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Call for Pre-Knitters



I have a number of new patterns coming out this Autumn and Winter, for which I will soon be seeking pre-knitters. I am putting together a mailing list specific to announcements of pre-knitting opportunities. If you think you might like to be included, please read below - 

What is Pre-Knitting?

Pre-knitting is intended as a casual and relaxed programme that benefits both knitter and designer with minimal obligation or stress on the part of either. Pre-knitters receive a complimentary copy of the pattern before it is available to the public. Pre-knitters are asked to begin working on their projects, and post project pages on ravelry, by a certain date. Finishing to a deadline is not a requirement. There is also no 'testing' of the pattern as such, as pre-knitters receive a copy of the pattern which is tech-edited and deemed ready for publication. They simply receive it ahead of everyone else. 

How does Pre-Knitting compare to Test-Knitting?

Pre-knitting is similar to test knitting in that you have access to the pattern before it is published. Pre-knitting is different from test knitting in that you are not required to test anything as such, or to finish by a deadline. If you like a pattern and want to get started on it asap, pre-knitting gives you an opportunity to get ahold of an early copy with fairly minimal obligation in return.

What happens if I sign up for a Pre-Knit, but change my mind or am unable to start by the stated date?

Nothing happens. Please don't stress! Obviously if you do this repeatedly, I will be less likely to select you for future Pre-Knits. But I won't be annoyed or think poorly of you. Things happen, I understand. It's only knitting!  

Is there a Ravelry forum to discuss Pre-Knits?

At the moment, no - as that is not something I am equipped to handle, either time-wise or internet availability-wise (I live in a remote rural area and spend much of my days outdoors). If you have questions about any part of the pattern, please feel free to email me.

Okay, sign me up!

Excellent. Please fill out the form below. When a pattern becomes available for pre-knitting, you will be notified with all relevant details, as well as instructions for how to join in. 


Rusticana! In Apple Oak Fibre Works Lincot



One of my favourite summer yarns to work with is the gorgeous and rather unique Lincot, from Apple Oak Fibre Works. As the name suggests, Lincot is a blend of linen and cotton - which makes it a durable and delightfully cooling yarn for summer. But aside from this, it has several special features. 

Lincot is 'rustically spun' - meaning that the yarn is thick-and-thin, presenting like an old fashioned handspun. It takes colour beautifully, with lots of subtle, rich variations in tone. And when knitted up, it gives the resulting fabric a captivatingly textured look and feel.  


The uneven texture of Lincot also has interesting implications for gauge. In meterage, this yarn is a spot-on DK weight, measuring 220m per 100g. However, when it comes to gauge it 'behaves' like a much thicker yarn, and seems to work best in garments when knitted at an aran-weight gauge (of around 17 stitches per 10cm). This makes Lincot an extremely economical yarn! Meaning, you need far less of it than you would an ordinary DK weight yarn. For example: Normally, I need 500g of DK weight yarn to knit a sweater in my size. When using Lincot, I need only 400g. 

In my book, all this makes Lincot ideal for basic summer garments. The yarn itself is already interesting, so it works best with simple stockinette designs. It knits up quickly, as you are technically working it above gauge. It feels wonderfully breezy and cooling against the skin. And it is very strong, resulting in durable garments in which you can be free and active.


With all that in mind, I was inspired to design a few simple garments in Lincot for summer. And that was how Rusticana came about. A simple, relaxed sheath dress with a flattering V neckline, I envisioned Rusticana as the sort of garment you might want to live in all season long. And for me, it certainly quickly became a summer uniform. It's a versatile, must-have garment, if I don't say so myself!

But here is the thing, and I am going to be very honest here, which I hope will not be to my detriment: Creating a design and a producing a wearable piece of knitting, are separate processes from publishing a pattern. And while I've been doing the first two for a while, I am still very new to the latter and have a lot to learn about things like timing, effective promotion, and other logistical issues. All that is to say, that I was hoping to publish Rusticana much earlier in the summer, but ran into glitches. Basically: Due to the unusual nature of the yarn, combined with the fact that the design is a dress (and therefore is perceived as a big project) I had a difficult time organising 'pre-knitters' for this pattern. Folks weren't sure about how to handle yarn substitutions, and between trying to address this and dealing with the health setbacks I've had over the past 2 months... well, it is now August!  So at this stage I had a choice of putting the pattern on hold until next year, or releasing it. And I've decided to release it. Because really, it's a fun pattern, and would be quick to knit with plenty of time to still wear it in summer weather. To be clear, the pattern is tech edited, and tested in several sizes. There just aren't any examples of 'pre-knitter' projects up on the page. 

