New site, new home, same old TwoStrands

Hi Knitters!

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 retail site was in desperate need of a makeover, we shut it down before we left.

I’ve started a new retail knitting site, (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!

Happy knitting,

Mary Ann, aka “TwoStrands”

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Kilim Pillow

Kilim Pillow knitting pattern

“Kilim Pillow” by Mary Ann Stephens

Information on the Kilim Pillow design is now available through Mary Ann’s new website,  You can also find this pattern on Ravelry here.

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 search that shows currently available, solid-colored, super bulky yarns.

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Cholla Blossom Fingerless Mittens

My latest:

Fair Isle fingerless mittens, "Cholla Blossom"

Cholla Blossom – Ladies’ Fair Isle fingerless mittens designed by Mary Ann Stephens. Knit in six different shades of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift 100% Shetland wool fingering / jumper weight wool yarn. Spindrift yarn packsdownloadable Cholla Blossom pdfs are available through the designer’s website, The pdf is also available for through Ravelry.

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Dale Clearance – more awesome reductions!

September 2018 UPDATE:  The Dale clearance yarns and books are being moved to the “On Sale” section of my new website,

Posted in Fair Isle Knitting, Knitting, Mary Ann's Designs, New From Dale of Norway, Norwegian Knitting, shetland wool, Special Sales, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Heilo substitute?

In the past year or so since Dale Garn and/or their US distributor suddenly dropped all of us Dale retailers, many of you have asked me what substitute I’d recommend for Heilo, Dale’s beloved, traditional Norwegian sport / DK weight wool yarn.  Such an easy question!! Actually, no – for me, it’s been a tough one I’ve dreaded. If I had tons of extra time to research and experiment with some of the many possibilities, maybe I’d have something concrete to report.  But, between life’s hurdles and the many extra hours that have been taken up by trying to work out color substitutes for customers as my (deeply-discounted) Dale inventory shrinks ever smaller, I haven’t had the chance.  And I feel it’s not fair to officially choose any of the contenders I’m somewhat familiar with until I have some hard evidence on the needles.  Anyway…

Today, yet again, another sweet customer has asked me about Heilo substitutes:

Hi Mary Ann. I don’t know if you remember me but I’ve bought Dale of Norway Heilo yarn from you for several projects. I just found out that Heilo has been discontinued. I’m ready to knit another Dale of Norway pattern sweater, and I’m wondering what yarn you use as a substitution? I did one sweater and Faulk and I did not like it. I hope you have some good suggestions! I hope you and your family are doing well. Thanks!

So, for what it’s worth, here’s my reply – I hope it helps you in your search:

Lots of folks have been asking me your same question – what substitute would I recommend for Heilo?  I know it sounds like a simple question, but for me, at least at the moment, it’s a tough one!. 
I always loved the old, traditional Norwegian Heilo yarn, but I didn’t offer it because I thought it was the only decent yarn of its gauge in the world – I thought it was the optimal choice for the type of designs I was creating at the time.  I used to knit a lot of ski sweaters and accessories.  Now that Heilo is no longer an option, I’m not looking for less-optimal substitutes for ski sweaters; I’m designing different types of projects that work best with other high-quality wool yarns that I love and can stand by.  I wish I had extra time to do both that and go on an epic search for the perfect Heilo substitute; unfortunately, a great deal of my time and energy is spent lately on clearing out my remaining Dale inventory. I know that leaves my adult-size-Norwegian-ski-sweater-knitting customers in the dark, and I’m sorry about that. I know I could quickly stock all sorts of “substitutes” to sell – smooth, worsted-spun 100% wool yarns of the same gauge – there are tons of ’em! But, I’d need to love them, and I just haven’t found ski sweater substitutes I love…yet. For my purposes, while I do LOVE Jamieson’s Shetland wool for many things, including sweaters, I can’t honestly say it’s what I’d want most for a Norwegian ski sweater. Their DK weight knits up at the same gauge as Heilo and it’s exceptionally good quality wool, so it would certainly be a contender – but, the resulting fabric is lighter (although still quite warm) and therefore, it has a different drape. Due to the difference in wool types, there could be more of a blur to some complicated motifs, too.  I have three skiing sons who really warrant washable sweaters; if they told me they had to have new, specifically Norwegian ski sweaters with complicated motifs, while I’d miss my old Heilo, I might use the (now-Chinese) Falk you’re not so fond of, just to get the same look…or not.
Of course, I’ve knit with several so-called “substitutes”.  Years ago, I designed and originally knit this hat for Vogue Knitting in Heilo.  I loved it in Heilo!  (Second photo down on Ravelry, on Son #1.) But, at the time, Dale was not interested in advertising in VK.  (Well, that was a dumb move!)  So, the editors had me reknit the hat in Cascade 220 Sport (not because Cascade 200 Sport is better; simply because it’s 100% wool at the same gauge and Cascade is one of their frequent advertising customers. Yes, my dear, sadly, money is an all-too-frequent motivator for yarn selection, especially in magazines.)
There’s an ocean of difference, to us knitters, anyway, between ersatz substitutes and perfect replacements.  I just haven’t found the perfect Heilo replacement yet for ME, and I have a million other things on my plate, aside from Norwegian ski sweaters, so I’m knitting other things for them. Perhaps a useless answer for you, I realize, and I apologize for that.  But, at least it’s honest, and I’m hoping some of the info below will be more helpful to you.      
People like Heilo for different reasons.  Some people love the idea of a “traditional” wool and eschew the notion of a chemically bathed, superwash wool.  Some people love it because it felts extremely well; some people hope their knitting will never felt.  Some people love it because they feel it’s relatively inexpensive for a high quality wool; some people would gladly flock to cheaper substitutes instead.  Some people love it because they think every aspect of it is still made in Norway; sadly, from what I gather, that’s no longer the case.  Some people used it for ages because it had a wide array of colors; sadly, that, too, is no longer the case.  Some people use it because it’s durable; some of those same people would not want some of the equally durable substitutes that might be way more expensive, way more harsh, or only available in very few colors. In the end, while there are countless same-gauge, 100% wool substitutes out there, for each knitter, there may only be one possible substitute…or two…or ten, for you.  Given all the options and preferences, it’s impossible for me to say which yarn best suits each knitter.  
Fortunately, there are some attributes of Heilo that are easy to compare to other yarns you might like and Ravelry is a far better assistant for you in that search than I am.  For instance, Heilo gives great stitch definition, but that’s one of those things that’s readily apparent in photos, so if you search through Ravelry projects that use Heilo (here’s a link to their ever-popular Lillehammer sweater:—lillehammer-1994/people )  you’ll be able to see many different substitutes that people have chosen, in action, and you can compare their results to the Heilo results.  After you scroll through a few different Dale of Norway / Dale Garn projects on Ravelry (here’s a link to a bunch of them: of Norway %2F Dale Garn ) and make note of appealing projects using substitutes for Heilo, I think you’ll be able to come up with a far better substitute suggestion that suits your own preferences than I, or anyone else, could.  
Of course, narrowing down your choices will probably take come experimenting.  I’d suggest starting out with yarn for a small project, like a ski hat – one with the same types of motifs you’d use in the sweaters you’re hoping to do.  Hopefully, you’ll have some fun along the way!  
Best wishes, 
Mary Ann


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Free Knitting Pattern: Mittens in a Blink

free knitting pattern for quick mittens with yarn purchaseOMG, we are all sooooo tired of this freezing cold weather!  And it’s only January!  To conquer that feeling that you just can’t knit fast enough to make all the warm things everyone needs for these crazy-cold days, I’m sharing my tried-and-true “Mittens in a Blink” knitting pattern.  At least your hands will soon be warm!

And, since I currently have all Dale yarns on CLEARANCE, it just so happens that you can get the two 100g balls of Dale HUBRO you’ll want for these at a STEAL…if you hurry! Of course, you can stripe, strand or embroider yours with as many balls of Hubro as you’d like.  For quick, chunky embroidery, you might like Hegre, an Aran weight, 100% wool Dale yarn that’s on clearance and works well on top of Hubro.  For finer-gauge embroidery, I like the idea of using dear, old Heilo on Hubro – they’re all wonderful 100% wools that work well together.

You’ll see the link for the FREE Mittens in a Blink PDF at the bottom of this post.  And, since I know you’ll love the Hubro, I’ll give you links to some of my other super-quick and super-cozy Hubro projects, too.

Stay cozy and have fun!

Supernova, a Fair Isle super bulky wool hat

Supernova Hat in Hubro

Earflap Hat with Fair Isle detail knit in Dale of Norway Hubro

Nomad Earflap Hat in Hubro

Free knitting pattern for an adult's earflap hat, knit in bulky weight wool.

FREE North Shore Hat pattern, knit in Hubro

FREE Mittens in a Blink PDF


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Dale Yarn Clearance Sale

North Star Hat, knit in Dale Hegre wool yarn, on sale at

My ever-popular “North Star Hat”, knit in beautiful Dale Hegre yarn which is now on CLEARANCE at at the ridiculously low price of $4 per ball. You’ll need 2 balls, 1 of each color. PDF available through Ravelry.

About a year ago, Dale Garn suddenly announced they would no longer distribute their yarns and patterns in North America.  Neither Dale’s owner, Dale’s distributor nor Dale Garn itself cared to explain.

Remember when your mother told you, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”?  (Did you hear that pin drop?)

After decades of knitting with Dale and sixteen years as a Dale dealer, not only stocking and selling Dale, but teaching Norwegian techniques and designing with it extensively, it’s certainly sad to see all of this lovely yarn go. I know many of you feel the same. But, there is a very happy, bright side to it for both you and me.

Obviously, you now have the rare chance to get some FANTASTIC bargains on Dale yarns. (More on that below.)

Me, as my Dale shelves clear out, I’m enjoying finally having some space and time to focus on some other wonderful yarns.  Some are similarly reliable, high-quality, traditional, natural fiber, color work delights that I’ve stocked for ages, like truly beloved Shetland Spindrift which, I’m happy to report, I’ve been busily designing in and expanding my stock in lately.  Others are tried and true basics, and some are exciting newcomers that I hope to make room for shortly. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, head to the Kidsknits Dale Sale to stock up on rare Dale bargains.  Over the last year, I’ve been gradually whittling down the prices on all of my Dale yarn stock.  I just made yet another steep cut yesterday.  Now, most of them are barely above wholesale cost; some are below!

Of course, they won’t stick around forever at these prices.  We’re doing our best to show up-to-date inventory numbers online.  But, when orders arrive in close succession, or by phone, email, snail-mail, drop-bys, etc., or when they sit in shopping carts for ages before executing, it’s impossible to have 100% inventory numbers 100% of the time.   As always, I’ll email you the exact status of your order as soon as I can.  But, to avoid disappointment (oh, how I hate to disappoint my fellow knitters) call the US toll-free line, 877-631-3031, or email me directly at: mas “AT” kidsknits “DOT” com.

Finally, if you’re thinking, “Yeah, those are great yarns at great prices, but so many of the Dale books have disappeared – what can I make with them?”, many of my PDFs use Dale yarn.  Here’s a link to my designer’s page on Ravelry where you can get some good ideas.  And, for now, I do still have some Dale books left, too.

Happy bargain hunting and happy knitting!






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Calling Scotland

Calling Scotland, a Fair Isle style hat and fingerless mittens set knitting design by Mary Ann Stephens

“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 kit for the set is available from me, here.  It comes with six balls of Spindrift and an emailed PDF link.  If you already have your yarn, the PDF is available through my Ravelry shop, here.

Calling Scotland fingerless mittens

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 kit.

Have fun!


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Catalina Highway Pillow

Fair Isle Catalina Highway Pillow in Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift yarn

Catalina Highway Pillow, a Fair Isle style pillow cover designed by Mary Ann Stephens, knit with twelve colors of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift 100% Shetland wool yarn, doubled for a DK -weight gauge.  Knitting kits with twenty balls of Spindrift plus the emailed PDF are available through the designer’s online shop.

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! 😉

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Christmas Ball FAQs

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 the yarns used for these balls are available through my online yarn shop.

