I’m thrilled to be a participating designer in The Woolly Thistle’s 5th Annual Colorwork Mitten KAL on Ravelry. I’m giving a 25% discount on all of my colorwork mitten knitting pattern PDFs all month long (Feb 2020) to anyone participating in The Woolly Thistle’s KAL and using their KAL discount code for Ravelry purchases. You can join their KAL through their Ravelry group, “The Woolly Thistle”, where you’ll see all of the details on the KAL, including the KAL discount code. My Ravelry ID is “TwoStrands” and you’ll find all of my PDFs available through Ravelry on my Ravelry designer’s page. (Be sure to use the KAL’s discount code to get 25% off through February 2020!) I’ll also be giving away any one PDF from my designs (any type, your choice) to three lucky KAL winners. There will be plenty of others prizes, plenty of gorgeous colorwork and – best of all – plenty of new stranded knitting friends to be made. Have fun!!
Here are a couple of particularly popular, recent highlights from my Instagram page:
My Timbers Hat design, first released in 2006, has always been a favorite. The worsted weight Dale yarn I used for it originally was discontinued years ago, so I’ve upped my game, updated the pattern to my now-usual format and reworked it in some wonderful Jamieson’s Shetland Heather Aran for a slightly denser, warmer, more durable hat. The plaited trim is a lot easier than it looks and only takes a few rows, making it super-quick, along with the rest of the hat that’s knit at 19 stitches over 4″ / 10cm. I love that, even with this relatively heavy weight gauge, I can still fit in some beloved, traditional Fair Isle / Norwegian motifs. Bonus: It’s unisex, so it makes for some perfect gift knitting. Hope you enjoy it!
The updated pdf is available for purchase at the same, old $5 price, on either my online shop or on Ravelry. I also have the Jamieson’s Shetland Heather Aran yarn packs on my site, available here. The old pattern worked fine, no mistakes, didn’t need corrections, only a fresh, and currently available, look. If you already purchased your Timbers Hat on Ravelry any time since 2006, I’ve already sent out Ravelry notices offering you the chance to download the updated version. If you bought it directly from me and would like the updated version, just message me, letting me know the email you would have used for your order, along with the approximate date of purchase, and it’s all yours.
Happy Quick Knitting!
This hat was inspired by the upcoming “Rose City Yarn Crawl” in Portland, OR. The last couple of years, Jamieson’s US distributor, Simply Shetland, a sponsor of the yarn crawl, asked me to donate some of my patterns to go along with their magnificent yarn to become kits for Rose City Yarn Crawl door prizes. It was a sweet, little way to show my support of Jamieson’s, Simply Shetland and Portland knitters, so I was happy to share. When I was asked for a donation for this year’s yarn crawl, thoughts of “Rose City” inspired something a bit beyond my existing archives; hence, the birth of my “Rose Arbor Hat”, which Simply Shetland will be generously putting up as kits and sharing as door prizes in Portland for this year’s event.
The Rose Arbor Hat is a close-fitting ladies’ hat knit in 6 colors of DK yarn. The brim’s twisted stitch trellis is capped by bands of Fair Isle roses and leaves that run to the top, forming a crowning blossom. Instructions for knitting an alternate, simple ribbed brim are included (although I think you’ll find the chart and notes for the “trellis” to be friendly and fun.)
For those of you who can’t wait, or can’t make it to Portland (or figure your luck with door prizes is about the same as mine), here’s a link to the pattern PDF page on my site, here’s my yarn pack page and here’s the pattern PDF on Ravelry. You can also get previews and updates about my designs by following me on Instagram.
I hope you have great fun knitting the Rose Arbor Hat. Wear it in health and happiness while you “stop to smell the roses”!
This morning, a message was left for me in the Ravelry comments for my newly-free Hedgerow design, making it clear that the author of the message did not like my solution of directing folks to my regular, for-sale pattern page for them to get the free gift of my Hedgerow design because getting my PDF for a grand total of zero from my for-sale patterns page still necessitates leaving addresses. I’m always a bit baffled when people feel compelled to complain about something that has been offered to them for free. If I don’t like something about a free offer, I simply pass it by and get on with life. But this commenter has made not only a negative supposition, but also a fair point. If any of you might feel the same, I want you to know the solution (at least I hope it’s a solution) I’ve come up with to address what I dearly hope will be no more than a few cases of this scenario. Here’s the comment and my reply:
My new “Canyon Wall Vest”, in four adult sizes, using nine colors of Spindrift, seventeen 25g balls in all. Circularly knit in traditional Fair Isle style without any type of steek reinforcement. Pattern includes not only the usual text and motif charts, but additional layout charts, too, making color + motif tracking throughout the shaping process a piece of cake. Sizes are: 36 (39 3/4, 42, 46 1/4)” / 91 (101, 107, 117) cm.
I’m not too big on marketing. I’d much rather be designing or knitting. So, in case you just follow me here, through TwoStrands.com, and missed my lone post over the summer about moving my home, business and website…
Here’s a link to my new website.
Here’s a link to my new blog on my new website. (Be sure to sign up for updates!)
Here’s a link to the pattern page on my new website, where you’ll find my new elephant blanket, shown above.
And don’t miss my yarn clearance page, where you can still find fantastic deals on what’s left of my discontinued Dale yarn inventory.
It’s been a while! We moved over the summer – all the way from New York to Arizona! We knew it would take a while, not only to get to AZ, but to get settled in, too. Knowing my old Kidsknits.com retail site was in desperate need of a makeover, we shut it down before we left.
I’ve started a new retail knitting site, MaryAnnStephens.com (catchy name, no?) As of now, it sells downloadable pdfs for several of my designs (which you can still also get here on Ravelry) and yarn packs for my Jamieson’s Shetland wool projects. Eventually, I hope to have all of my pdfs there (including a few free ones and, of course, new ones as they come along) and to have more projects in other yarns. It’s a work in progress, but if you get a chance to take a peek, let me know what you think.
I hope you’ve all had a wonderful summer (or winter) and that there’s joy and contentment growing on your needles!
Mary Ann, aka “TwoStrands”
Unfortunately, Hubro was recently discontinued. The suggested gauge on Hubro’s ball band was 10 stitches to 4” / 10cm. You can substitute for Hubro with any other solid-colored, super bulky yarn that has a similar ball band gauge – anywhere from 9 to 10 stitches over 4” / 10cm would make sense. As we did with the sample, you’ll want to knit your pillow at a tighter-than-ball-band gauge (see below) to end up with a sturdy fabric. This link takes you to a Ravelry.com search that shows currently available, solid-colored, super bulky yarns.
UPDATE, September 2018: This free pattern has been moved to my new knitting website, MaryAnnStephens.com. Here’s the link to my new free knitting patterns page. Below, you’ll see more of my designs using super-bulky yarns:
Supernova Hat in Hubro
“Calling Scotland” is my new Fair Isle style ladies’ hat and fingerless mittens set knitting design, knit in Jamieson’s of Shetland “Shetland Spindrift” jumper / fingering weight 100% Shetland wool yarn. The PDF for the set is available from me, here and the Spindrift yarn pack for it is available through my shop here. It comes with six balls of Spindrift and an emailed PDF link.
The mitts cover everything but the tips of your fingers, providing both warmth and access. Both the hat and the fingerless mittens can be knit from the one yarn pack.
The inspiration for my Catalina Highway Pillow:
Down in America’s Southwest, up in the northeast corner of Tucson, AZ, you’ll find the Catalina Highway. At its base in the Sonoran Desert, the landscape is punctuated by the lively reds and oranges of ocotillo and cholla cactus flowers alongside the dusty greens of the stately saguaros, with their big, creamy white blossoms. As you zigzag your way up the highway, you’ll leave the desert behind as you climb Mt.Lemmon, passing rocky outcroppings, towering evergreens and one breathtaking view after another. In one of the country’s loveliest 30-minutes rides, you’ll travel from the warm, blooming, high desert to America’s southernmost ski mountain. Hope you brought a sweater! 😉
Here’s a compendium of info and links for all of the Christmas balls I’ve designed over the years:
These are my five, free Christmas Ball knitting patterns, below…
…and here is my Christmas Eve Collection, which is available for purchase through Ravelry:
All of these ornaments were knit in DK / sport weight wool yarn scraps.
