Andrea’s Spice Route Gloves

Spice Route Gloves knit by Andrea McKinnon

Andrea’s “Spice Route Gloves” project, as shown on Ravelry.
Photo copyright Andrea McKinnon 2015.

I thought you’d like to see the lovely result, above, that my customer, Andrea, shared on Ravelry.  She knit my “Spice Route Gloves” design to a “T”, but in her own choice of colors.  As a designer, I think it’s a very special thing, to see one of my own designs knit in the same yarn, but in an entirely different colorway.  It’s a little like having my own, brand new baby handed to me, without having to go through pregnancy and labor.  Of course, I LOVE it! Thanks so much for sharing, Andrea!

excerpt from Ravelry designer's activity page

Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone’s happy result on Ravelry!

If you’d like to see the details on Andrea’s color choices, here’s a link to her project on Ravelry.  And here are my original Spice Route Gloves, from last year:

Spice Route Gloves

Spice Route Gloves, a knitting design by Mary Ann Stephens copyright 2015

ladies fair isle gloves knitting pattern

“Spice Route Gloves”, by Mary Ann Stephens copyright 2015

Haven’t lost one yet! :)



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Knitted Hem Fine Points

Fair Isle knit "Dianthus" top's knitted hem

Sewing the hem on my “Dianthus” knit top.

Happy 2015!  I hope you all had a wonderful 2014 and are ready for an even-better 2015.  Now, it’s time to get to work on those resolutions!

One promise that I made myself for 2015 was that I’d stop letting some worthy designs languish on the shelf, unpublished.  So far, I probably publish only about half of the knitting projects that I complete (and, being constantly surrounded by more yarn than I could ask for, I don’t complete ‘em unless I feel they’re worth publishing.)  It’s not that I don’t like finishing them – actually, that’s one of my favorite parts!  It’s that so many distractions arise in that lull between the finished knit and the finished pattern.

And so, my friends, I’m going to use your kind attention to bolster my resolve.

I knit my “Dianthus” top to wear to a dear nephew’s wedding that took place…I’m ashamed to say it… last August.  That’s the inside, bottom hem of it that you see in the photo.  I happen to love that top, yet here we are, five months later, and I haven’t shared it with you yet.  But now that I’ve taken this first, tiny step in debuting it, I know that I’ll get busy finalizing the pattern shortly.

In the meantime, Serendipity gave me a great photo for answering some of the questions knitters often ask me about the knitted hems on their Fair Isle / Norwegian knits.  Usually, any close-up photo of a Norwegian, or especially a Fair Isle, knit is apt to be blurred by the fuzz of wool yarn.  But, there’s no way in the world I was going to wear wool to a steamy August wedding in Boston.  And there was no way I was going to knit a boring, monotone top.  (Those of you who know me know that it had to be stranded!)  So, as it happens, we’re looking at a Fair Isle / Norwegian knit done in clear, sharp, 100% mercerized Egyptian cotton Dale Garn “Vipe” yarn.  And, it seems my camera was even behaving well that day!  So, here you have it, my tips for hemming your stranded knits, complete with an ulterior motive that…hopefully…you’ll see the results of here before long:

hem on a fair isle knit top

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Polar Chullo Shetland Spindrift Back in Stock

Shetland Spindrift Naturals

Polar Chullo, knit in five shades of Shetland Spindrift “naturals”, in stock today at

It’s baaaa-aaaack! Yippee, we just received yet another big shipment of wonderful Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift.  In addition to several colors for some new designs that are “in the works” (stay tuned) I ordered a large amount of the five popular-but-elusive “natural” colors used for my Polar Chullo design.  So, if you’re one of the several who ordered your Polar Chullo yarn pack within the last week, when we ran out, rest assured, your Spindrift will be on its way to you today.  And, if you’ve been sitting on the fence, wondering when to pounce, it’s time to strike and order yours up today, while all five “naturals” are here, playing nicely together on my shelves.

Oh, one last point! The yarn pack page on my site directs you to Twist Collective, where my Polar Chullo pattern was originally published. I know some of you would rather not have to deal with printing your own pattern.  If it’s better for you, just send me an email (mas “AT” kidsknits “DOT” com) with your request and I’ll send you a PayPal invoice for the yarn pack + printed pattern.  Whatever works!

Happy Knitting!

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Gentle Hat

At 85 years old, most every day for almost three years now, my mother has driven nearly an hour each way over rough, winding, often-icy, upstate roads.  Her mission?  To spend as much precious time as possible trying to eek smiles out of my dear, dying father.  If anyone ever deserved a pretty, soft, comforting Christmas gift to tell her that she’s loved, well, she’s the one.

She just received her “Gentle Hat“.  She called to say “I love it!”  I’m one happy knitter. :)

Merry Christmas to all!

Fair Isle hat design, "Gentle Hat"

Gentle Hat, modeled by the designer.  It uses seven different shades of Dale Alpakka, available through the designer’s online yarn shop,  If you get a 2nd ball of off-white (total of 8 balls) you’ll be able to knit three identical Gentle Hats.


