Guest Blog Post - Therese Chynoweth

For our book Autumn Leaf, Therese Chynoweth designed a beautiful lacey shrug that is a versatile layering piece.

I asked Therese to tell us a little about how she came up with the idea for Cornucopia and to take us through her process.

Cornucopia – by Therese Chynoweth

Cornucopia is a shrug that I've wanted to design for a while. Knit in Fresco, this shrug is simple, elegant and ethereal. Although it took some time to work out the details, I'm definitely pleased with the result.

 Most shrugs are worked in one piece, either from side-to-side, or from the bottom up. Others are worked flat like a large scarf, and then seamed at the underarms. Another construction method is worked from cuff-to-cuff.

Although the latter is my favorite shrug construction, something has always bothered me about it. While being easy to work and has minimal finishing (always a plus in my book), this method of construction never seems to fit quite right. Usually it’s too tight in the front at the shoulders and under the arms.

I started thinking about the best way to solve this fit problem. I decided to try working each sleeve separately to the armhole and put on holders. I then worked the back of the shrug. Then I joined the three pieces together and worked the balance of the piece, shaping it like a raglan sweater.

I kept the front edges of the sleeves straight to retain the look of a usual shrug but tapered the back slightly below the armholes to maintain a clean fit across the back and shoulders. There's no saggy bag at the lower back, either.

I wanted to use a lace stitch pattern that would be easy to work while at the same time would accommodate the decreases of the raglan shaping on the back. The Fern Lace was my first choice – it's pretty, feminine and easy to memorize.  I added a narrow faggoting panel and twist stitch between halves of the lace for a little extra interest. The undulating bottom edge was one of the features that drew me to the pattern.

 The sleeves are worked straight up from the cast-on, creating a loose, flowing look, in keeping with look of the side-to-side shrug. I designed Cornucopia with extra-long sleeves, but I think this shrug would also be adorable with ¾-length sleeves (just knit a few less repeats of the lace pattern).

I wanted the back of the shrug to have a simple feel to it, but didn’t want it to be completely plain. So I added one repeat of the Fern Lace pattern to tie the sections together. It also adds the undulating edge to the back.

I decided to do just a few rows of 1 x 1 rib with eyelets along the edges of Cornucopia to ensure the edges didn’t roll. I wanted to be careful not to overwhelm the piece with too much edging.

This lacey shrug is really an elegant piece with a feminine look. It is easily customizable by shortening the sleeves or changing colors and is simple to finish with no seams. It's a shrug that will look great on just about any body shape. Can't get much better than that!


Other Classic Elite Yarns designs by Therese Chynoweth

From left to right: Camellia, Great Bay and Fern

WIP Wednesday…Eileen Fisher Sprout Pullover

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind at Classic Elite Yarns who Betsy’s favorite designer is. Eileen Fisher, hands down. Betsy loves the classic and sophisticated pieces that all have a way of working together – from one season to the next. The only thing missing from her Eileen Fisher wardrobe was a hand knit sweater.

And then it happened. We found out that Vogue Knitting was publishing a pattern that Eileen Fisher designer. And in CEY Sprout no less!

After taking a mental stock of her wardrobe, Betsy decided that she wanted to make the long sleeve dolman pullover in Tawny Port. This earthy brown with red undertones is going to complement everything in her closet. It will go with blacks, greys, other neutrals, greens, blues …you name it. Plus it’s a great transitional color.

#4307 Tawny Port
Being a diligent knitter, Betsy made a gauge swatch and reviewed the pattern before casting on. She also took a close look at the schematic. It was then she decided to make a few modifications to the pattern before beginning. 

While she really likes the high-low hem on the pattern, she wanted the front  to be the same length as the back and the scoop on the hems to be a little less dramatic. This will make her finished piece a little more timeless, while remaining true to the trend. Some things are easy to adjust as you knit – make the sleeve a little longer, use a 2 x 2 rib instead of a 1 x 1. But since the sweater is knit side-to-side, it is best to make these adjustments to the pattern prior to casting on. She printed some knitter’s graph paper that she found on the web and set to adjusting the pattern.

It didn’t take her long to map everything out and cast on. It also didn’t take her long to come to the conclusion that removable stitch markers were going to be a key element for successfully knitting this sweater. As you can see below, she is putting a stitch marker in every increase along the top sleeve edge. This is helping her keep track of where she is and how often she needs to increase.

Betsy has been plugging away at the sweater and is about half way done with the front and it won’t be long now until she is casting on for the back. She even sent her husband in one day when she was working from home to get more yarn because she was afraid that she was going to run out.

I can’t wait to see the finished piece. Not only is it going to look great on her, it’s just so…’her.’ I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot of it around the office once she is finished.

Knit on!

Eileen Fisher in Vogue Knitting!

We are always excited when a knitting magazine contacts us and asks to use our yarn for an editorial piece. Usually when they ask for yarn they tell us what publication it is for and a very basic description.

