of a single ply yarn. The color I’m using is Chambray and I swear it’s like looking at a soothing summer sky. Here’s a shot of the skeins, luxuriating in the sun (or what passes for it in the Northeast winter):


The Cayuga Set

Posted on | November 12, 2009 | 4 Comments

The Cayuga Set is here.

Because not everyone likes both hats and mittens, I’ve decided to release them separately. If you’d like to purchase both patterns, I’m also offering a set option, where you can purchase the set for a 25% discount off the price of the individual patterns.

The Cayuga Set:

Photos by Jessica and Vitaly Fomin

Photos by Jessica and Vitaly Fomin

Yarn: Classic Elite Kumara, 85% extra fine merino/15% baby camel, 50 grams, 128 yards.
Gauge: 18 stitches and 24 rows = 4 inches in Stockinette
Yardage: 384 yards or 3 skeins to 512 yards or 4 skeins.
Sizes: Hat circumference 16.5 (18, 20, 22)”; Mittens circumference 6.75 (7.5, 8.5)”

Purchase through Ravelry ($7.00):

Or purchase through e-junkie ($7.00):
Buy Now
Add to CartView Cart

The Cayuga Hat

Photos by Jessica and Vitaly Fomin

Photos by Jessica and Vitaly Fomin

Yarn: Classic Elite Kumara, 85% extra fine merino/15% baby camel, 50 grams, 128 yards.
Gauge: 18 stitches and 24 rows = 4 inches in Stockinette
Yardage: 256 yards or 2 skeins.
Sizes: Hat circumference 16.5 (18, 20, 22)” for head circumference of 18 (20, 22, 24)”.

Purchase through Ravelry ($4.00):

Or purchase through e-junkie ($4.00):
Buy Now
Add to CartView Cart

The Cayuga Mittens:

Photo by Jessica and Vitaly Fomin

Photos by Jessica and Vitaly Fomin

Yarn: Classic Elite Kumara, 85% extra fine merino/15% baby camel, 50 grams, 128 yards.
Gauge: 18 stitches and 24 rows = 4 inches in Stockinette
Yardage: 256 yards or 2 skeins.
Sizes: Mittens circumference 6.75 (7.5, 8.5)”

Purchase through Ravelry ($5.50):

Or purchase through e-junkie ($5.50):
Buy Now
Add to CartView Cart

For more photos of the hat and mittens, visit my independent design set on Flickr.

Cayuga is coming!

Posted on | November 9, 2009 | 1 Comment

The set has been tech edited and my brother is working on the layout right now. But in the meantime, here’s a quick photo of me wearing the set with Cayuga Lake in the background. The photo is taken at Stewart Park in Ithaca. Have I mentioned how much I love Kumara (the yarn)?


Fall Back – Fall Preview!

Posted on | November 2, 2009 | 12 Comments

I know, Fall is already well underway, but I liked the pairing of the phrases Fall Back and Fall Preview; and this past weekend we all got an extra hour of sleep with Fall Back, so…

The Fall preview part of this post concerns those luscious skeins of Kumara I talked about 2 weeks ago. They became this hat and mitten set that my friend, Jess, kindly agreed to model for me:

I was working on them during the drive to and from Ithaca. A bit at a loss as to what to call them, I decided on Cayuga Hat and Mittens, after the Finger Lake that Ithaca sits at the foot of. The hat will be available in four sizes and the mittens will be available in three.

The pattern is in the hands of the tech editor and then it’s off to my brother for the graphic layout treatment. I hope to have the pattern ready sometime in the next couple of weeks. They’ll be released separately and also as a set.

Ten Years

Posted on | October 28, 2009 | 16 Comments


Ten years ago, Maurizio and I started dating while we were first years in grad school at Cornell. Although I was instantly interested in him when I met him in September, it took a few more weeks before he could convince me that he was interested in me.

To celebrate the occasion, Maurizio took Monday off and we spent an extended weekend in Ithaca.

Visits to Ithaca always include a visit to my favorite yarn shop, Knitting Etc. And although I’m no longer local, it will always be my LYS. While I was there, I got some yummy (and new to me) Prism Merino Mia yarn for a baby sweater for a friend that’s due in a few months and a gorgeous card made by Hickory’s sister (they’re an artistic family!):

Hickory and I talked about knitting, designing, and life. I got a kick out of seeing a sample of my Varese Hoodie (made by Suzeann). This photo of Hickory and my sweater was taken a few visits ago:

I met up with Laura and we chatted about the state of the knit design industry, our current projects, and dreams of future projects while chowing down on her delicious pumpkin and ginger bread and coffee. She showed me her studio space which occupies an entire room; and yet somehow manages to stay neat.

Maurizio and I even snuck in a mini-photo shoot of my newest indie design – the Cayuga hat and mittens – with Cayuga Lake at Stewart Park in the background. I hope to have the patterns out in the next couple of weeks.

Accessories & Yarn Porn

Posted on | October 23, 2009 | 2 Comments

I have some friends who’ve been gently suggesting that I design some accessories to help round out my sweater designing obsession. Although I’ve knitted a stray accessory here and there, I’ve never even thought of designing one. Sweaters seem so accessible and straightforward – back, front, sleeves – whereas the intricacies of a shawl or hat or gloves or mittens were mysteries to me. But accessories are also quick and a great canvas for trying out different techniques. Ripping out 150 sq inches of knitting is a lot less painful than ripping out a back piece; or even sleeves.

Enter the lovely Cecily, who sent me a few balls of Classic Elite Kumara, a lofty and soft merino/camel blend that’s perfect for a cozy cap.

I’m waiting for one piece of my hat to block before I proceed with the rest of it. Here are the skeins, waiting to be knit:

Speaking of Cecily and Kumara, check out Cecily’s latest line up of designs. You can vote for which one you’d like for her to release first. I’m pulling for the Kumara lace cardigan (first photo).

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