New Favorites: All square

New Favorites: All square (knitting patterns)

I’m endlessly amazed at how musicians can be given the same limited set of musical notes and yet come up with an infinite number of new tunes and melodies. I feel a bit the same about these two shawls — oversized rectangular wraps — both of which are based on the simple concept of squares knitted in alternating stockinette and reverse stockinette:

TOP: Ippen Shawl by Claudia Eisenkolb puts two twists on the classic big-basketweave effect: the squares give way to wedges at the center, turning the rectangle into a U shape; and there’s a stripe of color running the length of it that shifts depending on whether you’re in a stockinette or reverse-stockinette block, from a solid line to a ticking stripe [Link updated 11.13, original Ravelry pattern listing was broken]

BOTTOM: Sjal by Antonia Shankland is a subtle collection of nested squares that change scale along the way


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Brandi’s neck sculptures

The dickey I didn’t know I needed (2018 FO-22)

The dickey I didn't know I needed (2018 FO-22)

There was a night a couple of weeks ago where I was frantically looking for something to knit. My plum Anna Vest was blocking; I’d left my marlisle hat at work; I no longer have the thumb instructions memorized for the Log Cabin Mitts, and picking up my unfinished pair wasn’t going to take up that unexpected chunk of knitting time anyway. And so on. I could have cast on a sweater, but it would have been both underconsidered (I can’t make up my mind) and wool (since that’s what I have in my stash in sweater quantities), and I obviously didn’t want to do that. So I pulled up New Favorites and scrolled through looking for something I’d been wanting for a decent amount of time and that I also had yarn for in stash, and I landed on Grete, the crazy dickey I can’t get out of my head. PERFECT. Then I remembered it’s written for bulky yarn, which I don’t have meaningful amounts of in stash. ARGH. And then it slowly dawned on me: the exquisite single-batch, toffee-hued, Oregon-raised bulky I’ve been dying to knit with. I only had one skein on my shelf at home, but I had plenty in the webshop and had set aside a pile for myself at the studio. (Hilariously, I had made this connection last spring when the pattern published but had forgotten it in the meantime.) So I cast on.

The only thing I didn’t like about knitting this was how quickly it was over. I have friends who say the thought of coffee gets them out of bed in the morning. I had one morning where I woke up thinking “the sooner I get up and get through my workday and my workout, the sooner I can knit those cables.” Although, I did extend it by making some changes and revisions and re-knits along the way.

When I first blogged about this pattern, I mentioned that I wanted the neck to be snugger, and we talked about various other mods in the comments, including putting a back on it, which I did. But I was surprised to discover when I started knitting that the neck ribbing folds down over cables, as opposed to ribbing folding onto itself, and I couldn’t imagine wearing that, so I ripped it back. In total, here are the changes I made:

The dickey I didn't know I needed (2018 FO-22)

– Cast on 8 sts fewer (on US8 needle) for snugger neck
– Ribbed for 8″ (instead of 10″ of half ribbing/half cables)
– Worked an increase round at the end of my ribbing to get to the original stitch count
– Instead of binding off for the back neck, put those sts on waste yarn
– Worked the front panel exactly as written, on US10 needle for main fabric
– Returned the back sts to needles and worked a back just like the front, but only two repeats of the chart
– (I’m wishing I had added another repeat or two on the front so it hits me more like the one on the model, but that’s ok — I never did check my gauge so don’t know how it compares!)

In the interim, I tried two other ideas for the back (involving stockinette and short-rows and altered stitch counts to adjust for the gauge …), thinking it might not lie flat or sit right if I didn’t account for neck shaping somehow. But that was time wasted, because this totally worked. The back flap gives it a little visual ballast, plus I couldn’t stand the thought of cold air on the strip of skin between a shirt collar and the bottom of the dickey. And while I thought it was just a visual thing, it does actually help it stay seated better as well.

I also couldn’t be happier with my yarn choice for this, the OUR Yarn, and love it most because it’s a way I can feel like I’m wearing a luscious wool turtleneck sweater in a climate that doesn’t really allow for that. And did I mention it looks amazing with my matching Log Cabin Mitts?

The dickey I didn't know I needed (2018 FO-22)

So I’m eager to knit another one — wider somehow to account for my broadness, and with another variation for the back — and am thinking it should be black. I’m just debating between this same yarn for that (a deep, rich black which would be gorgeous) and trying it in the intended yarn, Luft, which is a wool-cotton blend and lighter, more heathery black.