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.  After you’ve read it, if you still have questions, as always, feel free to post your questions here, email me at: mas AT kidsknits DOT com, or call my Kidsknits online yarn shop’s US toll-free number at 1-877-631-3031.

Today, I received this customer email, below, which included the two most frequent questions I get about the Christmas Balls’ construction:

I am confused about how to read your pattern- please can you help me since I absolutely love your Christmas ball patterns and want to make some!
I am unclear about why I need to “cast on 12 stitches” first (among my double pointed needles) when the first row in the chart has only two stitches which, when repeated four times, makes eight stitches- not twelve!  
Also, why do your directions say to “work rows 1 through 34” when there are 39 rows given on the chart?


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:

Nice to hear from you!  I’m glad you like my Christmas Balls.
I can answer your second question quickly:  If you knit the entire chart, rows 1 through 39, all in one stretch, you won’t have access to the inside of the ball – it will be closed on both ends.  If you pause at row 34 (or thereabouts) you’ll be able to turn your ball inside out and neatly weave any loose ends in on the inside, where they won’t show.  If you read just a couple of lines further in the pattern, I think you’ll see it takes you through those steps.
Now, for your first question:  Take another look at the chart…the whole chart.  Don’t miss that shy, little column of stitches on the far right!  That counts as #1, and then you have the two stitches that are right next to each other, making stitches #2 & #3.  With four repeats of those three stitches, you’ll get your 12 starting stitches.
It is possible to build the chart so that all three starting stitches are contiguous; but, that’s not the best idea.  Once you get over not noticing that shy column on the right, in the end, there are several benefits to doing it my way: The motifs are centered between the increases and decreases; all increases and decreases occur on either side of shy Column #1, so Column #1 becomes a helpful guideline as you knit along – if your shaping is done correctly, it will be one straight line from the bottom of the ball, up to the top, just as it is on the chart; in the end, having the increases and decreases centered around Column #1 and having Column #1 as a straight line makes for a more balanced, aesthetic result.
Here’s an old blog post of mine in which I further explain the Christmas ball shaping:
I hope that helps and that you have a wonderful Christmas.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
If you’re still not 100% certain about the shaping, you should definitely click through on the flat-charts-for-round-shapes link, above.  That old article of mine is quite helpful for some folks!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Here are links for each of my Christmas ball patterns and the yarns they use:

The Christmas Balls patterns use Heilo, Falk and Gullfasan yarns.

The Star of Bethlehem pattern uses Heilo (or Falk ) and Gullfasan yarns.
 The Two Strands Christmas Ball uses Freestyle yarn.
Everything in the Christmas Eve Collection uses Falk yarn.
My online yarn shop,
My PDFs on Ravelry
Posted in Christmas, Fair Isle Knitting, Free Knitting Patterns, Norwegian Knitting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

On Swatching for Gauge

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:

I don’t think you’re doing anything “wrong”, per se and it’s great that you’re checking your gauge. You just need to keep testing and adjusting accordingly. And that’s perfectly normal and good.  In fact, it’s so good that I’m going to share your question (anonymously) and my answer on my blog, for this really gets at the most important question knitters can ask about getting a satisfactory fit from their projects.
If you could take any given yarn on the planet and ask all knitters on the planet what size needles they ended up having to use to achieve one pattern’s gauge (or one ball band gauge), you’d end up with a very wide range of needle sizes.  The majority of knitters would typically fall within a range of four or five needle sizes; but, as with any large, statistically significant population, there could be some real outliers, too. When you look at the big picture, you see that there are myriad variations, not only in any yarn’s characteristics and any available needle sizes, but also in knitting methodologies and personal knitting tensions, and it’s helpful to remember that those disparities arise both on the pattern publisher’s and the pattern user’s sides. Even for an individual knitter, one’s own knitting tension can vary over time.  Not only is it possible that two different needles marked as the very same size can have slight variations, it’s also possible – indeed, common – that knitters can get considerably different gauges when using the very same needle size, but in different materials.  For instance, the drag on wooden needles frequently produces a noticeably looser gauge than the slickness of metal needles of the very same size.
Sadly, it’s not uncommon to hear some knitters say, “Oh, I’m an ‘average’ knitter – I never have to check gauge!”, but that’s simply a senseless notion. When you think of all of the possible permutations of the many variables involved, no matter how experienced any knitter might be, it’s impossible to predict exactly where any of us might fall in the perfect needle size selection game.  If we have predetermined dimensions in mind for our projects, unless we’ve used the same, specific pattern/yarn/needle size/needle type combination within the recent past, not only should we do a gauge swatch before diving in, as you’re doing; we should keep testing different needle sizes until we find the best match for us, whether we’re using the finest wires or giant tree trunks.  The “right” needle size is nothing other than the size that works for you.
I can share a couple of time-saving observations from my own experience:
#1, take good notes!  Keep a file showing the date, project, yarn, needle size, needle make, needle material, stitch type and your resulting gauge for every swatch you make.  While I eternally advise swatching before diving in, at least by checking where your gauge fell the last time you used the same variables, you can usually narrow the swatching experience down to one or two tries. (Or not.)
#2, consider the other person’s / project’s viewpoint!  Maybe your dear friend A is the world’s greatest sock knitter.  If so, he probably uses an extra small needle size, since he probably wants his socks extra warm and durable. Maybe he’d tell you to use a needle size smaller than you want. On the other hand, maybe your dear friend B is the world’s greatest lace knitter.  She probably uses an extra large needle size, to make her lace airy and fluid. Maybe she’d suggest a needle size larger than you want. Similarly, the yarn labeler &/or pattern writer at yarn manufacturer X might use the Continental / “picking” method of knitting; maybe at manufacturer Y, the American/British “throwing” method dominates.  By just turning the wrist an extra degree or two, folks at manufacturer X (let’s call them “Dale” 😋) can significantly loosen up their gauge versus what the very same yarn/needle combination might get for the designers (and yarn labelers) at Y.
I hope you’ve found this helpful.  *Happy swatching…and note taking!  (Repeat from *! 😊)
Mary Ann


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The Flourishing Scarf

Scarf,knit, knitted, Fair Isle, Norwegian, stranded, wool, alpaca, Flourishing, Dale, floral, fringe

The Flourishing Scarf, designed and knit by Mary Ann Stephens using Dale ECO Baby Wool (espresso / background) and Dale Alpakka (mist blue / motif).

UPDATE: This design is now available through Mary Ann’s new website,  You’ll find the pattern here.

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Summer Clearance Sale – More Kits!

Here they come – more awesome, one-time kit specials on eBay using custom colorways with a discontinued color or two.  Today, I’ve put together a bunch of kits using my “NY Nordic Hat” design.  Here’s an example:

NY Nordic Neutrals

The two hats at the top are the samples that were originally knit for the pattern.  The charts in the middle, left show you the six different color placement possibilities.  (Isn’t it amazing how many ways you can play with three balls of yarn?! 🙂 )  And, at the bottom, you have a photo of the Dale Garn FreeStyle yarn that will be coming in your kit.

Today’s kit specials:

Have fun!

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Summer Clearance Sale

Happy Summer, Knitters!

I hope you’re all having a delightful summer so far.  But, it’s time to start thinking ahead to get some wonderful fall knitting off to a great start at a very low price. I’ve been busy this week posting some sweet bargains on eBay for lovely, but older, Dale books, plus some custom-colored kits for some of my designs.

Here’s the kit idea: You get my $5 to $8 pattern for free, and you get great yarns for my designs on sale, while I get to move out discontinued colors to make room for more glorious, new fall yarns. I’ll be adding kits to the sale gradually, but if you’re thinking of doing one of my designs using at least 50% discontinued colors, now is the time – let me know and you’ll get my (personal-use) normally $5 to $8 pattern for free!

Here’s an example of one of the first kit sales that I’ve added to my summer clearance sale on eBay; I can’t wait to see my popular North Star Hat in those lovely purples!:…


I have other colorways for the North Star Hat already posted, with more to come, too.  Here’s my list of eBay summer clearance sale items:

Be sure to bookmark that eBay page!  I’ll be adding more great sale items to it all summer long.  Have a wonderful summer!

P. S.  – I just took the above photo yesterday, but that’s the same, old North Star Hat prototype I knit years ago.  I’ve worn it and washed it more times than I can count, yet it still looks (and feels) like new!  The aran-weight Dale Hegre I used for it is really phenomenal yarn. I LOVE it!  I don’t understand why Dale Garn hasn’t done more with it here in the US.  I guess the fact that Dale tends to focus more on the sport/DK & fingering/baby ranges has something to do with it.  But let me tell you – if you like an extra-soft, but still very durable and warm, aran-weight 100% wool at a very reasonable price, here’s your ticket! 

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Dale Garn Book 312 – Spring & Summer Tops

Dale Garn’s new Book #312 has ten new designs for ladies’ warm weather tops – mostly knit, but a few are crocheted.  Half of them are perennial classics – tanks, tees and basic pullovers that combine standard shapes with lovely yarns to deliver something special – and especially useful – to augment your summer wardrobe.  The other half consists of more fashion forward, trendy designs that can lend an updated spark to an outdated wardrobe.  (And if, like me, you find yourself lamenting that your summer wardrobe could use more than a spark – like maybe a bonfire – this might be the one little summer knitting book that could cover all of your bases.

Here are a few examples, with sizes and requirements:

Poncho or beach cover-up

A simple, crocheted poncho with nicely finished details. It’s elevated to an elegant cool weather wrap, or a stylish beach cover-up, depending upon your choice of yarn. Use Erle mohair/silk/wool for the soft, warm, rose-colored version. Use Vipe mercerized cotton for the cool & crisp white cover-up.  There are two sizes: S/M & L/XL.  You’ll want 4 (5) balls of Erle, or 12 (13) balls of Vipe.

Dale Erle waterfall cardigan knitting pattern

A 100% stockinette stitch waterfall cardi. The easiest way to add elegance to a wardrobe…as long as you knit it in a gorgeous, light and drape-y yarn like Erle.  The pattern offers seven sizes: (XS) S (M) L (XL) XXL (XXXL) and calls for (3) 4 (4) 5 (5) 6 (6) balls of Erle.


Who couldn’t use a few more summery, cotton tops?! Knit them in 100% mercerized cotton Vipe (extra soft, with a subtle sheen) or 100% regular cotton Terne (crisp, with a matte finish.) Tank top, upper left: Sizes = (XS) S (M) L (XL) XXL; you’ll need (4) 5 (5) 6 (6) 7 balls.  Short-sleeved Tee, upper right: Same sizes, (6) 7 (7) 8 (8) 9 balls.  Ribbed V-neck tank, bottom:  Sizes = (XXS) XS (S) M (L) XL; you’ll need (4) 4 (5) 5 (6) 6 balls.

crocheted dress pattern

Another crochet stand-out! Customize your # of repeats on the bottom for anything from a mini-length beach cover-up to a knee-length dressy-dress. A zipper along the left side makes for easy dressing.  Use either Terne or Vipe.  Sizes = (S) M (L) XL.  You’ll want (10) 11 (12) 13 balls for the length shown.

summer v-neck knit top with fringe

Effortless style in an easy-to-knit design. Three sizes: (XS-S) M (L-XL); you’ll need (16) 17 (18) balls of either Vipe or Terne.

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Which yarns are DK yarns??

This morning, for the umpteenth time, I received a common question about DK yarns.  “DK” stands for “double knitting” – a name which often proves confusing.  I suspect it arose from the fact that two strands of fingering weight yarn held together give you about the same result as one strand of DK weight yarn.

Here’s today’s knitter’s question:

“Hello! Of your yarns which of them would be considered DK weight? Thank you in advance for your insight.”

I figured it was time for the Full Monty explanation.  My response:

For several reasons, that’s not as simple a question as it sounds.  But, it is one that I get fairly often.  So, today, I am going to give you a detailed answer – probably more than you bargained for – so that I can put it on my blog, too, and hopefully help the many  knitters with the same question about DK weight yarns.


First of all, as you can see here, even within the so-called industry standards, (to the extent that there are any), there’s some overlap between DK and Sport weight yarns:  But, let’s start by taking the Craft Yarn Council’s 21 – 24 stitches per 4″ DK range.


