Archives For Knitting

It’s never too early for elves, especially knitting elves. It’s no secret that I love the holiday season, and for many knitters it begins right about now. This year I’ve been working on starting earlier, building in a margin, and giving myself the gift of extra time for all kinds of projects.

At this time of year, that extra time becomes even more important. I’m determined that this time there will be no last-minute holiday knitting marathons! That’s why I’ve released the Knitvent 2015 Holiday Knitting Planner a bit earlier to help us all get the season started off right. I’m already scribbling madly in mine!

Planning is half the fun. I love thumbing through holiday magazine shopping guides, dreaming of all the possibilities. With all the thinking I’ve been doing lately about cutting down consumption, I decided to make a different sort of gift guide. This is for all of us who love to give handmade presents instead of going crazy in the shops. With Knitvent 2015 just around the corner, it’s also a little sampler of the kinds of designs you can expect if you join in this year!

forhercollage

Your mum, your bestie, your child’s favourite teacher: all the brilliant women in your life deserve spoiling, and a handmade gift is an incredible way to show them how much they mean to you. Patterns, clockwise from top: Warm Wishes Hottie Cover, Red Robin Shawl, Fresh Powder Cowl.

forhimcollage

Knitting for men can be a challenge, which makes it even more important to pick the right pattern. Make him something he’ll be proud to wear with these man-approved designs. Patterns, clockwise from top: Eden Fells Hat, Checkerboard Mitts, Eden Fells Scarf.

forkidscollage

There’s no sweeter feeling than making something cozy for a favourite little person. Create an instant heirloom with some adorable, cuddly designs for children. Patterns, clockwise from top: Georgie Baby Blanket, Twinkle Twinkle Baby Blanket, Naughty or Nice Pompom Hat.

foryoucollage

This year, maybe it’s your turn. It’s easy to get so caught up in knitting things to give away that you never have a chance to wear your own creations. Be kind to yourself with something sparkly to wear to a holiday party or something snuggly to wear everywhere. Patterns, clockwise from top: Stardust Infinity Scarf, Lind Cowl, Candlelit Shawl.

Choosing the perfect patterns is the first step towards having a successful holiday knitting season, and it’s such an exciting stage of the process. I hope this little guide has sparked your imagination. I can’t wait to show you what I’ve got in store this year!

 

Kettle Yarn Co. Boardwalk Collection

With all the thinking about summery knitting that I’ve been doing over this Summer Series (even as I chill out in the wintery Southern Hemisphere!) today’s blogpost is a perfect fit for the theme. About a month ago Kettle Yarn Co. invited me to be a part of a blog tour for their new pattern collection, Boardwalk, which was created around the new Islington DK yarn. Of course I jumped at the chance! I’m so excited that it’s finally my turn to talk about this wonderful yarn and this marvellous gathering of patterns.

Kettle Yarn Co. Boardwalk Collection

Kettle Yarn Co. is an old friend. As you might remember, the first Pebble Beach shawlette was made from their Westminster base, and I used the first incarnation of Islington (the lighter fingering weight version) to knit my Sunburst Shawl. I’ll always be a big fan of their yarns. I was enchanted with the Islington blend when I used it, and the fact that it’s now available in a DK weight opens up a whole new realm of knitting possibilities.

As a designer, I’m often inspired by seascapes (just look at Pebble Beach and Whispering Island!) and the Boardwalk collection speaks to me on so many levels. With six tempting patterns by superbly talented designers Rachel C Brown, Renée Callahan, Rachel Coopey, Linda Lencovic, Isabell and Kraemer, it really manages to capture the joy of a summer holiday and strolling by the sea.

I’m finding the whole Boardwalk collection extremely inspiring. Just seeing the unique directions that each of the six designers have taken from the theme of the Hastings pier is intriguing. Each pattern is full of summer joy but it’s easy to see how well they will work as transitional pieces across the seasons, bringing some off that sunshine into the coldder months. They’ve put together a brilliant lookbook of all the designs for us to enjoy.

It’s almost impossible to pick a favourite pattern, but Bagatelle by Rachel Brown is standing out for me personally right now. This cowl just looks so fun, simple and easy to wear, but with really great detail. I also love the colour of the sample, Peony.

Bagatelle By Rachel Brown

Each of the patterns takes a different approach to showcasing Islington DK, playing on its unique strengths and qualities. I love the official description:

Well-bred but streetwise, this lightweight blend yarn is versatile and strong while maintaining buttery softness – a sophisticated choice for everyday items, luxurious next-to-skin wear and precious accessories.

As soft as Merino, the blend’s 100% British Bluefaced Leicester tempers silk’s drape while adding strength and elasticity. The high percentage of BFL makes items hardwearing, very low pilling and long lasting. The addition of 45% silk combines sophisticated sheen and luxurious handle with crispness and uniformity for stunning stitch definition.