I definitely want to be helpful and answer your questions about any of my patterns. But, as you know, it’s a very busy time of the year, especially for those of us who celebrate Christmas. Double that, for those of us in the knitting business. So, before emailing or calling with questions about these patterns, please read through the following information. I think it addresses the vast majority of questions that might pop up.
Today, I received this customer email, below, which included the two most frequent questions I get about the Christmas Balls’ construction:
Later this morning, after I sent her my reply, I’m happy to report that this is what she wrote back to me:
Thank you so much for your reply and for your clear explanation! Yes, it all makes sense now. The needles will fly today. 🙂
So I thought you might like to read that reply of mine:
A knitter wrote to me this morning, wondering if she had misinterpreted something or done something wrong because she could not get the 32 x 38 stitches per 4″ gauge for a Dale Baby Ull pattern (Peace Sweater). Her stitches, and resulting swatch, were too small. She was surprised because she had even tried needles one size larger, but that didn’t change things appreciably. As she had said, “Usually my gauge is only off 1-2 stitches regardless of yarn/needles I use.”
I was happy to respond to her because it gave me the chance to write up something to share with all of you regarding one of the most important steps in all of Knitting. Here’s my response:
It’s been an awfully long time since we’ve had a baby in the family. Right now, our “baby” is my youngest son, who’s 16 already! (Although he’d probably tell you the “baby” in our family is Gracie, below:)
One of my wonderful nephews, and his very sweet wife, recently announced that they’re expecting a girl in July. We’re so excited for them! The glowing Mom-to-be told me that she’d like “something different”. I’ve heard that a lot lately – so many soon-to-be parents want “something different”. But how different is their “different”?
Some of you might be surprised to hear that one of the most common threads among today’s “something different” seekers has been a preference for something grey for their babies. That’s definitely different than the traditional pink or blue! But, I think it can also turn out to be be pretty cute, and often unisex, too. So, I knit this little grey cardi with the latest wave of “different” in mind:
At least I’ll be covered if it turns out that the sonogram technician missed something! 😉
Asking my nephew’s wife a bit more about her color preferences, it turns out she wants something “Girly…but not too girly. More purple than pink.” So maybe not quite as “different”as the latest trend seekers’ “different”. Maybe something more like this:
Baby’s First Fair Isle Cardigan in the mint colorway, with a bell-shaped, gathered body.
Of course, there are countless combinations that would be suitable for a design like this. Which colors would you use?
Don’t miss Jane Brody’s article on the health benefits of knitting in yesterday’s New York Times:
Yippee, another dearly-awaited Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift shipment just waltzed through my door last night! A couple of colors for some of my Fair Isle knitting kits have been missing in action the last few weeks. If you’ve been wondering when your kits will ship, now you’re in luck – today’s the day! If you’ve been hemming and hawing, wondering when to order, here’s your chance, while the elusive Spindrift colors for my kits are all in stock. Here are links to the details on the individual kits:
My new, warm, soft, stranded, braided, purpled, ivy-covered headband:
I used five different shades of sport weight alpaca yarn. You could use merino, superwash wool, cashmere – whatever type of DK / sport weight yarn knits to the right gauge, has five colors that play nicely together and feels wonderful around your head. You’ll want about 40g out of a 50g ball of the main, background color – the dark purple in this case – since it’s also used for the solid-colored lining. Aside from that one most-of-a-ball requirement, this is a great project for using up scraps. The $5 PDF is available through my shop here. Have fun!
The Christmas Eve Collection – Three new Christmas ball ornament designs, making new Christmas memories for little ones; bringing back sweet, sugarplum memories of our own:
I hope they help to make your Christmas extra special, for you and your family, for many years to come.
That’s my new Sagebrush Chullo, knit in seven shades of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift fingering / jumper weight wool. As I did with my old Polar Chullo design, I knit Sagebrush at an extra warm and highly detailed gauge of 9 stitches/inch. I added some textured/purl stitches here and there, for a little fun – but, they’re entirely optional…as are the pompoms…kind of…Oh, come on! You NEED those pompoms! 😉
OMG! Sometimes I get the sweetest reports back from my customers! I think today’s might top ’em all:
Isn’t it wonderful, what we can do with sticks and string?!
The pattern was originally written for sport weight Terne (newborn size) or DK weight Lerke (3-6 month size) kits, but this customer used my PDF with some stash worsted weight yarn to create her “Bigger Fisherman” toddler’s hat. The Dale worsted weight yarns which you might use for a toddler-sized hat would be Freestyle (superwash wool) or Cotinga (merino+alpaca=tremendously soft, gorgeous stuff…but hand wash!)
Have fun…and sweet dreams!
So, now I take requests. Well, at least I took this one. A particularly nice person who just so happens to be an absolutely wonderful knitter (funny how those two pop up together so often) asked me to design a Nordic wine cozy. Here you go, Debbie! Cheers!
May thoughts of deep, sparkling powder keep everyone cool this summer!
It’s not easy for an old knitter to capture the interest of a frenetic teenage boy. But, when a few bags of Dale Garn Freestyle came through my door, sporting unmistakably neon colors, my youngest son, Mikey, practically pounced on them. He promptly let it be known, “You have no choice; you WILL be making me a neon hat!” I promptly replied, “Love to! And YOU have no choice; it WILL be stranded!”
As it turns out, he loves it. (And, don’t let him know this, because he thinks his hat is oh-so-cool, and this would really ruin everything for my sweet little hipster, but I think it’s pretty great knowing that I won’t lose him in the crowd. 😉 )
The NY Nordic Hat is a fitted beanie knit in three contrasting shades of Dale Garn Freestyle worsted weight washable wool, one ball for each shade. Two sizes are given – teen/average adult and XL adult. Both sizes use the same instructions – just tweak your gauge, as indicated, to target your size.
I think it’s a nice pattern for experts and novices alike, for each section has something interesting going on, without complications – all short floats, no weaving in necessary;
never more than two colors at once; all decreases are kept within the solid-colored section. A fun knit for all!
My ladies’ Spice Route Gloves Fair Isle knitting design, to be knit in Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift 100% Shetland wool yarn, is available as both a PDF and yarn packs in two different colorways through my online shop, MaryAnnStephens.com. PDF format is also available through Ravelry.
And yes, as always, feel free to request custom colors.
The inspiration for this hat is eighteen years old. Back in March ’97, my now-hulking son Alex was a newborn. Waaaaay too much of that spring was spent in a frustrating search for a sunhat for my bald-as-a-cueball little fellow. No luck at all! Tons of frilly, flowery, flouncy affairs in every shade of pink for all the little Alexandras of the world, but there was not a single sunhat to be found that was worthy of my Alexander the Great Baby’s sweet, shiny pate. Why the heck didn’t I come up with this back then??
Who knows?! But here it is now, to shade the sweet little one in your life today, be they Alexander, Alexandra, Zachary, Zoe or anyone in between.
Dale Terne 100% cotton, used for the navy+white 0-3 month size, available through my on-line yarn shop, Kidsknits.com. (Get 2 different-colored, 50g balls. If you prefer the sheen of 100% mercerized cotton, use Dale Vipe – same gauge!)
After the brutal winter we’ve endured, I got up out of bed this past Saturday morning – our last weekend in March – hoping that maybe, finally, we’d have a decent, spring-like weekend. I had this silly notion that, “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice, to spy a sweet little crocus peeking out at me from somewhere in the yard?” Rather, overnight, my greening yard became buried under yet another blanket of ice and snow.
