just for fun

AlterKnits Stitch Dictionary Review

A copy of AlterKnits was sent to me for free from Interweave, but all opinions are my own.

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Andrea Rangel is a prolific designer known for her colorwork and rustic, wearable patterns--the kind of designs meant to be loved and worked in, not stored away for fear of ruining. She also happens to be one of my friends in the industry, and I loved her first book Rugged Knits, which was strictly a pattern book. Andrea's second book, AlterKnit Stitch Dictionary, captures her love of colorwork with 200 original and fresh knitting motifs.

Fun fact: Andrea's husband Sean (who is an artist) drew all the motifs in the book! I think this creative input from someone outside the industry is what has helped make this book so unique, since I assume Sean wasn't bogged down with years of traditional knitting motifs in his head. Andrea notes in the introduction of the book that Sean knows how to knit, but doesn't practice it much so he doesn't "think like a knitter."

Like most Interweave books, the first 22 pages are devoted to basic colorwork theory, from choosing colors to different stranding techniques. As a seasoned knitter I personally hate how every knitting book has to include this background knowledge, but I get it. At least with AlterKnit, it doesn't take up too much space and you can quickly move onto the best part--the stitch patterns!

The motifs aren't divided into categories or chapters. On one hand, this is nice because it encourages browsing, but on the other, as a designer it would be more helpful to have the motifs divided by style (geometric, nature inspired) or by stitch repeat size (12 st rep, 20 st rep). The swatches are clearly photographed and of a generous size, and the color combinations Andrea chose are so...Andrea!

Take a look at some spreads from the book below to get a feel for the layout, color schemes, and scope of the designs.

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The book also includes several designs and tips on how to replace the motifs used with other motifs in the book. This is a great touch and a smart way to make the included designs go further, as knitters can knit multiple versions using different motifs! Andrea has said designers are free to use the motifs in their designs, and I'm already using one in an upcoming sweater worked in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Cake DK.

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As someone who owns quite a few stitch dictionaries already, is AlterKnit worth it? I say YES if:

  • You are a designer who loves colorwork.
  • You are a knitter comfortable with modifying patterns who loves colorwork.
  • You fall into either category above and especially love modern and quirky motifs.

If you prefer to knit patterns as-is and don't like substituting stitch patterns or figuring out math, I don't think this book will have much value to you as a knitter unless you happen to love all the patterns as they are. If you are comfortable with modifications or designing your own patterns, AlterKnit Stitch Dictionary is a fantastic resource for the colorwork lover.

A Bevy of FOs

Here's a quick round-up of all my recent finished projects!

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In August I made my first ever bra, a Watson Bra using a kit from Tailor Made Shop. I'm counting this as a Summer of Basics FO, and it's also an item ticked off my Making List--yahoo! I was intimidated by bra making but it turned out to be surprisingly easy, and my only gripe was struggling with my machine eating the small seam allowances whenever I started a new seam. I did a straight 32C with no alterations, except for the straps. They're supposed to be attached to the top of the cups with rings, but that would put the adjustable buckle on top of my traps and I prefer having the hardware on the back of my body. Next time I might experiment with taking a small amount of fabric out of the band, as it fits comfortably on the middle set of hooks but I prefer starting a new bra on the outermost set of hooks so I can wear it longer before it gets stretched out.

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I finished my languishing pair of handdyed socks, also a Making List item! (I'm feeling very accomplished, dontcha know.) These are nothing crazy special, just colorful, vanilla shortie socks that will always be welcome in my wardrobe.

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And last weekend, I jumped back into spinning after a long hiatus (almost a year!) To practice, I pulled this braid of Frabjous Fibers Merino Top in Scarecrow and I was pleased to discover my muscle memory hadn't faded. Yesterday I did another spin and will share photos once that yarn is dry. I have several spinning projects on my Making List, and I'd like to use up 90% of my fiber supply before I allow myself to purchase any new fiber.

I recently finished up all my design obligations, meaning I'm not contracted for any pieces and I'm not working on any self-published designs at the moment either. I'm really looking forward to taking this time to work on my Making List, sink my teeth into some longer-term sewing or spinning projects, and enjoy some selfish making time before I return to designing. Happy fall to me!

A Tale of Two Socks

Last post, I told you about my making list and the projects on it. Here's to my first FO from that list, the Saturday Matinee Socks!

I started these last summer and was about halfway through the first sock...so while it obviously took me a long time to get BACK to this project, once I buckled down I was able to crank them out pretty quickly. I don't consider myself a huge sock knitter, though I like all the pairs I've made so far. Mostly I have other things I want to make more! But I'm totally a convert to shortie ankle-style socks now, getting rid of the leg made such a difference in being able to finish these before I got bored.

I was still in the sock groove once I finished these, so I picked up the other pair of socks on my making list, Leyburn. Spoiler alert: They are no longer Leyburns!

I really love how the slipped stitch design on the Leyburns works with yarns like this--which, by the way, I dyed myself during a dying session with the Kangaroo Dyer once! I just could. not. stand. the Leyburn stitch pattern, and as pretty as it looks, I'm no longer interested in making things when the process is unbearable. Partly for practical reasons (if I hate making it, I'm not going to make it and it will never get finished) and partly because I'm learning more and more that I need to enjoy the act of making as much as I enjoy the having of the finished object. 

Instead of continuing with a sock I didn't enjoy making, I ripped back to the toe and did a simple, toe-up vanilla stockinette sock. The pooling is kind of meh (I wasn't interested in playing around with my gauge a whole bunch to fix that) but they're cheerful and I'm happy to have settled on a pattern I can actually finish. Hopefully I can do something fun with the leftovers, like stripe it with white in a different pair to avoid the pooling. KNIT ALL THE SOCKS!

My Making List

I recently discovered The Craft Sessions and fell down the rabbit hole of her Stash Less blog post series. Ever since I stopped working at Webs, my yarn consumerism has been way down and even before I left there, I was starting to be more mindful about my stash. I've done several purges of yarn, leaving me with a full yarn cabinet (rather than an overflowing one!) of prized skeins that I'd like to work though over the next few years. Coupled with my new budget, my eye is on using what I have and working on projects I've been pondering for awhile rather than heading off into new directions.

Thus, I decided to follow her challenge of creating a Making List. I'm leaving myself free to remove items from this list if I decide it no longer appeals to me, but if I want to add new things to the making list, I need to have completed something or removed something in its place. Note that this isn't my dreaming, wishful thinking list, but rather projects that I am committed to making because I already own the materials and in the case of some, they're already in progress. Designs for self-publishing are included, but contracted third-party obligations are not.