In my experiences, the wool-silk blend of Islington DK is a wonderful fibre for warding off summer breezes without excess weight. As always, I’m especially drawn to the richness of the colourways. They put me in mind of ice lollies, striped beach umbrellas, and the flashing shades of the sea itself. I have a serious weakness for teal and blue-green tones, and Verdigris is so rich and intense it just makes me want to dive right in.

Islington DK in Verdigris

If you’d like to visit this yarn in person, it will be holding court at two upcoming yarn shows in the UK:

Fibre East on the 25 – 26th of July

Yarn in the City on the 15th of September

You can also get your hands on it immediately in the Kettle Yarn Co. online shop.

As a bit of a treat, Kettle Yarn Co. have kindly offered a skein of Islington DK as a giveaway for Curious Handmade readers. Just leave a comment with your favourite colour way, and I’ll draw a winner randomly at the end of the blog tour, on Thursday the 6th of August!

The next stop on the tour is with the hilarious and wonderful Jo from Shiny Bees podcast and blog, giving her take on the yarn and the collection. Be on the lookout for that on Tuesday, 21 July!

Afternoon Tea in Anzula Squishy: Candy Apple

Back in 2012, I released a little shawlette on Knitty. Afternoon Tea, which was inspired by vintage frocks and pastel-frosted cupcakes, played on the concept of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s beloved Pi shawl. Since then the pattern has had quite a life. It has racked up almost 1000 projects on Ravelry, has been made in every colour under the rainbow, and made an appearance at countless special events (including starring roles in at least a dozen weddings!)

I designed Afternoon Tea as a fun little fancy. It had only one job, to be ornamental. That’s a role it has played perfectly, but recently I wanted to revisit the pattern to see what more it had to offer. When I re-released Pebble Beach in larger sizes, the response was wonderful, and I knew that Afternoon Tea also deserved its own “growing up” moment. Over the last few months I have carefully redesigned and rewritten the pattern as a full-sized shawl. The new, larger Afternoon Tea retains all the delicacy, refinement, and playfulness of the original shawlette, but now it’s ready to do double duty as both a decorative and a more functional piece.

The yarn I chose for the new samples has quickly become one of my favourites. If there was such a thing as a yarn soulmate, Anzula Yarn’s Squishy might just be mine. It’s a fingering weight MCN blend: 80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon. It’s so, so soft and the colours are completely lush. I knit the small sample in Teal (possibly my perfect colour) and used up one skein, pretty much exactly.

Afternoon Tea Shawlette in Teal

Small Afternoon Tea in Anzula Luxury Fibers Squishy [80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon, 352m /385yd per skein], 1 x 100g skein, Colour: Teal

My wonderful mother knit the medium sample for me in Candied Apple: I was so grateful to her but it was hard to hand those two skeins over. I wanted to keep knitting with that yarn! The lovely drape is especially evident in this larger size.

Afternoon Tea Shawl in Anzula Candied Apple

The new, larger size of Afternoon Tea in Anzula Luxury Fibers Squishy [80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon; 352m/385yd per skein], 2 x 100g skeins, Colour: Candied Apple

The original samples were knit in three other yarns which are still very close to my heart. The sheen and stich definition in Quince & Co’s Tern wool and silk blend is to die for.

Afternoon Tea in Columbine

The original small Afternoon Tea in Quince & Co Tern [75% wool, 25% silk, 202m /221yd per skein], 2 x 50g skeins, Colour: Columbine

Madelinetosh’s Tosh Sock really needs no introduction. This yarn is a perennial favourite, and the Baltic colourway is deep, moody, and elegant. Best of all, the small version of the shawl uses up exactly one skein.

Afternoon Tea in Madelinetosh Tosh Sock Baltic

Original small Afternoon Tea in Madelinetosh Tosh Sock [100% superwash merino wool, 361m /395yd per skein], 1 x 100g skein, Colour: Baltic

I’m still such a fan of Viola’s Merino fingering, in this rich violet colour.

Original small Afternoon Tea in Viola Merino Fingering [100% superwash merino wool; 365m/400yd per skein], 1 x 100g skein, Colour: Violet

Original small Afternoon Tea in Viola Merino Fingering [100% superwash merino wool; 365m/400yd per skein], 1 x 100g skein, Colour: Violet

As of today, the revamped pattern is available to buy now on Ravelry: as part of this rebirth, along with the new size, I have also converted both sizes into my easy-to-follow percentage checklist format that is so popular with Curious Handmade knitters! And of course, the original pattern will still be available for free on Knitty. I hope you enjoy it.

As we continue to go deeper into the theme of creativity this month, I’ve made a point of celebrating the yarns I’ve been working with on my recent projects. Whether we’re talking about a painter and their paints, a sculptor and their clay, a sewist and their fabric, or a knitter with their wool, the role that materials play in any creative person’s work is hard to overstate. The nature of your material, its qualities, character, and even personality can absolutely transform the way you create. Materials can provide the first seeds of inspiration for your work, and they can surprise you, delight you, and even take you to new heights of craftsmanship and originality. I’ve certainly found this to be the case with the wonderful yarns I used for all of my Whispering Island shawl samples.  Knowing the story behind the yarn has added so much to my creative process. I’m excited to share this post by Sonja from Blacker Yarns on how the wool that goes through their mill is farmed, sourced, and spun into some of the finest yarn available today. Enjoy!