Fortunately, when Mother Nature disappoints, all we have to do is grab our knitting needles!
It’s true -necessity really IS the mother of invention. And, boy, did I ever need to see some flowers! Hence, my new “I Spy a Crocus” hat. It was a quick, easy, stranded knit in Dale Garn’s new Cotinga, a heavenly blend of 70% merino / 30% alpaca. Wonderful, wonderful stuff! You’ll need three different-colored 50g balls of Cotinga, or your favorite, soft, compressible worsted weight yarn.
UPDATE: While Dale yarns are no longer available in North American, you still have hundreds of options for knitting your own version of “I Spy a Crocus” out of your favorite worsted weight yarns.
Yesterday, I received a delightful email from another one of my immensely talented customers, Val. It’s always a big thrill for me, to see the face behind the emails and phone calls. Turns out, not only is Val bright, funny and talented, but she’s lovely, too! Here she is in her glorious rendition of my Tiger Lily Jacket design:
Lucky Val is on the slender side, so she made some sizing tweaks to her version. Here’s what Val said in her email about Tiger Lily:
“What an amazing pattern! Fabulous detailed instructions! Knitted in Small, lengthened by 1/2 pattern, narrowed sleeves.”
I knit the original Tiger Lily Jacket in Dale Heilo yarn, quite a few years ago. Dale has made umpteen changes to their yarn color selections since then; so, my original, autumnal color combination (below) is no longer available. But, between their two sport weight wool yarns – traditional Heilo or superwash Falk – we still have countless color combinations to choose from.
If you’d like to knit Tiger Lily in Heilo, you can order your kit directly through my online yarn shop, Kidsknits.com. If you’d rather use superwash Falk, which offers more than twice as many colors, email me – masATkidsknitsDOTcom – or call the US toll-free line and we’ll set that up for you. Either way, as soon as I see your order come through, we’ll discuss your favorite colors and how they’d work together in a design like this. We can even play around with colorizing some chart snippets so you’ll get a good idea of how your favorite colors all “play together” in Tiger Lily. Once we’ve zeroed in on your favorite combination, your kit will be on its way.
If you’re already knee-deep in sport weight wool and you’re happy to fly solo, here’s the link to the Tiger Lily PDF, which is available through Ravelry.
How ’bout a big round of applause for Val?! Thanks for sharing your lovely work with us!
UPDATE, March 2017
My “Nordic Easter Egg” pattern is still available through Ravelry.
Happy Easter and Happy Knitting!
It sure has been one long, hard winter! But, if you can believe it, we’re just two weeks away from spring.
While Mother Nature is apparently still enthralled with winter, someone else has been busily focusing on the colorful, lively season to come:
The pink version of my new “Nordic Easter Egg” knitting pattern uses two shades of Dale Baby Ull yarn: off-white and fuchsia. The purplish-blue version uses off-white Baby Ull for the background and lupine Mulberry Meadow, a new, variegated superwash merino / mulberry silk blend, for the motif. Of course, you can use any two colors your heart desires. Each egg is about 3″ tall.
Have a very HAPPY EASTER!!
The thermometer outside my kitchen window reported a bone-chilling two, count ’em, two sorry degrees this morning. So, I checked the weekend forecast, hoping for a sunny reprieve. Snow and ice starting on Saturday afternoon, lasting into Sunday. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but par for the course around here this year.
Yet, even with this bleak forecast, as in life, there’s always a ray of sunshine somewhere; sometimes, we just have to look for it a bit further down the road than we’d guessed. “Wintry Mix” – innocent enough words on their own; one monumentally nasty affront, as a team. If we can just get through Sunday’s “wintry mix”, there’s a chance – mind you, it’s just a chance – but there’s a real, bonafide, 100% maybe-almost-reasonable chance that my poor, downtrodden thermometer might actually get revved up all the way into the 30’s for a little bit of…you guessed it…rain – glorious rain! Yes, kids, before too terribly long, things might actually warm up around here. One of these days, the black-brown mountains of frozen roadside nastiness really will give way to tender little tufts of green. Really!
Until then, if you’re as starved for spring as I am, at least we know we can count on our knitting to lift the doldrums. Here’s a little dose of green for you, to warm you up and tide you over:
Shamrock Mittens kits using Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift available through the designer’s online yarn shop.
We’ve just added a new kit page for my Chevron Fingerless Mittens. You can select your three favorite Dale Alpakka colors from the three little pull-downs, right there on the kit page. But, how do you choose three favorites shades? And will they behave themselves and play together nicely in the design? Here are some of the countless possibilities, to get your wheels turning:
February 9th, 2015 – Today, I’ve updated my old North Shore Hat free knitting pattern PDF with a new version which includes a bunch of explanatory notes which will hopefully clarify the earflap joining process.
Since most of my work involves colorwork, I often hear knitters complain when they have to weave in loose ends. So, with the original version of this pattern, thinking I was writing it for my usual, relatively experienced customers, I tried to avoid loose ends, when possible. But, doing so required a shift in direction at one point and a partial round on one side. Not ideal, especially when so many other websites started sending folks here, referring to this pattern as a “beginner’s” pattern! I wouldn’t call it a beginner’s pattern, but I’m happy to help lure advanced beginners into the joys of charted knitting. To that end, I’ve changed the process slightly: Now, you’ll make one extra cut in the yarn and you’ll shift your stitches around a bit to get back to the beginning of the round. But, as I hope you’ll agree, doing so makes the layout much clearer. And, hopefully, the notes will further encourage those of you who are new to charted knitting.
Robin Hunter recently interviewed me for her blog, “How to become a Professional Knitter”. It’s up there now, right…over…HERE!
Ladies’ Fair Isle “Gentle Hat” kits are now available through my Kidsknits.com store site. The kits come with my pattern (printed or emailed PDF, your choice) and seven different shades of delightful Dale Garn “Alpakka” (aka “Royal Alpakka”) 100% alpaca yarn.
If you’re the type who loves using up leftovers, you’ll be glad to know that the Gentle Hat design is laid out so that the seven shades are quite evenly distributed. So evenly, in fact, that by adding just one extra ball of off-white to the one-hat kit, you’re able to make three, count ’em, THREE identical hats. So, in addition to the printed/PDF pattern choice, you also have a 7-balls-for-one-hat OR 8-balls-for-three-hats choice.
And yes, as always, you’re welcome to request color substitutions. I carry all of the Alpakka shades right…over…here!
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!
Haven’t lost one yet! 🙂
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:
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!
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!
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:
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:
Thanks, Marji, for that neat idea!
I had lost count of all the projects on my needles. Sanity warned “Don’t you dare cast on one more stitch until 2015!” But, if you could just hold one soft, little cloud of Dale Garn’s new “Erle” in your hands, you’d understand why I couldn’t resist adding an Erle project to my epic list.
Actually, from what I’ve seen, no one just holds Erle – they smoosh it, they pet it, they caress it. Erle is an incredibly soft, featherweight blend of kid mohair, silk and wool. Thanks to its diaphanous nature, just one 50g / 1 3/4 oz ball of Erle gives you a surprising 325m / 355 yds. Amazed when they see the yardage, knitters ask me “So what can I make with a ball of this?” Well, lots of things! Here’s my first idea – my Ethereal Diamonds Scarf.
Well, a scarf swatch. It’s only a little over one foot long at this point, but I’ve only used up a tad under 10g. Eventually, once my epic project list allows me some more time with it, I’ll have a 60″ long cloud of sweet, soft luxury to wrap around a favored neck. In the meantime, who knows how much perfect scarf-sporting weather will come and go?! Since I’m so pleased with my Erle scarf so far, I’ve written it up as an early little holiday treat for you. If you like simple lace scarves, I think you will be pleased with it, too. Aside from the usual increases (yo’s) and decreases (k2tog, ssk, s2kp – all detailed in the pattern), it’s predominantly garter stitch, so it’s about as close to reversible as scarves like this get.