For example Vogue Knitting contacted us last February and asked for a bag of Sprout in two colors (Olive Leaf and Prune) for a pullover that would be published in the Fall 2014 magazine.

We sent them the yarn and waited. And waited. And impatiently waited.

A few weeks back we got the news. Not only was it going to be a pullover, it was going to be a designer piece. And not just any designer…but Eileen Fisher!

Eileen Fisher is known for elegance and simplicity. And her design in the new Vogue Knitting does not disappoint!

This loose-fitting dolman pullover is worked sideways (from cuff to cuff) in two pieces. After seaming the two pieces together, stitches are picked up around the cuffs and knit in a 1 x 1 rib in the round.  The pullover also sports a high-low hem, seen on many trend alerts this fall.

While we love the colors that Vogue Knitting picked, we couldn’t help but wonder what the pullover would look like in other colors. We picked a few that are trending for fall and asked our graphic designer (with permission from Vogue Knitting) to recolor them for us, just so we could see more great possibilities!

From left to right: Lime, Cardinal Red, Burnt Orange and Summer Rain
Here is an additional tip for you – if you knit with Seedling doubled, it is the same gauge and drape as Sprout. Yep…so that means you have even more options when you go to your LYS to pick out your colors.

Stay tuned for this week’s upcoming WIP Wednesday. Someone at the office has already started her EF pullover…

Knit on!

Photos courtesy of Vogue Knitting. Paul Amato for

MillaMia Ornaments and Stockings

The other day I was walking through a major chain store and noticed they were putting out Halloween candy. How can that be? It’s not even Labor Day and the Halloween candy is being displayed!

But it got me thinking about the holidays and how they will be upon us shortly. In fact there are less than 20 weeks left until Christmas. Yikes!

This year I am going to be ready. I swear I am. Really.

That means I need to start thinking about my Christmas knitting now.

I have two sets of friends who got married this year and they will have their first holiday traditions with their own blended families. I would imagine that this will include a bigger tree that the mini ones they have had in the past, which means they will need more ornaments to fill the branches.  So as soon as I saw the ornament kits from MillaMia, I knew what I would be making them for the holidays.

One of my friends is a little more traditional, so for her I will be using the Classic kit.

Scarlet, Snow, Midnight and Forget Me Not are the four colors that will adorn her tree this year (and hopefully many more).

My other friend is a little bolder with her color choices, so for her ornaments I will use the Bright kit.

Here the traditional colors of Christmas (Scarlet and Grass) are punctuated by Peacock and Daisy Yellow.

Each of the kits comes with four balls of Naturally Soft Merino in the colors listed, above and four ornament patterns - all packaged in a nice container. The kit will make at least seven ornaments, in different combinations.

Because each of the ornaments is small, they will knit up pretty quickly. I have a feeling it will be one of those things that once you finish one, you will want to cast on for another one right away. Kind of like eating M&Ms, you can’t stop with one.

It’s a good thing these will go quickly, because they aren’t the only ones on my Christmas knitting list. I have another friend who recently had her first child. And there is no stocking that will be good enough for him…unless it is hand knit by his honorary auntie.

I think I am going to make him the Snowflake Stocking (also from MillaMia) on the left. The Fair Isle motif is the only section that you need to pay close attention to, so it will be good TV knitting.

And of course his parents can’t have stockings that aren’t as nice as his, so each of them will be getting a cabled stocking – one in Scarlet and the other in Snow.

Pro tip – if you are making a stocking for a new child and you are fairly certain the parents plan on more than one child, it might be a good idea to make more stockings than the one you need this year. That way in a few years all you have to do is pull it out of your closet, give it a steam and wrap it up! I did this once before and found it very helpful.

Have you starting thinking about your holiday knitting yet? The clock is ticking…

Knit on!

WIP Wednesday…Erika Cardigan

One difference between working at a yarn company and working in a traditional 9 to 5 job is that not only is it completely acceptable to have a knitting project (or two) in the drawer of your desk, it’s the norm. A while back Heather, our Sales Director, decided that she wanted to have something that she didn’t have to carry back and forth every day and just have at the office for lunch time and meeting knitting.

As inspiration, Heather remembered back to the industry trade show last year and the cardigan one of the MillaMia ladies was wearing – the Erika Cardigan. It seemed like the perfect knit, and the Naturally Soft Merino it called for was a yarn she’d wanted to use for a while.

When it came time to pick colors, Heather started pulling yarn and polling the lunch table for opinions on color combinations. She really wanted to use last year’s limited edition colors – Cobalt and Lime – but wasn’t sure what to use as her third color. We, I mean she, eventually decided that the Fuchsia would be the best compliment.

 This is Heather’s long-term, leave at work project, so it’s taking a bit longer than most projects –

The good news is that this sweater is a contemporary take on a classic sweater and whenever Heather finishes (be it two months from now or two years) it will still be relevant and fashionable.  In fact she is already talking about making another one, but in more toned down colors like the alternate version shown in the book.