– Helen 

Woven Shetland throws in a wonderful array of natural shades

Blacker Yarns is quite a special yarn company because it is one of the only British yarn companies to come with its very own mill attached – The Natural Fibre Company.  NFC not only process Blacker Yarns, they also work with farmers and small business owners to create unique and special yarn, spinning fibre and woolly delights.  Our mill has a small minimum quantity, which is ideal for farmers like Ben Hole of Hole & Sons who are looking to do something more with their fibre.  I know Ben was keen to emphasise the wonderful story behind his yarn and we were happy to help him.

Shetland Sheep 2

At Blacker Yarns, we have a very strong relationship with our suppliers. We try to find the best quality fibre available.  We support British farming by paying fair prices for the best fleece and building long term relationships with these suppliers.  We care about what we do – by using traditional low impact methods to produce our yarns, we are able to do our bit for the environment, rare breed preservation and sustain our local communities.

I am so thrilled by the growing awareness of buying local. We’re entering such an exciting phase in the fibre industry.  Increasingly knitters are starting to ask questions about the stories behind their yarn. This awareness is perfect for us!  We love inviting people to visit the mill (see the website for this year’s dates) and inviting them to explore our production process.  As a knitter myself, I think that sense of connection with real animals – and the people who raise them – can do so much to enrich one’s crafting experience.

Some of the yarn we produce, like our Blacker Swan Merino, is farm assured which means the fibre comes from one particular farm.  Other yarns, like the Shetland used for Helen’s gorgeous shawl, come from a number of small farms up and down the UK.  We record where the fibre for each individual batch comes from, so we are often able to let people know the source of their fibre if they email us directly.  This is something rather unique and only possible when buying direct from farmers. Currently most of our Shetland yarn comes from farms in Wiltshire and Somerset.Shetland Sheep

Shetland fleece is matt and one of the finest of all British breed wools.  These hardy little sheep date back to the 8th century and the Viking conquest. Their fleeces come in a vast array of natural shades the names of which can be found in Norsk nomenclature.  These magical words like ‘Katmogit’, ‘Moorit’ and ‘Gulmogit’ are all centuries old and filled with a wonderful romance.

Shetland DK shades

The north of Scotland has always had a difficult climate and the people living there would have needed warm garments to protect themselves.  So it is likely that Shetland sheep have always been bred with a mind to the quality of their fibre.  From the 17th century onwards, Shetland islanders’ have created high quality knitted goods for export across Europe and the world. For this reason the breed has a few distinctive qualities. Shetland sheep come in a vast array of natural shades from white, through to fawn, chocolate brown and black.  These shades can be blended or dyed and then used to knit those distinctive Fair-Isle patterns we all know and love. The fibre also works wonderfully for lace work, creating a light and airy fabric which holds its block wonderfully. Shetland yarn will felt well and is highly resistant to the tendency that some softer fibres have to pill.

Our Shetland yarn is available in both 4-ply and DK. We select the finest fleeces we can find, so this breed is a wonderful place to start if you’re thinking of delving into breed specific yarns. We offer a wide variety of natural shades which are complemented by a few dyed shades in the 4-ply only.

Both weights retail at £5.70 a ball, but are currently on sale for £5.20 a ball until 22nd June.

Thank you to Sonja from Blacker Yarns for this guest post.
Play

Curious Handmade Podcast Episode 77

 

Show Sponsors

Today’s show is sponsored by the Fibre Co, and the wonderful Acadia yarn.

 

TheFibreCo_Logo CH

Acadia is named after the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi river, a place of natural beauty where the sea and mountains meet, slopes are densely forested and wild blueberries abound. Acadia National Park is in the state of Maine, The Fibre Co.’s birthplace.  The yarn inspired by this beautiful region has a rustic look and a soft hand. A subtle tweed effect is created by the silk noil that is combined with a heathered base made from fine merino wool and brown baby alpaca. The yarn is a classic DK weight and makes a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect for next to the skin accessories as well as garments.

I’ve just finished knitting a shawl sample with Acadia and it more than lives up to its description. This is very special yarn. You can buy Acadia at our other sponsor’s shop, Meadow Yarns:

Meadow Yarn 

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, Hazel Knits and many more.

KAL News

Pebble Beach KAL, There’s exactly a month left to join this lively KAL which is being hosted by my friendPaula on the Knitting Pipeline Ravelry Group. I’ve been marvelling at all the gorgeous FOs people are posting, and it’s been thrilling to see all the different patterns people are choosing. It’s especially fun to watch the larger Pebble Beach shawls show up. If you can’t resist jumping in, here’s what you need to know:

  • Any Curious Handmade pattern qualifies

  • You can have begun or even finished the object before the start date?

  • The hashtag for WIPs and FOs is #pebblebeachKAL. I’m stalking the hashtag on social media and it’s so fun to watch people’s progress!

