Dec 182014
 

Yoli Cowl cover | The Knitting Vortex

A comfy infinity scarf with fun construction, the Yoli Cowl has garter stitch edges framing mesh worked with short rows. The edges grow wider and narrower, while the short rows add ease and dimension, allowing the cowl to scrunch and tuck cozily around your neck. Worked sideways from a provisional cast on and grafted, this extra long reversible cowl can be worn right off the needles, either as a long scarf or double wrapped around the neck or head to keep out the chill.

Techniques & Skills Used: provisional CO, knit, short rows, easy lace, grafting; this pattern includes links to my short rows and grafting tutorials.
Size: 46” circumference and 12” height.
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted (100% merino wool, 210 yards/100g); 3 skeins, shown in Zinc. The sample as written used 525 yards.
Other Materials: US 9 (5.5mm) needle, or size to match gauge; Stitch markers (2); Scrap yarn for provisional CO; Yarn needle.
Gauge: 16 st and 26 rows/4” in garter stitch. Gauge is not critical for this project, however a different gauge may result in a smaller or larger finished cowl, and different yardage requirements.

See it on Ravelry, to read more or purchase the pattern.  

Yoli Cowl detail | The Knitting Vortex   Yoli Cowl hooded | The Knitting Vortex   Yoli Cowl project infinity scarf | The Knitting Vortex

Dec 122014
 

Yoli Hat cover | The Knitting Vortex

Diagonal mesh and fun sideways construction make the Yoli Hat interesting to knit, with just the right amount of modern style. Worked sideways in one piece from a provisional cast on and grafted, the garter brim fits comfortably while the short rows create slouch and naturally shape the crown. Finished carefully, Yoli is reversible and can be worn right off the needles.

Techniques & Skills Used: provisional CO, knit, short rows, easy lace, grafting; this pattern includes links to my short rows and grafting tutorials.
Size: S/M (M/L); 18.5 (20)” brim circumference and 9 (10)” crown, unstretched.
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted (100% merino wool, 210 yards/100g); 1 skein, size S/M shown in Verde Azul. The sample as written used 140 yards.
Other Materials: US 8 (5mm) needle, or size to match gauge; Stitch markers (2); Scrap yarn for provisional CO; Yarn needle.
Gauge: 18 st and 28 rows/4” in garter stitch, 16 st and 32 rows in diagonal mesh pattern.

See it on Ravelry, to read more or purchase the pattern.  

Yoli Hat | The Knitting Vortex   Yoli Hat back view | The Knitting Vortex   Yoli Hat Last Look | The Knitting Vortex

Dec 102014
 

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long is in full swing on Ravelry, with so many talented designers participating, and such an array of beautiful patterns. Today I’m talking with the very talented Laura Patterson of Fiber Dreams, who has an amazing catalog of designs all of which feature thoughtfully combined elements and detail, as well as evocative names and descriptive inspiration. I asked Laura about her work, and she graciously shared the answers that appear below:

How did you get started designing?

Not long after I started knitting, I began tweaking the patterns I knit. I didn’t like the rolled collar on a pullover, so knit ribbing instead, I added length and pockets to a too-short cardigan, worked a different top treatment on a sock or changed the toe. Mostly it was little stuff like that, but after a while there was almost always some change I made. Then I started making more drastic changes, like changing the gauge for a sweater I loved to work with the yarn I had on hand. Throughout all this my husband said, repeatedly, that I really should just design my own knits. It finally started to sink in, and I started out with a design for a lap blanket, Pinwheel, for him to use at his desk in the winter using scraps of yarn left over from decades of afghans I’d crocheted. Six months or so later I released a little sock pattern, Forget-Me-Not. A couple months later the slippery slope of lace shawl design began with South Seas Stole. I’ve been designing ever since.

south seas stole

I notice lace is a feature of many of your designs; can you tell us what inspires you about working with lace?

The balance, the mathematical precision, of planned yarn overs with left- and right-leaning decreases is very soothing. The ebb and tide, the flow of the lace as it comes off the needles. When broken down, many lace designs are much simpler than they appear at first sight. The actual knitting of them is very satisfying, as is finding and modifying just the right stitches to combine to make a whole design. The real magic, though, happens with blocking, when the beauty of the lace is revealed in its final form. It’s quite addicting. Of my lace designs, my husband’s favorite is Domus Aurea. My favorite is usually what most recently came off the needles, but over the course of time my two absolute favorites are Clematis and Spanish Dancer. Both designs have miles of easy garter stitch with simple lace borders, and were very satisfying to knit.

domus aurea          spanishdancer

What are some of your favorite materials, including yarns or knitting tools?

