Like a lot of knitters, I’ve become enamored with certain tools. Whenever I travel, whether it’s across town or across an ocean, there are a few that I’m always sure to pack.

When it comes time to check my gauge, I can’t live without the Susan Bates Knit Check that my mother gave me more years ago than I can remember. The L-shaped window in the stiff metal strip makes it easy to count stitches and rows and over 2″.

I’m also partial to my transparent Handy Gauge Ruler that features images of stitches in gauges from 4 to 9 stitches/inch in 1/2-stitch per inch increments. It’s a quick and easy way to tell if I’m maintaining gauge throughout a project. Look for one at your local yarn shop.

To hold pieces together when I’m seaming, I haven’t found anything that work as well as Pointed Roller Picks. Who knew that those torturous brush hair roller pins would become one of my favorite tools! Last time I checked, they’re still available from The Vermont County Store.

I’m lost without Safety-Pin Markers. My favorites are the small plastic ones. I use them to mark individual stitches, hold dropped stitches, and mark every 20th row to make sure my pieces (body, sleeves, socks) are the same length.

I won’t work any complicated stitch pattern without Closed-Ring Stitch Markers. I like any type that doesn’t dangle, but my favorite are rounded rubber and coated metal. Assorted colors are a bonus!

I’ve also gotten a bit particular about how I keep stitches from falling off the needles while in transport (or when I’ve put a project down for any length of time). yarn

To secure stitches and prevent sharp points from inadvertently stabbing me, I like to slide a Knitter’s Pride DPN Tube over my works in progress.

Similarly, I poke my circular needles into a Needle Keeper to prevent stitches from falling off and to prevent the tips of the needles from poking through my knitting bag. They come in lots of bright colors!

I like to wind my yarn into center-pull balls that don’t roll around as I knit. I tuck the ball into a Yarn Soxx to keep the yarn clean and prevent the ball from collapsing on itself. Sure, I could cut a section from worn-out tights, but the cozy looks so much better!

Finally, I love all my sets of Interchangeable Needles. They offer dozens of needle configurations in one tidy case. My current favorite is the Hiya Hiya Sharp Deluxe Limited Edition set that includes tips from size 2 (2.75 mm) to 15 (10 mm) and all the accruements.

Needless to say, no self-respecting knitter would caught without an assortment of Project and Notion Bags. My favorites have zippers. I’ve collected many more than I need because I’m forever seduced by new and unusual fabrics.  The bags shown here are by, clockwise from upper right, Fat Squirrel, Suburban Stitcher, Magic Junie Sews, and Jan B Smiley.

I’d love to hear about *your* favorite notions and tools! Perhaps I’m missing something else I “must” have.

It’s hard to believe that my Knit For Fun Retreats is in its fourth year! I got the idea for the retreats (even the name) when I was looking for my “happy place” while recovering from a broken arm.

I’m glad to report that my arm is thoroughly healed and I’m I having a thoroughly good time hosting retreats! My plan was to hold the retreats in cities across the country that I wanted to visit. Turns out, I’ve taken them to Canada, too.

So far I’ve taken my retreats to Park City, UT; Estes Park, CO; Freeport, ME; Vancouver, WASavannah, GA; Sturgeon Bay, WI; and Edmonton, AB, Canada.

This year we’ll go to La Jolla, CA; Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada, and return to Freeport, ME.

The teachers have included notables Susan B Anderson, Lorilee Beltman, Olga Buraya-Kefelian, Nancy Bush, Bristol Ivy, Carson Demers, Meghan Fernandes, Norah Gaughan, Sivia Harding, Susannah IC, Galena Khmeleva, Joji Locatelli, Laura Nelkin, and Justyna Lorkowska (oh, and me, too). We’ve got Nancy Bush, Andrea Rangel, Veera Valimaki, Alexa Ludeman, Nancy Marchant, Julie Weisenberger, Kate Atherley, Isabel Kraemer, and Mary Jane Mucklestone lined up for 2019. Wow!

I’m writing now to ask where *you* would like to join in a Knit For Fun Retreat and what teacher(s) you’d like to learn from. North, south, east, or west, I’m game to travel the continent. There is plenty of this beautiful country that I have yet to explore.

Perhaps a future Knit For Fun Retreat could be somewhere you’re keen to visit!

I’m very pleased to announce that Veera Välimäki will be the third teacher (along with Nancy Bush and Andrea Rangel) at my Knit For Fun Retreat in La Jolla, California, September 19 – 22.

I first met Veera a couple of years ago at the  Hill Country Weavers Knitting in the Hills Retreat last year. I was so impressed with her friendly intelligence that I immediately asked her to put a Knit For Fun Retreat on her calendar.