The next question becomes, “Is that the ball band’s gauge, or the finished item’s gauge?”, for the two are not necessarily the same. Typically, the ball band gauge is the gauge suggested (but never mandated) by the yarn manufacturer for a plain, stockinette stitch fabric that would be considered suitable for a sweater knit in that yarn.  The stitches knit at the ball band gauge should be neither compressed, nor loose.  But, by either focused intent, or by accident, your finished item’s gauge could be considerably different. (Reason #953 why we knit a gauge swatch before diving into our projects!)  Usually, you’ll want your finished (and swatched) gauge to match your pattern’s gauge, although plenty of knitters will intentionally knit at a tighter, or looser, gauge than a pattern suggests, to target an in-between size they have in mind.


Or not.  There are no rules here – only suggestions.


Not everything that we knit has the same drape. Lace, for instance, requires a more fluid drape than most any ball band gauge would suggest.  So, we usually need to knit lace at a looser-than-ball-band gauge (using a larger needle, ending up with fewer stitches per inch.) Items that we want to make especially warm &/or durable, like mittens, socks, hats, some bags and even some sweaters, are often intentionally knit at tighter-than-ball-band gauges (using a smaller needle, ending up with more stitches per inch), giving us compressed stitches, resulting in a more solid fabric with a stiffer drape.  And, of course, there’s always the simple matter of taste: One knitter’s “fluid” is another knitter’s “sloppy”.  One knitter’s “warm and cozy” is another knitter’s “stiff as a board”.


And then, as if things aren’t already complicated enough, sometimes, a yarn company might simply change its ball band gauge suggestion, without changing the yarn!  Dale did exactly that a few years ago with their Heilo and Falk yarns.  After decades of suggesting a gauge of 24 stitches per 4″ / 10cm for their Heilo “Sport weight” yarn – and, indeed, perennially marketing it as the premier “Sport” yarn – without changing the fiber, the yardage or the ball’s weight, when sweater fashions recently became more fluid, or “drapey”, (i.e., more profitable for all clothing manufacturers because they use less fiber per piece, but not necessarily what every knitter wants), Dale changed the ball band gauge on Heilo from 24 stitches per inch (classic Sport weight) to 22 stitches per inch (classic DK weight).  Falk, which has always been billed as Heilo’s same-weight equivalent, followed suit.  Some people prefer the new, more drapey suggested gauge for Heilo and Falk, but plenty of folks (me included) still stick with the old, tried-and-true sport weight gauge for sweaters in those two yarns.  “Knitter’s choice!”


Now, with that hopefully-not-too-confusing background, I’ll try to answer your question more directly:


The Dale* yarns I stock that show DK weight suggestions (i.e, 21 to 24 sts per 4″/10cm) on their ball bands are: Heilo, Falk, Lerke,Gullfasan and Eco Wool (just starting to stock the new Eco Wool. Eco Wool yarn page will be coming soon.)


The finer-than-DK Dale yarns I stock which could be knit at a looser-than-ball-band gauge, to work well for a lace pattern that has a DK gauge, would be: Alpakka, Baby Ull, Daletta, Eco Baby (coming soon), Lille Lerke, Terne & Vipe.


The heavier-than-DK Dale yarns I stock which could be knit at a tighter-than-ball-band gauge, for denser/ warmer / more durable fabric with a DK finished gauge, would be: Cotinga, Erle, Freestyle & Hegre.


*(I do stock some other yarns for kits for some of my designs, but it’s these Dale yarns which I do both kits in and sell a la carte.)


Hope that helps!  Have fun with your DK project!




Mary Ann
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Dale Garn “Urban Retro” Book 320 patterns IN ENGLISH!!

Several of you have asked for patterns, in English, from Dale Garn’s new “Urban Retro” Book #320.  Unfortunately, they did not translate the entire book from its original Norwegian to English; but, the designs are now available, in English, as individual PDFs purchased through Ravelry.  Here are several of those designs (the most popular ones, anyway, in no particular order) and their links:

“Grill Pullover” Dale Garn Urban Retro Book 320 design #320-02:

Grill 320-02 knitting pattern from Dale Garn Urban Retro 320

“Grill” pullover from Urban Retro Book 320. Knit in Dale Alpakka.  You’ll find a crewneck and a cardigan using the very same motifs, but knit in lighter Daletta, in the earlier Dale Garn Retro Book 289.


“Flamingo” Pullover Dale Garn Urban Retro Book 320 design #320-12:

Dale Garn Urban Retro 320 knitting pattern for Flamingo pullover

“Flamingo” pullover from Urban Retro Book 320. Knit in Dale Alpakka yarn.


“Flamingo” Cardigan Dale Garn Urban Retro Book 320 design #320-13:

ladies' Norwegian cardigan knitting pattern from Dale Garn Urban Retro Book 320.

“Flamingo” cardigan from Urban Retro Book 320. Knit in Dale Alpakka yarn.


Loften pullover Dale Garn Urban Retro Book 320 design #320-11:

Norwegian unisex pullover sweater knitting pattern from Dale Garn

“Loften” pullover from Urban Retro 320.  Knit in Dale Falk 100% superwash wool yarn or Dale Heilo 100% traditional Norwegian wool yarn. You’ll find very similar crewnecks and turtlenecks, using the very same motifs, in the first Retro book, #207.


Frøydis cardigan Dale Garn Urban Retro Book 320 design #320-01:

Dale Garn Urban Retro 320 Frøydis knitting pattern for ladies' cardigan

“Frøydis” cardigan from Urban Retro 320. Knit in Dale Alpakka.


“Beehive” raglan and dropped shoulder kids’ sweaters, Urban Retro 320-04 & 320-03:

kids' Norwegian sweater knitting patterns from Dale Garn Book 320

“Bikube”, or “Beehive”, raglan (purple, #320-04) and dropped shoulder (green, #320-03) kids’ pullovers from Urban Retro Book 320.  Knit in Dale Falk yarn.



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Dale Flamingo Cardi Yarn Subs

Flamingo Cardi from Dale Urban Retro

Yesterday, in my Ravelry group, a knitter posed a yarn sub question about the wonderful, new Dale “Flamingo” cardi from the new Dale “Urban Retro” Book #320.  Sadly, only a handful of patterns from that awesome Norwegian original were translated into English.  Dale’s US distributor is selling this pattern directly, in English, as an individual PDF, through Ravelry, right over…here.

Flamingo cardi cuff

Here is the knitter’s question:

I have just seen and fallen in love with this pattern
320-13 Flamingo from the Dale Garn 320 Urban Retro collection. Except it is in Alpakka and that yarn is too warm for me. Is there a light wool or even a wool-cotton blend you could recommend as a substitute?  (The knitter lives in the Deep South of the US.)

Here is my reply:

Hmmm, that’s an interesting question. I love Dale Alpakka and quite a few folks around here are planning to do that sweater specifically because it’s an Alpakka sweater…well, and because it’s so very pretty, too. But seeing you live in the southern part of the US, I can totally understand why you wouldn’t usually want the warmth of alpaca. Sure, there are other, less-warm Dale options you could choose.

That sweater is knit at the Alpakka ball band gauge of 25 sts over 4” / 10cm. I know you asked for “light wool or even a wool-cotton blend”. (Technically, alpaca is a type of wool and it is lighter weight, and softer, than sheep’s wool, but boy, is it warm!) Given your locale and Dale’s array of choices, and thinking of the heat and humidity I’ve encountered in your area, the first thing that jumps to my mind is a 100% cotton version of that sweater. Dale Vipe and Dale Terne both have exactly the same 25 sts over 4” / 10cm ball band gauges. A spot-on gauge match is always a beautiful thing! I’d pick Vipe over Terne because it has a softer drape and a lovely, soft, mercerized sheen. I know, cotton is not what we usually think of for stranded sweaters. But, a couple of summers ago, I did a stranded, steeked top in Vipe which I just love. Of course, you must machine-reinforce any cotton (or wool/cotton blend) before cutting, but it’s easy to do with Vipe. Look at the dark grey / light grey steek photos on this article of mine – they were done in Vipe:…

The next yarns that come to mind would be Lerke and Lille Lerke – they’re both beautiful, merino wool / egyptian cotton blends. Lerke is 52% merino, 48% cotton; Lille Lerke is 53% merino, 47% cotton. Either one is terrific for this type of sweater, but…neither one is a spot-on gauge match for this particular sweater. Substituting with a different gauge is a funny thing – it can be perfectly fine – sometimes, preferable – if you plan for it; but, it can also be disastrous, if you don’t work out the details.

In some cases, some folks might say that you could use smaller needles and knit the DK Lerke at a tighter gauge to come closer to the pattern’s sport weight gauge; but, I don’t get the idea that you want an extra-dense sweater, right? So, personally, I wouldn’t go that route, in your case. And, some might suggest that you could loosen up the fine gauge on the Lille Lerke, but I wouldn’t recommend that route, either, due to the colorwork – an extra-loose colorwork gauge allows floats to show through – not good!

Fortunately, a sweater like this is a pretty good candidate for a gauge change, since it has large, solid-colored areas, making it easy-peasy to knit to the correct length measurements for your usual size, no matter the gauge. Keep in mind, though, that your colorwork areas would lengthen slightly with a heavier yarn and shorten slightly with a lighter yarn.

Lerke is DK, with a gauge of 22 sts per inch. So, you might knit a pattern size or two smaller, to get the right stitch count / width, but knit to lengths of your usual size, and end up with something that should equal your desired measurements. The 3 extra stitches you’d be knitting beyond every 4” around on your sweater (comparing the pattern’s 25 sts per 4” vs. the yarn’s ball band gauge of 22 sts) would give you 3/22 = 13.6% more fabric in width. For example, on a pattern chest size of 40”, if you knit at the Lerke ball band gauge, you’d have a 45.4” finished chest.

If you used the finer-gauged Lille Lerke instead, the 3 fewer stitches in the pattern per 4” in width (the pattern figures 25 sts over 4”, but you’d need 28) would result in a sweater that’s 3/28, or 10.7% smaller. On a 40” pattern chest size, if you knit at the Lille Lerke ball band gauge, you’d end up with a 35.7” finished chest. So, with Lille Lerke, you’d use a size or two larger in the pattern for the stitch count, but, as in the Lerke case, you’d knit to the lengths described for your true size.

(See what I mean – a spot-on gauge match really is a beautiful thing! 😉 )

As for the regular wools, you have similar options to consider there, too, with an interesting twist. Dale Heilo and Falk, 100% traditional wool & 100% superwash wool, respectively, are currently labeled as DK yarns @ 22 sts per 4” / 10cm. But…for ages, the very same yarns at the very same contents, weights and yardages were labeled as sport weight yarns, to be knit at 24 sts per 4”. What changed was not the yarn, but the suggested drape. Look at any of the older Dale patterns (two or more years older) and you’ll see both Heilo and Falk were knit consistently at 24. Personally, for wintery wool sweaters that last for generations, I’ve always preferred the 24 sport weight gauge for both of those yarns. (Obviously, Dale, and current flimsy fabric fashion trends, disagree with me.) If you wanted a warm, wool version of that sweater, you could use either Heilo or Falk at the tried-and-true sport weight gauge of 24 sts over 4” and you’d already be pretty darn close to your targeted size – just a wee bit larger. But…in your steamy part of the country, I imagine you’d rather have a lighter weight wool sweater, if any, so if you go for either Heilo or Falk, use the ball band DK gauge and the same sort of substitution comparison that I did for DK weight Lerke to come up with your pattern size targets.

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Baby’s 1st Fair Isle Cardi

fair isle sweater for babies

Baby’s First Fair Isle Cardigan, a new circularly-knit, stranded and steeked Fair Isle knitting design by Mary Ann Stephens. Available as a PDF from Ravelry or as a discounted kit from Mary Ann’s online yarn shop,  Kits are available in your four favorite shades of Dale Baby Ull.

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:)

Gracie, our baby, a golden retriever

Gracie with her friend, Mr. Roosevelt.

