knitting+crochet+yarn

Book reviewed by Megan Enright: Megan is wife to a tolerant and encouraging husband and mother to four children ranging in age from 18 years down to 5 years. She spends her days keeping company with her 5 year old daughter and her evenings cheering on the sidelines as her older sons deal with homework, sport and other teenage issues. In her quieter moments, she likes to knit, embroider, sew and cook. She’d like to have the time and talent to crochet and quilt….maybe one day. She can be found at Notebook from home blog.

Wearwithall by M. Egan, T. Gaffey, S Rohr, S Sheehan, and S Walker {self published publication available at The Yarnary website}

Wearwithall is a knitting book with a difference. Not only does it contain thirteen gorgeous items to knit and inspire it is a rarity in that it is written collaboratively by five knitwear designers. These designers are friends and colleagues that have their base at The Yarnery. The Yarnery being a well known knitting haven in Saint Paul, Minnesota and judging by this first book, home to some seriously creative types.

The designs within are classic in their basic make-up but are individualised by interesting stitch patterns and a delightful use of colour. There is something here for both beginner and experienced knitters and a number of patterns can be adjusted according to how confident you feel with the needles in your hands. There is a straight-forward blanket design, made visually appealing by the use of triangles. This design can be knit up quickly for a baby blanket or extended into a throw by knitting up more triangles. Another design that caught my eye was for a cute pair of mittens. One version is given in a plain colour with a contrasting trim, another version with a Scandinavian style intarsia pattern. The latter for knitters more comfortable with chart reading.

For a more objective opinion, I took this book along to be handed around at my weekly knitting group. There was a lot of long lingering looking going on by all my knitting buddies. They each easily found patterns they would like to try and were particularly taken with the stole pattern, even though it was widely acknowledged that it wouldn’t be a “quick knit”… in our knitting group there can be way too much talking and not enough knitting! It was noted by everyone that some of the yarns used may be a bit more challenging to source but the book does stipulate that all the yarns used can be found at The Yarnery and they do have a very comprehensive online shop.

I feel “Wearwithall” would be a great addition to any knitter’s book collection, there are designs in here for the whole family and as mentioned before, they are designs that will stand the test of time, not transient in their appeal. And as for that stole… I decided that if I started now, at the beginning of a southern hemisphere summer there might just be a chance I could sling it over my shoulders next winter. Another new project? Why not!

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Slinky gorgeous lovely knit wear to make you feel and look good …

  1. Precious sweater (lace weight and ethereal)
  2. Camden sweater (with detachable sleeves)
  3. Coachella (racerbank tank top)
  4. Tubey (with shrug-like sleeves and square neck) [pictured below]
  5. Assets of evo (cute boy shorts)
  6. The bohemian (evening top) [pictured above]
  7. Casablanca (corset)

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Sock Yarn Studio by Carol J. Sulcoski Lark Crafts (October 2, 2012).

For sock yarn fans, this book gives you a whole slew of alternative (to knitting socks) ideas on using that oh so delectable fine sock yarn. There are so many hand dyed and finely spun sock yarns available, so beautiful with their self striping and almost solid or subtly changing hues. A really quite beautiful book, with interesting designs in a mix of simple to more complex patterns ranging through ‘one skein’ cowls and hats and baby cardigans to more intricate ‘two skein’ wrist warmers and hats and mittens and children’s sweaters, and lastly three or more skein projects — halter neck tops, blankets and vests. There is plenty in here for the advanced knitter too with entrelac and Fair Isle projects throughout.

Comfort Knitting & Crochet by Norah Gaughan and the Berroco design team STC Craft/A Melanie Falick Book (October 1, 2012)

There is a mix of knitting and crochet in this book — lots of hats, cardigans and rugs and some very sweet outfits too – love the knitted jumpsuits, rompers and dresses. Unfortunately some of the crochet sweaters look a little stiff, and the yarn used is not always to my taste (a lot of soft pastels), but the strengths of this book are in the crochet blankets and the knitted rompers and sweaters. Some great things in here if you have some babies and toddlers in your life to knit for!

Knitting from the Center Out by Daniel Yuhas Stewart, Tabori and Chang (November 1, 2012)

Daniel takes the premise of knitting from the center out and shows some really interesting ways to design wearable and home items — the expected designs like shawls and hats are interesting and he also explores this premise with hoodies, socks and teddies. As you would expect from Stewart, Tabori and Chang, this book is beautiful to hold — slightly heavy and textured paper, beautiful images and fun (but not cluttered or cheesy) layout. And the tutorials at the back are really handy too. A winner of a book!