Veera Välimäki lives and designs in a small village in Southern Finland. In her ten years of designing, she has focused on simple and clean lines with small fresh details. She’s heavily influenced by architecture and the relationship between art and architecture. Veera loves simple yet modern knits that are both easy to knit and easy to wear, especially ones that engage the mind as well as the eye.

Veera has two books published in Finland, the names of which I can’t pronounce. Fortunately for English speakers, she has also published six (6!) volumes of Interpretations, co-authored with Argentinian designer Joji Locatelli. Each volume features innovative designs by both authors. In a refreshing twist, the authors model their own garments.

Veera’s work has also been featured in magazines and books in Finland, Europe, and the U.S.

You can follow Veera on her blog, 100% Rain.

Veera will teach the following classes at my Knit For Fun Retreat in La Jolla, California, September 19 to 21. 

Colorplay
Enjoy a class that focuses on color in knitting—what to expect from certain colors, which colors to pair and which to begin with. You’ll learn basic color theory hands-on while knitting swatches. You’ll leave class full of inspiration and confidence!

Stripes — Beyond the Basics
Learn how to add stripes to your knitting, how to best work them, and how to make stripes extra special with easy techniques. You’ll also learn what to expect from certain colors and which colors pair best, how to enhance stripes with simple stitch patterns, knitting jogless stripes in the round, working stripes with short-rows, and keeping the edges neat.

Round-Yoke Sweaters
This class is dedicated to the art of round-yoke sweaters. Through knitting a mini sample yoke, you’ll learn the basic construction and math, then explore different ways to add colorwork, lace, or other stitch patterns. The lovely look and wide-ranging design possibilities make a round-yoke sweater ideal for experimentation.

Shawl Shapes
In this class, you’ll learn the most common shawl constructions and how to take your shawl knitting to a whole new level. In addition to basic shawl shapes—triangle, crescent, square, circular, etc.—you’ll learn how to add stitch patterns while increasing or decreasing to form the desired shape.

Click here for more information on the Knit For Fun Retreat that will feature Veera as a teacher.

With my niece expecting the first grandchild on my side of the family, I’ve been enthusiastically knitting baby things. I designed the Aubrey Cardigan in case her baby is female (though there’s no reason a male wouldn’t look adorable in it, too!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knitted in the softest pink color, this sweet little cardigan is worked in one piece from the top down with yarnover increases along the four raglan lines. Sleeve stitches are then placed on holders while the body is worked to the hem. Stitches are increased across the back to create a feminine ruffle and a comfortable fit. The lower body, cuff, and neckband edges are punctuated with eyelets and a simple rib pattern. Tiny shell buttons provide the finishing touch.

The pattern is available in two sizes: about 191/2 (221/2)” (49.5 [57] cm) buttoned chest circumference, which fit 3-6 (6-9) months. The sweater shown here is knitted in the larger size and shown on an 8-month-old miracle.

You can use any fingering weight yarn for this design. I used Manos del Uruguay Alegria (75% superwash merino wool, 25% polyamide; 445 yd [407 meters]/100 g) in color #A2149 Petal. I used size 3 (3.25 mm) needles for a gauge of 16 sts and 21 rows to 2″ (5 cm).

Use the code SWEET! to receive 20% off the Ravelry purchase price of Aubrey Cardigan between now and midnight on Sunday, April 7.

Andrea Rangel

I’m very pleased that Andrea Rangel agreed to be one of the teachers at my Knit For Fun Retreat in La Jolla, California, September 19 – 22. I’ve only “met” Andrea through an online group interview of all the Knit Star 3.0 teachers, hosted by Loops in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’m super excited to finally meet her in person this September!

Andrea is a trained educator, having taught elementary, middle, and high school for several years before becoming a full-time knitwear designer. A true international representative, Andrea holds three passports (U.S., Canada, and Peru). She lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, where she knits, designs, and blogs. She also rides her bike and spends as much time outdoors as possible, often taking close-up photos of nature. She translates the detail and creativity she sees in nature into many of her knitwear designs. Enamored with the functionality and beauty of knitting, Andrea knits and designs everything from head to toe.

Andrea is the author of two books: Rugged Knits and Alterknit Stitch Dictionary. Her designs have also been published in Brooklyn Tweed Wool PeopleTwist Collective, Interweave Knits, and Knit Scene, as well as independently. Her printed patterns are available for wholesale purchase through Stitch Sprouts Distributors in North America and Ysolda Distribution in Europe.

Learn more by visiting Andrea’s website.

 

Andrea will teach the following classes at my Knit For Fun Retreat in La Jolla, California, September 19 to 21. 

The Fine Art of Yarn Substitution
Have you ever had trouble choosing the appropriate yarn for a pattern? In this class, you’ll be guided through the intricacies of fiber, yarn weight, and plies. You’ll learn how to decode yarn labels to match the perfect yarn to your project. You’ll get lots of hands-on experience examining Andrea’s extensive collection of swatches.