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:

fair isle sweater for infants

Baby’s First Fair Isle Cardigan, in the grey colorway, with classic straight-sided shaping, using Dale Baby Ull in: sand heather 0004, grey heather 0007, golden olive 2226 and retro red 3820.

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 girl's fair isle sweater

Baby’s First Fair Isle Cardigan in the mint colorway, with a bell-shaped, gathered body, using Dale Baby Ull in light green 8222, lupine 5226, powder pink 4202, light eggplant 4435.

Of course, there are countless Baby Ull combinations that would be suitable for a design like this.  Which colors would you use?

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The Quick and Cozy Sale at Kidsknits

Brrrrrr, Valentine, it’s cold out there!  The windchill around here this weekend is supposed to dip below zero – YIKES!  It’s definitely time for some quick and cozy fireside knitting.  Or, at least time for plotting to be better prepared for the next thermometer dip.  To that end, we’ve taken an extra 10% off of our two quickest and coziest yarns – super bulky Dale Hubro (which, like most things, we always have at least somewhat on sale, so with this extra 10%, it’s now a full 20% off MSRP) and aran weight Dale Hegre (now more than 15% off MSRP.)  They’re both great quality 100% wool yarns that are especially soft and warm.  To tempt you further, I’ve also taken 10% off some of my pattern PDFs on Ravelry that use those yarn: (Macadamia  & North Star hats use Hegre; Supernova, Nomad and Snowbird hats use Hubro.)

aran weight and super bulky weight hat knitting projects on sale

From left: Macadamia, North Star, Supernova, Nomad, Snowbird.

Have fun!

P. S. Like the cold snap, this sale won’t last long – it runs from today, 2/12/16, until next week, 2/19/16.

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Dale Garn Book 319 Retro Baby

Dale Garn Retro Baby Book 319

Dale Garn Retro Baby Book 319, available at

Dale’s new “Retro Baby” book is here!  It has sixteen adorable Norwegian colorwork knitting designs for dressing up your little sweethearts, newborn to three years old.  Everything in the book has been knit in Dale’s ever-popular Dale Baby Ull superwash merino fingering weight yarn (a personal favorite!)  Instructions are given in BOTH English AND Norwegian.  Take a peek at some of these cute-as-can-be highlights:

Norwegian knitting for baby - Dale Book 319 at

Knitting for Baby, Norwegian-style. Dale Garn’s new Retro Baby Book 319, available at

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Knitting’s many health benefits

Don’t miss Jane Brody’s article on the health benefits of knitting in yesterday’s New York Times:

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Another Shetland Spindrift Shipment

Fair Isle knitting kits

Mary Ann’s Fair Isle style knitting designs, using Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift 100% Shetland wool yarn. Available as kits through her website. Links below.

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:

Polar Chullo:

Polar Chullo by Mary Ann Stephens, in the Winter '09 Twist Collective, a fair isle polar bear ear flap hat

Tulip Mittens:

Tulip Mittens copyright Mary Ann Stephens

Amaryllis Hat:

shetland natural version of the Amaryllis Hat, a ladies' tam

Allamanda Hat:

Fair Isle hat with embroidery, Allamanda Hat, by Mary Ann Stephens, copryright 2012

Sagebrush Chullo:

Earflap hat knitting pattern

Shamrock Mittens:

shamrock mittens knitting pattern, perfect for st. patrick's day

Spice Route Gloves:

Fair Isle knitting pattern for gloves




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Top 10 Tips for Machine-sewn Steeks

steek cutting

Cutting the steek on my Wintergarden Pullover.

It’s that time of the year again!  Knitters scramble to finish up gifts, they scurry to gather provisions for the wintertime queue and I get inundated with frantic calls and emails about steeking – a finishing technique that’s central to stranded knitting – one that elicits shock and panic from the uninitiated, yet pride and delight from the practiced.  If you’re new to this concept and wonder “Why in the world would any sane knitter ever cut their knitting?!”, check out this old 7-page steeking tutorial of mine.  In a hurry?  (Who isn’t?!)  To get you through today’s really-not-at-all-terrifying task, here are my top ten tips on how to make your machine-sewn steeks a quick, and ever-lasting, success:

  1.  I would NOT use crocheted steeks on anything other than Shetland wool.  All smooth wool yarns, and ANY plant-based or synthetic yarns, require machine-sewn steeks.
  2. As with all things in Knitting, it’s the lowly swatch that’s key in separating the pros from the schmoes. Use your swatch for a little trial sewing-and-cutting run, to take the guesswork out of the process.  Didn’t swatch for this project? (Boy, are you in trouble!  We’ll have to talk about this later, Young Knitter. In the meantime…) Use any old swatch, or part of a frogged project, or even that Ugly Christmas Sweater you can’t believe you’ve kept in your closet all these years…as long as it’s about the same gauge and similar material, any scrap knitted fabric that you can experiment on will be a huge help in giving you a carefree, and informative, practice run.  Better to find out how your machine behaves – or misbehaves – on something you don’t care about!
  3. Use a very short stitch length on your sewing machine.  The reason crocheted steeks fail with smooth yarns is that they typically loop around each strand of yarn.  With a slight tug, most any smooth yarn can slip right through that crocheted loop.  (But, if it’s sticky, like Shetland wool, well, you might not even need that bulky crocheted loop to begin with.  But, that’s another post, for another day.)  If you bisect, or even trisect, each yarn strand with short machine stitches, cut strands will not be able to slip through – they’ll be locked in place for good.
  4. Sew two lines, right next to each other, for the ever-helpful belt and suspenders approach.  (I always use straight lines.  Some people like zigzags.  I don’t see the point. And, I always have at least one stitch column for cutting in the middle of my steeks, sometimes two.  But, I have seen patterns without any extra columns at all.  I think an extra stitch or two in the middle is great insurance – well worth the effort!)

    Steek sewn twice

    Sew 2 lines, right next to each other, down each side of your steek.

  5. Odds are you’ll be covering your sewing lines with hems, facings or maybe even a covered steek, so feel free to use a contrast color of thread to make the process easier on your eyes.
  6. Keep loose yarn ends away from your sewing lines by temporarily tucking them aside under plain, old scotch tape – it takes seconds and it works wonders!

    tape yarn ends before sewing steek

    Simple scotch tape, better than a 3rd hand!

  7. Another plain, old wonder: A layer of tissue paper between your knitting and the machine keeps fluid, textured or extra fine fabrics from getting snagged by the machine’s feed dogs (those pesky, gnarly gears below the needle that pop up to pass the fabric through.)  Once you’re done reinforcing, the tissue peels away in a snap.

    steek backed by tissue paper

    Tissue paper saved my fabric from the evil feed dogs!

  8. Norwegian armhole steeks are typically sewn and cut right into patterned body fabric, without any striped guidelines.  If you’re afraid your sewing might stray out of bounds on those spots, run a quick baste line with contrasting yarn down the center of the sideline, to the base of the armhole. You can pull it out as you sew along, knowing your stitches are staying right on track.  (As for cardigan and neckline steeks, I ALWAYS knit those steek stitches to create vertical stripes, but I know some folks like to create a checkered pattern. That makes no sense to me!  I say stick with the striped method and you’ll have your guidelines set from the start.)

    armhole steek on tiger lily

    Basted sideline on my Tiger Lily Jacket armhole steek.

  9. Work that backstitch!  The most high-risk areas tend to be the very tops and bottoms of the opening (aka the stops and starts of your sewing lines) and the base of the armholes.  Those are the areas where you’ll want to use your machine’s backstitch function liberally.  And it does not have to be a thing of beauty – you’re shooting for a thing of strength!  Remember, these areas will eventually be covered, so don’t hesitate to backstitch a couple of times to be sure you’ve caught the edge stitches securely.  Same thing on that armhole – it’s okay to go around the bottom corners a couple of times to be certain you’re leaving a secure line that will hold up to constant movement.

    steek edges backstitched

    Backstitch the heck out of those edges!

  10. Once it’s time to cut, use sharp, pointed scissors, sit in a well-lit spot and take your time.  A sheet of cardboard inside your sweater, underneath your steek, can keep you from cutting anything other than your cutting line – priceless for peace of mind!


covered steeks

My Rosalia’s covered steeks.

Here are my designs in knitting kits.  Here is my Ravelry PDF store.

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Ivy Headband

My new, warm, soft, stranded, braided, purpled, ivy-covered headband:

Ivy Headband, a knitting pattern by Mary Ann Stephens, knit with Dale Garn Alpakka yarn from her shop.

Ivy Headband, a new knitting design by Mary Ann Stephens

I used five different shades of Dale Garn Alpakka.  You’ll want about 40g out of a 50g ball of the main, background color – Purple 4845, 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 Ravelry here.  Have fun!

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The Christmas Eve Collection

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:

Christmas balls knitting patterns

The Christmas Eve Collection – 3 new Christmas ball knitting designs by Mary Ann Stephens.

The $6 PDF, which includes instructions for all of the designs pictured, is available through my Ravelry PDF store.  The Dale Falk yarns used are available through my Kidsknits online yarn shop.

I hope they help to make your Christmas extra special, for you and your family, for many years to come.


Mary Ann

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Free Knitting Pattern – Sports Fan Hat

free knitting pattern for unisex knit hat with fold up ribbing and stripes

“Sports Fan Hat”, a free knitting pattern.

UPDATE: This free “Sports Fan Hat” knitting pattern has been moved to the free knitting pattern page on Mary Ann’s new website,

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Free chart for "Thank You" cards or needlework

Image | Posted on by | 1 Comment

Sagebrush Chullo

Earflap hat knitting pattern

Sagebrush Chullo, a new Fair Isle knitting design for an adult’s earflap hat, by Mary Ann Stephens.

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!  😉

The kit, which comes with 7 balls of Spindrift + the pattern (your choice – printed or PDF)  is available here.  The PDF is sold here.  Here’s the Sagebrush Chullo page on Ravelry.

Have fun!

Sagebrush Chullo Fair Isle knitting kit and knitting pattern

The usual suspect.

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New Dale Baby Ull colors for Fall 2015

new baby ull colors for 2015

The eight new Fall 2015 colors added to Dale Baby Ull, a fingering weight, 100% superwash merino yarn.

Dale Garn has added eight lovely new colors to their beloved Baby Ull line for Fall 2015.  Wow, this brings our count of different Baby Ull colors in stock at the moment to more than fifty – nice!  And, they’re all in stock and available at our perennially-discounted price.

dale baby ull colors added for fall 2015

Let me introduce them to you!  They are, from left to right:

#3820 Retro Red

#2835 Saffron

#2226 Golden Olive

#2235 Pale Yellow

#8222 Light Green

#5303 Light Lavender

#5305 Thistle

#5625 Soft Grey

I wish they’d just keep adding Baby Ull colors infinitely – the more, the merrier – I’d take ’em all!  But, I guess they like to keep things manageable. Darn!  So, while most of the Baby Ull colors remain unchanged, nine more of the older colors have been discontinued.  (And, we still have a few earlier, oldies-but-goodies on the shelf, too.)  All of the discontinued colors, ancient and recent, are designated by an asterisk* on our Kidsknits Baby Ull page, telling you that they’re endangered species, in limited supply. So, if you’ve been thinking of making something using any of those discontinued* shades, now is the time to swoop in and scoop them up!

Here’s last year’s Baby Ull color card, with the newly-discontinued colors marked with a “D”:

Baby Ull superwash merino yarn color card

Posted in Fair Isle Knitting, Knitting, New From Dale of Norway, Norwegian Knitting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dale Knitting Book Clearance Sale

Stop by my knitting book page and you’ll see new clearance prices on a great selection of older Dale gems.  Here’s just a glimpse:

Dale knitting book clearance sale

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Littlest hat, biggest honor

Infant's sunhat knitting kit sport or DK weight cotton yarn from PDF thru Ravelry.

Littlest Fisherman’s Hat in 3-6 month size, knit in Lerke merino+cotton DK weight yarn.

OMG!  Sometimes I get the sweetest reports back from my customers! I think today’s might top ’em all:

sweet dreams hat email

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!