Circular Knitting Workshop by Margaret Radcliffe Storey Publishing (March 13, 2012)

Margaret takes the fear out of circular knitting. Before you get to any patterns there is a huge section (1/3 of the book) devoted to techniques and helpful advice. Then each chapter builds upon the next, starting at the basics and getting gradually more difficult as you make your way through the book. There are extra tips and how-to diagrams as you go too. You’ll work your way from tubes and hats, to shawls and socks and finally onto gloves and sweaters. Extremely detailed how-to photos and diagrams — this book is just fantastic for the beginner and intermediate knitter.

The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet by Hunter Hammersen Pantsville Press (May 29, 2012)

We had Hunter on whipup recently as part of our knitter designer series where she showed us how to swatch in the round. In this book she shows how she is inspired by botanical drawings to create her stitch patterns for her (mostly) sock designs. The yarns used are luscious and very inspiring and the book is beautifully laid out, with lots of photos. I’d say you’d need to be a intermediate to advanced knitter to be able to tackle the fancy stitch patterns and you’ll need to know how to read lace knitting charts too!

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Knitting designer series: I invited a few of my favourite knitwear designers to discuss their design process and inspiration and to share some tips and ideas too.

Miriam Felton lives in Salt Lake City with the love of her life and a rescued Siamese named Ekho. You can find her on the web at Miriam Felton. And Make sure to check out her class on Designing Lace Shawls.

Hi all! I’m Miriam, and I’m a maker. I love knitting (and do it every day), but I also love crochet, sewing, weaving, paper crafting, bookbinding, screen printing and much more. I came to knitting when I was a teenager, started blogging about my knitting in the early days of knit blogs and as I made up my own stuff found that other knitters wanted to make my patterns too and the whole thing slowly blossomed into my career.

Assemblage Mitts from the Convergence collection

My design philosophy is pretty rooted in the Arts & Crafts movement – I most enjoy making functional things that are also beautiful and well constructed. I think of knitting as architecture. You build one row on top of the other like a mason laying bricks, and each row feeds into the next and must support what you’re going to do in the next row to make a cohesive whole. The process of knitting has never stopped being intriguing in its possibility and scope.

I started designing knitting patterns with lace and I explored a lot of ways to make lace stitches flow seamlessly and organically one into the other. Every piece was different and I had a lot of fun with it, but when I got down to writing Twist & Knit, I got a taste of what it’s like to have a guiding hand in my design process and I found that I enjoyed it more than designing stand alone pieces. It’s very different to create multiple designs that have a cohesive theme running through them, and equally difficult to source the right yarns in any given color scheme. But since I realized the difference, I’ve been working mostly in collections. I enjoy the challenge of creating a wide variety of pieces that together tell a story, with coordinating stitch patterns, motifs and echoed shapes.

Furrows shawl from the Chevron collection


To start a collection, first I usually pick a theme or a story I’m trying to tell. With the Chevron Collection that theme was (ah…) Chevrons. I have pieces making chevrons in lace, with cables and even making the fabric into a chevron itself using stacked increases and decreases. The Confluence Collection was exploring cluster groups using Bramble or Trinity stitch, little increase decrease pods, and smocking.

I recently finished another collection that I can’t say much about at the moment, but it has a recurring lacey stitch pattern that shows up in a few of the pieces, and when I was stuck trying to find the perfect buttons for one of the pieces, it struck me that I could not only make the buttons, but I could make them tie together with the rest of the collection by covering them with little swatches of the lacey stitch pattern. You could knit little swatches specifically for the buttons, or you could use swatches from old projects.

Making knitted lace buttons

Materials: 

  • Fabric covered button kit (including the mold and the plunger) plus enough button parts to make your required number of buttons
  • scraps of background fabric
  • knitted and blocked lace swatches

Note: background fabric pieces and lace swatches need to be about 1″ larger all around than the button you mean to cover. For instance, these buttons were 1.5″ buttons, so my swatches were blocked to about 2.5″ square. It may require a bit of trial and error to get a swatch that will block to the right size, but bigger is better in this case. You can always cut it down before you finish the button, but you can’t make it bigger.


Cut yourself some fabric to hang out behind the lace pattern. If you didn’t have a fabric backing behind the lace swatch, the shiny metal of the button form would show through the lace. The button making kits usually come with a circular template, but I was lazy and just cut squares and then cut the corners off them to reduce bulk inside the button. Make sure you trim the tails on the lace swatch so they don’t get in the way. There’s no need to weave in your ends though, as the edges of the swatch will be stuffed back inside the button.


Make a sandwich, with the lace swatch on top, right side up, with the fabric underneath it, then flip that whole part over so the lace is facing down and place the rounded part of the button form (the part without the wire shank loop) on top of the fabric, curved side down.  Your sandwich will now look like the photo, with lace swatch, fabric, and then the button form sitting on top like a cup.


