About Woolly Wits

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fiber Fest Hat

Today I made a new pattern available for sale on Ravelry.  It's the Fiber Fest Hat, and was designed as a pattern to make best use of a single skein of hand dyed or hand spun yarn such as might be purchased at a fiber festival.  

Another Crafty Girl, Merino Worsted 
colorway: golden teeth & golden tones

Here's the description:

"Were you fortunate to be able to attend a fiber festival or knitting convention this past year?  If so, you might have picked up some gorgeous hand-dyed skeins.  But, those lovely skeins may be sitting in a bowl on your coffee table because it can be difficult to find just the right pattern to show off their brilliant colors without overwhelming them.  Stockinette stitch doesn’t allow hand-dyed yarns to shine their brightest, and too much stitch work muddies them. 

Persimmon Tree Farm, “Barnyard” Yarn
This bottom-up, worked-in-the-round hat offers just the right balance of texture and plain knitting to allow the yarn to be the star.  It works in both earthy tones and bright colors.  And, since beginner knitters are often lured into our craft by the beauty of color, the pattern is simple enough for them, too.

P.S.  The fiber fest hat would also be great to show off your hand spun yarn."  

The Fiber Fest Hat is a simple knit - 1x1 ribbing and a slip stitch pattern.  It's those elongated slip stitches that really show off the yarn and add visual and textural interest.  Add a pompom or tassel to the top as another opportunity to show off the yarn.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Woolly-Wits Reviews Vogue Knitting Winter 2013/14

Design #8 by Deborah Newton
This issue of VK is a little light on garments (lots of accessories - and accessories masquerading as garments -  as well as some afghans), so that means my review will also be a little light.

The story line which I find most interesting is the moto trend with three designs by Debbie Newton.  They all feature v-necks, an asymmetrical zipper as a closure and another for a pocket.  Two are worked in the same same yarn, and all three are at the same gauge.  So they make a good case study in how to vary a basic pattern for better figure enhancement.

The garment working the hardest to give a lengthening line is #8, the asymmetrical vest.  I really like the longer length, and you can too, as long as you don't consider your lower thighs to be danger spot.  Love the deep v-neck, as always and the strong off-kilter diagonal lines of the two zippers.  My one complaint is that there is no waist shaping, but that's a situation that and thinking knitter with a tape measure can fix.

Design #9 by Deborah Newton
Designs #7 and #9 have the advantage of side shaping already built into the pattern, and you can see they are definitely highlighting the waist more than #8.  Generally I am a fan of color blocking, but the combination of the color block and the shorter length make #9 seem a little too boxy.  I think I would like it better if lengthen to match #7.

#7 is a design that I would love to see hanging open.  Unfortunately, although VK360 does have a long shot of it being unzipped, there is only a brief flash of part of it unzipped.  Many times double breasted sweaters look awkward when open.  If done in a lighter weight yarn they could look fine - kind of Eileen Fisher.  It would be interesting to see the effect with these zippered sweaters.
Design #7 by Deborah Newton

And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have a design in this issue, too.
Design #6 by Theresa Schabes
 I will leave its review to you.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Sweater With No Mercy

Francis by Amy Miller

Yesterday knitwear designer Amy Miller published a new collection of five patterns, Classics, on Ravelry.  It has already proven to be extremely popular, with hundreds of favorites in less than 24 hours.

Proceed with caution!  Francis, pictured at right, is extremely unforgiving.  Unforgiving, that is, to anyone with any excess flesh between their neck and knees.  This sweater will hide no bags, sags, pooches, rolls, cellulite, muffin top, saddlebags, back fat, or any other name we give to those parts of our bodies which we love a little less than other parts.  If you look closely you will notice that it doesn't even hide the indentation of Amy's belly button.  This is a design that will look as fabulous on you only if you have a body as fabulous as Amy's.  I hope that all of the 375 people who had tagged it as a favorite on Rav by 10:30 am this morning have rock solid abs.

