About Woolly Wits

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Golden Hands Magazine, Part III

This wraps up our review of the 1971 issue of Golden Hands magazine which I came across at a church rummage sale last week.  In the last post we looked at the "Figure Types", and today we move on to the "Figure Problems".

I find it disturbing that the bodies with a large bust or large hips which we saw yesterday were considered "Figure Types", while the more specific combinations we see today are "Figure Problems".  After all, I've heard plenty of women complain about their "Figure Type" large hip size (although fewer complain about large breasts).  And, the description of our "Figure Problem" in orange above could fit a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition model.  While the advice in this article may still be generally right on target after 40 years, the good news is that our attitudes to our bodies have changed.  There isn't any longer one ideal figure that we all strive towards, but rather an umbrella of body types each with its own assets and challenges.

My body happens to correspond remarkable with the lady in orange above, so I can compare my insights with Golden Hand's advice.  It is generally good, but I have to disagree with their advice to wear wide necklines.  In my experience, they only make my football player shoulders look even broader.  Scoops and v-necks look best on me, because they interrupt my broad expanse of chest.  That advice gas given for the large busted, but is even more important for those of us with the combination of a large rib cage and large breasts. 

My body type is a less common variation of the human female, so for the 60% of you who carry more of your body weight through your hips and thighs, I refer you back to the last Golden Hands article for advice on "Large hips", as well as their general rules for dressing to appear taller and thinner.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


In honor of VK Live! Chicago 2013 and Knitche, of Downers Grove, Illinois, whose booth will be featuring only Shibui yarns, I have a new design . . . 

Stiall, a simple striped hat

Skills Needed to Successfully Complete This Pattern:
cast on, knit, purl, use marker, k2tog decrease, make pompom (optional).

20” around by 9” tall
Will stretch to fit most adults & teens


Shibui Merino Alpaca (50% baby alpaca, 50% merino alpaca, 131 yds/120 m per 100 g skein), 1 skein each of 2 colors

US #8/4.5 mm and US #6/3.75 mm 16” circular needles, or size to match gauge
US #8/4.5 mm double-pointed needles (OR substitute magic loop or 2 circulars techniques)
1 stitch marker
tapestry needle
pompom maker (optional)

GAUGE:  20 sts and 24 rows over 4” (Row gauge exact match not required.)


Stripe Pattern:  *work 3 rounds in yarn B, work 3 rounds in yarn A; repeat from * to top of hat.

Hint:  To avoid a ‘stair stepped’ appearance at the color changes, make a jog-less join:  at the first stitch of the round to be knit in the new color, with the right needle, lift the stitch immediately below the first stitch on the left needle and place it on the needle alongside the first stitch.  Knit both together in new color.  Move marker indicating the beginning of round to behind this stitch.  Yes, the beginning of the round will move one stitch over at each color change, but that will not impact the construction of the hat.


With smaller needle and yarn A, cast on 100 sts.  Place marker and join to work in the round, being careful not to twist stitches.  Begin ribbing:

Ribbing:  *k2, p2; repeat from * to end of round. 

Continue in ribbing for 1¼”.  At beginning of next round, change to larger needle and knit one round.  Change to yarn B and begin Stripe Pattern.  Continue in stockinette stitch (knit all stitches) until hat measures 8½”, then begin decreasing:

Decrease row 1:  *k2, k2tog; repeat from * to end of round – 75 sts.
Decrease row 2:  knit.
Decrease row 3:  *k1, k2tog; repeat from * to end of round – 50 sts.
Decrease row 4:  knit.
Decrease row 5:  *k2tog; repeat from * to end of round – 25 sts.
Decrease row 6:  knit.
Decrease row 7:  *k2tog; repeat from * to last st, k1 – 13 sts.

Weave in ends.  Block to shape.  Optional:  make 2½” pompom and attach to top of hat.


K (or k): knit
K2tog: knit 2 sts together (a decrease)
P (or p): purl
St(s): stitch(es)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Golden Hands Magazine, Part II

Yesterday was the introduction to a dressmaking article from a 1971 issue of Golden Hands magazine.

 Today is the fitting and fashion flattery information by specific figure types:

If you look closely at the figure drawings, you can see the dotted lines indicating how the body differs from the 'standard'.  I particularly like how the figure with the 'large bust' also has larger upper arms, because that's me.  I guess that also could be the litmus test for whether the large bust is natural or acquired.

As I said yesterday, the principles presented here are all still right on for 2013, and will continue to be for another forty years:
- Unnecessary bulk in your clothing makes you appear visually larger.
- Vertical design elements make you appear taller and slimmer.
- Horizontal stripes should be avoided.
- The taller and thinner you are, the more style options you have.
- Open necklines (scoop, v-neck) visually break up broad shoulders and a large bust.
- Accent the slimmest part of your figure (with color, pattern, texture or shine) to visually balance the wider/heavier half.