Those of you who are familiar with my knitting business know that pretty much everything I do is charted knitting; so, of course, this pattern centers around a chart, too. But, I’ve included the text translation of each row of the chart, too. If you haven’t tried charted knitting yet, I’m hoping this will be just the perfect little bridge for you to cross on your way to charted knitting bliss.
(Yes, of course you can use this pattern with all sorts of yarn, in all sorts of fibers. But if you want something exquisite, give “Erle” a try.)
Click this link to download the PDF: Ethereal Diamonds, a free knitting pattern for a lace scarf
Visit my online yarn shop for Erle and countless other goodies from Dale of Norway / Dale Garn.
Thirty, count ’em, thirty quick rounds of short repeat, short float bliss, then *poof*, you’re done. Should fit most of the adults on your holiday list. It seems a shame to knit just one, no?
Knit yours in any two favorite shades of Dale Garn Hubro 100% pure new wool. Just one ball of each color will do the trick. Printed pattern available through Mary Ann at Kidsknits; PDF available for purchase through Ravelry.
Going through some of my files this morning, it dawned on me that, oh my gosh, my Wintergarden Pullover is ten years old! It’s been a hectic decade of adventures for Wintergarden – skiing, hiking, knitting, scrambling, chasing, knitting, lounging, loafing, knitting – and yet it still looks like new. Reason #947 why I love, love, love Heilo yarn.
Dale just recently discontinued quite a few colors of Heilo. 😦 I swear, I mourn the passing of every discontinued Heilo color! Thankfully, they’re still offering most of the core “traditional” Heilo colors, as you’ll see in their latest color card, below.
Dale Garn’s new, wonderfully soft, Persian-lamb-lookalike, Monjita, is held together with a strand of Heilo (or Falk, if you prefer) through the main portions of the hat, so you end up with one very warm, very speedy project – perfect for your holiday list, no?! I used four colors of Hegre for the Fair Isle band. Of course, if you’re not quite ready for Fair Isle -style knitting, you could simply knit stripes for the colors in the band. But, the longest float on the Fair Isle band is only 3 stitches long, so this just might be the very “first Fair Isle” project that some of you have been asking for. Hope so! The pattern includes colorway suggestions for brown, camel and off-white hats, in addition to the black version, shown. Check out the color cards, below – I can’t wait to see your version!
The knitting kit is available through my on-line yarn shop, Kidsknits.com. It includes five different-colored balls of Dale Garn Alpakka (the default kit gets you the colors shown, but feel free to request your five favorite shades of Alpakka) and your choice of the printed pattern (yep, there are plenty of pages to this baby!) or an emailed PDF.
And, of course, the downloadable PDF is for sale through Ravelry, too.
The publishers had me use Cascade’s “Venezia Sport” 70% merino wool, 30% mulberry silk sport weight yarn. (In fact, all of the designs in the “60 Quick” series use Cascade yarns of one type or another.)
I wish they had taken a photo of my cowl on a model, so you could get an idea of the fit and drape. I would have, but I figured that I’d better leave that to the professionals. Bummer! 😦
I can tell you that the shaping, scale and fit of this new cowl in Cascade Venezia Sport are quite similar to my old Riverside Cowl, which I knit in Dale of Norway / Dalegarn Royal Alpakka . (See below.) But, the silk in Venezia makes for an extremely fluid drape, so it won’t “stand up” quite as much as my alpaca Riverside Cowl did. That could be good or bad, depending upon your perspective…and your weather. As always, choose whatever sport weight yarn sings to you.
For the color junkies among you (count me in), here are my original color charts for the fair isle cowl design submission (below). The businesswoman in me told me it’s always a good idea to provide variations upon the theme, whenever submitting an idea to be published elsewhere. So, as you’ll see, I did the same chart using two, three or four colors. I guess that was a good move, despite my continual preference for “as many colors as I can get”. But, for the life of me, I can’t relate to their preference for the two-colored version.
What do you think?
My “Chevron Fingerless Mittens”, sized for the average adult female hand, with fitted cuffs and gusseted thumbs. Knit in luxurious Dale of Norway Royal Alpakka. Use any three shades your heart desires. I used 19g of Slate 0007, 32g of Off-white 0010 and 13g of Beige 2642 – one ball of each color. (If you want to make two pair, you’ll only need to get an extra ball of the off-white – you’ll have enough left over from the other two colors to knit a second pair.)
The PDF is available for $6 from my Ravelry store.
I liked the idea of having some fingerless mittens with full finger mobility, so these are a bit shorter than some of my other fingerless mittens. But, they don’t have to be! If you’d like to lengthen the upper section, so that your fingers have more coverage, it’s as simple as can be – right above the thumb opening, merely add some more repeats of the plain chevron motif (the plain grey + white zigzag section in the middle) before starting that upper striped motif. The shaping has been worked so that you can fit entire horizontal repeats of the chevron motif in the top, for as long as you’d like.
Here’s a free pattern for a super-quick, adult-sized earflap hat I made for my winter beach hikes. I used wonderfully soft and warm Dale Hubro 100% pure new wool. It’s “bulky” weight, so it knits up in a blink. (I made this hat in one day, and I’m really not a very fast knitter.) Hope you have fun with it!
February 9th, 2015 – Today, I’ve updated the PDF with a new version which includes a bunch of explanatory notes which will hopefully clarify the earflap joining process. Since most of my work involves colorwork, I often hear knitters complain when they have to weave in loose ends. So, with the original version of this pattern, thinking I was writing it for my usual, experienced customers, I tried to avoid loose ends, when possible. But, doing so required a shift in direction at one point and a partial round on one side. Not ideal, especially when so many other websites started sending folks here, referring to this pattern as a “beginner’s” pattern! I wouldn’t call it a beginner’s pattern, but I’m happy to help lure advanced beginners into the joys of charted knitting. To that end, I’ve changed the process slightly: Now, you’ll make one extra cut in the yarn and you’ll shift your stitches around a bit to get back to the beginning of the round. But, as I hope you’ll agree, doing so makes the layout much clearer. And, hopefully, the notes will further encourage those of you who are new to charted knitting.
What’s Blendoku? It’s an intriguing free app that sharpens your color management skills. Should disaster strike and you find yourself without your knitting (gasp!) it’s a fun way to sharpen your skills for setting up smooth color gradients for your stranded knitting projects while you wait for the cavalry to arrive with your yarn.
Be warned: Okay, yeah, it’s also a black hole for time – too much fun!!
CNN’s very interesting article on knitting’s cerebral benefits: http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/25/health/brain-crafting-benefits/
(But from the tips of our fingers, to our hearts, to our minds…we knew that! 😉 )
Someone just posted an interesting question in my Two Strands group on Ravelry. It’s one I’m often asked regarding Norwegian steeks, so I’ll share it with you folks here, too. She’s thinking about knitting the Dale Sirdal design from their new Book 267 and she’s wondering just how many steek stitches she should use.
Dale instructs her to set up the steek with four “cutting stitches” (steek stitches, to most of us.) That’s not a bad approach, but I like 5 stitches better. Here’s my reply, below, or you can visit my Two Strands group on Ravelry for the whole story:
Regarding the # of steek sts: It’s your call! If you’re machine-reinforcing your steek, as they direct (I would), it’s a question of how much sewing and cutting leeway you want to give yourself versus how many extra stitches you’re willing to forsake to the steek. Personally, I like 5 steek sts:
The outermost blue columns belong to the body of the sweater.
The red lines indicate where you’ll pick up stitches for the button band.
I like to alternate the colors for each steek stitch, and I keep that stitch patterning vertically consistent, so that my steek stitches form clear sewing (yellow) and cutting (center blue column, #3) lines.