If you are interested in trying Rusticana, I am making it available for free, for TODAY only (2nd August 2018)! You can download it here and use the code [Edited: thank you everyone; the promotion has now ended] .


Now as far as yarn, and yarn substitutions: Well firstly, the ideal yarn for this pattern is of course Apple Oak Fibre Works Lincot, and I hope you consider supporting this wonderful, talented dyer.

But of course yarn substitutions are also possible, and in fact are pretty straightforward. You can knit Rusticana with either DK or Aran weight yarn. If choosing DK, just be aware the fabric will be quite drapey, as you will be knitting above gauge. If choosing Aran, you will get a typical aran-weight fabric at the stated gauge, but note that you will need more yarn than stated in pattern (I would say 1 extra skein should suffice for most sizes). And of course, if substituting yarn, you do not need to choose plant fibres. You can knit Rusticana as a cold-weather dress in either DK or aran-weight wool.

If you have any questions about yarn substitutions, gauge, and sizing, please feel free to get in touch and I am happy to help.  



What Is a Yoke?


 {circular yoke}

{circular yoke}

In recent days I’ve had some interesting discussions about yokes. They began when I sent out a pre-release copy of a top-down raglan sleeved sweater pattern, in which I labeled one of the sections ‘Yoke.’ A couple of knitters promptly replied to point out that the pattern was for a raglan sweater, not for a ‘yoked’ sweater. 

Thankfully, we were all correct. 

I am aware that some knitters use the term yoke to refer specifically to circular yokes of the kind with concentric colourwork or lace motifs (i.e. Scéal Grá, pictured above). However, the definition of a yoke in the context of garment construction is in fact far broader. All sweaters, no matter how they are constructed, have yokes. 

 {yoke on a raglan-sleeve sweater}

{yoke on a raglan-sleeve sweater}

The yoke of a sweater is the section that goes over your head and sits above the underarms. If you imagine a horizontal line at underarm level, the yoke is everything above it - including the neckline, shoulders, upper chest, upper back, and sleeve caps, as applicable. 

The term yoked construction refers to methods of crafting a garment (whether by sewing or knitting) where the yoke is worked as a distinct pattern piece. 

 {yoke on a contiguous-sleeve cardigan}

{yoke on a contiguous-sleeve cardigan}

For hand-knitting, this means that the yoke can be knitted seamlessly in the round, with either circular, raglan, or contiguous construction, or any combination thereof. On a top down sweater, for instance, the yoke is the bit you do prior to dividing for sleeves. On a bottom up sweeter, the yoke is the bit you do after attaching the sleeves.

A yoke can also be knitted flat, then pieced together with other parts of the garment. 

In short: A circular colourwork yoke is certainly a type of yoke. But not all yokes need be of this style. The yoke is simply the upper part of a sweater, from underarm to neck opening.

I hope this brings some clarity to the topic. 

Scéal Grá - à la Mod



Having been ill almost continuously since Woollinn, I have yet to publish a Behind the Pattern post about Scéal Grá - which I assure you, is forthcoming! In the meanwhile, I have been in a state which I can only describe as shocked gratitude at how well the pattern has been doing, both in terms of sales and knitters' feedback. To be sure, the latter is owed in no small part to my wonderful new tech editor. But more on that in a separate post.

What I wanted to cover here is: Modifications!

I deliberately designed Scéal Grá to be modification-friendly in a variety of ways, and to be sure knitters have been taking advantage of that. If you browse the Scéal Grá project pages, you can see anything from short sleeved versions to tunic versions, with all manner of bodice shapes.

Apropos to this, I thought it might be helpful to publish a guideline to the mods, for those knitters who might need some guidance in figuring out the best way to do them.  And so, see below - 


Straight Bodice Modification

Scéal Grá is designed with an A-Line shape to the bodice, and, in addition, a subtle flounce above the hem. If desired, you can easily eliminate either or both of these features.

To knit a straight bodice, follow instructions for Bodice and Hem, but forgo the paired increases. You can then either work the flounce to add a slight flare to the hem, or not. 

To knit an A-line bodice without a flounce, follow instructions for the paired increases, but forgo the Flounce section. 

And if opting for either of these mods, obviously ignore all stitch counts after the initial stitch count given at the start of the Bodice section.