WIPS

  1. Miss Babs cardigan (design in progress)
  2. Fibre Co Stripey Raglan
  3. Saturday Matinee Socks--a finished FO as of Sunday night! Currently blocking.
  4.  Rainbow Leyburn Socks
  5. Charlemont Thermal

The cardigan will be set aside shortly as I have a sweater design I need to start working on. #2 just needs sleeves! Items 3 through 5 are long-standing WIPs, and I'm excited to close those projects out. I am definitely going to finish the Leyburn Socks, but I might change my mind on the thermal and rip it instead--need to dig that one out and take a long, hard look at it!

CAST ON

  1. Brookdale Vest
  2. Lopi Pullover
  3. Anzula Ava Set (design idea)

I have the yarn for all three of these, and the patterns for 1 & 2 to boot!

SPIN

  1. Romney fleece
  2. White British wool
  3. Spun Right Round fiber
  4. Malabrigo Nube.

Spinning is the most long-term of the categories, and I do need to get back into my spinning groove with some practice before tackling these fibers, especially the fleece. I'll likely do some practice spins with stash fiber I have expressly set aside for that purpose. In all honest, I'm not anticipating getting to spinning until the fall, or at least until I finish my current sewing list as that is more important to me.

SEW

  1. Fen Dress
  2. Watson Bra
  3. Wiksten Tank 2
  4. Serger projects

'Serger projects' in this case refers to the stash of knit fabric I have and any possible projects I want to do with it. I've been thinking of some jogger-style pants, pajama shorts for lounging around the house, and a casual tee or two. But first I need to learn how to use my serger!

Here are my tentative rules for the near future:

  1. Projects in the Making List take priority over random flights of fancy. (Exceptions: Any design obligations, duh.)
  2. $50/month budget for craft supplies. For now, I see that going to patterns and notions rather than yarn or fabric since I have a good stash to work from. I can roll any unspent $ over from month-to-month if I want to save up for something bigger than $50.
  3. If I'm avoiding a Making List project or not enjoying it--frog mercilessly, give away to a friend to finish, whatever, but no wasting time on things I don't love.

It may seem weird to put this much effort and structure into my hobbies, but I feel SO MUCH better for having done this. Getting my ideas out of my head and onto paper has cleared up brain space and made me decide what is actually a priority to me. I love having a good plan and I'm excited to get more crafting done the rest of this year! If you made a Making List, what would be on yours?

Handmade Summer Wardrobe Plans

Now that my wardrobe has been assessed (see previous post), I can talk about the projects I have planned for my summer wardrobe refresh/Summer of Basics Make-Along! My main priority is sewing, since I do have some knitted warm weather tops already, so let's jump into those first!

I am DETERMINED to finally make my planned Wiksten Tank! I purchased this Rae Richie Desert Bloom fabric from Drygoods Design OVER A YEAR AGO. I made the longer, dress version as a wearable muslin and I think I ran out of thread in the middle of it, plus hated the way the dress looked so I didn't finish the neckline. But the dress showed me that I will need to make an upper back adjustment and take out some extra fabric there. I've never altered a pattern like that before and I'm a little nervous!

I'm trying to use up some of my existing fabric stash to avoid waste and to get back into the sewing groove before treating myself to some fancy new fabric. I bought this crepe de chine from Girl Charlee Fabrics...I think in 2014?! I'm not sure what the hell I had planned for two yards of this monstrosity, and decided to make a Fen Top as practice for the next project. I don't love this print now, but I'm hoping it will be cute as a small dose in this drapey top.

And THIS is the project I'm most excited for--a Fen Dress in Railroad Denim from Fancy Tiger Crafts! I'm thinking about putting the stripes in opposite directions, like running vertically on the top and horizontally on the bottom. Or maybe the other way around! (Thoughts on that?)

I have other, more nebulous plans depending on how I feel, but these are the three definites. I own a serger that I don't know how to use, and a stash of knits I have ideas for. I'd really like to serge those projects though, I'm hoping I can learn to use my serger this summer. On the knitting front...nothing definite yet! I was thinking about making a Brookfield Vest or a Tegna, but I agreed to some design work due in September and now I'm not sure what my free knitting time will be looking like.

It's hard not getting a million ideas and chasing them all. I recently read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, and while I was already aware of most of the issues mentioned in the book, it really hammered home for me that slow fashion should be SLOW. I'm trying to get better about savoring the process, the planning and the slow making above the consumer-y glee of having another FO. The feelings when completing a handmade garment are of  course deeper and more meaningful than purchasing something from the store but in the end, I don't want my end goal to just be the acquisition of more stuff. I'm concentrating on:

  1. Using the stash I already have; ie that bright crepe de chine. My fabric stash is small, so I don't have a lot of fabric I dislike that I need to utilize before I can buy fabrics more suitable to my current needs. (I have vague plans for most of that fabric, actually!) On the yarn front, since leaving Webs I don't buy yarn quite the way I used to and I have a stash I'm very, very happy with!
  2. Repairing and wearing the clothes I already have. I have a tendency to channel my inner frustrations into my wardrobe sometimes and take it out on my clothes, accusing them of making me look too old/young/frumpy/sexy/etc. As I get older, I have more positive days than negative overall re: my body and body image, so I'm trying to get myself to chill out to get through the bad days instead of letting the frustration send me to buy new jeans. New jeans don't magically fix everything!
  3. Paying attention. That means paying attention to how I feel in my clothes, what I feel is missing from my wardrobe (and how much I actually would use it vs the fleeting urge of wants), and enjoying the process of making. I'm no longer interested in making things for the sake of the final thing if I find the process itself unbearable.

 

Handmade Summer Wardrobe Assessment

Getting dressed during warm weather is always a struggle for me. I feel underdressed and un-stylish if I'm not wearing multiple layers, making the classic summer uniform of a dress + sandals or shirt + shorts feel blah. I also feel like I have more fit issues in summer clothing--but it's more likely that fit issues become more apparent the less you have on! An ill-fitting shirt can be covered up by a bulky sweater come cooler temps, but no such luck in the summer.

These feelings, coupled with the fact that my handknit wardrobe leans towards cold-weather coverage, has led me to focus on planning some summer clothing projects. My hope is that by integrating more handmade pieces that I love into my warm-weather wardrobe, I'll be more excited to get dressed in the summer. I'll be playing along with the Summer of Basics Make-along, plus likely embracing a few extra projects. Those project ideas will be discussed in my next post. Up first: taking stock of what I already have and what's in progress!