Pattern: Grete by Woolfolk Yarn, with mods listed above
Yarn: OUR Yarn from Fringe Supply Co. in toffee (8.8oz, 2.25 skeins with my mods)
Pictured with: Fringe Field Bag in waxed camo


PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Plum Anna Vest (pattern now available)

New Favorites: Brandi’s neck sculptures

New Favorites: Brandi's neck sculptures

Remember back at the end of last month when I said “Or perhaps I’ll cast on a Grete, if there’s a suitable yarn for it in my stash”? So that happened, and I’ll show it to you as soon as I take some pics, but it’s amazing. And between that and the situation with my too-warm sweater collection and my short attention span right now, I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of a winter wardrobe plan that consists of some very simple long-sleeve tops combined with statement-making neck accessories that also fend off the coming cold, and would be immensely satisfying to knit. I’m once again reminded of the loop stitch Markham Collar (which Tara-Lynn has since sent me and I just dug out) but am also newly fixating on Brandi Harper’s sculptural, convertible head-and-neck-ccesories, the Hoodie (above bottom) and the Shawl Collar (above top). Both would be great with yarns held double or triple, making them great stash busters, as well.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Building blocks

New Favorites: Building blocks

New Favorites: Building blocks

In my first couple of years as a knitter, I had an idea for a book I wanted to do (I think I’ve told this story before) — a collection of patterns that would gradually build up your skills if you worked through them in order. Then Tin Can Knits put out The Simple Collection, which is wonderful and similar but also super different, and I abandoned the idea. I’d forgotten all about it until I saw the bit of simple brilliance my pals over at Kelbourne Woolens came up with for their new yarn, Germantown, which you’ve already heard me raving about. Dubbed “Building Blocks,” it’s three patterns that each encompass three variations on an accessory, of escalating difficulty. The Hats are just plain stockinette, then add a ribbed brim, then rib all over. But the Scarves take you from garter stitch to striped ribbing to cables, and the Mittens encompass stockinette, textured stitch and colorwork. Of course, the hats and mittens also introduce you to shaping, and the beauty of mittens is you can leave the tops off to make fingerless mitts, for even more variations. If you’re like me and like knitting simple things — especially at worsted gauge — they’re great little patterns to have in your arsenal, no matter how long you’ve been knitting.

(If anyone’s wondering, I have no stake in this yarn or anything — I just really like it!)


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Woolfolk does colorwork

New Favorites: Textural neckwear

New Favorites: Textural neckwear

Summer seems to me like the perfect time for knitting neckwear — scarves and shawls that fall just in the sweet spot on the continuum between interesting and mindless, that are portable, that don’t require you to worry about fit or to have a growing sweater in your lap, and yet last long enough to carry you through road trips or baseball practices or whatever the case may be. Plus they’re the first thing you get to use when the weather begins to cool off (or when the sun sets at the beach). So why don’t I tend to knit such things? These three recent patterns have me wondering hard:

TOP: Madison Scarf by Norah Gaughan, who must have been smirking if she happened to see that whole conversation we had about adding a back flap to the Grete dickey when this one would have been deep in the pipeline and is that very thing! A scarf with a headhole and lovely overall knit-purl texture, which can be worn a variety of ways.

MIDDLE: Adrian by Dianna Walla is a traditional scarf (designed for cotton) that takes typical colorwork motifs and renders them in purl stitches instead.

BOTTOM: Orthogonal by Emily Greene is a stunner of a shawl with a mesmerizing geometric-lace maze of a stitch pattern. I saw this on her at Squam, artfully bunched around her neck, and it made me want to be a fingering-weight shawl knitter.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Clever garter colorwork

New Favorites: Clever garter colorwork

New Favorites: Clever garter-stitch colorwork knitting patterns

I’ve basically been asleep for four straight days (even when my eyes are open), since getting back from Portugal — I can’t get enough shut-eye or enough water, for some reason. Which means I don’t yet have my arms around the first round of Summer of Basics prize selections or how to even begin to tell you about the trip. But this is a rare summer in which, so far, the flow of droolworthy knitting patterns is uninterrupted. So can we talk about these clever garter-stitch beauties for a minute?

TOP: Picket Fence Afghan by Julia Farwell-Clay (from the new MDK Field Guide: Ease) is made up of 3-color garter-stitch blocks which somehow magically eliminate the weaving of ends and create a magnificent tapestry, which I think would be great at wrap proportions

BOTTOM: Ellsworth by Scott Rohr takes garter stitch, two colors of yarn, and short rows to a new level of magnificence

(Side note: If I owe you an email, I’m trying!)


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Dianna’s dream sweaters




New Favorites: A little something to knit

New Favorites: Graphique kerchief knitting pattern

You know I do love a little kerchief (exhibit A, exhibit B, exhibit C) and plus — are you sitting down? — I’ve been struggling to knit lately. I can’t seem to attach to anything, and have been thinking what I need is a little something mindless and pocket-sized to have on the go.* Something quick but useful, that would give me that happy jolt of a finish, and BAM! along comes Graphique from Shibui. It’s nothing but a little stockinette square with concentric stripes, but I think if I were to knit it, I might stripe it more like that Joelle Hoverson scarf I’m always on about. In fact, I might just cast on tonight and see if I can score a little win before the yarn for my Summer of Basics sweater arrives.

I’m back from Squam, by the way — a day later than planned (hence the brief blog outage) and wildly behind on everything — so I’ll have my recap and outfit rundown for you soon.

*Of course, there’s always the Log Cabin Mitts but I seem to have stalled on my epic series for the moment. I have one pair that’s been awaiting thumbs since early March, and another pair in progress where I’m not happy with the yarn choices. So I’ve been reluctant to reach into that bag, as well!


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Summer stripes