Monday, September 1, 2014

Pure Michigan

After a long absence, I've carved out a little time to share some of my most recent work and travel. In early August, I visited my family in Michigan and taught a few workshops at Country Needleworks, my original hometown local yarn store.

I'm developing a new class that I'll be teaching at several shops in the Baltimore/DC area this fall (Woolworks, Fibre Space, and the Yarn Spot), and I taught a Test Lab version at Country Needleworks because the knitters there are skilled, adventurous, and honest with their feedback. What I learned from teaching the prototype class was invaluable for future iterations.

Here's a photo of the prototype class project. The class includes instructions to do all the stitches in the prototype and improvise a circular shawl.

Here are two of my students, my friend Ruth (in green-on-green Monomania) and her daughter, Jenna. Note the eyelet pattern in Jenna's shawl. They're both using Neighborhood Fiber Co. yarn, which Country Needleworks carries (exclusive Michigan distributor!).

The students in these two classes were TROOPERS. Starting a circular shawl is not easy.

I also taught Color Theory, for which I found plenty of example skeins of fingering-weight yarn in the shop:

I found Stonehedge Fiber Mill Crazy too, so some of that came home with me. It's the yarn I used for Magnificent Oyster, and I'm planning to design a cardigan and crochet a ripple afghan with it, too. Here's Ruth with her selected skeins of Crazy and me with my fingering-weight example yarns plus three skeins of Crazy I purchased:

I sat in on Ruth's drop-in summer Monomania workshop. EVERYONE turned out in their finished or in-progress Monomanias. Solid Monomanias, two-color Monomanias, bright Monomanias, subtle Monomanias. I'm wearing Ruth's natural white "ghost" Monomania (to quote Ruth: "Seems so wrong, but feels so right") with the sleeves from her two-color green-on-green Monomania:

Several lovely knitters, including Joan, Kathy, and Ruth (of course), wore Weaverknits designs to the workshops. Joan is wearing Iodine and Kathy is wearing The Whiteness of the Whale. I'm wearing my Weathered Pullover.

So what's up next? Several new designs coming out in September, including a sweater for the Neighborhood Fiber Co. Outerloop sweater club, workshops at Nina and String Theory in Chicago, and lots of work at my new server job at Joe Squared, just a mile and half from my house.

After all that, I need a nap.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Welcome, Stranger

to the humble neighborhood!

Sorry for the prolonged absence. I've been working, working, working--primarily copyediting, but also designing, knitting, and teaching. Louise's schedule is also packed.

A lot of what I've been knitting has been influence by my neighborhood, consciously or unconsciously. The neighborhood is a mix of abandoned houses, friendly people, trash, unexpected artwork, crack dealers, and lovely row houses from the turn of the century, most of which are in disrepair.

There's always something happening (usually it involves sirens).

My favorite recent design is Magnificent Oyster, a shawl knit in Stonehedge Fiber Mill Crazy. I first saw this yarn at Clever Ewe in Ada, Michigan, and went bananas. Since then I've accumulated quite a pile of it. Magnificent Oyster uses three skeins, although you could easily use more skeins to make it even larger.

It reminds me of a rag rug. It is a rag rug to wear.

I found the perfect location for photos a few blocks from my house. Look closely: It says JESES. Note: There's ANOTHER house two doors down that's also covered in glass and mirror mosaic (which says FAITH in cursive letters), owned by the same guy. He was working outside this house the other day, creating a mosaic window, and I got a chance to chat with him.

Look even more closely and you'll see me in the bottom-left corner, quickly piling on my winter clothes (it was COLD the day of the photo shoot).

Another recent design is Traction Street, named after the street that intersects my block just past my house. Ah, Traction Street, with its run-down houses and Eastside/Westside graffiti.

I used Neighborhood Fiber Co. Capital Luxury Sock in the colors Penn North (my neighborhood, which is YELLOW) and Upton (a neighborhood just south of mine, which is black). Any two colors of fingering-weight yarn will work. It's slipped stitches, so only one color per row.

And now I'm out the door to the airport, heading to TNNA for the first time. I'll be teaching tomorrow and hanging around on Saturday. Say hi if you see me!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Six-Mammal Family

Since buying our house in May, we've accumulated some new family members. In fact, our family has grown 50 percent, from a total of four mammals to the new population of six mammals.

First, we adopted a little orange cat who was free on Craigslist:

The last line of the Craigslist post was: She comes with food and litter that you can have, too.

So. That sold me.

She's not a fan of the other two cats and, despite her size, has no trouble dominating them, so we've named her Cleo (for Cleopatra) or, as I like to call her, Pretty Princess. Here she is resting on a sleeping Chris:

Then we got Rosie.

Ninety pounds of Shepherd-Rottweiler mix from the Baltimore SPCA. She's seven, so her adoption fee was waived. So. That was that.

Her favorite thing is running around outside (sorry for the poor photo quality):


Fetch with the favorite stick!

And now she's nuzzling me, reminding me that it's time to go out. Because this is primarily a knitting blog, here's what I've been wearing every day in the record-breaking cold weather:

Gaddani!!! Cold? You can make one in an evening! Here's the pattern link!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Make It Sport

Want a lighter-weight sweater in the style of Make It Red? Ruth, the creator of Make It Purple, has also developed Make It Sport, a version of Make It Red knit in Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Sport. Want to make YOUR Make It Red Sport? Here are the modifications, courtesy of Ruth, teacher, knitter, booth babe extraordinaire.