From L to R:  Holla Back Tank , linen tee,  Sugar Maple ,  Nachfalter

From L to R: Holla Back Tank, linen tee, Sugar Maple, Nachfalter

Honesty time: I'm not sure how much I will actually wear these, but I'm going to make a strong attempt (a la EmSweWeMo) and take stock at the end of the season of what got loved and what didn't. I've started rotating a selection of my handknit garments into my dresser, since the bulk of them live under the bed in storage containers and thus are always out of sight. By choosing 3-5 pieces and keeping them close at hand, I've found myself wearing them more often. 

Interestingly, two of these pieces I didn't knit myself, proving my lack of attention to this seasonal category of knits! The linen tee was from a friend's handknit wardrobe (she didn't want it anymore), and I think is knit in Rowan Linen. It was a very timely acquisition, as I'd been planning to make a simple stockinette linen or linen blend tee at the time! And Nachfalter is the original sample from Holla Knits, Allyson was culling her handknit wardrobe and I asked for it.

Tellingly, the piece I'm most excited to wear is the linen tee since it's easily the most versatile. The length, fit, and/or color of the other three pieces dictates that I can only wear them with certain bottoms. (They're also all done in wool or wool blends.) I realized this last summer, which is why I started knitting a basic grey Choose Your Own Adventure Tee in Quince & Co Willet.

Finishing this languishing WIP with time to wear it this summer is my goal! It's also my only cotton knitting, so I think this will get much more usage than the three wool/wool-blend tops in my summer wardrobe.

Next week I'll share my Summer of Making plans and my future handmade summer wardrobe goals!

How to Shop at Webs--America’s Yarn Store

Here’s a not-at-all-secret fact you might not know about me—I worked at Webs for almost seven years in various capacities.

All photos in this post © Webs/yarn.com

All photos in this post © Webs/yarn.com

Webs is a huge destination for many in the fiber community, and I saw countless stunned, amazed, and overwhelmed reactions from first-time customers during my time working there. Part of that was spent working the retail floor, so I’ve lived through multiple Tent Sales, busy Saturdays, holiday shopping seasons and regular old weekdays! If you’ve never been to Webs at all, or if you’ve shopped there before but never during a big sale, keep on reading for my insider’s perspective on how to shop America’s largest yarn store.

The front half of the retail store.

The front half of the retail store.

The Basics: Skip this part if you’ve been before!

  • The retail store is in Northampton, MA. If you’ve ordered online before and saw Easthampton, MA printed on your invoice—that’s the shipping warehouse. Don’t go to that address hoping to shop!
  • The front half of the store is full-priced items, most of which are eligible for the Webs Discount.
  • The back half is known as the warehouse, and that IS shoppable and is different than the shipping warehouse. (Yes, confusing nomeclature.) The warehouse is full of Webs’ own Valley Yarns Line, and yarns marked down in price like closeouts and discontinued yarns, occasionally overstock and so on.
  • Bathrooms are in the front of the warehouse.
  • A few years ago the store started printing ‘store maps’ that are near the front door. Since the store and warehouse are (mostly) sorted by weight, this points you in the general direction if you already know what you need. See what these maps look like here.
  • To work in the retail store, staffers must have fiber knowledge and preferably multiple disciplines. So don’t hesitate to ask them questions! Depending on the day of the week, you might get unlucky if say, you have a complex weaving question and the staff members who weave aren’t working that day, but generally there is good coverage for most questions.
The back half of the retail store, or the warehouse as its called. Yes, it's shoppable!

The back half of the retail store, or the warehouse as its called. Yes, it's shoppable!

Hack: Stop at a bathroom before hitting the store.

Especially during busy sales or weekends, don’t get stuck waiting in line for the bathroom when you first arrive—stop right before you reach the store! If you’re coming from I-91 North or South and get off at Exit 18, there’s a gas station with a Dunkin Donuts on your right before you reach the turn for Service Center Road. You can also stop at that gas station if you’re coming up from Holyoke on MA Rte 5/10. If you’re coming down 5/10 from Hatfield, you’ll pass multiple gas stations and fast food places before you hit the main intersection of downtown Northampton.

Have a plan.

How prepared you want to be is up to you. I suggest bringing a list that at the very least reminds you of projects you’d like to work on or gaps in your stash, ie ‘yarn for Tea Leaves Cardigan and Color Affection’ or ‘purple fingering weight yarn.’ This can keep you in check if you’re on a budget and become intoxicated by yarn fumes, or if you get overwhelmed easily and forget what you need. A more thorough list of specific yardages is helpful, especially if your pattern calls for a yarn that is no longer available, a little known indie yarn, or a yarn that Webs doesn’t carry. Telling a staff member you need 1000 yds of DK weight yarn for a certain type of project will get you to the right shelves faster. Knowing the names and colors of yarns you’ve been eyeing online is even better! If you can bring your pattern with you, whether it's on paper or your tablet/phone, that can help shortcut things.

Tempting shelves of Madelinetosh!

Tempting shelves of Madelinetosh!

Hack: In-Store Pickups

If you know you HAVE TO HAVE a certain yarn, I suggest ordering it in advance with an In-Store Pickup. In a nutshell, Webs has both a physical retail location (in Northampton) and a shipping warehouse (in Easthampton), where the bulk of inventory lives. The website displays the total amount of inventory for an item, meaning there’s no way for you to know how much of that total will actually be in the store when you arrive to shop. Ordering an In-Store Pickup guarantees that yarn will be in the store, reserved for you when you arrive so you’re not disappointed. You can read the guidelines on Webs’ FAQ page (note there’s a lead-time). I would place an ISP if your order falls into one of these scenarios:

  • The total amount in inventory is close to the number of skeins you want (ie, inventory says 7 and you want 5.)
  • You want a large quantity in one dyelot, like for a sweater or blanket project. Especially so if you are looking at hand-dyed yarns!
  • The yarn is limited edition, a closeout, or otherwise a one-time-only, get-it-while-you-can scenario.

You can always place an order in the store at checkout for any missing or out of stock yarn to be shipped to you when it arrives, but you know…then you have to wait.

When to shop.

This is not a hard and fast science, since you never know who will show up! To avoid crowds try to shop on weekdays and in the middle of the day. If you must shop on a Saturday or during a sale, I’ve noticed crowds tend to thin around lunchtime as people leave to grab food, so if you can wait and pop in then you’re likely to have more elbow room and less competition for that skein you’ve been eyeing.

If you're planning on traveling from out of the area and are looking for local accommodations, consider checking the calendars of Smith College, which is located right in Northampton, and the other four colleges in the area before planning your trip. Rooms can be hard to find around graduation, which frequently overlaps with Tent Sale, and during other big events of the year. Also note that Webs isn't too far from Rhinebeck, so many people will duck into the store on their way to or from their Rhinebeck weekend causing some extra traffic on those dates.

