The weather is changing quick in my neck of the woods. Last week it was Summer, mellow and very dry like it has been for months. Now as I sit here looking out the window it is raining in a dark and heavy way, with the sun only momentarily setting light to the red and yellowing trees in the garden. Pure fall bliss. It is my first time experiencing this season here and I am drinking it all in.
As I am starting to prep for coming mushroom hunts in the woods and windy visits to the sea, I am dusting off my cold weather wardrobe. One of the things I was particularly happy to find was the Skiff hat I made about a year ago. I never really got around to writing about it here. But in the spirit of documenting the stuff I add to my wardrobe, I have decided that it is not too late.
The Skiff hat is a bit of a new classic. Designed for Brooklyn Tweed by founder and all around genius Jared Flood. I knit it in a bit of a frenzy over a weekend, and if you ask me it was over way too fast. The pattern is a total joy to knit, which I imagine is part of why it has been such a consistent hit since it came out back in ’14. That and it’s good looks of course. The idea to knit the hat was one of those spontaneous I-want-to-cast-on-now things so I chose a stash yarn. 2 skeins of Quince and Co‘s Owl in the beigey colorway Buru, that I picked up when visiting the yarn shop Stephen + Penelope in Amsterdam a while back. It is a Wool/Alpaca blend but slightly heavier and more rustic than most, in other words a nice respite from my usually very fine yarns. I still have close to a skein left over which might become a pair of mitts soon.
The recommended yarn for the pattern is Brooklyn Tweeds own Shelter which is a bit lighter than Owl. Being the complete rebel that I am, I chose to disregard all common sense and went down a few needle sizes. I had done some test knitting (not to be confused with swatching) and found that I liked the fabric I got on 4mm needles (BT recommends 5’s) and since the Skiff has a reputation for knitting up a bit large, this seemed like a good choice. The smaller needle size definitely keeps the slightly uneven yarn nicely in check and the final hat is still nice and stretchy. It is ironically enough a little smallish for my head and I find that the yarn feels scratchy if I wear it for longer periods. I am not particularly sensitive to stuff like that though and it wont keep me from wearing it. The next time I knit it I might try a slightly softer yarn though.
It might sound weird because cables are of course universally loved but as a person who is usually attracted to basic stitches like stockinette, garter and various ribs, it has surprised me how much I love this cable hat. It might also have something to do with how nice neutral colored cables plays off against the simpler knits in my wardrobe, or any item in there really. It is such a wardrobe lifter. Perfect for Fall which is of course the season of perpetual layering.
You can find more specific notes for my Skiff hat on Ravelry, here.
My new pattern The Light Summer Tank is a pretty straight forward knit. Never the less I thought it might be nice to have a collection of the techniques used in the pattern as a reference point if any kind of questions should arise during knitting time. Before I start a project I am usually very patient with my planning, but once I am off I really want to just stay in my knit flow. In my mind having to stop to google and youtube can become somewhat of a roadblock. If you are a beginner, even coming up with the right search terms can be kind of a pain. So i put together this nifty little list of links to great tutorials. Most of them have both videos and written descriptions with images. When I learn a technique I tend to quickly skim the written descriptions, because I have the patience of a 4 year old, but I know a lot of people love the vids. What is your preferred way to learn new knitting techniques?
Techniques used in the pattern
○ Cable Cast on
○ PKFB – Modified KFB
○ Binding off the neckline
○ Seaming the sides
○ Kitchener stitch
Some words and general neurosis concerning the PKFB (purlless knit front and back) in the pattern.
Did I make that name up? Yup… Why? well just to be clear I didn’t make up the technique itself, it is around and well used. It is usually called something like “KFB without the purl bump” or “Barless KFB”. I find both pretty hard to use effectively in a pattern. I could have just simplified and used a regular KFB, but I don’t want to cheat people out of a neater result just because it uses a lesser known technique. So since I couldn’t find usage of this technique in any other patterns, I just decided to give it the shortest possible abbreviation I could come up with. Purlless Knit Front and Back – PKFB. Alongside a description in the abbreviations list it would be easier to get or at least easy to search for.