The Basics of Stranded Colorwork
Two colors of yarn can be used to create an infinite variety of beautiful patterns in knitted fabrics. Take the plunge and learn to work stranded colorwork. Expert knitter, teacher, and designer Andrea Rangel will guide you through all the elements needed to make striking stranded patterns in your knitting. Learn to read color charts, manage two balls of yarn, catch floats, and create gorgeous smooth fabric while working a fun cowl pattern. You’ll also get hints on how to pick colors that shine together and which yarns will work best for your project.

Increasing & Decreasing Master Class
Dive into the intricacies of shaping knitted fabric. Practice a variety of increases and decreases and learn the pros and cons of each method. You’ll learn how to make your shaping lean left, right, or center, and why it matters. You’ll also learn how to use shaping to improve the fit of your sweaters. This class will deepen your understanding of knitting, and allow you to add beautiful detailed precision to your projects.

Brioche and Beyond
Brioche knitting creates a lofty, squishy, and reversible fabric. In this class, learn to work basic brioche and two-color brioche, along with increases, decreases, and finishing techniques. Following instructions for both Continental and British-style knitters, you’ll work a brioche sampler.

Click here for more information on the Knit For Fun Retreat that will feature Andrea Rangel as a teacher.

I thought it would be nice to highlight the three teachers I have lined up for my Knit For Fun Retreat in La Jolla, California, this fall. Nancy Bush, Andrea Rangel, and Veera Valamaki will all be spreading their wisdom and encouragement between September 19 and 23.

Nancy Bush

Like many knitters, Nancy Bush taught me to knit socks. More than that, she helped me understand sock construction and set the foundation for my ability to design sock patterns. I first met Nancy in 1993 when her first book Folk Socks was in the process of being published by Interweave Press, where I had recently joined the book department. That book launched the sock knitting craze that shows no sign of abating.

Nancy studied Art History in college and weaving from experts in Sweden. Both experiences added to her appreciation of traditional textiles, particularly knitting.

 

Nancy opened The Wooly West retail store in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1980 after returning from time abroad in weaving school in Sweden and working as a nanny in France. She chose knitting as a primary focus because she loved the portability of it (as opposed to weaving) and realized that knitting was accessible to everyone–the tools are few and the basic skills are easy to teach and to learn. Through the years, her shop has encouraged more folks to knit than she ever thought possible.

Nancy sold the retail store in June of 2000, but continued The Wooly West as an online endeavor. One of the first shops in the USA to carry true Shetland yarn to sock yarn imported from Wales, The Wooly West has offered “real” wool and great colors for projects to make any knitter proud. She now offers a collection of yarns to which she is devoted. You’ll also find patterns for shawls and scarves, as well as sock and other small projects, her books, a collection of books from Estonia, and some special accessories. Nancy’s goal for the Wooly West has always been to offer fine natural fiber yarns, classic and traditional patterns, useful knitting tools, and expert instruction to all of her customers.

Nancy unleashed her passion for Estonia, the country and people as well as the knitting, while writing Folk Socks, and has devoted her work to Estonian knitting ever since. She has visited Estonia many times as a researcher, travel guide, and tourist.

Since 1993, Nancy has written four other books: Knitted Lace of Estonia, Folk Knitting in Estonia, Knitting Vintage Socks, and Knitting on the Road (not shown because I’ve lost my copy), and, most recently, updated Folk Socks. Each of these books is about knitting, but also includes some history of the craft.

Nancy has also written numerous articles and patterns for many publications, including PieceWork and Knitting Traditions, and recorded an online workshop called Estonian Lace Explained for Blueprint (formerly Craftsy)

At the Fall 2019 Knit For Fun Retreat in La Jolla, California, Nancy will teach the following classes:

Estonian Cast-ons—Useful and Colorful Beginnings
The Estonians have many interesting ways to cast on for their knitting, each giving a unique effect. Students will learn several different ways to cast on, including variations of a decorative braided cast on and an outstanding, stretchy and bold cast on for socks, cuffs or even the edge of a sweater. Students will learn when to use each technique and what makes each one special.

Nordic Color—Roositud, an Estonian Inlay Technique
Estonians use a special inlay technique for adding decorative color motifs to gloves and socks. Unlike embroidery, the technique is worked right into the knitting, row by row. Learn how to read Roositud charts and work this unique and colorful embellishment by knitting a sample in class.

Knitting Estonian Lace—A 200-year history
Estonia has a lace tradition spanning nearly 200 years. In this class, you’ll explore the stitch patterns and some of the history of lace knitting from Haapsalu. Through knitting a sampler, you’ll learn several ways that Estonian knitters create texture in their exquisite lace shawls.