These are the tents of Tent Sale.

These are the tents of Tent Sale.

Expert Level: Tent Sale.

The annual Webs Tent Sale is a weekend event that occurs in May as part of the extended Anniversary Sale. This year it's May 20 & 21, 2017. Along with yarns from the Anniversary Sale that are already on sale, lots of special deals get put out under big tents in the parking lot. Stuff like a bag of yarn for only $10! It’s a really big deal—bus loads of knitters will field trip to the store on Tent Sale Saturday! If you have a chance to come to the store on a regular day first to get acquainted with the layout, that will help you navigate more easily. Saturday is the most popular day, since it’s the only day of the weekend that includes the Fleece Market of independent vendors selling their wares in the parking lot. To survive Tent Sale:

  • Go to the bathroom before arriving. Really. The women’s bathroom at Webs only has three stalls and the men’s bathroom is single-person.
  • BYO water or beverage of choice.
  • Bring a well-planned list so you can be as self-sufficient as possible. There’s not enough staff to go around, especially in the morning, and you’ll save time if you can find things yourself rather than having to wait behind 10 other people to ask a staff member.
  • Tent Sale is an all-hands-on-deck event, so there will be Webs staff from the warehouse or other departments working who are not fiber crafters and don’t know where anything is. Be patient with them! This is also not the weekend to ask for intricate, hands-on help with your projects in progress as there are just too many people attending.
  • If you can arrive slightly before or right at opening, you can get directed to a parking spot faster and be ready to spring as soon as things get going. There is usually a very narrow window at the beginning of Saturday where things are easily navigable, and then it’s a madhouse until early afternoon. Before then, the line to checkout stretches the length of the store and back into the warehouse!
  • Unless you really, really want to have first crack at special deals or want to shop the Fleece Market, I’d say come late afternoon on Saturday or wait til Sunday for less chaos.

Have you shopped at Webs before? What's your favorite tip for a newcomer?

Bijou Basin Ranch Himalayan Trail Review

Disclaimer: I was sent a skein of Himalayan Trail for free in exchange for this review.

Bijou Basin Ranch's Himalayan Trail was my first experience knitting with a yak-based yarn. As a former yarn-store employee I've fondled lots of exotic fibers, but haven't used most of them since I prefer to stick with yarns that promise to wear well, rather than reaching for softness. A 75% Yak Down/25% Super Fine Merino fingering weight blend, Himalayan Trail retails for $25 and nets you 200 yards for that price, putting it in luxury yarn territory for most people. 

On first glance, Himalayan Trail reminded me of some 100% Cashmere yarns I've seen, thanks to its visual softness. You know how some yarns have a strong halo? This yarn doesn't have a halo per se, but a general blurring of the edges (as if it were a photo that's slightly out of focus, if that makes sense), rather than having tightly twisted, strongly defined, crisp plies. However, once you start to work with it the yarn feels hardier than 100% Cashmere, no doubt due to the merino content. My swatch has been kicking around my office for two weeks with no visible pilling, shedding, or other such fiber malarkey.

Some yarns know exactly what they want to be, and Himalayan Trail is one of those yarns--lace, lace, lace! I tried a stockinette and brioche swatch for kicks, but didn't get very far on either one because it well, felt wrong for this yarn. Knitting lace with Himalayan Trail was a joy and it blocked very crisply with only a steam block.

Note that the color in the photo above is not true to life, I edited the desk shot with an emphasis on high contrast and strong, saturated colors. I'd say the other photos in this post are truer to life. This is Pistachio, and it has a subtle, slightly under-saturated look to it, with shifting bands of color thanks to the hand-dyeing process. Bijou Basin dyes a range of colors in-house (like this one) and frequently collaborate with indie dyers for limited edition offerings.

At only 200 yards, your pattern options are limited to smaller accessories for a single-skein project. I particularly like Collister by Kirsten Kapur (top) or Straightforward Mitts by Mone Dräger (bottom).

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What would you make with a single skein of Himalayan Trail?

Brioche Cowl FO

In January, my good friend Kirsten gave me a beautiful skein of local wool she had hand-spun and hand-dyed. It's wooly and sheepy, but not irritating, and the resulting yarn is lightweight and airy rather than being a dense, bulky yarn.

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It's beautifully thick-and-thin, ranging from super bulky to super fine and plied with a weaving yarn. It's the kind of thing I wouldn't actively spin myself since I can't intentionally spin irregular yarns, but I love the play of color and texture! The skein was giant so I decided to knit a cowl end-to-end in the hopes of using up every last yard.

I chose brioche because it's fun to knit, I don't have many brioche accessories, and I thought it would play nice with the yarn's varying thickness without having to settle for garter stitch. Not that I hate garter stitch, but sometimes you want something more interesting! I cast on provisionally and knit on a US 10.5 needle until the strip was long enough to loop around twice, blocked it flat, then twisted it intentionally and kitchenered it closed. Surprisingly, I didn't use up all my yarn! I think I have enough left for a pair of super simple fingerless mitts, or at least that's what I'm hoping for.

I'm anal-retentive enough that I didn't like how the edges waved in-and-out when the yarn had a particularly thick or thin section. I wet-blocked it using blocking wires along the edges and stretched it to the max for this more open fabric, and in hopes of getting nice straight edges. The edges looked great when I took the cowl off the board but after a few wears the yarn is back to its original wildness. Life blocking lesson: don't fight the yarn. I KNOW this but I also like to see how far I can push the rules ;)

This was a really satisfying, quick knit and it's a great addition to my cold-weather accessory wardrobe. The teals and blues go with a lot of my clothing and I like how versatile long cowls like this are, with the choice of leaving it open or looping it double. Thank you so much for the yarn, Kirsten!

Ramblers Way Sustainable Wool Clothing Review

The clothing I review here was provided to me free of charge, but all opinions are my own. There are no affiliate links.

Last month I was contacted by Ramblers Way asking if I wanted to review their ethical 100% wool clothing line. To date, the only non-yarn or knitting related item I've reviewed are Allbirds Merino Wool Sneakers because well, they're wool. While I occasionally get emails about reviewing random products, I've always held the policy that I will only put content on this blog that's potentially interesting to knitters. Ergo, more wool wearables.

As a Massachusetts girl who is perpetually cold, even indoors in a sweater with the heat on and a blanket over her lap (don't judge me), I was intrigued to see if wool clothing was the missing link for my body temperature issues. I chose three different pieces from Ramblers Way in order to get the best overview of their line and have the most woolly variety. All are made from 100% Rambouillet wool, woven into a jersey or ribbed fabric.