Short Sleeve Modification

Scéal Grá is designed with 3/4 length sleeves that end just below the elbow. But you can easily alter the sleeve length to your taste.

To knit short sleeves, follow the initial instructions for Sleeves, moving stitches onto your working needle and working the initial several rounds as described. Then skip the rest of the Sleeve section and proceed immediately to the i-cord bind off. Not that I do not recommend working lace above the sleeve edging if doing a short sleeve modification, as I feel that placing more lace so close to the yoke clutters the look of the sweater.  

To knit full-length sleeves, follow instructions for Sleeves exactly as they are written to the end - but instead of the length stated, continue knitting (no longer working paired decreases after the elbow) until the sleeve reaches desired length. Note that the cuff of the long sleeve version will be fairly open, as the final stitch count must allow for the continuous lace repeat. 

Tunic or Dress Modification

Scéal Grá is designed as a pullover that hits around mid hip.  However, it can easily be modified into a tunic, or a dress. 

To do this, follow instructions for the Bodice as-written, but omit the back shaping and then keep going until the garment reaches your desired length. As far as shaping, you have a few options. You can work without any further increases, which will give the skirt a 'tulip' shape. Or, you can continue working paired increases at sides at the same rate as you were doing for the bodice, and/or add an additional round of 'flounce' increases (worked in the same manner as the first) 5cm after the original round, depending on how sleek vs flared you would like the skirt to be. 

I hope these rough guidelines help, and if you have any questions feel free to ask! 



Knitting With Yarn Held Double



As a follow-up on my earlier post about yarn weights, I wanted to also address, and hopefully demystify, the practice of knitting with yarn held double. Because while it is fairly obvious that holding a yarn double will result in a yarn twice as thick as the original, it is perhaps less obvious what yarn weight exactly the result will translate to. 

Happily, figuring this out is fairly simple, and here is how to do it: 
Step 1: Check the meterage info (meters per 100g) on the yarn label or product description.
Step 2: Divide that number by 2.
Step 3: Armed with the resulting figure, consult my Handy Chart of Yarn Weights 

Let's take some concrete examples: 

Yarn which is 800m per 100g, held double, will yield a meterage of 400m per 100g, which is that of a fingering weight yarn. 

Yarn which is 400m per 100g, held double, will yield a meterage of 200m per 100g, which is that of a DK weight yarn.

Yarn which is 300m per 100g, held double, will yield a meterage of 150m per 100g, which is that of an aran weight yarn. 

And so on.


Now, if dividing by two is too much math for you to cope with, do not despair! For I have made a cheat sheet (above).

However: If you want to be precise, I still recommend checking the actual meterage - for reasons I have explained in the previous post.


Being able to do this kind of 'translation'  is of course very handy when it comes to yarn substitutions. For instance, say a pattern calls for a DK weight yarn, but you don't have any in a suitable colour/ composition - yet you have the perfect fingering weight yarn, you know that you can hold that fingering weight yarn double to achieve the yarn weight the pattern calls for.

Conversely, let's say a pattern - like my Harvest Season hat - calls for a fingering weight yarn held double, but you don't have any suitable fingering weight yarn. You check the pattern info and see the suggested yarn has a meterage of 420m per 100g. Held double, that is the equivalent of 210m per 100g, or DK weight. You can therefore knit this hat with DK weight yarn, held single stranded. 

Make sense?

All that being said, a couple of things to be aware of:

A yarn weight achieved by holding a thinner yarn double, may not feel or behave exactly like a yarn that was spun and plied to that weight to begin with. In some cases the resulting fabric will be ‘flatter.’ In other cases, quite the opposite - it can feel overly thick or puffy. Without getting too technical, this is to do with ply and twist and the way air gets trapped between strands, and all manner of other fascinating things related to spinning. So before you decide to substitute, say, an aran-weight yarn a pattern calls for, with a sport weight yarn held double, be sure to swatch at the stated gauge and just see whether you like the way the fabric is knitting up.

Aside from this, some knitters claim that knitting with yarn held double is ‘not economical' as far as meterage. However, I believe this idea is based on a misguided comparison to knitting with the yarn held single! Once you hold the yarn double, of course it’s no longer going to yield the meterage stated on the label; it’s going to yield exactly half that meterage - which makes it no more or less economical than knitting with a yarn of the weight we are aiming for.

Basically, by holding a yarn double, we are converting it to a yarn that is twice its original thickness and half its original meterage. As long as we grasp that principle, all will be well!