Baby's sunhat knit in sport weight or DK cotton yarn from PDF thru Ravelry.

The Littlest Fisherman’s Hat, in Dale Garn “Terne” 100% cotton, 0-3 month size.

Posted in Knitting, Mary Ann's Designs, Miscellaneous, Norwegian Knitting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peace Sweater Motifs – old mistakes or loveable quirks?

Yesterday, I posted about two types of observations I’ve made regarding the Dale Peace sweater knitting pattern – Dale’s little glitches, which you’ll definitely want to correct, and my opinionated preferences, which you might want to consider. Today, I want to mention yet another type of observation I’ve made regarding the Peace design: an interesting quirk that doesn’t really fall into either of yesterday’s classifications. Today’s topic shows proof of the earnest nature of their hand knitting reproduction of the original, even while it raises questions regarding the process of bringing the designer’s original vision to market.

Look at the cuffs.  Now look at the collar.

Different knitting motifs on Dale Peace sweater pattern

Ever-so-slightly different motifs on the cuffs, versus collar, of the Dale “Peace” sweater design.

Below, I’ve charted out the main motifs from each section, and placed them side by side, for your inspection.  Notice anything just a wee bit different?

Dale Peace sweater motifs on cuffs and collar

One might be tempted, at first, to call the cuff motif that’s between the stars a mistake.  After all, if there is one design imperative that runs rampant through nearly every Norwegian knitting motif, it’s symmetry.  Like so many time-honored Norwegian knitting motifs, the stacked X’s on the collar are symmetrical both horizontally and vertically; the cuff motif …well, not so much.   Does that make it a mistake?  Not necessarily.  Maybe the designer liked the idea of changing things up, ever-so-slightly.  Maybe the cuff motif is a charming nod to the little stick figures we often see in all sorts of traditional folk knitting.  Or, yeah, I guess it could be a mistake.  But, if so, it’s NOT a hand knitting pattern mistake, it’s a ready-made factory mistake.  (Or not.)

Here are the google image results for the search “dale of norway peace sweater“.  You’ll see that very same, ever-so-slight motif difference in every ready-made Peace sweater, too. Was it designed that way, or is that a factory mistake that affected all ready-made sweaters and was carried over to the hand knitting pattern, too?  I doubt we’ll ever know for sure.  But it’s certainly interesting and it gives us reason to appreciate the attention given to the knitting pattern.  Someone clearly put a great deal of work into carefully copying the ready-made’s motifs.  And, hopefully, it opens the door for some of you to further consider what you’d like to keep, or change, in this, or, for that matter, any, knitting pattern.

Have fun!

Posted in Fair Isle Knitting, Free Knitting Patterns, Knitting, New From Dale of Norway | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My notes for Dale’s Peace sweater knitting pattern

free knitting pattern for Dale Peace sweater

Dale of Norway’s wildly popular “Peace” sweater is finally available as a Dale Garn knitting pattern using Dale Baby Ull yarn.

Last week, as soon as I saw it, I shared the Ravelry link to the new, free knitting pattern for Dale Garn’s lovely “Peace” sweater.  When they issued it, they said it was for a “limited time”, so time was of the essence – I didn’t want any of you to miss this gorgeous pattern!  Since then, I’ve had a little time to go over the pattern. At first glance, anyone could see that they had some chart labels that were obscuring a few rows on some charts. If you had to, you could figure the obscured stitches out, by referring to the sweater photos in the PDF and enlarging the heck out of them. Thankfully, you don’t have to, because they’ve revised those charts and posted the new version, “Peace-Rev1”, on Ravelry.

But…there are still a few glitches in Peace-Rev1. I’ve spoken to them about what I’ve noticed, and they plan to release a second, revised version with some of my points. Some of my points are necessary corrections anyone would want; some of my points are my own, very opinionated preferences. I’ll tell you about all of them, but keep this in mind: If you ask a dozen different knitters how to knit one pattern, you’ll always end up with a dozen different approaches. So, I’m definitely not telling you to do it my way – as always, do it your way. But consider this food for thought (okay, delicious, home-grown, organic, gourmet food for thought, made with love.) And, as always, feel free to share your comments, below.

The word “border”: The word “border” generally implies a boundary, an edge, or a section along an edge; yet, they use the word “border” as they refer to all chart work to be done, even charts to be worked in the middle of a piece. That has confused some callers. So, if you’re in that camp, wherever you see the word “border”, swap in the words “chart work”.

Restart Diagram A at the sideline: Do not work Diagram A non-stop for a full round. The start and end points for working Diagram A will only work if you start your chart work anew for the second half, right after you encounter the side marker. (Since the other charts deal with fronts and backs separately, restarting on the sideline is not an issue elsewhere.)

Armholes and yoke: The Peace pattern has you work the bottom of the sweater circularly and the top of the sweater back and forth. I wouldn’t. There are a few, very limited, but perfectly sensible, situations in which I think it really does pay to work color work back and forth: The sides of a curvy neckline, the nicely shaped shoulders, etc. But usually, I think it’s a bad idea. In this case, I DEFINITELY think it’s a bad idea. (Unless you’re doing it on a knitting machine, in which case you’ll do ALL of it back and forth. I’m writing with hand knitters in mind.)

If you’re familiar with steeks and their rationale, you can skip the next three paragraphs.

First, a little background: There are a few really GREAT reasons why we usually knit color work circularly: 1) Most everyone’s knit stitches have a slightly differently slant and, occasionally, different tension, than their purl stitches; so, mixing the two stitch types can visually distort motifs. 2) Most people find knit stitches easier / faster to execute than purl stitches. 3) It’s easier to “read” your knitting on the “right” side (pretty outside) of the fabric than on the “wrong” (float-garbled inside) of the fabric. 4) It’s easier to read chart work when it’s flowing in the same, right-to-left, direction as your knit stitches. Reading the chart in one direction, but purling back in the opposite direction, can be quite the annoying mind-bend for some knitters.

Circular knitting solves all of those problems by keeping everything in knit stitches, flowing happily in the same direction throughout. The vast majority of Dale Garn’s traditional Norwegian patterns are done circularly, and they have you manage openings in your circular knitting – like armholes, necklines, etc. – through the use of “cutting stitches” or “steeks”. Thanks to steeks, you can temporarily bridge future openings so that you keep that great all-knit vibe going throughout the project (or maybe about 98% of it – not bad!) Unfortunately, knitters that have not yet used steeks often have a hard time appreciating their worth, and tend to avoid the admittedly-unsettling thought of cutting their knitting.

With the Peace pattern, I suspect some new folks at Dale Garn went overboard to avoid the feared steeks that are central to their old, traditional Norwegian patterns. I’m just guessing that they wanted to broaden their market and felt uninitiated knitters tend to avoid steeked patterns (whereas the steek-initiated know steeks can be a great benefit to color work. Me, when I know something works, I’d rather share it than avoid it. So, if you’re not yet familiar with steeks, you might want to read my old 7-page tutorial on the topic.) Ironically, while Dale went to great pains to avoid any steeks in the pattern, they also mistakenly left their standard line about reinforcing and cutting stitches open in the pattern. I guess old habits die hard! (A minor glitch, really. If you’re following the pattern verbatim, just ignore their line about reinforcing and cutting at the start of the “Finishing” section.)

If you are thinking of steeking your Peace armholes, consider this: Traditional, steeked Norwegian armholes are typically a bit oversized and have straight-edged, dropped-shoulders, so that you can easily add on a few rows of binding at the top of your sleeves, and that will eventually cover the raw, sewn-and-cut edges of your armholes. With the Peace sweater’s lovely, fitted armholes, such binding would create problematic bulk where we want a smooth fit.

You can choose to ignore those raw, sewn-and-cut armhole edges, if you’d like (I wouldn’t, but some would.) You could whipstitch them in place, you could sew thin seam binding over them, you could do a lot of things to make them livable. Or just ignore them. But, if you really want to steek the armholes, there’s one change to the pattern that you MUST make – just add 1 more stitch to the large bind-offs at the base of the armholes (and decrease that same 1 stitch from your next 2-st decrease) so that all of your subsequent armhole/sleeve decreases are only 1 stitch at a time. That way, you’ll be able to cast on steek stitches on the row right after the big, armhole base bind-off and all of your decreases can be done, 1 st at a time, on each side of the steek. You can continue the armhole steek nearly to the top; you’ll just need to bind-off the steek stitches and work back and forth (as described in the pattern) to do the last few rows which involve the short-row shoulder shaping. OR…

A better idea:

IMHO, the armholes / yoke of this sweater would be best if worked circularly, without armhole steeks. Essentially, I’d use the same circular yoke approach that you’d use for any raglan sweater: Work the body and both sleeves through past the armhole bind-off row (remembering to add 1 st to the big armhole BO and take that same st away from the next, 2-st decrease, making everything above the armhole base a 1-st decrease.) Then, join all 3 pieces circularly, as for a raglan, but do NOT make the straight, diagonal-line decreases typical of a raglan; rather, work all the same back, front and sleeve decreases you see in the pattern (except, of course, for that one, PESKY, 2-st decrease.)

While I would NOT steek the armholes, I WOULD steek a couple of other things:

Sleeve cuffs: I’d work the cuff facing back and forth, as described, but, right after the foldline, I’d steek the short, little outside portion of the cuff. I’d cast on a 5-stitch steek, using the motif color for steek sts #2 & 4, the background color for steek sts #1, 3 & 5. Then, on the top rows of the cuff’s Diagrams E & F, I’d bind off the cuff steek. I’d sew 2 lines of teeny, tiny machine stitches down each of those motif-colored steek stripes (#2&4) then I’d cut it open, right up the middle of steek stitch column #3. Finishing it off would be a breeze, since the cuff facing would fold up, right over the raw edges.

Split neckline and neckband: I’d work a similar steek for the front neck split, right above the one BO center neck stitch, except that I’d add about 4 more stitches to my neckline steek – 2 more on either side – so that I could fold my raw steek edges over and slipstitch them in place, making a nice facing on either side of the soon-to-arrive zipper. I’d steek the neckband, too, although I’d use a smaller, 5-st steek, such as I suggested for the cuffs. After all, the neckband has essentially the same architecture as the cuffs – just upside-down – with a facing worked back and forth, to neatly cover any raw neckband steek edges.


The rows obscured by labels on a few of the original charts have been adjusted in Rev-1. But, there are still some issues. The leftmost two rows from Diagram B / Front I, page 8 are missing. They plan to republish those, but if you’re nearing that point before they get a chance to republish, just refer to Diagram B / Back 1 for those same rows – they’re (supposed to be) identical.

There’s one chart column missing from each side of the large, horizontal band of flowers that goes across the yoke (both sides of upper front and upper back.) If you’re working the S size, it doesn’t even impact you. But, for all other sizes, you’ll want move the large floral motifs one column out, toward the nearest edge, to fit in that missing column, which should be identical to the column that’s just 2 columns in toward the center, i.e., the other side of the little triangles that are in between the flowers.  The triangle and diamond motifs above that section are fine as is. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Dale Peace sweater missing column from upper front and upper back.

There’s a problem with the sleeve charts on page 14 of the Peace-Rev1.pdf file.  The problem lies at the base of the hearts. (See my red circles.)

Dale Peace sweater knitting pattern sleeve chart problem

Notice that, in Diagram H, there are only two blank stitches between the dots at the base of the heart. That’s okay, because you want those two dark stitches just where they are, forming the top row of the “X” shape at the top of the big triangle.

Dale Peace sweater sleeve stitches okay at X at base

In Diagram I, there are three blank stitches between the dots. They’re okay, too, because they form the top of the little quotation marks (if you will) at the top of each heart. The stitches are actually correct as charted for their individual locations; BUT…the problem arises with the “repeat”.

Error in Rev-1 of Dale Peace sweater knitting pattern

So, you have to move the bottom of the “repeat” line on Diagram H up one row, so that the 2-st spaced dots can stay above the triangle to make the “X”, you have to add the 3-st spaced row to the top of the repeat section on Diagram H, and you have to remove that same 3-st spaced row from the bottom of Diagram I, so that it’s not duplicated.