Karen Templer's numerous posts on ethical fashion as part of her Slow Fashion October movement do a far better job at engaging with the subject of ethical, sustainable, slow fashion than I ever could, so I recommend jumping down that rabbit hole if you want to learn more or need a refresher course. Ramblers Way chooses to focus their efforts on using organic wool and dedicating themselves to a 100% US manufacturing process. You can learn more of the specifics on their Our Company page which primarily talks about wool, though they have Pima Cotton garments as well. In regards to that, my contact at the company said, "90% of Rambler's Way Pima Cotton is grown in California's San Joaquin Valley using pesticide-free and low water growing methods."

Shown in Black, Size Small

I've looked at a good number of ethical, sustainable, US made/sourced clothing companies before and most stick to basic silhouettes. While it makes sense financially, it's a little disappointing for someone like me who wants some extra pizazz in their pieces. I was really excited about the Women's Cowl Neck Swing Dress for this reason! I'm 5'3", and I can get away wearing this as a mini-dress with tights as shown here, though for wearing it to work I'm sticking with leggings or skinny jeans for a tunic look. Their site calls it knee-length, which it's definitely not for me, so I'm not sure what they based that on.

I like that it doesn't gap at the armholes and that the armholes aren't so deep that my bra is exposed. I will note that it picks up and shows cat hair LIKE A MOFO. Also because of that, I probably shouldn't have worn it with a white sweater but I'm obsessed with my Tualatin and can't stop wearing it, sorry not sorry.

The fabric is thin and doesn't feel much different from traditional t-shirt cotton jersey fabric, though there's a little more texture to it. I think I expected 100% Wool jersey to feel, well, woolier! Combined with a sweater I felt warm and cozy, but due to the length and the open-ness of the silhouette, I don't feel like it's exceptionally warm on its own.

Tank shown in Charcoal, Size Small & Leggings shown in Grey Heather, Size Small

Tank shown in Charcoal, Size Small & Leggings shown in Grey Heather, Size Small

Let's start with the Women's Wool Leggings. I am not showing you modeled shots for two reasons: 1. You can see my underwear through them, and 2. Unflattering waistband/crotch area. I'm okay with that since based on the style of the waistband, it appears like these are meant to be long underwear or pajama style pants rather than leggings-worn-as-pants. They would be fine under a dress or skirt too, but these are not the leggings you let your butt peek out in.

I like these a lot for lounging around the house. They are comfortable and warmer than I expected since the fabric is thin, but they're not the warmest leggings I have ever worn. Occasionally I felt like they were prickling my legs a little, or maybe that was my leg hair stubble pricking the leggings. (It's winter. We all know leg shaving is low on the priority list.) I wore them under jeans to help Mark shovel out the car during Saturday's snowstorm, and that combination was really great. I don't do outdoor wintertime sports, but I'd hedge that these would be a good layer for those of you that do.

I like that there is only one leg seam (shown below right), and it's overstitched? Totally covered with thread? I don't know what this kind of seam is called and Google didn't help me.

Tank back seam, left, and legging seam, right

Tank back seam, left, and legging seam, right

The Women's Wool Tank with Center Back Seam is my favorite of the three. It's shown in the first photo lying face-down so you can see the center seam detail that runs up the back. It fits like a standard tank top, but oh man! The other two pieces are jersey fabric while this is ribbed and somehow the ribbing makes all the difference. This feels warmer, softer, and more luxe.

As a knitter, a wool tank top is the BEST IDEA EVER. If you're like me, you have a bunch of handknits that for whatever reason, look best with only a tank top underneath. But then it's cold and a tank top isn't enough to cut it under that sweater, so you wind up not wearing those sweaters and they lie fallow. A wool tank top + wool sweater is so stinking cozy. I want more of these!

This might be TMI, but I've worn the tank top and the leggings multiple times without washing and they have yet to be smelly or gross. Ramblers Way does list this as a benefit of wool on their website, and I definitely don't wash my sweaters often (or ever), but I also rotate those more frequently and they're not right next to the skin, so I was pleased at how well these are repelling odor so far.

The eternal question: Are they worth the money? I would give a resounding YES to the tank top. It's eternally useful and it just feels good on. I want to pick up some other colors when they have a sale (and when I have some free funds for clothes) because let's be honest, this stuff is pricey. It's not out of line from other sustainable/ethical clothing companies though. While I like the cut of the swing dress, the fabric doesn't feel special enough, doesn't scream "I'M MADE OF WOOL!", and isn't warm enough to justify that level of financial investment. I am really enjoying the leggings for lounging, though I wouldn't need more than one pair and it seems indulgent to spend $$ on another pair of leggings that I'll mostly wear at home. If you'd wear them as a layer for winter hikes, skiing, or snowshoeing, I can see these being a smart buy.

You can browse Ramblers Way on their website or at one of their retail stores if you're in Maine or New Hampshire.

Would you try 100% wool clothing?

EmSweWeMo Week4

The final installment of my November experiment to wear every sweater in my collection is here!

Day 14, 11/24/16

Day 14, 11/24/16

For Thanksgiving, I decided to rock my Dark Rainbow Sweater for a comfortable, food-baby-friendly look. I really like this sweater. It's cozy, the length of the body and sleeves is good for me, and it's not boring! The only downside is I'm a little nervous on how this single ply yarn will wear. I feel like I haven't worn this often, yet the elbows seem a little thin and it's got a lot of pills already. Fingers crossed it holds up okay!

Verdict: Keep.

Day 15, 11/28/16

Day 15, 11/28/16

EmSweWeMo made me realize how much I wear this tunic-y top, so much so that I bought a second one during Modcloth's Black Friday weekend sale in a berry color that will look great with this sweater if I want to go more matchy-matchy. This is Stripe Quartet, which is more suited to transitional temps and early fall, but it works this time of year with accessories on standby in case I get cold (a cowl and long fingerless mitts, primarily.) I really like this and need to remember to pull it out sooner in the season!

Verdict: Keep.

Day 16, 11/29/16

Day 16, 11/29/16

In case you couldn't tell, I was running out of weather-appropriate garments for this which is why there are some random tees and other pieces thrown in! I knit Watershed ages ago but don't wear it much because well, it's kind of useless for a New Englander. It's pretty, but it doesn't offer any warmth. Good thing it's really pretty, because that's why I'm keeping it, but I'd like to wear this more often!

Verdict: Keep. Make an effort to wear this damn thing though!

Day 17, 11/30/16

Day 17, 11/30/16

Why not end the month with a sparkly bang, eh? As my one and only Rhinebeck sweater (for 2012) I modified my Holla Back Tank pattern into a Holla Back Pullover.