There are so many colors of the Naturally Soft Merino from MillaMia that there are tons of different color combinations for this sweater.  Any of which would look great.

Have you made the Erika Cardigan? We would love to see your color combination!

Knit on!

Flight of Fancy

Introducing Pumpkin and Teal – MillaMia’s Limited Edition colors for Fall 2014 in Naturally Soft Merino!

MillaMia had all the pieces from the Flight of Fancy Collection re-knit to showcase the new colors and to show how striking they look combined with the core color range for even more color combinations.

The Vanessa Cable Cardigan is a simple, yet elegant piece that can be modified in a variety of ways. It can be knit two-tone with cabled fronts, as shown here in Pumpkin and Midnight:

Perhaps you prefer to be less daring and favor one color, like the Teal shown here:

Or maybe you like the idea of the two-tone cardigan, but want to eliminate the cables. Why not try a bold color combination like the Teal with Claret trim:

Cowls have been all the rage the past few years – they are easy projects to knit on the go and are a fun and stylish addition to anyone’s wardrobe. Using the same cable pattern as the cardigan above, the Vanessa Cowl is knit side-to-side using the main color and then stitches are picked up in the contrast color.

Left to right: Pumpkin and Midnight & Teal and Fuchsia
I love the way the pop of color peeks out of the cowl. It’s also completely reversible, which makes it easy to switch up on those days when you feel like you need a little change.

Another popular trend is color blocking. And I think it is here to stay (at least for a little while). So why not embrace it with the Larissa Top?

This top takes that classic pullover sweater and adds a bit of whimsy and fashion to it. The front is striped using three different colors (Pumpkin, Midnight and Putty). The balance of the sweater is knit in blocks of color. The keyhole on the back is outlined with the main color from the front for that added je ne sais quoi detail.

We all love great kids sweaters and the versatile cardigans included in this book, shown here in the new colors, are perfect for the fall season ahead.

The Luca Cardigan might just be the perfect back-to-school sweater. It’s a color blocked V-neck sweater with pockets. Make it in your child’s (grandchild’s, niece’s nephew’s…you get the idea) favorite colors or even their school colors to show their team spirit.

Or with a few more girly details, the Lucia Cardigan might be the one for your special girl. Also color blocked and with pockets, this cardigan is an open front crew neck cardigan with an optional bow at the center front neck.

But the best part of these cardigans? There is an optional chart for the backs that feature bats. Perfect for the Halloween enthusiasts in your family! The charts can be worked in Intarsia or in duplicate stitch.

All the pieces in Flight of Fancy would look great in any of the Naturally Soft Merino colors available. There are so many wonderful colors to choose from, the hardest part might be picking the right combination for you (or your loved ones).

The ladies at MillaMia are busy working on a new project that is coming soon. I can’t wait to tell you about it. But until then…

Knit on.

Transitional Yarns – Soft Linen and Magnolia

One of the staff favorites at Classic Elite Yarns is Soft Linen and for good reason. Soft Linen is a wool, alpaca and linen blend that makes a gorgeous fabric, perfect for year round garments.  The stitch definition is spectacular. Simple stockinette really shines and lace really pops.

When our design team was creating the feel of our newest book, Autumn Leaf, designer Tonia Barry knew she had to make a cardigan in Soft Linen.

I <3 the Indian Summer cardigan. It’s the perfect blend of stockinette and lace knitting - a little stockinette, a little lace and then a little more stockinette. Not to mention the fact that is extremely stylish and easy to wear. The best part…it has pockets! I love pockets.

This cardigan has already become a staff favorite. I know of two that are on needles and quite a few of us have it in our (mental) queues.

Another great transitional yarn is Magnolia. I have a predisposition to loving this yarn for the name alone. I spent my college years in the south and I can personally attest to how beautiful the magnolia trees are…they look great with or without the blooms and they smell amazing. So it didn’t surprise me one bit that I love this yarn as much I love the foliage.

It also doesn’t surprise me that I adore the Apple Cider wrap from Deborah Helmke. This is one of those pieces that is more than a wrap, but not quite a cardigan.

Starting at the lower back hem, it’s knit in one piece up and over the shoulders, where it is split for the front. After binding off, there is a small seam on each side to work, weave in your ends and you are done! Or leave the seams unsewn and let it fall over your shoulders (you may want to still weave in your ends though).

Perfect for throwing on as you are heading out the door on those days where you need just a little extra warmth or something to block the wind.

You may have noticed that both of these pieces have a leaf motif. In fact…all of the pieces in our book Autumn Leaf do! This book is full of amazing pieces that are perfect to knit now, and wear as soon as you are finished. Check out them all out here.

Now…I just need to finish a few things before I can cast on for both of these pieces…

Knit on!