Muse2 KAL The event is just around the corner and the KAL is great fun. I’m participating in this one with a pair of socks by Rachel Coopey! Just a way for everyone to join in on the Muse Connection buzz, from anywhere in world. I’m participating and having a ball, and there’s another month to go (it runs until the 30th of June) so jump in with us! FOs just need to meet one or more of the following criteria:

Hashtag #muse2KAL for WIPs and FOs!

Show links:

I mention that I’m off at the magical Squam art retreat. Just like last year I’m planning to come home with some wonderful interviews with creative people, so we can all look forward to that!

Beth talked about the book which started it all for her: Flying Lessons by mixed media artist and teacher Kelly Rae Roberts.

We discussed some of the free resources available to anyone on the Do What You Love course website, including the Making Time email program.

I personally recommend investing in yourself with the Do What You Love course. I took it last year and I’m still feeling the positive effects rippling through my life today. Beth is generously offering a discount to Curious Handmade listeners who register on the next course, which starts on June 15th.

With the exclusive code DWYLHandmade, you can purchase the course for £115 instead of £129. This offer will expire on the 7th of June, but of course you can register for the course right up until it starts.

Just a note to say that if you purchase the course after clicking through a link on my site, I receive a small affiliate commission. It’s a lovely way to support the show, so if you do decide to sign up, thank you so much!

I also announce the name of my newest design, which will be released on June 12th, so make sure to listen to the episode to hear more hints about this project! Have a wonderful week. Happy knitting to you all.

 

Today I have been pondering what to do with my skein of Terra given to us by The Fibre Company at the Muse Connection Volume 1.

It is an Aran weight yarn – 90metres/98yds so its a bit tricky amount to do a single skein project with but never fear! I found lots of ideas which may also help with a few other small and perfect skeins of yarn in my stash.

With such lovely yarn I’m thinking that it would make a lovely gift….or something nice for me!

Terra Woad Light

So of course I turned to Ravelry and my first search was on the “Yarn” tab and I searched “Terra Fibre Company”. I then selected the “Projects” tab to see what others had made with the yarn. After a bit of looking I realised that I could do an advanced search and select the exact amount I had to narrow down the results.

I found a few good options with this search:

Alfalfa Baby Hat by Kate Gagnon Osborn

(free pattern)

Alfalfa Baby Hat

© Kate Gagnon Osborn + Kelbourne Woolens

Barley Hat by Tin Can Knits

(free pattern)

Barley

© Tin Can Knits

Leia Bonnet and Pixie Booties by Mel Clark

From book – Knitting gifts for Baby

Terra Projects

© Helen Bankers

So then I decided to widen my search to any Aran weight project that used one skein.

This time I went to the Pattern tab and clicked straight on the “pattern browser and advanced search” link under the search box.

Then on the left hand side I selected filters Weight = Aran and Meterage. At first I selected 0-150 metres but then realised I could get even more specific and selected “cusomize: enter a range…” down the bottom of the box and put in 0-90 – that would give me just projects that used the exact amount I have.

Rav Search image

Using this search I found a lot of cute ideas. General ideas include baby hats (as above!), headbands, small fingerless gloves, boot toppers, cozies for mugs and phones and little toys.

A few that caught my eye in particular are:

When Left Foot Met Right Foot by Justyna Lorkowska

When Left Foot Met Right Foot

© Lete

Toasty Talus by Clare Devine

Toasty Talus

© Clare Devine

Tiffany Neckwarmer by Hilary Smith Callis

Tiffany Neckwarmer

© Hiliary Smith Calis

Smart Driver Mitts by Lizzie Laine

Smart Driver Mitts

© Lizzie Laine

What do you like to knit (or crochet) with small amounts of Aran weight yarn? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

57 sweater knitting resources
Are you looking for the perfect basic sweater pattern?

 

Needing some sweater knitting inspiration?

 

Perhaps you need the a great tutorial about how to swatch? Or measure yourself for great fitting garments?
I’ve collected together some of my favourite sweater knitting tips and advice, designer inspirations and great sources for knitting patterns. My hope is that across sweater month on the Curious Handmade Podcast, I’ll encourage you to overcome some of your knitting obstacles and cast on to join me in my sweater knitting!

 

The resources I’ve linked to range from beginner tips to more advanced techniques. Also the links are in no particular order although I have tried to organise them under different headings.

 
 The Craftsy, Creativebug and Amazon book links  below are all Affiliate links. If you join these sites or make a purchase after clicking on the links I will receive a small commission that helps towards the running of the blog and podcast. I really appreciate it!

Sweater Knitting Patterns and Magazines

1. Ravelry

Ravelry is a community site, an organizational tool, and a yarn & pattern database for knitters and crocheters.

It is no understatement to say this website has changed my life and that of many other knitters. With over 5 million members it connects knitters, crocheters and yarnies from around the world together.

2. Twist Collective

An independent on-line magazine focusing on knitting and the sister arts.