I haven't decided how I feel about this yet and would love your thoughts! I'm undecided if this would be better if I continued to knit the sleeves so it would be long sleeved. To be honest, it looks cute here but I feel like this is one of the only ways to wear this piece (the other being with just a tank underneath, which doesn't work for winter.) I also don't know if I'm a sparkly yarn girl after all.

Verdict: Potentially on the chopping block!

Phew! So what's next? I'm going to stew a bit on the thoughts that came up during EmSweWeMo, but I'd like to have a final decision on my handknit wardrobe before the end of the year, so I can start 2017 fresh! 

EmSweWeMo Week 3

It's time to take a look back at the third week of my EmSweWeMo experiment! If you've been out of the loop, you can catch up on Week 1 & Week 2.

Day 9, 11/15/16

Day 9, 11/15/16

You probably recognize the Heliopath Vest. While Interweave styled this with a skirt for the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits photos, I tend to rock this in a more androgynous look when I wear it. I love how textural Imperial Yarn Columbia is, and the gold color goes with so many options in my wardrobe. I pretty much consider gold a neutral!

Verdict: Keep, duh!

Day 10, 11/16/16

Day 10, 11/16/16

I posed this question about the Eastbourne Sweater on my Instagram to mixed results, so I'll ask it again here: unravel the sleeves into cap sleeves, or keep it as is? Honestly, I can't decide! I don't wear this much because in my head the sleeves are weird, but in this photo I think I look pretty cute.

I did realize throughout this experiment that I need to pull my 3/4 length and shorter sleeved sweaters out of my wardrobe sooner! I wait until November-December to throw on real wool sweaters, and by then it's too cold for abbreviated sleeves. Meanwhile, the rest of fall I'm wearing the same boring storebought cardigan with 99% of my outfits.

Verdict: Keep. With or without sleeve alterations though?!

Day 11, 11/17/16

Day 11, 11/17/16

This is one of my favorites, if not THE FAVORITE outfit of this whole experiment. I love this vibe! It's comfortable, it's modern, it's still knitterly, and it's interesting. I am going to repeat this exact combination a whole bunch and just switch out different shoes.

It's an altered version of the Short Row Sweater from Purl Soho, and up until this photo I would have told you it was an impulse, dumb knit that I never wore because well, it's kind of odd. It was an excuse to knit something fast and find a use for Madelinetosh yarn in Spectrum. (Because: gorgeous.) But I super love this look!

Verdict: Keep, all because of EmSweWeMo!

Day 12, 11/18/16

Day 12, 11/18/16

Yay, crochet! I didn't make this sample of the Cirro Tee, I just happened to model it for Webs originally and then bought the sample later on when it was on sale because I liked it so much. 

Obviously this is a spring/summer garment, but I like to try and push myself to use those types of handmade garments out of season as well! This was a fun 'casual Friday' look (even though every day is casual at work) and I quite enjoyed it.

Verdict: Keep.

Day 13, 11/21/16

Day 13, 11/21/16

While I love my Praline Pullover, I feel like it doesn't fit into my wardrobe anymore. The super cropped length isn't flattering on me with pants, which is what I wear 99% of the time. I think it looks great with high waisted pencil skirts or fit and flare dresses with a high waist, but I almost never wear those.

Verdict: Storage. This is a design sample in great condition and I've used it in all the trunk shows I've done (...all two of them...) so I want to keep it around for that, but I don't think I'll wear this much.

We're almost at the home stretch, just one more week of outfits to finish musing over!

EmSweWeMo Week 2

Let's get on with the experiment!

Day 5, 11/8/16

Day 5, 11/8/16

I have mixed feelings on my Haubergeon Sweater, though the reaction at work was very positive. (Except when I got cold and put on a really big shawl on top my co-worked dubbed it very Stevie Nicks which is...not my jam, let's just say.) Anyways, I love this yarn and the general look, I just have some misgivings with the shoulder and underarm area. I am not sure if the shaping for the saddle shoulders is too far over to be flattering, it feels like there might be a bit too much fabric in the underarm area, and the sleeves are a tad tight on me. I don't think anyone notices this other than me, I'm being nitpicky!

Verdict: Keep on probation. If I wear it regularly it's a keeper, if not it's getting culled from the sweater herd.

Day 6, 11/10/16

Day 6, 11/10/16

I can't not love my Gilt Sweater. It's so cheery! This is a new way to style it for me and I'm happy with the combination. I've been trying to push myself this month, partly because I am taking selfies all the time and partly because I want to get out of the rut of jeans + tee/tank + sweater. I like a challenge!

I need more laceweight-held-double garments in my wardrobe because the fabric on this is amazing. So light and floaty but surprisingly warm!

Verdict: Keep.

Day 7, 11/11/16

Day 7, 11/11/16

The Cirriform Cardigan is another one that's tough to style. I like it with a longer tunic top, as shown here, but I think it would work with dresses as well. I'm ok with this piece not being super versatile because it's really just a great big yarn hug. It's a sweatshirt in disguise; if I'm having a blah day and don't feel like putting much effort into my outfit I can wear this instead of a sweatshirt and still feel...sweatshirt-y. You know, warm, comforted, enveloped. 

Verdict: Keep.

Day 8, 11/14/16

Day 8, 11/14/16

My Turners Falls Cardigan is another difficult piece to style. I designed it because I loved seeing cropped sweaters on other women, then realized once I had one of my very own that many people wear these with skirts or dresses and I'm more of a jeans/leggings person. Floaty tunic top to the rescue! (Sense a theme with this experiment?) It looks good buttoned as well, but I need to reinforce the button band with ribbon since it gaps and the buttons slip out. I made the buttonholes too large I think!

Verdict: Keep, but reinforce button band.

EmSweWeMo Week 1

As from my Knitted Wardrobe Assessment post:

Instead, this November will be my personal EmSweWeMo, Emma's Sweater Wearing Month. I'd like to wear every weather-appropriate handknit garment in my wardrobe at least once in November, and journal how I feel about wearing the item. I'm hoping that this will help me better assess how much of my knitted wardrobe I could actually use if I kept it more visible, and how many pieces I'm holding on to for the wrong reasons or a vague 'someday, maybe.'

Here are the results of Week 1!

Day 1, 11/1/16

Day 1, 11/1/16

I was home sick on Day 1, so I chose a cuddly, somewhat raggedy sweater. This is the Victoria Buttoned Raglan, a now-discontinued Valley Yarns design I bought at a Webs sample sale. I almost feel like it 'doesn't count' since I didn't make it!

While this sweater is close-fitting, there's enough room for me to comfortably wear long sleeves underneath as I am doing so here. I wish the body was a few inches longer and it would be nice if the split neckline was engineered as more of a cowl neckline so you could button it up when cold. It needs a good sweater shaving though!