The Dale patterns use 4 stitches (think of my diagram, above, without the center column #3) and they simply instruct you to sew two double lines within the 4 steek stitches and cut the steek open between the pairs of lines. In truth, there’s nothing wrong with that approach at all; but, adding the 5th stitch for the center cutting line does a couple of nice things for you:
1) There’s no guessing as to where to cut – a very nice thing for those of us with less-than-perfect vision! A mistake in the cutting can ruin everything, so I think the one extra stitch column is well worth the effort.
2) As long as you keep your machine stitching within those (yellow) guidelines of columns #2 & #4, you can trim away as much (or as little) of central column #3 as you need to get a nice, straight edge. That can work to especially nice effect if you do a “covered steek”, as I often like to do on my cardigan designs. (I have more info about covered steeks on an old steeks article I put up on my Kidsknits.com site ages ago: http://www.kidsknits.com/steeks_introduction.html
A “little something” to show my love for my dear customers. Use this free chart in the next few days, to brighten up your Valentine’s gift wrap, or use it in your stranded knitting, down the road. Either way, I hope you have a wonderfully happy Valentine’s Day!
Whether you work “2014” into some wonderful chart work you have planned for this year, or embroider it in with duplicate stitch, once you’re done, may it someday spark sweet, sweet memories of the many fine times you had “way back” in 2014.
The middle of January…yuck! Here in the Northeast, you wouldn’t want to face January without a cozy hat nearby. Not a dreary hat, mind you – there’s more than enough of that dreariness in the skies these days. So, here’s something to brighten things up a bit: a free PDF for an old favorite – my Twist and Sprout Hat design, sized for everyone, updated with a choice of brims.
I wrote this pattern ages ago, and have sold kits to go with the original, flower-bedecked version, for a long time, too. You can still get the kit – it saves you a little pocket change, since it comes with remnants for the flower – and you can get it in any shades of Dale Freestyle your heart desires (just add a note to your order, or email me at “mas” AT “kidsknits” DOT com.) Or, take a little dive into that legendary stash of yours and see what worsted weight wonders you come up with.
Yippee! I just received a big box of long-awaited Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift in the natural shades I use in my Polar Chullo design (among others.) Normally, they’re a mainstay of my selection – foundation shades that I can’t bear to be without. And normally, I don’t have to. But, they’ve been on back order for a while now, as some of you know. Of course, it’s great that there’s been a resurgence of interest in all things Fair Isle. But, it was strange, having their shelf nearly empty for the last several weeks, and I’m so glad to have them back here, next to me – they’re like old friends!
If you’re already awaiting your Polar Chullo yarn pack, it’ll be there shortly. If you’ve been thinking about getting one – now that you’re done getting everything in the world for everyone else – now’s the time!
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!”
Need a last-minute, low-budget gift idea for a long-haired lovely on your list? If you have a stray elastic band somewhere, plus a few extra ounces of Lerke yarn lying around, you’re in luck! (And if you don’t, well, you’re still in luck: That’s all the excuse you need to visit my shop!)
There are plenty of free scrunchie patterns out there, but they all seem to be simple tubes with elastic run through, and plenty of hand-sewing to be done, before you’re done. There’s nothing wrong with that super-simple solution. But, if you’re interested in using your knitting skills to create something a bit nicer, and you’re happy to trade in the annoying sewing for a fun little bit of lace knitting along the way, click this link to download your free Two Strands “Lace Scrunchie” knitting pattern PDF: Lace Scrunchie
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!
Click on the image to see a larger, clearer version.
(Originally published here on Two Strands for Thanksgiving 2010.)
An early Christmas present, to say “Thank You!” to all of my dear customers. I hope it brings cheer to your home, year after year.
When I wrote my “Christmas Balls” free knitting patterns last year (and my free “Star of Bethlehem” pattern this year) I had my “typical” knitting customer in mind. Not that any of you are typical – you’re all special and wonderful! But, since I specialize in yarns that work especially well with Norwegian and Fair Isle knitting, many of the people who seek me out are already pretty familiar with those techniques – some are truly world-class experts! Nonetheless, I’m happy to report that the irresistible call of my favorite four-letter word, F-R-E-E, apparently works wonders to inspire newcomers to take up Norwegian & / or Fair Isle knitting, too. I’ve gotten quite a few emails from folks who want to try the Christmas Balls out, but have never knit circularly, or have never followed a colorwork chart. I’m adding my response to their most common questions here, below. It’s not a comprehensive class in circular knitting – just a walk-through for the first several rounds of the “Kilim” ball – but I’m hoping it will work well to entice more first-time stranded knitters into the fold. If you’re already familiar with circular knitting, please pass it along to friends that you’d like to share some stranded knitting love with. If it’s all new to you, give it a try and feel free to post your questions / comments here. Have fun!
This link, http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/advanced-techniques , takes you to a few videos for various ways to knit in the round. Scroll down the page to their “Small Diameter Circular Knitting” videos to view the 3 methods they describe, all of which will work with the Christmas Balls. Although they indicate that double-pointed needles are the “most common” way to knit circularly, I’d say that’s rapidly changing; dpns are the traditional way, but if they did a survey today, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if “magic loop” were to win the “most popular” way prize.
Each Christmas Ball has 4 panels, with each panel consisting of one instance of the chart. You start by knitting on the lowest row, at the far right (don’t forget that 1st column, off to the right!) always reading right to left, knitting the color shown for each stitch and stranding the unused color behind your work. I’ll give you row-by-row instructions for the first few rows of the Kilim ball, then I think you’ll catch on:
Round 1: Simple! Three k sts in white (A), repeated 4 times = K 12 sts in A. (At the end of the 4th repeat of each chart row, don’t turn your work, just keep knitting around in the same clockwise direction, as shown in the videos, and begin reading the next chart row from right to left.)
Round 2: * K 3, M1, repeat from * 3 more times (i.e., to the end of the round, which will give you 4 repeats in all, with all stitches still using white. See chart legend for “M” description. Since you’ve added one stitch to each of the 4 panels, you’ve gone from 12 sts to 16 sts.)
Round 3: Same idea as Round 1, although it’s now K 4 x 4 = 16 sts in A.
Round 4: * K 1 in A, m 1 in A, K 1 in A, K 1 in B, K 1 in A, M 1 in A, repeat from * to end of round. * (Now you’re adding 2 sts to each of the 4 panels – 1 m, 1 M – so your stitch count goes from 16 to 16 + (2 x 4) = 24.)
Round 5: * K 2 in A, K 3 in B, K 1 in A, repeat from * to end of round.
I think that should help. Give it a try. Have fun!
…or, “What I Did Over My Summer Vacation”:
My “Spice Route Gloves” design, knit in 4 shades of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift. Finished palm circumference of 8″, so they’re sized to fit average adult female hand.
Five 25g balls of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift were used: 2 balls in the (dark) background color, and 1 in each of the other 3 colors.
2 – 25g balls of A = Shetland Black #101
1 – 25g ball of B = Eucalyptus #794
1 – 25g ball of C = Chartreuse #365
1 – 25g ball of D = Ginger #462
2 – 25g balls of A = Mulberry #598
1 – 25g ball of B = Chartreuse #365
1 – 25g ball of C = Orchid #547
1 – 25g ball of D = Rouge #563
Compare the cuffs on the two colorways and you’ll see there’s a tiny bit of optional duplicate stitch embroidery done on Colorway #2.
These gloves are switchable, i.e., you can wear either one on either hand. Yet, the motifs are all placed symmetrically on each side. I’ve adjusted for the varying finger widths by sneaking some extra stitches in along the sidelines. So, it’s still important that you make one “right” glove, one “left” glove…*NOT* two of the same!
Hope you like ’em!