3. Knitty

Knitty is the longest-running free knitting magazine on the web. Enjoy more than 12 years worth of free knitting patterns and free knitting tutorials!

4. amirisu

amirisu is a bilingual knitting magazine from Japan. It is published both online and in print a few times a year.

5. Pom Pom Quarterly

Pom Pom is a quarterly, collectable publication based in London, UK for smart, creative types who like knitting patterns with a modern aesthetic, great photography and interesting writing.

6. Vogue Knitting

Launched over twenty-five years ago, VK has set the bar for knitting, working with the biggest and most talented names in fashion today, including Michael Kors and Anna Sui. Led by Editor Trisha Malcolm, VK is published quarterly.

7. Interweave Magazines

Includes Interweave Knits and Knit Scene

8. Rowan Magazine

Our inspirational, biannual knitting and crochet magazine brings you three design stories along with features, what’s new section and much more.

How to Knit  Sweaters – online Classes and Tutorials

9. My First Sweater

(Craftsy) If you can knit and purl, you can make an amazing first sweater you’ll love to wear. Knit along with Amy Ross to create a classic raglan pullover or a cute cardigan.

10. The Top-Down Icelandic Sweater

(Craftsy) Designer Ragga Eiríksdóttir teaches you how to knit a fun, authentic Icelandic sweater from the top down and in the round.

11. Choose Your Own Sweater Adventure with Eunny Jang

(Craftsy) Mix and match design elements to create a flattering sweater you’ll be proud to wear. Tell your style story in memorable fashion.

12. Top Down Sweater Knitting with Wendy Bernard

(Creativebug) Learn how to knit custom top-down sweaters from scratch using your very own measurements and any yarn you like with Wendy Bernard.

13. Knit a Lace Cardigan with Gudrun Johnston

(Creativebug) In this class, Gudrun walks you through every step of making a cute, vintage-style cardigan. This seamless sweater is worked in one piece from the top down, so there are no tails to weave in at the end.

14. Fringe Association

This blog by Karen Templer has a wealth of in depth knitting tutorials and knitting analysis. Including:

Pullovers for first-timers: Or, an introduction to sweater construction
Cardigans for first-timers: Or, how button bands happen

15. The Craft Sessions

Felicia Semple who was a guest on Episode 60 of the Curious Handmade Podcast recently writes in depth blog posts on a range of helpful knitting techniques accompanied by beautiful photography. Including:

Learn to Read Your Knitting series 

How to Get Faster at Knitting Part 1 and Part 2

16. Ysolda

Ysolda Teague has a series on her blog called Technique Thursdays sharing a wealth of tips for sweater knitters. Including:

Joining the sleeves and body on a seamless bottom up sweater

Bust darts in sweaters with all over stitch patterns

17. Tin Can Knits

Tin Can Knits have some great free tutorials and patterns for beginners. Including:

Let’s Knit a Sweater

How to get a better Sweater Fit

18. Knit to Flatter

(Craftsy) Make every sweater you knit your new favorite! Author and designer Amy Herzog shows you how to fashion knitwear that’s perfect for your body.

19. Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague

(Book) Part pattern collection, part resource book Ysolda shares all of her tips for successful sweaters that perfectly fit your body.

20. Fit your Knits with Stephanie Japel

(Craftsy) Knitwear designer Stefanie Japel teaches you how to knit a sweater with adjustments to the bust, waist and hips to perfectly fit any body type.

21. Feminine Fit: Bust Shaping Techniques

(Craftsy) Flatter your feminine side with sweaters that embrace your bust, hips and waist. Joan McGowan-Michael teaches you how to shape knitwear to fit.

22. Sweater Surgery with Carol Feller

(Craftsy) Give your ill-fitting hand-knit garments a little TLC and a new life with help from acclaimed knitwear designer Carol Feller.

Choosing your Yarn

23. Know Your Yarn: Choose the Perfect Yarn Every Time, with Clara Parkes

(Craftsy) The fastest way to become a better, more confident knitter is to understand your fiber! Learn how to choose the right yarn for the best results with fiber guru Clara Parkes

24. The Knitter’s Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber

(Book) by Clara Parkes

In this complete guide to wool – the most popular yarn around – passionate wool expert Clara Parkes translates the vast world of sheep and their wool into the language and context of knitting.

25. The Knitter’s Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn

(Book) by Clara Parkes

Not all yarns are alike. Some make our hearts and hands sing, some get the job done without much fanfare, and some cause nothing but frustration and disappointment… If only there were a way to read a skein and know how it would behave and what it wanted to become before you invested your time, energy, and money in it. Now there is! With The Knitter’s Book of Yarn, you’ll learn how to unleash your inner yarn whisperer.

26. The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn

(Book) by Carol Ekarius and Deborah Robson

This one-of-a-kind photographic encyclopedia features more than 200 animals and the fibers they produce. It covers almost every sheep breed in the world — from the longwool breeds of the United Kingdom to the Tasmanian merino, the Navajo churro, the northern European Faroese, and dozens and dozens more.

