About Woolly Wits

I am a hand-knitting designer and teacher. See and purchase my published designs on Ravelry.

Friday, April 29, 2016

My New Favorite, Redux

#12 Waterfall Cardigan
from Noro Knitting Magazine Spring/Summer 2016
copyright sixth & spring

A few weeks I shared with you the reveal of the drape front cardigan which I had designed for the book Noro Silk Garden: The 20th Anniversary Collection.  I am very proud of it, and the folks at Vogue Knitting/Sixth & Spring apparently were, too.  They asked me to knit it again in a slightly modified version for the spring issue of Noro Magazine which has just hit the newsstands.  
Drape Front Cardiganfrom Noro Silk Garden: the 20th Anniversary Collectioncopyright sixth & spring
How are the two sweaters different?  They do use the same shape and modular construction, but are worked in different yarns and vary in their patterning.  The book version is in the lighter weight Silk Garden Sock and Sock Solo.  The back and sleeves are in the solid Sock Solo and the front is worked in the color-changing Silk Garden Sock.  
Noross16cardigans_03_small2The magazine version is worked in one color way of Silk Garden, but in two row alternating stripes.  Some attention needs to be paid to maintaining contrast, particularly because Noro tends to have knots connecting two starkly contrasting segments of the color way.  But, other than that occasional blip, two row stripes are not significantly more challenging than solid patterning, and they do give a big bang for your knitting buck.  
But why stop at two variations?  In my next post I'll show you something I rarely do.


Thursday, April 14, 2016


Alternate Route
Thanks to knitters everywhere for the tremendous support of my new entrelac scarf design, Alternate Route.  Released on Monday, it hit the top five 'hot right now' within a few hours, and had 3,200 downloads within 24 hours.  Wow.

If I've inspired anyone to further pursue entrelac, I do have several other patterns in my Ravelry shop.

Panier Purse

In return, you all have inspired me.  My entrelac hat pattern, All Squared Up, is my oldest pattern, and could use an update as some of the sample yarns have been discontinued.  I am pushing this higher up the priority list, and hope to have the re-release to you soon.
All Squared Up
Again, thank you!!!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Alternate Route: An Entrelac Scarf With a Different Approach

What happens when you give a pile of Noro SilkGarden yarn scraps to an entrelac knitting instructor?  Well, in this case, a great new scarf design, Alternate Route.

When this pile of Silk Garden scraps called out to be a scarf, I turned to my teaching pattern.  This creates an entrelac scarf worked in the standard manner - narrow rows worked over and over to grow to a six foot long rectangle.  Since some of my scraps were much more colorful than others, I realized that this approach could result in a very scrappy looking scarf.  My solution was to turn the scarf 90 degrees and work along the long edge.  This approach leaves the same color touching only at the points with the blocks/triangles surrounded by highly contrasting colors.  The effect is to highlight each color while simultaneously blending them all together.

To create greater contrast I did change colors at the beginning of every row.  This left me a few ends to weave in, but I could hide them by working under the single crochet edging.  As I worked across a row I frequently had to deal with ends since I was working with scraps of yarn.  I simply spit-spliced the ends together, while not worrying about abrupt color changes.  And, yes, I did successfully spit splice even though Silk Garden is composed of only 55% feltable animal fiber.

To celebrate the release of this new pattern, I am offering it free for one week.  The deal ends at midnight on Monday, April 18th, 2016, so run over to Ravelry and download Alternate Route now.  Please also 'favorite' it to help other knitters find the pattern.  After the introduction, Alternate Route will be available for $4.00.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My New Favorite: Modified Swing Cardi

Drape Front Cardigan
from Noro Silk Garden
copyright sixth & spring
Last week two of my designs were published in the Noro Silk Garden 20th Anniversary book from Sixth & Spring, the book publishing arm of Vogue Knitting Magazine.  I am very excited about the cardigan, because it's a new shape which is very flattering.  It is also a modular design, so it is joined-as-you-go with no seams to sew at the end.  The knitting is rather simple, as the angled front pieces are just simple rectangles with no shaping.

The key to this design is the shaping of the back piece.  It begins with a narrow bottom edge and increases rapidly up to the armhole.  That armhole is extra-wide as it incorporates both the back and the front armhole bind-off stitches.  To add some interest, I changed texture across the upper back and carried that down the front shoulder piece.  Did I mention that the back continues over the front and decreases down to two stitches in width at the front armhole depth?  Or that you then attach the tip of the piece to the point of the armhole bind-off?

It gets a little more straightforward from here.  After connecting the points, the stitches for each arm are picked up and knit in the round to the cuff.  Then the front are worked by pickup up stitches along the edge from the side neck down to the back hem and working a big rectangle.  The cardi is finished with a little continuous ribbing along the upper edge of the rectangle and back neck.

Have I confused you?  The design and construction are non-traditional, but not difficult in execution.  And, the result is a flattering sweater.  The angled edge forces the front piece into a deep v-neck, which is a slimming line.  The overlap of the front pieces also helps disguise any wobbly bits in the tummy area.