I’ve reviewed these issues with the folks at Dale / Mango Moon, so hopefully, they’ll be able to get Norway to update the charts shortly.  In the meantime, I hope you those of you who are already enjoying this gorgeous project find this info helpful.

One request: If any of you have a magical way of creating free time, so that I can dive into my own Peace project, please clue me in!!  😉

Posted in Fair Isle Knitting, Free Charts, Free Knitting Patterns, Knitting, New From Dale of Norway, Norwegian Knitting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

New Dale Garn yarns and colors for Fall 2015

Hot off the presses!  Dale Garn just released this new PDF, showing new colors, and even a couple of new yarns, for 2015: DG-Fargekart-150826.  (Yep, it’s in Norwegian.  As you may have noticed from any Dale yarn ball band, “farge” means “color” in Norwegian, so, you guessed it – “fargekart” means “color card”.)  So many beautiful new shades!  And…some I’m kinda wondering about, only because they look different, but they’re using old/existing color numbers.  Hmmm? Stay tuned – that’ll all be sorted shortly.  Can’t wait until all the new shades are in the US.  Should be soon.  In the meantime, having fun scheming with those glorious colors, whatever they’re numbered / called!

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Free knitting pattern – Dale “Peace” sweater!!

FINALLY!!! Dale of Norway’s beloved “Peace” sweater is now available for hand knitting using Dale Garn’s equally-lovable Dale Baby Ull yarn.  Not only that, this pattern is available in English and…are you ready for this?  It’s FREE!  Yep, apparently, for what they say is a limited time, the Dale pattern is now available as a free download, in English, through Ravelry.  GET IT NOW!!!

free knitting pattern for Dale Peace sweater

Dale of Norway’s wildly popular “Peace” sweater is finally available as a Dale Garn knitting pattern using Dale Baby Ull yarn.

I can’t tell you how many sad hours I’ve spent over the years, breaking knitters’ hearts when I had to tell them that, no, the Peace sweater wasn’t available for hand knitting because the machine-knit, ready-made one was knit in 2ply Heilo Norwegian wool – a very fine-gauge yarn suitable only for machine-knitting – whereas the Heilo Norwegian wool for hand knitting was a 4ply yarn = twice the thickness.  Thankfully, they’ve finally re-scaled the design for use with their wonderful, fingering weight washable merino yarn, Dale Baby Ull.

Okay, so now that you’ve got the pattern,  which two colors of Baby Ull do you love the most?  Below, you’ll see their most recent color card. I’ve marked it up to show the handful of colors we’ve been told will be discontinued shortly – see my list at upper left and “D” on the yarn samples.  Those colors should still be available for now, but not for long.  The US distributor has also told us Dale dealers about the several new Baby Ull colors that should be out shortly, but they haven’t seen them yet, and have no images for us to go on.  As soon as I see them, you will, too!  For now, see them listed at the upper right corner on the card.  Any of the colors on the card without the “D” should be around for a good long time to come.  As you pick out your two colors, remember:  the more contrast between your two shades, the better those lovely “Peace” details will show up in your knitting, and on the finished sweater.

Questions?  As always, feel free to either email me directly at: “mas AT kidsknits DOT com”,  or, call my US toll-free number, 1 877 631 3031.


Baby Ull superwash merino yarn color card


Posted in Fair Isle Knitting, Free Charts, Free Knitting Patterns, Knitting, New From Dale of Norway, Norwegian Knitting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fair Isle Vest by Yoko Hatta in VK Early Fall 2015 in Dale yarns

There’s a truly lovely Fair Isle vest by Yoko Hatta in the new Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2015 edition.  It uses mostly Dale Alpakka (regulars here know that’s a personal favorite of mine), with some gorgeous Dale Erle accents, all in a very wearable, subtle blend of soft greys and pale, dusty pinks.  If I didn’t already have about 5 different projects on my needles, I’d be casting on for it today!

Fair Isle knit vest by Yoko Hatta Vogue Knitting Dale yarns

Yoko Hatta’s Fair Isle Vest in the Early Fall 2015 Vogue Knitting uses Dale yarns available through my shop.

Judging by the Alpakka and Erle yarn orders I’ve received, several of you already took the plunge and are probably making good progress.  But, in the meantime, I’ve also received a few phone calls and emails from knitters who would love to knit Yoko’s vest, but are put off by the instructions given by Vogue Knitting – specifically…are you sitting down?…they have you knit this Fair Isle vest flat.  (“Flat” really is the “F-word” for Fair Isle hand knitting, isn’t it?!)

Machine knitters might be thrilled to see the instructions in flat pieces; however, most of us are hand knitters and those of us hand knitters who knit Fair Isle projects generally prefer knitting them in the round, for several excellent reasons.  Some might do the bottom half circularly, then split the front and back at the base of the armholes, and work back and forth to the top, to avoid steeking such soft yarns.  I wouldn’t!  I’d much rather go circularly, bottom to top, and have all of my stitches looking as consistent as possible.  I’d have no qualms about steeking these yarns, as long as they’re reinforced with double rows of small, machine-sewn stitches, before being cut open.

There are a few other things I’d do differently, too.  I’ll tell you what I’d change, but, of course, you’ll still need to get the pattern from VK to do either version.

In addition to consistent stitches, I like consistent motifs.  And, while I know some of you couldn’t give a fig about how your motifs line up on the sidelines (after all, 99% of the ready-made clothing made these days shows no one paid any attention to that little nicety) to me, and I know more than a few of my fellow Fair Isle-style knitters, there’s beauty in a consistently laid-out design and there’s joy to be found in knitting the same motifs, unbroken, for an entire round.  Yes, by stopping and restarting partial motifs at the sidelines, you can delineate the sizes precisely as you’d like them.  But, interestingly, in this case, by using entire motifs throughout, while the breakpoints between sizes are a bit different, there are just as many options for sizes as are given in the pattern.  Some might even be a better fit for you!  (Or not…see my stitch counts and sizes, below.)  Here’s an outline of what I’m thinking about:

Yoko’s large, argyle motif has a 16-stitch repeat.  The little motif (on the darker grey bands) is a 6-stitch repeat.  While I love the look of this vest, the math nerd in me bristles at the idea of two clashing multiples in one design.  I’d really love to see the motifs line up vertically, too.  Yep, maybe I’m a little too obsessed with lining things up “just so”, but that’s a big part of why I love knitting – I can make all of my things “just so”!  Here are a few ideas I have for 8-stitch motifs (well, the middle one is a 16-st motif – still an 8-st multiple) that could substitute for the original 6-stitch motifs, so that things will line up, unbroken, both vertically and horizontally:

fair isle bands with 8 or 16 stitches per repeat

Just a few of the possible motifs that could line up, unbroken, in this design. The 4th band shows a 16-st repeat; the others have 8-st repeats.

Not only is it nice to have things lined up vertically and horizontally, it’s also important to keep things symmetrical, with the same layout on the front that we have on the back.  To get there, we’ll want an even number of repeats.  Here’s how I’d size things, with even repeats:

Layout and measurements for Mary Ann's version of the VK Early Fall 2015 Fair Isle Vest, designed by Yoko Hatta

Measurements shown in inches.

When you steek armholes, after you make the large bind off that corresponds with the bottom of the armhole, it’s best to decrease only 1 stitch per side of the armhole thereafter.  (That’s what works for the v-neck, too.) So, we’ll have to tweak our process a bit versus VK’s.  But, again interestingly, the changes really won’t change the profile significantly.  Here’s what I’d do:

Armholes: I’d combine the large # of sts decreased in the pattern’s first two armhole decrease rows so that I’d have the armhole base bound off in one shot.  Then, on the next round, I’d cast on my steek stitches right over the armhole bind off, while decreasing one stitch on each side of the steek.  If you want to do the type of steek that gets folded over and sewn down to cover the raw edge, you’ll probably want to cast on 8 to 10 steek stitches; or, if you’d like to try the covered steek technique I often use, 6 sts will do.  (And, if you’d like to read my steek article from the beginning, it starts here.) Whenever two stitches are decreased over two rows in the flat-knit pattern, that translates beautifully to decreasing one stitch each round circularly.  Above the multiple-stitch decrease section, I’d follow the pattern’s single stitch decreases for the armhole the rest of the way up to the back neck shaping.  Don’t forget that the v-neck starts shortly after the armholes!

V-neck: I’d circularly knit the very same decreases; the only difference would be that I’d have a column of steek stitches (same # of sts as armhole steeks) and I’d cast on for them on the 2nd neck round, right over the center stitch.

Shoulders: Looking at the photos of the vest on the model, from the little I can see of the shoulders, I’m pretty sure that they’ve shaped those shoulders, to give them a nice, gentle downward slope.  Unfortunately, the pattern provides no such instructions.  The back neck shaping is done over just the last six rows/rounds.  Coincidentally, it’s just six rounds that we’ll need for shoulder shaping.  So, bind off your steek stitches before starting the back neck shaping.  Then, for just those last six rounds, I’d recommend working f-l-a-t (excuse the profanity.) I’d decrease 1/3 of the shoulder width in each pass, starting from the outside and working in.

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TBT – OOP Dale Book #44 Norwegian hats, mittens, gloves & socks

summer knitting projects in norwegian knitting: hats, mittens, gloves and socks

Just what you’ll need for the beach!

Here’s a gem from waaaaaay back in my Dale files – all the way back to Book #44 – a lovely collection of beloved Nordic hats, mittens, gloves and socks, for everyone from age 6 to 96. Our friends at Dale/Mango Moon have approved our offering Dale “kits” for this design, so you get a free (yep, FREE)  copy of the pattern tucked in with your corresponding Dale Heilo or Falk yarn purchase from Kidsknits.  Just add a note at the end of your yarn order to let me know you want the “Book #44 Accessories Pattern” (or email me, or call the toll-free line – whatever works best for you.)

Use your two favorite shades of either Heilo 100% Norwegian wool or Falk 100% superwash wool. Gauge for pattern = 24 stitches per 4″ / 10cm.  Recommended needles = US #1 (2.5mm) for ribbing / hems & anywhere from a US #2 to US #4 (3 – 3.5mm), or WHATEVER size gets you your targeted gauge, for the main portion of each piece.

Here are the yarn requirements, in # of 50g balls, for #4423A (large overall snowflakes design shown in white/red, navy/white & red/white, above):

Sizes: 6/8 yrs (10/12 yrs, woman, man).

Main Color (MC) = background; Contrast Color (CC) = motif.

Socks: MC = 2 (3, 3, 4)balls; CC = 2 (2, 2, 3) balls.

Mittens: MC = 1 (2, 3, 4) balls; CC = 1 ball, any size.

Gloves: same requirements as mittens.

Hat: MC = 2 ballls, any size; CC = 1 ball, any size.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And here are the requirements for 4423B, the grey/white set, above, which is unfortunately only available in Woman (Man) sizes:

Socks: MC = 5 (6) balls; CC = 2 balls for either size.

Hat: MC = 2 balls for either size; CC = 1 ball for either size.

Mittens: MC = 2 (3) balls; CC = 1 ball for either size.


Dale Garn Book 44 Norwegian knitting pattern booklet

My much-loved Book #44

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Après Ski Wine Cozy

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!

Après Ski Wine Cozy knitting pattern

My “Après Ski Wine Cozy” – a ski sweater for your wine bottles – was knit in Dale Garn Heilo.  The PDF is available through my Ravelry store.

May thoughts of deep, sparkling powder keep everyone cool this summer!

Posted in Fair Isle Knitting, Knitting, Mary Ann's Designs, Norwegian Knitting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TBT – What’s old is new again! Dale 13801 ladies’ cardigan

ladies fair isle knit cardigan dale 13801

This beautiful, old shawl-collared cardigan, Dale 13801, looks very “fashion forward” today.

Turns out plenty of us traditional knitters are quite the forward thinkers!  The topic of the week around here: “What can I knit this summer that I’ll just love to wear this fall and winter… and every fall and winter to come?” We’re all looking for an interesting project that’s timeless, but stylish, too.

