Sunday, December 30, 2012

Photo shoot

Winter's here so photography can be challenging.  I decided to give interior shots another go.

Following is Anne underway a delightful sweater vest.  The belt was a Christmas gift from Juliet.  Its yellow is the same as the flecks in Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter wool, colors Sap and Foothills the reason they worked well together and the reason I chose them for this project.  How did she know?

Pattern release forthcoming.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Jane cowl series – an ebook

Agnes was the name of my grandmother, matriarch of dad's family, and also of her third daughter, my aunt.  Turns out they shared Jane as their middle names too – who knew! Happily, me now, thanks to dad's work on his family tree.

Keeping spirits alive, I'm pleased to introduce my Jane Cowl Series, namesake of the Agnes Janes.

Dubbed an ebook because it contains 3 patterns, I launched this cowl set yesterday on Ravelry. Pattern details may be found there – or here, here, and here on my new website:! I hope you'll visit.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Jane cowl series – grand cowl preview

We're having an unseasonably warm day here in Boston so I persuaded Pete to take some preview photos of my Jane Grand Cowl, the first of 3 in my Jane Cowl series. This simple sheath took a few trials to get the shaping just right, but boy am I happy with the result.  Wear it around your neck as a regular lacy scarf,

 or slip it over your shoulders for some extra stylish fun.

Yum, huh?  I hope to get this, along with the Little Loop and Double Loop versions published very soon for Ravelry sale.  Pattern writing is underway!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cowl thesis

My foray into a gift-worthy knit this year has turned into a thesis – my cowl thesis!  And as long as I stay within gift giving deadlines, an enjoyable one at that.  I don't typically wear cowls so exploring their variations in dimension, fit, and fabric drape has created a bit of a research project for me. 

All versions have their lace in common flame chevron named appropriately I'd say for taking the chill off.  This stitch pattern is shown above worked in Baby Alpaca DK (green tea) by Shibui Knits and Lark (frost) by Quince & Co.  And just to prove my mettle, I've worked another, not shown, in Quince & Co's Chickadee!

The piece I'll gift is slowly coming into focus and will require a 4th version, slated to be on my needles today. I plan to offer them all as a set in a single pattern – soon – for other knitters to enjoy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Paper toys

Every August I pause from knit design to orchestrate something else – the Hoss family Christmas Picks. I make paper toys that highlight an event from the past year and announce the upcoming holiday gift giving assignment for each of my dear in-laws, 16 of us in all.  This year we celebrated Pam and Scott's new home.

By now it's well known that Santa Deb will deliver something knitted.  And sure enough, design work is underway.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Terasa and the Bernards

Terasa married Bernard Henry. Bernard's father was named Bernard Henry too, and so was his son.  His grandson they named Henry Bernard, probably because his cousin Bernard Henry had already snagged it in its original form. Confused yet? Henry Bernard's grandson – my dad – was a Bernard Henry too, and I'm pretty sure that's the end of the naming line.  I know of no Bernards and Henrys within the family since then.  Probably a good thing.

This sweater is named for great-great-grandmother Terasa, and dedicated to all the Bernard Henrys and at least one of the Henry Bernards I know of.

Terasa is a most delightful, long-sleeved, v-neck cardigan. Worked in 2 colors (a main color and trim), its overall stitch pattern is the seeded rib check, a simple alternating knit/purl sequence, that is dense and springy – and super comfortable. Other features of this elegant cardigan include its 4 button closure and horizontal pockets, positioned at hips and lined with the trim color for some secret fun. Terasa, I feel, is destined to become one of my year-round favorites.

No blocking required as this luxe fabric lies flat and stays true to gauge. Pieces are knit flat, bottom-up, with seaming.

Click here for pattern details.

You'll find this pattern for sale on Ravelry.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

For my next project

I decided to try something new. Brooklyn Tweed puts out a very cool set of Look Book Collections so I ordered a skein of their Shelter wool in color Sweatshirt. I'll admit that its name had a lot to do with my selection, for some reason bringing me back to Sky King on Saturday mornings after swimming lessons when I was eight – oy. The wool proved to be in keeping with its name so I've been working a correspondingly cozy design in my head with this wool, while actively knitting Terasa (below) – a 2 color cardigan worked in seeded rib check, the same stitch pattern I used with Amelia.

Terasa, now happily done, was fun to make and I'm pleased with the resulting fabric, fit, and colors!  I used Quince Chickadee wool in marsh and crocus and I think they bring out the best in each other.  Hope to have this pattern posted by tomorrow, I'll be working on it next.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Amelia published

Dear Amelia published at last!  Namesake of my great-great-grand aunt and my self-selected alter-identity in 7th grade German class!  Coincidence??  hee hee, ya..but what fun.

