Filtering by Tag: yarn

May Reset

Is anyone else feeling like it's New Year's Day all over again? Spring is kind of a moody slog for most of us, and I am definitely ready to shake off that feeling. Before moving forward though, I'd like to thank Fringe Association again for choosing my L'Arbre Hat pattern for their second Hatalong. I decided to join in and knit one using Zealana Yarns Kauri. I blog for Zealana as well and you can read my post on yarn selection here

I used a really clever 1 x 1 Ribbing cast-on that I learned from my friend and mentor Norah Gaughan. You can see her use it in her Creativebug Cabled Hat Class. I've also done some Creativebug classes if you're looking for a new project. I knit the ribbing on a US size 6, a common technique that somehow didn't make it into this pattern (you'll see that mistakes are a theme with this one...) 

I started my hat with Zealana Kauri K13 Ashen, a lovely dove gray-blue. I often knit in the semi-dark while watching movies or television and...well, when I ran out of yarn, I accidentally grabbed K01 Natural to finish the crown shaping. When I noticed my error in daylight, I actually decided that I really loved the subtle colorblocked effect. While I was knitting the last few rows I discovered ANOTHER tiny error (sigh): Rnd 1 of the crown shaping should read *K1, s2kp2, k1, p3..." to maintain the garter pattern. I also worked Rnd 14 as ssks because I thought it looked better than the k2tog I originally called for. WTH, past me? 

You might not know this but patterns for books and magazines are tech edited, but usually not test knit. Test knitting is a relatively new phenomenon in the knitwear design world, most commonly used by indie designers. Knitting up this hat showed me the value of test knitting, and while it's often not possible within the time constraints of traditional publishing, it's clearly a valuable process. 

Moving on to new business! It's been a busy year for me so far, but most of the work is sadly behind the scenes, to be revealed later this year. Much of it forced me to set aside fun projects like the Loro KAL. A handful of really great Loros have been finished, and I'm hoping to get mine done in the next few weeks as well, in time for TNNA. I've decided to work a cropped version (read more here), so I feel like that's a reasonable goal.  Fingers crossed!...


Loro KAL | Casting-On + Making Mods

Hello! We're ready to cast-on for Loro! If you're been following along so far, you'll know that I swatched five yarns in preparation for today. I forgot to mention that I picked up four of them at Tolt Yarn and Wool, my semi-local LYS (Cascade Ecological Wool, Madeline Tosh Vintage, Peace Fleece Worsted, and Quince & Co. Osprey Heathers). They should all be available online soon, or you can call and place an order over the phone. I've decided to use Zealana Tui, a soft single-ply which is slightly too heavy at 3 stitches to the inch knit on size 9 needles. Lucky me, as Zealana's Brand Ambassador I was able to get this gloriously fluffy possum/merino/cashmere blend on a cone, meaning I'll have very few yarn ends to weave in (truth be told, I swear by spit-splicing, so I rarely have many ends). 

The fabric on 9s is already rather firm, and to get to the stated gauge of 4 stitches to the inch, I'd have to drop at least a needle size, which would probably yield a cardboard-like fabric. I decided to do a bit of tinkering on my calculator, coming up with a new cast-on number that would work with my gauge. It was very easy, and I'll walk you through what I did in case you're having trouble getting gauge, or, like me, you fancy yourself a rebel.

Oh! One more note: in my last post I said that matching row gauge isn't all that important and that's not exactly true. I'm shortening my vest, and since the pattern calls for decreases every 12 rows (approximately every 2"), I needed to figure out how many decreases will be eliminated in the shortened version so I can adjust my stitch count accordingly. 

I'll be knitting a medium, which measures 21.5" across at the lower hem. The medium back as written is 29" long and I'd like to shorten my vest to about 21", which means eliminating 4 decreases. First, I need to find my new cast-on number. I know that the original back measures 21.5" across at lower hem, so I multiply this number by my new gauge and get 64.5. I need a whole, even number to work Moss Stitch and the built-in garter selvedge, so I round down to 64. I subtract the decreases I'm omitting and get 60. This is my new cast-on number. I'll cast on 60 and proceed with the pattern as written. 

Leaving a 16-18" tail of yarn when casting-on is a great way to facilitate neat seaming later, but that long tail can get in your way while you're knitting. I wind it into a small bundle called a yarn butterfly, a technique that can also be used in lieu of bobbins when working intarsia. The whole process is pictured below: 

Good luck with your cast-on! Let me know if you have any questions, or if you're making any mods of your own. Comment here or in our Loro KAL Ravelry thread, and be sure to hashtag #LoroKAL on Twitter and Instagram so we can all keep tabs on each other's progress. Have fun!


rhinebeck 2014

I'm back from a wonderful trip to Rhinebeck. It was great to be back on the East Coast while it was at its finest. I was there to sign my brand new book Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads: A Modern Knitter's Guide to Exploring and Discovering Style, but I did manage to take a few laps around the fairgrounds.

