Finished my Heel Stitch hat

orange Heel Stitch hat - Purl Bee pattern

Hey look, I finished something! This is the Heel Stitch Hat from the Purl Bee, inspired by a recent Knit the Look post. Cute, right? Apart from the 1×1 ribbed fold-up brim (which I knitted on 7’s), the only modification I made was to start the decrease rounds sooner than suggested. There is no row gauge or finished height given in the pattern, but judging by my own gauge, the 15-round decrease portion of the hat was going to be about two inches deep. The pattern calls for the hat to be 7.25 inches tall before you begin the decreases, which would add up to a taller hat than I like. I was tempted to start decreasing at 6 inches (not counting the ribbing) but the most interesting thing to me about this hat is the shape and decrease approach — it’s boxy! — and I wondered whether it might require the hat to be a little taller than a standard dome shape. So I knitted until I had 6.5 inches before starting the decreases. If I did it again — and I believe I will, still want it in that bright yellow — I’d knit 4 inches of ribbing (so the ribbing folds over ribbing instead of heel stitch) and maybe start the decreases even a little bit sooner. But thumbs up — great hat. The yarn is Sincere Sheep Shepherdess Worsted, which is just a joy in the hands. And soon on the hands; I have enough left over for some 70-Yard Mitts!

Speaking of boxy, after posting twice this week about boxy sweaters great for layering, I was wearing my Meg-made sweater yesterday. All the buzz around Stitches Midwest this weekend has me wishing I was meeting Meg and Jo there again, after having so much fun last year. I had promised Meg a modeled shot of the sweater at some point, so that’s below. Hi, Meg! (Don’t ask me why my right arm appears grossly enlarged — as far as I know, it doesn’t look that way in real life.) I’m hoping to persuade Meg and/or Iz to write up a pattern (or at least a basic recipe) for this one, to publish here on the blog.

knitted sweater handmade by Meg Strong

Speaking of Stitches Midwest — if you are there this weekend and have been wanting one of the Fringe Supply Co. totes, make a beeline for the Wool & Company booth! As of this week, assorted Fringe goods can also be found at Knitterly in Petaluma CA, ImagiKnit in San Francisco, and Maisieblue in Murphys CA. (Full list of Stockists is here.)

So what are you up to this weekend? I want to hear what you’re making …


Knit the Look: Bonnie Chen’s sunny beanie

How to knit Bonnie Chen's sunny yellow hat

What better way to perk up an outfit on a cool morning than to top it off with a sunshine-yellow beanie? I can’t quite decipher this one on model Bonnie Chen — looking at the slightly tighter photo, it doesn’t appear to be plain old ribbing, but I’m not sure what it is. (Are you?) So here’s my suggestion: Knit the Purl Bee’s Heel Stitch Hat. But since the heel stitch fabric is not reversible and will roll at the edge — and I like Bonnie’s rolled-up brim — what about knitting two or three inches of 1×1 ribbing before beginning the heel stitch pattern? That would give you a foldable edge that would have a bit of textural contrast with the main body of the hat. For the sunny yellow, knit it in Anzula’s For Better or Worsted in the color Ducky.

See Vanessa’s original post for more of Bonnie’s ensemble.

UPDATE: To see this hat knitted up with the recommended mods, check out my orange version.


Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

New Favorites: Simple little stockinette wraps

knitting patterns for simple stockinette wraps

We all know how important it is to have a simple little stockinette project on the needles, for those times when you want something mindless to knit. Or when you’ve screwed up a row of your slightly lacy cardigan and aren’t ready to face fixing it …

LEFT: Cabinfour’s Nordic Wind is a super simple little triangle shawl with wide stripes — shown in four shades of grey, from dark to light, for a little bit of ombré effect.

RIGHT: The Purl Bee’s Beautiful Spring Scarf is nothing but a stockinette rectangle with fringe. But ooh la la, how curious am I about that cashmere-linen blend yarn it’s designed for. And the idea of nylon cord for the fringe is pretty genius.