Verdict: Keep, but attempt to shave the pills off. If unable to salvage from pilling, I'd keep this as a home-only lounging sweater.

Day 2, 11/2/16

Day 2, 11/2/16

Acute-ly Preppy was an ambitious statement piece, and for me, that's all it's going to be. I love the concept of this sweater but don't like it on my body. Something about where the ribbing ends on my body and where the hem hits, combined with the lack of waist shaping, really does me no favors. TMI: I also feel like it makes my boobs look weird. I don't know! All around, I don't feel confident or cute wearing this, and I have too many sweaters to waste time wearing one I don't feel right in.

Verdict: I haven't decided what I'm doing with the rejects. Either sealing them in one of those vacuum space saver bags just in case I ever need them for anything, or possibly auctioning them off and donating the proceeds. I'd love to hear ideas if you have them!

Day 3, 11/4/16

Day 3, 11/4/16

My notes on the Tea Leaves Cardigan say it all: "Got 3 compliments!"

I knit this gem 6 years ago and this outfit is a testament to holding onto pieces long enough for them to seem fresh to you again. I was really over this sweater and this type of silhouette, which blew up in the knitting world a few years back. I usually wore it with a regular t-shirt & jeans, so the sweater framed my stomach and it wasn't always flattering if I had a post-lunch food baby or what have you. I thought I wanted to get rid of my Tea Leaves, but I tried it with this flowy top on a whim and I love this look!

Also, Tosh DK is insane. This is barely pilly and only a tiny bit loose around the elbows, not bad enough to be called saggy. 

Verdict: Keep. Take time to make the effort pairing this with slightly dressy and/or more fashionable outfits.

Day 4, 11/7/16

Day 4, 11/7/16

My Idlewood is also 6 years old! Clearly, I had excellent taste in 2010...which was the year I started working at Webs so that explains it all.

Overall, I'm really happy with this. The pockets are sewn on a little poorly, it looks very handmade, but I'm okay with that. I do wish it was a little longer, I clearly remember getting impatient knitting this and binding off too soon because I just wanted it to be done. I really need to learn to curb that urge because it's haunted so many of my FOs. Either the body isn't long enough or I did short/three quarter sleeves instead of long sleeves. Learn some damn patience already Emma!

I would like to figure out how to make this more versatile, it's great for super casual looks but I'd like to work it into more polished outfits as well.

Verdict: Keep. Wash before wearing it again, something I meant to do last winter and never got around to...

I'll be back with Week 2!

Knitted Wardrobe Assessment: A Continuation

Check out my wardrobe analysis by the numbers here first.

When I was writing the last post, I had these two exact sweaters in mind as pieces I'm definitely not into anymore. They have several features in common, can you spot them?

L: Dreamer's Braided Pullover; R: Cables n Cats

L: Dreamer's Braided Pullover; R: Cables n Cats

They have more of a cropped, high hip length and they're super fitted. For a while I preferred clothing with negative ease but in the past few years, I've come to appreciate the ability to layer and the comfort of clothing that's not quite so skin tight. Both of these sweaters are so fitted, especially in the sleeves, that I can only wear tank tops under them. I've also discovered that no matter how well my pants fit, even if they're not going to give me plumber's butt when I bend over, I really prefer a longer sweater with more coverage. So while they look fine in the photos, they're really no fun to wear. Now that I've pinpointed I don't like this silhouette, I'm going to make sure to avoid it in the future no matter how cute it looks on someone else. I definitely still fall prey to that trap from time to time!

As I dug through my sweater stash, I was anticipating pulling out piece after piece I wanted to get rid of. Instead, I found myself rationalizing a lot of my handknit pieces despite the fact that I don't wear them very often. Not exactly the climactic triumph of me vs my sweater stash I was imagining!

I'm okay with having stuff as long as it doesn't become overwhelming, which is where the problem is starting to lie with me as a maker. I have three under-bed storage containers set aside to house my knitted goods and they're almost bursting. Arguably, I could just buy more storage but am I utilizing my knitwear to the best of my ability? Is that extra storage space going to be worth it?

I love this blog post from Tanis (of Tanis Fiber Arts) and this part in particular: 

Here is the thing, approaching this week's topic, I had mixed feelings. I thought that I was going to sit down and hash out my struggles with my need to make, both on a personal level - I can't not make! - but also on a professional level - it's my job to make! - and the reality of the realization that I currently have enough sweaters to last me an entire lifetime. I absolutely do not need any more sweaters.

I can't not make.

I can't not make.

I can't not make.

Therein lies the rub. I have an almost pathological need to make. Even if I was not a knitwear designer, I would still be producing knitted items at the same frantic pace, or at least regularly enough to amass a collection close in size to the one I have now. I wear a small fraction of what I've made on a regular basis. There's just not enough days in the year, and since I do still have a non-handmade wardrobe full of items I love, my pool of available clothing items to choose from is even more inflated. Often I choose store-bought items over handmade because I don't want to 'ruin' my hard work or spill something on it. But leaving my hard work in a plastic bin tucked under my bed is just as much of a disservice as loving it and wearing it until it gives up, perhaps even more of a disservice.

I think I'm going to set myself a challenge next month. November is NaKniSweMo, National Sweater Knitting Month. Instead, this November will be my personal EmSweWeMo, Emma's Sweater Wearing Month. I'd like to wear every weather-appropriate handknit garment in my wardrobe at least once in November, and journal how I feel about wearing the item. I'm hoping that this will help me better assess how much of my knitted wardrobe I could actually use if I kept it more visible, and how many pieces I'm holding on to for the wrong reasons or a vague 'someday, maybe.'

 

Tour de Fleece Results

In the end, I spun ONE skein during last month's Tour de Fleece. Technically I only spun the singles during the tour and plied it afterwards. (So much for those goals, eh?) But...what a beauty it is! gynxtrio

  • Company: Gynx Yarns
  • Fiber: Falkland
  • Colorway: Test Subject #1, a OOAK colorway
  • Put Up: 4 oz, approx. 470 yards
  • Spinning Method: Worsted, backwards short draw, 2-ply
  • Wheel: Lendrum DT

This is my first real 'thin yarn' and my first 'useable' skein of handspun--as in, the yardage and size of the yarn is versatile and I see myself knitting this before any of my previous handspun. I'm so excited to dive into my fiber stash and pick out my next spinning project!

Playing with Color: Polonaise Cardigan

Welcome to another edition of Playing with Color! Today we'll take a look at the Polonaise Cardigan. Let's just start by saying TGFM--thank god for Malabrigo! Or actually, thank god for Malabrigo's well-designed website that often puts perfect color combinations right next to each other. I mean, check out the page for Silky Merino. Hnnnngggghhh!