Sweater Designers I Love

27. Jared Flood – Brooklyn Tweed

In his own words:

“I am owner and creative director at Brooklyn Tweed.

I have secret fantasies about a perpetual winter that would facilitate year-round wool wearing.”

Favourite design: Hawser

28. Bristol Ivy

In her own words:

“I grew up hating fiber. To put it mildly, things have changed. 🙂 Now I’m a knitwear designer, work behind the scenes at Brooklyn Tweed, teach knitting, spinning, weaving, dyeing, and felting, photograph knitwear, and keep myself all-around extremely busy. I still dream of eventually marrying a sheep farmer and happily living the rest of my life knee-deep in wool.”

Favourite design: Offshore V-Neck

29. Joji Locatelli

In her own words:

“I am just an Argentine girl who really likes to knit. 😀 ”

And wow, can this girl knit (and design)!

Favourite design: Japan Sleeves

30. Veera Välimäki

Best known for her garter stitch, short row shawl designs, Veera also has a very modern, wearable collection of garment designs.

Favourite design: Coal

31. Thea Colman – Baby Cocktails

In her own words:

“I design mostly women’s garments and accessories, and love using cables, lace, and little details to make designs that are classic and wearable, but just a bit unique.”

Favourite design: Baileys Irish Cream

32. Kate Davies Designs

In her own words:

“I live in a small steading just off the West Highland Way. Scotland’s landscape is beautiful and ever-changing, and I love to create designs inspired by what I see around me.”

Favourite design: Frost at Midnight

33. Nora Gaughan

In her own words:

“I’m a newly independent designer after almost nine years as the design director at Berroco. It was time to live in one state and enjoy hanging the laundry out on the line in New Hampshire.”

Favourite design: Chainlink

34. Jane Richmond

In her own words:

“Jane’s designs are classic and simple. Her minimalist approach to knitwear design is paired with a dedication to cleanly written pattern instructions. Being both a process and product knitter, Jane’s goal is to create knits that are enjoyable to knit and easy to wear.”

Favourite design: Ladies Classic Raglan Pullover

35. Justyna Lorkowska – Lete’s Knits

In her own words:

“My true passion are unique garments that catch the eye with their intricate details and beautiful finishing. And if they can be seamless that’s even better.”

Favourite design: Mrs Skyler

36. Isabell Kraemer

Isabell is based in Germany and creates clean, modern designs.

Favourite design: Paulie

37. La Maison Rililie

In her own words:

“Not only do I love constructing garments that fit in the style I like and the colours I choose myself (who wouldn’t) but I adore finding new – or stumbling on old – ways to construct something in a different way. It is like sculpture: a three dimensional work that allows you to produce an object (with the proper calculations), that not only might be practical, but also is an expression of creativity and design!”

She also has some excellent tutorials on her website.

Favourite design: BeauB

38. Ankestrick

In her own words:

‘Top-down, seamless techniques opened up a new knitting world to me. Thank you ravelry!
I love to experiment with necklines and sleeves knitted top-down in one piece. All patterns are related to that love and my design credo: Let the construction design the sweater!!!”

Favourite design: Mrs Garter

39. Carol Feller

In her own words:

“Carol Feller is an independent knitwear designer and teacher. Her design approach combines her training as both an artist and a structural engineer, emphasizing seamless construction and clever shaping techniques to create flattering, tailored garments with interesting shapes and textures.”

Favourite design: Adara

40. Suvi Simola

In her own words:

“Hello! I’m Suvi, a knitwear designer from Finland. I’ve been designing knitwear since 2008 and besides self-publishing, my designs have been published in Vogue Knitting, Twist Collective and in several books. Besides knitting, I love to take photos.”

Favourite design: Light Trails

41. Heather Zoppetti

In her own words:

“Heather Zoppetti is a knitwear designer, teacher, and author of Everyday Lace (Interweave, 2014). She lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband and yarn collection. Her patterns have been published in many Interweave publications and by yarn companies such as Manos del Uruguay, Baah!, Reywa Fibers, The Alpaca Yarn Company, and Universal Yarns.”

Favourite design: Dahlia Cardigan

Useful Techniques for Knitting Sweaters

42. 40 Ways to Cast On & Bind Off

(Craftsy) Choose and use the best cast-ons and bind-offs for every knitting need. Start and finish all your knitting with a look you love and the perfect amount of stretch.

43. Mattress Stitch – Finishing your knitting 

(Creativebug) One of the most common ways to join the edges of knit pieces is with a technique called Mattress Stitch. Learn how to do this invisible stitch from a true knitting pro: Debbie Stoller. With just a tapestry needle and yarn tails, you’ll be able to neatly finish up the edges of your knitting in no time.

44. Button Bands and Buttonholes

(Craftsy) Live life on the edge with designer and lifelong knitter Anne Hanson as she teaches you how to incorporate beautiful finishes on your hand-knit garments.