The personal-use PDF is available for purchase and download through Ravelry. The kits should be up on my kidsknits.com on-line shop shortly. Don’t hesitate to write or call with questions.
UPDATE: Here’s that kit link.
Reason #352 why I love knitting: Merely by changing the shades of yarn we’re using, we can give an entirely new look to beloved, old designs.
It’s true, I do lament when an “old favorite” shade is discontinued by the manufacturers – How dare they?! But, it turns out there really can be virtue in having an updated color palette.
Today, a customer wrote to me, asking for color guidance in creating a “pink” version of my Tiger Lily Jacket design, in either Heilo or Falk. Over the years, I’ve put together countless different colorways for that 4-color design – tons in blues, greens, reds, naturals, but few, if any, in pinks. Although I’ve loved pink ever since my very first (and last) tutu, I was never really wild about too many of the pinkish possibilities within Heilo or Falk for Tiger Lily. It gets complicated! You have not just one, but two backgrounds to think about, and they have to play nicely together. You have to balance the contrasts both between and within the main and the trim sections. You need “pop” from a few different angles. So, I needed more than just one pink to love and those pinks needed well-behaved playmates.
Recently, a few new colors have been added to both Heilo and Falk, nicely expanding upon the possibilities for pinkish colorways. Last year, they added new purples and plums everywhere! Within both lines, they’ve just recently added “Prune #4263”, a beautiful, deep “oxblood” type of shade – a perfect foil for so many colorwork motifs, offering more warmth and depth than we typically get from the usual cast of characters from The Dark Side, like black, grey or navy. (And it’s as gorgeous for menswear as it is for floral cardigans.) With the help of some of these newer shades, I quickly put together two different takes on a pink Tiger Lily that I’m happy with.
On the left, the muted “plum smoke” from Heilo lends depth to the lighthearted rose, while maintaining a light, girly appearance overall. (Okay, I have to confess, ever since bagging the tutu and heading for some higher branches way up in the trees, or scrambling low under the fence, or catching pop flies, or tackling brothers, or…well, you see, I’m not exactly the “girly” type.) On the right, pink gets some serious depth, thanks to “Prune 4263” in the upper background, “magenta” below, and lively “creme” and “moss green” for the details. (Now that’s more my speed.)
Are you a pink fan? What do you think?
I’d like to send out a big, warm “Thank You!” to everyone at the Long Island Knitting Guild. This past Friday, I presented my talk to them, “Stranded on Long Island – Tips and Tricks for Developing Your Very Own Stranded Knitting Obsession“. I really had a wonderful time. Every single one of those knitters was as sweet as sugar! Hopefully, I won a few new stranded knitting converts, too.
Sorry you couldn’t all be there. Maybe next time! For now, I’ll share just a few of my slides, to give you a taste:
A common request around here lately: “More monkeys, please!”
Today’s answer: “Coming right up!”
You’re just one click away from one dozen new colorway ideas for my Monkey Hat using Dale of Norway Baby Ull yarn, our hands-down favorite for the newborn & toddler sizes.
My new Shamrock Mittens, knit in Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift. Sized to fit an 8″ adult female palm circumference. The PDF is available for purchase and download through Ravelry. The Spindrift yarn (in natural white and…you guessed it…”leprechaun”) is available through Kidsknits.com. Kit link coming shortly. (Call my US toll-free 877-631-3031 to order in time for St. Patricks Day.) UPDATE: Here’s the kit link!
The “Blizzard of 2013” (the first one, at least) swept in this past Friday, bringing 30+ inches of snow to our area, along with frantic cries of “Ahhhh, what’s your quickest, easiest hat?!?!?” I was tempted to pull out some newspaper and get folding. Nah, that won’t do! Want something reeeeeeally quick? Time to break out the old crochet hook. Add to that some super bulky Hubro, maybe a few scraps of Heilo, if you want to get fancy, and in no time at all – presto – one pretty fine looking chapeau!
Here’s the free crochet pattern as a downloadable PDF: QE1
Some alternate colorway ideas for my Riverside Cowl design:
Got a favorite? Get the customizable kit here.
Here’s a happy way to make your 2013 knitting special:
I think putting together new colorways can be a lot of fun. But, it takes a lot of time, too – something I’m finding in short supply these days. In an effort to stop wasting time on duplicated effort (okay, and to lessen my urge to cry when I think of some of my favorite discontinued colors) I came up with the hopefully-bright idea of showing you new, substitute colorways for some of my older designs here on the blog. As always, you’re still welcome to request any color combinations that your dear heart desires. But, hopefully, this will save you a bit of time, too.
We’ll start with my Tiger Lily Jacket design:
The original (above, shot in bright light, and in the background, below, shot indoors) was done in four shades of Heilo: Light Heather 2931, Burnt Orange 3418, Lava Rust 3727 and Bronze 9834. All of those shades have been discontinued in Heilo, except for the Light Heather. (Sniff…whimper…sob!)
But, we still have several options for putting together a very similar colorway.
If you want to stick with Heilo, 100% Norwegian wool (my personal favorite), as you can see, the new “red orange” #3237 is really a dead ringer for the old burnt orange. They’ve recently added a wonderful new shade, “prune” 4263 that’s a bit darker and more saturated than my old lava rust, but to tell you the truth, in stranded knitting, where contrast is key, I think that this new prune is actually an improvement over the old lava rust. While those 3 shades are easily selected, the 4th one is the trouble-maker. In Heilo, your only option for something anywhere near the old “bronze”, used for the motif in the border, would be “sunglow” 2126 – a noticeably lighter, brighter soft yellow. Bronze was muted and earthy; sunglow is clear and bright. And with a deeper background provided by the new prune shade, sunglow will become even more pronounced. Perhaps a good thing – some would prefer the livelier combination – but it definitely depends upon your own inclinations – some prefer earthy and muted.
If you move over to Falk, the same, first three colors are essentially the same. But, we’re still missing that old, beloved bronze. Falk “gold” 2427 is a bit deeper and warmer than the Heilo sunglow. It’s nice on top of the new prune background (even if does make me think of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts scarf.) Like Heilo’s sunglow, it will make for a livelier, more pronounced border motif. Falk “citron” 9725 is definitely the closest substitute for bronze in Falk, but it’s lighter and brighter than the old bronze and it is a bit more greenish, too. Really, any of the currently available border motif choices will result in a brighter, more pronounced border. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether you like that idea. Yellows and yellow-greens are funny – they’re quite flattering for some people, yet they make others look like they have a liver complaint. You’ll know best where you fall in that camp with these choices. Please do consider that point for this design, for whatever you use as the bronze substitute, it will be the color closest to your face:
(well, my rusty old shirt was the closest color to my rusty old face here, but you get the idea.)
Now, here’s where the REAL fun begins: there are tons of other current color combinations that are possible for this (and most any colorwork) design. Here are a few that went out over the last week for Tiger Lily:
There are probably about thirty different Tiger Lily colorways that I have on file, but many use discontinued colors. (Sob…again!) I’ll be adding to the above collection when I can. In the meantime…got your own combination in mind? Let me know!
I know quite a few of you are working on your Polar Chullos, hoping to get them done in time for the holidays.
I’m reposting a response I just sent to a knitter in Ravelry who is working on her Polar Chullo bears. Maybe you’ll find it helpful, or maybe you’ll have other helpful tips for her, and other new, stranded knitters:
Every stranded knitter eventually develops their own philosophy regarding their stranded technique, especially when it comes to float tolerance. I’ll tell you my philosophy used for managing my bears. Please don’t think you have to do what I did, but hopefully, you’ll find something helpful among my following tips:
Don’t strand too tightly – always leave a tiny bit of slack in the strand.