Harrison by Amy Miller
Earl by Amy Miller
The other two sweaters, Harrison and Earl, do a little better.  Harrison has a cowl to provide some interest in the upper torso, and it's length does not cut across the upper thigh.  But it is worked in seed stitch which not only adds a lot of texture, i.e. visual bulk, but is a stitch that not a lot of knitters enjoy, especially for a full sweater.

Earl is a cardigan, one of our favorites.  But, like the rest of the collection, is knitted with Aran weight yarn.  And we know that the bulkier the yarn, the more weight it adds to you.  It's a testament to Amys' figure that I couldn't tell how heavy the yarn truly is.  She is definitely model-thin.  I think Early would benefit greatly from a tie belt to hold it closed and draw focus to the waist.

Amy is a talented designer, as well as drop dead gorgeous, so I would direct you toward one of her more forgiving designs, Olive Basket.  Again, it's a cardigan, but it's worked in a dk weight yarn.  There's a close fit through the upper torso, and a lovely v-neck.  It does have an A-line hem which isn't readily apparent in the photos.  So, if you are not happy with the width of you hips, you might choose to cast on few stitches to bring the fit in closer and reduce excess fabric.
Olive Basket by Amy Miller

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Really, More Plaid?

Here's another hint of what's to come:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Look Ma, Two Strands!

In my last post I mentioned that I have been working on some super-secret projects using two strands of lace weight yarn held together.  Well, I realized that one of them didn't need to be so super-secret, so here's a peek of a soon-to-be-released on Ravelry pattern:

Can you figure out what it is?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

One I Missed

Hidden Cove by Samantha Kirby
 Just stumbled across this design on Ravelry, and feel terrible that I somehow missed it when considering my Top Ten designs of 2013.  It's exactly the sort of thing I love to wear.  Simple and elegant.  Love how the wide bands create a strong vertical line, but if you pull the cardi closed they flare in and out in an hourglass shape.  The subtle change in stitch pattern at the empire waist draws focus to what is the narrowest part of the torso for many women.  What I don't love so much is the horizontal striping created by the variegated yarn, but that just means we need to make a different yarn choice, right?  And while we are chatting yarn, don't freak out that it's lace weight.  The sweater is worked with two strands on US #4 needles.  I've got a couple super-secret projects worked with two strands of lace weight, and I love the airiness and drape of the resulting fabric, so I am totally on board with this choice.  And did you see the fabulous range of sizes?  It's definitely on my 'To Do' list.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Woolly-Wits' Top 10 Most Flattering Hand Knit Designs for 2013

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Thyone by Tori Gurbisz

So, I am a little late with my first annual list, but you try and wrestle a video-obsessed 13-year-old boy away from the computer with the biggest monitor in the house.  After two weeks plus two extra days home due to life-threatening cold, I am finally child-free!  With no more ado, here is my own highly-subjective list of the most flattering designs to make their debut in 2013:

Funky Grandpa by La Maison Rililie

These first two designs are my gift to those of you with the body type opposite my own - proportionately larger hips and thighs.  To balance your figure, you need to have more color/pattern/texture/shine across your chest (but watch it if you are busty).  Both these designs do that, without forgetting that you also need vertical design lines to elongate the body.  If Thyone is you choice, you might want to skip the color patterning  at the bottom edge, or shorten it to a high hip length - which you should probably to anyway.  Personally, I am so enchanted with Funky Grandpa that I might throw all caution to the wind and make me one.

Aralia by Kennedy Berry

Since this is my list, it will definitely include a skirt.  What I love about Aralia is the strong vertical lines - ribbing and cabling.  It's also a lovely length, but could easily be shortened for anyone with still-pretty knees.