Tomorrow we'll finish the series with Golden Hand's advice for more challenging figures.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Golden Hand's 1971 Fashion & Fitting Advice

Last week I shopped at my favorite semi-annual church rummage sale.  While I didn't find any great vintage sweaters this time, I did find some vintage knitting/craft magazines.  Here's my favorite issue:

This is a 1971 issue of a British mag, Golden Hands.  It was not familiar to me, and the knitting, crochet and embroidery information was quite basic.  What was interesting was the dressmaking article on fitting.  I've included the introduction below, and I'll post the 'standard figure types' and 'figure problems' in the next couple days.

My favorite quote from the intro is "If you work on the basis that almost any design can be adapted to any figure (except in extreme forms of fashion), all you have to do is recognize your own particular size and figure problem and take them into consideration when cutting out and fitting the garment.  Naturally, certain styles will be more flattering to one figure than to another." (Emphasis mine.)

In the illustrated body types that follow, the emphasis is on the styles that are most flattering on the bodies presented, with specific advice on color combinations, accessories, and how to wear certain clothing items.  Despite being over 40 years old, it is right on target.  So, stay tuned to further information.

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Knothole Mitts from Interweave Crochet Accessories 2014

Featured in the new Interweave Crochet Accessories 2014 are . . .

 . . . my granny square fingerless gloves - dubbed the Knothole Mitts!  These are only my second published crochet pattern, so I am rather fond of them.  They were inspired by a vintage mitten pattern:

I loved the concept of the vintage mittens - turning grannies on point - but didn't love the harlequin color scheme.  I also didn't love the pointed cuffs and the way they didn't grip the wrist.  So, I added triangles to square off the top and bottom edges and turned them into the more modern mitten, i.e. the fingerless glove. And I added a few rows of post stitch ribbing to help them grip the hand and stay in place.

 I am quite happy with how they turned out.  In fact, I have worked up another pair in Rowan's new Angora Haze yarn.  Here's a pic (excuse my lousy photography but it's hard to get a good pic of such fuzzy yarn):

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Knit Yourself to Sleep

Thee clever flannel sheets are in the new Garnet Hill catalog:

This are not knit, but brushed cotton flannel with the Aran cables, bobbles and honeycomb printed on the fabric.  They are on sale for 20% off through October 22nd.

Hmmm . . . I could use a new duvet cover . . . . .

Friday, October 18, 2013

At Last, The Final Round

After dragging on for far too long, here is the final round in our 'Which Is Most Flattering?' competition.

On the left is the Cardamon Vest and on the right is the Basic, Set-in Sleeve Cardigan, both designed by Kirsten Hipsky and available from Webs.  I have a love for v-neck cardigans (see my recent 'What Should I Knit?' post), but I also love scoop necks and vertical pattern work.  So, for a knitter ready to tackle her first sweater, I would highly suggest the Basic Set-in Sleeve Cardi.  But for intermediate to advanced knitters, the winner is - Cardamom!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Semi-Finals 2: Which Is the Most Flattering?

Here in the last semi-final, the competitors are:

This promises to be a tougher bout than the last.  On the left is the French Vanilla Pullover,designed by Kirsten Hipsky and knit in a light dk weight yarn.  And on the right is the Basic Set-In Sleeve Cardigan, also designed by Kirsten Hipsky, and knit in worsted weight yarn.  (So either way Kirsten wins!)

My natural preference is for the lighter weight yarn, as heavier yarns add visual weight to the torso.  However, all the horizontal lines in the French Vanilla - stripes, neckline, strongly contrasting pant - all carry the eye across the body and make her look wider.  Look at how wide her upper left arm appears!  So, the strong vertical and horizontal lines of the cardi win the day.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Which Should I Knit?

Taking a break from the competition, I have a tough question:  which cardi should I knit?

I have been working hard for several weeks on two new designs to make their splashy premiere at Vogue Knitting Live! in Chicago in a few weeks.  I am closing in on the last project, and might just have enough time to pull together a new sweater for me.  Since I haven't knit myself a sweater in a couple years, it's a big question.  (The garment I am most likely to knit for myself is a skirt!)  Here are the two cardigans I am considering:

This is the popular Delancey Cardigan by Alexis Winslow, self-published and available as a Ravelry download.

And this is the Zahara cardigan by Thayer Preece Parker  from the Fall 2013 issue of Knitscene.

Whichever design I choose I will, of course, be mixing it up since I can't possibly knit someone else's sweater as written.  I have to change gauge, substitute yarn, change fiber, and definitely color, to make it my own.  I have a plastic bin of a mix of Mission Falls dk yarn, so the one I choose will definitely be gloriously multicolored.  Delancey calls for a worsted weight, so if I choose it, I'll probably end up completely re-writing the pattern.  But, I do love the sexy low-cut shawl collar.

On the other hand, I love the Missoni-esque zigzag stripes of Zahara, especially how they narrow as they move up.  I don't love that it appears to have no waist shaping, so I will definitely have to add that design element.