Ravelry: TheresaSchabes' Upcycled Cashmere Swing Cardi:

I love the design lines so much, I've also worked this shape into one of my reinvented sweaters.  The base is a man's cashmere cardigan with the front pieces worked in a slip stitch pattern using recycled cashmere yarn.  It is the center piece of my Thrifty Knitter/Sweater Reinvention class.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Plaid Your Own Way

Mad for Plaid by HerdingCats
Last week the front page of Ravelry featured a knitted pattern close to my heart - plaid.  And, among the many beautiful recently finished projects, I was thrilled to see one of my own designs, Savoye, reinterpreted by HerdingCats.

By reinterpreted I mean that she took the plaid patterning from Savoye and put it onto a set-in sleeve sweater.  The change up in sleeve makes the sweater much more fitted and creates a trim look.  I chose the original drop shoulder to not only simplify the knitting, but because it is more of the fashion moment.
Savoye Pullover
From Knitscene Spring 2016
copyright Good Folk Photography

HerdingCats used Amy Herzog's CustomFit program to create the pattern for her sweater, and it worked great to form a beautifully-fitting sweater.  The drawback of CustomFit is that it creates a limited number of basic shapes.  However, by overlaying the windowpane plaid pattern over the simple sweater, HerdingCats made her own great mash-up.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Free Pattern: Etherial Plaid Scarf

Rowan Kidsilk Haze; 70% super kid mohair, 30% silk; 210m/25g; 2 balls in one color(A) and 1 ball in a second color(B).
U.S. size 10 needle
4 bobbins, tapestry needle

Approximately 15 sts and 17 rows over 10 cm/4 in with two strands of yarn held together

• Scarf is worked with 2 strands of yarn held together throughout.  The changing composition of those 2 strands is what creates the plaid pattern.
• The four yarns which form the vertical stripes are wound onto bobbins to keep tangling to a minimum.  The two yarns which create the horizontal bands may be knit from the ball.
• When changing yarns, work in the intarsia method, where the yarns twist around each other to prevent holes. 

Prepare Bobbins
Wind 2 bobbins each with colors A & B.  As a bobbin empties, refill with more of the same color. 

With two strands of A (one from bobbin, one from ball), cast on 32 sts.
Row 1 (RS):  Continuing with the 2 strands of A, k1, p1, k6, drop strand of A on bobbin and join in 1 strand of B on bobbin, k8, drop strand of B and join in a new strand of A on bobbin, k8, drop strand of A on bobbin and join in a new strand of B on bobbin, k6, p1, k1.
Row 2 (WS):  With 1 strand each of A & B, k1, p7, drop strand of B and pick up strand of A, p8, drop strand of A on bobbin and pick up strand of B, p8, drop strand of B and pick up strand of A, p7, k1.
Rows 3, 5 & 7: Repeat Row 1
Rows 4, 6 & 8:  Repeat Row 2
Row 9:  Cut strand of A from ball and join in a strand of B from ball.  With 1 strand of A (from bobbin) & B, k1, p1, k6, drop strand of A on bobbin
and join in 1 strand of B strand of A on bobbin, k8, drop strand of A on bobbin and join in a new strand of B on bobbin, k6, p1, k1.
Row 10:  With 2 strands each of B, k1, p7, drop strand of B and pick up strand of A, p8, drop strand of A on bobbin and pick up strand of B, p8, drop strand of B and pick up strand of A, p7, k1.
Rows 11, 13, 15:  Repeat Row 1
Rows 12, 14, 16:  Repeat Row 2
Repeat Rows 1 – 16 for pattern.  Continue until scarf measures 72”, or you run out of the color B.  Weave in ends.

Fringe:  For one color fringe, cut 248 12” pieces of yarn.  For two color fringe, cut 120 12” pieces of A yarn and 128 strands of B.  (Note: two-color fringe will require a second ball of B.)

Using a lark’s head knot, add 4 strands of yarn per bound off/cast on stitch on both ends.  For two color fringe, match the fringe to the vertical stripe.  

Note:  If the edges of your scarf curl in, you can work a few rows of single crochet to prevent the roll.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Freebie Pattern: Plaid + Felt = Bag

Since I've been all 'bout the plaid, I've decided to share this pattern for a simple plaid-effect felted bag which was a class I taught at Knitche in Downers Grove, Illinois.  The bag uses self-striping yarn to create horizontal stripes and the surface crochet technique to create the vertical stripes.  Enjoy!