Photo by Kate Broderick

You'll need to pick three colors for this baby: one main color, and two coordinating colors for the bow detail. The idea is to pick two similar shades for the bow, one light and one dark, to be the body of the bow and its shadows. This is another occasion where shopping in-person is SO helpful. Failing that, if you can somehow get your hands on a Malabrigo color card or if you know someone with an extensive Silky Merino stash who can provide input, you'll be much better served than going in blindly and guessing.

I used Spring Water for the MC and Tatami/Topaz for the bow, as I was going for a cloth-of-gold bow look and thought the Spring Water would provide nice contrast. Here are some other fun suggestions! The first color on the left is the body color and the other two would be the bow colors.

Cape Cod Grey, Camote & Coral for a fresh, modern take

Pollen, Raspberry & Jupiter for an unexpected hint of sweetness

Wisteria, Acorn & Redwood Bark for the sophisticate's closet

Do any of these color combinations inspire you?

Tour de Fleece

As a relatively new spinner with an ahem, already growing fiber stash, I decided to participate in Tour de Fleece this month as a chance to get more comfortable with my spinning skills and maybe work through some of that stash. I joined Team Webs and set myself three goals for the event.

  1. Spin from stash only, no new fiber purchases allowed.
  2. Spin at least one woolen-spun yarn.
  3. Spin at least one 3-ply yarn.

Unfortunately, my eyes were bigger than my stomach! There's only 4 days left and I have yet to finish my first skein. I had only spun thicker singles previously, so I didn't realize how much longer it takes to spin nice, even fine singles. I'm trying not to get discouraged seeing everyone else's massive accomplishments because I am having fun spinning my gorgeous Falkland fiber from Gynx.

So pretty! This is an experimental colorway and I wasn't sure if I would like how it turned out but my fears were for nothing--it's spinning up beautifully and I can't wait to work with it. The plan is to make a 2-ply and hopefully I'll have enough yardage for a September Circle or similar cowl.

I'm halfway into my second bobbin at this point, so it's a race to see if I can finish the second bobbin and ply it by Sunday!

Playing with Color: Dreamer's Braided Pullover

I know I know, it's July and you don't even want to THINK about touching a long-sleeve wool pullover. I'm sorry. (Not really.) You might not be ready to start knitting but why not start playing with color options for your future Dreamer's Braided Pullover? Spend the summer months picking out colors and then begin knitting once fall hits! This design was originally published by Valley Yarns in their Sheffield, which is discontinued, so I was given the rights back to publish it myself and I reknit it in Cascade 220. As such, we already have two color combinations of this sweater floating around. I'm going to focus on options in Cascade 220 since it's such a versatile and affordable yarn. For the sample, I chose a palette of grey and aqua/teal leaning blues.

IMG_6545smallestPhoto by Lindsey Topham

One of my favorite things about 220 is the mix of solids and heathers in the color range. Just like mixing in a warm color with cooler ones adds dimension and visual interest, mixing solids and heathers can really spice up the look of your color palette.

You've got lots of options to tackle color for a sweater like this! In all the pairings shown, the center color is the main body color of the sweater. You can choose either accent color to be used for the corrugated ribbing in the hem and cuffs, though in my sample I used the darker color. Of course, you could always work plain ribbing in the MC and have the colorwork be contained only in the yoke of the sweater. (All photos below from Webs.)

Option 1: Neutral MC, two different pops for the CCs

2425 8013 9341From L to R: 2425 Provence, 8013 Walnut Heather, 9341 Garnet Heather

Option 2: Neutral MC, two tonal coordinates for the CCs (same approach as the sample sweater)

9641 8010 7807From L to R: 9641 Purple Tourmaline, 8010 Natural, 7807 Regal

Option 3: Non-neutral MC, two tonal neutrals for the CCs

8686 2429 8012From L to R: 8686 Brown, 2429 Irelande, 8012 Doeskin Heather

For the sake of covering all our bases and bringing these options back to full circle...

Option 4: Non-neutral MC, two different pops for the CCs--this one's for the adventurous!

7824 9452 8886From L to R: 7824 Burnt Orange, 9452 Summer Sky Heather, 8886 Italian Plum

Luckily, there are a ton of colorwork sweater patterns out there, so you can always browse other people's projects on Ravelry and get inspired by their choices! My favorite method is to head to my LYS and start playing with the skeins on the shelves. I always come up with new and unexpected combinations that way and it continually surprises me to see what works together.

Holla Knits Summer 2015 Blog Tour

Hello Holla Knitters and welcome to today's stop on the Summer 2015 issue blog tour! My contribution is a tutorial article 'Deconstructing the Knot Stitch' where I guide you through decreasing in pattern while knitting the knot stitch, seen in Annapolis by Kristen Jancuk.

In the article, I break down the specifics of staying in pattern while working the Knot Stitch and include some helpful tips you can apply to future lace and texture patterns. I know I'm guilty of writing "decrease while continuing to stay in pattern when possible" (ahem, Holla Back Tank!) so it's a great skill to be able to master.

If my exclusive article doesn't sell you on purchasing the issue, what about the designs? As usual, our fearless editor Allyson has selected a group of fresh and innovative pieces that take warm weather knitting to a whole new level. My two favorites are Beach House by Teresa Gregorio and Backbone by Kirsten Singer.

I'm dreaming of a Beach House in HiKoo Rylie, a super gorgeous alpaca/silk/linen blend that I pet almost everytime I'm at work. I love the bright citrusy colors and this would be perfect in a pop of coral.

beach house
beach house

The two color option of Backbone is GENIUS. I would use two coordinating colors of Manos del Uruguay Serena for an ombre effect. The only problem is choosing which color to be the main color!

backbone
backbone

Which design from the Summer 2015 issue is your favorite? Comment before end of day (EST) Friday, July 3 and I'll pick one winner on July 4 to receive a copy of the pattern of their choice!

Check out the rest of the Holla Knits blog tour for styling tips, behind the scenes info on the designers and more giveaways!

June 15: Holla Knits Summer 2015 Launch June 16:The Sweatshop of Love – pattern giveaway June 17:Klever Knits – pattern giveaway June 18: Canary Knits – Travel knitting & mag giveaway

June 22:MediaPeruana – pattern giveaway June 24:YarnGasm – Knitting with Voolenvine Podcast – magazine giveaway June 25:Cosmos and Cashmere – pattern giveaway June 26:Midwest Yarn – pattern giveaway

June 29:Emma Welford – pattern giveaway July 2:Canary Knits – Beach House styling & giveaway