I’ve looked into my store library and found a bunch of Dale gems that fit the bill nicely.  Speaking of “the bill”, you’ll be glad to know that many of these gems are out-of-print Dale designs that qualify for their FREE pattern program, as long as you purchase the suggested Dale yarn for the project.  I’ll be doing a series of TBT‘s (Throw Back Thursdays) throughout the summer to discuss these designs with you, to get your wheels turning and your needles happily humming along.

Of course, finding the right pattern is only half the battle; what about the yarn? So many OOP patterns call for discontinued yarns. Eh, not a problem!  I’ll show you my current yarn recommendations, and I’ll discuss my color selection strategies, too.  (But, as always, you’ll be free to do your TBT project in whatever Dale colors your heart desires.)

Here’s my first recommendation, Dale #13801, an elegant, shawl-collared, ladies’ cardigan that could look perfectly at-home in the best Fall 2015 fashion mags:

Dale 13801 ladies' knit cardigan

Dale 13801. Originally knit in “Freestyle. I’d recommend their glorious, new alpaca / merino blend, “Cotinga“.

When coming up with substitutes for multiple colors in one project, I find I’m happiest in the end if I first stop to appreciate the conceptual framework that tied all of the original colors together, rather than merely focusing on each closest one-to-one color alternative.  The original #13801 used four shades of Freestyle worsted weight washable wool – a gradient of 3 related shades that ran from Natural 0020 (a warm off-white) to Sand (a light, yellowish beige) to Celery (a medium, ever-so-slightly greenish beige), with a medium-dark contrast, for that bold motif you see dancing around the bottom, from Grey Heather 0007.  Freestyle Natural and Grey Heather are still available, but Sand and Celery are long gone.  Here’s what I’d pick today, to get a similar vibe:

Dale Freestyle color choices for knitting Dale 13801

One possible current Freestyle colorway. The #s shown refer to the color #s in the pattern.

Running light to dark, we have the same Natural #0020 (Color 2, in the pattern, and on the card, above), Mushroom #2621 (Color 3), Sand Heather #0002 (Color 1 – it’ll be your trim color, too) and the same Grey Heather #0007 for Color 4 …or maybe 5651.  There’s really not another, deeper beige in Freestyle these days, but 0004 works in the same light-to-dark neutral gradient and I think that 0020, 0004, 2621 and 0007 could play nicely together.  Or, choose any other 4 Freestyle colors you like.  Here’s the entire Freestyle color card for 2015 – you tell me!  OR…

Want something really luxurious?  I’d choose Dale’s lovely, new “Cotinga”, a magnificently soft 30% alpaca / 70% fine merino blend in the very same worsted weight, 18sts over 4″ / 10cm.  Here are my Cotinga choices for another harmonious, neutral look:  Below, running light to dark, we have our beloved Natural 0020, more Mushroom 2621, a nice, rich Fawn 2643 (or you can use the same 0004 we have for Freestyle) and good, old Grey Heather 0007.  Or not.  Here’s the full Cotinga color card for 2015 – you’ll see quite a few different combinations of three that play nicely together and several nice contrasting shades – tell me what you think!

Sizing and measurements below.

Cotinga yarn

Dale 13801 sizing and yarn requirements for kit from

If you’d like to order the kit, you can either go right to my Kidsknits online shop to select your yarns and just add a note to your order that you’d like the free 13801 pattern, or you can email me at “mas AT kidsknits DOT com” or call my US toll-free number 1-877-63-3031 and I’ll help you directly.  Whatever is easiest. Have fun!

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NY Nordic Hat

fair isle hat knit in dale yarn from

NY Nordic Hat, knit in Dale Garn Freestyle washable wool from, sized for teens / adults & XL adults.

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. 😉 )

Teen wears NY Nordic Hat knit in neon Dale Freestyle yarn

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.

norwegian / fair isle knit hat "NY Nordic Hat"

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!

neon fair isle hat NY Nordic Hat

Here’s a link to the $5 PDF on Ravelry.  And here’s a link to my Freestyle yarn page.   Choose any three favorite, contrasting colors that your heart desires.

yarn colors for fair isle / norwegian knit hat NY Nordic Hat

Colorway I = neon green, neon yellow & grey heather. Colorway II = orange, natural & red.

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Ladies’ “Spice Route Gloves” knitting kits

My ladies’ Spice Route Gloves Fair Isle knitting design, already available in PDF format through Ravelry, is now available as a knitting kit, too, through my online yarn shop,

Fair Isle knitting pattern for gloves

Ladies’ Spice Route Gloves, in the Ginger colorway. A Fair Isle knitting pattern using Shetland fingering weight wool.

And yes, as always, feel free to request custom colors.

Happy knitting!

knitting kit for ladies fair isle gloves available at

Orchid colorway for the Spice Route Gloves

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The Littlest Fisherman’s Hat

Baby's sunhat, "Littest Fisherman's Hat", knit in sport weight or DK yarn for 0-3 month or 3-6 months sizes, respectively.  Yarns and pattern available through  PDF available through Ravelry.

The Littlest Fisherman’s Hat in Dale Garn “Terne” 100% cotton, 0-3 month size.

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.

Littlest Fisherman's Hat, a knitting design from  Yarn and pattern available through Kidsknits.  PDF available through Ravelry.

Littlest Fisherman’s Hat in 3-6 month size, knit in Dale “Lerke” merino+cotton DK weight yarn.

Littlest Fisherman’s Hat PDF for $5 on  (And here’s my Ravelry PDF store.)

Dale Terne 100% cotton, used for the navy+white 0-3 month size, available through my on-line yarn shop,  (Get 2 different-colored, 50g balls. If you prefer the sheen of 100% mercerized cotton, use Dale Vipe – same gauge!)

Dale Lerke 52% merino / 48% cotton (used for the blue+yellow 3-6 month size) available through Kidsknits, too.

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Alpakka “Lilac” #4435 is back…for now

Dale Alpakka in Lilac 4435 Dale Garn’s lovely “Lilac 4435” Alpakka 100% alpaca yarn is back in stock at Kidsknits…for now. It’s been a tremendously popular color, and it’s a key shade in a recent design of mine.  It took me quite a while to get seven different shades, including Lilac 4435, to play nicely together in my “Gentle Hat” (below). Just as things started humming along, up popped the “D” word.  When they told me it was “Discontinued!”, I nearly fell off my chair!  Boy, was I ever happy when they told me I could still get three more bags of it!  🙂 Now, those of you awaiting your “Gentle Hat” kits, get your needles poised – they’re on their way. Those of you teetering on the brink of ordering, now’s the time to strike – sadly, lilacs don’t last forever.

UPDATE:  4/17/15 I just found out from the distributor that Lilac has been in such demand that Dale has done a second run of it and the distributor should have more of it shortly.  🙂 Yippee!!

Gentle Hat, a ladies' Fair Isle hat design, by Mary Ann Stephens.  Knitting kits in 100% alpaca available through

Gentle Hat

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Woolly Lilies, a free knitting pattern

Free knitting pattern, "Woolly Lilies". Use it to give new life to old scraps, or to inspire your next, new masterpiece! Free pattern available on the Two Strands knitting blog; yarn available through the designer at

Now that so many of you have wrapped up your winter sweater knitting, I’ve had lots of requests for a small, portable knitting project that uses up a rainbow of leftovers.  Time to do some knitter’s composting!

After the long, dreary winter we’ve had, I’m too impatient to sit around through all of these April showers, waiting for May flowers.  So, I’m making my own. If you can knit circularly, know a few basic lace stitches and have yarn scraps to spare, you can, too.

Use anywhere from one to four different-colored, smooth yarns of the same weight -any one weight will do.  I used three shades of super-bulky Hubro for the big, lone flower on the left. The smallest flowers, on top, were knit from just one ball of self-striping Hakkespett, a new Dale sock yarn we recently started stocking.  I added some background rounds and used sport weight Falk to create the hexagons.  The variegated blue flowers, below, were made from one ball of Hakkespett, (in a range of blues) along with spring green and yellow Daletta.

What, nothing quite right in your stash?!  Step right this way!Asterisk Blossoms, a free knitting pattern from the Two Strands Blog.  Knit with Daletta and Hakkespett yarns, available through the designer at

I’m not sure yet if my Woolly Lilies will become a pillow or an afghan or…heck, I might just blanket the countryside with ’em!  Once you get the hang of these, you might not want to stop, either.  And who says you have to?! You could tack one onto a hat; line a bunch up to cover a belt; link some together for a sweet, spring scarf; make that cozy afghan you really should have had this past winter; or, get carried away with the yarn bomb of your dreams.

Sure, it’s fun to see the surprising effects from just one ball of self-striping yarn. (And it cuts down nicely on the loose ends, too.) But, it’s also nice to have painterly control over which colors go where, and that works best with solid-colored yarns. If you haven’t tried stranded knitting yet, this might be the quickest, lowest risk chance you’ll get.  There are just two very short, easy-peasy, optionally-stranded rounds near the center (#10 & #11 on the chart). Give them a try and I think you’ll see, stranding with two colors can really make a lovely difference in how articulated the centers / stamens appear.

Gauge isn’t a sticking point here. Start with needles in your yarn’s recommended size and see what blossoms.  What matters most is that you’re happy with your result.

Here’s to hoping that your yarn sprouts into something far more delightful than those rain clouds on the horizon.

Click here to download “Woolly Lilies“.  Click here to see more of my designsClick here to visit my online yarn shop. 

Happy gardening knitting!

P.S. Within minutes, several people have asked about Hakkespett.  The rainbow & blue versions used, above, are in stock.  We’ll have them listed on the Kidsknits site shortly and I’ll update the link at that time.(And here it is now!)  In the meantime, here’s the color card: hakkespett.  It’s $23.25 per 150g / 426 yd ball.  (Yup, that’s one big ball!) Feel free to email (masATkidsknitsDOTcom) or call (US toll-free 877-631-3031).

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I Spy a Crocus

Fair Isle knit hat, I Spy a Crocus, by Mary Ann Stephens.

I Spy a Crocus, a knitting pattern for a ladies’ hat.

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.

Here’s a link to the $5 PDF on Ravelry.

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Val’s Tiger Lily Jacket

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:

ladies' norwegian cardigan knitting pattern

Val knit her version of my Tiger Lily Jacket in Dale Heilo yarn.

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.

Norwegian knit cardigan

My original TLJ, also knit in Dale Heilo. You can knit yours in any four shades of either Heilo or Falk that your heart desires.

If you’d like to knit Tiger Lily in Heilo, you can order your kit directly through my online yarn shop, 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.

Val's Tiger Lily's neckline detail.

Val’s Tiger Lily’s neckline detail.  Both Val and I used Dale’s “Vestland” pewter buttons, also available through me at

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!

Happy knitting!

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Our new clearance sale page

You’ll want to bookmark this page.  It’s my new yarn and book clearance page on eBay.  Everything you’ll find there is fresh, untouched, pristine stock, directly from  Items I continue to specialize in will stay on; items that are discontinued, out-of-print or simply lovely items that I just don’t have room for will be listed on eBay under my “twostrands” seller ID.

I’ve just started with a few books and some Baby Cashmerino this week. But, if all goes well and as time allows, I have quite a pile of gorgeous, untouched yarns and delightful old pattern books that I plan to list. Here’s a link to the first Dale book I’ve put up there, the adorable “Mini 112” book:

OOP Dale Mini 112, one of  Dale's all-time cutest collections of colorwork sweaters for kids.

OOP Dale Mini 112, one of Dale’s all-time cutest collections of colorwork sweaters for kids.  Click the photo to hop over to the sale on eBay.

Of course, I’m keeping one original from any book in my archives, so that I can help customers working on those designs, and so that we can do free pattern “kits” with Dale yarn purchases (if / whenever / as long as Dale Garn, as the copyright holder, allows it.) But, these extras need good homes, and I need more shelf space for new books and new yarns. So, thanks for having a look at my sales.

Happy shopping!