Carefully stick this whole sandwich into the flexible mold from the button kit. Make sure that you can see lace swatch edges all the way around the button form.


Tuck the edges of fabric and swatch toward the inside of the cup and place the back piece of the button (the one with the wire shank loop) into the button mold, making sure you get all the fabric edges tucked underneath it.


Then cover it with the harder plastic plunger portion and push down hard. This snaps the back of the button into the cup shaped part, securing your fabric edges along with it.


Remove the hard plastic plunger and pop your new-made button out of the flexible plastic mold. Voila! lace covered buttons to accent all your knitted pieces!

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Knitting designer series: I invited a few of my favourite knitwear designers to discuss their design process and inspiration and to share some tips and ideas too.

Kirsten Johnstone is an Architect based in Melbourne, Australia. She uses yarn, fabric and photography to explore her modern Architectural aesthetic on a smaller scale. She has an eye for flattering forms that are deceptively simple yet frequently transformable; designs with a distinctive urban edge yet elegantly wearable. Website :: Ravelry

Thank you to Kathreen for inviting me to share a little of my creative process. It has been interesting to consider my design process and I’ve also enjoyed reading about other knitting designer’s approaches.

My creative process is not a prescribed process. One design does not necessarily replicate the same gestational path as another. On occasion, it can prove a quite linear progression from sketched design concept with clearly envisioned yarn, swatching, pattern writing and prototyping. However, more frequently, it is not so logical!

Principally, I use a black leather Moleskin to document sketches and doodles, inspirational images, swatch results, miscellaneous information.

  • All jammed in at random.
  • Dating the entry (if I remember).
  • Updating To Make Lists.
  • My Bi-Annual Craft Camp Wish Lists (always longer than I could possibly achieve in a weekend of mad sewing!)
  • With the List-maker’s delight in faithfully striking through the notation upon completion.
  • Sometimes the beginnings of patterns are written in.
  • Crossed out.
  • Updated.
  • Tweaked.

Like others, I keep all my old sketch books and love looking back at them occasionally, remembering the scribbles and jottings of another time.

Where do my design ideas stem from? They can be the obvious inspirational image from a magazine or online. But more likely I’ve seen someone wearing something that triggers a design thought – it is usually something obscure like the hem or neckband of a sewn garment. Or an applied detail that I ponder in yarn. Or a complete outfit that somehow resonates with me; the attitude or angle of elements of the ensemble.

From a sketch I swatch with yarn. Sometimes the reverse happens: a design idea forms as I work the needles of a new yarn I’m itching to use or experience. That tactility of the knitted yarn prompts ideas that are then worked into a sketch, then reworked as a more fully developed concept. For example, my first design for Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People developed literally from the swatch. I made an elongated stocking stitch swatch using 3 different needle sizes. Upon washing and drying the swatch, I wrapped it around my arm, then reverse wrapped it around my arm and voila! The “striped” or “banded” reverse stocking stitch concept drove the garment design.

My more minimalist aesthetic means I tend towards knitted stitches that result in a continuous textile: stocking stitch, garter stitch, twisted stocking stitch, float stitch, rib. I like the yarn itself to take the leading role in the design (often the driving force in the formation of the design in the first place as mentioned). My designs feature the yarn rather than an intricate stitch detail. I tend to use yarns that have exquisite qualities in fibre, texture, stitch definition, tactility.

I then draw my schematic design in Autocad, the Architectural drafting package I use in my other life. On occasion, I print it out at full scale and cut a fabric prototype to test the proportion, size and fit of my design (I learnt to sew from a very young age and is my first craft love). My body is my model: this especially works as my designs are usually pieces I envision for myself and I have only very recently acquired a dressmaker’s form.

When I’m satisfied with the swatch and overall design, I simply cannot wait to cast on! I am attempting to improve my discipline and write the pattern BEFORE I start knitting but I can admit I sometimes measure up the printed paper design and get going! Once I have put the draft pattern into written format, I print that out to keep with me; stapled with the draft garment schematic and any other information, kept together with my knitting prototype: marking it up as I go, writing in extra information, editing.

During the final stages of the knitted prototype, I invariably lose confidence. Kick myself for starting this particular piece. Wonder what on earth I was thinking. All the self talk you can imagine! Occasionally, I seek feedback from a couple of close knitting friends. Invariably, I press on and am always pleased with the finished product. And always laugh at myself at the end thinking how yet again I didn’t trust my initial instincts.

Top photo credit: Tamara Erbacher, all other photos are by Kirsten Johnstone.

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