Knit the Look: Here kitty kitty

how to knit a kitty hat

Who says you have to stop wearing hats as the weather warms up? Whoever this girl is,* she is likely the only person on earth who can pull off this look — a playful, white, furry, kitty-shaped hat worn with a striking black-and-white skirt-and-top combo (and silver pumps, no less). It’s somewhat subtle, for a cat hat. I mean, the ears are understated. There aren’t any eyes or whiskers. (Although it looks like there might be a tail.) Still, let’s look at a slightly more subtle alternative, for those of us with chutzpah but maybe not quite so much as this girl. Here’s what you do: You knit The Purl Bee’s funny little Cozy Ear Flap Hat, minus the pompom — but instead of working the decreases for the crown, just knit a straight tube. Once it reaches the intended height (or the depth of your head), lay it flat and Kitchener across the top, so instead of being rounded off, it’s square on top. When you pull the hat on, the two corners will stick out a little like these ears. You could knit it in the Purl Soho Super Soft Merino the pattern was designed for, or go full kitsch and make it out of a fake-fur yarn like Lupo. If you want to add a tail, you’re on your own.

See Vanessa’s original post for more shots of the outfit.

*Update: She’s been identified as Olga Sorokina


Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

New Favorites: the ultimate Sweatshirt Sweater

purl bee sweatshirt sweater knitting pattern

I really only have three words to say about this Sweatshirt Sweater pattern from Laura* at The Purl Bee: Oh. My. God. So classic and cozy, and yet so utterly cool! Look at those great raglans. But it excites me for another reason as well. A few years ago, J.Crew did a (deep V-neck) sweater with a kangaroo pouch like this — beautiful soft colors in some fuzzy blend of wools. I had to have it, and coughed up what was a lot of money for me at that moment in time … but had to send it back because it was way too warm for me. And I have mourned it ever since. But thanks be to knitting (and Laura!) I can make this one in any fiber and color I like, including a nice SF-summer weight one. Along with iconic sweatshirt grey, of course.

Speaking of pullovers, this week’s ICYMI post (in aid of the top-down tutorial in progress) is How many shapes can a pullover take?


*I wish I knew all of their last names.

New Favorites: A wrap too dear

amazing seed stitch wrap knitting pattern from the purl bee

Ever since this Amazing Seed Stitch Wrap pattern appeared on The Purl Bee the other day, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. I’m going to venture a guess that Joelle Hoverson herself is behind this one, and in a lot of ways it’s the embodiment of what I love about The Purl Bee: their dedication to simple, unfussy patterns that are within reach, skill-wise, of the average knitter or crocheter. But while they keep the silhouettes and skills simple, the projects are far from boring. They demonstrate how brilliant it is to choose great materials and then not get in their way. (In all my years as a print designer, I was always more concerned with the choice of paper than what I was going to obscure it with.) This wrap, like I said, is perhaps the ultimate example of that — it’s just a seed-stitch rectangle! But the most stunning seed-stitch rectangle imaginable.

Unfortunately, the flip side of this particular coin is that, in this case, they’ve chosen the materials so well that it’s way out of reach, financially, for … well, certainly for me. They’ve put together a kit of the 11 premium yarns involved, and it can be yours for just $407.40 (plus tax/shipping). So … sad Karen, jealous of (and happy for!) the lucky Purl Soho customers who can actually afford to knit this. I’d say my new mission is to find yarn substitutions that would lower the price tag without compromising the result, but I’m not sure it can be done. It’s just so lusciously perfect exactly as it is.


Snow’s silver lining: spectacular mittens

best new mittens knitting patterns

Sometimes I forget that mittens exist outside of storybooks. In my head, they belong to those picturesque, all-white, deep-winter wonderlands — which are (thankfully) totally foreign to my existence. But the nightly news the past few days, along with my Instagram feed, have reminded me that the world is full of people who need, wear and knit mittens. And as it happens, there have been a lot of great patterns released lately. These six are almost enough to make me wish for a snow day —

1. Classic Mittens from the Purl Bee (free)

2. Icy Water by Muraka Mari (free)

3. Adiri by Julia Trice

4. Knoll by Michele Wang

5. Jagged Ridge by Kiyomi Burgin

6. Pinion by Véronik Avery