Muhu Knitting Traditions—Color and Texture from a Small Estonian Island
The knitting from Muhu Island, off the west coast of Estonia, has gone through many changes since knitting was first practiced there several centuries ago. Learn the evolution of knitting on Muhu and learn about the colorful, intricate braided and patterned cuffs of Muhu mittens and gloves, popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries, all while making a mitten, or mitt using unique techniques.

Click here for more information on the Knit For Fun Retreat that will feature Nancy Bush as a teacher.

I’ve posted the Dalton Cardigan on Ravelry. This sweet little cardigan is worked from the top down in a simple garter rib pattern. Tailored details such as shaped shoulders and set-in sleeves give it sophisticated appeal, even on the smallest infant. The instructions follow the basic set-in sleeve instructions from The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters, adapted for smaller sizes than offered in the book.

The upper back and upper fronts are worked separately in rows from the neck/shoulders to the underarms, then joined for working the lower body in one piece to the lower edge. Stitches for each sleeve are picked up around the armhole, the sleeve cap is worked back and forth in short-rows, then the lower sleeve is worked in the round down to the cuff.

Sizes include 3–6 (6–9, 9–12, 12–18) months with chest circumferences of 18 1/2 (19 1/2, 21 3/4, 23 3/4)” (47 [49.5, 55, 60.5] cm) when buttoned. The smallest size is shown here.

The fingering weight yarn I used is River City Yarns Hat Trick Semi-Solid (80% superwash merino, 20% nylon; 382 yd [352 meters]/100 g): Faceoff (gray), 1 (2, 2, 2) skein(s). The sweater is knitted at a gauge of 14 stitches/2″ (5 cm) on size U.S. 3 (3.25 mm) needles.

I couldn’t resist adding a “handmade” label that I got at River City Yarns when I purchased the yarn.

Use the code BABY BLUE to get 20% off the purchase price when you order this pattern on Ravelry before midnight on Sunday, March 17.

I’m getting ready to attend the Bazaar Girls’ third annual Getaway Retreat in historic Port Townsend, Washington. From Thursday, March 14 to Sunday, March 17, Join me along with Lorilee Beltman and Carson Demers for a weekend of learning in the spectacular Puget Sound.

The retreat is hosed by Bazaar Girls co-owners Kerri Hartman and Numahka Swan, who have created the most inviting sense of community in their small town. They believe that through craft, community, and commerce, they make the world a better place, and I can’t disagree. They “attract creative souls, learn from them, and provide them with the tools they require to keep moving forward.” It all sounds great to me!

Click here to get all the details and to register for this event.

I’d love to see you there!

 

 

 

 

My niece is expecting what will be the first grandchild on my side of the family. Needless to say, I’m over-the-top excited! So excited that I’ve been busy designing a blanket and two cardigans for the soon-to-be bundle of joy.

The blanket is knitted with Knit One Crochet Too DungarEASE, a machine washable cotton-acrylic blend.

We don’t know the gender of the baby (all will be relived in late April) so I designed one sweater in pink (with ruffles) out of Manos del Uruguay Alegria.

Then I designed a and one in blue (without ruffles) In River City Yarns Hat Trick Semi Solid.

If the baby is a girl, I’ll send both sweaters; if it’s a boy I’ll probably stick to tradition and only send the blue one.

I’m in the process of getting the patterns tech edited and photographed and hope to post them on Ravelry in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned for price discounts when I do!

 

 

Having been in the yarn industry for more than 25 years, people expect me to have an enormous yarn stash. In reality, I believe that my stash is quite small. The “new” yarn fits in three plastic bins in my basement.

Even so, it’s enough to keep me busy for several years (I’ve collected mostly sport and fingering weight yarn). I’m one of those people who likes to focus on a single project and I prefer to purchase yarn with a project in mind. Unlike a lot of knitters, having a lot of unused yarn makes me feel guilty.

However, that doesn’t mean I’m immune to being envious of other knitters’ stashes. I’ve met plenty of knitters who have collected enough yarn to last several lifetimes, and still they can’t resist a new brand, color, or fiber content. They have yarn in closets, cupboards, car trunks, garages, under beds, in dressers, behind furniture, and everywhere else a skein (or more) can be stuffed. I have enough trouble remembering what’s in my three bins. How do they ever keep track of everything squirreled away in every nook and cranny?

This leads me to the most impressive yarn stash I’ve seen. It belongs to Alicia, who lives in California. Our paths crossed when we were both visiting family in southern Oregon last fall. I commented on the handknitted scarf Alicia was wearing and a friendship was immediately born. When Alicia returned home, she sent me a photo of her “cherished wall of wool” in the room she visits for serenity.

Alicia worked in the yarn industry and must have stumbled on a LOT of bargains. I don’t know if I’d feel at peace in that beautiful room or if it would make me feel that my fingers had to work faster. I’d sure like the chance to find out…