This is a two-color, shaped, sweater with three-quarter length raglan sleeves, worked entirely in seeded rib check – a most comfortable, squishy, and delicate fabric comprised of alternating knits and purls. The trim at hem and collar is worked in a rib variation of its primary texture – a sweet detail. You’ll find this piece is versatile and multi-season, well worth the enjoyable investment in its making.

No blocking required, pieces are knit flat, bottom up, with seaming.

Click here for pattern details.

You'll find this pattern for sale on Ravelry.   

Saturday, September 29, 2012


I'm happy to report – Amelia is finished.

I'm sporting her today while gallery-hopping with pal Bev.  Getting the pattern together will be next then I'll post – hopefully by next week.  I know I'll enjoy that too.  Amelia was worth the wait.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

2 steps back? or sometimes it just feels that way

Slow and steady wins the race, or at least eventually completes the sweater!  Here's Amelia, underway, with supervision by my pal, Doug. 

Historically the designs that have been my most difficult to develop (not make, none of my designs are difficult to make) have been the most popular, so I'm holding that thought with Amelia.  Luckily she has no deadlines (besides those that are self-imposed) as I've knit, assessed, ripped, and knit again.  I've learning quite a lot during these trials, so it's all good.  This is how she stands now.
  • Circular knitting has been replaced with straight since shaping with the seeded rib check stitch pattern appeared awkward rather than decorative.  A purposeful seam will put all that to rest.  
  • And there's been lots of decision-flux with the contrasting waistband during these past few weeks – that I finally settled on keeping. I would have belted it anyway, so why not? Its color will be repeated in the sleeves and collar, creating balance.
So, with these hurdles overcome, I believe we have lift-off! Doug and I are settling in for a day full of knitting – happily.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One step forward

I wish I had something more to show of my work for the past several weeks.  The truth is I have been working, on Amelia – but there's been some trial and error.  This is the piece I put aside for Katherine and my Dorothy remake, the one I've been mulling over for several months by now after spying the color-block on a tv newscaster one morning during breakfast. I'm finally back to it.

In its current state – here's a peek – you'll find my original plan for garter stitch replaced with seeded rib check.  I'm using Quince & Co.'s Finch wool in 2 colors: the very luminous, frost, and its darker counterpart, storm.  Today I'm scrambling toward the waistline, excited (and a little anxious) to introduce the second color. I can't wait to see that. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dorothy, revisited

Posted originally in 2011 I took a second look at Dorothy recently and decided to spiff her up a bit. Spawned from Katherine (who is in fact her mother – how ideal!), here she is re-orchestrated this time, on circular needles – so NO seams!  Hooray :), and so fun to knit.

Click here for pattern details.

You'll find this pattern for sale on Ravelry.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Katherine – just in time

Welcome Katherine – just in time for summer! This summery shell of chevron lace is a quick knit, a perfect summer project.  You'll find its 9 stitch by 8 row lace pattern repeat is easily mastered, creating just enough stitch variety to keep things interesting while flying off the needles. Add a belt for a pop of color, or wear it without accessories to reveal a sleek and slim silhouette.

This piece is worked bottom-up on circular needles, splitting at the armholes where it is worked flat. Its trim, a few garter rows, is spawned from stitches picked up along the hem, armholes, and neckline.

Click here for pattern details.

You'll find this pattern for sale on Ravelry.

Friday, July 27, 2012

"The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry"

This title, a line from a Robert Burn poem, describes July 2012 design activities. My intended offering, Amelia, will be August's instead...  and so it goes for best-laid plans.

I like to have things neat and tidy – working on one thing at a time, making lists, looking ahead, making plans – but the truth is some of my best ideas have come out of turn, out of left field, seemingly out of no where ... and when they do, happily, I've learned to let them.

I had been hard at work on Amelia (a 2-color, raglan sleeve, lace?, garter stitch? number), when I received an email from a ravelry follower asking for more detailed pictures of Dorothy. Eager to accommodate the request  (I hadn't thought of Dorothy for a while), I went back for a closer look. Still lovin' her for sure, but in the year since her release my work has taken some turns.  I found myself fixated on her update.  I wanted her longer, more shaped, and wasn't she a delightful candidate for reworking on circular needles? (I'm lovin' circular needles these days.)  But wait...
more pondering...

wouldn't a much better candidate for this all out remake be Emma? Or at least her chevron lace?? A week of trials followed.  Still intrigued, it didn't take me too long to dismantle Amelia and reset sights on this new project, now appropriately renamed Katherine (Dorothy's mother) – and to modify my planning queue accordingly.

Katherine has turned out to be a chevron lace summer shell, longer than both Dorothy or Emma, with shaping more reminiscent of Margareta, and, yes, worked on circular needles.  With luck (and best-laid plans), I'll have her launched next week.