My overly analytical brain is still a little annoyed with this, since when you knit the PKFB you simply knit the front leg and then slip the back leg of the same stitch. A more apt name might have been something like Knit Front, Slip Back – KFSB but I think that might have been too hard for people to search for as it differs quite a bit from the descriptions I have been able to find of it. So yeah this is the dialogue I have been having in my head. Quite excessive when you consider the fact that this technique is used exactly once in the pattern. Ha! What do you think? Am I over thinking this? Is it ok to come up with new abbreviations? Who even came up with those things in the first place? Even more importantly is there an already approved abbreviation of this that I have over looked? I am so up for being enlightened if that is the case.
The Light Summer Tank has finally left the nest! Right in the onslaught of Fall patterns… Oh well, consider it a little gift to the Southern Hemisphere. Working on this pattern has been such a trip let me tell you. As a new designer (it still feels weird calling myself that) I probably did everything completely backwards. Sometimes I feel like that can be the best way to learn though. I now have a very clear idea of what a better process could look like, and most importantly I am both happy and proud of the end product. The top is everything I want to wear during summer. It is light and airy. Has interesting details, but still feels subtle and neat. And one thing that surprised me a bit when I first made the tank is how special the balance between the delicate silk fabric and the razor cut shoulder turned out to be. It is equal parts Sporty Spice and Posh Spice. Ha. As you can tell I definitely have some motherly gushy feelings about this tank. It is my first born after all.
The only thing I feel less happy about is the fact that the yarn I knit the original in is sadly not available anymore. If I had known I would end up publishing a pattern for the top when I created it, I probably would have made sure to knit it in a more common yarn. On the other hand I don’t want to not do something because of a little snag like that. Luckily Silk and other Summer yarns are very forgiving, which means that it is possible to substitute a good range of yarns and weights, something I also touched on in my call for testers. Right now I am in the process of writing a little guide with recommended yarns and a how to section for those of you who aren’t familiar with the process. Next on my agenda is to keep building and expanding my design work and the little shop I’ve laid the groundwork for now. I am excited to see where it will go.
You can find the Light Summer Tank on Ravelry or in my brand spanking new shop here. Be aware that there is a slight price difference, due to fees.
I just realised that this month it has been a year since I published the Simple House Slippers pattern, and what a year! Writing the pattern was a pretty isolated experience of researching, test knitting and generally just being submerged in the thing. Which was then magnificently contrasted when I gave it over to this great community of people who has picked it up, recreated, build and shaped it a million different ways making it their own in the process. During the year the slippers have been used by several LYS’s to teach people how to knit, it has been translated into Korean and German, and on Ravelry and Instagram an ever expanding treasure trove has been build with images of Simple House Slippers. It also made it’s way around the knitting blogs, podcasts and videocasts at a rate where I must admit to kind of loosing track a little bit. The whole thing has warmed and inspired me beyond what I can actually formulate.
I started working on this pattern because I fell in love with a similar pair of slippers a good friend of mine had bought in a second hand shop. They were obviously old, handknit and felt sooo familiar and classic. I searched for a pattern and even though I found many almosts and not quites I couldn’t find this to me kind of mythical folk basic. So I decided to make my own, and while I definitely added a lot things to it (the toe for example) I don’t think I will ever feel like it came 100% from me. It is a classic, folksy pattern with an actual history and that to me makes it even better. Many of you have commented that your mom, grandma or neighbor used to have and love a similar pair which makes me think that at some point it might have been the kind of model that was spread by oral tradition, from a family elder or maybe even in primary school householding classes etc. as a simple wardrobe basic. Of course I don’t know that for sure but never the less it is now in my, and many of yours, knitting repertoire as a pattern to be revisited whenever there are cold feet to warm or extra TLC to be shown. It is absolutely all the things I love about knitting rolled into one.
