Improvised stripey hats: a rough guide.

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I’m on a bit of a stripey hat kick. I find these hats to be just the right combination of mindless knitting and creative play: they use up all kinds of leftovers and little skeins, and I get to play around with colour without worrying whether it’ll look good in sample photos or the stripes are perfect or the colours are maybe a bit weird.

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Spadina Avenue

A while back, I started playing around with purl ridges and came up with a simple stitch pattern that I really love.

What is it about this texture that grabs me so? I have no idea, but I find these graduated purl ridges deeply satisfying, no matter how many times I work them (and you are going to see them a lot in the next few releases). While noodling around with the ridges, I tried drawing a column of slipped knit stitches through them, and I liked that version, too.

I looked at the result and could picture it as a cowl: a big, generous cowl in a soft, lush yarn that would be as much of a pleasure to knit as it would be to wear. This design would be simple without being boring: a design to work on a lazy weekend, in stolen minutes during the day, or whenever you feel like knitting something satisfying and are not in the mood for a challenge.

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Tutorial: Judy’s Magic Cast On

This is my usual cast on for toe up socks and slippers. I came across it years ago in Wendy D. Johnson’s book Toe Up Socks for Every Body, and it worked well for me, so I’ve stuck with it. I’m not going to tell you it’s the Best Cast On Ever, or even that it’s better or worse than any other toe up cast on out there, just that it works well for me and I kind of like the flippy motions of slinging the yarn around the needles like a very minimalist Cat’s Cradle. It’s the cast on I used in the Last Minute Travel Slippers, and I included this tutorial in the pattern.  Here’s how you do it:

Note: This tutorial shows 2 circular needles. If you usually do your socks with Magic Loop or DPNs, do feel free to use your preferred needles. Obviously there’s no cord on DPNs, so if you’re using those you won’t be pulling your needles out to work the first round.

Step 1

Take one tip from each of two circular needles. Hold the tips together, one (needle 1) below the other (needle 2). Arrange yarn so that the tail comes up over your index finger, over needle 2, between the needles, around your thumb from the outside, and from there over your palm to the ball of yarn. Use your other three fingers to hold the yarn ends firmly.

Step 2

With your index finger, bring the tail behind needle 1, up around the front, and between the needles.

Step 3

With your thumb, bring the working yarn behind and over needle 2, then back between the needles.

Step 4

Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches, ending with step 2.

First Round

I usually place my marker after finishing this round.

Turn needles over so that needle 1 is on the top and the tips are pointing to your right. Pull the tip of needle 2 to the right so that the bottom stitches are on the cord. Make sure the tail is between the working yarn and needle 1. 

Knit all stitches on needle 1.

Turn needles so that needle 2 is on the top. Pull needle 1 to the right so that its stitches are on the cord, then pull needle 2 to the left so that its stitches are on the needle tip, with the tip pointed to your right.

All the stitches on needle 2 except the first one will be seated backward, so knit the first stitch, then knit the rest of the stitches on needle 2 through the back of the loop.

And that’s it! This cast on is nicely invisible, looking rather like the grafted toe on a cuff-down sock.

The Last Minute Travel Slippers, using Judy’s Magic Cast On. Photo by Gale Zucker.

Fauxtarsia Wave swatchorama

Fauxtarsia Wave detail photo showing colour and texture contrast.

Since releasing Fauxtarsia Wave I’ve had a few questions about yarn substitution: would other yarns work in this design? What kind of yarns would work best? What about yarns with more contrast? How about a variegated + a solid or semi-solid? While the short answers are “Absolutely!” and the ever-relevant “Swatch and see!” I really want to encourage knitters to experiment with this design, so I did a bit of swatching myself to show some of the possibilities.

Fauxtarsia Wave swatches in different yarns

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Last Minute Travel Slippers

It started in May. I had a week to go before my road trip to Maryland Sheep & Wool, and the itch set in. The itch to make something for this trip. I can make something in a week, surely. It’s not like I have anything else to do. (I had a lot else to do.) I know: I’ll make some slippers! My beloved old moccasins are looking pretty beat up, and they take up a fair bit of room in the suitcase, and I bet I can whip out a pair of ballet-ish slippers that look nice and pack small and will keep my bare feet off the hotel carpet.

Now, this is not my first last-minute-travel-project rodeo, and though I was tempted to also spin the yarn for these things, I knew that that way lay madness. Besides, that’s much of the point of a stash, surely: to have exactly the right yarn when inspiration strikes, just waiting for you to pull it out and get knitting. So I did. I found some worsted weight from Imperial Yarn in a heathery bottle green, and off I went.*

Last Minute Travel Slippers in progress Continue reading

The little things

It’s Thanksgiving up in Canuckia today, and my far-flung siblings and their children gathered in Vancouver this weekend to celebrate. Thanksgiving isn’t quite the huge deal back home that it is in the USI mean, it’s a fairly big deal, but in my experience, at least, December is when people really pull out the stops to get to where their family isbut this Thanksgiving’s a special one. This year, there’s a brand new Elliott to be thankful for. (And Werb. She is half Werb, and that’s a good thing to be, too.) My sadness at not being there is somewhat lessened by the knowledge that I’ve sent some thankfulness for this new tiny human in the form of baby knits, and these will be there, and that makes it a bit more okay. And hey, now that they’ve arrived, I can show them off to you! So here we go: tiny knits, round 1.

all the baby knits Continue reading

Tubular Cast On: my current favourite method

I do adore the tubular cast on. It’s tidy, and stretchy, and in fine gauge yarns before some ribbing it looks positively professional. It’s particularly helpful when you want to get a stretchy rib from a yarn without much memory of its own, which is why it’s the key to a good brim in Slouch 1, 2, and 3.

Slouch 1 three quarters web
Slouch 1: The first half of the brim is worked in Shibui Knits Pebble held double. Pebble is not a bouncy yarn at all, yet see how nicely the tubular cast on stretches?

I’ve tried several different tubular cast on methods; this is the one I currently prefer. I won’t say it’s the Best Method Ever—that’s subjective, and I’m fickle. It’s the one I used for these samples, and it worked well for me. Here’s how you do it: Continue reading