I found all my usual favorites, adorable outspoken sheep, delectable fried foods and happy, happy knitters. This time I channeled my inner Garance Doré and took quick snapshots of my favorite style moments. They weren't always handknit or even knit but they all celebrated wool, fiber and fun. Some standout trends were mixed media scrap projects, vintage inspired Americana, classics gone neon and art yarn as jewelry, the last one completely bolstered by spinning instructor and imagination ignitor Esther Rodgers. I was remiss in not getting people's names so speak up in the comments if you spot yourself or a friend (I DID let them all know I'd be posting their amazing knits on my blog). Enjoy! (click to see my Rhinebeck snaps)


P.S. Bonus: find my Rhinebeck video footage on the Zealana blog!


Now that the Winter issue of Twist Collective has been released, there is no denying it--winter is here. That's perfectly fine with me. As you'll see in my very first Twist Notebook, I happen to relish the season of silent snowy walks and cold early sunsets. That is, of course, if I'm swaddled in wool! That was the guiding principle behind the Fólki tunic and cowl I designed for this issue of Twist. 

I was inspired by an outsized tunic that I bought in Iceland. Its proportions are generous and the sleeves abbreviated. The neckline is slightly Flashdance, which invites clever layering (the one of a kind shawl shown here is by the incredible Liber, an Icelandic fiber lover and pattern mixing phenom). I can never anticipate how much I'll love any given item I buy, but this one shot to the top of the list. With tights and boots it is an effortless, unique uniform for the coldest, darkest days. 

I was also inspired by Iceland's next door neighbor, Greenland. After spending so much time obsessed with Iceland, I realized I knew little about Greenland. I'd only skimmed the surface when I noticed their incredible national costume. The intricately beaded cowls, embroidered boots and warm dresses and tunics were so striking in stark neutrals and the boldest primaries. I especially love this photo of beautifully badass teens. 

I won't lie to you--this isn't a quick knit! But it's a massively enjoyable one when knit with Kenzie, the yarn I developed with a friend from another far away place, New Zealand. The lightweight worsted has a bit of all my favorite fibers--merino wool, alpaca, silk, nylon and angora, which lends a gorgeously subtle insulating halo. It's soft and knits up quickly, and even the dark shade has a complexity that can only be appreciated in person--the faintest glimmer of emerald green heathering brings a spark to otherwise pitch black yarn. If you just can't bear to knit with such dark yarn, take comfort, we've just expanded the range to 20 shades

One of my favorite features of Twist is the way they quiz their contributors. I love reading strange little factoids about my fellow designers. Click here to see what keeps me warm in winter (besides giant wool tunics and furry cowls)...

Hat Love

Hello! It’s almost November and I’m in the Windy City for Vogue Knitting Live, one of my very favorite knittish happenings. I love Chicago, and I love exploring it on foot. I especially love its blustery reputation because it all but REQUIRES a hat! 

How many times have you heard someone declare, “I’m not a hat person”? I’ve always found this idea ridiculous, since there are SO many styles of hats to choose from. While its true that finding a hat that flatters you can be a bit trying, knitters are uniquely equipped to do this, and Wooly Wormhead’s latest collection is just another tool in our arsenal. 


Taboosh © Woolly Wormhead/R. Paisley 2012

Available now in print and digital, Classic Woolly Toppers is a collection of wearable, diverse hats that will also help you build your skill repertoire. Woolly has included clear illustrations that walk you through some of the more complicated techniques, as well as a helpful guide to the art of hat pairing. Face shape and hair style come into play, and I’d like to add “a dose of confidence” to the list. If you decide you ARE a hat person, you are! 


© Woolly Wormhead/R. Paisley 2012

I am not alone in loving the dramatic, turban style hats in the collection, Ravine, shown above, and Imagiro, shown below: 


© Woolly Wormhead/R. Paisley 2012

The gorgeous model channels the screen sirens I think of when strolling past Chicago’s famous movie houses. Imagiro is a movie lover’s dream project, since it is basically a garter stitch rectangle that almost any knitter could complete in a darkened theater. The true test of your mettle comes when you assemble it. I confess, I haven’t mastered it, but I have an origami savvy friend on the case, and I can’t wait to wear it! 