Many of you have made the coolest modifications and amongst my favorites are Vanessa/Killtocraft‘s brown pair with added fluffy lining and Dawn/ladybythebay’s purple slippers with the cutest added leather soles that she made after completely wearing out her first pair. The yarn picked for hard wearing items like slippers is super important and both of these illustrate that splendidly. Now I am off to knit myself some new slippers to warm my bare summer feet at night, as I have somehow managed to misplace the “left foot” of all the 3 pairs I knit for myself *face palm*.
Images from the top to bottom/left to right
○ Dawn who writes the blog Lady by the Bay‘s first pair in naturally dyed Moeke yarn
○ Raina/rainingsheep added Pom Poms. POM POMS!
○ Diana Wala used a beautiful subdued marl
○ knit heroine Rosa Pomar‘s saturated teal slippers makes me rethink all my color issues
THE TEST HAS BEEN FILLED!
Like I’ve mentioned a few times I’ve been in the process of finalising a couple of patterns for a while and now it is time to send one into the world! First up is a test knit of my yet to be named Summer top. So if you need a holiday project or a knitting adventure (who doesn’t?) don’t hesitate to write me, I can help! I am looking for 2 testers to knit every size (10 in all) over the next month while of course staying in contact with me. The pattern is simple but interesting, and I don’t suppose the test will be any different. Or it might be like that movie San Andreas in which case I will try to at least get The Rock involved… Ok dad jokes asides here is the nitty gritty.
Some words on Yarn, Gauge and Needles
This pattern is not written for one specific yarn instead I want it to work with Summer fibers like Cotton, Linen or Silk. For this test I would like it to be knit up in a variety of yarns, not just the Silk that I used, and actually also different weights!
How does that work? Well for my sample I used this very skinny lace weight Raw Silk which gave me a drapey, light and just shy of opaque fabric, perfect to wear over bikini tops when it is hot out. Because these kinds of yarns have very little give they won’t fill out the stitch the same way woolen yarns do and generally the stitches tend to be bigger. Which in turn means that knitting with these fibers on small needles will give the same gauge as a woolen yarn on larger needles. For example my lace weight Silk, knit on 2mm needles gave me a gauge equivalent to a Fingering/Sport weight yarn according to Ravelrys standards. Like I mentioned it isn’t 100% opaque, which leaves some wiggle room for other weights. So I wondered wether I might be able to use a heavier but equally unspringy yarn and still get gauge and more importantly a wearable fabric. I tested it with a light fingering weight recycled cotton yarn (400m as oppose to the silks 620m pr. 100g.) from my stash and got exact gauge using 2.5 mm needles! As is to be expected the fabric isn’t as drapey as the lace silk, but has the benefit of being completely opaque. Despite the weight difference both fabrics are great and would compliment the pattern well.
The idea of sliding between different yarn weights and getting more or less open knits as a result is of course nothing new and just a part of knitting. However I want to make sure that it is actually build into the testing process, especially since the pattern is not tied to a specific yarn. Hopefully this will make the whole thing more of an adventure. A rummage through the stash, find a gem and get going kind of adventure.
If you want to know more about knitting with these kinds of yarns, I recommend Elizabeth Dohertys excellent post about linen on the Quince and Co. blog which definitely applies here.
- Gauge: 27 stitches x 38 rows for 10 cm x 10 cm (4″ x 4″)
- Sizes: 80 – 88,8 – 96,2 – 103,7cm ; 31,4 – 34,9 – 37,8 – 40,8″ (bust circumference)
So what do you need to join?
- 80-200g of Summer Yarn (Cotton, Linen or Silk) that will lay flat. It has to be a thinner yarn, anything light Fingering and below should work. Solid/heathered colors work best with this pattern.
- A needle that will get you on gauge. Depending on your yarn anything between 2mm to 3mm (0-2 US).
- Time to knit and finish it over the next 4 weeks and a want to communicate, ask and answer questions. It is also a total plus if you are familiar with ravelry and instagram and like to use it.
- The pattern is appropriate for slightly advanced beginners to intermediate knitters, but for testing purposes it is important that you have at least some experience knitting from patterns.
If you want to join me on this little knitting adventure send an email to email@example.com and I’ll send more information your way!