45. Blocking Handknits with Kate Atherley

(Craftsy) Blocking is the easiest, fastest way to take your knitting to the next level. Finish knitting projects so that they look, fit and feel as wonderful as you imagined.

46.The Essential Guide to Finishing Handknits with Anne Hanson

(Craftsy) Finish any hand-knitting project with finesse. Learn the best techniques for edge finishes, weaving in ends, blocking, seaming, button and neck bands, zippers, hemming and more.

47. Weaving in Ends – Ysolda Technique Thursdays

If only you could wave a hand over your finished object and make all the little ends tuck themselves away neatly.

Sweater Knitting Kits

48. Wool and the Gang

Wool and the Gang was born … pioneering fashion production that’s made in a sustainable way, bringing back knitting as a viable means of production for generations to come.

49. TOFT

If you haven’t knitted or crocheted before then a TOFT DIY knitting kit is a great place to start making your own knitwear. Each of our patterns is marked with a ‘SKILL LEVEL’ to give you an indication of how challenging a project may be. We have made some knitting and crochet videos to help you find your feet with the basics, or if in doubt join us at one of our knitting workshops. TOFT knitting kits include the yarn of your choice and come presented in a natural TOFT cotton tote bag.

50. We are Knitters

Choose your knitting kit with the type of yarn that you want. It contains yarn balls, needles and the pattern.

51. Purl Alpaca 

Purl Alpaca Designs specialise in desirable knitting kits and are the Field-to-Fashion Company that offers you an exclusive collection of designer garments to make from 100% pure British alpaca yarn.

Taking it to the next level

Customising and designing your own sweaters

52. Custom Yoke Sweater  

(Craftsy) Join Amy Detjen from Vogue Knitting and learn dozens of useful knitting tips as you create a custom-fit sweater with stranded colorwork.

53. Handknit Garment Design

(Craftsy) Shirley Paden, author of Knitwear Design Workshop, brings her concepts to Craftsy! Learn her comprehensive yet simple process for beautiful fabric and knitwear.

54. Sizing Knitwear Patterns

(Craftsy) Whether your goal is to sell online, get published, or knit a sweater to fit, with Faina’s expert grading tips, you’ll be on your way to pattern success!

55. Elizabeth Zimmerman

Elizabeth’s “EPS” (Elizabeth’s Percentage System) is still widely used by designers: it consists of a mathematical formula to determine how many stitches to cast on for a sweater, given that the sleeves and body are usually proportionate no matter what yarn or gauge is used. She wrote many excellent books including:

Knitting Without Tears: Basic Techniques and Easy-to-Follow Directions for Garments to Fit All Sizes

56. Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary: More than 150 stitch patterns to knit top down, bottom up, back and forth, and in the round

Stitch dictionaries are to knitters what Webster’s is to a writer. Within the pages of these inspiring reference books are the endless variations of knit and purl stitches that produce the fabrics of all knitting. But in the Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary, designer Wendy Bernard does something no other author has done before— she presents instructions for working 150 popular stitch patterns four different ways: top down, bottom up, back and forth, and in the round.

57. Harmony Guides: Lace & Eyelets (The Harmony Guides)

There are many, many stitch dictionaries available and I have many in my library. Although this one does have some errata it is the one I return to again and again for design inspiration.

 

I hope this is a useful resource for you.
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think and if you have any other sweater knitting resources you would like to recommend. 

I received an email in the week that made me smile, 12 Warm Wishes Hottie Covers laid out, getting their embellishments added by Mlleigh on Ravelry. This is one very organised gift knitter!

She has been working on a collaboration with her mother-in-law with her MIL in charge of the applique motifs and she did the knitting. The theme was “under the weather”.

Warm Wishes Hotties examples

What I enjoyed the most about this picture is all the individual ways in which the hotties have been embellished with different motifs and materials to make them really personal- the planet is particularly cute! When I designed the pattern I included three templates for motifs to cut out and sew on to the cover. Looking through Ravelry, I found some other personalised hotties that were really thoughtfully embellished. Knowing how best to finish your gifts can be a stumbling block for a few people so sharing some inspiration while we’re all crafting away for the holidays seemed like a good idea.

Hottie with a heart motif

KnittinCari’s stylish version is simple and effective. Plain, bold colours worked from the template included in the pattern. For maximum impact, remember to check your colour options are contrasting enough. Colour theory was my topic of choice for a recent podcast that you might find useful when selecting those little details that can make a big impact.

Hottie with crochet motif

For some crafty crossover, there’s plenty of crochet inspiration to embellish too. Redjeep‘s snowflake is so seasonal and festive! What’s particularly charming about this version is the contrasting thread and simple stitching used to add the crochet snowflake; it really adds to the overall charm.

Fluffy hottie

The other way to make this project a little more interesting and snuggly is to think about the yarn you use instead. Knit in aran weight, this is a fast project so something textured would be easy to add as a variation and keep things fun. This version by Maukelien is perfectly seasonal and simple- a little extra fluff is very fitting this time of year!