Brynna by Bonne Marie Burns

Any list of flattering designs would not be complete without an entry from Chic Knits' Bonne Marie Burns.  I chose Bryanna because it's the perfect little summer cover up for those or us who don't want their flabby arms or tummies to be exposed.  It is a little long for women who have larger hips and thighs, but the photos on Ravelry prove that it can be shortened without losing any charm - and maybe even gain some.  I also like the variations with buttons added, as they provide more coverage and can pull the sweater in to emphasize the waist and/or bust.

Dalriada by Amy Herzog

Another designer not to be left off a list of those who know how to flatter the figure is Amy Herzog.  Although she has published many excellent designs this year, I narrowed my choice down to one - Dalriada.  I love a deep v-neck, and especially love the hourglass design line created by this one.  This design also has a pleasant surprise on the back - a little cable pattern panel running up the center.  This keeps an otherwise simple design out of the 'coffin sweater' category, i.e. where all the interest is on the front and the (unseen) back is plain, plain, plain.

Colorblock Cardigan
by Cheryl Murray
Vogue Knitting, Fall 2013

The one design I reviewed this year that keeps coming back to my mind is Cheryl Murray's Cardigan.  The stripe color are all wrong - the center should be lightest, sleeves in a mid-tone and body sides darkest.  And, the worsted weight yarn choice should also knock it off my list.  But, it's such a great design with flattering vertical lines, perfectly on trend, and very modern with the vents at the bottom hem.  I really want to re-work it in a dk or sport weight yarn - and maybe I will if I have a few minutes between my own design projects.

Ruisseaux by Hanna Maciejewska

Ruisseaux is the opposite of a 'coffin sweater' - the best part is on the back here.  The little openwork lines create such a beautiful hourglass shape.  And it is also lovely on the front side.

Well Water Hoodie by Suvi Simola

In the category of just-squeaked-in-under-the-fence is the Well Water Hoodie, which was just published the last week of December.  (Can this late entry justify a belated top ten list post?)  I know I should totally be past my fascination with hoodies, but, I publicly confess, I am not.  The vertical design lines are such an interesting contrast to the tone-on-tone variegation of the yarn.

Sablier by Nell Ziroli
from Twist Collective Winter 2013

My list also had to include a design from the Twist Collective.  Their design aesthetic had a rather narrow range, but it had a high degree of overlap with my own.  I chose Sablier because of the hourglass shaping created by the cable panes, but also because it is such a classic design.  This year I've also been a little obsessed with pockets, and had to have this represented by at least one design on my list.

And, last but not, and with no surprise to any regular reader since I spent an entire blog post rhapsodizing about it is . . .
Modular Jacket
by Shiri Mor
Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2013

I am sure you don't agree with all my decisions, but that's why it's my list.  I look forward to checking out yours.

Disclaimer:  Since I have virtually no time for personal knitting, I can't guarantee the accuracy or quality of all the patterns in the list.  And, I know that they can vary widely with self-published patterns.  I always check Ravelry comments before beginning a project, as you will find not only errata, but also helpful suggestions.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Look Back at 2014's Published Patterns

I woke up on New Year's Day and realized that it was the first day in months in which I did not have a looming knitting or crochet deadline.  Nothing with a pending due date for a book or magazine.  So to celebrate, I cast on an afghan.  (More on that at a later date.)  In the spirit of the season, here's a review of my published designs which appeared in 2014, including my very first published crochet designs:
Arroyo Seco Top from
Interweave Crochet Summer 2013 

Picture Perfect Plaid from
60 Quick Baby Blankets

Houglass Top from
Noro Magazine Spring 2013
Windsong for
Classic Elite #9222

Knothole Mitts from
Interweave Crochet,
Accessories 2014
Multidirectional Skirt from
Noro Magazine, Fall 2013
And, I will also include this design, for although the magazine did not hit my mailbox until January 2, 2014, it was released in the e-mag version in December:
Vogue Knitting, Winter 2013/2014
I have been very, very busy knitting and crocheting this fall, so look for more designs in the spring releases of magazines, as well as some up-coming books!