Don’t catch long floats too frequently. Snagging long floats is not much of an issue with hats, since we don’t run our fingers through them. And when a hat is knit out of Shetland wool, there’s even less concern about snags, since the wool felts to itself. Floats under an inch long will never be a problem with such a hat. But, those bears are indeed extra long, and after all that work, I want them to live extra long “lives”.
Although I tend to allow some pretty long floats, I caught the floats at a few points on my bears. I tried to do it so that any resulting indentation at the catching point would occur along a naturally occurring line on the bear, if he* were more of a line drawing than a solid-colored fellow: the neckline, shoulder line (behind & above the front leg), the hip line (in front of and above the hind leg – see below.) Where possible, I staggered those catch points, too, so that I avoided having the catch points stacked up directly above each other on consecutive rounds – stacking them really makes them show up far more obviously. * (My bears, like my children, are boys – yours may differ!)
Hope that helps!
I’m happy to report that my “Mittens in a Blink” ladies’ super bulky mitten pattern, introduced to you a few weeks ago in Malabrigo Rasta 100% merino, works beautifully with Dale of Norway Hubro 100% wool, too. (See above, in “Ruby” Hubro.) Same great fit, in no time flat. Just remember that while the Rasta mittens took one 150g hank, the Hubro mittens will need two 100g balls.
The PDF is still available for purchase through Ravelry, but as a little inspiration for last-minute holiday gift-giving, I’m extending my offer for a FREE “Mittens in a Blink” pattern PDF whenever you purchase either Malabrigo Rasta or Dale of Norway Hubro.
We’re all here, post-Sandy, and I’m very thankful to report that we came through essentially unscathed. We’re up on a hill, a mile or two from the Long Island Sound and several miles from the ocean, so fortunately, no flooding. Several neighbors lost trees, but we were lucky in that regard, too: We have lots of trees in the yard, but while there are plenty of leaves and twigs to clean up, not a single branch came down.
We did lose power until late last (Tuesday) night. All three of the boys are home, along with the oldest one’s sweet girlfriend. When the power went out Monday afternoon, groans of electronic-dependent misery filled the air. Fortunately, we have a gas stove, and I was able to light the burners by hand, so food was not a problem. Between our big stash of board games, an early dive into the Halloween candy and a bit of candlelight, we really had a fine time. For me, it was a good time to knit some simple ribbing on a new design – potentially boring in good light, but both fascinating and comforting in the dark. Truly, our only loss was a refrigerator full of food. And, with three teenage boys, that’s a pretty regular occurrence around here, anyway! 😉
The only remaining issue here is the phone service. Apparently, Hurricane Sandy has wrecked phone service for most of Long Island. We’re not sure when that will be restored; but, in the meantime, we’re endlessly thankful to have internet service. If you need to contact me, you can always email me at mas AT kidsknits DOT com. (So much for the idea of Cell Phone = Safety! Apparently, those smart phones aren’t so darn smart after all!)
Our thoughts, prayers and hugs go out to the countless dear folks in the Northeast that weren’t as fortunate as we were.
ETA: The land line phone service is back, but it looks like shopping for both food and gas will be challenging!
My “Riverside Cowl” – knit in Dale of Norway Royal Alpakka yarn. Fair Isle and garter stitch on the outside, solid stockinette stitch on the lining, luxurious warmth all over. The kit is available through my on-line store, Kidsknits.com. It includes either a printed or emailed knitting pattern and 4 x 50g balls of the discounted Royal Alpakka yarn in any 3 shades your heart desires. And, if you’d rather have some stash-diving fun, the PDF is available through Ravelry, right over here.
“And now, for something completely different…”
I’ll always love fussing over fine-gauge, stranded designs. But, I gotta tell you, being able to make these cushy, comfy, colorful babies in a blink definitely has its own rewards. Knit a complete pair of adult-sized mittens in a day – gee, there’s a new concept! (For me, anyway. 😉 ) Okay, so maybe that Christmas knitting list doesn’t look so daunting after all!
These were made with just one 150g skein of Malabrigo “Rasta” yarn, a super-bulky, slightly felted, hand-dyed, single-ply merino yarn with a label gauge of…are you ready for this?…2 to 2.5 stitches per inch. I smooshed it down a bit – to 3 sts per inch – to make the mittens extra warm and windproof. Usually, when I think of super bulky knits, I think of clunky things with poor fit. So, I played around with both the large, lower thumb gusset and the upper mini-gussets and I’m really pleased with how ergonomically they turned out – a perfect, flexible fit!
I juuuuust started carrying Malabrigo. Being a stranded knitting geek, with my opening order, I gravitated toward their famously gorgeous, fingering-weight sock yarn. (More to come on that front – you can count on it!) Of course, everyone likes worsted weight – especially with winter around the corner – so I grabbed a handful of their beautiful worsted colors, too. (Super soft hats in the works; stay tuned!) Just on a last-minute whim – as much out of curiosity as anything else – I decided I’d try some of this super-crazy, mondo-bulky stuff and, boy, am I ever pleased! Soft as can be, glorious colors, and blizzard-proof mittens in no time flat. I think you’re gonna love this stuff!
Let me know!
I’m very fortunate to have some tremendously talented customers. This past week, a charming coincidence arose: two of my wonderful customers showed me their very special renditions of Dale of Norway’s beloved “Sirdal” design, a traditional Norwegian knitting classic (which, by the way, is available for FREE at Kidsknits, with the corresponding Dale yarn purchase – more about that below.)
Karin from Fort Worth, TX is a delightful woman with a gorgeous garden and a beautiful family. That’s a close-up of her Sirdal vest that you see above. Karin knit it for her son, Rob, in charcoal heather 0083 and natural 0020 Heilo.
The Dale cognoscenti among you may be scratching your heads, thinking “I’ve never seen a Sirdal vest pattern?!” Along with her Heilo yarn purchase, and with Dale of Norway’s approval, Karin received the Sirdal cardigan pattern from out-of-print Book 147. She knit the body straight up, as usual; then, she sewed her armhole lines on the side, cut them open, closed the shoulders, picked up around the armholes, worked the ribbing, shifted the ribbing for the fold, worked a facing and hemmed it all in place. It even looks great on the inside:
Such a great idea and such beautiful work!! Rob must be so thrilled! Thanks so much for sharing your photos with us, Karin – everything you do is always so lovely!
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Lynda from Gwynedd, PA certainly knows how to show her love for her dear friend, Charlotte! Here’s lovely Charlotte in the Sirdal Pullover Lynda made for her, using black 0090 and natural 002 Heilo yarn:
Now, this is not just any old Sirdal, either! Check out the center of the collar – Lynda worked Charlotte’s initials into the diamonds – isn’t that a sweet idea?!
Lynda is chock full of wonderful ideas. Look at Lynda’s idea for a coordinating hat:
Isn’t that magnificent?! Thanks so much, Lynda, for sharing your wonderful work with us! And thanks, Charlotte, for letting us see how great you look in your new Sirdal. I hope you always have fun in it.
Points to consider:
First of all, the Sirdal design is not mine to give away, it’s Dale of Norway’s design to do with as they, as copyright holders, please. As I’ve mentioned here before, their policy allows Dale dealers (like me) that are interested in supporting old, out-of-print Dale designs to give FREE copies of their out-of-print patterns to knitters when they purchase the corresponding Dale yarn. If you’d like to see other out-of-print Dale designs that would be available under the same policy, I’ve listed most of the old Dale books that I have in my library on Ravelry, here.
Second, sweater silhouettes change over time. Thankfully, traditional designs never change radically. But, realize that the armhole depth on an old, medium-sized Sirdal Pullover was 11″ – fashionable in its day, but that day was quite a while ago! On the newer (reworked) cardigan from Book 147, it was 10 1/4″ – more moderate, as they go. Now that silhouettes have gotten even slimmer, on the brand new Oslo design in Book 228, it’s down to 9 1/4″. As you might guess, Lynda narrowed the sleeves on her Sirdal considerably. Thankfully, with dropped shoulders and Norwegian steeks, that’s a pretty easy thing to do. If you need details, you know where to find me!