So which do you think I should choose?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Semi-finals 1: Which Is Most Flattering?

Having passed through the first round, paired off in this head-to-head are:

 Again, on the left is the Linaria Wrap designed by Sara Delaney and on the right is the Cardamom Vest designed by Kirsten Hipsky.  While I love a granny square, the wrap doesn't show off the model's figure as much as drape over it.  Also, it isn't really so much a garment as an accessory.  So, the winner is . . . Caradom!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Woolly-Wits Reviews Knitty Fall 2013

The problem with Knitty is that we are all so excited to rush over to the site the minute we see alert for the new issue.  So, the site runs too slowly to bother, and we move along.  This month I forgot to check back later in the day, or, indeed the week.  So, here's my belated (but not by too very much) review.

Spice Trail from the East by Donna Druchunas

This is a cropped little top with lots of texture.  Good news, bad news.  Do I looove the deep v-neck?  Yes!  Do I love that it's a cardi?  Again, yes.  Do I think that a highly textured pattern adds visual weight?  Yes.  And, do I have the flat stomach to show off with this ribcage-brushing length.  Sadly, no.  I would lengthen this by a good 6", which would keep it above the hips, so no need to do much side shaping to keep from becoming too tight.

Flippant by Nora Hinch

"Flippant is a long-sleeved lacy cardigan with clean, geometric lines that falls at mid hip. The body of the cardigan is worked in one piece up to the armholes at which point it is divided, and the fronts and back are worked separately. The sleeves are worked separately and set in."

What a pretty, basic cardigan.  I love the set-in sleeves with the lace panel running up the center.  There is no overt shaping due to the elasticity of the lace pattern, but curvier girls could drop down a couple needle sizes through the waist to give it a little subtle shaping.

My Favorite Color Cardigan by Dieuwke van Mulligen

"When I discovered the contiguous sleeve method developed by Susie Myers, I couldn't believe my luck -- a top-down sweater, with set in style sleeves, without any picking up of stitches along the armhole edge or even seaming!"

This is a very basic top-down sweater with a twist - working a continuous set-in sleeve.  It's a nice trick, and this would be a nice garment to give top-down a try.  That said, I have to add that I am not a fan of top-down garments.  Sweaters worked from the bottom up in pieces have more opportunities to fine-tune their fit, and the seams add stability and structure.  I've seen too many top-down patterns written by designers who don't truly understand human anatomy and how to design for it.  (No one I've met had a pointed underarm.)  And, even I have had a top-down go very, very wrong.  When that happens it's a very wet trip to the frog pond.

On last word . .  . (or more than one) . . .

Plum Rondo a la Turk by Julia Farwell-Clay

This seems to be the design with the biggest buzz.  I think it is a very interesting design, and one which could be stunning on the right body.  This gorgeous girl does not have the right body.  The circular pattern band does a great job of drawing attention to her beautiful face, but at the expense of visually flattening her chest.  The subtle horizontal lines of the variegated yarn and the not-as-subtle patterning across the hip draw attention to the width of her body, with no vertical line to counterbalance and slim.  And, the large amount of excess width in the sleeve adds visual weight to her arm.  Not for curvy girls!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

First Battle Round Winners!

Here are the winners from the first round:
Basic Set-In Sleeve Cardigan
Cardamom Vest

Linaria Wrap
French Vanilla
 Tomorrow we'll pair these designs up and watch them go head-to-head.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Round 4: Fitted Sweaters

The last bout in this first round of 'which sweater is most flattering?' features these combatants:
Cardamom Vest
Basic Set-In Sleeve Pullover

The Cardamom Vest by Kirsten Hipsky is a fitted design, with a scoop neck and a vertical panel of cable work.  The pullover, also designed by Kirsten, is also fitted, with a crew neck and plain stockinette fabric.  Don't be fooled by the photo lighting, it is all one color, not the lovely ombre effect which seems to appear.

This bout is an instance where the photo is not trying to tell us the whole story.  Yes, the model does look slimmer in the pullover.  But, that's because she is standing nearly sideways, and, being a sweet young thing without postpartum stomach pooch, she is slimmer sideways.  But you can't fool me.  Without a doubt, the winner is Cardamom for it's open neckline and vertical design lines.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Round #3: Crochet

After a weekend and a day to finish off a shhhh project, we are back to the tourney.  Two bouts in the first round done and to more to go.

It's crochet day!  In this round we have Linaria, a granny square poncho going up against  . . . well . . . I am not really so sure what this garment is.  So, I went to the Webs website and here's what they have to say, "The Ice Glen Cardigan from Valley Yarns is a roomy, kimono sleeve cardigan crocheted in four easy pieces and seamed."  No additional pictures are offered.  That's a shame, since the photo offered does nothing to display the merits of the sweater or to flatter the figure of the wearer.  And, since she is wearing all murky colors, it is very difficult to see the design elements.  So, just on the basis of poor photography, the winner is . .  . . Linaria!