I’d love to donate some of my favorite yarns so that you can knit these patterns, too. I’ve hand selected a Skacel Collection yarn for each of the hats in Woolly’s book (on-trend shades from Schulana, Schoppel-Wolle, Zitron and HiKoo). Leave a comment below with your favorite hat style or Woolly pattern and I will choose one grand prize winner on November 5th (the winner will also receive the Classic Woolly Toppers e-book, of course). And if you don’t win this time, stay tuned, I just might offer a second prize package at Skacel Fiber Studio

Happy hat knitting, everyone! 


Ticking Cowl

Ticking Cowl

When Jared Flood asks you if you’re a Wool Person, you say YES!

Kidding and Ghostbusters references aside, I am over the moon to share a little project I came up with using Loft, the gorgeous fingering weight wool from Jared’s line Brooklyn Tweed. I’ve long been a fan of Jared’s and I’m honored to be a sometimes collaborator. I styled the first Wool People collection last summer in the Pacific Northwest. This summer, I knit up a lightweight cowl for Wool People 3 and shipped it off to New York. Bicoastal, transcontinental, it doesn’t matter, wool works for me wherever, whenever. 

I submitted several ideas, each playing on a theme of lightness and utilitarianism. Since this collection was set to debut in summer, I wanted to promote the idea that wool is a part of daily life throughout the year, not just in blustery winter. Jared picked up on a simple ticking stripe, coaxing me through fears about its plainness. He reminded be that good stripes are shockingly difficult to design, and the swatching process verified that…

Traditional ticking fabric was used for mattresses and for upholstering furniture. The densely woven striped fabric contained feathers or straw and prevented painful pokes. The clean lines and simple palettes have kept this a decorators favorite. The versatile look is practical and pleasing, with a reassuring homey feel.


While the Ticking Cowl imitates these traditional fabrics, the light, airy hand of Loft knit at a loose gauge has nothing in common with upholstery. Worn doubled or even tripled, it is a floaty layer of warmth that adds interest and a bit of textile history to whatever you’re wearing.

Ticking Cowl



ticking cowl photo used with permission, © jared flood / brooklyn tweed

geek girl

This post has been sitting in my draft pile for eons, probably because I’m afraid to write it! Writing about a favorite writer is all kinds of daunting, and not something I do often. Exactly 166 days ago, I saw Jane Espenson speak at the first Geek Girl Convention. This happened right on the heels of the day I discovered that the Hellmouth is in fact Los Angeles


It’s been a good long while since the talk so I’m afraid my memories are dim. What I do remember is that she was wickedly, adorably funny. When she dropped an F-bomb within minutes of taking the stage she purred, “hey guys, sorry for the spicy talk!…” 

She went on to tell stories of her early days writing spec scripts for shows like Star Trek and M*A*S*H. Many of her “breaks” came from her putting herself out there. It reminded me of the quote “the harder you work, the luckier you get.” 


Most of us know and love Jane for her work with Joss Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (note Spike + Buffybot, just out of view, below): 


Eventually the conversation turned to slang and voice, two areas where Jane is pretty much unparalleled, in my opinion. Her fascination with language is backed by years of serious linguistic study, and she shapes her characters with specific verbal tics that always sound authentic and new. 

All in all, Jane confirmed that writing for a television show sounds like some of the hardest and most fun creative work around. During the Q&A I raised my hand and asked her what she likes to watch if and when she has the time (she loves reality shows like Amazing Race and Project Runway).

Time management is just one more thing I have learned (or rather, am fighting like mad to learn) from Jane. If you follow her on Twitter @JaneEspenson you will have the option of joining her in a writing sprint (you could also learn how to revive a day-old sandwich—Jane is a woman who takes snacking seriously).

These sprints are bounded times where you resolve to eshew distractions and work on a specific task, uninterrupted. I haven’t joined in on a sprint in a while but I LOVE working on something knowing that Jane is tinkering with a script in tandem. She’s an incredible digital cheerleader, and so gracious with her fawning fans (askmehowIknow…)

I’m such a Jane fan that I had to name a knit after her. Last year I designed the Espenson caftan tee. It wasn’t necessarily inspired by Jane the lady, but by Jane’s ladies. She has a habit of writing for sci-fi and fantasy and this comfortable striped tee looks like something an ass-kicking woman of the future might wear while slaying demons or exploring a new moon. 

Espenson Caftan

Speaking of geeky fashions, I am absolutely LOVING Geek Chic, a nerdy and well-researched fashion column from Boston University junior Shannon Kiang. My personal favorite is Lord of the Rings round-up, but I can’t wait for her to tackle some Espenson material! 


all text and images © cirilia rose 2017