Fine wools, alpaca, cashmere, yak, silk — all these are favorite yarn fibers, alone or in combination. I have to admit to being quite spoiled by the high end yarns that I am normally given by independent yarn dyers to work with. Their generosity never ceases to astound. As to the tools… For knitting small things in the round, such as socks and fingerless mitts, my go-to needles are the bamboo sets from Crystal Palace that I bought years ago. For anything else I use circulars. My favorite lace needles are ChiaoGoo Red Lace. Their sharp points and flexible cables are the perfect combination for most of my lace projects. When sweaters have simple stitches, I love my handmade wood needles from Indian Lake Artisans. For everything else I use Knitter’s Pride interchangeables. My all-time favorite tools, though, are the tiny steel crochet hooks I use to insert beads into my lace. They belonged to my grandmother, and so are very precious.

Do you knit holiday gifts? If so, what are you hoping to make this year?

The short answer is, no, I do not. The longer answer is this: Like when I resolved to never again make a New Year’s resolution, I’ve never been happier than when I vowed to never again knit, crochet, or stitch holiday gifts.

Will you have any new releases during the GAL 2014 period?

I’ll have at least one new release during the GAL: another crescent shawl in a beautiful red hand-dyed yarn from The Sheepwalk Fiber Arts Studio. This one is a top-down design with lots and lots of lace. My tech editor is currently beating me about the head and shoulders, trying to get the correct numbers into the pattern, and to get it to make sense over all. We’ll get it sorted before long, though. Once we do, it’ll be a quick release for me, as the photos and layout are already done. I’ve even named it already. Hooray!  (author’s note: here is the very recently released Desiderata shawl – lovely!)

desiderata

Laura’s designer page on Ravelry is full of additional richly detailed, compelling work. I love North Coast and Cirrhosa, two crescent shawls with fabulously extravagant yet totally accessible borders. And short rows – my favorite!

north coast        cirrhosa

Choose your favorite and join the Indie Design Gift-A-Long KALs, which climax with the New Year’s Eve party on December 31. I’m also taking this opportunity to add to my queue for the future. Thanks, Laura!

 

 

 

Dec 012014
 

Elizabel cover |The Knitting Vortex

Feminine fit, sporty stripes and a fancy rib split hem combine in the versatile Elizabel sweater. The simultaneous set-in sleeves, short row shoulders and lightly scooped neckline flatter the upper torso, while gentle waist shaping continues the attention to your curves. Bracelet length sleeves and a refined I-cord neck finish are pretty and practical at work or play anytime.

Techniques & Skills Used: cable CO, knit/purl, short rows, picking up stitches, increasing/decreasing, simultaneous shaping, backwards loop CO, provisional CO, applied I-cord, grafting.
Size: 30 (32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 48, 52)” bust; sample shown in fourth size with 1” positive ease.
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft DK (57% extrafine merino wool, 33% microfiber, 10% cashmere; 142 yards/50g); 5 (6, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9) skeins MC, 2 (3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4) skeins CC, or approximately 700 (750, 800, 850, 900, 950, 1000, 1050, 1150, 1275) yards MC and 275 (300, 325, 335, 350, 375, 400, 425, 475, 525) yards CC dk weight yarn. The sample yarn has been discontinued;choose a similar wool or wool blend dk weight that knits to gauge.
Other Materials: US 5 (3.75mm) 32” circular needle or size to match gauge; Stitch markers (4); removable stitch marker (1); Stitch holders (2); Yarn needle.
Gauge: 22 st and 30 rows/4” in stockinette stitch, after blocking.

See it on Ravelry, to read more or purchase the pattern.  

Elizabel front view | The Knitting Vortex   Elizabel Last Look | The Knitting Vortex   Elizabel side view | The Knitting Vortex

Nov 212014
 

As a confirmed topdown sweater knitter, I’ve embraced raglan, seamless set-in, and contiguous sleeve constructions that begin with a cast on at the top. My latest favorite adds the simultaneously worked sleeve to the seamless, set-in method. It’s a nifty way to create that tailored set-in sleeve look, without having to pick up stitches for the sleeve cap from the armhole and then work short rows, or knit the sleeve separately and seam it into the armhole. Mind you, I love a good short row sleeve cap. It’s just nice to have additional techniques available for when you feel like a change, or have a technical need such as an easy way to make perfectly matched stripes around the upper body and sleeves of a sweater.

Simultaneous sleeves are a variation of the seamless topdown sweater method. In that method, you cast on stitches for the back shoulders and neck, and work (often with a tiny bit of short row shoulder shaping) to the armscye depth. Then you pick up stitches from each back shoulder and work the right & left fronts to the identical depth, including neck shaping and any shoulder shaping. Typically the body front & back are then joined and worked to the hem; the sleeves are added afterwards by picking up stitches around the armhole, working a short row sleeve cap, then joining and finishing the sleeve in the round.