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Dale Garn Kids’ Book NR 309

Dale Garn’s new Kids’ Book #309 brings us six great designs for children aged 2 to 12 years old, including the traditional and ever-popular Norwegian “Fana” design, done with a modern twist: either round or raglan yokes, NO steeks.  (Of course, if you want a cardigan,  you know what to do! 😉 )

Dale of Norway / Dale Garn Kids Book NR 309

The ever-popular “Fana” design, as reworked in Dale Garn Kids Book NR 309, available at Click the photo for details.

They’ve used Alpakka (light sport weight 100% alpaca) and Cotinga (a worsted weight 70% merino + 30% alpaca blend) for the designs in Book 309.

girls rounded yoke sweater with paper dolls

I can still remember those magical years when absolutely everything was perfect…as long as it was pink or purple!

I’ve used both of those yarns for a few projects lately and I can honestly say that you couldn’t ask for two more gorgeous yarns.  But, please remember that lovely Cotinga is “hand wash only“!  If you’re looking for more affordable &/or machine washable yarns, use Falk (their sport weight 100% superwash wool) in place of Alpakka and use Freestyle (Dale’s worsted weight 100% superwash wool) in place of Cotinga.

Click the link, below, to view their preview PDF, showing you photos of all of the designs in this sweet, new book:

Dale Garn Kids Book 309

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Bag Sale at

The Bag Sale is ON!!!

The Bag Sale is ON!!!

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Nordic Easter Egg – reminder

free knitting pattern PDF with purchase; PDF available for $5 thru Ravelry.

UPDATE, March 2017

My “Nordic Easter Egg” pattern is still available through Ravelry.

Here’s the link to the $5 PDF.

Happy Easter and Happy Knitting!

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Nordic Easter Egg, a free PDF with yarn purchase

It sure has been one long, hard winter!  But, if you can believe it, we’re just two weeks away from spring.

snow on deck

This morning’s view of my deck.

While Mother Nature is apparently still enthralled with winter, someone else has been busily focusing on the colorful, lively season to come:

Free Easter Egg knitting pattern with yarn purchase

Nordic Easter Egg, a knitting pattern PDF by Mary Ann Stephens. Available for purchase on its own  through Ravelry, or for FREE with any yarn purchase. Just add “EGG” to the note section on your yarn order.

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.

Nordic Easter Egg by Mary Ann Stephens

Off-white Dale Baby Ull + lupine Mulberry Meadow.

If you’re already set with yarn and just want the pattern, it’s available for purchase as a $5 downloadable, personal-use PDF through my Ravelry store.  But, if you’re in the market for some delightful yarn, you can get that same Nordic Easter Egg PDF for free – yep, FREE – with any yarn purchase.  Just add “EGG” to the note section on your order and, within 24 hours (usually less), I’ll add the free download link to your emailed order confirmation.  If you forget to add the note, don’t fuss – just call (US toll-free 877-631-3031).  Or write (mas”AT”kidsknits”DOT”com).  Whatever works.  Have fun.  And have a very HAPPY EASTER!!


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Searching for Spring

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

Ladies’ “Shamrock Mittens” by Mary Ann Stephens. Knit in Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift. Kits available through Downloadable PDF available through Ravelry.



Shamrock Mittens kits using Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift available through the designer’s online yarn shop,

Shamrock Mittens knitting pattern PDF available through the designer’s Ravelry store.

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Chevron Fingerless Mittens – knitting kits, colorway ideas

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:

chevron mittens colorways

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Free Knitting Pattern – North Shore Hat – UPDATE

Free knitting pattern for an adult's earflap hat, knit in bulky weight wool.

Free knitting pattern for a quick, warm, adult-sized earflap hat – North Shore Hat by Mary Ann Stephens.

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.

UPDATE:  The North Shore Hat has been moved to the free pattern page on Mary Ann’s new knitting website,

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Interview on “How to become a Professional Knitter”

Robin Hunter recently interviewed me for her blog, “How to become a Professional Knitter”.  It’s up there now, right…over…HERE!

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Fair Isle “Gentle Hat” kits now online


Fair Isle Hat

Gentle Hat

Ladies’ Fair Isle “Gentle Hat” kits are now available through my 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!

fair isle hat knitting kit with alpaca yarn

Ladies Fair Isle “Gentle Hat” with simple, short, “peerie”repeats, knit in exquisite Dale Garn 100% alpaca.

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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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Christmas Book NR 305

Dale Garn’s new Christmas knitting (“Julestrikk”) Book #305 is up now on  (We have the English-language edition.)

christmas knitting book

Dale Garn Christmas Book NR 305, “Julestrikk”

You could keep yourself busy knitting from this book all year long!

Naturally, you’ll find the requisite ornaments and tree skirts:

Christmas ornaments and tree skirt from Dale Garn Book 305

Ornaments and tree skirt from Christmas Book 305

But they’ve added plenty of projects for the rest of your home, too.

Delightful touches for your cozy hearth…

elves and trees to knit

Elves knit in either Heilo or Falk, trees knit in Hegre.

…festive fun for your table settings…

christmas table decorations

…special toys for good girls and boys…

elf dolls knit with Dale yarn

Felted Mother Elf and Father Elf, knit in Hegre wool yarn

… and, best of all, quite the assortment of holiday finery for the dear knitter in the house:

holiday top

Knit in sparkling Gullfasan

ladies' vneck sweater knitting pattern

A simply elegant v-neck, knit in soft, cozy Erle and trimmed in sparkling Gullfasan

Click this link to see the preview PDF, which shows you photos for all of the designs in Christmas Book 305: Christmas Book 305 photos

Visit my online yarn shop to order Book 305.

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On Flat Charts for Round Shapes

This popular post on using flat charts to knit rounds shapes has been moved to the “Technique” section of Mary Ann’s new website,

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Sparkling Scrunchie, a free crochet pattern

Another early Christmas present for you – the “Sparkling Scrunchie”:

Free crochet pattern for a holiday hair tie

Sparkling Scrunchie, a free crochet pattern.

It’s made from Dale Garn’s lovely Gullfasan metallic yarn.

free pattern ingredients

I used Gullfasan in light silver #4911 for the scrunchie at the top of the page and I used dark silver #9861 for this one.

Hopefully, the Sparkling Scrunchie will solve some of those last-minute stocking stuffer quandaries.  Have fun!

Click this link to download your own, personal-use copy of the FREE crochet pattern for my Sparkling Scrunchie

Click this link if you need to buy some sparkling Gullfasan yarn.

Click this link to see more of my designs.

"Oooooh, niiiiiiice!"

“Oooooh, niiiiiiice!”

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Dale Garn Book 294 – Kids

Dale Garn Book 294, with knitting patterns for children’s wear in sizes 2 to 12 years, is now up on the Dale Book page.

Knitting patterns for children from Dale Garn Book 294

Dale Garn Book 294
Kids sizes 2 – 12 years.

I’m happy to report that Book 294 has quite a few designs for us stranded knitting enthusiasts.  A couple favorites:

Design #29401, knit in 5 shades of sport weight Dale Alpakka 100% alpaca yarn at 25 stitches over 4″ / 10cm:

Dale Book 294 Norwegian / Fair Isle cardigan knitting pattern for kids 2 to 12

Norwegian / Fair Isle cardigan knitting pattern for sizes 2 to 12 years old.

Design #29407, knit in 5 shades of either Cotinga merino / alpaca blend, or Freestyle superwash wool – both worsted weight yarns –  at 18 stitches over 4″ / 10cm:

Norwegian cardis for kids from Dale Book 294

Dale design #29407

And there are plenty more to see, including stripes, cables, textures and basic solids. Click this link to see a PDF showing full-size photos of ALL of the designs within this book:  Book294photos

Happy knitting!

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Ethereal Diamonds – a free lace scarf pattern, introducing “Erle”

mohair silk wool yarn

Dale Garn’s new “Erle”, a heavenly kid mohair / silk / wool blend.

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.

Erle yarn

Mohair, silk and wool work magic together in Dale Garn’s new Erle yarn. It’s amazingly light and soft, yet surprisingly warm and stury. A delightful new luxury knitting experience!

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.

Dale Garn Erle mohair, silk and wool yarn in Ethereal Diamonds, a free knitting pattern from the Two Strands Blog

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.

Happy knitting!

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Supernova Hat

Supernova hat, seen from above.

Supernova Hat, bird’s eye view.

Supernova Hat, a Fair Isle / Norwegian knitting design by Mary Ann Stephens

Supernova Hat, waiting to be knit in your two favorite shades of Dale Hubro.

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.

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Ode to Heilo

Wintergarden Pullover by Mary Ann Stephens, knit in Dale Garn Heilo

The original Wintergarden Pullover, ten years later.

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.

Heilo Color Card 2014

My Heilo page on my online shop

Wintergarden on Ravelry.

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Shepherdess Cloche

My “Shepherdess Cloche” hat design, sized for adult females, knit in Dale Garn Monjita, Hegre and Heilo or Falk, now available as a knitting pattern, PDF or kit:


Knitting pattern for ladies' hat with Fair Isle detail.

Shepherdess Cloche, a knitting design for a ladies’ hat.

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!

Monjita Color Card 2014

Hegre Color Card 2014

Heilo Color Card 2014

Falk Color Card 2014

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Camissonia Mittens

My new “Camissonia Mittens“, sized to fit the average adult female hand.  Knit in standard Fair Isle knitting technique, then (optionally) embroidered, using Dale Garn Alpakka throughout:

Ladies' Camissonia Mittens, knit in Dale Garn Alpakka 100% alpaca yarn

Ladies’ Camissonia Mittens, a hand knitting design by Mary Ann Stephens

The knitting kit is available through my on-line yarn shop,  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.

Mittens knit in Magic Loop technique

I used the “Magic Loop” technique for mine.

And, of course, the downloadable PDF is for sale through Ravelry, too.

mittens knit with alpaca yarn

Love, love, love 100% alpaca for mittens!

Embroidered knit mittens

Embroidery hint: When you’re working the embroidery, roll them up from the bottom to access the tips.

Palm side of mittens

Hello, friend!

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Fair Isle Cowl in 60 Quick Luxury Knits

60 Quick Luxury Knits” has just been released and it includes my reversible fair isle cowl, below:

Fair Isle Cowl by Mary Ann Stephens

Photo Copyright Sixth&Spring Books

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.

Riverside Cowl knit in Dale Alpakka

Riverside Cowl, Knit in Dale of Norway Royal Alpakka.

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?

Fair Isle Cowl options

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Chevron Fingerless Mittens

fingerless mittens knit in alpaca yarn

Chevron Fingerless Mittens by Mary Ann Stephens

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.

fingerless mittens in alpaca yarn

Chevron Fingerless Mittens knit in Dale of Norway Royal Alpakka 100% alpaca yarn.

fingerless mittens

Well-fitted, with full range of finger movement.

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.

Happy knitting!

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Dale Book 286

Dale Garn Book 286

Dale Garn’s new book #286, with sweaters for ladies and men.

Dale Garn’s Book #286, which features stylish sweaters for ladies and men, is now available in the English translation through Kidsknits.

Click the link, below, to see Dale’s photo preview of the designs within Book 286.

Book 286 photos

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Free Knitting Pattern – North Shore Hat

Free knitting pattern for an adult's earflap hat, knit in bulky weight wool.

Free knitting pattern for a quick, warm, adult-sized earflap hat – “North Shore Hat”.

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!

UPDATE, September 2018: This free pattern has been moved to the free pattern page on Mary Ann’s new knitting website,

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.

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Blendoku – a great game for Fair Isle fanatics

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.

Blendoku - a great game for practicing color placement skills needed in Fair Isle knitting

Handheld color gradient practice that can translate into Fair Isle knitting skills

Be warned: Okay, yeah, it’s also a black hole for time – too much fun!!

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Knitting’s Cerebral Side

CNN’s very interesting article on knitting’s cerebral benefits:

(But from the tips of our fingers, to our hearts, to our minds…we knew that! 😉 )

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Steek stitches – how many???

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 Sirdal Setesdal Fana

Dale Book 267 Traditional Designs for the Family, available through my on-line yarn shop.

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: steek_stitch_layout.png

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 site ages ago:


Gracie, our Golden Retriever, my knitting companion

Uh oh, I wonder what she’s doing with those scissors??

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