It's Not Too Late To Begin

Have you looked at the calendar lately? It's only 6 weeks until Christmas and Kwanza, 3 and a 1/2 weeks until Hanukkah begins and 7 weeks until New Year's Eve. Whoa. No matter what holidays you celebrate, if your plan is to hand make gifts, it's definitely time to kick it into high gear.

So, let us help you out with these ideas of gifts that there are still time to make. With 6-7 weeks left, the days are getting short so how about a scarf or beautiful shawl? If you're a fast knitter, how about the Walden shrug by Susan Mills in soft and cozy Tiverton Tweed (top left corner below)?

More great gift patterns to knit (clockwise from top right above): Telluride Shawlette in Telluride, Wellington scarf in Camelot, Mohawk Wool Leaf Scarf in Mohawk Wool, or perhaps Lucretia in Liberty Wool Light.

Giving handmade gifts is supposed to bring joy to both the giver and the receiver, isn't it?. So, if you're going to give handmade, start now with a visit to your local yarn store and cast on. We want you to enjoy making the gift just as much as your loved one will enjoy wearing it.

Designer Rachel Henry

Did you see the free Valais Blacknose Sheep Mittens pattern in yesterday's Web-Letter #418? They're an adorable knit by designer Rachel Henry. The cute little sheep are added last, so these would also be fun in 3 contrast colors with bright stripes as the focal point. Two layers of knitting thick, these mitts use soft Fresco which ensures that they will be warm and gives you nearly forty colors to choose from.

Rachel is a prolific designer and has written many other popular designs for our CEY Web-Letter and pattern books. She has a head for colors, construction, and how the two combine to make interesting stitch patterns really pop. Both her Flying Colors Wrap and Flying Colors Cardigan were released in our 'All Seasons' pattern book. See how masterfully she combines printed spaced dyed colors and a solid in both Alpaca Sox and Liberty Wool Light below. All this while raising her 3 sons (currently 10, 13 & 16) and traveling with her border collies Gromit and Clewe for agility meets. She and Gromit placed 6th out of 132 teams at Cynosport World last week. Congrats, Rachel!

Cardigan in Liberty Wool Light and Wrap in Alpaca Sox.

Designers tend to have parts of the process that they're especially good at. Having spent a little time with Rachel, it's clear that she has skills in all areas of design. Still, it's the way that the math of both shape and lace construction seem to come to her naturally that strikes me the most. She says, "I would say my MIT education informs my knitting in important ways. One thing they teach, above all else, is how to take an unknown subject and dive in headfirst, consuming information and making it part of your own knowledge base. New yarn, technique and ideas are exciting...I'm rarely intimidated by something I don't yet understand". I think this all shows in the ease with which she seems to master lace motifs and then frame them in beautifully shaped wraps and scarves. Wavelength and Kudzu Shawl both sprung from her creative mind.

Here is Wavelength in Alpaca Sox, and Kudzu Shawl in Cerro.

Rachel's patterns span the seasons. Love Lane is a great for the warmer weather, while her Braided Cable Vest can be paired with ever thicker layers underneath to span from early fall right though the deep cold of winter weather.

Love Lane in Provence, and Braided Cable Vest in Chalet.

Since her talents can be applied to so many different kinds of creative pursuits, you never know what she's got just around the corner. That means it's always a treat to see what she'll come up with for the next new design.


Sometimes knitting friends choose to knit the same things. It often happens at the LYS where I go on Saturday mornings. The interesting thing is that even though these knits are made from the same design, they come out different. Individual.

When we set out to make something, there are so many choices to be made. What will we knit? What color (or colors)? What notions will be used? And lastly, how will we wear it?

So, let's say you're going to knit our new 'Sasha' poncho. Here it is on Hayleigh knit up in the naturally undyed Steel and Charcoal colorways of Chalet. The warm tone of the wood buttons really makes them pop and she's right in style with her denim button-up and jeans.

Now, how can you make 'Sasha' your own? The colorblocking and the buttons. Being the focal points of this elegant poncho, what choices you make in those areas will have a big impact. Did you know that Chateau is the same luxurious fiber mix of alpaca and bamboo as Chalet? The only difference is Chateau's richly dyed hues. So feel free to mix and match these two airy yarns when choosing your color combo for this poncho.

These yarns are chunky weight, which belies how light and airy they feel knit up. Once the knitting and blocking is done, it's time to sew on the buttons. Because they are large buttons and will be framed by the contrast color tabs, I think that what you choose can make a big difference in the overall look. Don't let that make you feel pressured. Instead, let it give your own creativity a place to shine.

Then, let's put Sasha together with different buttons and style options to get a feel for what's possible. For an ultra feminine look, you could choose large abalone flower buttons, a flowy dress and a faux pearl necklace to top it all off. So pretty.

Wanting a more casual look? How about pairing Sasha with a mid-length denim skirt, blue henley t-shirt and buttons in variegated neutral tones that match your main yarn color? This would be great for everyday errands and an easy way to add polish to any outfit.

 I love how the buttons add one more pop of personality to your own individual style. There are truly so many places that the ease and versatility of Sasha will make it just the right thing to wear.

One Skein Wonders For Babies

The wonderful One Skein Wonders Series has a new book: One-Skein Wonders for Babies by Judith Durant. The book is chock-full of beautiful patterns for babies, each using just one skein of yarn (no surprise!). Included are patterns for booties, hats, blankets, clothing, and even toys.

My contribution is a cute little bib, Tutti Frutti, done out of Classic EliteYarns Seedling. This is perfect yarn for a bib; it is an environmentally conscious, machine washable organic cotton with wonderful texture and softness. Seedling is a great choice because it's absorbent and retains its color intensity well. I chose to use a hand paint for visual interest and added pockets to catch any runaway bits of food.

