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.