ETA: I’ve gotten permission to add the measurements and yarn requirements – see below!
My new Allamanda Hat design. It’s easier than it looks.
It’s first knit in typical Fair Isle style (no more than two colors at once.) When the knitting is done, you have the option to get carried away with some simple embroidery: nothing too fancy – I just used duplicate stitch, straight stitch and a few French knots. (But I’d love to see any of your renditions, plain or fancy.)
The pattern includes greyscale and colorized charts for both the multi-colored, embroidered version and a two-colored, unadorned version. There are separate charts for the band and the main portion of the hat, so you can do one part multi-colored, one part two-colored, if you’d like. Of course, in addition to all of the usual knitting info, the embroidery instructions are included, too.
I chose Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift 2-ply jumper weight 100% Shetland wool for mine. Between its glorious color range and its helpful “sticky” nature (quite the asset, when it comes to managing loose embroidery ends), it was an easy choice. (Yarn pack or kit available here.) But, especially if you’d rather do the two-colored version, sans the embroidery, there are myriad fingering weight yarns that could work nicely. Dale of Norway Baby Ull is a personal favorite – it will definitely highlight the lines of the motifs. Of course, narrowing down color choices can be tricky…
(Proof that I spend too much time goofing around with photo editors.)
Anyway, I hope you like it. If you have any questions, you know where to find me!
Happy knitting…and embroidering!
It’s Christmas at Kidsknits! Oh, okay…it’s still August. But, I’ve been busy making Christmas presents, and the first one is for…YOU!
Around this time last year, the red and white Heilo was flying off the shelves, as fast as we could stock it. So many knitters were having a blast, making the wonderful Arne & Carlos ornaments. I got in on the fun, too. But this year, I decided I would make my ornaments my way.
My Way = Color + Symmetry + Detail + Function
Color: The more, the merrier, baby!
Symmetry: While I’ve kept the total # of stitches nearly the same as the Arne & Carlos balls (so that all of your Christmas balls can play nicely together), I’ve shifted the increases & decreases around so that the motifs are centered. I’ve also used a different type of increase, so that my stranded motifs are not visually disturbed by lower stitches.
Detail: Of course, my motifs are different, and I’ve added an extra bit of duplicate stitch embroidery in one, some nupps in another. Those fussy bits are optional, but I think they’re fun…hope you do, too!
Function: Whether knit, glass, crystal, wooden, sterling or gold, no ornament on Earth will ever mean as much to me as the glue-soaked, glitter-laden, cardboard wonders that my boys brought home to me from nursery school and kindergarten. I’ve kept every one of them and they’re still the first ones I hang on my tree. Thinking back to when my boys proudly toddled over to hang their Christmas creations, it occurred to me that little fingers sometimes have a hard time with skinny, crocheted loops; a shorter, chubbier hanger would be more kid-friendly. I’ve made I-cord hangers for my new ornaments, but I’ve included the common crochet option, too, in case that’s your favorite. Little kids will be able to hang the I-cord loop directly on the branches; some of us big kids might want to run a loop of dressy ribbon through the I-cord first.
Function…again: Once the little ones have over-loved their Christmas balls, those poor babies are going to need a very good bath (the kids probably will, too! 😉 ) So, although I’m a die-hard wool junkie, I’ve filled my ornaments with – gasp – the ubiquitous poly stuffing that clogs the aisles in most any craft store. For decorative keepsakes, you can’t beat wool, but for quick washing and drying (and less heartache, once Junior does his darnedest) the poly works just fine.
Anyway, I hope you’ll have fun making them your way and that you and your family have a splendid Christmas, full of all of your favorite things!
P.S. If you’re wondering why some of the chart rows have empty spaces in them, don’t miss my popular article, “On Flat Charts for Round Shapes”, freely available on the “Technique” page of MaryAnnStephens.com.
My new Monkey Hat design. Knit in Dale of Norway Baby Ull yarn for newborn and infant sizes.
Knit in Dale of Norway Falk yarn for youth and teen / adult sizes.
Designed to coordinate with my “Sleepy Monkey Blanket” design which was published in the Spring 2009 edition of Twist Collective.
Recently, a knitter wrote to me, saying “Mary Ann, I’m thrilled with my Two Strands Headband- thanks! You’ve turned me into a real stranded knitting nut! What can I knit next that won’t be too challenging, but will help to develop my skills further?”
The headband she knit (it’s a free pattern here on the blog) has a short, uniform repeat with no long floats and no shaping, so it’s an ideal stranded knitting starting point. I think her next level in building some mad stranded knitting skills should focus on two things: simple shaping and irregular motifs. I’ve just designed two new “next level” projects that will hopefully lead new stranded knitting nuts a bit further up the ladder.
The Macadamia Hat has very simple shaping atop and a decidedly less-uniform motif below. So, the chart work definitely requires a bit more attention, but it’s easy to focus on each new aspect entirely, since the shaping and color work areas are separate. There are a few things I especially love about this hat: The motif is a little unusual – a bit quirky, rather nutty (yes, like me!) The gauge is a bit heavier than what I usually use for my stranded work, but the Hegre takes to colorwork nicely and rewards me with an FO in no time! Last, but not least, I am madly in love with this wonderful, huggable, new Hegre. It’s so soft, I was certain it must have a fair dose of cashmere or alpaca in it; imagine my delight as I read the ballband: “100% pure new wool”! If I have my way, you’ll be seeing a lot more in Hegre from me soon!
One of the things I love about more irregular, organic motifs like this is that the pesky, end-of-the-round jog that drives me nuts with geometric motifs nearly disappears here. The hat as worn was photographed with the end of the round showing, but far less than usual, dead center.
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The North Star Hat combines some simple shaping with simultaneous chart work, yet the motifs are traditional, old favorites that are easy to track. As soon as I completed the one you see here, my rowdy boys were clamoring for North Star Hats of their own, so I guess we can call them “unisex”, too.
I’m hoping they’ll both make great “next step” projects…and awesome gifts… for any stranded knitting nut…or their nutty friends and family:
I knit the boys’ must-be-machine-washable hats in Dale of Norway Freestyle yarn – again, just 2 50g balls total; 1 each of 2 contrasting colors.
There are three sizes within each design – youth, average adult and extra large adult – the different sizes are achieved simply through different gauges. Let me know if you have any further questions. Happy knitting!
Waaaaay back in ’06, I made these Viking Hats for my dear son #2, Alex.
Back then, to the casual observer, Alex was a mild-mannered, studious sort; hence the relatively tame, blue version. But even in those early years, those of us who knew Alex well hailed him more appropriately as “Alex the Barbarian”; hence, the horned version.
A LYS called me yesterday, asking where they could get the pattern for this old favorite of a hat. It’s been on the Kidsknits site for years, but only as a kit, using either Dale of Norway Falk (superwash**) or Heilo (handwash) yarn. I was happy to set it up as a PDF for them. In fact, it gave me a chance to rework the pattern a bit, simplifying it with a fully-detailed chart and an easier-on-the-eyes layout. And, of course, it gave me a chance to show off my hopefully-nearly-full-grown, delightful barbarian in his well-worn, much-loved, yet still good-as-new hat. (Reason #386 why I love Dale yarns. Ha! Try that with some cheap Chinese knock-off!!)
Hope you have fun with it!
P. S. Official Disclaimer: While Alex is definitely part Viking and God knows that lovable fellow is largely Barbarian, any close resemblance these hats may have to historic Viking hats &/or helmets would be oh-so-highly-unlikely and purely coincidental. We extend our sincere apologies to all mild-mannered Viking historians. 😉
** Yes, you know I love Heilo, but of course the Barbarian’s hats were made in superwash Falk – are you kidding?!?!?!