The bib is a quick and easy knit that would make a great gift for that special baby. Have fun choosing a silly button!

Also using Seedling is an adorable Octopus toy, Acht the Octopus by Rachel Henry. Check it out on page 232. Rachel says, “Little Lovey (or Kleine Acht, as I like to think of her), is made of Seedling Hand Paint. It’s a quick project with very little sewing - something of a novelty in the world of hand-knit toys.”

I was very excited to start knitting when my copy arrived; I hope you will be too. Please support your LYS and shop for the book there first.
Tonia Barry

Fall Is In The Air

It has begun to be chilly enough in the Northeast to throw a lightweight cardigan on at night while I curl up in a favorite chair to knit. This means that changing leaves and cooler temps are just around the corner.

In keeping with this time of year, the magazines are releasing a new crop of patterns to take us from Fall into early Winter. These fresh new ideas from designers are now ripe for the picking.

Photo by Harper Point Photography
The 'Zigzag Wanderer' is a timeless knit worked up in neutral shades of organic Mohawk Wool. A slightly oversized shape gives the pullover a modern appeal while also making it a comfortable wardrobe staple. Designed by Laura Grutzeck, this pattern is found in the Fall 2015 issue of Interweave Knits.

Photo by Harper's Point Photography
Knitscene's new Fall issue showcases Liberty Wool Light in the 'Brigitte Headband'.  Designer Avril Lang was inspired by Brigitte Bardot. It will take you one skein each of two contrasting colors to work up the garter stitch chevron stitch pattern and have this wide headband ready before the weather that calls for keeping your ears warm has arrived.

Photo by Harper Point Photography
Front and center on the cover of this year's Interweave Knits Gifts is bulky weight Wynter in Erica Schlueter's 'Sampler Stole'. The combination of different stitches making up this shawl keeps things interesting. It also really allows this soft alpaca and wool yarn to shine. It comes in colors ranging from dusty teal to crimson, so coordinating it with your winter coat will be easy.

Photo by Harper Point Photography
With eight natural undyed shades of Vista to choose from, the color combinations for Patty Lyon's 'Houndstooth Cardigan' keep multiplying. Classic shaping and traditional houndstooth give this cardigan staying power. Yet in neutral tones and with such clean lines, it leaves plenty of room for your own style to shine through.

We love seeing what our yarns turn into when magazine editors allow talented designers like these to add their ideas to the mix. Don't you?

The Debate

I have walked into more than one local yarn shop and found myself in the middle of 'the debate'. It's a discussion with passion on both sides about the perks of cardigans versus the pros of pullovers. We knitters and crocheters are known for having strong preferences and this is no exception.

In our new book Emerald Isle, 'Skibbereen' makes both sides happy by including the option to make this sweater as either a casual pullover or a five button cardigan, both knit in the tonal shades of Big Liberty Wool.

'Skibbereen' as either a pullover or a cardigan, by Susan Mills
No matter which sweater style is your preference, 'Skibbereen' has the great details that we all love in hand knits. First there are the pockets. Topped with ribbing and set into the sweater fronts, the pockets on both the cardigan and the pullover are cozy and convenient.

The textural Seed stitch adds interest to the sweater both in front and in the back. I love how the tonal shading of the Big Liberty Wool looks in this stitch. To tie it all together, the sleeves are worked in Seed stitch from the shoulders down to the ribbing at the cuffs.

The classic shaping of both the cardigan and pullover versions of 'Skibbereen' will make either of them a welcome addition to your fall wardrobe. Which side do you fall on in the pullover versus cardigan debate?

Emerald Isle

We knitters know that if you want to get that new piece done in time to wear this fall, the knitting must begin soon. With that in mind, we've just released a new book of patterns, Emerald Isle, all ready for you to whip up something to wear this coming season.

Devlin and Kildare by Tian Foley
Devlin and Kildare are great pieces for when there's just a bit of chill beginning to form in the air. The vented sides of Devlin, and the lightness of the Inca Alpaca it's knit of, make Devlin a perfect layering piece.  Kildare is knit in Mohawk Wool, whose organic shades result in neutral pieces that can easily be mixed and matched with most of your existing wardrobe.

Kilkee and Dungloe by Tonia Barry
Cast on now and as the chill in the air gets a little more intense, these could be waiting for you to cozy up in. The relaxed boxy shape of Kilkee is modern. The positive ease also makes it everyday comfortable. The bulky weight yarn means that you can go quickly from start to finish. Casual with jeans, or dressed up with a fitted skirt, you're sure to get a lot of mileage out of this pullover and its striking side cables.

I always want the option of wearing my fall jacket just a few weeks longer before pulling out the bulkier winter one. Do you? Wrapping a warm scarf like Dungloe around your neck will extend 'light coat weather' by keeping your neck and upper body a bit more toasty. Knit up in our new bulky weight, Big Liberty Wool, the tonal shades add even more depth to the textural stitches.

Kinlough by Edith Murphy and Clifden by Tonia Barry
By the time it's downright cold outside, you'll be more than ready for snowball fights and sledding with the Kinlough mittens. The fibers in the Big Liberty Wool mix team up to make these mittens both warm and durable. To keep the bitter cold off your neck? Clifden's double layers of cables will keep you snug as a well dressed bug in a rug, even in the deepest chill.

With such a varied assortment of yarns represented, in so many lovely jewel tones and natural shades to choose from, the hardest part may be limiting yourself to casting on just one project from Emerald Isle. Then again, who says you have to limit yourself?