And just to satisfy my however-futile, list requirement, a brief bulleted recap:   
  • Dorothy remains on it, needing some new pictures after gentle circular reworking, 
  • as does dear Amelia, who may or may not end up as I envision her now. We shall see.
On a separate note, in the midst of July's upheaval came an invitation from Robin Hunter, who asked if she could interview me for her designer-series blog.  Needless to say I was delighted to accept – in the midst of reassessment, a bit of self-assessment!  You'll find that conversation here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Margareta revealed

Meet Margareta, this design the namesake of my grand-aunt, dad's aunt.  She was not only my grandmother's sister, but her sister-in-law as well!  How possible? Sisters of one family married brothers of another!  How fun is that, and a bit risky too for relationships overall – but so it goes in matters of the heart.

Margareta is a two-color, short-sleeved tee worked in fingering-weight wool – light and airy for warm days and nights. Its sleeves and shoulders are worked in ribbon lace – an easily mastered 9 stitch by 20 row repeat – in a complimentary color that provides a fresh pop and textural companion – a bit of frosting – to the stockinette stitch simplicity of its lower bodice. This tee is slim-fitting, shaped, and extends mid-hip in length. Worked bottom-up, the lower portion begins as one piece on circular needles, until the starting point of the lace at the underarm where it splits and each side is worked separately.

Click here for pattern details.

You'll find this pattern for sale on Ravelry.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A point of process

On a recent trip to my LYS, A Good Yarn, in Brookline Village, after a helpful chat about lace knitting, the owner asked if I might like to hold a session with her customers about how I approach my sweater design.  I'm still pondering that invitation (struggling with a bit of unfortunate stage fright), but it got me thinking about my process since I so enjoy it, and how I got here.

25+ years in my previous administrative job has certainly honed my process skills – creating efficient routines that feed each other, then documenting for reference – ei-yi-yi, pretty dry I know, but applying these to my design work has proved invaluable, and in a geeky kind of way, is something I find kind of exciting. Here's an overview of how it goes.

After deciding on my design – something yummy I (or daughter Juliet) can't wait to wear – the first thing I do is draw schematics showing dimensions of all 7 sizes I offer (XS, S, M, L, 1X, 2X, 3X).  This requires nailing down measurement nuances for each.  I work out the texture and create a substantial swatch to determine both the stitch/row gauge and approximate yardage per square inch for selected yarn – lately ordered from the Quince & Co. line.  I plug these numbers into my huge home-grown spreadsheet filled with lots of formulas that calculate stitch and row counts per size.  There's lots of tweaking here to normalize shaping, but once done I begin to write my pattern.  I knit from my writing, making all sorts of notes along the way about best practice and all the while proving out my pattern to ensure it's correct.  Once the piece is done Juliet and I go on location and I take a bunch of photographs of her wearing it.  I reformat the pattern to accommodate the resulting fabulous images and I post to the world.  Hooray!

The process has undergone continual evolution since I started my design work for publication about 2 years ago.  This morning I received an email from a potential knitter of Helen asking about yardage.  She couldn't tell from if she had enough yarn in her stash for the project in her size. Hmmm... another process point to remedy?  I think so.

And I'll certainly consider this when I finally launch Margareta, the 2-color, lacy, short-sleeve tee I blogged about in my Colors – Oy post on June 8th.  Named for my dad's aunt, she'll be introduced formally soon – hopefully next week.  Oh, I can't wait!  Meanwhile, here's a little peek along with my new pal, Douglas. 

Don't worry, the little devil's being supervised.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Colors – Oy

I took a ride yesterday to Portland Maine to visit the KnitWit Yarn Shop for hands-on review and RE-selection of colors chosen for my latest piece – Margareta, a 2-color tee.  While Quince & Co. is delightfully convenient for online ordering and I wouldn't be without their swatch booklet, after thoughtful selection from it of color pairs (I chose a few), when they came in I knew the set selected for this piece wasn't going to work out.  I needed face-to-skein time with the actual wool. Fortunately for me the Quince line is now available at a this LYS (okay, not local to me from Brookline Mass but I was up for a road trip and I do love Portland).

While each color is delightful by itself, pairing it with another took on an unexpected, increased level of difficulty.  Twig, my original choice, needs something bright as compliment, not something of the same color value as was my first thought. (By the way twig is more brown than represented here on the chart, at least on my monitor.)  Once I had skeins in hand I also saw I wanted to keep the new color warm since twig is toasty. So, after deliberation...

I chose egret. Yes, I know.. not very adventurous, but it served the issues raised and I find it to be rather classic in a Calvin Klein sort of way.

While I was there I picked up several more skeins of frost and honey – each way more beautiful in person. Can't wait to get at these, but first things first.  Thank you KnitWit Yarn Shop for providing a friendly and helpful visit.  I'll be back.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

And for my next number...

I've been thinking (a lot) lately about lacy tees – a series maybe – but this time made with Quince's Finch, a fingering-weight wool definitely thinner than I've been working lately but appropriate for a warm weather top.