Plaid + Felt = Bag

Noro Kureyon (MC), 100m/50g, (color #236 shown), or other worsted weight, feltable, self-striping yarn, two balls
Cascade 220 (CC), 100gr/ 220yds, (color #2410 shown), or other worsted weight, solid-colored, feltable yarn, one ball
24” circular needle, U.S. size 10/6 mm
Crochet hook, size J/6 mm
4 stitch markers (3 the same, one different), tapestry needle, magnetic bag closure

SIZES (approximate)

Alternate color way
bag: 12” across by 3¼” deep by 10½” high
strap:  2” wide by 24” long
closure w/ I-cord: 2 ¾” wide by 6½” long 

bag:  11” across by 3” deep by 8” high
strap:  1½” wide by 18” long
closure w/ I-cord:  2¼” wide by  5½” long
Approximately 16 sts and x 24 rows over 10 cm/4 in

Bag Bottom
With CC, cast on 50 sts.  Work in garter stitch (knit every row) for 16 ridges or 32 rows.  Pick up sts around garter bottom:  Change to MC.  Knit one row, placing a marker before last stitch.  Continuing on to adjacent short side, pick up and knit 15 sts.  Place marker and then turn and pick up and knit 50 sts along long side, placing a marker before picking up last st.   Pick up and knit 15 sts along remaining short side – 130 sts total.  Place the different marker at end of row to indicate the beginning of the round. 

Bag Body
With MC, join to work in the round and begin pattern stitch:

Rounds 1 – 5: With MC, * p1, k4, p1, k5; rep from * to 5 sts before next marker ending with p1, k4. Repeat 3 more times, one for each side of bag.  (The short sides will only have one repeat of pattern.)
Round 6: As in Rows 1 – 5, only using CC. 

Repeat Rounds 1 – 6 until 9 full repeats have been worked, and then work one more repeat ending with Row 5.  Change to CC and knit one row, keeping only the 1 st after markers in purl.  Continuing to keep the 1 st after the markers in purl, purl one row and then knit one row.   Bind off all sts in purl.  Weave in ends.

Applied Crochet Chain (see sidebar for link to a photo tutorial of this technique)
Note:  the applied crochet chain stitch is worked into all the columns of purl sts, except for the four corners of the bag.  With CC, make a slipknot, leaving about a 5” tail.  Work crochet chain stitch as follows: with RS facing, insert crochet hook through the fabric of the bag into the center of a purl column just above bag bottom.  With other hand and working yarn inside bag, place the slip knot on hook and pull through to RS.  *Advance hook over next purl bump in vertical column and insert through bag.  Wrap yarn around hook and pull through to RS.  Pull new loop through old loop on hook.  Repeat from * until top of bag is reached.  Then break yarn and pull through remaining loop.
Note:  As you work, the yarn ends from previously completed crochet chains may tangle in your working yarn.  If this happens, you should stop and weave in all ends before continuing.

Bag Handles (make 2)
With CC, cast on 11 sts.  *K8, bring yarn forward between the two needles, slip the last 3 sts; repeat from * until piece measures 24”.  Bind off. 

Bag Flap with I-cord Edging (make 1)
With MC, cast on 8 sts.  Knit every row until piece measures 6”.  With CC, cast on 3 sts.  *K2, ssk, slip 3 sts back to left hand needle; repeat from * to last st.  Work corner: K3, slip 3 sts back to left needle, k2, ssk, slip 3 sts back to left needle, k3.  Turn piece and with MC pick up 1 st for every ridge along side.  Slip picked up sts back to left needle and continue with I-cord edging, including turning corner.  Turn and with MC pick up 8 sts along short end.  Slip picked up sts back to left needle and continue with I-cord edging, including turning corner.  Turn and pick up 1 st for every ridge along last side and then continue with I-cord edging.  When you reach cast on edge of I-cord, graft the last sts to the cast on sts.  Closure backing:  With CC, cast on 8 sts.  Work in st st for 2”.  Bind off.  Weave in all ends.

Note:  all pieces (bag, handles, flap) are felted separately and then sew together after drying.
The felting process interlocks the wool fibers so that the fabric is thicker and less elastic.  Put the pieces in a lingerie bag or pillow case and close it (use safety pins on pillowcase).  Place the bag in the washing machine with a load of washable, lint-free, heavy-weight items to increase agitation.  Well-laundered jeans are ideal.   Try adding a pair of sneakers or tennis balls to the felting load to increase the agitation.   Since the plaid bag has color contrast, you may want to add a dye magnet sheet to prevent bleeding.  Set the machine for hottest water, cold rinse.  (The shock of the difference in water temperatures also promotes felting.)  Use a little bit of your normal detergent, but no bleach or fabric softener.  Check your bag frequently for signs of shrinkage, and then more frequently as it begins to felt.  Your bag is finished felting when it has reached the final dimensions, or you are happy with its size and appearance. 

Your bag’s shape may distort in the felting process.  Pull it back into shape and stuff with plastic bags or set it over a square object of the right size to set while drying.  Shape flap by folding in half.  Allow all pieces to dry completely.


Sew handles to inside of bag.  Attach one side of magnetic closure to backing piece and sew the piece to one end of reverse side of flap.  Sew the other end of flap to bag.  Position other half of closure on bag and attach.