Hottie with sausage dog motif

Now these hottie covers by Hark are really stylishly embellished. The little sausage dog motif is included in the Warm Wishes Hottie pattern (along with the heart and star shapes) and was designed to go the whole way around the bottle and has been stitched to add little details.

All these unique projects got me thinking about how to recreate templates and here’s a few good tutorials and links to help you make those finishing touches extra special.

Tutorials:

Felted Heart tutorial via HonestlyWTF

Iron on Patch tutorial via WhimsyLove (don’t forget to test before you had heat to your knitting!)

Beautiful patches from sketches of Moths via Ninimakes

Inspiring Pinterest Boards:

Sewing, Stitching and Embroidery by Mollie Makes. Don’t forget to look at Christmas boards like this one too as there’s often felt ornament templates that would work really well for this kind of project.

Embroidery by Curious Handmade

Embroidery and Applique by Craft Candy

Home by Folksy– sometimes a little eye candy inspiration for what to aspire to can be very useful!

Quilts and Patches by Curious Handmade

Cute and Crafty by Curious Handmade

I’m curious to know what your favourite way of embellishing your projects? Leave a comment!

This is the second year the Ravelry Indie Designer Gift-A-Long has helped kick off the holiday knitting season and provided camaraderie, moral support and an awful lot of enabling!

Ravelry Gift-A-Long

It is the knit along of all knit alongs – with nearly 300 designers participating, including me for the first time this year!

The first thing you need to know is that all the participating designers are offering between 4 to 20 of their patterns on sale for 25% off with coupon code GIFTALONG2014 in the big GAL sale! From Thursday November 13th (8pm EST) through Friday November 21 (11:59pm EST).

You can find out who the participating designers are here on the Ravelry board. (I’m on the very last page!)

The second thing you need to know is that there is a knit along with loads of prizes, games and fun on the Ravelry GAL board here.

I have included 20 of my patterns in the sale and you can get an overview of them on the GAL Pinterest Board I’ve created for the event.

The whole event is incredibly well organised and there are Pinterest boards created to give you an overview of everyone’s designs by category (can you imagine the work that went into that?!!)

And the third thing you need to know is that any of my paid patterns can be included as part of the GAL KAL (not just the ones on sale) and that will include all the new Knitvent 2014 designs (did I hear you say “double dippig”? Oh yes!).

I hope to see you there!

#giftalong2014

Curious Handmade Giftalong

Last week’s podcast featured an interview with Vicki Hillman, a fashion stylist friend of mine who gave some great tips into this season’s major knitting trends. The big stories for Autumn/ Winter 2014 knitwear trends were knitted trousers, chunky knits, the sweater dress and blanket scarves. To celebrate Wool Week 2014, I’m sharing my top tips for British sourced yarn that’s perfect to make your own fashion forward knitwear.

The Sweater Dress:

Things can get hot and bulky with that much knit fabric and something breathable and a little airy is key here. The great dilemma then comes if the yarn has too much drape- a sagging, shapeless dress is not a good look! I think John Arbon’s Alpaca Supreme 4ply. This is the perfect mix of British sourced 40% Alpaca, 40% Organically Farmed Falklands Merino and 20% A1 Mulberry Silk. This yarn will give all the breathability from Alpaca with the strength of Silk and Merino. A fabric with great drape without the risk of losing shape in your garment! Go with Grey for the best Normcore colour palette.

supreme-steelgrey-2013

(c) JAT

 

Knit Trousers:

There’s a few basic requirements that would have to be in place for this particular trend- the yarn mustn’t be itchy and needs to keep it’s shape! I’m thinking something like the Corriedale Sportweight, sourced & spun in the UK exclusively for Old Maiden Aunt Yarns. Corriedale combines the best of the wool world: the kind of fine fibre we’d associate with Merino alongside the kind of elasticity we’ve come to associate with Blue Face Leicester. This is a much overlooked fibre but one I think would be perfect here, especially in jewel tones- another trend that featured highly on the catwalks during London Fashion Week.

(c) OMA

(c) OMA

Chunky Knits

I think this trend needs something really soft as most of the knits have simple ribs, oversize cables and so the stitch definition doesn’t have to be as high as you might need for more intricately worked knits. This is where softness, plump twists of yarn and great colour are key. My vote is for Eden Cottage Yarn’s Whitfell Chunky, a Worsted spun 100% Baby Alpaca. Get it in the Echinecea colour if you want to be right on trend- soft pink was everywhere this season!

(c) ECY

(c) ECY

Blanket Scarves:

This trend is about serious layering and cocooning with your winter style and it means you can work up any scarf or stole pattern you like in double the size to get the desired look. I love the look of the ‘Braes’ palette from Shilasdair, natural dyed yarns produced on the Isle of Skye. There’s a wonderful selection of fibres whether its Cashmere/Angora/Lambswool blend or a local Hebridean. Great choices for whatever trend influence you want but those braes look good for the growth of a military palette on the catwalks- a trend that can only grow. Will we see the rise of the combat trousers once more??

 

(c) Shilasdair

(c) Shilasdair