The wool is on its way to me, and swatches are done.  Aren't these fun?

I look for lace stitch patterns that are easy to knit – a simple repeat with an every-other-purl row for a bit of rest along the way.  I love the lace but not a complicated process.  I think others may agree.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lace for the Helens

 Oh, I get so excited when I launch a new piece.  This one is for my aunts, both named Helen.

My Helen sweater is a shapely, lacy, v-neck pullover.  Its Hexagon Fern lace – an easily mastered 18 stitch by 16 row repeat – is worked throughout and echoes the lines of its 1x1 rib trim and angled neckline.  The bodice is slim fitting, extending mid-hip in length, and follows body curves.  Narrow sleeves end just below the elbow, long short sleeves that feel ample. This versatile piece may be dressed up or down and layered, establishing it as one of my all-occasion, year-round favorites.

Click here for pattern details.

You'll find this pattern for sale on Ravelry.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Mary Jacket

Perfect for spring, or any season, is my latest design the Mary jacket.

I ventured into new territory this time working the oh-so-easy garter stitch on Quince & Co.'s Osprey aran weight wool.   The happy result is this most comfortable and stylish (if I do say so myself) Mary jacket. You'll find it a snap to knit (bottom-up) with no seams (except for set-in sleeves; kitchener weaving at shoulders and back neck), and all shaping so subtle and wonderfully invisible.

What a treat to make and wear!

Click here for pattern details.

You'll find this pattern for sale on Ravelry.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Taking stock

About a year ago, when I first started designing knits for publication, I thought about what to name my patterns.  Up until this time I had titled them simply as cardigan with three-quarter sleeves..  and I knew this wouldn't do.  Then it came to me and I named the first for my mother, Marlene.  This felt right.  The work is quite personal for me after all, and a family affair with daughter Juliet as top model!  I continued this convention with each new design that followed, tapping my maternal family tree – a project researched initially by great aunt Hilda, an MIT librarian in her day. 

Here's my first set of designs, in chronological order by namesake.
great great grandmother, Johanna great grandmother, Martha great great aunt, Louise
great great aunt, Augusta - aka Gussie great great aunt, Florence - aka Flossie great great aunt, Emma
great great aunt, Harriet - aka Hattie great great aunt, Dorothy great aunt, Hilda
grandmother, Mildred grandmother, May and finally mum, Marlene
I'm on to dad's family now and when I look at my pattern list on Ravelry I feel surrounded by kindred spirits kind of like a group hug :).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

For you, Nelly.

Nelly was my dad's aunt and I was a little girl when I knew her.  She sold newspapers in the underground subway station at Park Street in Boston.  It's not likely she ever had a sweater as nice as this, but she certainly deserved one.  For you, Nelly.

This is a slim fitted, lace covered pullover. Its narrow sleeves are generously long. The lace, named alternating leaf, is an easily mastered 10 stitch by 12 row repeat.  Pieces are knit flat, bottom up, with seaming.

Click here for pattern details.

You'll find this pattern for sale on Ravelry.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On the road to find out

This alternating leaf lace broke my heart at first.  I just loved its clarity and subtlety, but the 3 extra stitches in the repeat created havoc in the texture when I attempted to revise the count to avoid them.  Why this happened I could not say.  After several days of failed swatching I thought about giving up and changing to another pattern.  But I persisted. 

And hooray!  I made it work!

For my new piece I'll be applying this lace to the bodice styling of Agnes sort of.  Nelly will have a slimmer hip-line, no waist rib, be slightly shorter in length, and...  well, I just let each design lead me to the next.  And I just love this lace.  Can't wait!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Agnes, and beyond

I'm delighted to present my latest design, Agnes, inspired by a simple long sleeved tee shirt.  The fit is just right, just as I planned for a change.  Interesting how the process of design unfolds.  I can count on my initial aim to take several turns during the making.  That said, I've sketched out my goals for the year: 12 designs or so, one a month...  The theme is mostly long and lean, like Agnes.  There's a cape, jacket (double breasted), a cardigan or 2, a lacy number, some of these with a trim fringe or ruffle, and probably a stole or cowl to round things out. 

Click here for pattern details.

Agnes will be posted on Ravelry later today, at least that's my plan.  We shall see.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Johanna launched - happy 2012

Moving into colder weather, the diamond brocade of this cozy pullover is reminiscent of lace – winter lace.  Johanna's simple brocade repeat and slim-fitted styling create a romantic silhouette.  Bodice and sleeves are long.  Garter bands define the waist, neckline, and hems.  a 3-button placket closure at the shoulder gives easy access and a bit of additional decoration.  Pieces are knit flat, bottom up, with seaming.

Click here for pattern details.

You'll find this pattern for sale on Ravelry.