The simultaneous sleeve element alters this method in that you only work the back stitches, and the right & left front stitches, until there is enough depth to form the top of the sleeve caps, perhaps 2 or 3″ total depending on the style. Then both fronts and the back are united by picking up stitches for the sleeve caps along the edge rows, and the body is worked in one piece to the armscye depth where the sleeves are divided. In addition to the neck shaping and armhole shaping that occurs on the body, the sleeve cap is also shaped with increases at the same time – so there’s A LOT going on, which makes it fun.

This diagram shows a pullover, viewed from the top:

Seamless Simultaneous Setin Sleeve tutorial | The Knitting Vortex

It does take some planning to fit in everything that happens together – rapid sleeve cap increases to round the top of the sleeve, neck shaping at whatever rate is necessary to create a round, scoop or v-neck, and finally increases on the body to shape the armscye such that the front and back meet under the arm. The maths can all be done separately, but then have to be enacted at the same time while knitting. Working a sweater for yourself in one size is fairly straightforward; more challenging is writing a pattern in multiple sizes, where the rate of shaping differs among the sizes.

I decided to approach the issue by addressing each section of shaping one rate at a time; for example, I’ll say “Increase Sleeves Every Row,” then “Increase Sleeves Every Other Row,” then “Increase Sleeves & Front Neckline Every RS Row,” then “Increase Sleeves Every RS Row & Front Neckline Every Row,” writing out the instruction while telling you how many times to do it. It’s clear and walks you through the upper bodice step by step, which is helpful both if this construction is unfamiliar, and if you’d rather not set up your own spreadsheet for keeping track of multiple shaping at the same time.

My first Seamless, Simultaneous, Set-in Sleeve Sweater is almost ready for release, and my goal has been to make an easy to understand pattern for this excellent construction method. The sweater itself, and the fit of the set-in sleeves, came out great!

Elizabel shoulder detail | The Knitting Vortex

Nov 182014
 

Grafting Garter Tutorial | The Knitting Vortex

In addition to my Grafting Stockinette Stitch tutorial, I thought it would be helpful to demonstrate grafting in garter stitch; the live stitches of two pieces of garter fabric can be joined seamlessly and invisibly just as easily. You’ll need the live stitches divided equally on on two separate needles, a yarn needle, and a length of yarn at least 2 times the length of the finished seam – either a separate piece of yarn, or even better, the yarn tail from the last row.

Hold the needles parallel, with WS (in this case, the private side of the work) facing together. Make sure both have the same number of stitches, and that there are purl bumps snug up against the front needle, and knit stitches against the back needle, as viewed from the outer, public sides.

Grafting Garter prep | The Knitting Vortex

Setup 1 – insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the front needle purlwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Garter setup1 | The Knitting Vortex

Setup 2 – insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the back needle purlwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Garter setup2 | The Knitting Vortex

The two setup steps are worked only once. Pull the yarn gently through the stitches, making sure it travels underneath the needle tips, never over them.

1. Insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the front needleknitlwise, and slip the stitch off the needle:

Grafting Garter 1 | The Knitting Vortex

2. Insert yarn needle into next stitch on the front needle purlwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Garter 2 | The Knitting Vortex

1. Insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the back needle knitwise, and slip the stitch off the needle:

Grafting Garter 3 | The Knitting Vortex

4. Insert yarn needle into next stitch on the back needle purlwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Garter 4 | The Knitting Vortex

Repeat steps 1-4 until only 1 stitch remains on each front and back needle, then repeat steps 1 and 3. As you work, pull the yarn gently through the stitches, stopping every so often to adjust the graft by pulling on the grafting yarn. A loose tension can be tightened up stitch by stitch at the end, but pulling too tightly will cause the fabric to distort. Graft all the stitches, adjust the tension as needed and then block to enjoy your seamless join.

Grafting Garter finished seam | The Knitting Vortex

Nov 172014
 

 

Grafting Stockinette Tutorial | The Knitting Vortex

Grafting, or Kitchener Stitch, is a way to join the live stitches of two pieces of knit fabric so that there’s no visible seam. It can be employed instead of sewing or the 3-needle bind off, in all sorts of helpful situations such as shoulder or underarm seams, or an infinity scarf. You’ll need the live stitches divided equally on on two separate needles, a yarn needle, and a length of yarn at least 2 times the length of the finished seam – either a separate piece of yarn, or even better, the yarn tail from the last row.

Hold the needles parallel, with WS facing together; doublecheck to make sure both have the same number of stitches:

Grafting Stockinette prep | The Knitting Vortex

Setup 1 – insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the front needle purlwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Stockinette setup1 | The Knitting Vortex

Setup 2 – insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the back needle knitwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Stockinette setup2 | The Knitting Vortex

The two setup steps are worked only once. Pull the yarn gently through the stitches, making sure it travels underneath the needle tips, never over them.

1. Insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the front needle knitwise, and slip the stitch off the needle:

Grafting Stockinette 1 | The Knitting Vortex

2. Insert yarn needle into next stitch on the front needle purlwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Stockinette 2 | The Knitting Vortex

3. Insert yarn needle into the first stitch on the back needle purlwise, and slip the stitch off the needle:

Grafting Stockinette 3 | The Knitting Vortex

4. Insert yarn needle into next stitch on the back needle knitwise, leaving the stitch on the needle:

Grafting Stockinette 4 |The Knitting Vortex

Repeat steps 1-4 until only 1 stitch remains on each front and back needle, then repeat steps 1 and 3. As you work, pull the yarn gently through the stitches, stopping every so often to adjust the graft by pulling on the grafting yarn. A loose tension can be tightened up stitch by stitch at the end, but pulling too tightly will cause the fabric to distort. Graft all the stitches, adjust the tension as needed and then block to enjoy your seamless join.

Grafting Stockinette finished seam | The Knitting Vortex

If you need to graft garter stitch, it’s even simpler; my Grafting Garter Tutorial takes you through the steps.

Nov 142014
 

Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2014 | The Knitting Vortex

Back this year and better than ever, the Indie Design Gift-A-Long is a 2 month craft-a-long of holiday gifts made from patterns designed by a fabulous group of independent designers on Ravelry. The event runs from November 13 to the New Year’s Eve party on December 31, with fiber fun, endless chatter and prizes. We kick off with a special 25% sale from Thursday, November 13th at 8:00 pm US EST – Friday, November 21, 2014 at 11:59 pm US EST. Each designer is offering from 4-20 of their patterns handpicked especially for holiday crafting for this promotion; use coupon code giftalong2014 at the Ravelry checkout.

My 20 special sale patterns are bundled on Ravelry for easy perusing, and include favorite shawls both new and old, cold weather accessories, and some woolly sweaters:

Giftalong bundle sale patterns 2014 | The Knitting Vortex

You can join the fun with any of the participating designer’s indie patterns, and there are A LOT of them – 293 designers from 21 countries with over 11,500 patterns. that’s enough to keep busy ’til Christmas.

To see my indie patterns, check out my Ravelry designer page, The Knitting Vortex – Designs by Jennifer Dassau. Happy Knitting, Happy Gifting!

 

Nov 032014
 

 

Vary | The Knitting Vortex

vary: to change periodically or in succession; differ or alternate
An asymmetric shawl that combines various patterns, this bias wrap moves from simple garter stripes through slipstitch colorwork and back again. Cast on at the long, narrow end, Vary grows on the bias only ever using one color at a time in each row. Choose two colors or even more, and make it your own by varying the placement of the different stitch patterns; the simple construction adapts easily to different amounts of yardage and to your artistic vision.

Techniques & Skills Used: knit/purl, increasing/decreasing, slipstitch colorwork; the slipstitch pattern is written only.
Size: 105” length and 21” depth, customizable; see schematic.
Yarn: String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn Selku (50% silk, 50% merino wool; 375 yards/113g); 1 skein MC and 1 skein CC. Shown in Viola (MC) and Juice (CC), and using about 340 and 370 yards respectively.
Other Materials: US 7 (4.5mm) 32” circular needle or size to match gauge; Yarn needle.
Gauge: 15 st and 30 rows/4” in garter stitch, after blocking. Gauge is not critical for this project, however a different gauge may result in a smaller or larger finished shawl, and different yardage requirements.

See it on Ravelry, to read more or purchase the pattern.  

Vary slipstitch detail | The Knitting Vortex   Vary Last Look | The Knitting Vortex   Vary wrapped | The Knitting Vortex

Oct 312014
 

My giant, asymmetrical, two-color shawl Sundry is one of my most popular designs. It’s so over the top, I had no idea what sort of reception it would get once released. But people seem to like it, which is always great. I think it’s the opportunity to mix and match colors, and to customize their placement. A look at some projects on Ravelry shows all sorts of beautiful choices:

Sundry projects on Ravelry | The Knitting Vortex

One of the reasons I love the sample so much is the yarn I used; Selku by String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn. It’s a wool and silk sportweight blend with excellent drape, and the gorgeous colors for which Karen and Tanis are known. I was fortunate to see their lovely yarns in person at out tiny, local sheep and fiber festival at the beginning of September, and inspired to create another design using Selku. I was looking for something to pair with the purpley-blue Viola colorway I had been hoarding, and found a deep raspberry that was perfect.

For fans of Sundry, my new shawl Vary will be out in a few days.

Vary sneak peek again | The Knitting Vortex