Note: Ruth made the back of Make It Sport in reverse Stockinette Stitch, like Make It Purple. You can work the back in either a contrasting color or in reverse Stockinette; it's your choice! Just follow the Make It Purple notes for the reverse Stockinette version.

Needles: US 5 (3.75mm) for body and US 6 (4.0mm) for collar
Gauge: 22 sts and 26 rows = 4" in St st using smaller needles
Yardage: The yarn requirements are the same as those in Make It Red.


Body: Work all back increases, then work even to 8 inches (rather than 10 inches). 

Sleeves: After first decrease round, work 4 (3, 2) rounds straight between decrease rounds.

Ruth also made the collar a bit wider. This is a customization you can apply to any Make It version, so I'm going to talk about it in detail in a future post.

Important Size Considerations!

Make It Red is an oversized garment, and the smallest of the three sizes fits nearly everyone (the staff of the Neighborhood Fiber Co./Weaverknits booth at shows ranges from a 32-inch to a 49-inch bust, and we all wear it). Make it Sport is more fitted due to the tighter gauge. Here's a schematic of the Make It Sport sweater, showing the final measurements you'll get if you knit the Make It Red pattern as written at the tighter Make It Sport gauge:

Ruth is wearing the smallest size, and she has a 36-inch bust. I'd recommend the second size for bust sizes 38 through 44 and the third size for bust sizes 46 through 54.

If you're coming to Vogue Knitting Live in NYC this weekend, Ruth and I will be there in the Neighborhood Fiber Co. booth with Make It Red, Make It Purple, Make It Sport, and SO MUCH MORE!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Make It Purple

Remember Make It Red, the oversized jacket/cardigan I designed for Twentieth-Century Graphic

My good friend, expert knitter, and Weaverknits/Neighborhood Fiber Co. "booth babe" Ruth (aka nonstop knits) has created a few modified versions that I think are genius. It's amazing how a few seemingly small changes can transform a design. 

First up: Make It Purple

Ruth knit this cardigan in Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Worsted in the color Remington. We brought it to Vogue Knitting Live Chicago and got a great response, so here are the details.

(Michigan winter provides a nice backdrop for this sort of garment, right?)

To Make It Purple, replace the intarsia stripe down the back of the cardigan (the red part) with reverse Stockinette stitch. That is, place the markers as indicated in the Make It Red pattern, but instead of working the stitches between these markers in your contrasting color, work them in reverse Stockinette stitch (purl them on right side rows and knit them on wrong side rows).

That's it! My favorite aspect of this version is the subtle pleat the reverse Stockinette stitch panel creates at the back hem. (Sorry for the butt shot, Ruth, but as you've said of my designs, "All the action is in the back.")

Come see it in person at Vogue Knitting Live NYC this weekend! Look for the lovely lady in the purple sweater!

Monday, December 30, 2013


Let's bump down Furnace Inferno from the top of the page, shall we? How about a new pattern for the holidays? A new FREE pattern?

It's called Engleberg, and you can get it on the Fibre Space blog here. It's a long, relatively fitted cowl, intended for warmth. There's a story behind this design, which is one offshoot of a larger project, and I'll narrate that in my next post. In the meantime, ENJOY!

One side:

The other side:



Monday, December 2, 2013

Furnace Inferno

When Baltimore started getting chilly, we turned on our heat. Rather, we tried to turn on our heat. But no heat. A little investigation determined that the fairly new furnace the seller installed in this house was too big for the house, so for our safety, it just kept itself turned off. Which was a really good thing, considering that the ductwork around the furnace was deficient, too.

The inspector missed this during our home inspection.

So we were cold, very cold. Temperatures were in the 40s, and it looked like we were going to have to shell out $5,000 for a new furnace, which, of course, we do not have.

As we were reconciling ourselves to a year of hustling to pay for the furnace, I went to Michigan to teach at the Clever Ewe retreat. And something went very wrong, some perfect storm of safety switch failure and dangerously substandard ductwork.


The fire was contained in the furnace and ducts, but the smoke and soot was EVERYWHERE.

It spewed from the vents on the second floor. My friend Karida, who stopped by the house in the immediate aftermath, related this story over the phone:

"It's like Victorian England in there. The bed is covered with soot. And your pretty orange girl cat was sitting on the bed, totally black. And Chris pet her, and his hand came away black."

When I got back to Baltimore on Monday, a cleaning crew had been scrubbing for a few days, and a specialty dry cleaning company had packed every bit of fabric out of our house for cleaning. The house smelled strongly of burning plastic.

We're fortunate, though. We're fine. The cats are fine. We now have heat, and the smell is gone. (Or is it? Have I just become accustomed to it?) Today the dry cleaners returned our clothes. After a week of scouring, the cleaners determined that the second floor needs to be completely repainted and the bedrooms need to be recarpeted, but we had planned those projects for the upcoming year anyway. 

The past few weeks, though, have been exhausting. It will be another few weeks before I feel caught up and in control of my life again. So bear with me as I return to some nearly completed design work.

ALSO: THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who purchased patterns during my Veterans Day promotion! I raised nearly $500 for the Wounded Warrior Project, and those of you who won prizes have been informed!