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Christmas Balls – A Brilliant Blocking Idea

Free Christmas Knitting Patterns

My FREE Christmas Ball knitting patterns, all right here, on the Two Strands Blog.

I’m so lucky – I have the coolest, most talented customers!  Here’s a nifty blocking idea that one of my brilliant customers shared recently on Ravelry:

block your free christmas balls with balloons

She’s been using my free Christmas Balls patterns. Before she stuffs and closes up the top of one, she runs scrap yarn through the live stitches (if you’re doing the “Magic Loop” technique with a long enough circular needle, you can probably skip that step): then, she inserts a balloon into the opening, blows it up, ties it off, washes the ball, lets it dry, removes the balloon (*pop*), stuffs the ball and finishes off the top.

Here’s her photo of her nice and even balls drying happily:

Copyright Marji 2014

Copyright Marji 2014   Here’s her project on Ravelry!

Thanks, Marji, for that neat idea!


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Dale Garn Book 306 – Easy, Modern Sweaters for Adults

Dale’s new Book 306 is here.  It offers twenty designs for fashionable sweaters for adults – mostly ladies, but there are a few handsome choices for men, too.  The vast majority of Book 306 patterns are suitable for beginner to intermediate knitters.

It’s interesting to see how many very stylish garments can result when simple designs with clean lines are paired with great yarns for just the right drape. Thoughtful little finishing touches elevate “simple” to “simply elegant”.  Two examples:

ladies' cardigan from book 306

Draped cardigan design #30614 from Dale Garn Book 306

Perhaps the simplest sweater style ever designed – a rectangle with two strategically-placed slits for armholes, plus two tubes for sleeves; stockinette stitch throughout.  Stylish as could be, but it couldn’t be easier!  The yarn choice makes all the difference here – you’ll want to use Dale Garn’s lovely “Erle”, a kid mohair / silk / wool blend, to get that oh-so-soft drape.  Sizes XS (S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL) call for 3 (4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6) balls of diaphanous Erle.

beginner knitting pattern for a coat

Faux persian lamb coat, design #30605 from Dale Garn Book 306

A few little touches add up to an important difference: a bit of shoulder and neckline shaping, some simple I-cord button loops, plus wrist warmers attached at the end – nothing difficult at all.  Overall, I’d say it’s about as easy peasy as any stylish coat knitting could ever be.  And if pink isn’t the mainstay of your wardrobe, like me, you might prefer one of the several other shades of Monjita:

Dale Garn Monjita Yarn available at

Monjita yarn, a blend of alpaca, wool and nylon, looks like persian lamb, when knit.

A highly textured yarn like Monjita can be especially friendly to novice knitters – the occasional unevenness in a novice knitter’s stitches goes unnoticed amid the random curls and swirls of Monjita.

They had a brilliant idea, pairing the faux wrist warmer cuffs knit in smooth Cotinga (or Freestyle) with the Monjita coat.  When you use the smooth yarn for seaming the textured Monjita, you get a much flatter, even result than you’d ever get from sewing with the lovable-but-loopy Monjita.  So, be sure to select colors across the two yarn types that provide a good match!  (Or call or write, if you’re unsure.) Sizes XS (S, M, L, XL) call for 8 (9, 9, 10) balls of Monjita, plus one matching ball of either Cotinga or Freestyle.

Click the link, below, to see preview photos of all of the designs from Dale Garn’s Book 306:


Click here to see more of the Dale Garn books available through

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Retro Book 289

Dale Garn’s new Retro Book 289 (English language edition) is now available on

I’ve always loved their original “Retro” book, #207, which they came out with a few years ago.  So, I was delighted to see that they’ve come up with a new collection of reworked Norwegian classics in modern silhouettes.  The first Retro Book, #207, had designs for both adults and kids; the new Retro Book #289 focuses only on adult sweaters.  (There’s a separate Kids’ Retro book, which I’ll post about shortly.) Within the new Retro book, they offer several types of updated Norwegian sweaters:

Of course, they offer the full-blown traditional Norwegian knitting experience with steeked, dropped shoulders:


Steeked, dropped shoulders in traditional Norwegian-style pullovers. Men’s pullover knit in worsted weight Freestyle or Cotinga; women’s pullover knit in fingering weight Daletta.

And, for that nearly-no-finishing experience, they have included several raglan and round yoke styles:

Retro Book 289 from Dale Garn Norwegian knitting

Raglans and Round Yoked sweaters for ladies and men from Dale Garn Retro Book 289.  Ladies’ pullover knit in fingering weight Daletta; Men’s pullover knit in sport weight Heilo or Falk.

Some styles offer instructions for either cardigans or pullovers:

Norwegian knitting from Dale Book 289

from Dale Garn Retro Book 289, both knit in Dale Alpakka 100% alpaca yarn

Click here to see all of the preview photos from Retro Book 289 PDF.

Click here to order the new your hard copy, English edition of  Retro Book 289.

Click here to check out the original Retro Book, #207. (Also an English translation.)

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